Is 5U A Dying Format?

Moog, Synthesizers.com, MOTM, Modcan, Moon and others..... Go big!

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chaosick
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Post by chaosick » Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:44 pm

Mark11Audio wrote:
chaosick wrote:
coyoteous wrote:OK, people... we can all be friends here now, right?

(guest included... I was going to respond individually, or at least list you all out, but getting a poster's handle in bold in your message by just clicking on it apparently only works on the last page)

Even if Synthesizers.com and every other current 'new' 5U/MU maker shut down overnight, there's still enough secondhand product circulating to live on for some time (not to mention DIY, etc.).

So, I think we can put the dead and dying notions to bed... It may even be growing, albeit slowly.

In fact, we're probably the main alternative to Eurorack, and we can coexist peacefully... it's OK to mix it up a little in the mosh pit too, I guess.

I've honestly never met a synthesizer I didn't like at least a little, even digital, so I think we're sometimes splitting hairs just for drama... it's alright to be for your 'home team(s),' too (brand/format/module/etc.).
I played a prophet 12 and HATED that thing.
Well that too bad, I love mine... and it's a deep machine, so it does take some time to dig in... just my .02€ :mrgreen:

... and I may be a bit biased, as I went directly to Dave and received firsthand experience demo'ing at DSI as well as I know Tony, one of the engineers who worked on it... many of the patches right out of the box are "good starting points." But you have to make them your own... turn knobs, alter the sounds, dig deep... but again... if it wasn't for you, then it wasn't for you... :despair:

I spent hours comparing it to the REV 2 as those were the two I had narrowed my choice down to. Also hearing directly from Dave himself say, "The 12 is his current favorite" of all... that lead strongly on my decision. Plus I received two strong recommendations from two other Pro musicians out there, Mel Wesson of NODE, and Robert Rich... both recommended the P-12... :tu: :tu: :tu:
Used to own a Tempest. I think that's still the best thing they ever made and one of the things that pushed me into modular (what with being able to sequence multiple voices and modulate everything etc.)

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Post by MindMachine » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:13 am

^ Yeah MU/5U is non-Berlin School so you are cool here. :mrgreen:

To the OP - yes. This is a dying format. Someone buy my $95.00 Q107 before the prices skyrocket!!

So I can get a Moon unit soon. Hopefully during this big ole moon cycle.

:ripbanana:
FS: Pedals, Mangler, Tascam 238 and DR-03
viewtopic.php?f=74&t=244651

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Post by chaosick » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:28 pm

:waah:
MindMachine wrote:^ Yeah MU/5U is non-Berlin School so you are cool here. :mrgreen:

To the OP - yes. This is a dying format. Someone buy my $95.00 Q107 before the prices skyrocket!!

So I can get a Moon unit soon. Hopefully during this big ole moon cycle.

:ripbanana:
:love:

Thanks to all that responded with thoughtful points and posts to my comments. I think the average level here is higher; it seems to me the euro forum has become quite heavy on questions like "what should I buy after my mother-32?" And generally quite focused on consumerism.

To return to the title, I have asked myself the same question for years now with regard to aikido, the martial art I practice. Much of the demographic is not so far off from 5U, to the extent I'm sure I'm not particularly representative of either group, and I'm not sure either group actually cares too much about such questions as long as they enjoy what they're doing. It *is* important to attract youth and fresh blood to mediums to invigorate them, but perhaps the question is less if something is dying and more if they are consigned to obscurity and possibly irrelevance to most, and if one cares/ what the consequences of that are?

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Post by Sugarfree » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:52 pm

Irrelevant? No. I'd say 5U is dormant. Like everything else in life, it just needs a generational change.

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:04 pm

I think the perceptions are fairly relative. If eurorack didn't exist all, 5U would probably be considered to be wildly popular and innovative? :nod:

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Post by chaosick » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:05 pm

Sugarfree wrote:Irrelevant? No. I'd say 5U is dormant. Like everything else in life, it just needs a generational change.
Well, such is the case for many things. It's just always hard to predict which way the wind will blow.

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Post by chaosick » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:08 pm

JohnLRice wrote:I think the perceptions are fairly relative. If eurorack didn't exist all, 5U would probably be considered to be wildly popular and innovative? :nod:
Was it? Why has eurorack caught on to a broader sphere (for better or worse) while 5U hasn't? Is it all thanks to Dieter Doepfer?
As you've pointed out to me, many of the same types of modules exist in 5U as in eurorack, albeit seemingly sometimes at higher costs for more functionally dense one, possibly in part due to a wider insistence on all-analog/knob per function signal paths and UI. If I wasn't already in eurorack or didn't know it existed, it would definitely make sense to be in 5U for my musical needs. But I didn't even really become aware of 5U until I had already started in the eurorack direction. This seems like a marketing problem.

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Post by PrimateSynthesis » Sat Feb 03, 2018 3:30 pm

chaosick wrote:
JohnLRice wrote:I think the perceptions are fairly relative. If eurorack didn't exist all, 5U would probably be considered to be wildly popular and innovative? :nod:
Was it? Why has eurorack caught on to a broader sphere (for better or worse) while 5U hasn't? Is it all thanks to Dieter Doepfer?
If eurorack didn't exist at all, 5U would be considered popular compared to Serge and Buchla. And for the same reason eurorack caught on to a broader sphere than 5U. That reason is cost. Back before there were all these other manufacturers, Synthesis Technology sold expensive, high-performance modules with arguably excessive build-quality. While Doepfer sold cheap modules that were much easier to afford.
FS: Rare Morley Rotating Wah Oil Can Delay!

Since the forum has gone back to being 100% community funded, I've decided to donate half the proceeds from the Morley Rotating Wah this thread is supposedly selling :miley:

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Post by Sugarfree » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:19 pm

OTOH, Doepfer had been selling cheap modules for many years before it suddenly exploded into the pop market. It's like the path of least resistance. The plugins market got saturated. A modular became the next cool target... and since Euro was the least expensive...

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:26 pm

chaosick wrote:
JohnLRice wrote:I think the perceptions are fairly relative. If eurorack didn't exist all, 5U would probably be considered to be wildly popular and innovative? :nod:
Was it? Why has eurorack caught on to a broader sphere (for better or worse) while 5U hasn't? Is it all thanks to Dieter Doepfer?
As you've pointed out to me, many of the same types of modules exist in 5U as in eurorack, albeit seemingly sometimes at higher costs for more functionally dense one, possibly in part due to a wider insistence on all-analog/knob per function signal paths and UI. If I wasn't already in eurorack or didn't know it existed, it would definitely make sense to be in 5U for my musical needs. But I didn't even really become aware of 5U until I had already started in the eurorack direction. This seems like a marketing problem.
Probably lots of reasons and coincidences etc. There was sort of a 5U modular synth generation gap that happened, since Moog died away in the late 70's / early 80's and then the new wave of 5U builders (Modcan, Synth Tech and Synthesizers.com) didn't appear on the scene until the end of the 90's and didn't get much public exposure, meanwhile Radiohead plays live with a medium sized AS modular on a national TV broadcast of Saturday Night Live and is seen by millions. (I remember a co-worker who was younger than me and also a musician asking me if I had seen the broadcast, I hadn't, and he tried to describe in awe the strange box of knobs and wires they used. I said "oh, it was a modular synth!" and he looks confused and says he didn't think so. :roll: :hihi: )

And there are a lot of early perceptions, positive and negative and for each format, that get passed around and amplified and new people take them at face value without verifying facts.

And the big three 5U makers that got the large format ball rolling again have done / not done things or had things happen out of their control that helped to limit/retard the format's success, IMHO:

* Synth Tech: Only sold direct, had slow and unpredictable order fulfillment (sometimes months to years) and then Paul totally abandoned the 5U format he created. Also used different power supply connectors than other 5U brands.

* Synthesizers.com: Only sells direct and refuses to go to trade shows like NAMM, Knobcon and Superbooth. Also used different power supply connectors than other 5U brands, although theirs eventually became the 'standard'.

* Modcan: Only sold 5U direct, didn't attend trade shows (I think?), and then unfortunately suffered a serious health set back and has been effectively out of business (or I guess on-hold) for several years now (get well, Bruce! :hug: Also used different power supply connectors than other 5U brands. Pricing was quite high, probably the most expensive 5U brand, excluding Moog?

And then some of the second string of new 5U builders didn't inspire confidence, had limited offerings, or lacked compatibility, at least initially:

* COTK: unpredictable/erratic communications and order fulfillment (sometimes months to years to . . never?). Also used different power supply connectors than other 5U brands and different voltages than most other brands.

* Mos-Lab: limited range of offerings and used different power supply connectors than other 5U brands and different voltages than most other brands.

* Marienberg Modular: Relatively unknown and uses different panel widths, mounting holes, power supply connectors than other 5U brands and some modules require a 4th 3.3v rail that no other power supply makers provide.

And other 5U makers have been slow to build up their range of offerings, (often announcing exciting modules that take years to ship or are just abandoned, which probably isn't a concern with eurorack so much since there are so many reliable full range builders and multiple new modules hitting the market weekly. Also, Synthesizers.com has been the only consistent and versatile supplier of 5U cases and power supplies for the last 18 years or so.

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Post by Sugarfree » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:34 pm

John, this was an excellent history lesson. Thank you.

Based on what you wrote, one could argue that 5U didn't adapt to the modern concept of "supply creates demand". Like with fast-food, people buy what's available.

Direct sales and having to ask for a quote and availability gives me a pause every time, so I stayed away from Synthesizers.com. I got into 5U eventually only because Moon was available through Noisebug.

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Post by josaka » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:47 pm

Synth-Werk are trying to offer the whole range of Moog original 60s modules.. great sounding extremely well built and with .com power.. and gerhard is anything but flakey ! ..the modules are a little pricey but compared to the originals its almost free :) !!

http://synth-werk.com/content/modules

wait times will go up I am sure... :(

there is SSL and STG labs as well..

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Post by coyoteous » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:42 pm

Sugarfree wrote:John, this was an excellent history lesson. Thank you.

Based on what you wrote, one could argue that 5U didn't adapt to the modern concept of "supply creates demand". Like with fast-food, people buy what's available.

Direct sales and having to ask for a quote and availability gives me a pause every time, so I stayed away from Synthesizers.com. I got into 5U eventually only because Moon was available through Noisebug.
It is Black History Month (black panel history, that is... no trivialization, etc. intended).
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Post by chaosick » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:19 pm

Sugarfree wrote:John, this was an excellent history lesson. Thank you.

Based on what you wrote, one could argue that 5U didn't adapt to the modern concept of "supply creates demand". Like with fast-food, people buy what's available.

Direct sales and having to ask for a quote and availability gives me a pause every time, so I stayed away from Synthesizers.com. I got into 5U eventually only because Moon was available through Noisebug.
Yes, thank you, that was excellent.

Moog is a joke to me at this point, I have infinitely more respect for all the manufacturers you named than this once great company--$10K for a system 15? WTF?
(And I still think the best thing they ever made, arguably, was the Sonic 6, not made by Bob anyhow).

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Post by hsosdrum » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:26 pm

Sugarfree wrote:Direct sales and having to ask for a quote and availability gives me a pause every time, so I stayed away from Synthesizers.com. I got into 5U eventually only because Moon was available through Noisebug.
I must admit that Synthesizers.com's business model originally gave me pause too (no dealers, no way to play or even see their products before committing some serious $$, and not even a phone number so you could talk to a sentient human). However, after I read dozens and dozens of positive reports about how they do business (and not a single negative report) I decided to take a several-thousand dollar chance on them (bought a 44-space 5U system sight-unseen/sound-unheard) and have been ecstatically happy with the quality of both their products and their customer service. Sometimes you just gotta roll the dice and take a chance in life.

Recently I have also made a purchase from Doug at SSL and find him every bit as easy to do business with and his products (in this case the Model 1200 VCO) of just as high quality as Synthesizers.com.

However, there's simply no way I would have made the same multi-thousand dollar dice roll with a vendor in another country. There's just too much logistical bullshit to go through (to which plenty of threads here attest). This is not the fault of the vendors — it's just the way things are, but it's enough of a PITA that I'll only buy foreign-made modules at a dealer like Noisebug (which I'm fortunate to live less than an hour's drive from). That's how I got my Moon modules, along with more SSL 1200 VCOs and an STG Mixer.

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Post by chaosick » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:33 pm

hsosdrum wrote:
Sugarfree wrote:Direct sales and having to ask for a quote and availability gives me a pause every time, so I stayed away from Synthesizers.com. I got into 5U eventually only because Moon was available through Noisebug.
I must admit that Synthesizers.com's business model originally gave me pause too (no dealers, no way to play or even see their products before committing some serious $$, and not even a phone number so you could talk to a sentient human). However, after I read dozens and dozens of positive reports about how they do business (and not a single negative report) I decided to take a several-thousand dollar chance on them (bought a 44-space 5U system sight-unseen/sound-unheard) and have been ecstatically happy with the quality of both their products and their customer service. Sometimes you just gotta roll the dice and take a chance in life.

Recently I have also made a purchase from Doug at SSL and find him every bit as easy to do business with and his products (in this case the Model 1200 VCO) of just as high quality as Synthesizers.com.

However, there's simply no way I would have made the same multi-thousand dollar dice roll with a vendor in another country. There's just too much logistical bullshit to go through (to which plenty of threads here attest). This is not the fault of the vendors — it's just the way things are, but it's enough of a PITA that I'll only buy foreign-made modules at a dealer like Noisebug (which I'm fortunate to live less than an hour's drive from). That's how I got my Moon modules, along with more SSL 1200 VCOs and an STG Mixer.
Sounds like you have a lot more limitations in 5U due to the nature of the market. I can't imagine doing that for eurorack..a majority of my modules are from European companies at this point, and most of those were bought from European sellers here or from Schneidersladen, Juno, etc.

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Post by eskimo99 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:05 pm

Not sure where Oakley fits in exactly in John’s timeline up above.

Thanks for that.

But as a MOTM user I’ve been looking at there offerings too.

Krisp1 is definitely going to get a bit of business from me. :hail:
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Post by SynthBaron » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:06 pm

JohnLRice wrote:I think the perceptions are fairly relative. If eurorack didn't exist all, 5U would probably be considered to be wildly popular and innovative? :nod:
Maybe, but it would still be expensive because it (still) lacks the manufacturing efficiencies of the Eurorack format. I think the lower price was probably the real driving factor behind its wild popularity. And that includes less shipping costs between manufacturer, distributor, and user for cases and modules.
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Post by Shledge » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:32 pm

Eurorack started the entire modular revival though, so I don't see how 5U would have been popular without it. Apart from a few DIYers and hardcore fans, people were practically throwing modulars out at that point.

Cost and size is what lured people back in, that and people rediscovering analogue synths in general.

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Post by dubonaire » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:41 pm

Just thought I'd add my perspective. I spent about five years researching before I made my Euro modular format decision, which was slightly serendipitous because a friend had some modules for sale.

I had planned to go 5U starting with a home made case and synthesizers.com modules. I'd always dreamed of having a full size modular system. JLR's history lesson is a big reason why I began to hesitate. A lot of the interesting modules were mainly unobtainium. And no one really knew what Synthtech's plans were, or how to have normal communications with COTK. There were also stories of repair jobs disappearing into the ether as well. The 5U forum was as much about what wasn't available as what was available. Although five or six years ago though there were also shortages in Euro.

Another big factor is size. I would hazard a guess that the majority of 5U owners live in detached houses with reasonable room for a 5U system, and possibly not as peripatetic as someone like me.

And I think the final factor is that Euro is a fertile ground for innovation at the moment, that can't be denied.

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Post by chaosick » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:56 pm

dubonaire wrote:Just thought I'd add my perspective. I spent about five years researching before I made my Euro modular format decision, which was slightly serendipitous because a friend had some modules for sale.

I had planned to go 5U starting with a home made case and synthesizers.com modules. I'd always dreamed of having a full size modular system. JLR's history lesson is a big reason why I began to hesitate. A lot of the interesting modules were mainly unobtainium. And no one really knew what Synthtech's plans were, or how to have normal communications with COTK. There were also stories of repair jobs disappearing into the ether as well. The 5U forum was as much about what wasn't available as what was available. Although five or six years ago though there were also shortages in Euro.

Another big factor is size. I would hazard a guess that the majority of 5U owners live in detached houses with reasonable room for a 5U system, and possibly not as peripatetic as someone like me.

And I think the final factor is that Euro is a fertile ground for innovation at the moment, that can't be denied.
Yep..all this is reaffirming to me I definitely made the right decision.

Size: pictures of some people's studios is incredible! My "music room" is big enough for a large table and a couple of chairs. So that's the finite size of my rig, at least for now. I have travelled all over the world with my guitar in tow, played with all sorts of people on streets, in parks, inside and outside houses..my vision for my eurorack system is also in this spirit, no desire to have some behemoth I can't pack up in < 30 minutes.
Vaguely related to this, I am certainly different from the 5U build in terms of this, but also compared to many euro users, but I hate the idea of having a vertical modular system, with the racks/modules completely facing perpendicular to the ground. There is just something that feels very clinical and unmusic-like about it to me. I equally dislike the idea of having it all spread out in a floor while I squat and give myself permanent back damage..having things slanted on a table while looking down a bit is just right for me..maybe because it is a similar posture and feeling to playing the classical guitar.

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Post by MindMachine » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:54 am

Euro v.s. MU... everything is smaller these days. The younger generations listen to music on music players as big as a 1970's keychain. Phones are as small as you want them. Maybe this has something to do with Euro marketability/popularity. I enjoy all of the formats, but MU/5U may be dying as the typical users are aging and smaller seems more desirable.
chaosick wrote::waah:
MindMachine wrote:^ Yeah MU/5U is non-Berlin School so you are cool here. :mrgreen:

To the OP - yes. This is a dying format. Someone buy my $95.00 Q107 before the prices skyrocket!!

So I can get a Moon unit soon. Hopefully during this big ole moon cycle.

:ripbanana:
:love:

Thanks to all that responded with thoughtful points and posts to my comments. I think the average level here is higher; it seems to me the euro forum has become quite heavy on questions like "what should I buy after my mother-32?" And generally quite focused on consumerism.
:tu:

If by 'average level here is higher' you mean older and perhaps less instant gratification minded, then yep.
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Post by chaosick » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:18 am

MindMachine wrote:Euro v.s. MU... everything is smaller these days. The younger generations listen to music on music players as big as a 1970's keychain. Phones are as small as you want them. Maybe this has something to do with Euro marketability/popularity. I enjoy all of the formats, but MU/5U may be dying as the typical users are aging and smaller seems more desirable.
chaosick wrote::waah:
MindMachine wrote:^ Yeah MU/5U is non-Berlin School so you are cool here. :mrgreen:

To the OP - yes. This is a dying format. Someone buy my $95.00 Q107 before the prices skyrocket!!

So I can get a Moon unit soon. Hopefully during this big ole moon cycle.

:ripbanana:
:love:

Thanks to all that responded with thoughtful points and posts to my comments. I think the average level here is higher; it seems to me the euro forum has become quite heavy on questions like "what should I buy after my mother-32?" And generally quite focused on consumerism.
:tu:

If by 'average level here is higher' you mean older and perhaps less instant gratification minded, then yep.
Yep. I'm 33 but I've always been an old soul. I still think In a Silent Way is arguably the greatest electronic album ever recorded. Right up there with the best of Aphex Twin.

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Post by hsosdrum » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:59 am

chaosick wrote:Sounds like you have a lot more limitations in 5U due to the nature of the market. I can't imagine doing that [buying only from USA companies] for eurorack..a majority of my modules are from European companies at this point, and most of those were bought from European sellers here or from Schneidersladen, Juno, etc.
I suppose if 5U products were only available from other-than-USA companies I would bite the bullet and put up with the hassle of doing international business. One thing I would NOT do would be to switch to Euro. Too dinky, too cramped, too toy-like (some of the front-panel graphics look to me like they're straight out of comic books) and too 3.5mm. For a music-making machine it's less inviting than a baritone saxophone.

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Post by coyoteous » Sun Feb 04, 2018 4:44 am

chaosick:

We're forum friends now... but, RDJ vs. Miles?

(can't even believe I just wrote that)

Come on, man... that's just not right.
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