Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) in which the signature code assignment to users contains a random element has recently become a cornerstone of CDMA research. The random element in the construction is particularly attractive in that it provides robustness and flexibility in application, whilst not making significant sacrifices in terms of multiuser efficiency. We present results for sparse random codes of two types, with and without modulation. Simple microscopic consideration on system samples would suggest differences in the phase space of the two models, but we demonstrate that the thermodynamic results and metastable states are equivalent in the minimum bit error rate detector. We analyse marginal properties of interactions and also make analogies to constraint satisfiability problems in order to understand qualitative features of detection and metastable states. This may have consequences for developing algorithmic methods to escape metastable states, thus improving decoding performance.