5u - the next trend?

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5u - the next trend?

Post by eboats » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:02 am

I got into Eurorack about 5 years ago and only in the last 6 months have I ventured into building a small 5u system. I'm kind of blown away by how good 5u gear sounds, and really like the bigger knobs and more space than what my cramped Eurorack has.

While Eurorack has taken off in popularity and become quite trendy over the last few years, I can't help but think 5u/larger format will become the next big trend. Do you agree? If it wasn't for this 5u board, I probably wouldn't have known anything about the 5u world so suspect newcomers to modular may not even know formats other than Euro exist. Of course the 5u format has been around forever, but Is it just a well kept secret about how great the 5u gear is?

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by Be Sandy? » Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:38 pm

I'm not sure.
Euro is a juggernaut which keeps on rolling.
5U and 4U for that matter, will always be smaller subsets of the modular ecosystem. Their comparatively small size compared to Euro means that a smaller number of manufacturers support the formats, which means a bit less choice, which means less people buy them, which means less manufacturers - the circle continues...
While trends do change, I think the Euro format will probably remain the dominant one for the foreseeable future.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't saying anything bad about 5U. My Modcan system stays with me forever. But I don't ever see it becoming as Euro is today.

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by levelhead3 » Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:39 pm

doubtful. trends are driven by a variety of factors, but the economics will likely prevent it if nothing else. 5u stuff is just more expensive, and trends will never be driven by the perception of quality alone.

it does have the nostalgia factor working for it, and i bet if moog released individual and even remotely affordable modules they would have a hard time keeping up with the demand based upon their name alone. but that might be the only scenario i could think of which would even have a chance at exponentially broadening interest in the 5u niche.

it's popularity has waxed and waned over the years, and there are a lot of really fantastic builders putting stuff out in the format right now. but i'd say the current increase in popularity is more related to the increase in popularity of modular in general.

i'd also say 5u is not really a secret, it's just perhaps perceived by many as an unnecessary luxury. for my euro friends sound is the bottom line. i have my own opinion on the general differences there, but at the end of the day you can't argue that euro doesn't sound good.

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by Christopher Winkels » Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:51 pm

I never found a set of 5U modules that sounds as good in aggregate as an AJH system, so that's where I am now.

Do I wish AJH built in the MU/5U format? Yeah, I prefer the less cramped format of 5U, and the 1/4" connectors, and the lower tolerance of graphic design that confounds rather than enlightens, but if the sound ain't there....

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by daveholiday » Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:44 pm

5 years ago when I started my modular journey I posted Doepfer or Syntehsizers.com. I am so glad I went with 5U...I love the large format, not because of the "sound" but because I like the traditional layout combined with ergonomics for people with big hands (and huge cocks) and poor eye sight! I have embraced some of the newer offerings in 5U that have taken a more digital turn (Dove Audio WTF and Waveplane) and I think it is a good thing. I think that 5U will keep growing, albeit a bit more slowly than eurorack, but, due to makers like Paula, Pablo, Tony, Rick, and so many others, they are keeping the format alive with new offerings. So rest assured, if you have big hands, poor eye sight, and a bunch of big roosters (that love EDM) I think the format will endure!
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by hsosdrum » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:11 pm

daveholiday wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:44 pm
...I like the traditional layout combined with ergonomics for people with big hands (and huge cocks)...

Not to mention vivid imaginations! :eek:

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by 3hands » Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:22 pm

I’m definitely on the fence with this. I have a pretty good euro system... but I would love to get that east coast vibe within 5 unit. I’m not sure... I may just build a minimoog into a case and start there... see where it gets me! But there is so much more going on within eurorack, things that are on the bleeding edge of what’s capable that had me simply wanting to build another 3 unit skiff... decisions decisions.
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by KSS » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:12 pm

5U's relevence to users with large hands -or desire for big knobs with adequate space to use them- grows smaller each month and year. Look at most of the new releases in 5U and be honest about how the operator utility often expressed as a reason for choice has given way to cramped panels supposedly only seen in Euro.

At this point, a preference for 1/4" jacks is bigger reason to continue using it, as big knobs and space on panels becomes evermore a present myth.

Uniformity of appearance -also often cited as reason for choosing 5U- is not far behind, as this new paradigm of more in less space takes hold.

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by fac » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:28 pm

KSS wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:12 pm
5U's relevence to users with large hands -or desire for big knobs with adequate space to use them- grows smaller each month and year. Look at most of the new releases in 5U and be honest about how the operator utility often expressed as a reason for choice has given way to cramped panels supposedly only seen in Euro.
I'm not so sure about that. Yes, there are some 5U manufacturers that make denser modules for those who want them, but I also see more moog clones than ever. And I still see frequent posts in the dotcom and 5U groups from people buying new large systems, who couldn't care less about function density. Roger Arrick, possibly the largest 5U-format manufacturer, hasn't abandoned big knobs even though he has released some denser modules in the past few years. I think this makes 5U more relevant, not less, since the target market is now larger.

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by KSS » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:49 pm

fac wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:28 pm
And I still see frequent posts in the dotcom and 5U groups from people buying new large systems, who couldn't care less about function density. Roger Arrick, possibly the largest 5U-format manufacturer, hasn't abandoned big knobs even though he has released some denser modules in the past few years. I think this makes 5U more relevant, not less, since the target market is now larger.
Funny, your post itself supports what I wrote.

A larger market with more users "who couldn't care less about function density" will lead to tighter spacing becoming ever more acceptable. As such acceptability increases, so will modules which follow it.

It was only after Roger faced years increasing competition from 3rd party 5U providers who did abandon the OG 5U 'panel ethics' -along with increasing pressure from users- that he finally began offering cramped modules. Whether this is the beginning of a slippery slope or not seems already obvious, but others may still disagree.

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by synthetic » Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:25 am

I don’t need glasses to use my 5u rig. :P

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by johny_gtr » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:52 am

it's quite fun that topics like "what is better 5u or eurorack" and "is 5U/MU/MOTH dead" are most popular here.

just my 0.02 again:

1) MU is a lot more niche product that Euro or desktop synths. MU systems and modules are made by fans and for fans. It's like win-win game.
Very few MU manufacturers try to make new modules design instead of copying again and again. How much TLF and DUSG we have on the market? But it's understandable as a safe bet because some unique modules are harder to sell (if I remember right Synthtech Paul wrote about it some years ago). Some guys provide whole line of interesting modules but it's a pain to connect with them (I'm waiting (to be honest - not) for an answer for 5+ years. Most of euro modules you can buy from 20+ stores with paypal protection.

2) MU looks better and some analog modules sounds for me more organic than some price analog modules in Euro. Euro is 10^X better in digital domain and complex modules domain. Modules like Stages, Marbles, Zadar work great with MU system and don't have any competitors in MU (instead of euro clones for bigger format)

3) Euro is more interesting if creating melodies is hard for you. Both - creating sequences (especially in sequencers like 960 style) or playing by hands is a lot harder and need some practice that self-playing stations. Self-playing machines can be created from 2-4-5 modules (quite cheap and good for a small apartments), and be used as Lego blocks. Just fun and relaxing :)
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by eboats » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:17 am

For me, the thing that jumped out was the big sound/punch of 5u compared to my Eurorack system. For that big phat Moog sound, I feel my 5u modules win the contest, though am sure there are Eurorack modules geared more to the Moog sound and maybe I don't have them in my Eurorack system.

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by daveholiday » Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:44 am

hsosdrum wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 9:11 pm
daveholiday wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:44 pm
...I like the traditional layout combined with ergonomics for people with big hands (and huge cocks)...

Not to mention vivid imaginations! :eek:
Dammit....you called me out...I had to sell my rooster collection last year because of the HOA.
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by levelhead3 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:52 am

today's phrase is "rooster collection". :yay:

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by hamildad » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:19 am

A rising tide raises all boats,

thankfully the economics of 5U mean it might remain feasible following a drop in interest for Modular Synths / Synths in general.

The number of manufacturers of Eurorack gear coupled by the aggressive pricing of larger companies mean I worry about the sustainability once the bubble has burst and the new user market is dried up.
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by dslocum » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:22 am

synthetic wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:25 am
I don’t need glasses to use my 5u rig. :P
But having a ponytail doesn't hurt! :hihi:
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by josaka » Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:06 am

5u is to pricey to be the 'next' thing.. there is no dropping of interest in buying synth stuff..
its all switched to behringer.. its fucking mental.. the sys 100m / moog / arp 2600 / cat / pro 1 / 808 /909 /606/ obxA / and so on..
personally I dont think these things sound exactly the same .. but close enough for laymen.. and relatively cheap..
..if you can buy a system 100m module that cost 100£ that looks very similar to the original or pay 3x that for one that has less of the features and look different ?


hamildad wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:19 am
A rising tide raises all boats,

thankfully the economics of 5U mean it might remain feasible following a drop in interest for Modular Synths / Synths in general.

The number of manufacturers of Eurorack gear coupled by the aggressive pricing of larger companies mean I worry about the sustainability once the bubble has burst and the new user market is dried up.

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by Just me » Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:22 am

I don't care if it is a "trend" or not. I also don't see how the size of the faceplate makes it sound fatter. I have MU because I hate cramped little modules with tiny knobs and the patch cables covering everything. I had ARP products in the 70's and 80's and had issues with the 1/8" jacks and cables. (I've also had issues with Cinch-Jones and RCA connectors during the era) I went with Dotcom's format over MOTM because there was no strict adherence to some arbitrary grid. I NEED my modules to have differing layouts so my old feeble eyes can differentiate the modules on a darkened stage. Having the same knobs as my MiniMoog is comforting and user friendly. I looked closely at doepfer before I started on my modular journey. I liked the look, variety and cost but when I saw the first one IRL was completely turned off by the size.
Those Euro only modules that I want I have either ported myself to MU or bought one from someone else who did it for me. (E350, Wooblebug, DRLPG)

Playing live is where it shines. It is big. It is easy to use. And to the audience, you aren't hunching over an invisible box looking like you are playing a game of Operation. They get to see the large mass of knobs and your interaction with them.
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by Be Sandy? » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:46 pm

I sometimes wonder if I am the only person who uses 5U who manages to get into the same amount of spaghetti patching mess with knobs obstructed as I do with smaller format modulars!

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by levelhead3 » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:15 pm

Be Sandy? wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:46 pm
I sometimes wonder if I am the only person who uses 5U who manages to get into the same amount of spaghetti patching mess with knobs obstructed as I do with smaller format modulars!
nope. the difference is with 5u you don't also need to be holding tweezers as you snake your arm through the cables...

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by Flareless » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:17 pm

levelhead3 wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:15 pm
Be Sandy? wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:46 pm
I sometimes wonder if I am the only person who uses 5U who manages to get into the same amount of spaghetti patching mess with knobs obstructed as I do with smaller format modulars!
nope. the difference is with 5u you don't also need to be holding tweezers as you snake your arm through the cables...
:yay: :tu:
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by 3hands » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:22 pm

levelhead3 wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:15 pm
Be Sandy? wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:46 pm
I sometimes wonder if I am the only person who uses 5U who manages to get into the same amount of spaghetti patching mess with knobs obstructed as I do with smaller format modulars!
nope. the difference is with 5u you don't also need to be holding tweezers as you snake your arm through the cables...
Hahaha! Well played!!!
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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by Be Sandy? » Mon Feb 17, 2020 3:22 pm

Tweezers - that made me laugh!

I've found the ergonomics of all the modular formats I've used to be largely the same. Choice is really down to what modules there are in a format and do they have features I want/need.

I really still use 5U because I fell in love with Modcan modules and ended up with a solely Modcan system. The 5U choice wasn't about ergonomics, it was largely defined by the fact that it was the format they were available in that could (easily) interface with my other equipment if desired. Modcan hadn't yet made any Euro modules and the banana based A series wasn't as practical for me at the time.

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Re: 5u - the next trend?

Post by Faustgeist » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:11 pm

daveholiday wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:44 pm
...I like the traditional layout combined with ergonomics for people with big hands (and huge cocks)...


In case anyone is curious, DaveHoliday is JUST the same in person!

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