Modular synths are incredibly flexible, but convenient? Not so much -- switching sounds frequently means wiring up patch cords, and that makes it harder to use for live gigs and other on-the-fly uses. Erica Synths has a straightforward solution to that: put everything on a card. Its upcoming Pico System III uses "voice cards" with preset patches -- you just plug in and go. There are five pre-configured cards in the box, but you'll also get five DIY cards if you're handy with a soldering iron.
The system is otherwise highly flexible with 31 inputs, 20 outputs and seven switches. It includes a 2-3-4 step sequencer, a pair of VCOs (with a controller and VCA module), several mixers, a modulator, two ASR envelope generators, a lowpass gate and a BBD delay. You can also snag it in both a desktop version (above) as well as a Eurorack module.
You can order the Pico System III ahead of its October 1st release at prices of €400 ($441) for the Eurorack edition and €450 ($496) for its desktop counterpart. That' well above the $200 for the Korg Volca we recently reviewed, and certainly not a budget option. It's still solid for a modular synth, however, and it could be justifiable if you like the idea of bringing a modular synth to a concert.