Hi ModularGrid people,

My current setup that I enjoy playing with is the following:
- Torso T-1
- Elektron Model:Cycles
- Moog DFAM
- Moog Subharmonicon

I am looking to build an Eurorack system that would first complement the Moog semimodulars I have and eventually be a standalone system as well.

I would like to explore two avenues of music:
- deep/minimal techno, so think of solid kicks, nice hi-hats, hypnotic percussion loops, and rolling bass lines
- some kind of nasty electronic version of Indian shruti box and percussion, so think drones, noise percussion, clicky sounds, vortex of reverb, and polyrhythms

Starting out is the most difficult thing, but I think first I need some utilities to get more out of the Moogs. And before that I need a case! I browsed the forums and it seems regarding the first case good advise is "go big or go home". I'm prepared to invest into a proper case right from the start that would have space to house my final system (it's never really done though, is it?).

This is the part where I need advice from you experienced modular system designers: considering my musical goals, how much space would a system like that require? It would be nice to be able to move it to jams and such, so I am thinking if everything necessary could fit into something like 9U 84/104hp? (not counting the Moog semimodulars, they can stay in their cases)

I listed some modules below I did consider to obtain if I were to get started by myself, but I thought it makes so much sense to ask for advice first before I sacrifice my coinage to the gods of the Eurorack.

You can also see that in order to have a standalone system I lack voices, percussion, filters, additional utilities, sequencer, mixer, and who knows (well, you do) what else. I appreciate any and all advice regarding those! If I were to name some names, regarding the sounds I have been intrigued by: Dinky's Taiko, Rings, Plaits, Mangrove, Manis Iteritas, Basimilus Iteritas Alter, and 2hp Hat.

After I get the case, what would be the best way to go about building first the complementary and then the standalone system?

ModularGrid Rack

Thoughts on modules (from left to right):

Maths
I guess Maths is never a bad thing to invest in?

Crow
I own Norns, so this would let me integrate the two ecosystems. I'd see this being among the first modules I get because I can program it to play a role of a module I do not (yet) have.

Countour 1
For some reason I like the layout of this module. But if I am going to get Maths, maybe I should be looking into something like Quadrax instead?

Mimetic Digitalis
This just seems fun. I can see how that is both a good and bad argument at a same times. There are probably better sequencers out there and I also already own the T-1 and can sequence from that (and both DFAM and Subharmonicon have sequencers too), but it feels this module cold lead into some "happy accidents".

Lapsus Os
Attenuators/attenuverters seems like to good things to have and I like how this one has two outputs per channel so I could use it to control modulations to eight destinations if I'd so desire.

Pamela's New Workout
One thing about the Moog semimodulars is that they operate at 1 PPQN while the T-1 can only go as low as 4 on the sync outputs. A clock divider would do the job here, but Pam's seems to be one of the de facto modules to stuff into a rack and I could feed it 24 PPQN and have it divide the clock for the Moogs. And since I want to eventually grow the rack to also function as a standalone system, Pam's seems to be a good master clock in that realm.

Rnd Step
This feels like a nice utility to have. I like how you can also use it as a noise source if you trigger it fast enough. I am enjoying making noise percussion with DFAM, so I can see myself enjoying making similar things with this one.

Øchd
This was actually the module that got me interested in expanding my setup more to the Eurorack realm. Eight sources of modulation would keep my DFAM sound moving.

Mutes
To me this feels like a buffered mult with benefits.

Veils
Quad VCA seems like a good thing to have and I've seen this one being recommended on the forums.

Transmit 2
Eventually I need a way to output sound from my system. I picked this module because of the XLR outputs, option for stereo in/out, and separate headphone output.


First up, I don't think anyone here would advise you to GET a bigger case. Most of us do tend to stress that you START with a cab that's oversized when working things out on Modulargrid so that you can easily pick out what you can exclude. But buying a ginormous cab at the beginning and then populating it has an inherent risk of creating "too much", and it's NOT what we'd suggest. Last thing you'd want is to drop several grand and then be confronted with a large, confusing maze of patchpoints, knobs, and sliders!

Really, for a good starter, you should be able to cram everything required into a Mantis or similar sized case. Want more? Just add a second Mantis and the Tiptop hinge kit to couple 'em. Using a method of THAT sort means you can grow the synth over time and as needs dictate. But start with just ONE Mantis crammed with the modules for your "voice" and "modulation", so that by the time you feel that you need cab #2, you're very versed in what you DO need.


I'm not going to tackle all aspects of your post. But I do want to talk about percussion. Having individual modules that play one voice of percussion tends to get expensive in terms of real estate (case HP) and cost ($$).

For example, if you construct a kit out of TipTop percussion modules, you will also need a sub-mixer to to coral them into. You will need as many trigger outputs as you have percussion modules as well... so the sequencer will have to be pretty beefy. 8 voices of percussion means 8 trigger outs.

A sample playback module might be something worth having especially in the beginning. Something like the 1010 Music BitBox mkII might be prudent in the beginning. Each voice can be triggered with a patched trigger OR you can use MIDI (on 3.5mm TRS cables). You can sample in your own sounds or fill the SD card up with whatever else you want.

It can also record loops if you send it a clock or MIDI clock.


Thanks for the advice, Lugia. I'll try to come up with one crammed Mantis to see how things would look when starting out.

Having individual modules that play one voice of percussion tends to get expensive in terms of real estate (case HP) and cost ($$).
A sample playback module might be something worth having especially in the beginning.
-- Ronin1973

That's a good point and therefore I feel it might be best to start with continuing to use the Model:Cycles to generate most of the percussion. Later on I'm going to have more insight on what modules to buy to get the sounds I want and also what to look for in a sampler module.


This is where I am at now with planning a Mantis-sized case:
ModularGrid Rack

I put the Bitbox there to mark Ronin1973's suggestion to start with sampler. Anything obvious that I have forgot or done wrong and any tips toward filling the remaining hp?


My tip for filling the remaining hp is to fill it with blank panels until you get to know the modules you have. As soon as you reach for a function that isn't available, that's the next module you should buy.


My tip for filling the remaining hp is to fill it with blank panels until you get to know the modules you have. As soon as you reach for a function that isn't available, that's the next module you should buy.
-- farkas

Excellent tip!

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


My tip for filling the remaining hp is to fill it with blank panels until you get to know the modules you have. As soon as you reach for a function that isn't available, that's the next module you should buy.
-- farkas

+1 on that! Konstant Labs has a series of "telescoping" blanks that let you vary the area covered. That way, you won't need to buy a pile of smaller panels with fixed spacing. These come in 24 to 48, 12 to 24, and 6 to 12 hp sizes.


My tip for filling the remaining hp is to fill it with blank panels until you get to know the modules you have. As soon as you reach for a function that isn't available, that's the next module you should buy.
-- farkas

That is a good tip! I was just trying to see what the filled-to-the-brim case would look like. I plan to get Maths, Øchd and VCAs + attenuverters first and grow the synth from there as needs arise. I really enjoy the DFAM, so some modulation will allow me to get more out of it.


The one thing I don't see is any sort of filter.


The one thing I don't see is any sort of filter.
-- mog00

DFAM, Subharmonicon and Manis have built-in filters, so I think I can work with those before I have a more refined taste on what I want in a filter. And if I get the Bitbox, it has a built-in filter for the samples as well.


The one thing I don't see is any sort of filter.
-- mog00

DFAM, Subharmonicon and Manis have built-in filters, so I think I can work with those before I have a more refined taste on what I want in a filter. And if I get the Bitbox, it has a built-in filter for the samples as well.

-- chlb

Start with a dual filter, then. Something like the Intellijel Morgasmatron, which can work as a stereo VCF but which ALSO can work as two separate VCFs. You can also use this as a "mixer" to go from two sources to a post-filtered "sum" output. This is what I would suggest, as these filters have plenty of different modes as well as separate modulation paths...which, again, you can apply to BOTH filters if desired.


Start with a dual filter, then. Something like the Intellijel Morgasmatron, which can work as a stereo VCF but which ALSO can work as two separate VCFs. You can also use this as a "mixer" to go from two sources to a post-filtered "sum" output. This is what I would suggest, as these filters have plenty of different modes as well as separate modulation paths...which, again, you can apply to BOTH filters if desired.

-- Lugia

Thanks again for the advice, Lugia.

This sometimes feels like a hardware version of Magic: The Gathering. The longer you play, the more different cards/modules you know about. And there are a lot of them. Surprisingly the prices are about the same as well if you want the good stuff.


This sometimes feels like a hardware version of Magic: The Gathering. The longer you play, the more different cards/modules you know about. And there are a lot of them. Surprisingly the prices are about the same as well if you want the good stuff.
-- chlb

Or Pokemon: "Gotta install 'em all!"


Start with a dual filter, then. Something like the Intellijel Morgasmatron, which can work as a stereo VCF but which ALSO can work as two separate VCFs. You can also use this as a "mixer" to go from two sources to a post-filtered "sum" output. This is what I would suggest, as these filters have plenty of different modes as well as separate modulation paths...which, again, you can apply to BOTH filters if desired.

-- Lugia

So glad somebody made this recommendation to me ;) I have Sirius' Veil sitting between my Void Modular Gravitational Waves on one side and Instruo Ts-L on the other.

JB


Here is my 3rd iteration:
ModularGrid Rack

I'd appreciate any feedback especially on the layout. I tried to organise the modules in a way that made sense in my head, but at this point it is mostly theorycrafting and might not make the most sense during actual operation of the synth. So any and all tips are welcome.

I felt like I did not want to mess with samples and I found about Blck_Noir so that replaced Bitbox. I read some mixed things about it, but I'll have plenty of time to research the drum section while Model:Cycles plays nice FM drums for me.


Lots of good stuff in this V3 rack.

Suggestions:
— the Quadrax expander is a good value of $s and HP, I would recommend finding space for that

— the 2 Mixups you might be able to find an improved alternative. How many voices total do you plan to run simultaneously?

— personally I would want a bit more oscillator options in a rack like this. A complex oscillator, Intellijel Shapeshifter, something along those lines

Overall this is looking like a solid and fun rack.

Enjoy!

Nicholas


Layout you can easily change as you learn more through direct use, so don't worry too much about that. Availability is an issue right now. Mutant Brain is hard to get hold of; Steppy slightly less so. Make sure you won't be frustrated by learning using Mimetic Digitalis and one channel of MIDI-CV from Disting (plus what you can get from your semi-mods). I'm not sure that the sound of Chainsaw fits with the kind of music you listed in your original post. It is tempting because of the paraphony, but then you need enough pitch CV to drive it (not many in-rack sources right now, and by the way, pitch CV is the only reason to have Link 2, otherwise cheaper stackables or stars suffice). You might consider Instruo Ts-l (which has a wavefolder, so maybe Bifold won't be necessary right away). For mixing, I would suggest, instead of the two Mixups, a knob.farm Hyrlo and a Doepfer A-138s. (If you have off-rack effects, knob.farm Ferry is quite useful, but they say November at the earliest for that one.)

My experience was that my design changed not only several times before I bought my first module, but also as I started acquiring modules and learning about them. Think about the initial purchases and how they might best inform your future choices.


Thanks for the replies!

— the Quadrax expander is a good value of $s and HP, I would recommend finding space for that
-- nickgreenberg

I was looking at that earlier and I was already able to find space for it.

the 2 Mixups you might be able to find an improved alternative. How many voices total do you plan to run simultaneously?
-- nickgreenberg

Hyrlo + Ferry suggested by plragde look like great alternatives! I own a great reverb (Specular Tempus), so being able to use that with my modules is ace.

personally I would want a bit more oscillator options in a rack like this. A complex oscillator, Intellijel Shapeshifter, something along those lines
-- nickgreenberg

I had Generate 3 in my 2nd iteration, but I was thinking might be too much to handle. Instruo neóni was something I was looking at as well, but I have to do bit more research.

I'm not sure that the sound of Chainsaw fits with the kind of music you listed in your original post.
-- plragde

Yeah, it's more of a trance sound I'd guess. But the drones it can make sound lovely.

by the way, pitch CV is the only reason to have Link 2, otherwise cheaper stackables or stars suffice
-- plragde

That's the only reason I included it, but I am removing it for the 4th iteration so I can get the Quadrax expander in. Also I learned that 1v/oct inputs on Chainsaw (if I stick with it) normalise down, and for paraphony I could drive it from the Mutant Brain.

My experience was that my design changed not only several times before I bought my first module, but also as I started acquiring modules and learning about them. Think about the initial purchases and how they might best inform your future choices.
-- plragde

I expect my filled-up rack to be something completely different than I had designed, but it is nice to have some kind of a plan. I'm going to get modulation/utilities first and expand from there.


You might consider Instruo Ts-l
-- plragde

I played with the Instruo stuff on VCV Rack and I feel happy with this plan:
ModularGrid Rack


Loads of good stuff there. You've already decided to go slow on the Blck_Noir so you have time to see if it's really needed. I just watched the two-hour video on the Neóni, and even though I don't intend to get one, it was really quite informative and gave me many good ideas to take back to my own complex oscillator (Brenso). Best of luck with your acquisitions and learning!


If you can afford it get a Doepfer Monster case. I have mine half full and plan to buy another one. They have tons of space for larger modules, case covers and handles and solid power supplies for hungry modules. Plus you can stack and connect them as you grow. When I started, I had a Doepfer A100 Basic system that was half full of Doepfer A100 modules and 6U case that I quickly outgrew. Getting a monster Doepfer case was a great decision for me as I love modular and bought a ton of modules in the past year.


And if you're NOT up for lugging the modular around to gigs, then you might find THIS useful: https://www.addacsystem.com/en/products/frames-and-power/addac901m-monster-frames/addac901m-21u-monster-frame

As a fixed setup, it doesn't get hardly any better than this. Crazy-stoopid depths for super-deep modules, HUGE power capabilities (20 AMPS!) and even with shipping from Lisbon, it'll still come in cheaper than the 4-row Doepfer Monster. They also have a somewhat more sane 15U @ 197 hp cab, plus you can also get a 2U double rack "crown" which would be pretty useful for housing a pile of tiles...both Intellijel AND Pulplogic, depending on what tile frames you use.


Thanks for the case tips!

Arjan from 2 Many Synths is currently making some custom synth side panels for me. He also makes eurorack cases, so I'll see what options he has to offer as well.

I am quite accustomed to lugging stuff to gigs. I play drums and percussion in a classical orchestra and some pieces require TONS of stuff to play all the drum scores a composer has written. And you can't just have all that equipment on the floor during the performance as a certain kind of pomp and circumstance is usually required, so you'll haul all sorts of tables and drum stands to the concert hall as well.

Making electronic music is more for my personal enjoyment, but if it ever comes to performing modular synth gigs, I will get a specific case for that job and I can put the modules required for the performance there. So ideally I'd have two cases: one for a fixed setup at home and one that is designed for mobility and quick setup at gigs.


For dual filters I really like Rossum Morpheus Z Plane Filter and IME/Harvestman Bionic Lester as there are tons of sound shaping options and ability to even create presets for fast recall later.

I have Quadrax and the expander. Loads of fun and super powerful. Takes some time to learn but a great modulation tool.

Perhaps consider support utilities like a sequential switch and matrix mixer at some point. I use these utiltiies more in complex patches now. They cost less than shiny voice modules as well.