Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

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Synthbuilder
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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:

ASV
Discontinuity
Diode Superladder
Transistor Superladder
VRG

It is likely that these will be soon joined by:

Equinoxe
MOSPhaser
VCO
Sample/Slew
Noise/Filter
Fourmix
Flanger/Chorus

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

Post by eljay » Mon Apr 12, 2021 3:04 am

I'm really sad to see you are having to consider putting out to pasture some of the 5U product line. I have built and use quite a few Eurorack modules myself, ostensibly to provide something different in terms of functionality, and whilst these are great there is in my opinion nothing quite like the sound and feel of my Oakley 5U system.

I have been considering expanding my 5U system for a few months, adding more voices predominantly, and this announcement has accelerated my thinking. I will be placing an order imminently so that I have PCBs in stock for when I need them. I think COVID and Brexit combined have made it difficult in the UK (and elsewhere) to source components and that it will take a while for the supply chain to settle down again. I for one have significantly reduced my DIY activities over the last 12 months because of the uncertainty over component supply but fully expect to carry on building Oakley 5U modules for the foreseeable. I hope this is a temporary blip and the 5U market will pick up again

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

Post by kdjupdal » Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:45 am

Synthbuilder wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:02 am
...
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.
...
Would this be new modules or are you talking about some kind of conversion of existing modules?
If you cease the kits, will Krisp1 still be able to have ready-made modules for sale?

Any chance of a MU analog delay that was mentioned in this forum couple of years ago? There might be a market for that. Right now there is a thread on delay modules in the MU forum.

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

Post by peabreu » Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:31 am

I also do not know if there is a bigger trend to use shallower 5U cases (defenitly my situation) where most Oakley do not fit due to how deep these modules are. I for instance was quite interested in several modules but had to pass due to their depth that would not fit in the Moon rack cases.

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

Post by Kawouddd » Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:37 am

Must say, having started DIY in the last three weeks, I have thought that it might provide my route into 5U. And Oakley is up there as the lead contender.

I am still - at this point - bewildered by the various 5U systems and what exactly I could do with what, though. Which - alongside full-time work, part-time full-time parenting and two dogs - has kept me from (so far) taking the plunge.

I have no idea what any of these modules do yet, but may - in six months time - be sad to realise that I have missed them once they're gone. Good luck, OP!

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

Post by Synthbuilder » Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:08 pm

kdjupdal wrote:
Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:45 am
Would this be new modules or are you talking about some kind of conversion of existing modules?
Since MU is now the most dominant force in 5U it makes sense to look into doing a range of MU specific modules. These would be shallower than the existing MOTM format ones to ensure they fit into the less deep Box11 and Moon cases. I would also be looking at supplying panels too.

However, my first attempt at a shallow MU build (which by coincidence could also fit behind a 5U MOTM panel) hasn't done that well in terms of sales. Getting hold of panels was harder and more expensive than I thought too. So I am a little reticent about going the MU way, particularly as my euro modules are now selling moderately well. But I'm not ruling it out, so watch this space as they say.
If you cease the kits, will Krisp1 still be able to have ready-made modules for sale?
You'll have to ask Paul. Paul has a special agreement with me so he will be still able to order bulk quantities of boards if he so desires.
Any chance of a MU analog delay that was mentioned in this forum couple of years ago?
Possibly, but the euro one is coming first.

Tony

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

Post by mrml » Wed Apr 14, 2021 12:35 pm

I am generally a hesitant poster, but several of the posts in this thread and elsewhere have echoed my own sentiments. Against all apparent logic/trends, I have decided to keep with the MOTM format largely because of Oakley sound systems. The modules I've decided to DIY have been a pleasure to build and a good match for my skills. The documentation is clear and informative well beyond the soldering. The sonic end result has reminded me of why I started 5U. Before this, I only had a power supply and a MOTM 410 triple res filter that I built 20 years ago.

The sourcing of parts has been a frustrating puzzle, but hopefully that'll get easier with practice. Synthcube here in the US have been great for panels and kits and even the odd IC.

...so yeah, this announcement and the one from January have combined to inspire a little panic purchasing on my part. It'll be sad to see these modules go, but I also want to put a little positive balance to it. Thanks to Tony, I've still got a sizeable list of filters to seek out and put together! And, if my DIY skills advance enough, I might try to make my own version of Oakley 410 companion that I missed out on years ago. :guinness:

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

Post by Pav » Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:43 pm

:foul: Take the vrg off of the kill list..imho it's too good to die. Unless you can improve on it and do a 3u flavour ..I've space in my 3u Oakley collection ..except for filters. No plans to go Muu.
rgds Pav

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

Post by Synthbuilder » Tue Apr 20, 2021 2:40 am

Pav wrote:
Mon Apr 19, 2021 5:43 pm
Take the vrg off of the kill list..imho it's too good to die.
I agree. But if a board isn't selling well enough, ie. less than five a year, then it'll have to go.

That said, there was a bit of a rush last weekend for 5U boards so who knows there maybe life in the old dog yet.

A VRG for Eurorack is planned.

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

Post by Pav » Tue Apr 20, 2021 3:43 am

Good to hear a euro version is a possibility.
rgds Pav

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

Post by JRamella » Sun Apr 25, 2021 11:57 am

Kinda sad. Glad I just ordered a Discontinuity off synthcube. I have 6-7 Oakley modules (MOTM format) and they are awesome in every way.

Does anyone offer assembled Oakley eurorack modules?

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

Post by hamildad » Mon Apr 26, 2021 6:44 am

Synthbuilder wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 2:40 am
That said, there was a bit of a rush last weekend for 5U boards so who knows there maybe life in the old dog yet.
Glad to hear this, and that the 5U delay might still be coming....

I've just started making some Oakley 5U modules and have been impressed by the documentation and resources, so will be sad to see the number of PCBs offered reduced... especially as they are in my mind' a gold standard' of DIY documentation.

Euroracks popularity will certainly account for the healthy sales of PCBS, but also the resources and dedicated shops for Euro DIY. dont underestimate the appeal of places like Thonk for getting everything you need under one roof!

For me the frustration of the many different suppliers (PCB, Panel, component, rare component, pots, component order for things not avail on the first order) with packing & shipping costs, delivery of 100s of tiny packages and keeping track of what you actually have, means any saving of money is eaten up and the pastime becomes an uphill struggle.

just adding my 2c that anything putting me off buying more Oakley PCBs in the future, is sadly not the PCBs themselves... which doesn't exactly help Tonys bank account.
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Re: Time to say goodbye to the 5U modules?

Post by Synthbuilder » Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:26 am

hamildad wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 6:44 am
... dont underestimate the appeal of places like Thonk for getting everything you need under one roof!
I think it would be good to have a place to buy complete Oakley kits. But I don't think Thonk would be too interested in my Euro stuff. I'm pretty sure that Thonk doesn't sell projects with un-populated surface mount boards or without panels. I haven't contacted Steve about this though. Maybe I should.

Synthcube have contacted me about selling full eurorack kits and there may be some good news about this later this year

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

Post by Blake Smith » Wed May 19, 2021 9:31 pm

Readymade panels from somewhere (synth cube?) would probably make Oakley euro diy easier and more popular at least. I know the 5u bridechamber panels were a selling point for 5u for me.

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

Post by Ricochet » Thu May 27, 2021 4:49 am

I would like to comment briefly on this.

When I started to deal with modular synthesizers again after a very long absence, I came across OAKLEY SOUND relatively quickly:
The modules and their instructions immediately made a very positive impression on me.
But what initially kept me away from DIY-building was the non-optical compatibility with the leading MU manufacturers (DotCom, MOON, ...).

It wasn't until Rich Sherkin of LOWER WEST SIDE STUDIO published an article about DiY screen printing for front panels that the way
was paved (for me). And the fact that I no longer have to deal with screen printing myself is, thanks again to Rich, who with his
company LWSS now also offers the labeling of panels for own designs!

Now I have redesigned almost all OAKLEY modules in the direction of 5MU / DotCOM and I am also working on those of other DIY module providers
(Yusynth, CGS, MfoS, Haible, ...), so that I will soon have a MU system, including the optical Compatibility can be seen

A tip to Tony:
As a newcomer to the MU, I would have liked to see more information on the OAKLEY website referring to other front panel manufacturers,
because there are now some of them: ReSYNTHESIS, LWSS, etc….

There should also be a commitment to MOTM that is not too rigid

I will present my objections here shortly in a separate topic, perhaps the other DiY will motivate more to resort to OAKLEY

Gerd :party:
sailing away with the first winds of the new day !

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