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Nord Modular
Your imagination is only the beginning

   Some of you were probably just babies when I plugged the first patch cord into a modular analog synth — an ARP 2600 to be exact. That was, let's see, about 1973 or so. But as we all know, what goes around comes around. And analog synths are back… in a big way!

   Now the people at Clavia already have a solid hit on their hands with the spectacularly successful Nord Lead, which boasts super fat "virtual analog" sounds, meaning it sounds like an analog synth but without the tuning and stability problems the old machines had (boy, did they!). Now, building upon the success of that innovative technology, there's a new synthesizer available that takes programming and sound development even further. It's called the Nord Modular and man, does this thing ever take me back…

   In case you never used one, modular synths required that you run patch cables from one "module" to another, otherwise you'd get no sound (this is actually where synths get the term "patch" from). Modern synths hardwire these modules for you, but in some ways that puts a damper on your

Nord Modular: Rediscover the unlimited sonic posisbilities of a modular synth
Nord Modular: Rediscover the unlimited sonic posisbilities of a modular synth

personal sonic creativity, since the way the product designers decided to patch a synth may not be the way you want it patched. So the Clavia people decided that maximum flexibility could only be offered by reintroducing the classic modular design, but with some really useful improvements that make it even more versatile than the originals.

   Back in the 1970s, you could spend hours tweaking your sound to perfection, but if you didn't take copious notes and diagram everything, you would lose that sound once you programmed a new one. With the Nord Modular, you never lose a patch because everything is programmed — and stored! — right on your PC while the actual sounds are generated by an external hardware module. What's more, while old analog modular synths were monophonic (or in the case of the ARP, sort of duophonic), the Nord Modular features 4- voice polyphony (expandable to 8 voices minimum).

   Let's see how this works: The actual hardware is available in two versions, one with a two octave keyboard ($2795 list), the other configured as a 19" rackmount unit ($2495 list). On the computer screen, you create patches using "virtual patch cables" that connect your various modules, of which there are more than 70: oscillators, voltage controlled filters (VCF), voltage controlled amplifiers (VCA), low frequency oscillators (LFO), noise generator, etc. — all the classic synth building blocks you'd expect and quite a few new ones. Each of the modules are resident within the software editor on your PC, so all you have to do is assemble the modules you want on your monitor, then hook them up by drawing virtual patch cables to make the proper connections.

   Want to perform without hooking up to a computer? Simple. The Nord Modular can be used without the software as a stand- alone two octave synth, so you can carry it with you to gigs and recording sessions. Mounted onto the front panel are 18 knobs that can be assigned to different parameters for real-time editing. 100 patches can be stored right in the Nord Modular for instant recall.

   Want more? How about four separate morphing sources that can be set to independently control a group of knob and button parameters in the patch, and all four can be controlled simultaneously by any MIDI controller, the Modular assign knobs, key note and velocity. Clavia is working right now (yes, even as you are reading these words) on developing new modules for the system.

   For those of us who love the warm, fat sound of analog, this is a great alternative to buying a potentially unreliable old modular synth. For additional information on the Nord Modular as it becomes available talk to your super knowledgeable Sales Engineer. They'll be happy to answer any questions you might have and provide you with your special low pricing on the Nord Modular system.

— Michael Rief

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