I'm building my first rack and welcome feedback, suggestions and modifications. I haven't decided a case and power supply too. I would appreciate some suggestions for the same.

ModularGrid Rack


starting with which modules you want and the modules you need to support them and leaving some space for expansion would probably be a good idea - a couple of mantises will work perfectly in that regard - start with one and add a minimum viable system and get to know that first - then proceed with the rest of the modules one or 2 at a time

I would suggest you add some more information - what sort of music you want to make with the modular and which modules are 'keepers' in this rack

then one or more of us can rip it apart and you'll end up in a better place - there are some obvious questions too - why do you need 2 trig31s? and 3 passive mults?


Thanks Jim! I'm trying to create a system which could act as a complex, evolving rhythm-generator/sequencer. I do have a few elektron boxes for which I would like to send triggers out from this system via midi. That's why I added 2 trig 31s. As for the mults I just added them in there as I thought it would be helpful to route copies of signals to different destinations but I guess I could also do that with the 32:1 which I added today?

As for the modules I would like to keep, they would be the IoLabs Flux, Stochastic Inspiration Generator, Chimera, Fracture, QD, QCD (I like the idea of the expander but not sure if its super necessary), RCD, SWN and maybe Pams new workout.

The main goal is to create a generative system which helps me program complex rhythmic sequences which would be difficult with a linear / step sequencer setup.


I'd go as minimal as possible to start with - probably just some ways to sequence and combine triggers - unity mixers, switched multiples* and gate/trigger combiners etc - and a trig31

get that working how you want and then consider adding a sound source

how are you mixing/listening?

*this is contentious - you shouldn't use multiples as mixers - bad, bad practice - it will work until it fries your expensive module - but if you only ever use your switched multiple for this purpose then it works


@visakhv16, welcome to modular and Modular Grid!

A few comments:

-- the case size you picked is good, IMO big enough to be interesting, small enough to be portable, not cost a fortune, and not be completely baffling. I personally like Doepfer cases, and you can surely find those in a size similar to above.

-- regarding your goal "I'm trying to create a system which could act as a complex, evolving rhythm-generator/sequencer." IMO this is one of the harder things to pull off with some understanding and control of what's going on. SO I would say if that's what you want, patience and doing some "homework" will be very rewarding. See this post, the 3 links mentioned at the top https://www.modulargrid.net/e/forum/posts/index/9906 and also this post https://www.modulargrid.net/e/forum/posts/index/9928 ... those will have a lot of ideas and draft racks for you to explore!

-- your draft rack above has about as many complex modules put together as I've ever seen. I can tell you, as a 37 year musician and 15 year synthesist working with VSTs, getting into modular was still tough for me! It is hard enough to really understand a "basic" module, or function generator like Stages, let alone other modules which can be far far deeper and mysterious. This is not to say "avoid complex modules" -- but to point out it takes some real time, manual reading, experimentation, and practice to start to get some control over their behavior. Jim's advice (above) to do "minimum viable" or core system, then 1-2 modules at a time is good; that said, the urge to dive in (and maybe go overboard), I get it!

Good luck!


OK...I had a bash at this, starting with my recommendation for the cab...in this case, I used a 3-row 126 hp design by Case From Lake that runs roughly $650, powered. The nice thing about Case From Lake is that they can do bespoke alterations to their base-level cabs, so if you need beefier power, more depth, etc etc...they do that.
ModularGrid Rack
Woooooo...was this ever NUTS! Normally, I would say that drums don't belong in a build, but in this situation, the requirements all revolve around timing and sequencing, so I knuckled-down and had at it, deleting a number of modules that either made no sense in the build's context or which were better-filled by other modules.

Top row: This is generally "voices" in my builds, and it's that here as well...with some tweaks. All of the original percussive modules are at the left side of the row, and then I added a pair of Bastl state-variables (mainly for the Chimera and Plonk) and a six-in manual stereo mixer to submix the entire percussion complement down to stereo. I didn't bother with VCAs here, because percussion largely doesn't require them. After that, there's the Spherical Wavetable stereo VCO and an Intellijel Morgasmatron...in this case, also without VCAs as the performance mixer below has those.

Middle row: The percussion sequencer is on the left end, conveniently located below the percussion modules. Then the next several modules are all modulation: a Synthesis Technologies Morphing Dual LFO, Intellijel Quadrax + Qx, a dual VCA based on the Veils VCAs, Tiptop's MISO for modulation signal alterations, then ADDAC's Stochastic Function Generator. Since so much of what's in the build depends on a certain degree of stochastics, I figured that this would be a more appropriate substitute for Maths. Then a Happy Nerding FX Aid is located right by the Toppobrillo Stereomix2, which gives you four input channels with VCA over levels, CV panning and AUX send, a headphone preamp (with a CUE function), manual mutes, and an FX send/return path.

Bottom row: Mainly, this is timing and control: Mutant Brain for MIDI, Pam's, O&c, Sloths...then a Doepfer noise/sample and hold module. Then the real clock manipulation starts with the QCD setup, followed by a dual gate delay and a dual probabilistic gate skipper, followed by the Illyana Boolean module. On the other side of this, there's a Joranalogue Dual Window Comparator for picking gate signals off of modulation. Then the Tool Box also has another comparator, along with a number of other useful submodules that all have potential uses in this build. The Ladik Derivator also picks off gates, but this time they're dependent on CV movement. And for CVs, on the right end is a Time's Arrow, a stochastic pattern generator which I've tandemmed here with the Stochastic Inspiration Generator to cause much more complex melodic/harmonic pattern behavior than just the SIG alone.

This is a pretty complicated build. Things that I dropped included the Hexmix, all of the mults (use inline ones...no sense in wasting functional panel space!), the trig-to-MIDI modules, and the multiplexer...mainly because they didn't appear to have any functions that couldn't be filled by changing other modules in the build, or because they simply didn't appear to make sense. So there was a good amount of "streamlining" going on here, even though this result might still look overly-complex. Some others, such as the PEG, were just too big to be sustainable here, plus they also were able to be swapped for similar/identical functions in other modules that made more sense, space-wise. Plus, some things here violate my usual build pattern (most notably, the performance mixer being on the middle row) because...well, space has demands. But this final result is pretty cohesive, partly from dropping some modules, and partly from speccing different modules that could take up the slack for the removed ones. So, it's better...it's COMPLICATED, but yeah...better.


I'd go as minimal as possible to start with - probably just some ways to sequence and combine triggers - unity mixers, switched multiples* and gate/trigger combiners etc - and a trig31

get that working how you want and then consider adding a sound source

how are you mixing/listening?

*this is contentious - you shouldn't use multiples as mixers - bad, bad practice - it will work until it fries your expensive module - but if you only ever use your switched multiple for this purpose then it works
-- JimHowell1970

Thanks for the inputs Jim I will take it into consideration! I was planning to use the expert sleepers connected to my audio interface via adat for listening and mixing in the box.


Oh wow I didn't expect such great involvement in this forum. I was kinda overwhelmed with all the possibilities and fear of picking the wrong modules or missing out on the "better" ones. I appreciate all the inputs!

@nickgreenberg - Great links, I will check them out. Haha yes, I found all these weird / strange modules and I have a tendency of being overambitious without giving it a thought whether I would be able to truly understand and use them as I wanted. But I guess I am willing to put in some serious hard work and see how things go :)


@Lugia Wow I will need some time to go through the suggestions and understand them. Thanks a ton for putting so much time and effort into doing this, I truly appreciate it!

I just had a quick look and was wondering if you had any suggestions to include the possibility of converting trigs/gates from this system to midi to be able to sequence some midi hardware. I'm not sure if the Mutant Brain can do this. Also, I am starting to learn Max Msp and would like to be able to use it someday with the system. How would you go about changing this system to include these features as well?


mutant brain is a midi->cv converter - what you want is a cv->midi converter - there are not so many to choose from - befaco do a couple and addac - the doepfer one that I have has been discontinued and the current one is a single note and gate iirc

max/msp - are you using ableton? if so use I would have thought that using the cv tools in that and output to the es3 would be the simplest solution


@visakhv16, glad you are getting some useful input!

A couple additional comments:

-- "I was kinda overwhelmed with all the possibilities and fear of picking the wrong modules or missing out on the "better" ones." ... Yes, there's a huge expanse of possibilities in modular. The way I dealt with this when starting was i) set a basic design architecture (e.g. type of modules and # of modules) that would execute the type of instrument I'm interested in ii) get forum help to troubleshoot the design iii) pick some modules I thought were "no regrets" (e.g. well reviewed, well known, well loved) plus a couple "innovative" modules that interest me, from what is in stock at my preferred vendors iv) iterate with forum folks a bit more to help polish the subsequent rack design, and all along the way v) lots and lots of looking at modules' webpages, manuals and videos. BTW don't expect a rack to necessarily ever be finished, there will always be things you could change or add if you wanted to.

-- re: "I have a tendency of being overambitious without giving it a thought whether I would be able to truly understand and use them as I wanted." I was in that kind of head space about 2 months ago. I got a BUNCH of modular stuff all at once. On the positive side, I got a lot of good input from the forum, did some research, and was thoughtful, SO I do have a setup that strikes me as a full instrument and is very inspiring to me, which is great. On the negative side, several of the modules I have are crazy deep on their own, let alone in combination, and I'm now like "f(*&, am I ever really going to understand the timbral possibilities of my complex oscillators, etc. etc.?"

-- I bought a lot of stuff from Patchwerks in Seattle. One of the people there helping me choose modules said "everybody I know who's really good at modular, they really pound hours into their setup until they know every module inside and out." That has stuck with me as a good (and somewhat haunting) piece of reflection. SO I'm expecting somewhat the same of my rig: I'll start to really get good juice out of it reliably only after I have a pretty solid command on all the major module. From there, it's simple math: more modules--> more study / practice time to get command of. I've stopped buying additional modules because the "homework" I have left to do to learn my current modules remains very considerable, and I'm satisfied that what I have is a great platform for sound design and exploration.

-- FYI Lugia posted somewhere else that he's at his rack limit and will be deleting stuff. That being the case, I'd recommend you make a copy/duplicate of Lugia's draft rig above, and also copy the comments from this thread and email to yourself (or otherwise archive them). It is super helpful input from JimH, Lugia etc. above, and if you're still chewing on these topics weeks / months from now, its worth taking a moment to preserve what's been said so far.

Good luck!

Nicholas


@JimHowell1970

mutant brain is a midi->cv converter - what you want is a cv->midi converter - there are not so many to choose from - befaco do a couple and addac - the doepfer one that I have has been discontinued and the current one is a single note and gate iirc

max/msp - are you using ableton? if so use I would have thought that using the cv tools in that and output to the es3 would be the simplest solution>

-- JimHowell1970

Right, I will look more into CV/Trig/Gate to Midi convertors.
And yes I am using Ableton. I will look into the ES3 as well, thanks for your suggestions!


@nickgreenberg

Which website would you recommend to get modules at a good price with some discount hopefully? Since I have a somewhat decent idea of what modules to get I might go ahead and get a few of them at once, including case and power so hoping here is some dealer who would provide some discount. And thanks for the heads-up, I have duplicated that rack!

-V


Thanks @JimHowell1970, @nickgreenberg, @lugia for all the help. I have a solid base to start with and would be going ahead with this build slowly, a few modules at a time. Will post updates! I'm based in the US, so waiting for Memorial Day sale for some discounts. I'm planning to sell my car to fund this as well. Goodbye social life lol

ModularGrid Rack