Boredbrain Monitr + UniFX + Xchangr Review

Connecting Your Eurorack System to Everything Else

Brian Griffith · 07/12/22

Boredbrain Music, purveyor of fine tools for pedalboards and Eurorack modular synthesizers, seems to have focused their business on the matter of inter-device signal routing, and all of the quirks that come with it. Their products range from simple signal level converters to tools that turn signal routing into something creative and performative.

Their debut product, the Patchulator, completely changed the way effects pedal users could approach their pedalboard by letting them quickly reroute their signal chain using 1/8" cables. They've grown considerably over the years, and recently they produced a small line of Eurorack modules: Injectr, Optx, and EQx5. Like their other pieces of equipment, these modules offered unique and creative takes on modules that exist with features that don't.

Injectr, with its exceptional sounding drive and cab simulator, gives us a great solution for integrating guitar, bass, or other instruments in a Eurorack environment. Optx offers us incredible flexibility when interfacing with a computer, whether it's used as an 8-channel audio input for recording or an output for processing DAW audio, plus it can be used as an optical bridge connecting CV between large systems. EQx5 is one of the only stereo parametric equalizers in Eurorack, and what's more, it gives you CV control over the boost/cut of each band while mirroring mono signals to create stereo audio.

And now, Boredbrain has done it again with a new triptych of Eurorack modules that build upon their roots while looking forward to the bright future of tomorrow. Monitr is an exceptionally handy output module with a surprisingly well-considered design; UniFX handles signal routing between effect pedals and modular synthesizers; and lastly, Xchangr is a stereo level converter for connecting between your modular system and any other stereo gear in your studio. Let's take a quick look at each.

Monitr: the Ultimate Eurorack Output Module

The latest offerings from Boredbrain are simple products that are missing in the Eurorack space and the first one we will look at is Monitr. The Boredbrain Monitr is a simple, two-channel stereo output module that features balanced 1/4" outputs and a dedicated 1/4" TRS headphone output. Monitr differs from other output modules by marrying necessity and simplicity.

You have two sets of stereo inputs, with two ways of controlling the volume: manually with the volume knob or with control voltage. Using the latter will turn each channel into a stereo VCA that will respond to envelopes, LFOS…and with an envelope follower (say, from the Injectr), you can patch ducking effects or other dynamic effects easily. It's also worth noting that each set of stereo inputs can be used with mono signals as well—the left input of each pair is normalled to the right, so it's easy to combine mono and stereo sources.

Monitr's routing options are also really handy, especially if you have a medium sized rig and are performing live with the option to send one channel or ther other—or the master—to the headphone output, giving you a Cue channel. You could also creatively use this by having the headphone output go to an external effects processor before going to an external mixer, giving you an effects send.

The physical design has also been given serious consideration: all of the jacks are on the top half and the controls are on the bottom. This means if you have your output on the right, or bottom right of your case, there's no chance of any cables getting in the way. Pretty snazzy.

UniFX: Bringing Pedals and Eurorack Together

Moving right along, we will shrink down a little to a related, but completely different module: the UniFX. This small little friend is designed to be a bi-directional interface that mingles the Eurorack world with the world of external instruments and effects. Happily, it does so easily and without signal flow issues, adjusting signal levels appropriately in both directions. In some ways this can be seen as a stripped down, single-channel version of their INTRFX standalone device.

UniFX also features a switch that lets you choose your signal routing—are you using it to insert pedals into an otherwise fully Eurorack signal flow, or are you using it to insert a Eurorack effect into your pedal signal chain? It works great either way. This is a small but critical difference that makes it easy to route your studio into the rack then back out, or to route your rack into some outboard effects or instruments before heading back into your system—ideal for live performance.

The icing on this cake is the Mix knob, which is CV controllable. And since the ins and outs are all DC-coupled, you can use this as a way to add complex modulation to your rack or even CV-controllable external effects. A world of intermingling feedback loops and sequenced chaos is at your fingertips with just a few cables—or you can create dynamic, evolving effects with creative uses of modulation. When we have inspiration we need to act on it immediately, and modular oftentimes takes a while to set up properly, potentially taking you out of the creative flow. Boredbrain is solving this issue with utilities that speed up our pre-composing so we can extract our thoughts with speed and efficiency.

Xchangr: Stereo I/O All Around You

The last module we'll look at is possibly the most useful one out of the bunch, particularly if you already have a bunch of modules whose utility might overlap with the aforementioned modules.

Boredbrain's Xchangr module is perhaps the most barebones of the lot, but if features little more than 12 jacks: six 3.5mm and six 1/4" jacks designed for the free exchange of sonic information between Eurorack and external sounds/processors. These many jacks are divided into three stereo channels: two that are designed to send Eurorack signals to external signals and one that is designed to receive external signals into Eurorack. Because of the lack of shared front-panel controls, you can use each stereo channel as two mono channels as well, effectively giving you double the options in terms of routing.

The only controls you have are for attenuating the Eurorack signals for the two send channels and boosting the signal for the receiving channel, with selectable signal levels on front-panel switches. Everything else you need to do either before or after the module.

Before this module came around, it would require multiple modules that offer fewer options and are more expensive. Xchangr is the simple converter that you need in your rack if your synth is not just an island unto itself, but rather an integrated tool in your studio. Use it to send audio to and from your DAW, effect pedals, external synths, and anything else in your studio.

Everything is Connected

Boredbrain Music continues to stand out with their high build quality and useful tools for music integration. Truly their mission is to interconnect all of your studio's equipment and to create an inspiring, quick working mode. For working musicians and hobbyists alike, their products are invaluable for taking any type of chore out of music making while offering new creative avenues to explore.