FYI, if you're seeing 110 volts across these devices, then one of your voltage legs has a wiring fault. Power systems in Europe tend to use balanced power, which puts half of the total line voltage on each voltage leg. This sounds very much like one of the legs is going directly to ground, which is a serious -- and potentially dangerous -- problem. Again, I cannot more highly stress the need for ground fault testers to be part of any electronic musician's "must-haves", both for studio use and to check live venue power situations.


Complex VCOs are just as capable of doing ambient music as they are for creating gnarly, raucous racket. The deciding factor is simply how you use it. The nice thing about them, though, is that you can easily whip up complex spectra within one module...which was something of a key thing for the Buchla, which is where the complex oscillator idea comes from. In Buchla's synths, the main working method was to build up complex sounds, then run the results through a low-pass gate, basically a tandemmed LPF and VCO under the same envelope's control.

Anyway, the upshot is that you should be able to use a complex VCO however you see fit. The Buchlas were just as capable at creating delicate, atmospheric sounds as anything else, but the architecture allowed you a little "more" in terms of working with the sounds in real time.


Heh...actually, my idea with all of those VCOs is to have them handy as either an audio or modulation source. All of them have that convenient VCO/LFO switch, which I wish we'd see more of as it's super-handy to be able to flip that and alter the oscillator function on the fly. Plus, given that the Gravitational Waves's oscillators can flip functions like that as well, you have the on the fly ability to completely alter the audio-range oscillator in one of those pairs by radically changing the FM rate. I like that; that functionality was one of the more convenient things about the ARP 2600's VCOs.


There's a new complex VCO on the market, just hit in the last month: VOID Modular's Gravitational Waves. It has everything you'd expect out of the DPO, etc, plus an onboard ring mod. The two big differences here are the size and price: 18 hp, $250. You could fit one of these into a DPO's space and only need to clear 8 more hp to put in a second...and two together cost less than a single DPO. Sounds like a win to me!

And yes, you do need three VCOs for maximal possibilities for sound design. Instead of the Rubicon, though...my take would be two of the above, plus a Doepfer A-110-6. That way, you also get TZFM capability along with a pair of West Coast-ish VCOs with a minimal footprint and minimal $$ outlay.


I'll second the #3 above...but only inasmuch as the MU section still needs something to accomodate half-height modules. And yes, even though COTK has a different idea of what MU half-height is, I would figure a "generic" half-height row measurement would work in the same way the 1U tile rows work in Eurorack for both normal and Intellijel format. But at this point where Moon and COTK are both heavily into this size format and there's others inching into it as well, it would seem like something that needs accomodating. A similar situation exists in the Buchla universe with the H series modules plus the 1U "ModuleModules" that Eardrill's got, but that seems more difficult to fix given that each module slot can have either two H-series or four ModuleModules, and this isn't a per-row thing.


Thread: Current Rack

That's certainly what I'd do. Fact is, if something has its own case, leave it there...given the cost of a Eurorack case and how much each hp costs, it's best to leave things that're cased in their cases, and use the higher-cost Eurorack cab spaces for things that require them.

In fact, let's look at this for a bit. Assuming both are Intellijel cabs, and not taking the 1U tiles into account, there's 376 hp of 3U space between these two cases. Then the street cost of those cases together is $1248...so a little simple math shows that each hp in those cabs has a pricetag of $3.32. That's not an insignificant number. So when you take a module that comes in a case (which, since the case is OEM, we'll put that at $0 per hp) like the DFAM, and drop it into a Eurorack case...well, with the DFAM, you're using $199.20 worth of Eurorack case, meaning you actually lose that much money by putting the DFAM in there. Not good!


Certainly...that's what the Expansion board was intended for. However, keep in mind that the Werkstatt's pitch CV is set to something very abnormal -- but it can be rescaled for standard 1V/8va. Go here: https://api.moogmusic.com/sites/default/files/2018-04/Werkstatt01Manual.pdf and you'll find the recal directions plus a few other things you'll need to know.


This is a rather smallish build, for starters. In addition to the above advice, I would add that you should try for maximum functional density. If there's a 20 hp module whose functions could be found in 16 hp, then go for the smaller size. If you find a VCO module that has two VCOs in the same panel space that currently houses one, then go for the two. As noted, Clouds, Braids, and Z-DSP are all either discontinued or superceded, so you can start by yanking those out if you don't have them already. But here's an example of what I'm talking about...

A Braids module occupies 16 hp of space. Mutable's upgraded version is the Plaits, which fits into 12 hp. But if you look at Codex Modulex's "shrunk" third-party versions of the Braids and Plaits (their uOsc-I and uOsc-II respectively), you'll notice that these are 8 hp, so this means you can effectively fit two of these (or one of each) into the space the Braids currently fits in and, in the process, double your oscillator compliment. Similarly, while Intellijel's uMIDI occupies 6 hp, it only gives you one channel of voice CV/gates. But if you went up 2 more hp, this allows you to use an Expert Sleepers FH-2, which gives you eight assignable CV/gate outputs and two inputs so that you could use clocking on the modular to control DAW tempi, allow a CV to change parameters in the DAW, and so on. Plus, you can expand it if needed, and it has a lot of functions the uMIDI doesn't but which you'll probably find useful.

A couple of other things to consider: first of all, if you're tempted to add mults, don't. Use inline mult devices or stackcables instead of losing functional HP to multiples. Second, if you can find a powered cab to use instead of one that requires the power supply to be placed on the patchpanel, go with that and free up four more hp. Lastly, consider what you're missing here, VCAs being the obvious one. Sure, they're not sexy...but they're essential as they allow level control for both audio AND modulation/CV. Perhaps look at a case with a 1U tile row? Intelljel has these, but they're formatted for their special tile format. Or you could simply try putting everything in a bigger 3U cab...many of us tend to recommend "going big" while doing initial builds on MG, then paring things down from that. Case in point (pun intended), have a look here: https://www.ericasynths.lv/shop/enclosures/studio/2x126hp-monster-case-140mm-deep/ Now, this is not only powered, it also has a depth that will allow pretty much anything to be mounted in it, and if/when you're ready to enlarge your system, you can add a second one of these with Erica's dual-case sidepanels and still have everything in one handy unit.

There's LOTS of options here; don't try and get everything right in your first build, because no one ever does. Use MG as the modular building sandbox that it is, and work out possibilities to the point where you're sure there's no more possibilities to work out...THEN spend the money, as you'll be spending it a lot more sensibly that way!


Sounds right...the thing that a lot of people starting in modular forget are those, and they're pretty essential. Using them on audio is the obvious thing, but the fact is that when you start using VCAs to control things such as modulation levels, or use them as modulation tools to impose a second modulation onto a first, that's when the voodoo that modular has starts to get really apparent. Plus, they have audio uses that aren't so obvious, such as crossmodulating one audio signal with another via AM using a VCA, resulting in some rich ring-modulation-type timbres. They just look boring, that's all.


Yep, VCAs are the missing things here. Consider adding some for audio and CV/modulation, given that you want that sense of gradual shift/flow with that sort of music. I'd suggest something that can break up the two different functions while also providing mixing, such as Happy Nerding's 3xVCAs. At 6 hp, they're small enough to fit in nicely, and they allow you to separate two mixed VCAs from a separate one in case you need to split up the VCAs' functions even further like that.


No list suggestions, but one technical one: try and keep things dealing with audio away from the power supply. That area is fine for modulation sources, CVs, etc, but if there's a bit of noise on your DC that creeps into the P/S, it can also sneak into the audio paths. The MScale, buffered mult, and MIDI interface are fine, but you might want a little more distance for the In/Out and the A-119, especially since both have preamps that can boost low-level audio. Otherwise, this is looking pretty damn good!


Yeah, if you're a routine user of Scala, you'll really like the FH-2. Plus, since it understands USB hubs, you can have both a controller and computer connected via that so that you can have your performance setup intact without having to yank everything to "blow" new Scala tables into the FH-2. And since you're going bigger, you might also look at Expert Sleepers' Disting...sort of a Swiss army knife of DSP-type functions hiding behind a 4 hp faceplate.


Actually, you managed to nail the architecture as best as you could in this tiny a space, which is pretty impressive. However, if you plan to use this with a Beatstep, you might also look at Expert Sleepers' FH-2. This will need a 4 hp expander for 5-pin MIDI use...but if you went with a Beatstep Pro, then you could directly link to the FH-2 via USB, freeing up 4 hp for other uses. The FH-2 uses standard Scala format scale tables for microtunings, and offers a bit more freedom in configuration as the eight outputs are user-configurable. Plus, since it has four inputs for CV or gate, you can get the modular to "talk back" to the BSP depending on how the FH-2's been configured.

A better idea, though, would not only be to use the FH-2 instead of the Yarns, but to move up a bit more in size. An Intellijel 4U x 104 hp cab would not only let you use more than double the present 3U space for standard modules, you'd also have the 1U Intellijel-format tile row in which some other basic functions can be placed, such as I/O, a basic mixer, noise + S&H, mults and so on. The form factor would work nicely with the BSP if you went that route, also. Plus, you can put a 1U Zeroscope in that row, which has a tuner that displays in Hz...which, if you're doing tuning-critical stuff, would be majorly useful!


Thread: Chinese Spam

It did slow them way down, though. I saw this after they apparently gave up last night, and they'd been reduced from several posts per minute to about one per minute, and when I hit the site they'd seemingly given up about ten minutes previously. So, it might not be blocking them but it appears to be discouraging their efforts.


I'd yank the USB power ports, for starters. In a small rig like this, anything you can do outboard needs to be done outboard. This would give 15 hp, so...Xaoc Batumi + Poti = 13 hp, and a Circuit Abbey Twiggy dual ringmod/quadrant multiplier to use both for ring modulation or as a spare VCA or polarizer. That's where I'd go, fwiw...


No, cases aren't usually included with proper modulars. While the complement above isn't bad, what I'd suggest is to perhaps look at something along the lines of a patchable synth first to get your feet wet and get some understanding about how synthesis architecture works first. By doing that, you'd have a firmer grasp on what needs to be in a proper system and you'd have the system's fundamental building blocks in the form of the patchable, onto which you can expand as needs be. Something like a Moog Mother32/DFAM pair, Soundmachines Modulor114, Plankton Ants!, Kilpatrick Phenol, Pittsburgh Microvolt or Blackbox, or Arturia MiniBrute2 and 2s pair might make a lot more sense from a learning standpoint for right now than trying to build up a complete system.


It's getting there, yep...I still think the Maths would be preferable to just the single VC Slope of the Contour because of all of the internal routings you can do with it to reconfigure it in some very complex ways. Why not pull the Contour in favor of a Doepfer A-140-2 or an A-141-4 for some additional "proper" ADSR EGs? Also, you might consider a comparator or two, since adding those plus a Maths would give you a decent compliment of modulation sources on which you could use the comparator(s) to fire gates when the modulation curves pass given voltage points. Put this together with some logic to work with the Varigate, and you'll have lots of rhythmic mayhem possibilities.


Ladik C-041? Hey...why settle for two when four in the same space is even better! Or you can do one of those and still have room for one of their variations on ADSRs.


On that last bit: in theory, you can do that with the RCD, but your VCA envelope will simply be on/off, no contouring. To make that work optimally, find a couple of smallish EGs (two-stage would be just fine, IMHO) and trigger those with RCD clocks, then send the envelopes to the VCAs as control signals. You can lose the mult as well...I find them to be impractical in a small build like this, with inline mults and/or stackcables being preferable to losing 4 hp to a dedicated mult module where something active would make more sense.


Neither. If budget is a concern and you want maximum function, AUX send/returns, and an output, check out Ladik's M-175 mixer and M-053 AUX Mixer. With these, you get it all in 20 hp, for $147-ish + shipping. This gives you three mono AUX sends, four pannable mono mixer channels, plus two more stereo mixer channels suitable for AUX returns. And the mixer has dual 1/4" TRS outputs with a master level control. For this sort of thing on a budget, it doesn't get much better.


Ronin's got it...yeah, try and squish everything as much as you can if you intend to stay in this small a cab. You need to use both sizable modules that're jam-packed with functions like the Hermod or Toolbox, or try and shrink down your basics to as small as you can get while still keeping user interface functionality.


Thread: Chinese Spam

Yuppers...definitely bots. When you're refreshing the Forums window every 15 seconds and 2-3 more pop up, and the bandwidth of the site is so choked that it's halfway to being like a DDos, that's the only possible conclusion. Captcha time, I think...


KICK ASS!!! for March 2019

OK...now we're starting to percolate! March brings us a month closer to Superbooth, the festival of all things synth for Europe. April should see even more action, but for now, there's some nifty stuff that's peeked over the edge of the box in this past month's Eurorack offerings. So, let's dive in and have a look at some interesting picks...

Ladik L-122 Uncertain LFO – Ladik kicked a couple of LFOs out last month, too...but neither of those were as laden with Abuse Potential as this thing. Frankly, I'm surprised at what they crammed into 4 hp, but even moreso, amazed at the price of about $73! No mere LFO, this...it offers 36 fixed waveshapes, but the real excitement here has to be the randomized amplitude and waveshape change actions this module's got. This is no mere 'waveform-goes-up-and-down' LFO...it's a really complex and capable modulation source, and much too complicated to nail down here, so go check its listing!

G-Storm Electro Transistor-82 – And who doesn't like ticky, hissy, blonky analog drums? I know I do, and apparently G-Storm does as well. On first glance, you'd think this was simply a single voice-only module...but not so! With several modulation points to vary settings on the fly, you can sequence up a number of tasty analog beats and have 'em all coming out of this in a crazy, retro-beatbox style. Knobs on this beg to be twiddled on the fly, too. Those in search for way-cool electro-style drum sounds need to check this...especially G-Storm's short but very revealing video. 14 hp, $175.

Mutant Modular Fan Synth – It's a...fan? Yep, it's a fan, and it's not designed to make noise. Rather, it provides ample “suck” to pull cool air into your Eurorack cab, which you can then vent through some other vent panel or a couple of spare 1 hp “holes”. So...why this? OK, let's say you gig out with your rack, and it's summer, and the venue is a blazing 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, add that to the normal heat buildup inside the cab, and pretty soon, things are probably going to start misbehaving. Tunings get weird, timings slip, and all of those other no-fun thermal problem results. But with this cheap fix, you can now have forced-air cooling of the insides of the cab at all times, bringing down the thermal load on your power supply, stabilizing temperature-sensitive modules, and doing other similar thermal stress-relief things that your Eurorack will thank you for later. The only downside is that Mutant Modular doesn't offer a matching vent panel to go with this (would look snazzy, mind you), but that's just an aesthetics issue, not a functional one. 4 hp, approx $56.

West Oakland Music Systems Sinulator – Two tasty waveshaping functions in one! First, the Sinulator can take incoming saw or triangle waves and smooth 'em out to nice sine tones. But for the real bring-tha-crazy, it also can do up to six folds, letting you turn waveshapes from tame to insane inside this one module. And not only that, it's got an onboard VCA which allows the circuit to also function as a TZFM modulator. Waveshaping is CVable as well. Yep, this thing screams ABUUUUSE!!!!, plus the size and price are right for all of this waveshaping mayhem: 8 hp, $150.

VOID Modular Gravitational Waves – I have two problems with Buchla-esque complex VCOs in Eurorack. One, they tend to be pretty chunky, taking up a lot of panel space. And two, they're usually not cheap. Then along comes this thing...and it blows those issues all to hell! This module offers two cross-modulated and fully-featured triangle-core VCO/LFOs together with an onboard ring mod, in just that sort of configuration that insists on creating oscillational madness! And as the cherry on the cake, VOID put the “fine” tune control on the BIG knobs, meaning that you have some manual pitch-tweaking leeway here without throwing the whole thing out of tune immediately. Smart! But the big smarts are these: 18 hp, $250. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Rossum Electro-Music Panharmonium – Moving along from complex oscillators to crazy-as-hell oscillators, we find this. Technically, it is and isn't an oscillator. It has oscillators (33 of them, to be precise), but what they get used for is to sort of...ah...”reconstruct” an incoming sound. This is more than a little crazy in analog synthesis, because that functionality is much more something you'd find in the classic high-end digitals such as the Fairlight or the Synclavier, where this sort of thing is more commonly referred to as “resynthesis”. Dave Rossum uses that term here too, because...well, that basically is what it is. The Panharmonium analyzes and then resynthesizes incoming spectra, with ample opportunities to also screw around with the incoming and/or outgoing spectra. This is another one that simply does too much to go into in these short little blurbs, and I insist you check out the listing on MG to get the full-on skinny about this. Oh, and did I mention it was super skiff-friendly at a skimpy 25mm depth? That's a nice stat...but these are (given what this thing is capable of, which even I can't 100% speculate on...it's that function-deep) even better: 26 hp, $499.

Plum Audio Dazzle tile version – Only available as a DIY kit, this might be a worthwhile excuse to figure out how to solder. Plum Audio's got something neat here: a 1U (standard, not Intellijel) format tile that gives you some nifty functions derived from Mutable Instruments' Blinds. Panning, CVable polarization, and VCA pair all in one tiny but potent package. Frankly, it's not only a good argument for beefing up your construction skills, but for the worthwhile inclusion of a 1U row or two in your build, as those can take basic functions like these and move 'em out of the way, leaving you more space for the meat-n-potatoes stuff in your 3Us. 20 hp, $150.

So, not a monster haul of Euro goodness...yet! But if the sorts of things starting to pop up in this month's column are any indicator, there's going to be some brain-meltingly-amazing stuff in the pipeline for May and Superbooth. Keep watching!


OK...so in the end, it sounds like you're looking for something more complex than just a typical CV/gate sequencer, something that has some "theory savvy" to it, either in the sequencer itself or via a quantizer setup that can deal with the chordal functions. I would suggest looking at modules along the lines of the Squarp Hermod, Orthogonal's ER-101/102 pair, ACL's Sinfonion, Winter Modular's Eloquencer, Five12's Vector, 1010 Music's Toolbox, The Harvestman's Argos Bleak, or a third-party build of the Ornament and Crimes. Also, pairing this with something along the lines of an external controller that can also sequence or handle chordal duties would be a good idea; check out the very useful Arturia Keystep, Kilpatrick's Carbon, Squarp's Pyramid, Conductive Labs' NDLR, or the Future Retro Zillion.


Don't worry about aesthetics at this point. Keep in mind that you're going to want to go through numerous builds on MG before committing to the actual device. Also, using an overly-large cab in your MG build will help in that you can overbuild, then pare things down to something approximating your final result. But again...expect to do that a number of times before you start spending.

Anyway, by "inputting pitched sequences" do you mean that you want to play notes in and have them recorded as a sequence, or are you talking about more typical sequencer usage?


It's interesting, but it also seems a bit much like overkill and unnecessary expense. Wouldn't it be simpler to use an ALM Akemie's Castle as the core of this, instead of the discrete quadrature VCOs, etc?


Actually, Thomann UK is giving me a UK price for the Quad VCA of UKP 170.43, with VAT included. The same thing in EUR is 199. And when you switch those to $, you get 224.19 and 225.05 respectively. But if I use Thomann USA, then the same module is $188. So what gives?

Simple: there are going to be taxes and tariffs that vary from place to place. Intellijel, for example, is a Canadian firm. So let's look at Moog Audio (based in Montreal) where we find that module at CDN$ 250, which comes out to be $186.75. So...that's different, too. Therefore, it should be considerably more in the USA, right? Well...no, as Perfect Circuit has 'em at $189.

Sooooo...it's not merely the taxes and tariffs. In some cases, it comes down to an agreed-upon price for a module between manufacturers and retailers, too. Perfect Circuit is nowhere as huge as Sweetwater...but there, too, we find the Quad VCA in question at the same $189. And when you look further, you'll tend to see the same "street" prices from continent to continent. Looking at one place in Asia that has serious tariffs, we find that Clock Face (Tokyo) has that very same module for JPY 22,900, which comes out to $207.02.

This gets screwy all over the place. If you think you're getting overcharged for new Intellijel stuff, have a look at what new Doepfer gear costs at Schneidersladen...and then check the same things at Perfect Circuit or Analogue Haven. This problem is just an endemic effect of having manufacturers all over the planet.


A couple of points here: first of all, yes, lose the uZeus immediately. Never add a power supply to a powered rack (unless it's something for a specific module, such as for some tube modules). And more VCAs is good. The Optomix is actually a pair of low-pass gates, which consist of a tandemmed low-pass VCF and a VCA, and this is fine for controlling audio levels, but having a couple of linear, DC-coupled VCAs for controlling CV and modulation levels is also strongly advisable.

Beyond that, I would suggest looking into a couple of dedicated envelope generators, ADSRs in particular, plus a couple of LFOs. While the Maths can do both of these things, it's much better when it's used for complex modulation curves, using its own internal subsections to create complicated CV/modulation patterns that go beyond what basic EGs and LFOs do.

As for Rings and Clouds, keep in mind that Mutable discontinued Clouds quite some time ago, but they still make the Rings module. However, both are available as third-party builds from several manufacturers...which is a bit of a plus, as those companies offer these in smaller form factors than their originals.


Thread: Tuner

Or maybe this: https://www.kvraudio.com/product/ctunerbyc_plugs That offers you MIDI note, frequency counting, metering with deviation in cents, plus a per-cents calibration mode. The latter two features make this quite useable for microtonal work, as well.

NB: the markup syntax here sorta munges the URL above, but going to KVR and searching for CTuner should suffice.


That's a bit alarming, actually. What I think you should do is to get a device such as this: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Gardner-Bender-Outlet-and-GFCI-Tester-GFI-3501/202867890 that works for your location's mains voltage and plug setup (if you're outside of North America) and then check your outlets to see if something's miswired. What you're describing certainly doesn't sound normal at this point, so I think that suspecting your AC circuits might be a logical next step.


This sounds like a ground loop issue. The problem probably isn't coming from the RackBrute's DC supply, but from a grounding issue with whatever you have the RackBrute connected to. The fix is to consolidate all of your AC connections onto the same ground plane. Probably the best way to do this is to star-ground everything to a central point that has an AC ground, such as your mixer. To do this, simply connect hookup wire between all of your equipment chassis and get those connections back to your mixer, which may well have a ground post for this exact purpose.

The next possibility is that something internal in the RackBrute isn't properly connected, and you're getting DC onto the chassis from an improperly-connected bus cable. If the issue persists after establishing a star-ground, then I would suggest opening up the cab and checking the bus cables to see if everything is properly seated on the busboard headers. If this is the problem, I would suggest keeping the star-ground connected anyway, as a good unified ground also helps to reduce overall noise issues in your system.


A note about the Rene and dropping the Pam's: have a look instead at Make Noise's Tempi. This is designed to interface directly with the Rene and provides a bunch of extra functions. Plus, the Tempi would be an apt replacement for the Pam's as far as that module's other functions go.


Or not even short on space, for that matter. Dip over to Thomann and look up the K&M 441/1...yep, slatwall-mounting keyboard forks, with angle and length adjustments, for a measly EUR 14. For small(ish) devices, going to this method frees up a LOT of tier space on main stands, table space, etc.


Thread: Rack setup

Try this: remove the Rings and substitute Codex Modulex's uRinks, which is an 8 hp version of the 14 hp Rings. Then take out the Optomix (8 hp) and put in a Make Noise LxD (4 hp) instead. This gives you 10 hp free, into which you can drop a Xaoc Zadar, which then gives you four EGs plus a bunch of other functionality. Then to place it properly, move the Audio I/O up to the right end of the top row in the version I laid out, and put the Zadar to the right of either the Maths or TM. This retains your signal flow, although you do have that down-then-up dip for your effects at the end of the audio chain.


Check Tiptop's Fold Processor out...very cost-effective. But if space is more of a concern, then West Oakland's new Sinulator (a six-fold wavefolder!) might be a better pick while still remaining relatively inexpensive. Also, eject the Doepfer A-148 dual S&H and look at their A-184-1 instead. In that, you get sample and hold, a slew gen, AND ring mod, all in a measly 4 hp!


Thread: Rack setup

This:
ModularGrid Rack
Sources are top-left, audio flows right thru filters and such. Maths and Turing Machine, plus P/S are lower-left to group mod sources, then the audio processing chain starts with the Freez to the Magneto. I/O is on lower right at the end of the processing set.

From my experience, following this sort of upward-on-left (control) and downward-on-right (audio) ordering method seems to work very well. You can clearly see the audio signal flow across the top row until it has to drop down to the processing and output, and the modulation is down and left so that it can reach "into" this path to affect the behavior of your sources and modifiers.

However, if you don't have a Clouds on hand already, you'll need to rethink that module, as it's been discontinued for quite some time. OTOH, removing it for a smaller third-party version would add some open space, and if that's the case, I strongly recommend adding some envelope gens to this alongside the Maths.


OK...have a look at this: https://www.specialtystoreservices.com/productchild.aspx?productid=15858&group=2663b&img=2663b.jpg&category=5501

Now, we've all seen these things in clothing stores and other retail establishments. They're pretty ubiquitous store fixtures, and you can get all sorts of attachments to put various shelves, posts, etc on them. They're pretty sturdy...and they're cheap...as you can see.

So? OK, here's so...let's say you have a bunch of 84 hp or 104 hp skiffs (or even a bit larger). With gridwall, you can get very cheap matching attachments such as shelves with lipped fronts that will hold these nicely. Some even have some angling to them, and other attachments can easily be adapted to hold controllers and such, also with angling in some cases. Then, start adding up the prices (which you can see typical examples of at the site above). Suddenly you have this way to make a CHEAP skiff holder that you can build into an easy-peasy 2'x6' synthwall over time. Need more width? Get more and link 'em together. And these not only look pretty decent and are durable, but with the open back you can easily dress cabling through the grid and keep things like power and audio connections out of the way. Plus, if it feels like the gridwall is getting tippy, just add a cheap shelf on the backside and put some bricks on it to act as a counterweight.

I'm going to be going to something like this for my smaller devices...CZ-101, SK-5, VSS-30, a couple of Boss DR-220s, the Microbrute, etc etc. But this also has a pile of uses for those doing Eurorack builds, especially those of you who are trying to build up a large system in smaller increments over time. Unlike some stand systems, there'll never be a discontinuation of gridwall, and it can be gotten from a lot of different store fixture companies located all over the place. Hopefully that's a useful tip!


Yep...actually, I'm partial to version #2, but here's a few tweak ideas there: first, if the M32 can function as MIDI-CV (which should be doable with the MScales), or the 0-Coast or System 1m, you can remove the A-190-2. Then if you remove the A-130 as well, you have ample space for an Intellijel Quad VCA, which not only gives you four VCAs (more VCAs = good) that have sweepable response curves, you also get some mixing functionality in the bargain, and this actually costs $10 less. Plus, pull the A-140 out and replace it with a Doepfer A-140-2 which, if you select the inverse envelope jumper function, then gives you positive and negative envelopes on each ADSR's output. Almost like having four ADSRs in the space currently filled by one for about $60 more. Not a bad tradeoff.


Mm-hmm! And don't forget the usefulness of adding randomization in that, such as probabilistic skippers and sequencers. Two that come to mind are Ladik's dual skipper and the Pithoprakta probabilistic sequencer. This is also where comparators get useful, too...having one on an LFO to "go high" when your modulation signal goes into a peak positive value on a slow LFO curve can be a great way to suddenly and automatically alter the behavior of the whole trig/gate setup in conjunction with some logic gating.


No. In fact, connecting a module P/S to a bus that's also being powered by another internal P/S can have disastrous results if one or the other has no reverse current protection.


Oh, I like effects just fine...when there's room for them. The problem is that many good ones take up a lot of hp, and in a small build that can be a problem, especially when the intent of the build is to create something with a lot of use options. In those cases, it's best to concentrate on synth function modules and leave FX as something for outboard, or to go with the smallest possible acceptable options. Even so, there's some killer small effects modules, like Purrtronics' Purrvrrb, Feedback's Chorus 106, the PICO DSP, etc with all of those going the extra distance to work as "stereoizing" modules for modulars which have primarily mono audio paths.


The big, most common no-no is probably the one involving using a multiple as a mixer. This won't work; it has the same effect as output-to-output patching. Multiples are always 1-in, many-out devices. To combine signals, you have to use a mixer, adder, OR combiner, etc depending on which signal is in play and/or what you want to do with the combination.

And while it's true that most modules these days have reverse signal protection on their outputs, you should always assume that they don't, and never patch an output to an output except in the few, ultra-rare cases where a manufacturer says there's a function that you can access by doing so. The reverse is fine, though...patching an input to an input is not only safe, it's what happens in a multiple.

A third patching mistake would be trying to patch a line-level (or worse, instrument-level) signal directly into a patch. This won't work well in varying degrees; external signals MUST be preamplified before they can be part of a modular synth patch. As for patching your output directly to a line input on a mixer, effects unit, amp, etc...this can be problematic if the input you're patching to isn't capable of handling the signal levels typical in a modular synth, which can range at peak from between 5 to 10 volts peak-to-peak. Some can deal with it, some can't, so it's best to have an output module of some sort, or even just an attenuator at the end of the patch to lower the level so that everything outside the synth is happy.

Patch mistake #4 involves patching one synth to another if they're not running on the same ground. This isn't as problematic for synths that run on DC via an external "wall-wart" or "brick" supply, but is very much a concern if the synth has an internal power supply on which the synth's groundplane is connected to the AC ground. If these sorts of synths aren't fed from the same AC outlets with the same grounding circuit, you run a very real risk of ground loops, which cause lots of hum and noise in audio paths and ripple currents in CV/modulation ones. The real and permanent fix to this, of course, is to star-ground everything in your studio to a single grounding point, usually on your mixer or A/D interface, but if you don't have that luxury, then making sure everything you're patching between is on a single AC circuit should work fine.


Actually, that was a rather nice haul. To make that an individual system, you'd need a VCF or two, some envelope generators, some more VCAs (preferably something with mixing capability, such as Intellijel's Quad VCA) and more modulation complexity, such as a Maths. The Waldorf + Elements pairing is super-enviable...wavetable/sampling paired with modelling will be a killer voicing combo.


Actually, Tiptop just dropped a new module that might be a key piece in manipulating modulation signals in the way you need. Have a look at their new MISO module, which is a complex arithmetical mixer intended for CV/mod use. Pairing that with something such as a Xaoc Batumi would make for an incredible and playable combo. Plus, a good complex drone VCO that you should be able to get some mileage out of would be the Synthesis Technology E352 Morphing Terrarium, a dual digital VCO with extensive timbral morph capabilities.


One note: unless you have a Clouds or are willing to find a used one, you'll need to use a third-party build of it, as Mutable discontinued production of it quite some time ago.


The latter...using the Disting and other modules to substitute for a relatively simple module such as a noise gen and sample & hold is sort of a waste of the more complex functions they're capable of. That's the real reason for them; leave basic functions to basic modules. Also, the thing about noise is that it comes in a number of different "colors", which are different distributions of noise levels across a given span of spectrum. For example, "blue" noise is weighted more toward higher frequencies, while "red" is heavier on low-end spectral components. When you use these as a source of randomly-distributed signals, these frequency differences translate into different types of behavior by sample & holds, when used as modulation signas, and the like. So while having a noise source is essential, it's also important to be able to control that "colored" distribution factor.

A buffered mult can technically be used for the same function as a passive mult, yes. But they're not the same, so if a given patch function relies on a voltage sag for some of its behavior, a buffered mult won't allow that to occur. And of course in all cases, you cannot mix via a mult -- they only function as one-in, many-out.

Pannable mixer? As of late, I really like Qu-bit's Mixology. It gives you CV over level, pan, AUX send per channel, has an effect send/return, metering, and mute and solo functions, all in 28 hp for $400, which is pretty reasonable as performance mixers go. There are probably cheaper methods, but they'd involve building up a mixer with discrete modules, plus you might not have all of the functionality the Mixology offers for its price.


So far, so good. My preference for an external input module is actually the Doepfer A-119, as it gives you a better choice of external connections. Another thing you should consider would be some modules to extend the capabilities of the sequencers, such as logic, clock modulators, divide/multipliers and so on. These will let you create some rather complex interactions between the hardware sequencers you already have. You might also double down on some basic modules here, such as VCAs, EGs and LFOs to add some modulation complexity, plus the use of linear VCAs to control/change CV/mod signal levels as needed. Last, look at getting one or two Erica PICO MScales so you can easily translate back and forth between the M32 and DFAM CVs and everything else, keeping everyone in the proper scaling.


For starters, you need to change your case width. The Mantis is 2 x 104 hp. Once this is the right size, then you should have a much better idea about remaining space.


1) Lose the Multiplicity XV. You won't need it. A massive buffered mult like that is great if you're talking about a 15+ VCO rig, but this isn't going to ever come close to that. Right now, your build shows a DixieII+ and a Plaits, and you can send a CV to both with a plain old passive inline mult with no risk of CV sag. I know you already have this on hand, but it's way off in the overkill zone for a small build and you're losing hp to it.

2) Lose the Quad Invert. Your Triatt has attenuverters already. Plus, it's always better to have attenuverter control over inverse signal levels than dedicated inverters unless there's a specific reason they need to be there (such as providing four inverters for a quad envelope gen).

3) Consider losing the OR module. I don't see enough gate sources here (Pam's notwithstanding) to warrant it.

4) This NEEDS some noise/random source, sample & hold, ring modulation, waveshaping, and especially envelope generators to be a functional, proper synth. You also need some sort of stereo mixer, otherwise the capabilities of that Pitt output module are wasted.

5) Consider doing your effects outboard for the sake of hp. An Erbeverb is a nice thing...provided you have 20 hp to spare and with what's missing here for your stated purpose, you don't have that much space to blow. You might also consider going to a much smaller reverb such as Purrtronics' spring emulator which would also help you "stereoize" your output signal if you find you don't have the room for a proper pannable stereo mixer.

6) Consider using an Optomix instead of the LXD. This way, you have manual level and LPG frequency controls in addition to the regular CV ins, which then makes this a better/more controllable candidate for mixing the two LPG signals to a mono out.

7) Lastly, add a more complex VCF than just the Wasp. It's a great filter, sure, but you'll want more. My suggestion would be Tiptop's Forbidden Planet, something of a Steiner Synthacon VCF clone. Very capable and very interesting-sounding, plus you have multiple filter responses rather than just the lowpass the Wasp offers.


Nope, this won't work. There's a lot of essential items missing here: no VCAs, no envelope gens, no LFO, nothing random, no noise sources, no mixers, no attenuators, and there's unnecessary things in here (Rainmaker, Ears). Plus, if you're trying to do decent sound design and ambient work, you're either going to have to resort to very small modules (6 hp and down) or expand the case, or (better) both.

Let's think ahead, also. You will want to expand this eventually. This means that your case situation needs to be thought out for this in advance. My take on this is that you should look into Intellijel's 4U x 104 hp case, a rather sturdy aluminum skiff-type cab which comes fully-powered for $319, and which can easily be added to later via Intellijel's joiner plates and more of their cabs. The other reason for 4U here is that you can take some of the basic functions and put them into the 1U tile row. You're limited to Intellijel's tiles (the 1U row here doesn't take the "standard" tiles) but they offer most of your necessary basics (ie: MIDI, mixing, sample & hold/noise/clock, audio I/O, etc).

Next, shrink the hell out of things in the 3U row. Don't use single-function modules if you can help it, and keep the module widths as low as you can. Even if this raises the cost some, the end result will be more function packed into the build, which means more capability for what you want/need. Also, limit what goes into this to pure functionality; if you can move 3U functions to the 1U row via a tile, do so. Avoid mult modules since they waste space in smaller builds and use stackcables or inline mults. See how far you can go without compromising ergonomics and playability (which, if you go too small, you run a real risk of doing). Plus, if you can do anything outboard (such as effects processing), do so...leave the space in the cab strictly for things which cannot be replicated outside of it.

Lastly, remember that a synth has to have aspects of these four functions: generators (VCOs, noise, etc), modifiers (VCFs, VCAs, ring mods, waveshapers, etc), controllers (mixers, MIDI interfaces, joysticks, clocking, sequencers, etc) and modulators (LFOs, envelope gens, sample & holds, etc). If your build doesn't have parts from all four of these synth "food groups", it's not going to function well.