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Introduced in late 1997, the Modular is something really innovative from the point of view of programming facilities and sound research. The basic idea comes from the original analog modular synthesizer, a technological masterpiece that during 70's inspired the most important artists, from Wendy Carlos to Keith Emerson. Despite his incredible power in sound programming, the analog modular synthesizer's success was limited by four important problems: programming time, high cost, large size and overweight. Clavia surpassed these limits proposing a new idea: a little sized unit that, for a reasonable cost, offers the same programming power thanks to a virtual patching enviroment supported by an external computer (Mac/Win platform).

Technical Details
Nord Modular Editor
Software Updates


Three different models are currently produced: the Modular Rack, the Modular Keys and the Micro Modular. All these models feature the same sound quality and timbral response. The Micro can be considered as a light version only for the look, the minimal control panel and I/O section. The DSP power is also limited, but this affects mainly polyphony and polytimbral capabilites, not sound quality.


CONVENIENCE - The Modular unifies the sound power of modular analog synthesis with the digital technology advantages. For example, you can program incredibly large virtual patches in studio using the Modular with a computer and then move to the concert stage without any carriage problem. The Modular weight and dimensions are minimal, but a large number of memories can be instantly recalled offering very complex patches without the need of physical modules and connections. Compared with the previous versions (limited to 100 memory locations), the Modular v.3 operating system provides 9 banks able to store up to 99 memories each (depending from the number of modules used). A specific Patch Compression algorithm allows to optimize this kind of memory management.

FLEXIBILITY - Thanks to his open system, the Modular can virtually emulate the large modular systems of the past (such as Moog System 55, Roland System 700, etc.), but also redesign the block diagrams of 70's popular synthesizers like the ARP Odissey or the MiniMoog. More, the polyphonic features allow the Modular to play also like a polyphonic analog synthesizer, having as reference SCI Prophet 5, Yamaha CS80, Roland Jupiter 8 and other hystorical examples. But the programming area is not limited to analog experience. Further types of synthesis are available, including digital FM synthesis introduced by the Yamaha DX series. Also drum machines, step sequencers, arpeggiators, vocoders and others items can be programmed and stored for any possible use. The rest is limited only by the user creativity.

AUDIO QUALITY - The Modular system is based on advanced physical modeling technology and sound so "warm" with analog patches as "clean" using FM programming. Really exciting.

GENERAL - The Nord Modular patches should be created with the computer (using the Modular Editor software), but, once stored in memory the sound structure, the Modular is able to work as a stand alone instrument. In other words the sound is always generated by the Modular and the computer support is required only in order to select and assemble the required modules, not for parameter editing that can be performed also directly from the Modular itself. And, because this is typical of analog systems, parameter editing can be performed also in real time thanks to the 18 assignable knobs, always available on the front panel of the instrument. In addition to this, further parameters can be controlled via MIDI using a master keyboard or any type of remote controller.
INTERFACE CONNECTIONS - The connection with the computer is possible thru dedicated MIDI in/out ports, while additional MIDI in/out ports are available for typical MIDI communication (with master keyboard, sequencers, etc).
PROGRAMMING - Once the Modular and the computer are linked, the Modular Editor offers a graphic environment were virtual modules can be connected togheter using virtual cables. The modules are selected using the mouse with "drag & drop" facilities and cables can be created just clicking on an output and dragging to the desired input. Parameter programming can be performed by computer or directly from the Modular rotary encoder. In any case it is important to remember that the computer is just a controller. It can offer a powerful programming support and library management in order to expand the available interface, but, except for this, all the rest depends from the Modular that is a real, stand alone, musical instrument and not a black box.

Nord Modular Editor
POLYTIMBRAL CONTROL - The Modular offers also polytimbral features that can be very useful when using with a sequencer. Up to 4 independent parts can be simultaneously controlled on the related MIDI channels, accordingly with the available polyphony.
POLYPHONY - The Modular polyphony depends from the available DSP power. 4 DSP are available as standard, providing up to a maximum of 32 notes (1 DSP only for the Micro - from 1 to max 4 notes) while an expansion kit (Modular only) adds 4 additional DSP for extra-programming power. The basic concept is simple: the more complex is the patch, the less is the available polyphony. What is a little bit more complicated to understand is the logic behind this concept, in order to be able to program always knowing the real number of available notes. Anyway, starting from Modular Editor v.2, a special window is provided that continously monitors the available polyphony during programming.
SOUND LIBRARY MANAGEMENT - The computer support is also really useful in order to manage and archive sound libraries that can be easily saved and loaded using internal HD. Furthermore, thru the computer, the Modular is also able to access to the Internet benefits, like for example a connection with Clavia Web Site ( where software upgrades and sound libraries can be downloaded for free.