So why did I choose MOTM, anyway?



From an email to someone seeking guidance on which modular to choose, dated 9/7/99:

Unfortunately, I don't know offhand of anyone in Colorado with MOTM, although there could be folks there. You could email Paul Schreiber directly (synth1@airmail.net) to ask him to put you in touch with the closest MOTM owners.

To help you make your decision, you could also join the MOTM mailing list even before you decide to buy anything. It's a great discussion group, and one of the coolest things is the opportunity to influence new module designs. Paul is very open to feedback.

Everyone has different criteria, but I can describe briefly the decision process I went through. I evaluated MOTM, Modcan, Fenix, CMS, PAIA, Serge, Wiard, Doepfer, and DIY such as ASM, etc. before making my decision. Initial criteria were: professional quality, high quality construction and materials, great sound, good ergonomics, affordability, support.

Fenix dropped out since they weren't being made anymore. In addition, it's not a true modular that you can grow with 1 module at a time.

CMS was elegant but too expensive. In addition, I didn't see the system growing, since 
Phil is pegged with his Arp repair business. He didn't seem that interested in pursuing the modular system aggressively.

PAIA is the cheapest of the cheap, and also still vaporware. I never considered it seriously.

Serge was great but has a very expensive entry point since you have to buy it in $1500 - $2000 chunks. Also not truly modular like the Fenix. I wouldn't kick one out of bed, however.

DIY dropped out because I want to spend most of my time playing, not designing and building. Been there, done that. It is very hard to get professional looking front panels, and a shame to put all that work in just to have it look homebrew. A good kit is another matter, however.

Wiard dropped out because at the time they were not really rolling. They have since come to life and seem very nice. But they are kind of expensive, since they build VCAs into VCOs dedicated to velocity sensitivity, etc. Personally, I prefer separate units that I can patch in any manner. The other thing I dislike is 1/8" jacks. Still, worth considering.

Modcan also was attractive. Nice module lineup, and several owners I contacted seemed to like their systems a lot. The thing that really killed it for me was ergonomics. I drew out some panels full size, and they are cramped. Also, very small diameter knobs make for hair trigger adjustments. Plus, he hasn't added a new module to his lineup in over a year.

Doepfer was very attractive on price and features, but failed on construction quality and ergonomics. The panels are flimsy and inconsistantly color matched. Unsealed pots won't last 10 years. And if you think the Modcan panels are cramped, don't even try the Doepfer!

Which brought me to MOTM. I've been very happy with my choice. It just feels like a fine piece of lab gear and a fine musical instrument. The construction and part quality is top notch. The ergonomics are absolutely fantastic - large knobs, well spaced, smoooth sealed pots and solid switches, switchcraft 1/4" jacks - just the best. Feels like an old Moog modular. You can save money by building kits, which are the best documented and easy to assemble I've ever seen. All wiring is pre stripped and tinned, so it's pretty foolproof. Tech support from Paul is always available if you get stuck or have a problem in assembly. The VCO has the most awesome sounding sawtooth I've ever heard, and is absolutely spot on stable and accurate in tracking. The Korg MS-20 filter clone module also sounds great, and the system is dead quiet. The MOTM discussion group I've already mentioned above, and gives us a real sense of community with Paul. I'm personally convinced of the long term viability of the instrument, and Paul's commitment to it.

What's the downside? Only that we are still in a growth phase in terms of what's available right now. I actually made the leap of faith and committed to MOTM before the VCO and VCF modules came out, and was very happy with them when they did. If he never designed another module, you'd still have a viable very high quality synth with what's already available. However, Paul's like the friggin' Energizer Bunny. A module will get released every 4 - 8 weeks, sometimes slipping several weeks from the initial estimated date. The pace should pick up soon, because of a lot of simpler designs in the schedule. Between now and the end of the year, here's some of the stuff scheduled to release:

MOTM 410 Triple Resonater VCF (clone of the Korg PS-3200 filter), MOTM-320 VC LFO (wide range LFO with sync, 4 waveforms, VC shape), and a mess of 1 unit wide modules including a mult, a triple preamp, and a lag processor.

Also, two new VCFs duplicating the Oberheim SEM, and the famous SSM 2040 filter (used in the Prophet rev 1). He's promised to do a Moog ladder filter also when he gets around to it.

Then there's the single space lower cost "micro" series of VCO, and VCAs, the 16x2, 99 pattern performance sequencer, the Oberheim Xpander 15 mode filter.......

Hope I don't sound like a paid shill for MOTM. It's great stuff. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask me, or contact Paul directly. Good luck!

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