3dPdModular is an open-source hardware modular synthesizer with patch storage thanks to a Pure-Data core powered by a Raspberry Pi.
Modular synthesizers are extremely versatile sound generators. Modular means that there is no fixed signal flow. You are the master for how the signal should flow. This is great fun and opens up endless sound possibilities. If you use hardware modular synthesizers, there is a problem that many from the digital world miss, the possibility to save patches. Once the cables are out, the patch is history, and to make a patch with all its subtleties sound exactly as before, you need a lot of luck.
Alexandros Drymonitis has developed a modular synthesizer that can store patches! Not Eurorack but an own system that is open-source and based on a Pure-Data patch running on a single Raspberry Pi computer (3 or 4). It’s a plug-and-play modular synth that features everything you know: oscillators, filters, envelopes, etc. The highlights are here the ability to save patches to your phone (app), cloning modules, cross-fading between patches, generic modules programmed by the user, and many more.
The system offers an intuitive interface that is color-coded and uses banana jacks instead of classic Eurorack cables. Almost all aspects of all modules can be CV controlled, and all CV inputs have corresponding potentiometers for manual control, which also function as VCAs for incoming CV signals, never letting you run out of VCAs!
There are numerous, complex modules in development for 3dPdModular system. The developer mentioned these as favorites
- SEQUENCE, an 8-track step sequencer with up to 64 steps and three different types per track (CV, trigger, or ADSR). Its control interface is simple and intuitive balancing between flexibility and ease of use. You can also save your sequences and recall them whenever you want.
- ENVELOPES, a four-channel AHDSR envelope generator with separate settings per channel, manual or CV triggering, as well as End-Of-Stage output. Like the SEQUENCE, you can save as many envelopes as you like and recall them any time.
- CLONE, which clones other modules up to 8 times! It is capable of cloning single modules or sets of inter-connected modules (e.g. an oscillator connected to a VCA). It provides a very intuitive and powerful interface for creating polyphony without needing to acquire the equipment that is being cloned multiple times!
- COMMUNICATE, a module enabling communication with other hardware in four different ways, MIDI 5-Pin Din, MIDI USB, OSC (via Ethernet), and raw serial (e.g. an external Arduino). MIDI messages can be either clock or note so you can either sync your modular to your DAW (or other hardware), or connect a MIDI keyboard and use it to play melodies! OSC enables communication with other applications (e.g. control the synth from your phone OSC app). Finally, raw serial enables you to connect external micro-controllers like the popular Arduino and use various sensors to control your synth!
- GENERIC series of four different modules that include a template of the system interface so you can program your own modules!
In addition to these, there are also a VCA mixer, sample & hold, multi-filter, feedback sine, delay, PWM sine, pitch shift, various shapes, clock divider, slew limiter, trapezoid, random & more. A detailed overview can be found on the official website .
At first glance an interesting project and cool idea to implement a modular synthesizer. But it is also very questionable whether many modularists want to make friends with a pure data architecture like this. For Pura Data lover, this could be on the side a great project because they design their own modules and use it in a hardware setup. I hope the funding campaign will be successful because more choice is always good
3dPdModular is available for pre-order via a GoGetFunding. Super Early Bird pack starts at 600€ with 6 modules, a set with 19 modules cost 1550€. Individual modules start at 80€.