In the technology industry, the cliche is that hardware is hard. And while that is undoubtedly true, in many ways, boutique makers have never had it so good. Access to low-cost manufacturing and components, better software for the entire stack, finance via crowdfunding, marketplaces and the advent of direct-to-consumer commerce, has helped to create a hardware renaissance. Hardware is also incredibly rewarding, at least from a creative point-of-view, something I experienced in 2020 first-hand.
In partnership with Siam Modular, a small Eurorack synthesiser company in Thailand, I co-designed “VCO’s LIttle Helper” (VLH). It’s a tiny module that adds vintage sounds to a Eurorack synthesiser. It’s not an original idea in the purest sense, but – like many of the best music products – takes an old concept and refines it for today’s musicians.
One fun part of the story is that I reached out to Pete at Siam Modular with the idea entirely cold, after I’d written a feature on Eurorack synthesisers for TechCrunch. Without ever meeting in person, we then developed the product from a back of the napkin sketch all the way to a commercial release. Little did we know at the time that it would all have to happen during the worst health crisis of a generation.