The brand new Doepfer Basic System is ready and offers a great way to learn and explore modular synthesizers, with all the necessary and exciting building blocks you need.
Check out the system here or read more about the idea and philosophy of the system below.
In 1995, Dieter Doepfer invented the Eurorack standard, and with it the modern modular synthesizer as we know it. The A-100 Analog Modular System was a true passion project, a way for Dieter to make available the legendary analog modular synthesizers that had first fascinated him in his youth (at that time only affordable to rock stars and academic institutions) in an affordable and accessible manner for the first time ever.
The Eurorack standard is an exceedingly minimal specification that only acts as a basic connective framework and leaves everything else up to the individual module designer. In response, in the past thirty years a thousand little flowers (modulargrid.net now lists almost fifteen thousand modules!) have bloomed, taking modular synthesis in all kinds of unexpected and novel directions. Over time, the format’s size and scope has increased far beyond its humble beginnings. Today’s Eurorack user is faced with an almost limitless amount of options and an unprecedented amount of complexity and function density, which can quickly become overwhelming and paralyze the music-making process for both beginners and more experienced users.
In light of this, the new Doepfer Basic System is both a return to Dieter Doepfer’s original vision of analog modular synthesis and an attempt to build a coherent and approachable modular synthesizer system that can live up to the demands of contemporary music education – with the trust and confidence of Eurorack’s oldest brand. As such, it is intended for both beginners and all those that want to explore fundamental concepts of analog modular synthesis with a renewed focus.
The Basic System is basic in two senses. First, it presents a return to the most basic building blocks of analog synthesis with simple, knob-per-function interfaces and layouts. Secondly, it presents a reliable base on which someone can build their further foray into modular synthesis, and electronic music-making in general. However, this design philosophy centered around the idea of the basic does not mean that the system is stuck in the past. It carries with it all of the advances in circuit, module and system design that have been made within the last decade here at Doepfer. Compared to its predecessors, this new system is sleeker and more approachable, but also more flexible and powerful.
Aside from just offering an all-around better system, we also wanted to use this revision as an opportunity to rethink what a Basic System can mean, and do, for today’s electronic music education. With its design and configuration, we think it is an ideal system to teach anyone the basics of analog electronic sound synthesis. As such, we took special care to produce documentation that is not just technically adequate, but also musically educative and inspiring. The result is the book you are holding in your hands right now. It is something unique, serving as both a complete manual and a hands-on “patch book” full of carefully illustrated and documented patching ideas to get you inspired and started making sounds and music. The patches in this book cover many of the most commonly used types of synthesizer sounds. They also were designed to be immediately playable and musically useful, quickly taking the modular synthesizer from theory into practice. Just record and arrange a few different patches and you might already have a full song! We also think this is the best (and most fun!) way to learn, quickly taking you from the simple patches in the beginning of the book to more complex patches later on.
As is common with analog modular synthesizers, this system has no digital pre-set patch storage, meaning that every new patch is also a new beginning. While this limitation can seem intimidating at first, many users quickly learn to love the sense of exploration and freedom this provides. When building and re-building patches manually, using your hands, eyes, and ears, they will always come out just slightly different – and that’s fine and part of the fun! In order to make the patching process as fluid and enjoyable as possible, Doepfer modules (unlike many contemporary Eurorack modules) prioritize immediacy and playability in their design, with simple knob-per-function layouts, clear labeling and logical arrangements and enough space to get your hands in there and start moving and shaking things!
While much effort and care has gone into designing and configuring the best possible self-contained system, it should be noted that the Basic System is still emphatically modular. If you (for some reason or the other!) do not like or vibe with a certain module, you could remove it and replace it with any Eurorack-compliant module that fits, both from Doepfer and other manufacturers. And all of the modules in this system can be patched together with modules from any other Eurorack system. The Basic System is a fully configured, ready-to-use system, but an open system that can be expanded and reconfigured as you wish. To emphasize this modular nature, the system also comes with some open space you can fill as you wish.
Although our patches present you with various usage suggestions, you can easily alter them to your liking, or even do something else entirely. The system itself presents no inherent hierarchies or structures that you are forced to follow. For example, in most of our patches, the oscillator sound-sources are set up for equal temperament keyboard pitch tracking for immediate playing and sequencing. But if you were feeling a little experimental, you could easily alter the patch and tune them to a micro-tonally instead. We greatly encourage such exploration, which is why every patch comes with a “make the patch your own” section with ideas on how you could explore the patch and take it further to make it your own.
Even if you have played with traditional, fixed-architecture synthesizers before, the sense of exploration and possibility that the Basic System presents will make you see electronic sound synthesis in a new light. When made freely patchable and modulateable, the basic building blocks of synthesis become much more than the mere sum of their parts. With the power of free patching at your fingertips, you can construct both a workhorse synthesizer voice and an insane experimental twittering-machine – the choice is up to you!
The act of patching a hardware modular synthesizer is often compared to the experience of playing with LEGO as a child, a comparison that we would like to embrace. In our day-to-day lives, we all play too little. The Basic System is both a playground for creativity and an interactive, dynamic instrument that opens up a unique dialogue with each user, inviting them to explore and play more, always opening up new combinations and possibilities along the way. In modular synthesis, the unexpected will happen, but there are no mistakes or wrong patches, only happy accidents and opportunities to learn and create. We hope that this system may bring you joy.
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Herr Schneider started in 1999 with SCHNEIDERSBUERO as a sales and marketing platform for the smallest manufacturers and inventors of electronic musical instruments. Products were shown online, in our showrooms and at the original SUPERBOOTH – workshops and countless reviews have been featured in magazines all over Europe.
These very special instruments and tools are now often available from specialist dealers all over Europe and can be purchased directly from our webshop SCHNEIDERSLADEN worldwide.