Our students are involved in many different projects, these can range massively from live sound work at festivals and events to designing sound for game audio and everything in between. We recently caught up with Phen Marks, a dBs Music student in Plymouth, who makes incredible eurorack synth modules.Tell us about yourself and how and why you started Omsonic?
"My name is Phen Marks, I’m 20 and I'm the sole designer and engineer at my small business Omsonic. I study electronic music production on the EMPaC degree at dBs Music Plymouth. I also produce some music under the name Neurophen. It started because I was repairing vintage synths, audio equipment and doing a lot of circuit bending before I got into the Eurorack scene, however I made my first module because my dBs Music tutor at that time, Chris Pratt suggested it."
What was the first module you ever made?
"The first module I ever made was a fairly simple 2-pole Sallen key filter, with a novel switch that let you select different clipping diodes to change the sound of the resonance."
What would be your advice for anyone that wants to follow a similar path or passion?
"Don't believe everything you read in books or on datasheets or the internet. Analogue electronics is something you really have to do with your hands and not just in simulation. If you're going to sell your creations or advertise on some kind of website don't use someone else to create or run it for you. Expanding quickly is great but making mistakes because you expanded to quickly sucks. Don't just do it for the money! Some kind of education in electronics or DSP programming might be useful, although I have never had a formal education in either. You can learn most things online if you're dedicated enough."
The Eurorack scene has expanded massively over the past couple of years with more and more boutique companies popping up?
"I see lots of small modular producers being very active on popular synth forums, but I found I didn't really need to advertise much since I only produce my modules in small batches and things seem to sell out before I can make more. I think the main way people found out about me was via some of my early eBay listings rather than on places like Muffwiggler. I definitely use the market to make sure my modules aren't to similar to other people's. My ideas tend to come from me thinking of novel and different ways of doing things on a circuit level or because I want something for myself."
What is your favourite module on the market?
"Thats a hard question, perhaps Mutable Instruments Clouds or the new Z-Plane Filter by Rossum Electro looks really good."What are the tools you couldn't do your job without - or wouldn't want to?
"In terms of software it would be things like, CadSoft EAGLE, LTspice, NI Multisim. For physical building tools, then I use a Rigol DS1052E Digital Oscilloscope, Metcal mx-500 soldering station, Thinkpad T420s. Plus, I need Tea and um..., my Brain!"