Hi folks,

As I continue my modular journey, I find myself wondering "what would be really great?..." for various sections of the modular setup. I've had some earlier threads on sequencing, DAW I/O, etc. Next I'm wondering about VOICING, specifically pitched (non-percussion) voicing.

SO, I thought I'd ask, what would be your "dream" voicing setup for non-percussion sound design in Eurorack?

To give some constraints to this, let's assume:
-- up to 20 modules total, including up to 8 oscillators/sound sources, up to 6 filters, and up to 6 anything else voicing-related (e.g. waveshapers etc.)
-- we won't bother to include any CV, sequencing, utilities, I/O for now
-- with the up to 20 modules selected, let's try to "get the best of modular" e.g. represent a high % of what modular is good at on the voicing side of sound design (e.g. avoiding loading up on modules with similar functions)
-- we will assume the rig is used for ONE or FEW voices at a time (e.g. not trying to optimize for high polyphony, just one or few really great voices)

Here's my v.1

ModularGrid Rack

Comments:
-- DPO and Mindphaser would be my pics from among complex oscillators. Yes there are other good options (like C-sl) but IMO these are very solid and a good complement to one another. I could be talked into better alternatives for complex OSCs if there are some
-- Trident and FSSOSC2 are my pics for additional analog oscillators that are super interesting, powerful, and unique to Eurorack as far as I know. I know of basically zero good direct alternatives to these
-- Shapeshifter is there for powerful Wavetable OSC capabilities; Odessa for additive; Erica VCO2 for grimy overdriven analogue
-- in filters, we've got Optomix for dual LPG, then 3 Rossum filters -- Evolution giving a great and flexible ladder filter, Linneaus giving a very interesting modern FM-ing filter, Morpheus a very flexible digital filter, then Morgasmatron as my favorite among dual filters (SFF Dipole being another great option)
-- my "other" pics are waveshaping/resynthesis; with Tain I can switch audio at audio rates; Bifold is a great waveshaper; and Panharmonium for resynthesis
-- that uses up 15 of 20 possible modules for this "exercise." What I don't have included yet is any granular stuff (as I don't know the good pics there well) or sampling (as Eurorack sample-based stuff has not been a priority for me, rightly or wrongly I see it as less convenient than VST options)

SOOOO... if you are interest in kicking around some ideas for a "dream voicing rig" I'd be interested to hear! Of course there aren't right or wrong answers here. But I am curious if we can drive to a "super solid, deep and interesting" voicing rig within the constraints mentioned above.

Thanks all!

Nicholas


A few add on comments:

-- since posting, I've been wondering if this is a ridiculous question, as in "you don't need that much in modular" or "thinking in terms of 'sound sources,' you're missing how modular works." All told, if it is useless or counterproductive to have a large voicing section (like above), I'd like to know that and why.

-- but on further consideration, I think it is an interesting question, to me at least. Why? Because it raises at least two potentially important points:
++ what's the best of modular (in the sound-generation domain)? How many modules would you need to get a significant % of that "best of"?
++ looking at other "power synths" like Waldorf Quantum (hardware) and VSTs like U-he Zebra, Omnisphere, KVR Synthmaster etc., what does it take for a modular setup to meet similar sound-design capabilities (at least in 1 voice)? Where does Modular SMASH other hardware / vst options?

-- all considered, I'm hoping to get a better understanding of "voicing" options so as I go forward with modular, I can keep going towards "what makes modular great and unique"

Thanks all!


Having a lot of interesting options is a fun part of this whole hobby. I think we are all building our own individual "dream voicing rig," so the answers you get here will probably be all over the place. In the search for my own perfect voicing I've tried a bit of everything. Had a Furthrrr Generator, still have the Recombination Engine, E352, and Panharmonium, tried a fair amount of the Mutable stuff, some of the Schlappi stuff, some Make Noise and Noise Engineering, etc.
The truth is my favorite sounding and playing modules are the AJH Synth stuff. They sound perfect to my ears. They are well-built. The envelopes, oscillators, filters, and VCAs react exactly as I expect. Just perfect. Traditional subtractive synthesis may seem a little "boring" or not taking advantage of all modular has to offer, but I'm extremely happy with my choice to add their stuff to my rack. In fact, I'm going to pick up a few more to expand my AJH stable (the 2412 filter, another VCO and Contour Generator, the Dual LFO/VCA, and the Wave Swarm for sure). Highly recommended for excellent high-quality subtractive voicing.
A module that I was pleasantly surprised by is Mutable Instruments Warps. I've struggled to connect with most of my MI modules (sold Plaits and Clouds is sitting in a box in a closet), but Warps with the Parasites firmware instantly clicked for me. I may just have weird taste, but I think it's pretty underrated for a multi-function waveshaper/ring mod/crossfader etc. etc. etc.


@Farkas thanks for the reply and ideas above. A few comments:

-- interesting to hear you say AJH is among your favorites. I've avoided that so far, thinking "what do I need Moog clones for in my modular?" That they sound "perfect" would be a good reason! I do love Moog sounds but thought I had that well covered from other non-modular gear. Maybe its worth my considering a select AJH add in the future (an OSC or Filter might be a most logical first choice)

-- yes it's likely answers to this post will be "all over the place" as you mentioned. I can say the pics and especially combinations can be really fantastic: I've had some real "wow" moments such as modulating Mindphaser with Odessa, or feeding a wavefolded signal into Morgasmatron, overdriving it, and "striking" the filter. Continuing to find deep and interesting combinations is an ongoing effort and joy.

It's very interesting to hear your views above, thanks again!


Yeah, my aim was to create a more non-subtractive modular groovebox-style synth and supplement it with a Sequential Prophet Rev2 for poly stuff. I found myself wanting some Moog-ish sounds somewhere along the way, and now those are my go-to modules. Really impressed by them.
The new update to the E352 added some great options to an already great wavetable module, and the Recombination Engine is fun and slightly unpredictable (I still haven't wrapped my head around the wave splicing without an oscilloscope). I mostly use the Panharmonium for rhythmic drum resynthesis and as a vocal effect.
*edit Check out the AJH Sonic XV filter for something that is not strictly Moog-ish (even though it was inspired by a Musonics/Moog design).


I'm in the other camp. The modulation sources and utilities are the "sauce" that makes the sound great (doing best Tony The Tiger impression).

If you want to swap out different oscillators/sound generators to get different timbres... cool. But it's the other bits that do the heavy lifting in great sounds.


I don’t think I’ve claimed a “camp” as far as oscillators vs. utilities or anything like that. Or at least I didn’t intend to. Just responding to the OP on what I like as far as sound sources. A Dixie or Minimod analog oscillator is not going to give you the same sound or experience as an E352 or Akemie’s Castle. What comes further down the audio or cv chain is definitely where the interesting stuff is, for sure, but having a good understanding of exactly what sound will come out if I turn a knob is an important choice in choosing sound sources. What may come out of the Recombination Engine on its own or with a broad array of utilities may be interesting, but unintentional.
Something that is of interest to me in this discussion is the amount of cv vs. hands-on control that modules have. Is the machine doing the tweaking or is the human doing the tweaking when it comes to getting a great sound?


Something that is of interest to me in this discussion is the amount of cv vs. hands-on control that modules have. Is the machine doing the tweaking or is the human doing the tweaking when it comes to getting a great sound?
-- farkas
hmmm - does it really matter?

I tend to use modulation instead of wiggling knobs myself, I only have 2 hands and at the end of the day it really just comes down to taste, doesn't it? - I want to move this knob 30 degrees and back every 10 seconds - just plug in an attenuated lfo - does exactly the same thing

I have a friend who plays guitar - thinks he's good because he can play (strum) lots of different songs - and thinks that a guitar is an instrument and a synthesizer is a machine - although he does say I play guitar like a synth and synth like a guitar - I tell him that a guitar is just 6 analog oscillators and the ability to play is just a combination of muscle memory and taste

in the end it boils down to does it sound good - the harsh reality is that outside of a small group of musicians - no one cares how you make a sound, tune or indeed whole song - just whether it sounds good or not

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


hmmm - does it really matter?

I tend to use modulation instead of wiggling knobs myself, I only have 2 hands and at the end of the day it really just comes down to taste, doesn't it? - I want to move this knob 30 degrees and back every 10 seconds - just plug in an attenuated lfo - does exactly the same thing

-- JimHowell1970

I think it matters. The amount of error in a hand-tweaked knob will vary over time while a decent LFO will be relatively stable over time. I think we can sense that error (if not hear it), and that error is what I think contributes to interesting sound/music. They say guitar playing is all in the fingers. Keith Richards' feel will never be as precise as Steve Vai, but I know who I'd rather listen to. Of course no one else cares, but that's what makes something interesting to me.
Barring random and chaos modules, which can be unmusical in some uses, If we all have the same precise utilities, the same LFOs, Maths, Kinks, etc., there are only so many original combinations to make an interesting sound. What ultimately differentiates any of this music then? I would say the human error is what differentiates it all. Separating into utilities-are-more-important-than-oscillators (or vice versa) "camps" sort of takes away from the OP's fun thought exercise.


Ronin, Jim, Farkas, thanks for the comments above.

Ronin, I hear you on "the modulation sources and utilities are the "sauce" that makes the sound great." And this response is part of why I'm asking this question -- to find out how much of a voicing section people are finding useful / inspiring.

Yet in fairness, I can't think of another way to get the sounds I'm getting from two "power oscillators" interacting (such as Mindphaser modulated at audio rate by Odessa) or complex OSC outputs switched at (varying) audio rate, all of which happens in the "voicing" type modules (like above).

SO, might we say "the sauce (that makes the sound great) is where you put it"? I'm reminded of some Zebra2 patches by Howard Scarr (the sound genius who did most of the sound design for the Dark Knight movies) -- one great patch in particular where the OSC section itself sounds like sh8t BUT it is basically a bland impulse going to an elaborate FX section, where those FX in effect become complex resonators (and the defacto sound generators as a result). In that patch, the FX are the "sauce" but are not acting remotely like traditional FX. Hence this notion that, depending on the setup and patch, the "sauce" could potentially be anywhere...

I AM interested in digging in more to what Ronin & Jim are saying above and where they get their "sauce," if not so much from the "voicing" modules, BUT I fear that would take this thread into diverging directions. So how about this: i) I'll follow up with Ronin, Jim, and anybody else who's interested in a later thread that looks at some of their favorite rigs and what are the core modules / techniques for those rigs and ii) this thread, we can keep jamming about what's awesome (or not awesome) in the voicing part of a rig and why.

Thanks for joining me on this geeky thread : )


I think it matters. The amount of error in a hand-tweaked knob will vary over time while a decent LFO will be relatively stable over time. I think we can sense that error (if not hear it), and that error is what I think contributes to interesting sound/music. They say guitar playing is all in the fingers. Keith Richards' feel will never be as precise as Steve Vai, but I know who I'd rather listen to. Of course no one else cares, but that's what makes something interesting to me.
Barring random and chaos modules, which can be unmusical in some uses, If we all have the same precise utilities, the same LFOs, Maths, Kinks, etc., there are only so many original combinations to make an interesting sound. What ultimately differentiates any of this music then? I would say the human error is what differentiates it all. Separating into utilities-are-more-important-than-oscillators (or vice versa) "camps" sort of takes away from the OP's fun thought exercise.

-- farkas

well I do agree with you - but you can always mix in a little random or chaos with other modulation

& I'd definitely rather listen to Keith play guitar than Steve Vai or any one like that

no one type of module is more important than another - but in most cases you will get more out of fewer sound sources and a decent selection of other modules, than out of more sound sources and fewer other modules

I also think it massively depends on how big your rack is - the smaller it is the easier it is to play it manually - the bigger it is the more the need for modulation - and as I said I mainly use modulation, but I also tweak things over time - but not to the extent I have seen a lot of performers - some of whom appear to be just touching knobs as opposed to actually wiggling them

a lot of the time I have the modular running whilst I do other things - so it's difficult to tweak constantly

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


Hi folks,

I should clarify, for the "dream voicing rig" questions above, DO assume the rig would also have enough CV, utilities etc. to operate well. In the rack above and related questions, I've included only voicing modules, so we can focus some discussion around "what constitutes great?" in Eurorack voicing setups.

I wouldn't want to be rude to anyone on the thread; your ideas and comments are certainly welcome. With that said, I will feel free to steer the conversation somewhat back towards the initial / central questions of the post.

Do we have other comments / ideas on what constitutes a "dream voicing rig"? Please consider in particular the first few postings (which offer the initiating questions and some rough constraints for our "thought experiment"). Thanks!