Teenage Engineering goes modular with build it yourself synth kits
Folks who like to play around with synthesized sound usually like to get their hands dirty building hardware systems too, as evidenced by the many creations of YouTuber Sam Battle. Messing with modular systems can be expensive, but the latest Pocket Operators from Teenage Engineering start at just US$149. The "poor man's modular" systems come in flat pack kits for home assembly, with extra modules available to facilitate future growth.
Three system kits are available at launch, made up of a bend-it-and-shape-it aluminum chassis for each unit and a number of sound modules. The flat-packed kits come with "everything you need to get started. just bend, assemble and patch."
Once the chassis is bent into shape, the modules can be mounted, wire connectors snapped in and knobs put in place. Each kit comes with a battery pack (you'll need to buy a separate power adapter if you want to run a unit from a wall outlet) and a 70 page color build manual with suggested patches to get you started. Teenage Engineering reckons that most people should go from flat pack to finished build in 15 minutes.
The 16 is a stand-alone keyboard in burgundy with 16 tunable keys and a built-in sequencer. This $149 unit doesn't generate any sounds itself but is designed to control other modular synthesizers.
The 170 is a monophonic analog synthesizer in red. You won't need the 16 kit for this $349 unit as it has its own integrated keyboard, along with a programmable sequencer and speaker box. The 170 offers up nine modules and comes with eight patch cables to start making connections.
The modular range topper is the 400 analog synth (pictured above), which is priced at $499. This unit's yellow chassis has a carry handle for portability, there's a speaker box, three oscillators, two voltage-controlled amps, two envelopes, a filter, a mixer, a low frequency oscillator, and a 16 step sequencer. Sound tweakers are offered 16 modules, and the box contains 15 patch cables for linking modules.
Should creators wish to grow beyond the supplied configurations, individual modules will be made available later this year to cater for expansion into an open frame chassis.
The video below has more.
Product page: PO Modular