Hey folks!

I'm not "into" modular (yet), but I have been researching and experimenting here on ModularGrid with rack designs, including this one that I'm calling the "EDMachine".

edmachine

It's a portable, highly rhythmic rack focused on EDM (note the Cockpit2 with the all-important ducker), with a few generative elements (Marbles and ochd).

Is there anything I could do to improve this design? Any feedback is welcome!

Thanks,
Jack


What exactly are you trying to do? You said this rack is focused on EDM. Do you mean a complete EDM track will be generated in this rack? By rhythmic focused... do you just mean EDM percussion with maybe bass?

Here's Erica Synth's idea of an EDM percussion rack. I think this definitely defines what is needed.
https://www.ericasynths.lv/shop/eurorack-systems/techno-system/

Let's flip this the other way. Do you care to explain why you chose the modules you picked out? Also why do you define Marbles and Ochd as generative?


I'm not "into" modular (yet), but I have been researching and experimenting here on ModularGrid with rack designs, including this one that I'm calling the "EDMachine".
Jack
-- jtunes_ia

Ummmm...no.

Here's a better idea: if you don't have a copy of VCV Rack on your machine, get one. It's free: https://vcvrack.com/ Next, replicate the above cab as best as possible (there ARE some 1:1 virtual versions of these modules, fyi) in VCV. Then try using it.

So, about the point where you're going to be either very puzzled or very riled up about an hour into this...that's the point where you start realizing that this thing has some SERIOUS flaws. For example, you have no attenuators or submixers in this. That'll be fun.

Here's the real problem: you're trying to work out a build based SOLELY on the descriptions on MG. This is one of those "doomed to failure" sort of exercises. Without some practical, working knowledge of why certain things MUST be in a build, which sort of layouts will work as far as signal flow vs ergonomics, and so on, you're sort of out in a creek without a paddle. Hence the copy of VCV Rack. Trying to do this sort of thing with NO practical knowledge is a sure-fire way to incinerate your Magic Plastic on a box that costs a pile but which winds up in a closet. And speaking of that factor...

Have you considered what to do if EDM tanks? It, like everything else in music, is subject to the whims and vagaries of an easily-amused audience. If someone finds a way to amuse them in a cheaper, more practical way, that's where they'll flock to because the industry likes "cheaper". Audiences are, in general, a fairly fickle "low interest" group...you'll only find a small percentage of "true believers" among them, ever, and the rest tends to be attracted by ANY source of lights, noises, and thrashing around. So, given that, IS it really practical to spend several grand on a system that's purely focused on a musical style? Given the piles of Roland MC-303s found in pawnshops (when they'd still take 'em!) not long after the rave scene tanked in the late 1990s, I would say that, no, it's not.

A much smarter move would be to try and NOT fit the system to the music. Really, it should be the other way around. Create a suitably open-ended build that you feel confident that you'll be using sometime around 2040, and that will FIT ANY music that comes along between now and then. And no, there's no exaggeration there; system adaptability is why people will STILL slit your throat in some circles over a minty-fresh vintage ARP 2600. It's a synth that was designed c. 1970, but designed RIGHT so that it's just as valid fifty years on. And I've seen ARP 2600s in use in everything from classic 70s funk (Stevie Wonder's "Superstition", with the help of Margouleff and Cecil) to classical (even I did that...we needed a foghorn for a production of Puccini's "Suor Angelica" during my undergrad, and I was happy to oblige...and it sounded PERFECT). THAT sort of build is what you should be aiming toward...not something with a stylistic expiration date.

After all, it's not the machine that makes the music. You do. You define what it does...not the other way around.


Thanks for the replies, and for clearing up my mistaken view of modular. I apologize for wasting your time.
Can I close this thread now?
Cheers,
Jack


But don't let that put your off experimenting ;-)

I'm pretty sure I attacked starting modular from an "unpopular" angle, that has not stopped me having a load of fun in the process.
Now I find myself at the point where my Modular Rack is more about swapping one module out for another, sure I have a wish list of modules, but its relatively cash neutral at the moment as I sell things I find I don't need.

VCV confused the hell out of me to be honest, I found the hands on experimentation of having real modules in front of me to be more educational and fun! Its got to be fun!

It helps to have an idea what you want your rack to be from the start but these things evolve as you go, just start simple and small, I got a lot of mileage out of 10-12 (relatively cheap) modules in a Tiptop Happy Ending Kit case.


I'm with Wishbone. Keep researching and have fun experimenting. Most of the folks on this forum just don't want to see anyone waste a bunch of money and time to arrive at an unsatisfying outcome.
You can most definitely make an EDM focused system as Ronin highlighted. I don't think you have quite nailed it with this initial iteration though. Your best bet though is to start small with just a few modules, and let your needs dictate the future direction of your rack. It's fun to build these proposed dream racks, but it would be a terrible idea to sink a bunch of money into the whole thing without test driving a few of the parts first. I've mentioned in this forum many times that my first rack plan was almost completely different from my current rack. I bought a few modules to start with and just kept experimenting until I couldn't do what I wanted, and then researched the modules that would help me take that next step. Then I bought the next few modules, and so on. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Have fun with your idea, but be prepared to go back to the planning stages often.


My take on this: if you have a problem with critique, maybe you should pick a different line of work. Amusingly, though, this seems to happen every time someone comes along with their idea of what's going to make them a SUPAH-STAAHH and I or someone else points out the deficiencies in their line of thinking. And this has been going on for a long time; I can recall an incident back in the pre-browser days on USENET where someone popped up on one of the groups, bellowing about his brand new MORPHEUS, and how this brand new MORPHEUS was going to be THE THING that was gonna take him right to the top!!!

Yeah, right.

Fact is, this argument that a given device will vault you into stardom is a load of crap. It's the inverse corollory to blaming your equipment for your own musical shortcomings. Both notions are equally false. Your musicianship depends on YOU...not a Magic Box or whatever.

Now, yeah, sure...you might BE capable of grabbing the (somewhat cursed) brass ring of getting big in music. But when you start confusing your efforts with your purchases, you're operating in a pretty screwed-up area. And the thing that it leads to (and which I and others have seen repeatedly on MG and loads of other places) is a sense of hubris that causes one to incinerate their lines of credit because they've managed to convince themselves of this sort of nonsense. And, also invariably, when they get THAT CONVINCED, any sort of query turns (in their minds) into some sort of ATTACK!@!!!!!!!$$$!1111

Very dumb. Go back and reread my post. Yeah, it's blunt; I wouldn't have survived the music industry as long as I have without being blunt. But notice the actual INFO there...what WILL you do if styles change? Is this system capable of open-ended sorts of work, or have you built a very expensive MC-303? HAVE you actually worked with any sort of modular equipment, virtual or otherwise? And of course, the meat at the heart of the post was ignored...which was this:

"A much smarter move would be to try and NOT fit the system to the music. Really, it should be the other way around."

No lie. Consider: the VERY-copied and now-goes-for-several-grand TB-303 was introduced in Roland's pre-MIDI days as an automated bass line (which is why it says that on there) for acts like bar bands, people doing demos, etc. It tanked. It was, at the time, the music instrument equivalent of the Atari 2600 "E.T." game. And it took several years for Larry Heard to pop into a Chicago pawn shop or used music gear joint, find one, and then MISUSE it for a little ditty called "Washing Machine". And what happens on that track and ALL of the subsequent acid house tracks in its wake is NOT how you're supposed to use a TB-303. But when you talk to a lot of these acid producers, they invariably say that what they do with the 303 is what seemed to them to be what fit with how the TB-303 worked. This is also why it took many years after acid blew up for Roland to warm up to reissuing AN (albeit not THE) TB-303 in some manner, because they thought people were using their synth "wrong" and still thought it was an abject failure...despite the clear and obvious evidence that they could've fired up a production line for them right then and there in the middle of the 1990s, charged several times what the original list of the TB-303 was for the same, already-developed device, and made out like bandits. What finally DID get them to revisit it, though, was all of the small companies making bank on their attempts to clone this thing.

But getting back to that point: if you've not done the research, not had the experience, and are operating on snap decisions, you're going to get severely burned. And I'm not talking about the synth here, but the music itself. Do you actually know what EDM producers use? Is this effort of yours based in any of their useful experiences? Do you often take a pile of money out in the yard and set it on fire? That last one is pretty much what happens if you ignore the two previous questions.

I would suggest getting over your severe butthurt and then actually discussing what you're trying to do, what the aims are, and so on. Fact is, we aren't gatekeeping people out of modular here...but we ARE trying to gatekeep people from making some really awful decisions and winding up with a generally-unplayable instrument. But if you can't handle blunt but well-meaning advice, well...


@lugia I'm sorry. I misunderstood you and I overreacted. Let me try again.

I did misstate my goals for the system. The idea was to provide a "standard" instrument arrangement (e.g. bass, drums, lead, arp) in a single system, while still allowing for some wierd-sound exploration. And that's really my goal with modular - sound exploration in a non-DAW environment.

When I said "EDM", I was only referring to the ducking clichė. I now see that I don't know what the heck I'm talking about, and that I need to stop using that term. I'm sorry I confused you.

By the way, I don't really want to "get big" in music, and I never expected modular to get me there. I just like making/sharing music, and I think modular will help me have fun doing it.

Thanks for suggesting VCVRack. I'll try that first.

All the best,
Jack


There's a difference between being blunt and belligerent, especially when the bluntness is being delivered along some very thin lines of opinion and some off the wall assumption. Good grief. I do not miss those personality types from my days as an engineer.

VCV rack is a good choice for starting off in modular because it's A. Free-ish, and B. Nothing ever works or interacts quite the way you're going to guess that it will. This is why people also say to start small. It's also a good idea to consider starting with some basic building blocks, because it will really help your ability to understand what's going on under the hood to have experience creating some more complex functions from those simple parts. A lot of people I know go out and buy specialized modules every time they have a problem they want to solve, rather than figuring out how to solve it with what's in front of them. Labels and panels lie! All modules do the same thing, move electricity, just in different ways. It's essential to prioritize this kind of knowledge. Down the road it will blow your mind the kinds of unexpected things you can do off-label.

I think the system you designed is primarily weak on utilities, which is not an uncommon sight. That shit may seem boring at first, but it won't later. Attenuation, inversion, offsets, CV / audio mixers, etc. are crazy powerful tools. Utilities are the bread and butter of modular. Having a goal in mind is great because it means you're in problem solving mode. Ducking important? Cool, you found a solution. When you start piecing this thing together, just remain fluid about what goes in and out of the case. Expect to buy and sell. Thankfully eurorack gear holds a lot of its value on the used market. And lord, who gives a rat's ass what you're doing in 2040? Hell, you could be dead. You don't need to reinvent the wheel, just dig in and see where it goes. Certain kinds of gear are theoretically better for certain applications, but the beauty of modular is just that -- its modular. You can tweak all sorts of modular gear to do all sorts of different kinds of things. Both you as a musician, and your machine as your toolbox, are going to change and evolve. You can't really predict where that might go, so sweating something like that is likely going to be counterproductive.

I'd consider a couple of things with where you're at:

  1. How you want to pit HP against performance, and even ethics. Case in point, the MI modules. There are much smaller third party versions. Cramped as hell though, and you might not be okay with those purchases depending on how you feel about the way the open source is being used.

  2. Lean more towards your melodic / drone elements, or more towards your percussion at first. There's nothing that says a system can't be a hodgepodge that does it all amorphously, but it looks to me like you want some dedicated gear. If I had X dollars, I'd try to use it to maximize what I can do in just one of those areas at a time, to make it easier to design and explore.

  3. Spend more up front on a larger case, unless you're buying into a case system that's expandable (such as the Mantis stuff, which are easily joined). What it looks like you want to do is going to take more space than you're giving yourself sooner or later. It'll save you money in the long run vs. ending up like a lot of people juggling ten small cases.

  4. It might be more helpful to start another thread, only from the angle of "Here are the modules I'm interested in, here is what I want to do... what's the most minimal version of this I can make to get started?" I also recommend doing so over on Modwiggler, because this place seems more prone to unhelpful narratives.

  5. Don't overthink it. :) ...talking about gear is super fun, but dialog and actuality are very different. Just pull a few triggers and see what happens.

Hope some of that helps! Good luck on your journey.


Fact is, we aren't gatekeeping people out of modular here...but we ARE trying to gatekeep people from making some really awful decisions and winding up with a generally-unplayable instrument.
-- Lugia

Here we go, this feels like starting an argument ;-)

I realise you always put the time in to write a heck of a lot, I read your first response and those of others and I just think, "way to go, disheartening another person who is interested in modular", then the response from the post originator was clearly disheartened.

I'm not a fan of this, I dare say some of the words written to me on my first post on this forum made me think WTF and Who the F***! Hardly the hi and welcome to the forum, be careful what you spend, DON'T DO MODULAR!

I feel there are more beneficial manners of helping, Blunt Critique is your best mate telling you that that thing you built is sh!t, you laugh and buy them another Pint, not a person they have never met on a forum they have just joined because of an interest in making music / sound or simply something for pure enjoyment.

So in general, I do feel there is a lot of helpful words within the responses on this forum but folks need to chill a bit.

And I'm totally fine with it if you don't think I should be pointing this out ;-)

My main driver is FUN and I'm here for the journey, and so far a Price: €6.226 Journey.


I think you could use this to make music, but you'd probably spend an extra 2000 on selling and switching out modules until you arrived at something you actually find usable.

You'll end up doing a lot of that anyway, but buying everything upfront is a surefire way to maximise waste.

If you're dead set on modular I'd take the VCV advice. If you haven't made electronic music before, trying using Reason or something else to find your feet and discover the joy of patching. Eurorack strikes me as a pretty treacherous place to start, unless you've got a focused vision and load of money lying around.

Also you don't need a dedicated module to do ducking, you can do this with vcas or Optomix. Part of the enjoyment for me is finding ways to make the most of simple components.


The idea was to provide a "standard" instrument arrangement (e.g. bass, drums, lead, arp) in a single system, while still allowing for some wierd-sound exploration. And that's really my goal with modular - sound exploration in a non-DAW environment.
-- jtunes_ia

Hello and welcome to MG !
While that sounds like an epic goal (hell, I had the same when I started), I want to offer my personal experience on the matter. Bear in mind, it's only that, advice coming from my personal experience :-)
The fact is that modular is very expensive so as Lower Rhythm very well puts it, you want the use of your hard earned money to be maximized and for the type of electronic music you refer to, any drum machine will maximize $$$ way better than any drum module. I tried - and sorta failed - to go down the road of complete groovebox when I started my journey, and eventually bought back a small MPC for the drum duties because I realized that what I was doing with drum modules was a subset of what I can do with an MPC/Digitakt/Deluge (I had extensive prior experience with that sort of groovebox device before), and that if I wanted to justify having modular drums, it would 1. require a lot more supporting modules (modulation sources, submixers, etc) which cost $$$ and 2. perhaps more importantly, require a lot of attention/time to actually handle the complexity of modular drums.
If you buy a 2nd hand drum machine, you can test drive that setup for at least a few months and not loose any cash if you decide to resell the drum machine. Same goes for most 2nd hand modules BTW, what a nice way to try things out (but the selling/buying can take some time and patience). You can then plan a very small modular setup to start getting your hands dirty (but please consider VCV first, a lot of learning there if you're ok with using computers for music), if you're inventive you could most likely use it to synthetize most of your synth sounds and even produce drum-ish sounds for your sample-based drum machine. I can almost guarantee that Digitakt/MPC+ a small well-thought-of 104HP modular can get you pretty far already, and most importantly as Wishbone Brewery said it, it will be fun for a long while.
Hope this helps ;)
D.


every time someone comes along with their idea of what's going to make them a SUPAH-STAAHH and I or someone else points out the deficiencies in their line of thinking. And this has been going on for a long time; I can recall an incident back in the pre-browser days on USENET where someone popped up on one of the groups, bellowing about his brand new MORPHEUS, and how this brand new MORPHEUS was going to be THE THING that was gonna take him right to the top!!!

Yeah, right.

Fact is, this argument that a given device will vault you into stardom is a load of crap. It's the inverse corollory to blaming your equipment for your own musical shortcomings. Both notions are equally false. Your musicianship depends on YOU...not a Magic Box or whatever.

Now, yeah, sure...you might BE capable of grabbing the (somewhat cursed) brass ring of getting big in music.
-- Lugia

I have never once seen anyone in this forum (beginner or veteran) suggest the idea that a modular synth is their ticket to the big time. Is that even something that people still want? I'm sure some folks have a dream of becoming an "influencer" or whatever, but I think people are smart enough to realize that an esoteric and prohibitively expensive medium and genre of music is not going to lead to adoring fans and red carpets.
This is an odd assumption about our new member. Why can't we assume that this is a fun hobby for most people? Not everyone has some Nietzschean "suffer-for-my-art-martyr-to-my-LFO" complex haunting them. Some people just want to make a 4/4 beat and dance around their room as an escape from the day job that is undoubtedly funding this hobby.

Jack (and any other new member reading this), have fun with your new hobby. Be aware that it can be very expensive, and you will find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out some tasks that are simple in a hardwired synth/drum machine, and you will likely need to do a lot of research and re-planning to get an instrument that gets you to the sound in your head. Also be aware that you CAN achieve the sound in your head with modular and it's incredibly satisfying. I took a cross-country road trip a few years ago, and the journey was just as fun as the destination. Same thing applies when building your rack. Above all, have fun.

If you would like a bit more guidance, maybe you can share some examples of the type of sounds you are hoping to create, or if you already have any other gear that you can use as a supplement to your rack. That way we can point you in the right direction.
Good luck!


I took a cross-country road trip a few years ago, and the journey was just as fun as the destination. Same thing applies when building your rack. Above all, have fun.

-- farkas

Love that analogy and applies to what I'm doing with my modular 'journey'.

You already have a lot of good advice from members who have been doing this for a long time (at least I think most of the replies are from those who have been doing it for a long time). I could never give you anywhere near the great advice you'll get from them, only that I am in a similar spot as you in that I'm very new to modular as well.

I can definitely attest to the advice of going slow. I originally bought a Hydrasynth desktop knowing it had some modular capabilities and that I knew I wanted to dip my toes into the modular world. I spent a good 3-4 months learning the Hydrasynth (and am still learning it today) and also reading up on modular, asking questions here and finally putting a rack out on the forum and letting members provide some feedback based on my goals with the system (which are to have a 'hybrid' setup where I can extend the capability of my Hydrasynth and also use CV Tools with Ableton going forward). I got some great feedback and now I'm 'gradually' building out my Rackbrute 6U (I also bought an Arturia Minibrute 2 at the same time as I bought the Hydrasynth). My idea was to use the Minibrute 2/Rackbrute 6U as my foray into modular...and of course the Hydrasynth. I haven't even really touched the Minibrute 2 yet...and that is probably the point of my post...this stuff gets deeeeeeep quick and you will want to spend time learning each of the modules capabilities. To emphasize that point, my first purchase was Maths...that was 6 weeks ago now I think...I'm still going through a tutorial that has like 22 examples of what it can do...many times I have to go back and redo one of them to remember what it did and how it did it...I'm still learning new ways to use it. A couple weeks ago, I got Quadrax and the learning curve just went exponential with not only learning what Quadrax could do on its own but how I can use Quadrax and Maths together with my Hydrasynth to do some crazy stuff. I can't even imagine going out and buying my intended complete rack and trying to learn everything...it would be overwhelming...heck, it is overwhelming as it is...lol.

I just may be an idiot and not able to pick up on stuff as well as others, but that has been my path so far and I'm glad I'm doing it the way I am....somewhat slow and steady...you will be tempted (as I have been)...and you will see a module you want in your rack that someone has for a good price (as I have)...and you will buy it (I've done it twice now with Warps and FX Aid XL)...but try to hold back somewhat and give yourself some room to breath and learn...I haven't even plugged in my FX Aid XL into anything yet because Warps, Maths, and Quadrax have kept me up into the morning hours multiple times and I still am just scratching the surface.

I'll stop rambling now, but just wanted to add a comment from someone who is also new to the game...these guys give great advice...take it...go slow, research, download VCV rack, ask lots of questions, seriously consider what your goal(s) is/are with modular and then ask for advice on what to build. You'll be glad you did...I am.

JB


I took a cross-country road trip a few years ago, and the journey was just as fun as the destination. Same thing applies when building your rack. Above all, have fun.

-- farkas

Nailed it. This is excellent advice for a lot of things in life, and of course especially everything art-related !

I just may be an idiot and not able to pick up on stuff as well as others, but that has been my path so far and I'm glad I'm doing it the way I am....somewhat slow and steady...you will be tempted (as I have been)...and you will see a module you want in your rack that someone has for a good price (as I have)...and you will buy it (I've done it twice now with Warps and FX Aid XL)...but try to hold back somewhat and give yourself some room to breath and learn...I haven't even plugged in my FX Aid XL into anything yet because Warps, Maths, and Quadrax have kept me up into the morning hours multiple times and I still am just scratching the surface.
-- jb61264

You come across as being very far from an idiot, don't let anyone tell you that ! You are enjoying your hobby, and you take it at a pace you can handle and enjoy, that's actually a great way to go about it IMHO. And yeah, Maths + Quadrax is also in my rack, and I'm also just scratching the surface after months of having both, I think that's fine as long as... I'm having fun. I would have been completely overwhelmed myself if I had started with these 2 together ;-)
In fact, I think "take it slow" and "enjoy" should be at the very top of modular advice, along with "buy a bigger rack than you think you'll need" and "you will probably need more VCA's and ways to combine/mess with modulation".

Everybody's advice is good to take as long as you remember you need to make it your own idea and not just copy someone else's.


I did misstate my goals for the system. The idea was to provide a "standard" instrument arrangement (e.g. bass, drums, lead, arp) in a single system, while still allowing for some wierd-sound exploration. And that's really my goal with modular - sound exploration in a non-DAW environment.
-- jtunes_ia

Ahhh...now, see, that makes much more sense. So, let's tear into this...

First up, having drums IN the cab is probably not the right way to proceed at present, given that you can get all sorts of much more capable standalone drum machines for far less than the modules needed plus the cost of the space they'll take up. You definitely want a machine that you can lock up to the DAW and modular, so that also gives some indications of how to proceed with interfacing on the modular so that everything "plays nice". This doesn't mean you can't send the machine THRU the modular, however; a good stereo input preamp + envelope following = very wild filter-swept percussives in step with the percussion itself. Or lots of other possible implementations. But this then means you'd have a bit of a different mixer complement, because you'll want a mixer that has enough stereo inputs if you're going to do that.

This is pretty much how it works. Define a need, vet whether or not it'll work, then figure out how to implement it. And once you figure THAT out, vet it again...this time with an eye toward conserving space + money. Do you HAVE TO have that set of modules? Can you do it cheaper? More effectively? Would an outboard device be better-suited to the solution? All of these should be in mind while thrashing out a build.

Now, let's see...basic voicing...so, with the bass part, you're going to want two of the same VCO. This is super-important, because you want to be able to detune between them so that the sound gets HUGE. Maybe a bit of waveshaping to get the sound more "in yer face", and then a solid 4-pole LPF...the old Moog ladder topology would be perfect.

The arpeggi/harmonic part is also pretty straightforward up to the point where you start considering how you want timing to work. Do you want just straight-up clocking? Do you want to mess with the clock signals? If so, how? Random drops? Some swing? Boolean logic funtime? This is where VCV comes in, because it's far more difficult to explain this sort of thing and much BETTER to just have at the circuitry to sort out what works for you. However, if you pull up the "clock modulator" category here, you can see there's TONS of possible methods (some making more sense than others!) for altering timing behavior. So pretty much any sort of rhythmic trickery applies here; you can even treat certain sequencers (Euclideans!) as "clock modulators" with internal stochastics.

Now, that lead part...this is actually where you'll want to throw in a LOT of different tweakable parameters in the form of modules in the "voice's" signal chain. So, waveshapers are on the table, distorters, oddball filtering, granularization (a very effective method of "accumulating" yet another multi-"voice" layer, btw), delays, phasers, all that cray shiz...BECAUSE this one voice has to be the most variable and most memorable, as it's out front lots of the time. But by having lots of modules in that signal path that you can bring in and out of the chain and constantly adjust, this will make that one voice jump right out there where it belongs. Problem is, though...what sort of aesthetic in general does this aim for? That'll make a big difference in which modules you'll want for that. For example, if you were doing something more, say, 90s Goa Trance-ish, you probably wouldn't want some Schlappi Engineering stuff in there...but if you were taking your lead voice cues from something like Black Dice, then yeah, you definitely want sound manglers like that.

And as for the users disparaging the idea of hanging onto an instrument for 15, 20 or more years...well, lessee what's in here...

Roland JP-6 (bought 1990)
Yamaha CS-80 (bought 1993)
Casio CZ-101 (bought 1992)
Fairchild Reverbertron 659 (bought 1994)
PTI Ecoplate II (bought 1994)

...and so on. And don't even get me started on the lab gear, some of which dates back to the late 1940s! Yeah, I would have some misgivings about holding onto, say, a Roland D-10 for that long (or for ANY amount of time...man, what a lousy synth!)...but none of those devices (among tons of others here) are ones that I would think you can "deplete" very quickly. That's the key...if something is USEFUL, you don't tend to let it go. And by "useful", I mean that you can dig and dig and dig at programming, and STILL not hit the end of the sonic possibilities.

So...proceed slowly, build something HUGE...and then, start paring it back. Take it down to a point at which you know you can't go any "lower" but where you've still got that sonic versatility, and that's where you might consider stopping. Or, just as likely, something in the pare-down jogs an idea loose and you're back to filling holes again, but with a tighter perspective on what goes in them. It's a process...takes time, if done right, and you'll find yourself constantly rescrambling things in the builds on here. But this is the slow but VERY rewarding process of creating a bespoke instrument based on YOUR music. It ain't simple.

Other trick: start going thru the racks on here. You'll find some builds by some pretty significant folks, and given their experience levels, those builds are great "textbooks" on construction, especially since you'll have some knowledge of what music those synthesists create. Just using the "grid" itself is cool and all, but you can get a really good education on how others have approached their music via this hardware by nosing around in the builds.

And another useful thing: do you want this to be in Eurorack? Because you don't have to...you can try builds in other formats such as the 5U Moog format, Buchla 4U, Serge 4U and so on. And all of THOSE bring interesting and different things to the table...as well as their own particular drawbacks, just like Eurorack.

Anyways, apologies for coming off as cranky as I did before...but when I see someone coming down the pike with a pile of money, noisy ambitions, and so on, it's...well, not like I'm trying to swift-kick 'em for no reason. Instead, I (and I'm sure lots of others) would rather not see yet another build with no VCAs, etc that will wind up in a closet for the next couple of decades. Instead of that, everyone here REALLY wants (I would HOPE) for newcomers to modular to do their builds right so that, rather than being turned-off by the complexity, they REALLY WILL be playing parts of that first system some 20 years down the line in what will likely be very expanded systems that started with little 2 x 84 builds. There's no reason why anyone shouldn't want that, to be honest. Might take the verbal equivalent of a good WHACK on the back by a Rinzai Zen Master (not me, mind you...Shin Buddhist here, not Zen) to get there, but as long as we all DO get there, well, hey...


TL;DR

After some playing around in VCVRack (very fun!), I came up with another design.

bigger_rack

Same goals as before, sans portability. Forget that. Waaaaaaay too limiting.

What could I do better?

Overall Design

I realized that trying to fit all my modulators on one row wasn't going to work, so I organized my rack something like this.

Row 1: Modulators - Sound Sources - Sound Modifiers
Row 2: Modulators - Sound Modifiers - Sound Modifiers
Row 3: Sequencers - Quantizers - Output

Row By Row

Row 1

This row is designed as the start of the signal chain. Blinds, Links, and Buff Mult, aside from interacting with Maths, can also channel modulation from below. I also included a sequential switch for arps. For voices, I chose Michigan Synth's Beehive (mini Plaits), Acid Rain's Chainsaw (for huge basses) , and Instruo's Ts-L v2. On to the filters: Erica's Polivoks VCF (also for basses), Endorphines' Squawk Dirty To Me, and Tiptop's Forbidden Planet. Add Dreadbox's Euphoria for some richness, and wrap it up with Veils.

Row 2

This row adds the finishing touches to the sound before sending it down to the mixer. But first, we have Intellijel's Quadrax and Michigan Synth's Pique (mini Peaks) running through Xaoc's Samara II and Blinds. (I think Blinds is my favorite module. Why does it have to be so big?) Then we have some ways to break sound. Qu-Bit's Data Bender for digital breakage, and Schlappi's 100 Grit for analog grinding. After Veils, we have a few spatial effects: Noise Engineering's Desmodus Versio for delay/reverb, and Mutable's Beads for ambient magic.

Row 3

This row is all about control. For a master clock, I used a 4MS QCD. For CV sequencing, I chose Malekko's Voltage Block, because it has a lot of channels. For trigger sequencing, I chose Intellijel's Steppy, because, again, it has a lot of channels. Throw in Erica's Mix/Split for sharing the clock, Acid Rain's Switchblade for a little bit of live control, and Michigan Synth's Pachinko (mini Marbles) for some randomness. Instruo's Harmonaig can be used with the sequential switch for arps, or with Chainsaw for chords. I added DivKid's ochd and Blinds (again!!), in case I forgot to modulate anything. I chose the 4MS Listen Four as a mixer. Finally, there's the tiny Monome Crow. I added that because I like the idea of programming my synth, and I'd like to try it someday.

All the best,
Jack


Worked out a few things...
ModularGrid Rack
OK...first up, the large amount of Blinds modules didn't seem to be all that sensible. The only real place you'd want polarization would be for the modulation section (inverse audio doesn't sound different, but inverted modulation signals are VERY useful), and in that case, I opted for a Frap 321 for the mix/invert/offset/etc functions (does most everything the Samara + Blinds does, and a few other things) there to save hp and then paired that with another 6 hp module, Happy Nerding's 3xVCA, which gives you three linear VCAs for modulation level control. But anyway...

Everything was relocated to groupings to make patching faster and more intuitive. The VCO group, VCFs, supporting modules, and the Beads/Data Bender went on the top row, with a left-to-right signal flow. Middle row is all of your modulation, and as noted, I made some changes there for the modulation processing. I was also able to add the Quadrax's Qx expander and a Zadar + Nin by removing excess Blinds. At the end, you have your fixed-level mixing/splitting (Links) and VCAs for the mixer (ALL of it...hence the Vnicvsal VCA, which gives you a VCA for each mixer input).

The bottom row has the various control functions, to which I added a dual clock delay for some flam/offset behavior out of your clocking, and a Varigate 4+ so that your Voltage Block now has some extra functions, including sixteen memory slots for Voltage Block sequences. And the last change is that little white bit on the left end of the middle, which is a Konstant Labs PWRchekr, which keeps tabs on your DC rail health with visual problem indicators.

Basically, the module choices were pretty spot-on, save for the excess of Blinds and the excess buffered mults. And by tossing the superfluous stuff, I managed to mash in a lot of extra functionality that was missing...such as four more EGs, VCAs for the entire Listen Four ins, and straightening out the modulation modifiers. I wasn't 100% satisfied with how the bottom row laid out, but for now, it's not set up particularly badly.