Introducing Joranalogue’s Nifty Eurorack Modules + Q&A With Joran van Gremberghe

Joranalogue is the brainchild of Joran van Gremberghe, a Belgian designer and engineer. A couple of months ago we came across two of Joranalogue‘s first Eurorack modules, Mix 3 and Switch 4.

They immediately caught our interest, because of their smart design, build quality and nifty features (not to mention the affordable price tag, especially considering their high-end components!).

Mix 3

Mix 3 is a smart 3+1 channel voltage controlled audio mixer, with a few tricks up its sleeve.
Not only does it combine a mixer (with 3 helpful LEDs) and four VCA, it also adds CV inputs, providing voltage control over the signal levels and giving users +20 dB of amplification.

For those who love adding a touch of saturation to their sounds, Mix 3 can be pretty handy as well.

It overdrives nicely and can be used as a triple voltage controlled distortion. We may need to add a few more of these to our system!

Mix 3 is a 6HP module, available for €160/$160.

Switch 4

Switch 4 does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a well-thought and versatile switcher/router with 4 inputs and adjustable toggle switches for sending to their respective outputs.

The module allows users to turn audio signals or control voltages on and off with the flick of a switch. You can use it to mute audio signals, trigger envelopes live, select modulation sources or even route an external input through multiple loopers, etc.

Switch 4 is an 8HP module, available for €120/$120.

Q&A With Joran van Gremberghe

We wanted to know more about Joranalogue, so we asked Joran himself some questions about his company, his view on the Eurorack market, his design choices and more.

– Can you tell us more about your background and how you got into modular synthesis?

For me, the love of electronic music came before the passion for synthesisers and audio. I’ve always had an analytical and autodidactic mind, so getting into electronics seemed inevitable. I also enjoy good ornamental design: interface, graphics, packaging. And being part of a community with nice, interesting people. The modular scene sits right at the crossroads of all these things. So after years of preparation, research and learning, I finally finished my electronics degree last year and started the company.

– The Eurorack market is a crowded one, what does Joranalogue bring to the table and what makes it stand out, in your own words?

In Eurorack, there’s a lot of focus on digital these days. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with digital audio, but there’s still a lot left to explore in the analogue domain. I’m taking existing concepts and implementing them in new forms (like Mix 3), or introducing completely new ideas to Eurorack (like Compare 2).

The end goal is to facilitate experimentation with new forms of analogue synthesis, moving beyond the old ‘coastal’ approaches. Other hallmarks include premium design and manufacturing, high performance by using modern components, and compact yet ergonomic, performance-ready form factors.

– Joranalogue is a new company but you’ve already released 4 modules. Is there one you’re particularly proud of? What should we expect next?

Compare 2, because it’s the latest one. 😉
(Editor’s note – While we were working on this article, Joranalogue introduced a new module, Compare 2, an advanced tool for extracting gates and pulses from analogue signals in Eurorack synths. We haven’t had a chance to put our hands on it yet, but Compare 2 looks like a highly versatile module that can find its place in any patch, processing either CV or audio: complex rhythm generator, dual pulse width modulator, frequency multiplier/divider with PWM, digital ‘ring modulator’ with PWM, etc.)

But I’m already excited for what’s coming next year. The products I’ve released now can all be considered utilities. In 2018, expect modules that turn the Joranalogue series into a proper modular synth system: primarily, signal sources, modifiers, and modulators.

– A crystal ball-kind of question: Will Joranalogue stick to the Eurorack format or should we also expect different products, such as standalone devices?

That’s a tricky one. I’ve always been fascinated by the modular approach, and I am really committed to Eurorack. But some concepts are best realised as standalone devices. It all depends on whatever needs I identify, in myself or others.

– Now that you have created and launched your first products, what is the best advice you would give to those young makers who are just starting their synth business?

My advice would be, before you even start to think in detail about your designs, to ensure a stable foundation for your brand: financially, but also physically and emotionally. Be very picky about the place you work, and the people around you.

– Let’s talk music: are you also a musician and what are your favorite electronic music artists?

I won’t claim to be a musician, the closest I can call myself is a ‘musical engineer’. But I work closely with actual musicians to develop the modules. My taste in music is quite eclectic, and definitely not restricted to electronic music or a particular time period: from IDM/braindance (Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert) to jazz (Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayers, Coltrane), funk, house, techno, drum’n’bass, ambient etc.

I continue to be amazed at music’s ability to set an atmosphere and amplify one’s mood, and being able to build the tools that enable this is a big motivator for me.

– Do you have a modular system and what’s in it?

My system started off with about 84 HP of Doepfer modules; lots of utilities to aid during module development. In the last year, the system quickly grew as I got more modules I needed for testing and traded with fellow manufacturers. So a shout out to Befaco, Erica Synths, Livestock Electronics, Shakmat Modular and!

– Testing your modules, we really appreciated their no-nonsense yet smart design. What are your reference names when it comes to interface design and why?

My main source of inspiration for interface design is vintage test equipment, as found around my lab. To me, these are the ultimate utilitarian electronic devices: designed to not waste your time, but quickly communicate their features and parameters. Take a look at some Philips PM series gear for example, and you’ll see what I mean.

– Last but not least, how should we pronounce Joranalogue? 😉

However you like, I won’t judge. 😉