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Modal 002, courtesy of Modal Electronics

A Bristol, UK-based manufacturer of large polyphonic analog synths, and some Eurorack modular synthesizer gear. Along with DSI, Modal has been a significant contributor to the mid-2010's renaissance in analog polysynths with full keyboards, a genre of synth that has not seen this many designs and models in production since the 1980s.

Modal began in 2000 as Modulus Electronics, a company established by synth designer and enthusiast Paul Maddox, who was a fan of the PPG Wave synths. Paul set out to build a stripped-down and less expensive version of the Wave 2.2, and his result was the Monowave, a monophonic, rackmount synth with wave scanning in the PPG style, and analog VCF and VCA. Modulus sold 25 Monwaves (all hand-built by Maddox) between 2002 and 2004. Paul also built and sold a line of small "pocket" synths.

With the experience gained from designing and producing the Monowave, Paul then set about to build his "dream" polyphonic synth. This started with a wavetable oscillator, with a large number of waveforms (without the wave scanning capability, however), and added a VCF that has a continuously variable response, from low pass to bandpass to a single-pole low pass mode. The result was the model 002, a 12-voice polyphonic synth, packaged in a full-size keyboard synth with a five-octave span and a fully featured panel. The voice architecture includes two of the wavetable oscillators, each with a suboscillator, the variable response VCF, a VCA, several five-segment envelope generators, LFOs, and a capability known as the "animator" -- a 32-step sequencer which can both play notes and drive any controllable parameter in the synth.

Modulus introduced the 002 in October 2014, to rave reviews. However, shortly after the introduction, Maddox became aware of a trademark conflict with another musical instrument company using the same name. (That company had been dormant for some years, but had finally found a buyer and was emerging for bankruptcy.) Rather than contest the name, Maddox made the decision to change the name of the company to Modal Electronics. The change was introduced on the fly after 002 production had begun, so the first few units left the factory with the Modulus name.

Modal expanded its product line considerably in 2015. Two new keyboard synth modes were introduced, the 001 and 008. The 001 is a lower-cost version of the 002, with two voices and in a smaller case with a 37-key keyboard. The 008 is a polysynth with an all-analog signal path; it replaces the 002's wavetable oscillators with analog VCOs, which can be cross-modulated. And,it replaces the continuously variable filter in the 002 with VCF with 15 selectable response types covering all of the main filter modes (low pass, high pass, etc.) with varying number of poles. Rack mount versions of the 002 and 008 have also been introduced.

In 2016, Modal has announced that they will introduce a line of Eurorack modules based on circuits and subassemblies from the 002 and 008. Modules will be available based on the 002 and 008's oscillators and filters, plus a module that converts been MIDI Clock and discrete clock signals.

Modal Electronics Web site

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