So, I'm gradually assembling something along these lines. I've done a load of research and think I'm fairly settled on the 'voice' modules, though I'm open to suggestions on the Erica Hats, the knit (plaits) and the Sample Drum in particular.

My main question though, is what utility type modules have I missed? 'VCAs' is the obvious answer, but I'm not sure where they'd be of particular value here - am I wrong? And what else do I need that I haven't thought of?

Also, I'm by no means sure about the Steppy. I've been impressed by what Ricky Tinez has got out of it and reckon it could be useful clocked to 1/4 speed (or something) and used to sequence the Ensemble Oscillator, for example. But with the Eloquencer already in place (that's fixed, for now), is the Steppy surplus to requirements?

Oh, and is there a more elegant mixing solution which retains the aux possibility and the flexibility of the sources (the drive is a bonus but not a deal-breaker)?

ModularGrid Rack


It probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: this will be a gradual thing and therefore inevitably subject to evolution, including new modules I come across and getting rid of ones which are surplus to requirements. Bass is on its way, I already have the Eloquencer, Sloths, and Clouds (which I'm intending to swap for Monsoon), so I'll be learning a module at a time, not trying to mash my brain by doing everything at once.


you have way too many sound sources in this size case - you do not have the modules that you need to support half the sound sources you have

is the case a intellijel 7u? if so why the uZeus? will the uZeus even with the big power supply be enough for the modules if not (remember to leave at least 25% headroom)

some of the modules do have built in vcas - but that does't mean that you won't want more - vcas are also useful for controlling modulation - you may also find that you need some envelope generators to open the vcas - usually sequencers output gates - which are just on off square waves

I would try to start of with a single voice - sound source, sound modifier, modulation source, a way to play and a way to listen and build from there - you will quickly find there are things you are missing that are near essential - something like a disting is a good idea to buy early on as it has a lot of functionality and will help you understand what different types of modules do


I had a bash at this...but it should be noted that I've "exorcised" the drum functionality. Sort of.
ModularGrid Rack
Yeah, it's sorta different. But at the same time, more solid and less confusional. Normally, I use the upper row for "voicing", but given the timing situations inherent in the build, I opted to reverse the upper and lower 3U rows here. Here's why...

Tile row: OK...there's a Noise Tools tile at the left end. Not only does this provide a sample/track & hold and noise, it also gives you a slew limiter AND...most importantly...a single clock control for global tempo, if circumstances dictate. And the reason for being able to use one knob for all clocking is right next to it: a Plum Audio Temps Utile, which can reprocess that single clock signal into several channels of...STUFF. The QuadrATT is next for attenuation, polarization, submixing, etc. Then the Audio In...and a surprise, the Intellijel Stereo Mixer. Now...remember what I said about "sort of" removing the drums? This is part of the "sort of". Instead of leaving the excess of drum modules in the build (seriously...a drum machine is a FAR better and cheaper way to go), I removed them, but put in the MSCL stereo comp/limiter at the right end of the bottom row and the extra stereo input on the "output" (now the Stereo Mixer, which connects directly to the cab's 1/4" jacks) so that you can route a stereo drum machine feed into the modular, screw around with it some, MASH the crap out of the dynamics so it bangs properly, then mix that stereo signal onto the main synth's stereo out.

Top 3U: Konstant Labs PWRchekr for monitoring the DC busses, the Triple Sloths, then four modules for messing around with clock signals. The COUNT is a pulse counter, outputting gates for each "tick" in a sequence from 0-7. Then a Ladik Dual Delay is next, for shifting clock pulses in time. The "meat" here is in the middle, though, where you'll find a dual Boolean logic module, Frequency Central's Logic Bomb...and after that is a Ladik Derivator, which generates gates based on incoming CV behavior. All of those modules, taken together, are capable of serious alterations of your clocking signals. And right after that, of course, is the sequencer; the Eloquencer was just too HUGE, so I went with a similarly-featured but smaller device, 1010 Music's Toolbox...also eight channels, but with touchscreen control, micro SD sequence storage, and BOTH analog and MIDI signal outputs. SSF's wonderful Tool Box multiutility module then gives you some waveshaping, a comparator, an arithmetical CV processor, inverter, diode OR combiner, and a 2-in/1-out electronic switch. Following this are four free-run LFOs, Maths, then an After Later DVCA which is a pair of VCAs based on the Veils design that also offers 2-into-1 mixing. Next to that is a CV/modulation manipulator/mixer, Frap's handy 321. And lastly, envelopes courtesy of a Xaoc Batumi/Poti.

Bottom 3U: Ensemble Oscillator, then this is paired with the Moon Phase stereo VCF. After that are TWO Knits (two, because you want to be able to detune them to thicken up the sound) then a Recovery Motormatic v2, which is a ring modulator into which you can feed both Knits or, if you want something more off-kilter, just one Knit and then you'll use the Motormatic's internal (and somewhat ill-behaved, which can be quite fun) sine oscillator. Another DVCA then controls the dynamics of the Knit outputs before this gets sent to the phkia VCF/VCA combo. Then instead of the Monsoon, I tossed in its logical successor, namely Mutable's Beads. Last section handles mixing and output levels, starting with a very simple stereo processor, an Erica PICO DSP for providing basic reverb, chorus, phasing etc. This becomes VERY useful with the Toppobrillo Stereomix2, which is a 4-in, stereo-out performance mixer. This mixer has CV over level, panning, AND FX send on each input channel, which also have a CUE and MUTE function on each. The CUE is useful for tuning, etc via the Stereomix2's headphone preamp...OR you could use it to feed the sidechain on the MSCL comp/limiter. The main purpose of this is, of course, to "crunch up" the drums via the external stereo in, then feed this to the Stereo Mix tile...but you can also send the drums directly across to the Stereo Mix tile and then use the MSCL to hammer the crap out of some other signal.

So, why no drum modules here? Basically, it has to do with space and cost; let's say that your basic drum module is, oh, an average of 8 hp width, plus you also need its sequencer, which also eats space bigtime. Now, if you want to emulate, say, a Roland TR-909, you'll need ten modules for the voicing, plus a honkin' big sequencer such as Erica's Drum Sequencer...which burns 42 hp in of itself. Soooooo...assuming each drum module averages $200 ($2000) plus the Erica ($600) and a cab for 122 hp (or more) of housing for JUST those things, you could probably buy an ORIGINAL Roland TR-909 (albeit in "beater" condition...for "nice", double that) at today's typical 2nd-hand prices. So, uh...yeah, screw that. It's far better to make the synthesizer more elaborate and capable, because you can get ample drums for LOADS less in a format that steals a minimum of module space by just getting a good drum machine, and you then have things in the synth to mess with the drum machine's feed. This is how it really works...instead of trying to make a modular into a specific device, it makes more sense to use a PROPER modular's capabilities to mess with external signals, because whatever you use internally can ALSO quite often be used on external audio. And also, you can easily crosspatch control signals from various devices, such as clocking everything from ONE device (easy-peasy, given that nearly all synth companies use a +5V gate/trigger for clocking). So the best purpose for modulars is often to use 'em as a "signal nexus"...sort of a massive spaghetti-bowl-interchange of signals coming and going all over. That's what's up here.


is the case a intellijel 7u? if so why the uZeus? will the uZeus even with the big power supply be enough for the modules if not (remember to leave at least 25% headroom)

-- JimHowell1970

Yeah, the uZeus was thrown in because I thought the total draw would be too much for the Intellijel case (and I already have one, so it would be straightforward). You reckon it's unnecessary? Or not enough even with the case's power as well?

Lugia... I've followed your work on here for a while and feel honoured to have my efforts stroked by your wisdom. It's going to take me a few days to process everything you've said and look into each of the modules you've mentioned, but I'll absolutely do so. That said, I'm not sure I'm quite ready to give up the drums yet! It may indeed be excessive, but I have sounds in mind involving drums becoming not-drums which (in addition to the more glitchy stuff) would be more limited with a drum machine. Plus the purity instinct of keeping it in the case, which I'm sure you can understand.

Thanks both of you for taking the time - I'm going to be bold and assume you're right about the excess of sound sources! I'll take a few days to re-think...


if it's the version with the TPS80W MAX power supply then it will be fine - 3A on +ve and -ve rails

it's still a small case so maybe fitting everything in the one case is a bad idea

I often suggest to stop worrying about the case until after deciding what modules you want, what modules you need to support the ones you want and adding 30% for expansion - and then looking for a case (or cases) that can accommodate them


Great to hear, Jim, thank you. Yeah, I want to keep things relatively small (otherwise I'll be tempted to spend more money than I should on this), and therefore gradually add modules to this case and see what sounds I can get out of it. Ultimately I'd love to have one of these cases set up for straight-up techno, one for straight-up ambient, and then combine them from time to time to do experimental things, but I'm a few years and a lot of experimentation off that yet!


hhehehe good luck