Hello!

Hoping to get some thoughts on this (or a similar) system for a beginner such as myself:

ModularGrid Rack

  • Expert Sleepers FH-2 (or Intellijel uMidi)
  • MI Marbles
  • ALM Squid Salmple
  • ALM Pamela's New Workout
  • Noise Engineering Mimetic Digitalis
  • MI Plaits
  • TipTop Audio Forbidden Planet
  • MI Veils
  • Intelligel Outs

It's essentially the modules used in both the below videos, which is the style of music I'd like to experiment with - mainly deep house and minimal 4/4, leaving room to expand into ambient soundscapes, textures, generative styles in the future.

I already have a Digitakt, Digitone and have an 0-Coast on the way, so have added the FH-2 and Intellijel Outs to this rack. I'd like to be able to use the system standalone with the 0-Coast (as seen in the videos), but to also pair and sequence it via the DT/DN too.


Would like to know what people think about this set up for a beginner like myself, or any other suggestions that could work. Seems like you can achieve a lot with this setup from what I've seen so far, so assume it would keep me busy for quite some time while learning and experimenting.

I'm not entirely sure if I need the Squid Salmple, as I could run my drums through the Digitakt, but I do like how he's using PNW to generate some euclidean rhythms on the Salmple, which looks pretty fun.

Thanks in advance and please go easy as I'm fairly new to all this!


The FH2 is probably an overkill unless you plan on hooking this system up directly to a computer. You could save a lot by using a simpler interface. The FH2 has some interesting capabilities. But programming it is a pain in the... If you simply want sync, you can get the MIDI expander for Pam's New Workout.

Pam's New Workout and the Mimetic are a good pairing. I'd add a micro Ornament & Crime unit to this (8HP). It has a quad quantizer mode that makes getting really nice, in tune notes out of the Mimetic. O&C has other functions as well, so it'll be very handy.

Your rack has no LFOs, no dedicated envelope generators, no utility mixers, no basic utilities (like attenuverters, noise). You'll find the boring utilities are the glue that really holds your modular system together.

Also a small multi-effects unit can make a real difference. You may want to try an Expert Sleepers Disting EX if there's room. It's a Swiss Army Knife of functionality and will help you explore the possibilities of modular synths.


I'd add a micro Ornament & Crime unit to this (8HP).
-- Ronin1973

Love my ALA O_C https://www.modulargrid.net/e/after-later-audio-uo-c-black-gold-panel

JB


If you simply want sync, you can get the MIDI expander for Pam's New Workout.

I use a kick on an audio channel to sync from DAW - much better timing as audio is much higher priority in computer OSs

O&C has other functions as well, so it'll be very handy.

but can only do 1 or 2 things at a time - if you need that many quantizer channels I'd look to the sinfonion - then you can do chords too!!!

Your rack has no LFOs, no dedicated envelope generators, no utility mixers, no basic utilities (like attenuverters, noise). You'll find the boring utilities are the glue that really holds your modular system together.

modular synthesizers that don't have utilities end up unloved in cupboards or for sale once the user gets bored of them

Also a small multi-effects unit can make a real difference. You may want to try an Expert Sleepers Disting EX if there's room. It's a Swiss Army Knife of functionality and will help you explore the possibilities of modular synths.

-- Ronin1973

Distings are great - also consider the happy nerding fx aid (xl) if you want a lot of variety

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


If you simply want sync, you can get the MIDI expander for Pam's New Workout.
-- Ronin1973

The Digitakt and Digitone can output DIN Sync, so you just need the $10 cable from ALM to get clock/run into PNW. If you want to sequence your modular from the Elektron boxes, you'll need MIDI to CV (the 0-coast has some capability, though it is a nuisance to use). If you want to go the other way (say, to get Euclidean rhythms driving the Digitakt), you'll want something with CV->MIDI capabilities, for which there are fewer options (but some exist).

I'm pretty new to this, but I don't think you should base your rack on a video made by someone for whom this is just a fraction of their collection. Also consider availability of modules. I don't know where to get the Veils 2020 at this point in time. Since your 0-coast is already on the way, I say give that a month while you learn how to use it by itself and with what you have. I bet that changes your mind on some things.


If you simply want sync, you can get the MIDI expander for Pam's New Workout.
-- Ronin1973

The Digitakt and Digitone can output DIN Sync, so you just need the $10 cable from ALM to get clock/run into PNW. If you want to sequence your modular from the Elektron boxes, you'll need MIDI to CV (the 0-coast has some capability, though it is a nuisance to use). If you want to go the other way (say, to get Euclidean rhythms driving the Digitakt), you'll want something with CV->MIDI capabilities, for which there are fewer options (but some exist).

befaco cv thing is a good example of this type of module

I'm pretty new to this, but I don't think you should base your rack on a video made by someone for whom this is just a fraction of their collection.

this is really good advice - at least some, if not all, of the youtubers who demo tiny systems are pulling modules out of much larger racks specifically for demo purposes

Also consider availability of modules. I don't know where to get the Veils 2020 at this point in time. Since your 0-coast is already on the way, I say give that a month while you learn how to use it by itself and with what you have. I bet that changes your mind on some things.

-- plragde

how to find modules (not all dealers are on there, but a lot are):
https://wigglehunt.com/?query=veils&condition=&stockstatus=in&pricemin=0&pricemax=5000&currency_code=150&sort=price

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


Thanks for all the insightful replies so far, I appreciate it! I'll respond to some of your points below:

The FH2 is probably an overkill unless you plan on hooking this system up directly to a computer. You could save a lot by using a simpler interface.
-- Ronin1973

What would you suggest as an alternative? I was originally looking at the Intellijel uMidi. Would it be better to just get that instead? I guess the idea would be to use the both rack standalone and also sequenced by the DT/DN.

I'd add a micro Ornament & Crime unit to this (8HP). It has a quad quantizer mode that makes getting really nice, in tune notes out of the Mimetic. O&C has other functions as well, so it'll be very handy.
-- Ronin1973

Thanks for the suggestion. I've seen this mentioned quite a bit so will do some research into this.

Your rack has no LFOs, no dedicated envelope generators, no utility mixers, no basic utilities (like attenuverters, noise). You'll find the boring utilities are the glue that really holds your modular system together.
-- Ronin1973

My next module would probably be Maths, but figured I could get away with it as the 0-Coast has half of one. Alternatively, what utilities would you recommend to start off with in a small system like the one I've proposed? Something like MI Links perhaps?

Also a small multi-effects unit can make a real difference. You may want to try an Expert Sleepers Disting EX if there's room. It's a Swiss Army Knife of functionality and will help you explore the possibilities of modular synths.
-- Ronin1973

Again, another module I've seen recommended a tonne. I've heard there's a lot of menu diving and programming though, which I'd prefer to avoid. Would something like an FX Aid XL or an Erica Synths Dual FX work instead for more hands on control instead?

I'd look to the sinfonion - then you can do chords too!!!
-- JimHowell1970

Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't seen this before but will check it out! Someone else also recommended a Qu-Bit Chords so will check them out for sure.

modular synthesizers that don't have utilities end up unloved in cupboards or for sale once the user gets bored of them
-- JimHowell1970

Seems like this is a common piece of advice thrown around. See my above response to Ronin re utilities.

also consider the happy nerding fx aid (xl) if you want a lot of variety
-- JimHowell1970

I think I prefer the FX Aid XL as it seems to be no menu diving or programming compared to the Disting. Will do more research into it.

The Digitakt and Digitone can output DIN Sync, so you just need the $10 cable from ALM to get clock/run into PNW. If you want to sequence your modular from the Elektron boxes, you'll need MIDI to CV (the 0-coast has some capability, though it is a nuisance to use). If you want to go the other way (say, to get Euclidean rhythms driving the Digitakt), you'll want something with CV->MIDI capabilities, for which there are fewer options (but some exist).
-- plragde

Good to know, I didn't really think of those other use cases. I think for now I'd like to use the rack both as a standalone unit but also sequenced via the DT. Would definitely like to explore Euclidean rhythms driving the Digitakt down the line though, so will have a look into this in the future.

I don't think you should base your rack on a video made by someone for whom this is just a fraction of their collection.
-- plragde

I totally agree with these comments, however from what I've seen, those modules seem to be the only ones the guy was using. In his later videos you can actually see him expanding his rack, so I doubt he has a bigger collection stored elsewhere - that's why I made the exception that maybe I could imitate this system while starting as it looks like he can do so much already with those limited modules, which would probably keep me busy for a long time while figuring out what else to add down the line.


WiggleHunt is a pretty good service, but as it's largely (entirely?) automated, it has its weaknesses. It won't show shipping costs for Reverb listings, and these can be prohibitive across oceans. On the flip side, it will sometimes include VAT when out-of-country orders don't have to pay it. These are understandable, as it's not asking for the location of the person querying, and it would be hard to take that into account anyway. Sometimes it shows new listings when the fine print on the seller's page says "out of stock" or "on back order". That's the case with what it shows for Veils 2020 right now.


WiggleHunt is a pretty good service, but as it's largely (entirely?) automated, it has its weaknesses. It won't show shipping costs for Reverb listings, and these can be prohibitive across oceans. On the flip side, it will sometimes include VAT when out-of-country orders don't have to pay it. These are understandable, as it's not asking for the location of the person querying, and it would be hard to take that into account anyway. Sometimes it shows new listings when the fine print on the seller's page says "out of stock" or "on back order". That's the case with what it shows for Veils 2020 right now.
-- plragde

I'm based in Australia so it's a challenge already trying to buy modules locally. Funnily enough though one of our eurorack stockists has most, if not all the modules in stock, with only a few on pre-order (Marbles, Plaits, Veils, Intellijel Outs).

They have the Salmple, Digitalis, Forbidden Planet and PNW in stock and there's one Plaits left for sale on Juno, so I'm tempted to grab these while I can and worry about the rest later.

I did have another question re the Squid Salmple and Digitakt. Is it overkill to have a eurorack sampler while I've got a Digitakt? I figured it couldn't hurt too much seeing as I would like to use the rack as a standalone unit, but also paired with the Digitakt, but feel free to correct me here.

Also for anyone that's interested, I have added my "wishlist" modules to the next row (based on a TipTop Mantis case):

https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/racks/modulargrid_1709515.jpg

My plan is to start with the top row of modules and then slowly start to expand with the bottom row as I get more comfortable with everything.

Just to clarify, my main goals with this is to make and jam 4/4 deep house/minimal styles (like the videos), but also to experiment with ambient textures, new age/downtempo and generative soundscapes - think"wellness centre" ambient music.


however from what I've seen, those modules seem to be the only ones the guy was using. In his later videos you can actually see him expanding his rack, so I doubt he has a bigger collection stored elsewhere - that's why I made the exception that maybe I could imitate this system while starting as it looks like he can do so much already with those limited modules, which would probably keep me busy for a long time while figuring out what else to add down the line.
-- charliechunk

They are fine modules and you can get good sounds out of them. There are many more small racks out there copied off Ricky Tinez videos. But as for their possible bigger collection: the first YouTube video was posted in June 2020. In October 2020, there's a promo for a Bandcamp album release, which pans over a much larger setup. And, looking on Bandcamp, their first modular album release was January 2020.

For my first 6u x 104hp, I chose not to put in a sampler, granular processor, or any percussion-specific module (I have a Digitakt, Digitone, A4, Model:Cycles). A sampler is not necessarily overkill, but you should think about how you are going to use it, because there are a number of alternatives. The Salmple might be overkill if you don't want to record on the fly, for example.

In the video thumbnail, one can see that the Pam's is pretty much maxed out. Adding modulation sources and ways of transforming and combining them might be something to consider.


The Salmple might be overkill if you don't want to record on the fly, for example.
-- plragde

This is very true. If anything this would be the module that I could forego in this initial setup. The caveat being I wouldn't be able to utilise samples/drums when using the rack standalone. I don't think I'd want to sample on the fly, but I'm not entirely sure yet.

In the video thumbnail, one can see that the Pam's is pretty much maxed out. Adding modulation sources and ways of transforming and combining them might be something to consider.
-- plragde

Maths would be the next module I'd buy with this setup. I suppose I could even replace the Salmple with the Maths first. I'll have a think about it and do a bit more research. I think as a start, I'd definitely get Plaits, Digitalis and Forbidden Planet and maybe go slowly from there?


Pam's is the one module in your proposed setup that I have direct experience with, and I highly recommend it. When I said it was maxed out, I meant "EVEN Pam's is pushed to the limit here". I think it should be in your first purchase, more so than the filter (I have two, but for me they don't loom as large in modular as they do with Elektron boxes). It will help you to figure out what more boring modules you will want to complement the exciting ones.


Pam's is the one module in your proposed setup that I have direct experience with, and I highly recommend it. When I said it was maxed out, I meant "EVEN Pam's is pushed to the limit here". I think it should be in your first purchase, more so than the filter (I have two, but for me they don't loom as large in modular as they do with Elektron boxes). It will help you to figure out what more boring modules you will want to complement the exciting ones.
-- plragde

That's good to know! I wanted to include it over the filter but thought it might not make sense with so little modules, but you've just convinced me to grab one alongside the Plaits! I think I will get those 2 modules first and go from there. Thanks so much for your help too, it's been great so much appreciated. They do have the Salmple in stock at my local dealer, so I'm very tempted by this too haha.


You're welcome! There aren't stock issues with the Salmple like there are with many modules, it seems, but if you give in to temptation, I'm sure it won't be a disaster, and will probably be a lot of fun.


Poked at it, opted to go ahead and come up with a filled cab that used your initial module selection. The only thing that didn't make the cut was the output module, and you'll see how that got fixed in a bit. Here's the build:
ModularGrid Rack
This was a little tricky when I was trying to make a single voicing section work...because it didn't seem suitable. Instead, there's TWO paths in the voicing section, one for the Salmple and one for the Plaits'. Here's how it works...

Top row: Konstant Labs PWRchekr to keep an eye on your DC rails. Then there's a buffered mult, because this thing actually has up to SIX pitch CV destinations, and I didn't want to risk voltage sag. I put a manual stereo mixer after this to sum the separate track outputs down to a stereo pair. After that, TWO Plaits...because while one oscillator is good, two is BETTER. With that, you can do a bunch of detunings and make the Plaits sound huge, or use one as a "voice" and the other as an audio rate FM source, which the other Plaits can have a field day with. Then a Joranalogue wavefolder...which you'll note has dual inputs, so if you wanted to smash the audio from both Plaits at the same time to create something REALLY out there, you can. Veils is next...now, here's where it gets fun.

As I noted before, this has TWO voicing paths, and here's what controls BOTH. You would send the stereo mixer's out to a pair of the VCAs for stereo control, and patch those directly to the stereo Overseer VCF's inputs. Then the last two VCAs are for mixing the Plaits...for that, you'd use two VCA inputs, but only patch to the LAST VCA in that set. So if you have the Salmple on VCAs 1 and 2, then you'd patch those VCAs individually from the Veils' mixbus. But for the two Plaits inputs, you'd use VCAs 3 and 4, but only patch up output 4 so that VCAs 3 and 4 now act as a VC mixer to sum the Plaits down to mono. Pretty cool, pretty neat!

Anyway, the Overseer is a stereo VCF, specifically there for properly filtering the Salmple's post-VCA outs. Should work fantastically with the stereo signal coming off of the Veils. And the Forbidden Planet stays, because that's your "lead line" VCF; the Steiner Synthacon VCF has a rep for being extremely "out front", something I know first-hand! That gets fed by the summed Plaits output. After that, you'll see a Happy Nerding FX Aid XL, a really capable FX-1-based stereo processor, which can be used in a number of ways, then the stereo mixer at the end is a 4ms ListenFour 1/4. Remember what I said about the Intellijel output module? This mixer HAS the 1/4" outs and a headphone preamp built-in, in addition to having two pannable channels and two stereo paired channels (usable in mono by patching only the left input).

Bottom row: FH-2, Pam's, then an unbuffered mult for gate/trig signals that need splitting for, say, the Salmple, or aspects of the Marbles, and so on. After that, there's a Tesseract VC Logics, which gives you two channels of Boolean logic with CV over gate type on each. By using this with some "contrary" gate sources (via the Pam's, for example), you can arrive at even MORE different gate patterns from just two Pam's channels on each logic gate. Mimey Digits are next (yes, I routinely rip on NE for these schoolboy Latin names), but since it has no internal quantization, I dropped in a quad UNgated chromatic quantizer to deal with that AND to provide even more scalar tesselation CV results from things such as LFOs or EGs when you send those through the quantizer.

After that, an SSF Tool Box, because...SSF Tool Box. One of the best multi-utility modules, jams a buttload of functionality into a mere 6 hp. Then, there's your LFOs courtesy of a Batumi/Poti pair. Marbles follows this, and it now has a host of things to gnaw on for random results. After that is a great pairing: Happy Nerding's 3xVCA + Frap's 321. These are for tampering with your modulation behavior, as the VCAs can control level over modulation since they're DC-coupled linear VCAs -- unlike the Veils, on which you can change the VCA topology in a continuum between linear and exponential. And the Frap is a tiny minimatrix mixer coupled with a few other CV/mod tricks. And lastly, envelopes courtesy of a Quadrax/Qx combo; these can ALSO serve as looping envelopes (ie: LFO with CV over rise and fall, rather Maths-ish). The Qx, also, allows you to implement cascading between the four AR EGs in the Quadrax, or can also be used to trigger other events elsewhere on End Of Rise or End of Fall of any of the EGs.

Yeah, this is much farther along than the original build, but it's here also as a way to see how you can exploit the various aspects of the modules that were there by adding other complementary modules. Plus, take note of the multiple capabilities that many of the modules have; in a small build like this, you NEED to think multifunctionally so that you get your functionality optimized. Using multi-function modules like the ones all over the place in this version is KEY to making a smaller build work by making the space for a single-function module work for a LOT of things besides the desired module function. Not necessarily saying to run out and grab the whole thing at one time (unless, of course, you work like that and have the requisite dumpster full of money to allow that), but this is more to show how to really blow the lid off of a build from just a handful of starting modules. Still, if you DID opt to grab it all at once, you'd have a helluva modular in your hands!


Poked at it, opted to go ahead and come up with a filled cab that used your initial module selection. The only thing that didn't make the cut was the output module, and you'll see how that got fixed in a bit. Here's the build:
-- Lugia

Wow, this is unreal. Thank you so much for taking the time to build this system out! I have just replicated and saved a copy in my racks for future reference.

So after reading your descriptions, it's quite evident I've got a LOT of homework to do. I'm sure this alone will keep me busy for the next few months, so I appreciate the help. Would you say this system would be good for both the music heard in those videos (e.g. deep house and minimal 4/4), along with ambient soundscapes and soothing generative stuff, etc? I have been looking at modules like Morphagene, Beads, Rings, etc but I'm also wary that a lot of people use them to make very similar sounding music, even though I do enjoy the videos I've watched on them so far.

To answer your last question - I definitely don't have a dumpster load of money, but I do have around AUD$3000-$4000 max to spend on my initial setup (preferably less). With this in mind, what would you recommend be the first, say, 5-7 modules to get me started with? Or whatever fits under US$3000 / EUR2,500? Anything that's flexible enough to experiment and have fun with while learning and figuring out my next steps really. Keeping in mind I will be getting my hands on an 0-Coast soon, along with already owning a Digitakt and Digitone, the latter which I'd even consider selling depending on how this goes! Although I do like the idea of being able to have different options and combos to play with - kind of like a modular home studio :)

Thanks again for the super thought out and insightful replies (everybody included). I'm almost getting to the point where I'd be happy to just go off recommendations to get me started. The knowledge everyone seems to have on these forums is insane, so I'd be comfortable with starting based off these recommendations. Seems like the more I look into individual modules, the more I confuse myself. I'm sure it will all fall into place and start to make sense one day... I hope :D


Oh, I forgot to mention - my budget will also need to include the case, which will be the Tiptop Mantis (AUD$580) if that helps :)


Oh, I forgot to mention - my budget will also need to include the case, which will be the Tiptop Mantis (AUD$580) if that helps :)
-- charliechunk

not really - you don't have to fill the case at one go - get some blind panels - if you are pushed for cash use cereal packet cardboard - then add more modules as and when you can afford it - and the inevitable second case etc etc

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


not really - you don't have to fill the case at one go - get some blind panels - if you are pushed for cash use cereal packet cardboard - then add more modules as and when you can afford it - and the inevitable second case etc etc
-- JimHowell1970

Yeah I know, but I do have a budget I'm able to spend now, so just wanting to know which of those modules would be the best to start with. I just ordered the Plaits and PNW from Juno as they only had 1 Plaits left in stock. I will buy the case and the FH-2 from our local dealer tomorrow as they have them in stock. They've also got the Salmple and Digitalis in stock, but not Marbles, Veils or Outs, so may have to look on the second hand market for those.


places to look for used modules - modwiggler, here and facebook

there's also wigglehunt - which is an aggregator for shops + reverb - but misses a few I think

you may or may not need an output module... I don't need one for example (UK and don't play gigs - where a balanced output may be an advantage)

if you're going into a mixer or audio interface I would try passive attenuators 1st, before spending money on an output module!

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


places to look for used modules - modwiggler, here and facebook
-- JimHowell1970

Thanks, I'm in a local Facebook group so will check there. Seems like this site (https://www.elevatorsound.com) has pretty much all those modules in stock, except for Veils which is pre-order. Seems like they're a bit cheaper too even with shipping!

I'm planning to use headphones a lot, so I'll probably need an output module right?


depends - if you have a mixer, possibly not - otherwise you may want to check out the ALM HPO - which is just a headphone output

I often run a external laptop speaker from a headphone output for monitoring purposes as well as headphones - but both my headphone outputs are mixer based... (rebel technology mix02 and tesseract modular tex-mix)

BTW I'm Agawell on Reddit - so we have a conversation going there too!!

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


depends - if you have a mixer, possibly not - otherwise you may want to check out the ALM HPO - which is just a headphone output
-- JimHowell1970

I've got an Allen & Heath ZED60-10FX mixer lying around that I could use. Would that work or would I still need the output module? Also I think this mixer is a bit overkill for my setup. Would you happen to know any other mixers as a replacement for the Eurorack, 0-Coast and DT/DN?

BTW I'm Agawell on Reddit - so we have a conversation going there too!!
-- JimHowell1970

Ha, I've been caught out! Good to know and thanks for all your help so far, I really appreciate it. These threads have been amazing so far!

Edit: Typo in mixer name


what would you recommend be the first, say, 5-7 modules to get me started with?
-- charliechunk

You're getting a lot of advice, but you're the one who knows best what you want to do with your devices. Treat everything as potentially useful information rather than authority. And go slowly!

Of the modules Lugia added, I own the A-138s, Quadrax, Qx, and 3xVCA. These would all be useful immediately (you wouldn't think the mixer would... but Quadrax can provide oscillators also!). Happy Nerding modules are hard to get hold of. I actually use the 3xMIA even more than the 3xVCA; it sits next to some free-running LFOs from one of those boring modules you'll eventually consider. Pam's and Quadrax can attenuate their envelopes/LFOs but neither is convenient to tweak on the fly. I love Frap modules, but I was advised to get the Klawis Mixwitch over 321. It does a lot, and has a nice feature that makes it easy to zero out an attenuverter (though harder to sweep through zero).

Remember that OS 1.3 means your Digitakt can mix input from your modular, pan it dynamically, and apply its effects (and a similar Digitone update is considered likely). Both the Digitakt and the A&H can deal with Eurorack-level signals, but an output module is convenient. I like my Befaco Out v3, which has a cue input to let me audition part of a sound without repatching.


and the inevitable second case etc etc
-- JimHowell1970

lol...i remember saying the Rackbrute 6U was where I would end...now my Rackbrute 3U will be on the way soon.

JB


depends - if you have a mixer, possibly not - otherwise you may want to check out the ALM HPO - which is just a headphone output
-- JimHowell1970

I've got an Allen & Heath ZED-16 FX mixer lying around that I could use. Would that work or would I still need the output module? Also I think this mixer is a bit overkill for my setup. Would you happen to know any other mixers as a replacement for the Eurorack, 0-Coast and DT/DN?

I'd keep and use the mixer you have - if you have the space for it - especially as it has effects and headphones and will cope with eurorack and 0-coast and dt/dn + room for expansion

you almost definitely don't need the output module, but it's a bit try it and see - might need some attenuators - but passive ones of these are inexpensive and can be small, 2hp trim, for example and always useful - I use one of these either side of my Clouds for attenuating modulation!

BTW I'm Agawell on Reddit - so we have a conversation going there too!!
-- JimHowell1970

Ha, I've been caught out! Good to know and thanks for all your help so far, I really appreciate it. These threads have been amazing so far!

-- charliechunk

NP

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


and the inevitable second case etc etc
-- JimHowell1970

lol...i remember saying the Rackbrute 6U was where I would end...now my Rackbrute 3U will be on the way soon.

-- jb61264

I know the feeling... I thought I'd be done with a 6u/72hp case, then I wanted Maths - so bought a mantis, then I discovered video synthesis and DIY... now at 1500hp ish - and soon to add another 12u/84hp just need some holes drilling!

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


I would get the modules from the videos and then follow his patches one by one for his voices. He did a patch from scratch one time


I would get the modules from the videos and then follow his patches one by one for his voices. He did a patch from scratch one time
-- greenfly

That's the plan! Only thing is I can't seem to find the Veils in stock anywhere, most are on pre-order until December at this stage :(

Will try find one second hand, but are there any alternative solutions for the interim?

Also little update on my progress: I've managed to buy the Plaits and PNW online and have found another store that stocks all the other modules in my original post (minus the Veils). Would the 4MS Listen 1/4 also be a good replacement for the Intellijel Outs? I do plan to use this with headphones mostly, but have a A&H ZED60-10FX mixer I can run it through to listen on my monitors too.

A friend of mine also has a 2HP mult and trim, along with a Kinks that I can borrow. Would this be enough to get me started for now, or is there another utility module (maybe from Lugia's build) that I can add which will keep me busy while learning?

Edit: Typo in mixer name.


Another update:

Have added in the 2HP mult, trim, Kinks and replaced the Veils with the MIA 3x VCA (while waiting for Veils to come back in-stock).

ModularGrid Rack

Would this be enough to get me started? And would the 3x VCA serve as a temporary replacement for Veils in the interim? I am also tempted to add something like a Rings + Beads (or alternatives?) to compliment the Plaits with more ambient stuff.

Happy to take suggestions to rearrange the rack for best use cases, along with maybe another utility module that can keep me busy for the next few months. Have added Maths as a placeholder, so would love to know whether this is enough to get me going? Someone else recommended MI Stages, but I really don't know!


The A&H mixer has 2 headphone sockets - why not just use 1 of them for now? you can add a headphone output in the future if you find you need it! but it is totally unnecessary right now, so I would skip the listen module, unless the a&h mixer is in one room and you intend to use the modular in another room

it will absolutely be enough to get going with and learn with...

Maths is great - as mentioned previously...

Stages is also a great option - I have both - in a case this size you will probably find yourself wanting both - and probably a matrix mixer and a load of stackcables to provide adequate modulation - as you have pams though and could use this for some heavily synced modulation I would recommend getting Maths and a matrix mixer before adding another modulation source ie Stages

Rings and Beads or Rings and another effects module - I like FX Aid XL will make a great addition in the (near) future - but I would wait amd play with what you have and work out what you are missing - it might not be what you think it is...

a disting (mk4 or ex) would be a great addition as you can audition lots of different types of module - especially useful for filling occasional gaps! but don't try to over learn it if you buy one - set up favourites and concentrate on just a few algorithms

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


Maths not required. If you want more plucky sounds you have a low pass gate built into plaits. From what I can see he likes using plaits to give chord drones. He is using md to drive the melody in the 0 coast. He is using the veils as a mixer. If you want the veils sound, get a clone there are plenty available. Just type in veils clone


I want to underscore what Lugia said about MD needing a quantizer, if you want to play notes in tune (not needed for triggering samples or percussive sounds). The Ladik Q-040 isn't available right now, and Ladik may not ship to Australia anyway. Honestly, I would wait on MD, and see what you can do without it at first. It shouldn't have supply issues if you want it later (famous last words...).

Maths isn't needed but some sort of envelope generator would be nice, since Pam's is limited in that respect. There are lots of possibilities.

3xVCA, if you can get it, is a fine bridge to Veils 2020, and will still be useful afterwards. I don't think any of the Veils clones or modules inspired by Veils (e.g. Intellijel Quad VCA) have the same four-slider interface as Veils 2020, but I could be wrong.


Sorry for the lengthy reply in advance, but just wanted to respond to a few comments that I missed earlier.

You're getting a lot of advice, but you're the one who knows best what you want to do with your devices. Treat everything as potentially useful information rather than authority. And go slowly!
-- plragde

Of course. I'm just trying to get as much advice as possible so I can (hopefully) decide on a starter rack that is logical and help me on my journey.

Remember that OS 1.3 means your Digitakt can mix input from your modular, pan it dynamically, and apply its effects (and a similar Digitone update is considered likely). Both the Digitakt and the A&H can deal with Eurorack-level signals, but an output module is convenient.
-- plragde

Oh wow, I didn't know this! That's awesome. Out of curiosity - what would be the best way to do this without an output module? I've also got the A&H ZED60-FX mixer, so any recommendations there would be appreciated!

The A&H mixer has 2 headphone sockets - why not just use 1 of them for now? you can add a headphone output in the future if you find you need it!
-- JimHowell1970

I always thought that was the whole point of output modules in eurorack, but seems like I've been wrong about that. As I've asked @plagde - what's the best way to connect it to my mixer/headphones without an output module?

I like FX Aid XL will make a great addition
-- JimHowell1970

I think I'm definitely going to get one of these. After watching a few videos it looks absolutely amazing!

a disting (mk4 or ex) would be a great addition
-- JimHowell1970

I've been doing a bit more research and can see now why a lot of people recommend the Disting MK4 and uOc modules for a small rack like this. I'm considering adding a uOc to the rack for quantizing the Digitalis and experimenting with its other uses, then maybe get a Disting after, as it seems like it's a good option to "test" out other functions to help plan future expansion. Do you think this is a good idea? I thought the Marbles and PNW already could already do quantizing, so am I missing something when everyone says the MD needs a quantizer?

Also would having the Salmple, PNW, uO_c and Disting be too much menu diving? I'm trying to avoid this but from what I've seen it doesn't seem too bad. Ideally I'd prefer 1 knob per function but can live with a little menu diving.

Maths not required. If you want more plucky sounds you have a low pass gate built into plaits. From what I can see he likes using plaits to give chord drones. He is using md to drive the melody in the 0 coast.
-- greenfly

This is good to know, thank you. I'm thinking of getting a uO_c instead of the Maths and possibly a Disting MK4 after (as mentioned above). Assume this could open up a world of possibility and keep me busy in the meantime?

I want to underscore what Lugia said about MD needing a quantizer
-- plragde

Yeah this seems to be the general consensus. But as I've asked above in this response. Doesn't the Marbles and PNW act as a quantizer also? And I'm guessing the uO_c or Disting is the solution to this? Seems like the Ladik Q-040 is hard to come by, so maybe I'd be better off with the former as I could also use it for envelope generation, etc?

3xVCA, if you can get it, is a fine bridge to Veils 2020
-- plragde

Good to know! I can't seem to find one for sale. Would the ALM Tangle Quartet work as another solution? Or are there any other alternatives you could recommend?

Also I realised I didn't include any reference videos to the style of ambient that I'd like to make, so better late than never.

This is pretty much the exact style of ambient I am referring to. So Ideally I am trying to build a system that can do both styles of music like the original videos I posted, along with these ones. Am I on the right track with my current setup? I can't really see / am not familiar with the modules in the first video, so would like to know what recommendations everyone has with this in mind. Could the system Lugia proposed achieve this?

Thanks again to everyone for the super insightful and knowledgeable feedback. I will post a picture of my final starter rack once I've decided on my final shopping list in case anyone is interested. I feel like you all are invested in this journey with me now, ha :)


Sorry for the lengthy reply in advance, but just wanted to respond to a few comments that I missed earlier.

You're getting a lot of advice, but you're the one who knows best what you want to do with your devices. Treat everything as potentially useful information rather than authority. And go slowly!
-- plragde

Of course. I'm just trying to get as much advice as possible so I can (hopefully) decide on a starter rack that is logical and help me on my journey.

good thinking!

Remember that OS 1.3 means your Digitakt can mix input from your modular, pan it dynamically, and apply its effects (and a similar Digitone update is considered likely). Both the Digitakt and the A&H can deal with Eurorack-level signals, but an output module is convenient.
-- plragde

Oh wow, I didn't know this! That's awesome. Out of curiosity - what would be the best way to do this without an output module? I've also got the A&H ZED60-FX mixer, so any recommendations there would be appreciated!

3.5mm->1/4" cables, turn everything down on the mixer and bring up slowly - you probably won't need any gain on the mixer

if it still clips then use passive attenuators - 2hp trim, for example - they are cheap small and can be set and forget once you get the levels right

The A&H mixer has 2 headphone sockets - why not just use 1 of them for now? you can add a headphone output in the future if you find you need it!
-- JimHowell1970

I always thought that was the whole point of output modules in eurorack, but seems like I've been wrong about that. As I've asked @plagde - what's the best way to connect it to my mixer/headphones without an output module?

they are kind of like medicine - you only need them if you need them - if you need balanced outputs then you'll need them - if you have noise on the output then they are worth trying - but only once you have tried attenuators - and unbalanced outputs are really just attenuators so if you are going to go for an output module buy balanced/isolated ones

I like FX Aid XL will make a great addition
-- JimHowell1970

I think I'm definitely going to get one of these. After watching a few videos it looks absolutely amazing!

the only way I'm going to get mine is if and when they offer the FX Aid XXL - there is talk of one with a screen etc, but that's a way off - and only then if I've bought the one with the screen and I can't live without it on my existing one!

a disting (mk4 or ex) would be a great addition
-- JimHowell1970

I've been doing a bit more research and can see now why a lot of people recommend the Disting MK4 and uOc modules for a small rack like this. I'm considering adding a uOc to the rack for quantizing the Digitalis and experimenting with its other uses, then maybe get a Disting after, as it seems like it's a good option to "test" out other functions to help plan future expansion. Do you think this is a good idea? I thought the Marbles and PNW already could already do quantizing, so am I missing something when everyone says the MD needs a quantizer?

Disting is great for auditioning different types of module - don't rush trying all the different algos - this is how people seem to get to hate them quickly - favourites are the way to go - if you find yourself using the same algo constantly replace that with a dedicated module and move on...

Marbles and PNW can both quantize their internal signals and apparantly external signals as well, but I've never used them for this - I have never used Mimetic Digitalis - but I just skim read the manual and it does not appear to have quantization functions - if you want it's outputs to be quantized, then it's probably better to quantize - there is no guarantee that what it records and plays back is pitch perfect - some voltage droop may be experienced I don't know... so if MD users are saying to get a quantizer, I'd be tempted to listen!

Saying that I almost always use a quantizer on the outputs of Marbles, when I use that for sequencing, but the quantizer I use is sinfonion - which also adds chord progression sequencing and an arpeggiator

Also would having the Salmple, PNW, uO_c and Disting be too much menu diving? I'm trying to avoid this but from what I've seen it doesn't seem too bad. Ideally I'd prefer 1 knob per function but can live with a little menu diving.

only you can answer that one - I don't own the squid salmple or O&C - but the menu systems on both PNW and Disting are not too bad...

Maths not required. If you want more plucky sounds you have a low pass gate built into plaits. From what I can see he likes using plaits to give chord drones. He is using md to drive the melody in the 0 coast.
-- greenfly

This is good to know, thank you. I'm thinking of getting a uO_c instead of the Maths and possibly a Disting MK4 after (as mentioned above). Assume this could open up a world of possibility and keep me busy in the meantime?

Maths is not required - correct, BUT I think it's the best module for learning modular synthesis there is due to the 'maths illustrated supplement'

it's important to note some people into modular synthesizers are not really into modular synthesis - they're only interested in connecting a few modules together to make some sounds - both are equally valid approaches - as is a middle ground!!!

I want to underscore what Lugia said about MD needing a quantizer
-- plragde

Yeah this seems to be the general consensus. But as I've asked above in this response. Doesn't the Marbles and PNW act as a quantizer also? And I'm guessing the uO_c or Disting is the solution to this? Seems like the Ladik Q-040 is hard to come by, so maybe I'd be better off with the former as I could also use it for envelope generation, etc?

see above

Ladik is only available from Ladik - they are easy to get hold of you just buy them direct!!!

3xVCA, if you can get it, is a fine bridge to Veils 2020
-- plragde

Good to know! I can't seem to find one for sale. Would the ALM Tangle Quartet work as another solution? Or are there any other alternatives you could recommend?

Intellijel quad vca? or just wait until the one you want (Veils 2020) is available - remember you can never have too many vcas!!!

Also I realised I didn't include any reference videos to the style of ambient that I'd like to make, so better late than never.

This is pretty much the exact style of ambient I am referring to. So Ideally I am trying to build a system that can do both styles of music like the original videos I posted, along with these ones. Am I on the right track with my current setup? I can't really see / am not familiar with the modules in the first video, so would like to know what recommendations everyone has with this in mind. Could the system Lugia proposed achieve this?

Almost any modular system can produce any type of music to some extent - it's an instrument like a guitar - the player is more important than the instrument - go slowly and you will get the right modular for you and your workflow

Thanks again to everyone for the super insightful and knowledgeable feedback. I will post a picture of my final starter rack once I've decided on my final shopping list in case anyone is interested. I feel like you all are invested in this journey with me now, ha :)
-- calmfarmer

don't post a picture - post a link to your public rack!!!

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


One comment on getting both Rings and Plaits: note that Plaits has 2 of the 3 Rings modes. Plaits lacks position and doesn't have as much polyphony as Rings, but otherwise it might be redundant to get both. Pairing some other oscillator with Plaits that doesn't have overlap like that might give you more versatility.


This is true to some extent - however:

there is not really such thing as redundancy in modular - I have both and find that I use Rings in Easter Egg modes and Plaits in other modes often enough to warrant having a DIY Elements in my backlog - which I am hoping to get to before the end of the year! but then again I do have quite a decent sized modular - saying that I also like using both in similar modes at the same time

I would agree that a third sound source would be a good idea - something analog - personally I like the Doepfer Basic VCO and Buchla style oscillators

neither Rings nor Plaits is an oscillator - they are more self-contained voices, as neither needs a filter or vca after it!

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


A few comments. I won't quote what I'm responding to, hopefully it's not too confusing.

Think of a patch cable coming from an audio source in your rack as a VERY LOUD signal. You just have to get the right plug on the other end, put it into your mixer or Digitakt input after having turned the level to zero, then slowly turn it up to taste. An output module will mean you're not tied to your mixer or Digitakt. Convenience, not necessity.

You can use Pam's to quantize an external signal. But it wasn't made for that purpose, the manufacturer says there could be latency issues, and it uses up one or both of the CV inputs. I've been considering uO_c for quantization and what is commonly but incorrectly called a Turing machine, but I'm also considering other options. My sequencers already quantize; I need a quantizer for CV that isn't coming out of a sequencer. You don't need a quantizer for MD if you're willing to tune by ear and not use "shred" randomization. But if you need to quantize MD to use it (say, to alter a melodic sequence on the fly), then maybe think about a different sequencer.

"Menu-diving" covers a host of usability issues, and they're different for different modules. The issue with Pam's is that most interaction is done with a single push encoder. It does about as well as it can given that limitation, it does a lot of very useful things, and the menu structure isn't too deep. But going between the channel overview and a particular channel's parameters is a one-second long press. That's longer than it sounds in practice, and really breaks up the interaction. It wouldn't be easy to, say, tweak two separate Euclidean rhythms. I haven't used uO_c, but based on the documentation, the issue there is more with a complicated menu structure. There are two buttons and two knobs, so the interaction will be quicker in one sense, but longer in different ways. Quantization is usually set-and-forget, but other functions might need more tweaking while playing.

I have the Intellijel Quad VCA, but am still considering Veils 2020, because the sliders on Veils 2020 correspond to the small attenuators on the IJ, which I use more than the large level knobs. There are a lot of VCAs out there, so maybe you can tell us which ones are available at your retailers of choice?

It's hard to see the modules in the first video (except for the Verbos Complex Oscillator, MD, and Morphagene) but the patch notes are pretty good. Both videos rely on effects: just a delay in the second one (and I can't see the patching but I don't think it's doing anything too complicated) but Clouds and Morphagene in the first, so delay, reverb, granular, loop manipulation. If that's part of the sound you want, then you need to think about how to achieve it. FX Aid XL will get you part of the way there... but it's another Happy Nerding module, so it may be hard for you to acquire. You also have the Elektron effects at end of chain, and I guess the mixer effects if you want to use those. Between the Elektron effects and a good external pedal I have (plus a send/return module so I can put that in the middle rather than only at end of chain), I find it hard to justify any in-rack effects currently, and that doesn't even take into account the ability to use my laptop or iPad in various ways. The one exception is an analog BBD delay (Sarajewo). But that's me; your needs are different.


Ladik is only available from Ladik - they are easy to get hold of you just buy them direct!!!
-- JimHowell1970

Ladik ships to a limited set of countries, and Australia is not among them.


Thanks again to everyone for their feedback. It's been invaluable for a newbie like me (and hopefully any other newbies reading this thread). I've finally narrowed everything down into the below rack to get me started:

ModularGrid Rack

Have removed the FH-2 because at this stage, I'm thinking it might be best for me to just use the rack standalone while learning, and not complicate things by adding the Elektron boxes into the mix. I feel like there's enough on my plate here to keep me busy for the next few months at least.

Replaced the Veils with Intellijel Quad VCA as the former won't be restocked until December and I can't find a second hand one locally. I also heard the Quad VCA might not be able to work with line inputs as they only boost to +6db as opposed to the +20db with the Veils. I figured I'll probably need the Veils at some point, so could also look at the FH-2 when the time comes?

Added the uOc so I can quantize the MD and also experiment with its other features - e.g. envelope generation. A friend suggested maybe replacing it with the MI Tides to avoid menu diving with the uOc, but I'm not sure if it's worth the trade off against the other functions of the uO_c, especially with a small rack? That Maths illustrated guide does look very useful, so I'm a bit town about this part.

I know I don't need an output module at this stage, but with my budget it looks like I can squeeze in the 4ms Listen 1/4, so I'm tempted to just add that in as I do have limited desk space, so might even sell my ZED60-FX mixer and get something smaller in the future - maybe a 1010 Bluebox, or something cheaper? Form factor is key for me at the moment.

Also noting that my friend has a 2hp trim and mult, along with the MI Kinks, so if needed I can also add these to my rack temporarily.

I think I'm ready to bite the bullet and make a purchase, so are there any concerns with this revised rack to get me started?


Plenty there to keep you busy for a while. You'll enjoy the Listen 1/4, but if you want line in, you could go with the Listen I/O and some sort of stereo mixer, like the Doepfer A-138s. The Salmple can boost one mono line in to Eurorack level, but that's not a long-term solution.


The guy you posted on YouTube uses Euclidean rhythms to trigger his squid. You can do it from Pams but it’s not that performative as opposed to using the vpme module.


The guy you posted on YouTube uses Euclidean rhythms to trigger his squid. You can do it from Pams but it’s not that performative as opposed to using the vpme module.


Overall IMO it looks solid. Lots of "no regrets" modules there IMO.

A few things you may want to add sooner or later:
-- an output, like you said. IMO it makes a rig a lot easier to use, having an output that can go to headphones, DAW, etc.
-- XOAC Batumi, Mutable Stages, or something similar, just to give you more normal CV
-- 4MS SISM or something similar, to help you constrain CV to usable ranges. IMO this is very important
-- I would also want a quantizer in this rig. You're planning to use O&C, which should be fine. I like a dedicated one like Scales

Overall I think your rack above looks solid and fun. And its great you're leaving case room and have given thought to further adds.

Good luck, enjoy!