That works, too...technically, you could take all VCF outs and send them to differing processing, then into separate VCAs controlled by different modulation signals, with the result being a constantly morphing sound (if you use LFOs) or a sound that changes across its duration (by using differently-set EGs from the same gate source).
If you're using a Minibrute 2S, why not use the Rackbrute cases? The 6U one comes with power, plus its stand connects to the 2S's frame to provide a fold-up portable situation. You can also, later on, connect two Rackbrute cases to each other in the same manner. Given that you'd get a lot more bang for your buck with these (as they have power + distros already installed, plus they're bigger), those would seem a lot more sensible.
Absolutely. This is one of the nice things about multiple outputs...you can use them + an audio mixer to tailor not only the filter's sound, but there's some response tricks that're possible as well. Some of what's possible will depend on the filter in question, of course.
Actually, that sequencer complement isn't all that different from what I presently have (2 x BSP, SQ-1 [for my own MS-20], Keystep) in addition to the various incorporated ones in other synths. And yes, they all play very nicely with each other. My plan for later this year is to cap this off with a Koma Komplex and use that as a 'hub' for all of the other hardware sequencers + direct interfacing with my modular. This'll then free up a BSP to use as a drum sequencer for an ancient MXR Drum Computer which has a blown sequencer but which recently received a trigger-in 'fan' for this exact purpose.
VCOs aren't the whole problem with how VCOs sound, btw. Very pure VCOs tend to sound rather meh, so by putting some things inline with them that introduce some nonlinearities, you can beef their sound. Also, just one VCO is probably two fewer than you need, because you want some slight detunings and waveform nonsynchrony to get a more interesting sound. The whole key to the Minimoog sound is, in fact, these two things; not only do the VCOs have a tendency to drift slightly even when warmed up, the Minimoog also contains the guts of the CP3 mixer for mixing these...and the CP3 isn't a very clean mixer, but it's not clean in a musical sort of way, if that makes sense. Feed that on to the classic LPF on there, and that's "that sound".
As for effects...unless you want something non-replicated in outboard (such as Intellijel's Rainmaker), my suggestion would be to grab some cheap outboard devices and a 1/4" patchbay for them, then have fun routing all sorts of processing cascades, insert loops, etc.
The Stillson Hammer mkII can definitely function effectively as a master clock. It even has a direct clock out with no division/multiplication as a normalized patchpoint. Given that, you could easily run a trigger sequencer such as a Four Bricks Rook, Circadian Rhythms, Knit Rider, etc from that to provide various rhythm patterns in sync to pass on to the MS-20, Juno, etc, plus most any sort of clock modulation module will work nicely for clock maths.
First up, the sequencer. If you're trying to do heavily-sequenced pattern-based stuff (Berlin school-ish), that little 8-stepper won't cut it. You need something that you can directly work with while it's in action, like how Chris Franke would literally play his banks of Moog 960s. I'd suggest something that internally quantizes, also. My inclination would be toward The Harvestman's Stillson Hammer mk II, but with that 8-step and some other trigger sequencing to increase the possible complexity by crosspatching them with the SHmkII. This wouldn't bring the MS20 into the mix, though.
Another possibility would be to go outboard, which is what I do with a pair of Arturia Beatstep Pros and a Keystep at present. This would then open your system up to some external control. The most extreme thing of this sort that comes to mind immediately would be the Koma Komplex. It's worth noting that the BSPs as well as the Komplex can be programmed to deal with the Korg's Hz/V scaling and inverse triggering...the BSPs require this be done in their PC software utility, while the Koma can be changed directly. Plus, if you use a Keystep or any other USB controller, Expert Sleepers' FH-2 can function in MIDI Host mode over USB, so those can be plugged directly into the modular there.
As for the Juno...that's more problematic. I assume you know that this requires either one of Roland's DCB-MIDI adapters or the JSQ-60 sequencer to link it in for pitches. However, you can send a clock pulse to the external trigger input to sync the arpeggiator, which would be a much simpler fix than hunting down esoteric Roland accessories and allow you to 'play' the arpeggiator as another sequencer channel.
As far as clocking goes, any modular trigger pulse will work on everything BUT the MS20. In that case, you need something like The Harvestman's English Tear, which is a bidirectional converter for Euro MS-20 signals. With that, though, you can then run the MS-20 alongside anything in the modular and it'll respond properly to Eurorack CV/gate/trig signals.
You need the VCA. That, in fact, is exactly why they exist. For audio, use an exponential so that the response behavior works in line with what we psychoacoustically expect as a "loudness curve". Or better still, plan ahead by adding something like an Intellijel Quad VCA, which not only gives you four to work with, but tailorable response curves as well, plus mixing capabilities. As your system grows, you WILL need more VCAs, both for audio as well as linear ones that're DC-coupled (which the Quad VCA ones are) for CV/modulation level control.
Also, if the VCO and EG are all you have at present, you're going to need a VCF so that you can use the EG to also vary the timbre. One I'd suggest as a great starter would be TipTop's Forbidden Planet, which is a clone of the Steiner Synthacon multimode VCF...and I can tell you from experience with the actual thing that that's a VCF with character for days. Plus, for what it is, it's quite cost and space-effective.
If it were me working on a build this small, I'd never put a mult module in. You need to pack function into that 4 hp (which is too big anyway), not just a jackfield. Use inline mults instead, and pull the mult to get those hp back. And then, you can implement what Ronin's talking about with a couple of 2hp's modules...filter (of whatever type looks tasty) and their dual linear VCA so you can have those to mess with CV/modulation levels.
Better still, scrap the idea of putting this into a 3U x 104 cab and go with a 6U or perhaps even a 7U instead. That way, you'd have ample room to meaningfully expand around some of the honkin' big modules that're in this build.
Have a look at this, particularly beginning on Page 31. Look familiar? Yep...3U Eurorack format, albeit with the lower fastener being taken up by a drop-in lipped rail instead of screw-in attachment points. These are rather fascinating, as they're part of a series of desks which would also allow for ample space for controllers, external effects, etc. And they can be stacked on vertical rails incorporated into said desks. Depth is 91 mm, plus you'll notice there's internal rails that can be used for attaching power supplies, distros, etc.
So...are you ready for 385 hp? Mind you, I'm betting they're not exactly bargain priced...but the possibilities for those looking to create genuinely MASSIVE builds do seem to point right there. If anyone can locate pricing data on these and their related components, do please post it.
Well, first we'd have to overcome an inherent flaw with some manufacturers' "official" listings. It seems as if once a module has been listed in such a way, the listing gets abandoned by the manufacturer. This leads to things such as the continuing confusion over modules such as Clouds, etc. If there was a way to allow at least mods to make suitable adjustments like this, it might help somewhat...but in truth, the manufacturers need to be more diligent about listing updates, also. Given the "reference standard" that ModularGrid has become over the years, making sure your listings are constantly updated seems like a prime idea.
Yeah, with Noise Reap being a small operation like it is, some things will go in and out of production. Best thing I can suggest is to try and source used ones or check to see if they might go back into production again in the future...which is always possible.
Yep...if you're more inclined toward "nasty", sound-wise, the Mysteron's the one to keep, to be sure. But there's another killer VCO you'll need to look at: cheap, small, and capable of some really crazed self-mod jazz, and that's Noise Reap's uBermuda. Just recommended them on another build for similar timbral reasons, in fact. A couple of those cost about the same as a typical big-name VCO, and for secondary audio sources (or even up front!), they're a bargain on $$ and hp. Cold Mac? Yeah, that actually makes some sense, but if you want some craziness to pair with it, ADDAC just dropped a very inexpensive device that might pair with it really well as a performance control: the 306 VC Transitions. Check that out. Combining the two of those would set up a very intricate CV morph capability that you can use to affect quite a bit, given what the Cold Mac's designed to do. And yes, the MakeNoise 7U case with the CV Bus is a truly nifty thing...that 1U row solves quite a bit of problems!
OK...one more shot here. I blew your budgeting all to hell, but I wanted to suggest what an instrument of the sort you were discussing could actually be. Here it is...
Now, you'll notice first off that the case is different. Instead of a Doepfer 84 single row, I went with an Intellijel 4U/104. This opened up a bit more space, plus added the Intellijel tile row for some extra functions, and it's fully-powered with Intellijel's excellent integrated supply/power bus. From left to right up there, you'll see your main clock, noise sources, a slew limiter, sample and hold (in the first tile alone, too!), a 4 x 64-step trigger sequencer for your drums as well as clock modulation/tinkering, a Quadratt which is your CV linear mixer/mult/inverter, then the line in/out which uses the Intellijel case's I/O jacks, already built in.
Bottom row, left to right again: the Permutations is a generative randomness sequencer based on the popular Turing Machine, sort of a 2nd-gen version of that. This provides loads of random and psuedorandom (at varying levels) CV possibilities. Next to this is a Toppobrillo Quantimator, a quantizer with scaling/tuning/chordal control via CVs, plus three outputs which can also be fed via an analog shift register, a sample-and-hold-type device which feeds CVs forward by a step on each clock pulse. These three outs are also your chord outputs, as well.
And with three outputs, you need three VCOs. I opted for the Noise Reap uBermuda here...very cost effective, plus they have a very crazed self-regen control that can drive the VCO waveforms into some really nasty shapes for lots of distortive harmonic fun. Audio mixer is next to these to sum your VCOs down.
The Delptronics LDB2 setup is next. This is a pair of modules (voices and CV expander) that offers analog sounds in the typical Roland 606/808-type family, with CV control over numerous parameters. Next is a pair of linear VCAs, to be used with CV/mod signals to control their levels. And for modulation, that's now fairly comprehensive: a Takaab triple LFO, Takaab CVable A/R envelope, and dual Doepfer ADSRs. Note the location, also...the Quadratt is directly above so that you can easily route your mod sources into it to combine them.
More Noise Reap...state-variable VCF with three frequency CVs, plus CVable resonance. Another audio mixer allows you to sum the outputs from this along with the mix out from the LDB2, if you choose. Right next to this is a switchable linear/exponential VCA with built-in AR envelope for your outgoing audio level control prior to the effects: 106 Chorus (again) which can stereoize your mono audio to feed direct to the uClouds SE for more processing, with the audio outputs directly above for convenience.
Yes, I know it's about $1500 more. However, this is the sort of thing you're actually pointing towards with the ideas you'd mentioned, so I thought you might like to see a reference of what this might entail. Oh, and as for the passive mults...there are none. In this tight a space, it's best to use inline mult widgets so you can maximize your active functions. And while there's buffering on the Quadratt output(s), there's no buffered mult because you won't be connecting CVs across so many modules that would cause voltage sag.
One other point is that if you're going to want all of those sound sources to track evenly on a single CV, you are definitely looking at adding a buffered mult in order to avoid CV voltage droop from trying to connect too many exponential converters to the same CV out. Going smaller means you've got room for one...even if it's just 2-3 hp, in a cab that small, space can get pretty dear pretty fast. As for passive mults...nah. If you're going smaller, like this, lay in a supply of in-line mult widgets instead. Jam as much function as you can get into the panel space; by using widgets, you get more functional space potential.
I hope that's not your actual module draw, because if it's that close to the rated maxes for the Doepfer PSU3, you're going to wreck that P/S. A sensible rule of thumb is to never exceed 2/3rds of the rated amperage per rail; this allows the P/S to run cooler, extending its life, and also reduces the likelihood that inrushes on power-up will momentarily exceed the P/S capacity. There's also a lot of other things not quite right here, but I'd like to know if you've pushed this build to a zone that's too close to P/S damage.
Well, problem #1 here seems to be that there's a lot of big footprints in a smaller-sized case. The Batumi addition is a better direction to go in, where you can have a lot of function in a much smaller hp count. As for this being "too heavy" on sources...hm...yes and no. Having plenty of VCOs is a good thing, however you make it fit. But having too many "showpiece" sources...not so much so. In this case, you've got three: the DPO, Cloud Terrarium, and Mysteron. The only "basic" VCO present is the STO...and this neglects the ability to have basic, boring, utilitarian VCOs as effective audio-frequency modulators, either as FM sources for other oscillators or as mixable audio sources to add to other oscillator signals with a bit of detuning and/or waveform difference to beef up basic sounds. This is something you might want to reconsider, perhaps losing the Mysteron in favor of a few very basic VCOs for those purposes.
Dynamix...no. You have a pair of proper vactrol LPGs in the Optomix already. What's needed are...yep...boring, dull, sleepy VCAs. Again, this goes toward sonic complexity. Dropping something like a Doepfer A-135-2 quad VCA into the Dynamix's space would then give you four DC-coupled linear VCAs which can then be used to process CVs, LFO and other modulation signals, as well as mixing these if desired. Yes, VCAs are boring. But they're also bread-and-butter devices when it comes to being able to create complex control paths.
Another glaring omission...and also boring stuff but necessary: mixers. I don't see any...and that's a crippling issue. You can't make really good use of all of those audio sources unless you also have the ability to mix some of them together. That last thing I suggest above, combining the STO output with some other source's...you actually don't have a good way to do that right now. Like VCAs, mixers are boring but 100% essential. You need ways to combine audio and CV/mod sources; the whole point of "synthesis" is to reach a sonic result by combining signals to create very complex and changing spectra. The DPO can do this...but that's the only thing here that can, and by leaving mixing out just for audio alone, you've hamstrung this build.
Some of your other module purchase ideas suggest the real problem, actually. There's always the temptation to go for the big-name, super-sexy modules...but if you do that, you're going to wind up totally screwed. Some of them are nice to have, but if you neglect the sleepy-looking parts like mixers, VCAs, envelope gens (only one in this...that's not going to cut it!) and on and on, you'll have a sexy-looking box that works like crap as a synth. Couple that with the space limits in your existing cab, and it doesn't surprise me at all that you've realized you're lacking flexibility. But to get that flexibility...big and sexy is not the answer. Spend some time looking at dull, boring things...consider how they might fit with your other modules, and which modules it might seem that can be removed in order to optimize the capabilties of the remaining ones. Those boring scut-worky modules are actually the key modules that make the pile of modules into a workable instrument...and without them, yep, you've got something expensive and lacking.
Yep...the Pam's is a rather different device, allowing for pattern programmability and loads of other tricks. It has major divide/multiply capabilities on clock rates, has Euclidean pattern sequencing and probabilistic skipping abilities (which fit great with your generative ideas), all sorts of internal swing and delay functions...aside of being a really excellent clock gen in of itself. It has everything you need (and more!) to wring every last bit of timing voodoo out of the Varigate, with plenty left for elsewhere in the build.
An oscilloscope has uses in the studio, to be sure...but visualizing waveforms is more of a 'toy' function, not essential. A good musician doesn't rely on whether a waveform looks suitably "textbook" or not, but instead they use their ears. Sometimes that which looks nice and "pure" doesn't have any musical use in a given situation. And yes, I do have an oscilloscope in my studio, but its main use for some time has been as an X-Y display for reading stereo phasing and diagnosing imaging problems, particularly below 200 Hz where there can be real detriments to the sound from misphased audio. I also use it to diagnose noise issues; at high gain levels, I can see any induced noise issues down at very low dB levels and this helps me diagnose noise sources and potential corrections.
Anyway, yeah, this looks great now...it'll be a good match with both the Odyssey and the M32, and if you get something such as TouellSkouarn Triglostek box, you can convert the 808's outgoing DINsync to a modular clock, letting you use the 808 as your master for pretty much the whole rig.
And if I might, I think I have the perfect solution for that open 6 hp: Feedback's 106 Chorus. An excellent addition to an ambient-focussed system, with mono in and stereo outs, based on the Juno-106 chorus circuit. Paired with the uBraids, that would nail the effect processing situation nicely!
One other thing, also...the Toolbox is a nice idea, but having just one oscillator really undertaxes it. Instead, jamming that space with 2hp modules would allow for three sources (VCOs, or a mix of VCOs and some of their other things like the Vowel or Pluck) and a 2hp Mix to sum that down to the MMF for a nice paraphonic-type voicing. Yes, a bit more spendy, but the capabilities would really jump up at that point. You could also drop the Z4000 and go with a couple of Ladik modules; a C-214 replaces the ADSR capability of the Z4000, then tossing in a C-041 adds two AD/AR envelopes that can also function as LFOs if they receive a constant pulse from the Toolbox.
It's pretty well thought out, actually...but there is one flaw: Clouds was discontinued some time back, and the best way to deal with that would be to get a third-party version, with Tall Dog's uClouds SE probably being your best bet on availability. This then opens up 10 hp, with a very good suggestion for 8 of those being a Pamela's NEW Workout. This would do quite a bit to address your clocking/pattern concerns, and it would play very nicely with the Varigate 4+. For the remaining 2 hp, given the sort of complex interconnection you're envisioning, I'd strongly suggest a regular multiple module of some sort...buffered isn't necessary, but making sure you can use this a few different ways is. SSSR has one which incorporates a switch to select either 2x4 or 1x8 modes, a function you might find useful.
As for the Intellijel line-in, yes, that'll work fine for incoming line-level audio, but you're going to need the corresponding Audio I/O 1u tile to make use of the cab's line-in and outputs. I would suggest removing the Pedal I/O tiles and the headphone tile so that that can fit, then consider removing the O'Tool and looking at Retro Mechanical Labs' GPI instead; not only would this restore the pedal I/O, but that module features two pedal interfaces, which would be a perfect complement to the Strymon pedals you have. These do require 3.5mm to 1/4" cables, but those are easily obtainable.
Actually, yeah, a couple of things come to mind. You might consider a VC Polarizer such as the Doepfer A-133 for changing envelope (and other) polarities in lock with other modulation. Might be very entertaining to have a filter envelope switching back and forth from positive to negative polarity in sequence, f'rinstance. Joranalogue's Dual Window Comparator is a nice fit with sequencing, also, allowing CVs above/below/in window to fire gates that can be used to add further complexity to sequencing. And a bit of Boolean Logic can work with that as well, turning things off and/or on depending on comparator vs clock states. And maybe one more filter, namely the Tiptop Forbidden Planet. The Steiner Synthacon had a wonderfully raucous filter, and this does a good job of nailing its feel in minimal hp.
Not 100% sold on the PanMix, tho...you only get CV over level on that. Have a look at the Toppobrillo Stereomix instead; the size is good, plus you have CV over level, pan, and FX send, and the 'Cue' function can be used as a second FX send, which would work well with a Happy Nerding OUT to mix that second FX return back into your stereo out. Only four ins, but adding a small submixer (if needed) would fix much of that.
Precisely, Ronin...some of the best work I've done started with simple patch-noodling. I'd hit a sound that suggested something, work toward that something, then something else gets into that and I head that direction. This then says "add these", and the compositional process is off and running. There does seem to be a certain set of synths that this is more prone to happening with, though; certainly my modular setup, but also my JP-6, CS-80, Wave 2.3 (when I had that) and MS-20 are all ones that've played a key role in several pieces apiece. When you have ALL the sonic variables at hand, so it seems, this method works well...perhaps not so much with the single-data-entry ones.
A better suggestion, from my long experience with amateur radio and dealing with hefty-amperage DC that it calls for coupled with quick, goof-proof, and sturdy gear requisites, would be to look at something we use called Anderson PowerPoles. Anderson Power Products sells direct via https://www.andersonpower.com/us/en.html , although their online catalog is rather new and lacks a lot of images. You can, however, have a better look at these and at tools for using them via DX Engineering: https://www.dxengineering.com/search/brand/anderson-power-products?autoview=SKU These provide DC connectivity that's sturdy, nearly-foolproof, and very beefy...way beyond normal Eurorack spec hardware, which is very much a good thing. While DX Engineering tends to offer only the inline versions, Anderson should also have some bulkhead versions available that would function nicely on a Eurorack panel. Plus, they come in color-coded sleeves, so you can easily use red for your +, black for -, and put your ground on a green connection for super-easy ID.
Honestly, these are THE way to deal with DC...very rugged, field-tested, and no possible way to confuse connections. I wish they were the standard in Eurorack.
Nothing new about this...the ARP 2600 shipped with several "dummy plugs" back in the day, which were open-circuit 3.5mm plugs without cabling, so that you could use those to completely "break" a prepatched routing, such as the CV sends to the VCOs and VCF. I keep several such 'open' plugs handy for similar uses. Best/easiest way to do these is to just get a few Switchcraft 740s and just use them right out of the bag, without attaching anything to the solder lugs.
FYI, that 1U row won't work. Intellijel uses a different 1U row spacing than the norm, so it's not possible to put both formats of 1U in the same tile row. However, if you stick with the original format, there's not only a larger pool of modules available, but Plum Audio has 1U versions of the Ornament and Crimes and Temps Utile, which are super-powerful multi-type control modules that would blow your build's functionality wide open.
Usually I have a fairly good idea of what a given patch needs to be. But then, I've been doing this a while.
Probably the best way to proceed is to start with a very simple signal chain: VCO -> VCF -> mixer. When you arrive at something that seems to suggest "add x" or "tweak y", then do so. Lather, rinse, repeat. As this process continues, you'll notice that the core sound you'd started with has grown in complexity, as has the patch itself. And while that sounds pretty simplistic, it does work; this is how I was taught to patch on my undergrad school's ARP 2600, more or less. Feed a VCO to the VCF, turn up the VCF's direct out, then start screwing around with that basic path by degrees. The other benefit of proceeding this way is that you get a really good overview of what the various modules can do, how you can make them behave in ways that work for you, and so on. Over time, you wind up with a really good mental picture of the synth, and you can patch pretty rapidly...and then going beyond that, you'll notice that you can structure the basics of a given patch in your head, before even picking up the first patchcord.
Takes time, though...like any other musical instrument, fluency implies practice.
Star grounding is perhaps the best solution for persistent noise problems, IMHO. This consists of running separate grounding wires from your various chassis grounds (on a Eurorack, just attaching the wire to a front panel screw should suffice) and running them to a central ground point, usually on the mixing console. This has the effect of creating a single, unified groundplane across all of your gear, and this quite often is a suitable fix for noise and garbage signals lurking in other subsystems within your studio or rig. Note that it's not 100% necessary to run individual wires from each device; for example, if you have a rack of processors mounted on metal rackrails, attaching a single wire from one of the mounting screws to your grounding point is sufficient. The key is to unify all of your chassis grounds, which gets any electronic garbage to drain off to a single point which is designed for that purpose. If you check the backplane of your Crest desk, you should see a ground-post on there...that's where everything should be wired to to make this work.
Are all of these devices being fed from the same AC source? Also, have you investigated a star-ground of your various devices to the mixer? A third question would be whether or not you have any excessive RF fields where you're working, as these can also bleed into power circuits and cause various degrees of mayhem.
Should be OK for now, but the best option is always to get some sort of output module, especially with proper isolated balanced outs. As for a basic input preamp with envelope follower, the trusty Doepfer A-119 has been the go-to for a long time now. There are certainly others, but Dieter's module is time-tested and pretty cost-effective.
Had to click on it, but did have a look...yeah, that's getting better. If you can get the Noise Reap stuff, it's likely worth it...typically, the Bermuda has a 'dirtier' audio profile, so that will add some bite to the bass. But if you can do two of them, that's even better, because mixing together a pair of very slightly detuned VCOs sounds quite huge when compared to just a single VCO by itself. And driving those into self-oscillation (which is the Bermuda's 'special trick') the waveforms get even crazier, which is something you can tweak live to good effect, not unlike screwing with the resonance on a TB-303 to get it to do the trademarked "acid squelch". But this would be more distortional and crazy...a very nasty, overdriven sound which you could really work in the bass ranges. Hopefully they'll be available, and given the size, not at all a difficult thing to ship from Portland, OR to the UK.
That's a helluva smart use of a really tiny space! Given what it'll be interfacing with, that should add a lot of bang to your rig. The Peaks is discontinued, so if that's a priority you'll have to source a used one or find a third-party version in 8 hp...but also, you might consider putting a Doepfer A-140-2 MicroADSR in instead to give you two envelopes, but with individual controls per each. Doepfer's got a few other 8 hp modulation source solutions, as well, like a VCS (the A-171-2), quad decay (schmitt trigger, basically), a quad ADSR (with a few control compromises, but still very viable) and the like.
You've just been lucky...inasmuch as the Morgasmatron has that input gain control and the passive mixer attenuated the output signal. Here's what happens when you feed line-level directly into a modular without a input preamp or some other sort of gain control...line level is actually extremely low when compared to synth levels. Typical line levels are .775V (-10) or 1.2V (+4) (although the actual peak-to-peak levels are different due to a bunch of impedence matching, math, and other forms of voodoo), whereas synth audio signals within a modular system can run at 8 to 10V peak-to-peak. So, without some sort of input preamp, the incoming line level signal is going to be far lower in amplitude than everything else going on.
Now, feeding a line level input with a synth directly...that's a little bit different. The most likely thing you'll run into is a majorly overloaded input on your line input device. Some devices, though, actually have enough headroom to deal with the higher synth levels and you can just attenuate as needed on those. But every once in a while, you'll run into something that really DOES NOT like anything too much hotter than a professional +4 dB line signal. Depending on what that device might be, you'll get a result ranging from massive distorted overloading to component-go-POP, which isn't fun. These days, there's not many things out there that can go pop when overloaded, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Case in point: we were running a guitar through an overdrive into my Biamp MR/140 spring on a session many years ago. Sounded AWESOME...for a couple of minutes. Then it didn't sound like anything. Turned out the spring transducer couldn't handle that much drive and it gave out, and that was that until I could get it serviced.
So, yeah...the best thing to do is to be ready for incoming and outgoing line levels by having some sort of input preamp (preferably with an envelope follower...very useful combo) for line-level inputs, and output modules (preferably with isolation and balanced line outs to quash possible noise/hum issues before they start) to step your synth level signals down to where they belong.
Modulatable buffered mults? Sure....look around for "adders", which is pretty much a buffered mult that can take other CVs in to create a composite CV signal. Tubbutec makes a 2 hp module called the Sumtiple, and it offers a three-input adder normalized to a 3 (technically 4) output buffered mult. Sounds like the very thing you're looking for.
Erbeverb's a good idea, yep...but I do see a problem with that Metropolis + Shifty call. For instance, you really need to have four signal sources to send the shift registers in the Shifty to, otherwise you're spending about $190 on something you won't get the full use of. And given that the Metropolis is pretty much a monophonic sequencer (albeit a very good one), that alone won't address the possible multiple voice use. Better idea: The Harvestman's Stillson Hammer mkII. This gives you four channels of easily-usable sequencing, plus per-channel quantization and a whole pile of other features for less than the cost of the Metropolis + Shifty combined. Plus, you get 8 hp back for some other use in the bargain!
A lot, actually...let's see...there's no modulation sources, for starters. If you want punchy basslines, you're going to have to have some way to modulate that VCF with an envelope. Otherwise, it just goes 'oooooooooo' instead of the 'pwom!' you're hoping for. There's also no LFO or any other sort of periodic modulation, so there's not going to be any variation to the sound that changes back and forth over time intervals.
Secondly, that VCO/RM will prove totally useless without a second VCO. Ring modulators require two inputted signals to produce their sum/difference spectra. The Analogue Solutions VCO/RM's also not a very cost effective choice; if you want two seriously wild VCOs for about the same price as one VCO/RM, check Noise Reap's Bermuda, a rather nasty VCO with a self-modulation feedback-type capability. For good, in-your-face bass, dirtier signals work really well.
That sequencer won't work the way you're expecting. The Ladik S-180 is a trigger sequencer only...which means it doesn't send any CVs with which to make the VCOs change pitch. You would have to use the S-183 or S-184 expanders with that S-180 to get pitches, plus the addition of a quantizer would probably be necessary to keep the sequencer steps in a proper scale.
About the only things you have right here are the use of that Polivoks VCF (great, nasty filter) and the Optodist to get your levels punchy. My advice would be to stop building for the time being, and instead spend some time studying other builds, looking up articles in the MG forum and elsewhere online on what proper synth architecture should be, studying "the greats" in synth design over the past 50+ years, and the like. Get a better idea of what needs to be in a build first, then come back to MG once you've gotten a better idea of what to do. Otherwise, you're just going to wind up wasting your time and, potentially, your money should you try to realize a MG build before understanding what makes up a proper synthesizer.
That shouldn't be a problem. The 'sleeve' connector on patchcables handles the common groundplane amongst anything connected with them. One bit of advice, though...feed both the Befaco and TipTop power supplies from a common AC source to avoid potential ground loops over the patchcables. If you use power strips or conditioners such as the Furman rackmount variety, feed both cabs' AC from the same one.
Sometimes its cache, sometimes its not. I've often noted a problem in embedding a rack into a forum post where, if the rack wasn't previously recognized properly by the screenshot mode, it won't come up with the proper layout in the forum post. As a result, I've gotten used to always making sure that screenshot shows the right build iteration prior to embedding the rack's URL in the forum post. That always works.
Yep, that's exactly what I meant...and this layout looks quite good, indeed. It follows what I call the "up-left/down-right" pattern, where control signals move upward on the left side toward the voicing row(s) at the top, from where the audio flows back downward on the right side through mixers, modifiers, processing and then the final mix. It's a really intuitive type of layout, making it easy to sort out where a problem with a patch might be located, aside of simply making the whole mess easier to control in general. And in between the "control-in" on the bottom left and the "audio-out" on the bottom right is the perfect place for a controller, as it's a simple reach from that in either direction to make changes to your major global functions. Nicely done!
Much of the problem has to do with the maximum headroom allowable on small mixers. Some of them are capable of being attenuated down to a level where they can handle typical audio levels coming off of a synthesizer. I've done this a few times with my Mackie 1202...but we're talking about a 25-year old original 1202, which was a bit of a different beast than the present-day Mackies. I've read some accounts of how the Allen & Heath ZED series is also capable of dealing with the high incoming levels, also.
Another alternative to an in-cab performance mixer that would allow you to route directly to an outboard mixer would be any of the various output modules. Since these are designed to step down the levels to line-level, a bank of several of these would also make for a cost-effective and space-saving option. Ladik has several options here that are worth examining, such as their P-530 dual output module which offers attentuation plus 1/4" outs that should interface easily with any outboard mixer you can think of. In 16 hp, you could have trimmable eight line outs for only $160. Frankly, that seems like the best option, leaving you free to use whichever mixer suits your performing needs.
Well, out with the old year, and in with the new. 2019's here, Winter NAMM's right around the corner, and while this month's hot Eurorack offerings are a tad sparse, much of that is certainly due to manufacturers keeping mum about their new surprises until they hit the floor in Anaheim later in January. But here's a few picks to tide us over until that post-NAMM deluge in a few weeks:
1) Pharmasonic ON IT AGAIN! Back in the last installment of KICK ASS!!!, this Japanese maker dropped a fantastic bombshell when they did a big reissue of many of the much-vaunted Digisound Series 80 modules in Eurorack format. But to do a second line reissue a month later? Wild! And yet, there it sits...Pharmasonic's redux of the key modules from Roland's classic semi-modular, the System 100. Not to be confused with the fully-modular System 100M, the System 100 was more like Roland's take on something like the ARP 2600, which came in a number of “blocks”; the 101 was the main keyboard synth, the 102 was its expander, there was a dedicated mixer (the 103) and sequencer (104) and you even could get a matching monitor pair, the 109. From this, Pharmasonic's given us the System 100's VCO, VCF, VCA, LFO, an ADSR EG, 3-in and 2-out (in parallel) mixer, noise gen, ring mod, sample and hold, and an otherwise-inaccesible pair of inverters that share space with a trio of mults. They're very simple but quite cost and space-efficient, with the majority of the line weighing in at 6 hp, making them great candidates for filling small spaces with an extra bit of functionality. Now I'm wondering what Pharmasonic's going to do in January! Oh, and one more Pharmasonic bit: the Digisound Dual ADSR is also now available: $159, 12 hp.
2) Tesseract Modular 8x8 Buffered Matrix. This has “live performance” written all over it. A set of eight rotary switches that allows for quick resetting of signal paths, the module can also serve as a buffered multiple, but that's only a hint of what this is capable of. Any combination of inputs and outputs is possible...1 to 8, 2 to 4, 4 to 2, and so on. It does limit what you can do with inputs, though, as you can't send several inputs to one output. Even so, for live performers this will be a real blessing, as it's able to change routings on the fly as long as the module's been prepped for the in-set changes. Available in kit or prebuild. Roughly $106, 12 hp.
3) Doepfer A-135-2. Really, what this is is more or less a repackaging of Doepfer's A-135-1. But it's significant nonetheless because while the 135-1 was a not-so-space effective 18 hp, this new iteration gives you the same functionality in only 8 hp, with 5 mm less depth and $56 off the original's price. Very cool! Dieter seems to be looking out for users who need maximum bang in minimum space with this one, which seems to me to be a very logical pick for users who need a handful of linear, DC-coupled VCAs with summing in a tight space. Accordingly, quite a few MG users have already picked up on this module, but it deserves a look from anyone who's planning a space-restrictive skiff build, plus anyone who needs lots of VCAs but doesn't like layout sprawl. $134, more or less.
4) Ladik M-172 mixer. This is pretty much the logical follow-on to Ladik recent 12 hp stereo mixers, but this is kind of the configuration I was hoping we would eventually see. You get four pannable inputs and a stereo input pair with a balance control, all outputting to a 1/4” stereo pair of line-level outs. This is an awesome budget-conscious stereo mixer, with built-in output staging and the potential for using the stereo input to mix in stereo effects. The depth's a bit sizable at 60mm, but if you can swing that, the price is the real convincer: $94 at current exchange rates! That makes it one of the more cost-effective stereo mixers out there, with the plus of not needing a separate output module making it an even cheaper choice.
5) Antimatter Audio v3kt. Now this is super-interesting...a module that allows for quad panning, vector control over either audio or CV signals, internal logic over CVs, and probably a pile more functions that just aren't readily apparent. But looking at the given functions in the listing, I'd have to say that this has super-high “abuse potential” with either a joystick or other modulation signals fed to its various inputs. A lot of people could make use of this: live performers should dig the ability to joystick audio around via this in a quadrophonic space, generative-type users will find loads of uses here for morphing/altering modulation behavior and mixing, and most anyone will appreciate the ability to morph smoothly between four different audio sources in a quad X-Y space. The other thing that's a killer is the space it requires: only 6 hp! This should make it a must-have for anyone who's got a joystick in their builds, as it requires minimal space to blow that joystick's functionality wide-open. $199.
And that's pretty much it for the December 2018 offerings. Like I noted, the real deluge is coming in this first month of 2019, so keep your eyes peeled! Until then, happy new year, all!
Well, a few things...first of all, if you have something that's already in a case, keep it in its case. I'm sure there'll be a temptation to put the 0-Coast and/or Neutron in your Eurorack cab, but you need to resist this. Keep the cab free for things which don't have the convenience of already being in their own case...it allows for more space, and in the end it's much more cost-vs-space effective.
The module compliment sounds decent...but have you attempted to do any test builds of the system on here yet? I really suggest that if you haven't, you should do so. The fact is that, while you could do your configuration testing with the physical devices, it's not really the best idea to be taking them in and out numerous times. The likelihood of damaging something, such as pins on your distro boards, stripping a screw and so on might seem minor, but they can add up to a major hassle if they accumulate. You can also get some clues as to how you'll want to implement that second 104 hp case from how the first case gets put together.
Third, consider your controller situation. You'll definitely want something at hand that has a typical black-and-white keyboard and CV/gate outputs. My suggestion would be to snag an Arturia Keystep...not expensive, plus you get a polyphonic step sequencer, chording modes, an arpeggiator in the deal, plus some ribbons for pitch and mod expression. Adding a Beatstep Pro to this would also give you more (and more complex!) sequencing with onboard quantization, plus an additional pad-based controller, again for cheap.
Sounds like a good start, though...that's a well-considered list.
Not too bad...just be careful to use only one VCO in square wave (that was what the TB-303 had) and only the lowpass setting on the VCF. Granted, the Neutron's VCF is 2-pole, not Roland's weird 3-pole LPF, but in the right parts of the range and with perhaps a tad of overdriving the filter, you should be right in the ballpark. Again, the sequencer is the key here...that odd non-linear glide that the original 303 has is another great example of a "wrong" design doing something "right", sort of like Moog's CP3 mixer.
Still not bad, even with the extra space taken up by the MI modules.
My take on the Mutable thing is this: if Olivier comes out with a successor device (as in Plaits succeeding its predecessor, Braids), that would tend to indicate Mutable's signed off on those earlier designs, so copy away. I do see his point about the currently-active parts of his line, though...but at the same time, there's two points that nag at me. First up, the main reasons why I myself would use the Codex Modulex clones would be 100% based on their size. If Mutable could give me a Veils in 8 hp, I'd certainly rather have that...but Veils fits in 12, and when you need to cram functionality into limited space, hp count is everything. After all, it's why 2hp and Erica's PICO series seem to turn up in a vast amount of builds...people get that point.
The second thing is that open source insistance. Several years back when there were far fewer Eurorack manufacturers, that philosophy make way more sense. But now, in times where massive retailers such as Thomann and Sweetwater sell Eurorack gear, when there's a pile of manufacturers vying for business, open source is a BAD idea. If Mutable's module designs weren't as amazing as they are, Olivier Gillet wouldn't have this problem. But those amazing designs are a double-edged sword if they're not carefully managed like other important intellectual properties. Open source is applaudable...unless the concept boomerangs back around to kick your own ass, then it's very much a royal pain! This isn't like other firms just wholesale ripping off other firms' designs; there's a tacit "approval" for these designs to be used by third parties. But I think some better foresight about modular synthesis's exploding desirability might've been useful here.
Ah...one more tweak, this time for the comparators. Jettison the Doepfers and use the Joranalogue Dual Window Comparator instead. Not only does this jam both comparators into the space one Doepfer uses, these are WINDOW comparators...which means they can trigger gates from several different comparator states (below, in window, not in window, above) instead of simply one via a combination of the comparators themselves and some logic onboard the module.
First modules here, I'd say: the entire tile row (may as well have that in place, since its your main utility set), uRinks, uMotion, Kinks, A-171-2s, Sisters and Stillson Hammer, just to get your basic synthesis functions in hand. Last in should be your drums and sampler players...because you may find things along the way that suggest to you that 1) you might not need them and 2) there are ideas emerging from your discoveries with the synthesis aspect that demand a shift in module implementations.
The key to the TB-303 sound is really the glide function as well as other aspects of the sequencer, and how these make most any typical single-VCO patch behave. The problem with the actual stock 303, IMHO, is that you have a very limited range of possible useable sounds, hence the various modded versions (such as the Devilfish) that popped up in the 1990s to alleviate some of this.
Frankly, I find that when I want a 303 "acid" sound, I turn to software. There are several software sequencers that more than adequately model the 303's sequencer behavior, and once that hurdle's been passed...well, I've found that a software knockoff of the Juno-60 works FAR better at sounding like a 303 than the oodles of "worshipful" 303 synth clones out there. Trying to make a modular synth emulate the TB-303 seems to me to be akin to buying a Lamborghini Countach simply to run errands around town.
I'll second that, having learned much of the basics myself on one of the greatest patchables in history, the ARP 2600. Having the prepatched signal paths was very useful inasmuch as I could see what a "conventional" flow was capable of, and also what patched changes to those signal paths might do. The 2600 in question here was located in Middle TN State's Electronic Music Studio through part of the 1970s and much of the 1980s, and I don't think a better educational analog synthesizer has been created since the 2600. It's something that Korg, through their ties with David Friend of ARP, should still consider reissuing, IMHO.
Good patchables for learning the modular basics that you can get these days include:
Moog: Mother32, DFAM, Grandmother.
Korg: MS-20 mini + SQ-1.
MakeNoise: 0-Coast (excellent for understanding West Coast concepts, btw)
Arturia: MiniBrute 2 and 2S (the 2 is keyboard-based, while the 2S revolves around a step-sequencer)
Dreadbox: Erebus, Nyx
Kilpatrick: Phenol (rather Serge-like...a great intro to banana-patch methods)
Pittsburgh: Lifeforms SV-1 Blackbox, Microvolt 3900
...and I'm sure the list goes on. But anyway, by learning how these work in their normalized states (where applicable), it's easy to see how modules within those work, and how the patching process changes things around. And in most cases, these can be interconnected directly to modular systems, with the Korg and Moog devices being the only ones that have certain control signal tweaks that're necessary to make that work 100%. As for controllers (should you need them), my vote goes to Arturia and their Keystep and BeatStep Pro. Both are sequencers, the former also functioning as a keyboard controller and the latter being more pad-based.
Yep...the PanMix or the Roland 500 series output mixer are decent choices here since you have ample VCAs now to handle your input levels.
The Serge VCS (the originator of the Doepfer A-171-2) is a very prized module. It can function as a slew limiter, an envelope generator, a LFO, a VCO, and probably a few other things that just aren't coming to mind right now. Ken Stone took the original Serge design and added a few tweaks, then Doepfer took Ken's design and did a couple more. It's literally a "Swiss Army Knife" module. MakeNoise's Maths is pretty much two of these under one panel (making the Maths more like the Serge Dual Universal Slope Gen) and added a little bit of logic/arithmetical function voodoo...but it's also 4 hp larger than a pair of A-171-2s, and the additional functionalities are easy enough to replicate on your own.
Basically, what you're looking at is a pair of CVable slews...rise and fall...with the ability to change the slew rate via any sort of incoming modulation. Feeding this with an existing CV results in portamento-type behavior, but with the ability to voltage control the rates. Now, that's where it gets weird, as the module can also output its own CV that rises and falls according to the slew rate levels. This can be done as a one-shot on a gate/trigger, making the module behave like a 2-stage envelope gen...or it can be looped, making it act like a LFO with a user-defined waveform via the slew rates. But it gets even crazier, since the Exp CV point accepts 1V/8va CV just like a VCO...and then you have a VCO with a user-definable waveform. Oh, and since you can feed the slew rates separately, you can make that waveform shift all over the place constantly, yielding some wild waveshaping action that most average everyday VCOs cannot match. And those are just for starters...with a couple of additional modules of various sorts, you can make these act as a little analog computational "brain", bouncing their functions of of each other and outputting loads of modulated CV craziness. This last bit is what the Maths is best at...but you can get there with a pair of A-171-2s, an adder, maybe a comparator or two and some simple Boolean logic, and wind up with a little more user-definability than the Maths. Fun!
I actually have both of those sequencers...the SQ-1 is nice for running typical Berlin school-type sequencing loops, plus it plays nice with my MS-20. The BSP is a different beast altogether, though...much more internal complexity and potential, especially with its software configuration capabilities. I did a live piece a few years ago that had two BSPs merged into my Kawai K5m...none of the four patterns were equal length or at the same tempo, which gave me this nonrepeating ambient wash that worked beautifully once the synth was properly processed. If you were going to be forced to make a choice, the BSP is the one to have...but having both is perhaps even better!
Yeah...while the Time Wizard does contain some logic capabilities (albeit not on the same level as a full-on Boolean gate setup), for the most part the Pam's does what it does. The question would then be whether you'd get more mileage out of the additional functions the Time Wizard offers versus the extra two channels of trigs on the Pam's. But...also, have a look at the Pexp-1 and 2, which are expanders for the NEW Workout and which offer some functions that need to be considered.
My performance mixer fave as of late is different from Ronin's. Qu-bit's Mixology is a four-in, stereo-out...but offers CV control over per-channel level, AUX send, and pan, with a proper AUX mono send and stereo return, which means it plays nicely with reverbs, choruses, and most other FX that tend toward that routing. You also get manual solo and mute per channel as well, which can come in handy when programming complex patches.
As for the Veils, tho...again, Codex Modulex shrank that down to 8 hp and brought the price in cheaper. So ultimately, you could add a pair of those for a hair under $300, giving you eight VCAs with variable response curves, potential submix abilities, and a compliment of VCAs of that size would then easily allow you to CV level control both audio and CV, again upping the potential complexity.
Good moves thus far...the Moog bipolar DC thing is annoying, yep. I would've hoped that they'd learned from example that when there's a standard that's making the development of new things possible, you're supposed to follow that trend mainly for the sake of being constructive. My bet is that with the Moog gear's basis in Bob's older circuit designs, it sticks with their older voltage standards...hence the bipolar DC, the continuing presence of the (ugh) S-Trigs on their modular reissues, etc.
One thing you might look at, though, would be the Erica Pico MScale. That's specifically designed to solve the Moog bipolar DC issue, fits in a mere 3 hp, and only costs around $70. That way, you can just route your pitch CV direct to that and the problem's instantly solved in the first patching step outside the Grandmother. As for the EMW Offset Proc...that not only fixes your control issues, but it allows some extra craziness in that you can modulate offsets with it. So, say you have an incoming CV that controls your VCO pitches...by using a square wave as an offset modulator and a little poking around with the gain control, you can impose a trill of a specific interval onto the VCO CV with that module. And that's just one example of some of the fun you can have with it. My assumption is that EMW mashed an offset source plus an adder in there twice over...not a bad idea at all!