Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Discussion and support for users and builders of Oakley Sound musical products.

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Super Deluxe Wiggler
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Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Post by Synthbuilder » Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:02 am

It's that time of year again when I do my stock taking and look back on the previous 12 months and see what has been selling and what hasn't. The pandemic and Brexit have both had an impact on sales in general but the 5U modules continue to be less popular than they once were. I had been looking into doing a range of MU format modules but the ASV experiment has been disappointing so I'm not sure how this will progress. I may however do a couple of my smaller modules and see how they do.

For the existing MOTM format range the most likely outcome is that I won't restock the least popular boards once existing stock has been sold. I'll keep the 'PCB Stock News' post above updated to include boards that are likely to be discontinued. The current list of endangered boards is:

Diode Superladder
Transistor Superladder

It is likely that these will be soon joined by:


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Re: Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Post by terjewinther » Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:14 am

I am very sorry to hear that even Oakley is considering cutting back on the 5U format. Many miles of posts here on muffwiggler and other places have been written about the fact that most people today seem to favor smaller format, mostly eurorack. And even the eurorack format have shrinked: where there used to be modules with spacious widths and fair knobs, there are today lots of modules in sub-tiny size, with "knobs" that are nothing more than the axel of the pot. I run an annual analog synth gathering in Norway, and have observed that younger people mostly do small formats, and small boxes, easy to carry and drag into tours, clubs and concerts. It seems that the music goes the same way: most of the modular-based music I hear now is effects, abstract noises and beats, which is quite far from any resemblance to tonal music requiring several modules to fulfill. On top of this, you have the effect of "format wars" (for those of you that didn´ t live in the 1970s - look it up!), that seems to center in on one type of format, and eurorack being the winner. It is interesting to look back 20 years and observe that there was a multitude of formats, but most of them are gone now.

There is of course another factor, of which I may well be one: I used to buy a lot of Oakley modules, but these days I only buy the occasional project now and then. Mostly because my modular cases are all filled up, so for me there is less need to buy modules now. If the majority of the Oakley customers are like me, there could be a natural development of sales because of this. If so, it would be interesting to compare with other manufacturers in the 5U domain, to see if they too are experiencing diminished sales.

If you are to stop making these modules, I for one would be very sorry to see it go. The quality of the modules and projects are well above and beyond almost anything else out there. In the beginning I had a mix of modules from many manufacturers, but after having used my modulars both live and in the studio, both as a solo artist and within a band, modules from almost all other brands have been excluded from my modulars, and I am left with modules that work, are solid, and sound good, and that is almost exclusively Oakley.

I understand that most people using MU (the moog format) don't build modules themselves (could be wrong about this, though). Several brands that I have contacted that originally had both DIY versions and ready build versions of their modules now only have readymade versions of their modules. My suggestions for Oakley would be to consider trying out the MU format, both as readymade and DIY. Most DIYers would then have the possibility to use the MU-format PCBs to make their own 5U format modules using front panels from Schaeffer and the likes.

Whatever you chooses, I do hope you stay in the synth business.

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Re: Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Post by Ricochet » Wed Apr 07, 2021 6:41 am

it's too bad to hear that... :jawdrop: :waah: :waah:

I can only agree with the previous speaker: OAKLEY modules are excellent building blocks of a
modular synthesizer ... everyone will miss them :woah:

I will now try to get more pcbs quickly....until the chequered flag finally falls :cflag: :cflag:

My suggestion would be:
You may continue to work with pre-orders later ... OAKLEY fans will have to put up with longer waiting times.

Or pass the designs on to one of the large PCB suppliers under license

wish you all best
sailing away with the first winds of the new day !

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Re: Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Post by waldenpotato » Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:13 am

It would be a sad day to see these modules no longer available. I'm late to the game and wish I could've been around 20 or 10 years ago.

Thanks for making such great projects.

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Re: Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Post by Schlumpfhut » Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:05 pm

waldenpotato wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 9:13 am
It would be a sad day to see these modules no longer available.
That's why i got a HUGE pile of 5U projects last year ;) (and because of Brexit)

Also from me a big thank you for all those AWESOME projects, excellent documentation and high quality PCB.
Of course i will continue to buy the new rack projects down the road and even some eurorack project some day :party:

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umma gumma
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Re: Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Post by umma gumma » Sun Apr 11, 2021 1:44 am

That is sad to hear: I thought there would be enough demand to keep things going. Modular in general seems to keep getting more popular, which I assumed was good for 5U as well as Euro

I went with 5U because I prefer the form factor. I recently ordered some things, and hope you still have stock once I get those built & need other stuff!

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Re: Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Post by Kent » Sun Apr 11, 2021 2:41 am

Gotta chop that thinning :ponytail: off at some point!

All kidding aside, I sympathize with your situation. It is difficult, if not foolish/fetishistic to keep a dwindling market supplied. It takes too much in the way of resources (money, time, energy) and those things could be put toward much more rewarding pursuits; which I'm sure you'll do!

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