Hi everyone,

I am trying to plan out my first starter rack. I thought I would start off with a case with space to grow into and figure out what to add slowly over time. The goal is to build a generative ambient rack.

ModularGrid Rack

Phase 1: Case + Beads + ochd
Process the audio of my standalone synths and electric guitar using the auto gain input of Beads.

Phase 2: S.B.G + XOH
Integrate my numerous guitar FX pedals.

Phase 3: Bloom + Surface + Multi
The first step towards generative ambient

Phase 4: Plaits + Further Expansion
Take advantage of 2nd output from Bloom.

Phase 5: And Beyond...
Hopefully, I will somewhat know what I am doing by then and know what I would like to add.

Well, these are my thoughts from someone trying to humbly venture into the vast modular world. Any advice on any of the various phases would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Epaphraz


This looks great. Good choice of playable modules with immediate interfaces, and wise planning. I'd be curious why you chose Bloom and Surface over Marbles and Rings, I would argue that you might have more fun with Rings than Surface because of the external audio input. Especially since you already planning to work with external audio inputs in your system, Rings really allows you to explore the space between synthetic and acoustic sounds in a way that modules like Surface or Plonk cannot b/c they have no audio input. Rings is sometimes used for a no input, zero modulation 'YouTube potted plant' ambient sound which may or may not be what you're after, but it's important to note that is just one of hundreds of ways you could creatively use the module.

Also, I would recommend ditching the buffered mult and adding an Ornament and Crime (with Hemispheres firmware). I think you're doing a great choice of not having multifunction modules here, but uO_C's quantizers are really useful for generative because you can choose from dozens of scales and the interface is super clear and simple (unlike other multifunction modules which I've owned and sold because of the poor interface such as say, Disting, FX Aid, Peaks etc.). As a bonus you get many other fun generative tools such as clock skipper, clock divider, euclidian rhythms, chaos generators, burst generators, logic, sample and hold, rungler. In my experiences stackcables usually work fine to copy pitch cvs, but if not, you can use the quantizer to get the pitch back on track hence you really don't need a buffered multiple.

The obvious other recommendation is a Maths for envelopes, portamento, clock manipulation and attenuversion/mixing. Or if you want to start simpler you can get a smaller one channel slew limiter such as the After Later Audio Tilt and add an attenuversion/offset module (such as the WMD/SSF S.P.O. or the ALM O/A/X2). If you want to save space or money on mixing and attenuation you can start with a couple cheap passive 0HP mixers such as the BoredBrain Splix which work really well.


phase 1:
case size good
uZeus power not so good - it can be noisy and -ve rail is poor and it is a rack wart (takes up valuable hp needlessly)
get a mantis - the studio bus is significantly better or if you are stuck on the unpowered case then befaco excalibus is excellent - quiet and no rack wart!

wouldn't recommend a free running lfo - I'd rather have a function generator - maths would be perfect - also because it's a great learning module due to the 'maths illustrated supplement' - and it can be free running as well as triggered gated

if you want to process a guitar or other external instrument - I would recommend getting at least a module that includes an envelope follower early - so maybe an instrument interface - again possibly befaco or doepfer

phase 2: how are you listening to the output of beads in phase 1 - unless you need headphones etc in rack then I wouldn't bother with the xoh - I'd prioritize a triple or quad cascading vca - happy nerding 3*vca or mutable instruments veils - veils would be my choice as each channel can also be used as an instrument interface (20db+ gain!)

tbh I would combine phase 1 and 2 - and add a disting mk4 - this has an algorithm for envelope and pitch following - dump the ochd and xoh and add maths and the cascading vca

this would mean that your phase 1-2 would be:
case, beads, maths, veils, disting mk4, sbg - and some stackcables

phase 3: seems ok

phase 4: plaits is a reasonably solid choice - you'll need an end of chain mixer though - depending on how you are intending on listening
I'd recommend the tesseract tex-mix as it is expandable I'd start with a master section and 4 stereo channels

expansion - if it was me I'd add a filter (possibly stereo), an effects module (I like fx aid xl) and more utilities (think plumbing), maybe put the ochd back in

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


Definitely get Marbles and Rings as they pair well with each other and Plaits/Beads for ambient stuff.


Thank you everyone for getting back to me so quickly. You all have definitely given me a lot of things to consider. Here are my thoughts so far:

Yeah, the mantis case is awesome. Better to start with a good case and power supply to protect my long-term investment.

Surface vs. Rings: I could go either way here because I like the sounds of both. However, antipythagoras does bring up a good point about the external input and the combination of synthetic and acoustic sounds. That is a direction I would like to go in, so Rings it is.

Bloom vs. Marbles: It seems to me that bloom is easier to get melodies going. That's why I picked that one. Does anyone have experience with both of these modules? I can try to learn Marbles in VCV rack since I won't incorporate it until later. If I gel with it, I may go that route.

Yeah, I don't need the headphones out from the euro rack because I have other gear.

I was hesitant about modules like disting and Ornaments and Crime. My music-making up to this point has been either in front of a computer or electronic gear with lots of menu diving, that I wanted to get away from that for euro rack. I will study this more because I don't want to eliminate helpful gear for the generative aspect.

So far, here is my updated plan for now : )
Phase 1: Mantis Case + A119 external input + Beads + Maths + S.B.G
Phase 2: Bloom (for now) + Rings + VCA
Phase 3: Plaits + Mixer
Phase 4: Further Expansion

https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/racks/modulargrid_1742735.jpg

Well, phase 1 just got a lot more expensive, so time to save and continue playing around with VCV rack.

Thanks everyone,
Epaphraz


Phase 1: Mantis Case + A119 external input + Beads + Maths + S.B.G
...
Well, phase 1 just got a lot more expensive, so time to save and continue playing around with VCV rack.

You could split Phase 1 into two phases to get to the fun more quickly, as Beads has "attenurandomizers"

Phase 1a: Mantis Case + Beads + S.B.G
Phase 1b: A119 + Maths


You could split Phase 1 into two phases to get to the fun more quickly, as Beads has "attenurandomizers"

Phase 1a: Mantis Case + Beads + S.B.G
Phase 1b: A119 + Maths

Thanks a lot : )


If it were me and I wanted to split phase 1:
1a: case, beads, a119 (you'll be able to process your guitar and use the envelope follower and comparator to modulate beads)
1b: maths, sbg

another thing that you may want sooner rather than later is a way to control the modular with your foot - especially if you are playing guitar into it... addac and doepfer make one and there is a diy one available from thonk by a company called 7 dials

look at them carefully though, as you may find that you already have all you need other than the module to get that to work - usually a passive volume pedal - but iirc some of them can also take a switch

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


another thing that you may want sooner rather than later is a way to control the modular with your foot - especially if you are playing guitar into it... addac and doepfer make one and there is a diy one available from thonk by a company called 7 dials

look at them carefully though, as you may find that you already have all you need other than the module to get that to work - usually a passive volume pedal - but iirc some of them can also take a switch
-- JimHowell1970

Thanks for this info. I actually do have a passive volume pedal.