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At the end of an eventful year, a few words from Kris and Stephen

Greetings and salutations.

How many years in a row can we end the year by saying man, it’s been a wild year?

Noise Engineering (plus Alice) in a metal box

First, let’s talk about the state of Eurorack

This year was rough. Eurorack lost a lot of really great brands. WMD, Hexinverter, Future Retro, Synthesizers.com, and others closed up shop. Others are struggling. Make no mistake: our industry is not better for this. It’s crushing to lose so many fine brands. Seeing the carnage the parts shortage has brought has been devastating. 

The parts shortage continues and relentlessly morphs. It has informed everything we’ve done for the past two years, including what we have (and haven’t) released. It also means our costs have gone up drastically in the past year. We love our customers and we want to be as transparent as possible with you, so here are some straight facts.

  • So far, we have redesigned almost everything we make at least twice due to parts availability and manufacturing.
  • Almost every component we use in our products has increased in cost, most of them several times this year. We have worked hard to absorb the bulk of this. We have raised our prices a small amount, but these increases are not commensurate with what we are now paying.
  • We are about to get hit with another increase in prices that we can no longer absorb.
  • Many of our retailers are also struggling, and we want to restructure our policies so that they can be better supported.
  • We pay our team a living wage and provide good benefits because it’s the right thing to do. This is expensive, but is worth it. 

Taken together,these things mean that we’re going to have to increase our prices in 2023 if we want to survive as a company. We know that some of our modules won’t be compelling at these higher price points and we’ll need to discontinue them. We don’t take these increases lightly, and we will continue to do everything we can to keep prices as low as possible for you. 

Protip: Watch our mailing list and/or social media for some special news…

The team

Alice, Elana, Brandon, and Patrick watch the sunset

This year Brandon joined the team. If you read Waveform Magazine, you may have read his musings as he’s been a contributor there for years. We were thrilled to find him and his first task has been to wrangle our website into shape so we can do a lot of the things we have planned.

The team also added two new canine associates, both from Angel City Pitbulls! JJ is Elana’s new foster pup. He is a handsome fellow and Snoopy seems to like him just fine. And Stephen and Kris welcomed Alice into the house. Alice’s official title is the Chewer of Many Things, and unfortunately this includes Brandon’s feet.

Alice on a couch looking deceptively innocent

Patrick continued his excellent Modular on the Mall series, culminating the season with a show held in quad. 

Markus took the lead designing our lil’ Tymp module. Did it exhaust them? Yes. Is Tymp amazing? YES.

Elana has new music coming out at the beginning of 2023 that you’ll be able to find at her Bandcamp page! Brandon’s label released their first vinyl release and that was pretty exciting—it sold out! 

You may recall one of our YouTube jams Adam did with cello and Imitor. Hauntingly beautiful. Adam says that although he’s always improvised, his extensive conservatory training taught him that recording was for live performances…but now that’s behind him. He’s now got a year’s worth of samples and tracks to work with. We’re all excited to see what he does with them.

Synthdaddi: A November tradition

The Synthdaddi robot logo

Our incredible Synthdaddi logo, created by Kelly Maryanski

In what is now a November tradition, the team got together for a week in person in November. Synthdaddi is our annual planning week, when we plan out the next year of releases, how we want to do things, goals, etc. We each teach a 20-min lesson in something. We eat way too much incredible food. We make music together. We cook. We argue. We drink coffee and wine and/or non-alcoholic beer. Alice chews Brandon’s feet. We play in the air a bit. Aerial hammock battles are waged. And most of all, we get to be in the same room and be reminded that these humans we work with every day really are as fabulous in person as they are on Slack. These people here? I can’t tell you how amazing every one of them is.

The Noise Engineering team discussing new products in an aerial arts facility

Most of the days we hang out here at our house (there is no Noise Engineering office). We took two days this year and rented out a space to spread out for some of the planning. We never have a crisis of too few ideas, and while we pared back our initial thoughts for 2023, we still have some lofty goals.

Stephen and Kris

It was a strange year indeed. Early in the year, as many of you know, I got a breast cancer diagnosis. As cancer diagnoses go, I was exceedingly lucky. It was caught early, and other than the surprising number of follow-up appointments and the medication side effects, I have been stunned at how simple it has been. So many of you reached out to support us during that weird endeavor; I was reminded about what an amazing community this is. I am back full time and feeling pretty good. 

That whole mess set us back a substantial amount -- we had a lot planned for this year that fell by the wayside as a result of the two of us dealing with this. Still we are proud of what we managed to accomplish this year despite the clusterfluffery that was happening here. It was also a good reminder to take time out to do something together, even if it is just resting and relaxing. We picked up some new musical toys. We’re spending time doing things we want to be doing. And we’re getting ready for a quiet vacation with Alice to rest and rejuvenate before it all gets started.

Yes, a break

The whole team will be gone from December 24-January 2. Like I said, it’s been quite the year. We all need a break. This team that has stepped up for us? They deserve a break. 

Here’s how it will go. Orders placed on or after Dec 21, 2022 will begin shipping when the shipping team returns on January 3, 2023. Emails sent after 5 pm Pacific time on December 23 will receive a response when we return on the 3rd in the order they were received. The blog will go dark next week, but watch our social media for some stuff you will newt want to miss.

Gratitude

We pause at the end of each year and raise a glass of our preferred beverages here while we remember how long our list of people we are thankful for is. Our contract manufacturer has kept us alive these past few years. Our retailers have picked up our products and let you get your hands on them. Customers have made incredible videos and showed people what you can do with our products, sent incredible emails, and just generally been amazing. This team has supported each other through some of the weirdest shit and made it through. It’s been a tough year, but it’s also a year to remember that we are so fortunate.

And of course, we have you. We here at NE sincerely hope you have a wonderful holiday season. If this season is fraught for you, we hope you find some solace and know that you’re not alone in that feeling. 

From our house to yours, thank you so much for reading the blog, supporting us, buying our products or even just talking about them, or just being a part of our community. We appreciate you. See you in 2023!

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