Hi all, rookie here, hoping someone could help me out and eyeball the below!

ModularGrid Rack

I'm looking to build something in 6U / 104hp that will let me do some sample mangling and (analog) west coast synthesis; sound design for individual parts in DAW projects; and be decent for live performance. I already have a Keystep Pro to use as a sequencer and a Babyface Pro to use as an interface. As a no-budget exercise, does this look like a sensible build? Anything major missing as far as utilities and usability?

The main modules I'm excited about are the Verbos Complex Oscillator, Beads, Salmple and Data Bender. Was also happy that I had space to shoehorn some chiptune oscs in there, and Blades seems like so much fun (though there are a lot of filter options that have me conflicted, mainly QPAS). Musically I'm all over the place -- it's a big ask for the space constraint but I'd like to be able to make everything from Caterina Barbieri-style minimal synth to blown-out experimental hip-hop, and I can imagine doing that with the build I've got going here.


Interesting rack. I'm going off of the version of your rack you modified yesterday, not the one pictured (slight differences). You have the basics covered. The only thing I could really critique is a lack of a dedicated LFO source. Granted the Pam's can generate them and the STO can get down to 8Hz... but 8Hz is kind of fast for an LFO.

I would hold off on the STO, Threshold, and Databender for a second round of purchasing. Always leave yourself some room to change your mind or fix some deficiency you've overlooked. If you populate a rack completely, you have no wiggle room and will either need to buy another rack, or remove/sell off some modules to make space for what's needed.

It's a bit of a broken record, but I would try to work in some sort of multi-function module. A Disting EX is a great choice since it includes a lot of great programs. The Disting Mk4 is okay since it's only 4HP. But the interface can be a little frustrating.

Check out the 1010 Music BitBox Mk2. It's 5HP larger than the Salmple and about $100 more. But it'll offer you twice as many trigger inputs (16) and having a nice big GUI is helpful (for me at least). Additionally it has a 3.5mm MIDI input. You should be able to patch it up via MIDI to your Keystep Pro to save using all of your gate outputs to trigger samples. It can also live loop record if you send it the proper clocks. The Salmple might be your thing. But at least know what else is out there.

The QPAS is a stereo filter. So to get the most out of it, you have to send it a stereo signal. Blades is a dual filter, meaning you get two independent multi-mode filters. You can use one for left and the other for right if you have a stereo signal. Unless you're planning on doing a lot of stereo work, I'd go with Blades.


Heh...managed to beat the original price by $500 with this:
ModularGrid Rack
Voicing's on the top, modulation/control on the bottom.

Top row: The AXON1 expands the Salmple with four more assignable CV ins. I also put a Doepfer stereo mixer for summing the individual outs into a single stereo out. Changed the oscillator to the real deal: a Buchla/TipTop 258t...which saved a TON of room! After that is a bitcrushing ring mod from Recovery, then a Veils provides four VCAs for controlling source amplitudes. Blades is after that, followed by a dual VCA for controlling amplitudes off of the Blades or Beads. The output mixer is a stereo-only affair from Happy Nerding, allowing you to sum up to four stereo signals, which seemed like a good choice here. No output stage, though; I wanted to put that Befaco back in, but space limitations put a stop to that, so just make sure to attenuate the HN's output so that you don't hit your mixer with synth-level signals.

Bottom row: Pam's, Nanorand, Cold Mac, then a quad LFO. After that, you've got Maths, then a Frap 321 for modulation summing and manipulation. This is paired with another Doepfer dual VCA. Then I put in a Quadrax + its Qx expander for complex signals...since you can use the EOR and EOF triggers to cascade the EGs, or you can use the Qx's outs to fire other processes in the build. Then there's a basic dual ADSR for your VCF (or VCA...depends on what you're up to). After that is the chiptune source and I've directly paired that to the Data Bender for maximum glitchy, weird results. Again, this also feeds to the HN Stereo Mixer.

This actually turned out better than I thought it might. Some of the modules just didn't fit, but thus far only one of those was significant, and that was the Optomix. The rest of them are either your specs or they do what your specs did, albeit in a smaller space...and this left space open for more functionality. Then things were added so that what's there can really cut loose. However, you should definitely think about Ronin's ideas for the sampler...either going slightly bigger (might be difficult) or smaller (MUCH better) could be useful here.


Lugia is 100x correct. I would get the new Tiptop Buchla modules over Verbos and save money. Plus lot of issues on reliability and lack of customer support from what I've heard with Verbos. My next build will have tiptop buchla and random source Serge modules. Just like a real Porsche, there is no substitute for the real thing.


Just like a real Porsche, there is no substitute for the real thing.
-- sacguy71

Too true! Frankly, I'm STILL boggled over both Tiptop taking this on AND how much they cost! And yeah, we can now cross-merge a BUNCH of classic modules (well...some are clones, but yeah) into builds that, back when these modules were NEW, would simply not be possible because none of this stuff talked the same "protocol". Buchla 258 + ARP 2600 oscillators -> Steiner Synthacon VCF -> Roland 100M VCAs & Buchla 281 and Maths for mod sources is a patch that simply could not be done, period. At least, not back then...


Exactly Lugia. We have lots of choices now at more affordable prices than ever before. I mean modular is not cheap but studio equipment is fantastic now we can get quality studio monitors, free or low cost DAW software and mixers for a fraction of what it would cost decades ago. I’m looking forward to recording modular into tracks once my 1010 Bluebox arrives and remixing into Ableton or Reaper than add to Morphagene for creating more unique mixes once my new Make Noise Shared System arrives.


And don't forget: tons of VERY capable computers are out there, too...thanks to corporations that constantly turn over their equipment, often due to tax purposes. The ability to snag a major-scale Xeon workstation for $1000 that can outstrip most any typical consumer-grade computer...there's nothing like it, really. True, they're not new, but they're often available in full refurbs via joints like Newegg or on Amazon as well.