I'm new to modular synthesizers and I'm deeply in love with it. I'm into Max/MSP and algorithmic synthesis and I want to adventure in this world. I'd like to get more into it but have very little knowledge so far. Does this rack look good? Am I missing something? I'm trying to achieve some sort of probabilistic sequencer with the possibility to implement some patches from Max/MSP through the Expert Sleepers ES-8. Would you replace something? Would you recommend something else? There are some redundant modules? Any help would be greatly appreciated :)


ModularGrid Rack

If this is supposed to interface with a Max patch, it's awfully limited. And a lot of that is directly attributable to trying to use too small a cab for the build. As many of us here have noted, trying to use these "beauty case" builds is fraught with restrictions that actually impair the synth's capabilities and performability. They're fine for "mission specific" rigs, but trying to build a full-on Max destination in one is asking for trouble.

First thing I would suggest: remove the ES-8 and go with an outboard interface. Any DC-coupled audio interface works, and I and a couple of others here use the "obsolete" MOTU 828mkii as that. By going with an outboard interface, you can easily expand via various interface I/Os, plus the 828mkii isn't considered "optimal" for recording these days, so they come in for cheap. And Ableton CV Tools has really good DAW integration as...well, it's part of Live in the first place, so there's no need to hunt down plugs, screw excessively with interfacing protocols, and the like. Also, since it's NOT in the cab, you'll be more likely to want to use it on other CV/g/t-capable synths.

Thanks for your reply @Lugia

First thing I would suggest: remove the ES-8 and go with an outboard interface. Any DC-coupled audio interface works, and I and a couple of others here use the "obsolete" MOTU 828mkii as that.
-- Lugia

I was thinking the same, I have an RME-Fireface UCX II but I thought that the ES-8 would let me record and manipulate at least 8 channels separately instead of the stereo output of the rack.

If this is supposed to interface with a Max patch, it's awfully limited. And a lot of that is directly attributable to trying to use too small a cab for the build.
-- Lugia

ModularGrid Rack

I have this other rack idea, I don't have too much money to spend on a gigantic Eurorack case but I think I can learn a lot with a case like this for a year or so. I want to process my snare drum in real-time with a modular and Max, using percussion modules that will blend and activate with the snare triggering through Max. This kind of stuff but with a modular approach:

I suggest checking out the Electro-Smith Daisy Patch module:


"Custom firmware files can be created using Pure Data, Arduino, Max/MSP ~gen, or C++."

Could be perfect for algorithmic music generation on modular. I haven't tried it yet though - have one coming but it seems like it's caught in an endless loop in the Oz postal system after riding over from the US on the back of a sea turtle (not Electro-Smith's fault).

Hi Andrés,

Ha, ha, that's a nice and funny track :-) Since you got that working nicely, why would you like to do this with modular? Sounds good to me already how it is now! Going modular is very expensive and this sounds already so good, not sure if with less money for modular you are getting this any better than what you have now already?

Up to you of course but perhaps you should reconsider going modular? Of course I don't want to talk you away from modular but please believe me, modular is going to cost a fortune, even if you plan to spend for the moment not much... I do speak here from experience, so can many other members here.

Anyway, either way you go, I wish you good luck with your nice, funny and experimental music and kind regards, Garfield.

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads

Hi @GarfieldModular!

That track is finished but I want to discover some new sounds haha. I want to learn more about modular and I think these projects in Max are a big motivation for me at the moment. I think I can afford 2000-3000 euros and have a nice modular system for 2 years or so. Sounds too crazy?

Hi Andrés,

Nah, nothing is crazy within modular, that's the fun part of it. You can do almost anything and it usually turns out into a lot of fun, that's the big pro of modular :-D I just wanted to warn you that it can become (very) expensive but if that doesn't frighten you off too much then yeah, go for it! :-) Your indicated budget is a slightly bit low but for starters it should get you somewhere if you plan your rack carefully and if you allow yourself to add something to that budget over the years, then I guess it's fine.

However to do yourself a pleasure for the near future, plan a bit larger case and you really don't have to plan it fully occupied by modules, keep half or at least one third empty, you are going to need that space for the (near) future. My advice for a minimum case size is either 3 x 84 HP or 2 x 168 HP. The Doepfer A-100 LMS9 is 3 x 168 HP and here in Europe the cheapest available case if you count it back to a "Euro per HP" price. That might sound now totally over the top to you but it really isn't once you get deep into modular (not even that deep).

Well, good luck with the planning then and welcome to modular :-D Kind regards, Garfield.

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads

Thanks @GarfieldModular :)

I'm afraid I'm missing something in my rack. Do you think this looks good for a beginner's rack? Do I have everything in order to get something working? Do you have any other suggestions in terms of modules? I think I will buy a bigger case though, thanks for the suggestion!

ModularGrid Rack

Hi Andrés,

Well let me start to remind you of the reply and advice that Lugia already provided here, so please keep that in mind. Then I am sorry to let you know that I have barely any experience with a DAW and no experience at all with MAX, so I can't help you much about these two.

Naturally I can (and I will, a bit further down here) help you with having a look at your rack. On the other hand... most likely I am the worst person to ask since I like to have for my own rack setup lots of space for future module extensions. So for me a rack never can be big enough, it only can be too small ;-)

Okay let's put those above-mentioned things here aside and have a look at your suggested above module setup, not keeping in mind a DAW or MAX usage, just a "simple" and plain modular setup. From that point of view, I will here below provide my feedback. Please note that might be here and there quite critical, that's not meant in anyway bad way, you just pick out the best parts for yourself and you take it from there.

I do see you have a Plaits, that's a great module, I have that one myself and I use it quite often. I would like to suggest you however to look into at least another voice to provide enough variety. So get another VCO. There are tons of modules available for that purpose, if you want to take it easy consider a Make Noise - STO module, great small module that provides a good sound and some patching possibilities.

Is that just me or can't I find any filters at all in your rack? A rack without a filter is... boring? ;-) You need to consider at least two filters to give it some variety. One filter can be a multimode filter the other filter entirely up to you what you prefer or like to do with it. I, myself, like crazy filters, a Doepfer A-124 Wasp filter is great for going bananas and the little milder yet still great filter A-106 SEM filter are good ones or perhaps I should say: they are my favourites :-) If you want something else yet interesting an Erica Synths - Black Dual VCF is a great stereo filter. Different then the Doepfer yet a big feast to use it! There are so many filters, in a way it is better to have any filter than not having a filter at all ;-)

I do notice you have planned two drum/percussion related modules being the Akemie's Taiko and the Intellijel Plonk modules, I don't have them myself but I do believe these are good modules, however to start with modular and already look into percussion & drum stuff while not even have covered the basics, mwah... If you have a good percussion/drum solution outside your modular, then stick with that first, get experience with a simple modular setup first. Once you are comfortable with that you could then start to look into which parts of drums and percussion you want to consider to take that into modular... If you want to have drums/percussion fully done by modular, yes that's of course possible but that doesn't go cheap neither that goes low in HP space I am afraid.

I noticed you planned Quadrax as your LFO and Quad VCA as your VCA, fair enough I guess. Keep in mind that it's nice to have a second or even a third LFO. The same goes for VCAs, the famous slogan here on this forum is: "You never can have enough VCAs" and that's not too much off from the truth, so you could consider a second VCA. I am crazy about the Waldorf DVCA1, the best VCA module in the world, at least to me that is (and for the moment, haven't discovered yet a better one) however I can imagine it's not everybody's cup of tea since it's a large module, however it's a great dual VCA. Waldorf stopped producing modules so if you are interested you should hurry and get one before it's everywhere sold out. Otherwise consider a Xoac Devices Tallin dual VCA, much smaller module, yet still a good dual VCA. There are tons of VCAs, many of them are good.

Mimeophon is definitely a great module, it's on my wish list too however it's a bit large for a rather small rack, so you might want to reconsider this, up to you. Yes, it's good to have at least one or two effects in your modular setup, so from that point of view it's good and you can keep it in your rack --> hence, again, consider a larger rack ;-)

Are you going to use your DAW only or are you going to use an external mixer as well? In case you are going to use an external mixer, you might want to consider the Expert Sleepers - ES-9 instead, I know that one is bloody expensive but it provides you an audio output towards your external mixer. Other options for audio interfaces are Intellijel - Audio I/O, Befaco Out v3, Bastl Instruments - Ciao! and many others. If you like XLR inputs & outputs then consider ACL - Audio Interface or Vermona - Tai-4.

I might have overlooked it but I think I didn't see any envelopes (EGs), so get at least one, better to have at least two. If you want to get started with a simple one consider a Doepfer A-140, great ADSR for not too much money.

I haven't even started about utility modules but start to look into the above. Seriously consider a larger rack and reconsider certain choices of your modules. Good luck with the planning, check all type of modules, the more you investigate, read and check the more things might get clearer or not because there is a lot to check ;-) Once you have updated your rack, let us know then let's have a look again. Kind regards, Garfield.

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads

Thank you @GarfieldModular! Everyday I understand more things about modular haha, thank you for the long reply. I'll read about some filters en generators, I was hoping to generate these from the 1uO_c and Disting mk4. Also, I was thinking that Quadrax would work as an LFO and a second voice, I saw some videos where you can control the oscillators at audio rate. A second VCA is very tempting and the Doepfer A-124 looks veeeery good for the price. I will rethink the case with these things and I will let you know ;)