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Utilities: If you know, you know… – a quick dive into the murky world of the humble utility module

Utilities MM

As part of running Matttech Modular I spend a lot of time putting together starter systems for customers, and one of the most common mistakes people make when selecting their first combination of modules is that they they often overlook the “utility” side of things. I mean, who wants to think about boring stuff like attenuverters, offsets and VCAs when there are so many super-duper fancy-pants oscillators to spend your hard earned readies on? Surely it would be more fun to stuff every last inch of your system with exotic FX, morphing filters and granular goodness?

Well, basically, no.

Whilst there’s no denying the appeal of such modules, a lot of the “fun” of Modular synthesis is found in the process of creating patches which seem to have a life of their own, constantly evolving and spiralling off in unforeseen directions.

In order to achieve this lofty goal there’s no getting around it – you need a bunch of utilities in your rig. The “plumbing”, so to speak.

You may have heard the phrase “you can never have too many VCAs”… and the same could be said about attenuators, crossfaders, switches, mixers, logic, clock and trigger modifiers etc.. some of it may not be obviously useful when you start out, but you will be glad of it once you start digging a little deeper into your patching.

That is why modules which combine a few utility functions into one product are great – you’ll be unlikely to use every function in every session, but you’ve got a tidy set of tools to reach for when you start to explore more ambitious patching. I’ve often set aside a couple of hours to investigate some new technique such as min/max or bipolar mixing, only to find it leads me down an unexpectedly creative path.. and the next thing you know you’ve recorded a 20-minute jam that sounds awesome.

So spare a thought for the humble utility! 🙂

A few excellent examples of such modules are the XAOC Devices SAMARA II, Joranalogue Audio Design COMPARE 2 & MORPH 4, Klavis LOGICA XT & FLEXSHAPER, After Later Audio BLEND, Bastl Instruments DYNAMO, Dreadbox UTOPIA, Mutable Instruments LINKS & KINKS and WMDevices OSD (or/sum/dif).

All in stock and ready to forge new pathways in your brain!