Sunday, 25 May 2014

What U is that synth ??? - Modular synthesizer sizes.

Confused with the different sizes and dimensions that modular synth manufacturers use? 
Well here is a brief break down of how they measure up with one another.

Most synth manufacturers use varying widths, but standardize when it comes to height.
The dimensions they share stem from  rack mounted equipment (audio & computer).
Modular synths between 3U and 6U are the most common.
Width and height are the most important factors.

Width is usually measured in units of TE (TeilungsEinheiten, german.) or HP (Horizontal Pitch)
One TE/HP = 5.08mm = 0.2inches or 1/5"

Height is usually measured in terms of  HE (H√∂henEinheit, german.). or units (U, english)
One U =  44.45mm = 1.75 inches.


1U (1.75 inches or 44.45mm) Not a very common size when it comes to modular synths.It is used extensively in audio gear. Some synths that use this format are Thomas Henry & erthenvar
Dopefer also produced a few 1U synths like the MS-404. Not a modular though.

Erthenvar sell 1U PulpLogic modules such as this Sample & Hold.
Very handy if you have limited space.

2U (3.5 inches or 88.9mm) Again, this is not a very common size when it comes to modular synthesizers. This height is more common with audio gear. Some rack mounted synths that are are sold in this size include the Paia Fatman and the Waldorf Pulse. And one of the most popular digital synths to ever come from Roland the JV-1080 took the 2U format.
Wiard does produce a 2Unit 311C Dual JAG Controller

 3U (5.25 inches or 133.4 mm) This is probably the most common size when it comes to modular synths.
It includes the the huge Eurorack/Doepfer range and all Frac-Rac, Blacet, Wiard, Metalbox, BugBrand, PlanB, Livewire, Bananalogue, Analogue Solutions, Analogue Systems, NonLinearCircuits (NLC), Synton, Paia, Metasonix, etc, etc etc
An assortment of 3U Eurorack modules from different manufacturers. (Blue Lantern, WMD, ADDAC, Snazzy effects).

Doepfer's 3U mini synth voice the A-111-5 (it's the eurorack version of the Dark Energy) next to Din Sync's modularized Roland TB 303 filter.

4U (7 inches or 177.8mm) Serge - STS , polyfusion
(out of production), NonLinearCircuits (NLC) , Driscoll & Buchla

Three Buchla 200e modules:281e, 292e.261e. Each is 7" high and 4.25" wide

A panel of Driscol modules. Width varies but height stays the same (7").

An early 70's era Paperface Serge 4U modular panel (7" x 17").

The 4U NonLinearCircuit Cellular Automata sequencer panel.

 5U (8.75 inches or 222.25mm) MOTM - Synthesis Tech, Moog, Synthesizers Dotcom, Encore, Modcan B series, Metasonix. 

The Moog modular synthesizers use the 900-series of modules.

(almost) 5U Modules : Cyndustries  Format A & Modcan  A
Modcan A modules are 9" high (5u is 8.75 inches) and single width modules are 2.25" wide
The most compact packaging is the Cyndustries sixpacks (13.5" x 9" x 7"). These are entirely different from the dimensions of 19" racks.

6U (10.5 inches or 266.7mm) Wiard 300 series. They are designed to fit in a 19" rack mounting frame (6 across)

9U (15.75 inches or 400.05mm) - A Real Monster of a Synth  : Technosaurus

                      *** For any corrections or mistakes please email me *****

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