5HE Modular Synthesizer Format
Moving MOTM-pots is not only a great pleasure, but also more differentiated than is possible with the small Eurorack pots. The coordinated appearance creates a more coherent feeling with me - somehow a greater sense of tranquility.
The high-quality basic data of this 5U format were defined by the users and developers, and these requirements also affected components. The format is not tied to a company. The solid controls and switches, as well as the whole appearance, are visible and tangible. Due to the fixed positioning of the controllers and I/O's, this format does not look as exhausting as the Eurorack format. The patch cables have 1/4 'jack (6.3mm), the control voltage is 10V pp the most common and thus also most compatible. The operating voltage is 15V.
The circuits come from all directions: Moog, Roland, ARP, Yamaha, Buchla and custom developmets - a kind of a box of chocolates. The MOTM 300 VCO - a development by Paul Schreiber (Synthtech) - is undoubtedly one of the best oscillators ever to buy. The 4014 Ring Modulators (ARP circuit) from Oakley Sound are outstanding - probably the best I know!
Some modules are equipped with less CV-I/O's to keep the size in check, but there is often a more complex/larger version of the same module with (more) I/O's. The MOTM format seems to be more knob-driven than designed for remote control - while playing, you'll notice that fast (in terms of quality and feel).
Extreme interconnections are more likely to belong to the "Westcoast" area (especially Serge) - but there are also Westcoast modules in MOTM. Most of the MOTM users, however, enjoy the manual bending of the sounds with a clear East-Cost tendency. On the other hand - some Eurorack modules have just been converted to MOTM - I especially noticed the covertions of the digital "Mutable Instruments". Many "cult" modules, regardless of format, can also be found in the MOTM format.
Statements about the construction quality of the modules are not to be made generally, because in a DIY format no uniform production control takes place. For my four "used" modules, which I had purchased (from 3 sellers) on eBay, I have consistently had bad experiences: bad (cheap) components were still the smallest evil. The selection of the module builder is therefore crucial and one should necessarily inquire before.
The best - or better: the most impressive - quality I found in the modules, that Paul Schreiber has built - but the sale (and I assume, also the production) has now forwarded and (seemingly) concentrated more on the Eurorack. As good as the modules are - and they are true masterpieces - the waiting times were exorbitant and never corresponded - by far not - to the previously made arrangements. This was really no pleasure. So maybe it was not the worst idea to sell. Nevertheless: the modules of Paul Schreiber are impressive! The manufacturing accuracy reaches the "Military Grade". Even after seven years, all work as on the first day. .
All my modules from Oakley Sound have been built by Paul Darlow (Krisp1). It was not just the closer distance (UK instead of USA) - also the business procedure was much more relaxed and better organized. There have never been any reasons to complain during the purchase process. I must say, however, that the construction method is "not as collossal" as with Synthtech (e.g. no metal plates behind the boards). This makes the Oakley modules much lighter [and more prone to failure?] than the Synthtech modules. Also, the positions of the pots are not the same as Synthtech MOTM - these things are actually specified. Some modules (pots) did not work correctly after about 4 years and required some service to be done. Is it because of the components? I don't know. "Musically" Oakley offers some of my favorite modules.
I can't tell how it is with the trade right now - my last 5U module purchases were more than 10 years ago. Overall, the MOTM format is more on a sideways path and there have been changes in the 5U world. The MU format seems to be the most common 5U format at the moment and offers an amazing module selection. I can't say anything about quality differences because I've never worked with MU. It was represented by Synthesizers.com supremely, but that company doesn't exist anymore either. Meanwhile there are some new 5U companies, like Club-of-the-Knobs, Moon-Modular, Marienberg and more. I'm not up to date with that and I'm very happy about my MOTM modules - also sound-wise.
120 Sub-Octave Multiplexer
300 Ultra VCO (3x)
320 VC LFO (2x)
410 Triple Resonance Filter
440 Discrete OTA LowPass Filter
510 Wave Warper
700 Dual VC-Router
850 Larry Hendry Prototype #1 Dual Exp.-Pedal
Oakley Sound Systems
Noise and Dual Filter
4014 Ring Modulator (2x)
Triple VCA (2x)
Envelope Follower/Gate Extractor
Comparator & Gate Delay
MOTM had irritated me from the beginning with the somewhat fragile situation and the OEM power supplies offered by Synthtech and Oakley, since they are not very powerful, but rather large (3U) by positioning on the front and also not exactly cheap.
Due to a matrix development I was lucky enough to meet Graham Hinton from Hinton Instruments, who suggested to build me new power supplies.
The Hinton power supplies are very large and heavy and have a toroidal transformer. They are excellently built, CE approved and perfectly matched to the requirements thanks to precise consultation.
I also replaced the power connection cables in the instrument as well as the distribution cards: instead of MTA connectors, Molex connectors are used now. On one distribution card there are additionally six Eurorack connectors.
My move from ARP to MOTM was quite difficult for me. It was my first modular synthesizer and a very rare format in Germany. I had no clue and was pretty lost. In the meantime, everything has turned into something more straightforward. The "community" has become very big and there are dozens of websites that help. I got my first MOTM modules in 2010 from Jürgen Haible, an electronics genius. Unfortunately he died shortly after, in 2011, far too soon.
Endlich habe ich (2020) ein neues Cabinet für meine MOTM Module gebaut. Seitdem ich die Buchla 200 Module habe (2015) - die sehr leicht sind - brauche ich mobil nur noch wenige MOTM Module (nur VCOs, Filter und RM), die einfach in ein kleines Case ummontiert werden können. 10 MOTM-U passen in ein 5HE 19 Zoll Case. Dafür habe ich eine extra Stromversorgung (von Oakley) und die 4 - 6 (wechselnden) Module lassen sich problemlos temporär austauschen. Was aber unmittelbar deutlich wurde, ist, dass die Form eines Instruments auch Teil des Interfaces ist. Ich habe wirklich unter den 19-Cases gelitten!
The bottom, rear panel and top are adhered to the side panels. Thus, all horizontally running pieces of wood have the same width - which is good if you buy in a hardware store. The band saw must therefore be adjusted only once and all sawn parts are exactly at the same length - which is not so easy to achieve by hand.