On the topic of µMIDI:
If it had the ability for each port to be reconfigured as pitch, gate,trigger, velocity or CC and MIDI channel, or global clock - then I’d probably get rid of my Expert Sleepers FH-2.
The thing I like about the FH-2 is each port is just that - a hardware port that outputs DC voltage. What you do with that port is totally up to you.
The FH-2 has a lot of extras - it can generate envelopes, LFOs, has an ARP and a euclidian pattern generator - but I’d rather do all of that stuff either with Ableton or with a real module - like Quadrax. The part of the FH-2 I love - is I can create a preset for 4 voices (4 x pitch CV and a gate), another with clock, start/stop; pitch, gate, trigger, and velocity on channel 1 for a complex and expressive voice, and a pitch/gate on channel 2 for a baseline. It allows you to create various arrangements within your modular depending on what you are writing.
Adding µMIDI for me was a decision based on - I have extra 1U space; it integrates with my gorgeous Intellijel cases; and it’s only a few dollars more expensive than an 8-port gate expander for my FH-2 - and I get 10 ports! It’s a good deal - but I am sure it wouldn’t take much to make µMIDI more than a single voice tool.
My vote for most essential 1U:
- Stereo Out - perfect final gain control, and balanced audio!
- µMIDI 1U
- Quadratt - Indispensabile utility! If you don’t have enough space - get a Duatt!
- DualVCA - If you don’t have a Quad VCA - this is a must!
- Buff Mult - why waste 3U HP! Great when you want to stack two or more VCOs.
- Noise Tools. Analog clock generator, S+H, white and pink noise, and a slew limiter. I use these functions very sparingly, and not often. It’s great to have them in a neat 1U package and not waste precious 3U space. It’s like having that one particular condiment in the fridge that you need for a few recipes - but don’t want a giant one litre bottle.
If I didn’t have the Mordax DATA - I’d say the Zeroscope is a real necessity. Tuner is indispensable, and you really get a great visualization of what modulators are doing with a scope. I loved the visual feedback so much, I upgraded to the Mordax - it was worth the cost and 16HP.
I have two 1U mults up there - but I rarely use them. I’ve found that the 12 TipTop stackables I have work better in my workflow (they better… those 12 cost a lot more than the mults!!).