Hi all,

I'm looking to make modular / generative techno and have drawn up this rack below (I currently have Atlantis, BIA, Maths, Pam's, Metropolix, Links, Beads and Quad VCA).

How does this look?

ModularGrid Rack

I'm not sure if I've gone overboard on the modulation - can Stages & Maths cover envelope & LFO needs?
Any suggestions for an FX module?
Too many voices?

Which modules should I purchase next - given what I already have (above)?


For FX module, take a look at FX Aid XL..small but powerful
I don't see any sort of 'mixer' included and is something you probably want to have...admittedly I don't know all the capabilities of everything listed in your build. I use the Cosmotronic Cosmix and am really happy with it


Hi JB,

Thanks! Will take a look at your suggestion. Actually the Minimix is the mixer I'm looking at! Definitely need a mixer - debating a few different ones at the moment.

Given what you already have what are you trying to do, but feel limited in doing? Before adding more voices I would focus on adding utilities to get the most out of the voices you already have. Trying to get multi-voice polyphony in a case this small is a recipe for disaster, plenty of voices just not enough tone sculpting ability so you won't be able to get the most out of all of them.

Are you planning on doing all drums in case, BIA is great module but you don't seem to have enough modulation to really drive two of these, while stages is a great module you might want something like a quad lfo (batumi for cadillac, doepher for value/hp) instead since you have a voltage block as well.

I love the SSF dipole, but not as my primary filter, I would look at the Polaris great bang for the buck filter (saves HP).

Needs some attenuverters, 3xMIA, Lapsus Os, matrix mixer, mutes, switches, etc.

Look at 4ms I/O similar output module 6HP, there are others as well I just happen to own this one.

I will definitely let more experienced people chime in, but I think you would quickly become frustrated with your ability to carve space for all these voices with the lack of utilities.

@frown3n I can recommend you check out this link https://www.modulargrid.net/e/forum/posts/index/9906 which is huge thing I put together months ago... the info / links at the top of that are relevant to "generative." It is food for thought, maybe too much food for thought... But overall the links are very interesting, and include deep & helpful stuff from Lugia, Farkas and a couple others from the forum. You'll glean a LOT if you dig into those posts and the example racks esp. those by Lugia, and his discussions of what's needed in the generative racks.

A few additional comments:

-- I love switches! Boss Bow 2, Switchblade, etc. My next major push is to be able to sequence sequences via switching (Boss Bow 2). Of course one can switch anything: audio, CV (envelopes, LFOs, etc). IMO adding some addressable (CV/gate/trigger controlled) switches adds a huge amount of depth and power to a setup. Verbos Sequence Selector is also worth considering.

-- in addition to switches, you could use additional Logic modules (e.g. OR/AND/XOR, etc.), maybe a couple clock dividers / ratchets (Doepfer has a lot of good options on this front), a derivator (like Joranalogue's one, or Metabolic Devices Coherence), plus more utilities like buff mults, averagers, and something like 4ms SISM to help you combine / wrangle CV from multiple sources. Joranalogue Morph 4 is worth consideration for mixing / mangling signals. The general theme here is, of the signal sources you have, what would be interesting ways to multiply, mangle, and recombine these? Logic and clock dividers also tend to be low on $s and HP so they're a great way to add power and depth with relatively low cost.

-- check out some "chaos" modules: see https://www.modulargrid.net/e/forum/posts/index/10358 especially the last post there by a guy doing ambient installations in art exhibits. Really interesting.

-- 1 or 2 Instruo Ochd units are worth considering. Lots of additional LFO signal for little HP.

-- your build above has i) a packed case ii) a bunch of big modules. If at all possible, try to have 20-40% of your case space left over so you can add more modules in the future without immediately needing a larger case. In other words, you might consider your next build having a considerably a bigger case! You may also want to consider if your biggest modules above are better for you than several smaller modules.

-- Since you have Metropolix, getting it's add-on would give a lot of functionality for little incremental $s and HP; more signal to play with and route. And if you like the "sequencing sequencers" and/or switching ideas above, then you can think of split duties between your sequencers. Tiptop Z800 IMO is a great "companion sequencer" if running more than one unit.

-- I love that you have Scales in there. That will give you a lot of flexibility to extract pitch information from your non-stepped CV, or to have totally independent control of potential pitch values (e.g. by setting custom scales in Scales, and changing those with CV, which is what I do). Yes, most sequencers will already have quantize-able outs, BUT IMO there's a lot to be said for having independent quantizing lanes in addition.

-- I'm not really seeing any modules in your rack that I think are total mistakes, I see a lot of modules I love. But I am left with the impression you'll probably end up needing a larger case and some additional modules.

Well this turned out way longer than I had planned. Hope at least some of this is helpful! Good luck, and enjoy!

Okay. If you wanted to make a techno song on this, what elements are going to be in your mix? Kick, snare, hats, a bassline, a lead, some chords... what else?

Do a mental exercise of where each of these elements will come from. What will they be sequenced by? Where will you get all the triggers/gates and CV/pitch from? As far as the voices, how will you make each one? What modules will you need in audio chain for each voice? Some modules are self-contained voices (like BIA, Braids, Atlantis). Others will require filters, envelopes, VCAs, etc... don't forget any modulation (the strength of modular synthesis).

How will you combine the outputs of all of these voices and apply effects to them when desired/warranted?

If you do this mental exercise and work backwards, you might have some second thoughts regarding module selection, module size in HP, mixers-submixers, etc. Once you've done the work, you might find that you need more utilities than what you have... that you will need more rack space, and things might be much more expensive to get the level of functionality you'd hoped for.

great ideas from @Ronin1973 there.,.
the op also mentioned generative - so I'd suggest maybe having a think about how that would fit in as well - usually want more layers of modulation - modulate the modulation.. so there is movement over time - possibly more vcas too for the sme reason

"some of the best base-level info to remember can be found in Jim's sigfile" @Lugia

Utility modules are the dull polish that makes the shiny modules actually shine!!!

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities

a few quick follow ups:

-- my longer post yesterday was more along the lines of "cool ideas & prior posts for you to investigate" plus some module types you don't already have, if you wanted to consider a larger and spendier but more capable rig

-- I agree with Ronin and Jim above, it's a great idea to figure out # of voices you'll want from your rig at any one time, and what would be required to support those. If you wanted all your voices out of modular, as Ronin said, that's likely a bigger and more expensive rig

-- the practical, near-term edits I would suggest to your rig above are i) bigger case ii) add Ochd (for more LFOs), Gx (for more lanes from Metropolix), and SISM (for CV control). But it does make sense to go through the exercise Ronin mentioned first, before you commit to any additional modules and HP.

... thought I'd follow up with something more focused and practical (as my earlier post was not as near-term & practical)

Good luck, enjoy!

Hey frow3n,

Could you elaborate on what you mean exactly by generative? Would it be something that "plays itself", or something that adds randomness to what you programmed, or maybe just evolving melodies?

In term of pure generative, it misses the most essential modules I believe :

  • A source of pseudo-random gates and voltages (checkout MI Marbles or the Malekko Noisering)
  • Dedicated LFOs (you have the Dixie but I'd advise for something that you can clock like the Zadar)
  • Comparators (you'll trigger events based on certain conditions met somewhere else)
  • Attenuverters (the quad VCA will be full pretty fast and you'll still need to control everything else)
  • Utility sequencers (you have 2 huge programmable sequencers but generative music requires multiple, smaller orders of control)
  • Gate modulators (eg. logic modules, gate delays)
  • Sequential switches
  • ....

There's a shit ton of other utilities that would be interesting in a techno live rack.
I think this guy could help. He's built a live techno system and explains how/why in several videos:

And him probably:

To summarise, I 100% agree with mog00: first add all the utilities you can and try things out for yourself.
They're cheap and a lot of fun. Also, you don't have to do generative music for things to be interesting and fun in your rack!

(also take everything I said with a bit of salt because I'm essentially a beginner at eurorack)