Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

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8555 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Post Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:44 pm

There was a thread earlier about the Kickstarter campaign but for those who missed out on that, the synth is now finding its way into shops and on line stores. For those of you who don't know what it is, here's a list of features from Modal's website -
  • Monophonic wavetable synthesiser
    8 oscillators in total with 2 selectable waveforms and mixer stage
    40 unique waveforms available split into 8 banks of 5 morphable waveform sets
    VA, digital and generative waves are available along with selections from the Modal 002
    Process and cross modulate waveforms with 1 of 16 oscillator modifiers including Frequency / Phase Modulation, Hard / Window Sync, Ring / Amp Modulation, Derez / Bitcrush, Wavefolders and Waveshapers
    Multi option Unison / spread to detune the 8 oscillators for a huge sound
    3 x envelope generators for Filter, Amplitude and Modulation
    2 x audio rate LFOs
    8 slot modulation matrix with 8 sources, each source can have 1 destination. (LFO1, LFO2 and MOD-EG assignable from CRAFTsynth, Velo, Note, ModW, AftT and Expression assignable from MODALapp)
    Program and transpose patterns with the built in sequenced arpeggiator
    2-pole resonant filter that can be morphed from low pass, through band pass, to high pass
    Delay and distortion (waveshaping overdrive, not bitcrushing) effects
    Optional MIDI clock sync for LFOs and Delay
    64 preset storage locations
    8 key touch MIDI keyboard with 8 custom scales and root note selection
    MIDI DIN in and out
    Analogue clock sync in and out (configured to the KORG / Teenage Engineering specification)
Conveniently, it works with the same editor app as Skulpt so I won't even have to install another software editor for it. They are also working on a VST version of the editor but that's not yet available (and will be VST3 only).

I hope to have one by the weekend so I will be back with my impressions after that. Meanwhile, does anyone have one yet? What's it like?

Image
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), Behringer QX1002USB, Cubase, DUNE, Hive, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Substance, Arcsyn, Synthmaster One, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft Synth 2.0

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8555 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:24 am

Got it! It's tiny, as in really small. Ridiculously small. I knew it would be about half the size of the Skulpt but I hadn't thought about how tiny that would be. It's significantly smaller than a Korg Volca but it doesn't look cheap and nasty like the Volcas do.

What's inside is nothing short of incredible. It's a beast of a synth that has more in common with something like Synthmaster One than it does with any of the Volcas. It's a fully loaded, highly capable synth in a teeny-weeny box. Like Uno and Skulpt, it is the perfect hybrid synth - you can use it as a standalone hardware instrument but it is a lot easier to work with when you are controlling it through the Modal App.

I wasn't sure how easy it would be to use, given that it doesn't seem to have nearly as many controls as the Skulpt, but it turns out that they've been even more clever with Craft 2. Skulpt has 15 knobs and 13 buttons, some with LEDs so you know what is assigned where. Craft 2 only has 12 knobs and none of the buttons but they have put the button functionality onto the touch-strip keyboard as a separate row of switches above the row of keys. It works well enough and I was moving around the various functions easily within a few minutes. The keyboard is good for playing around during sound design but I wouldn't want to be playing a piano concerto on it. But the synth responds perfectly to my MIDI controller and is a doddle to sequence from a MIDI track.

Using it with the app was even easier, just like any softsynth. After a quick firmware update for both Craft 2 and Skulpt, they both use the same app/plugin, I was able to play around with all the parameters in an environment that gives me a lot more visual feedback than the synth itself is capable of. You can switch freely between the Skulpt's orange UI and the Craft's blue interface and the currently active unit ripples the LEDs across its keys to let you know it's ready.

It's not all great, though. If you thought Skulpt's front panel was hard to work with, Craft 2's is even worse. They've gone away from the angled text but there isn't anywhere near enough contrast between the text and the panel for it to be readable unless you have the light coming in at just the right angle. Right now the unit is half-a-metre away from my eyes and I can't read a single label. OTOH, I can read every word printed on Skulpt's front panel and it is further away. I'm sure it will be fine in the daylight and, like Skulpt, Modal include a cheat sheet to help you out. I don't like the positioning of the power switch underneath the unit, either. It is very hard to get at in my set-up and I have to physically pick the synth up to do it. But these are minor gripes, in all the areas that matter Craft Synth 2.0 is a winner.
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), Behringer QX1002USB, Cubase, DUNE, Hive, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Substance, Arcsyn, Synthmaster One, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft Synth 2.0

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KVRer
4 posts since 12 Apr, 2019

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:12 pm

Kind of annoyed with IOS devices using the camera kit to connect it will say it uses too much power, even with batteries in. Making the app not usable on IOS devices. Not sure why they made an app that can't be used. It's now chained to my PC if I want to use it, which makes this a very non-portable device. I guess for the cost it is what it is. Just wish all the reviewers would have pointed this out, it's why they review...

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8555 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:20 pm

You don't need the app, you can program every parameter from the unit itself. The apps best features are using it as a librarian and for better visual feedback but you don't have to have it. In fact, I doubt that 10% of the time I've spent with my Skulpt has been thought the app. It's easy enough to use that I don't feel the need to bother with it. In fact, I have to remind myself that the app is there and I should use it more. So I definitely don't feel I'm tied to my PC with it. Quite the opposite - I've got both of them on the longest leads I have so I can sit on the settee and play around with them without having the rest of my gear, including the PC, switched on.
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), Behringer QX1002USB, Cubase, DUNE, Hive, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Substance, Arcsyn, Synthmaster One, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft Synth 2.0

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KVRAF
1610 posts since 15 Feb, 2006 from Berkeley, CA

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:13 pm

Looks interesting, but my first thoughts are boringly practical due to the design, I can just see those knobs getting snapped off. Does it come with a carrying case? Are the pots metal-shafted and attached to the chassis, or directly to the board inside?
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8555 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:25 pm

WTF!?! How do knobs get "snapped off"? Are you going to hold it out of the window of a speeding train or something? Mine will be transported, along with the rest of my hardware, in a Pelican case with foam cutouts to cradle it snugly. There is virtually zero chance of it being damaged at all. It certainly isn't heavy enough that dropping it would cause any significant problems and I wouldn't worry about breaking anything if I just stuffed it into a shoulder- or overnight bag, either.

If you pre-ordered on Kickstarter, you got a hard case for it but I was in contact with them yesterday and they only made as many as they needed. They did indicate they were looking at making more at some point, though, so maybe they will.

This is what it looks like without the lid on -
Image
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), Behringer QX1002USB, Cubase, DUNE, Hive, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Substance, Arcsyn, Synthmaster One, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft Synth 2.0

AnX
KVRAF
5074 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:31 pm

monophonic digital synth?

must be a print error, nobody would be that stupid

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8555 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:13 pm

Monophonic digital synth with 4x2 wavetable oscillators, 3 ADSR envelopes, 2 LFOs, 16 different kinds of osc modulation, a proper state variable filter and a full mod matrix, without the need of a computer or another piece of outboard equipment, that pretty much fits in your pocket and runs on batteries. All for about the same price as a license for Sylenth 1. Amazing, eh? It's like they are giving you the hardware for free!
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), Behringer QX1002USB, Cubase, DUNE, Hive, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Substance, Arcsyn, Synthmaster One, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft Synth 2.0

AnX
KVRAF
5074 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:13 pm

yeah, even then its overpriced

i can do all that and much more with Dune3, and I'll happily use a computer for polyphony and multiple instances

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KVRAF
21225 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:00 am

I like the form factor, but, yeah... monophony is a pointless restriction in digital synths. I can only assume that it is due to insufficient DSP power.

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8555 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:38 am

No, they did it because monosynths are cool. Seriously, how stupid would someone have to be for your comment to be useful to them? And what good would polyphony do when you only have 8 keys to play? Much easier to let Craft Synth 2 play the chords for you. Remember, there are 8 oscillators in total and they can be detuned to form lots of different chords.
AnX wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 11:13 pm
yeah, even then its overpriced
Really? Here was me thinking it was just about the best value imaginable. The only competitors that come close would be Korg's Volcas and this thing has them beat 5 ways to Sunday.
i can do all that and much more with Dune3
No, you can't. You can't slip DUNE 3 into your shoulder bag and work with it at the park on a nice, sunny day. You can't plug it into a mixer and start using it whenever the mood strikes you. DUNE requires a computer to work, as well as a host application (because there is no standalone version). It's a bit of a restriction at times, don't you think? Right now, for example, I am previewing patches while I type this. It's a level of multi-tasking your PC can't hope to match. Even with a touch screen, Windows only allows one application at a time to have focus.

Then there are all the things I can do to the wavetables that you can't do in DUNE, like Rise Over Run Phaseshaping or Glitchy Sine Waveshaping. Of the 16 different cross-mod options, I think there are four, maybe five, that you can do in DUNE 3.

Most importantly, though, is that unlike DUNE 3 I actually enjoy using this, with or without a computer.
I'll happily use a computer for polyphony and multiple instances
As will I. That's the beauty of it, it's not an either/or decision. Whilst I realise that broadening your horizons is something you find objectionable, I have fully embraced the concept and am all the happier for it.

These kinds of new synths I am excited about have things to offer that hardware hasn't done in the past. Right now, without leaning forward in my seat, I can reach the controls on Skulpt, Craft Synth 2, Uno and Micromonsta, as well as having my Seaboard right in front of me. I only have to lean forward to reach the mixer, the synths and controller are all literally at my fingertips, even as I am typing on my laptop. Micomonsta misses out a bit because there is no way to trigger sounds from it's front panel. It won't run on batteries, either, so it never gets to have a day out in the park. That's a shame because, as a synth, it is easily the best of them.
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), Behringer QX1002USB, Cubase, DUNE, Hive, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Substance, Arcsyn, Synthmaster One, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft Synth 2.0

AnX
KVRAF
5074 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:16 am

id happily carry a laptop around to use softsynths than buy a tiny shitty monophonic digital synth, no competition

AnX
KVRAF
5074 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Fri Jul 19, 2019 1:19 am

BONES wrote:
Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:38 am
You can't plug it into a mixer and start using it whenever the mood strikes you.
correct, i dont need to lug a mixer around to use D3, yet another plus

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8555 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Fri Jul 19, 2019 5:19 pm

Really, you just use your computer's built-in speaker? DUNE 3 needs the mixer as much as any of my hardware does, because that's how sound gets to the speakers and where my headphones are plugged in. In fact, it's actually a PITA at the moment because I have to unplug the PC from the mixer every time I want to plug anything else into the PC via USB. Next week that problem will be solved with my new laptop but for now it's annoying as hell and it's easier to just play with the hardware stuff (which, again, I am doing while I type this reply to you).
NOVAkILL 4.0 : Dell G7 17 (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Win10), Behringer QX1002USB, Cubase, DUNE, Hive, Thorn, TRK-01, Equator, Substance, Arcsyn, Synthmaster One, Trueno, Analog Keys, MicroMonsta, Uno, Skulpt, Craft Synth 2.0

AnX
KVRAF
5074 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Re: Modal Craft Synth 2 is Out

Post Fri Jul 19, 2019 9:16 pm

my pc doesnt have built in speakers, i use an amp and speakers, but i could plug headphones into either

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