Superbooth 24: 4ms MetaModule puts the power of software modules in Eurorack

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Superbooth 24: 4ms officially introduces the MetaModule, a new module that brings the power of software modules like VCV Rack to Eurorack

On social media, there are endless controversies about what is better: hardware or software. Some people love hardware, while for others, in-the-box is the holy grail. But what if someone tries to disrupt the hardware idyll by bringing well-known software into hardware? Are we blowing up the hardware bubble?

A trend can be seen with Maschine+, Ableton Push 3 standalone, and Arturia AstroLab, all software that now also runs on hardware. In Eurorack, 4ms tries to go this route with their mighty MetaModule. This was teased back in September 2023 at Knobcon. It’s now official for Superbooth 24 with all the specs.

4ms MetaModule

4ms MetaModule

MetaModule puts real knobs and jacks on virtual software modules. This is how 4ms introduces the new module for the Superbooth 24.

In terms of hardware, Metamodule is a DSP module powered by a high-spec modern processor. It uses a dual-core 800MHHz Cortex-A7 plus Cortex-M4 co-processor with 512MB DDR3 533MHz RAM and internal flash RAM for patch storage. The bare-metal operation provides fast startups and low latency.

That’s a lot of CPU power and RAM for such a module. The MetaModule needs that because it’s full of algorithms and options. 4ms added over 160 built-in virtual modules from them, like the Ensemble Oscillator, and partners: Befaco, HetrickCV, NonlinearCircuits, and Scanner Darky.

There are also clones of Mutable Instruments and more to explore, as well as creative physical modeling algorithms and other utilities. The modules range from oscillators, filters, effects, CV processors, sequencers, and more. 

160 is a steep number of modules. If that’s not enough, you can delve deeper by loading modules as plugins. There are over 200 third-party plugin modules available from various developers (ChowDSP, NANO Modular…). On top of that, 4ms offers an SDK, allowing developers to easily convert their modules into MetaModule plugins on a commercial or free basis.

4ms MetaModule

The flexibility is fascinating as the module allows you to transfer entire VCV rack patches into the module or create new ones right into the hardware. These can be tiny patches with, for example, two Mutable Instruments modules or epic ones with over 20 different modules.

Operation & Playability

When the first information became known in September last year, many Eurorack users doubted the operating concept. The MetaModule details are now known, and the operation looks very straightforward and hands-on.

Start with the menu system, where you select and load modules from a list. Then, MetaModule features 12 color-coded hardware knobs, aka macro knobs, that can be mapped to up to 8 virtual knobs. Each mapping can have a different range and offset. More, you can save a group of mapping as knob sets, create custom descriptions… 

The use of inputs and outputs is just as versatile. You can assign the eight CV/audio inputs, eight CV/audio outputs, and two gate inputs to virtual module jacks. The CV/audio sockets are DC-coupled, run at 24-bit 48kHz, and produce -10V to +10V.

4ms MetaModule

MetaModule also includes a USB-C port with USB MIDI host functionality. So you can connect MIDI controllers and map MIDI CC, note, gate, and other parameters to knobs and jacks. According to 4ms, the firmware updater and plugin loader read from SD cards or USB drive.

4ms is also working on a range of different expanders that adds more functionalities to the modules, including a WiFi expander for wireless patch transfer, knob and button expanders with additional hardware controls, CV/audio expander with more inputs/outputs, and more.

First Impression

The 4ms MetaModule is one of the products I’m looking forward to trying out in person at Superbooth 24. I like it when companies combine the strengths of hardware (haptics) and software (endless possibilities, power) in a product.

Even though I have adapted my modular to an analog workflow (few displays, little menu diving), the module arouses a lot of interest. Less to load complete VCV rack patches,  more to expand the rack with individual or module combos. 

4ms MetaModule will be available in August 2024 for $649. 

More information here: 4ms

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    • The last module you will ever need 😉 Actually been saving a spot for this. Looking forward to the expanders!

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