ModularGrid Rack

sampler based rack few voices

Hi all heres what im thinking for a sampler based rack, so far i only have the 104 intelljel 7u case, assimil8tor, performer sequencer and WMD pro output, and f8r sliders, so enough to make noise in a non-modular way. Will be buying about one module every couple of months to keep costs down :)

I like the work of Colloboh
and Yosi Horikawa

not sure if a setup like this will take me there or maybe even a lidl version!

Thanks any comments welcome!

The Performer will give you a LOT of options, including modulation similar to the internal sequencer in the classic Native Instrument's Massive VST. There is also a lot in terms of Euclidean patterns, chance, etc.

You're going to get a module a month. Sounds like a plan. Take the time to really learn the Performer and the Assimilator. The Performer has a lot PERFORMANCE options, so learning them will really help you out. The Performer can also drive external MIDI instruments as well. So if you have any hardware MIDI instruments lying about, you can work with them as well.

My thought on your next module to purchase would be the Disting EX. You can link your F8r via I2C. So it would make sense to get the Disting since you have the F8r. The Disting will also give you a nice selection of different functionality that you can try out as you explore your modules.

As you gain more experience, you might change your mind on what modules you'd like. So I'd get the Disting and see how you feel a month or two after.

The case sports a lot of go-to modules and the selection is great. In a way it´s similar to my first case, although I wasn´t that sample oriented. What´s completely missing (I did the same) is a plethora of modulation helper modules: mults, switches, attenuators, polarizers, mixers, logic, vfa, vcf, eq. You´re likely to miss half the fun. Well, it took me 2 years to get to this point :D

My golden rule nowadays is: For every major module, buy 3-4 helper modules. They take their toll on $$$ and hp and are easily forgotten. They are as important as the "big ones" though.

couldn't agree more with @AcdNrg more - see my signature!

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

I buy more support modules now than fun modules and they really advance patches. I am putting Livestock Electronics Maze matrix mixer, comparator and quad sequential switch to the patches and really amazing to split and mingle the signal from one oscillator into madness. Plus easier on the pocketbook. Several support modules cost less or same as one large complex oscillator and do more.

Looking at this, I see a lot of the typical "sexy" modules and scant few utility modules...attenuators, mixers, VCAs, logic (ESPECIALLY with sequencer-based systems!), modulation sources, and so forth. This really sells the sizable sampler section short, as you have sampler hardware here that could really use modulation. I would suggest tossing out the Poly and the F8R for starters, because these seem to not have the sort of analog modulation that would be useful. Could be wrong, though...but at the same time, the Poly looks a bit like a "Max in a box" device. Knowing how complex Max can get, I do wonder if something like that can handle a REALLY complex bunch of objects.

But yeah, these huge modules are really cramping what the system could do. If the idea is to create a multichannel sampling environment, it may make more sense (and be a lot cheaper) to hunt down a complex sampler from the 1990s/2000s and implement that instead. This is why I've got an Akai S6000 here...when all I need is straight samples, it's perfect, and if I want to modulate that, I can potentially send analog modulation to the sampler, although telling it what to do via MIDI can be just about the same level of flexibility.

Something like this: That's pretty much identical to the one I have...18 outs, dual MIDI implementation, XLRs on the inputs, detachable control panel. Then once you have something of this sort in hand, get a floppy replacement from Gotoh or Nalbantov, and you can jam a MUCH bigger "drive" into the unit via USB drives or SD cards. Once the sampler's all set up, then use a module that can digitize analog signals for MIDI transmission to send all of the voice trigger/gates and modulation to the sampler. With that, you can chuck out ALL of the samplers in the build and focus on modules to drive the sampler, the CV-MIDI conversion, timing, some extra VCFs, modulation, etc. You could even use something like the FH-2 to send/return analog signals to your DAW, and then rechannel them to MIDI in there. Lots of possibilities...

Lugia is correct. Another idea maybe get an MPC Live sampler that is newer technology and has cv outs for working with modular analog gear. For modular having plenty of modulation is key. I’m always adding modulation to my setup and support modules. Once you start patching you will soon realize how easy it is to run out of modulation.

@meRichie, your rack above is really interesting in concept and has a lot of modules I would want if I was sample-focused.

I agree with others above on i) your rack design is short on "basic / utilities" modules that will be needed and/or ii) there may be non-modular alternatives that are pretty compelling (especially in the MPC lineup).

IF you want to stick with modular, then I suggest you keep in mind the idea of "balance" of module types and HP. For me, in a small to medium sized rack, I try to keep the balance as follows:
-- 30% or less of HP devoted to voicing, aka "modules that make or change sound"
-- ~30% to CV sources like sequencing, LFOs, envelopes, random/chaos (Sloths) etc.
-- ~30% to utilities (VCAs, attenuverters, mixing attenuverters, mixing, mults, etc.)
--~10% or less of "other" such as finishing FX and in/out
In a huge rack IMO one can get away from the above balance AFTER a good "core" section of CV and utilities is available. In a mid to small rack, I find the balance %s above very important.

My early designs skewed too much to voicing and as a result the rack was very "underpowered." Adjusting the balance towards more CV and utilities gave my rack a lot of depth, e.g. every voicing module I wanted to use had plenty of support that allowed me to explore the range and corners of its capabilities.

Hope this helps, good luck!