Hey, for the last months I have been doing a lot of research into modular and decided to start dipping my toes. So far that has been in the form of Ripplemaker and VCV, and I am starting to get a hold of what works and doesn't, so I would like some thoughts/opinions/critique of my idea for a first build.

My goal with modular is to create pitched rhythms with cool sounds that I can then play drums on top of. I also want the system to have a element of randomness to it, to create interesting and moving sounds and I want the system to be used as a foundation, or a generator, for songs and drum parts.
This means that I am not looking to create any drum samples or drum sequences with traditional sounds (read hi-hat, snare, kick) rather I am after new textures that I can put my acoustic drums on top of, something that I can play to and with, and also spark creativity, both on the drums and on the modular system.

So far I have concluded the following:
- I am planning to build in a Tiptop Mantis case
- I do not want to include any MIDI support
- I want to be able to create polyrythms/polymeters
- Euclidean rhythm modules is something I want to include
- I am drawn to the Buchla sound, and plan on getting the Buchla modules released by Tiptop and want to plan ahead and integrate the 258t and 281t when they release
- I want to start with the essential modules, make a barebones system and expand from there

So, with that said, here is what I got planned for starters:
ModularGrid Rack

and this is the direction I am planning to go in:
ModularGrid Rack

Any opinions/tips/critique is welcome before I take the plunge. I have bought nothing yet and plan to be patient until I got a clear beginning plan.

Looking forward to responses, and thanks!

Peace


  1. why buy the doepfer quad vca and then replace with veils? - just buy veils!
  2. do you really need the output module? - probably not - if you are going to play live you might want one, but then probably a balanced one - if not often they are unnecessary, or can be replaced with passive attenuators - this may differ depending on where you live and how good your mains power is...
  3. more utility modules would probably be better - I like to think (very loosely):

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities

which generally gives you best bang for the buck - ie more variety (in patching)/less money

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


Big modules and a small case. You might run into issues.

You mentioned Euclidean rhythms. I believe Pam's New Workout has that going for it as well. You can get full-blown sequencers that do Euclidean like the Westlich Performer. That would give you the ability to save your set-up. The Westlich can also be controlled externally via a Novation Launchpad. Which might be something nice as you could mount the LaunchPad within your drum kit for better control.

If space isn't an issue, you may want to check out Tiptop Audio's Trigger Riot. For pitches, you might like Noise Engineerings Mimetic Digitalis. It's compact and can do four channels of CV information. The sequencer steps through 16 positions but is set up via a 4x4 grid that can take triggers to reset, or move the position down or to the right.

You can also add more complexity to your rhythms by incorporating some sort of logic module (a comparator).


  1. why buy the doepfer quad vca and then replace with veils? - just buy veils!
  2. do you really need the output module? - probably not - if you are going to play live you might want one, but then probably a balanced one - if not often they are unnecessary, or can be replaced with passive attenuators - this may differ depending on where you live and how good your mains power is...
  3. more utility modules would probably be better - I like to think (very loosely):

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities

which generally gives you best bang for the buck - ie more variety (in patching)/less money
-- JimHowell1970

  1. Makes sense
  2. No output module it is to start with, I can add it when I find the need for it
  3. Yea, more utility would probable be better. I did some quick searching and found the 3x Mia and the WMD/SSF Toolbox. Both seemed like good utility modules.

Do you have any recommendations? Regardless, I shall look into it more though, and thank you for the reply!

Big modules and a small case. You might run into issues.

You mentioned Euclidean rhythms. I believe Pam's New Workout has that going for it as well. You can get full-blown sequencers that do Euclidean like the Westlich Performer. That would give you the ability to save your set-up. The Westlich can also be controlled externally via a Novation Launchpad. Which might be something nice as you could mount the LaunchPad within your drum kit for better control.

If space isn't an issue, you may want to check out Tiptop Audio's Trigger Riot. For pitches, you might like Noise Engineerings Mimetic Digitalis. It's compact and can do four channels of CV information. The sequencer steps through 16 positions but is set up via a 4x4 grid that can take triggers to reset, or move the position down or to the right.

You can also add more complexity to your rhythms by incorporating some sort of logic module (a comparator).
-- Ronin1973

Yea, big modules could be a problem. I plan to build the system over time, so the possibility to add another Mantis case is always there.
- I had already been eyeing Pam's new workout, would you use Pam's or Euclidean circles v2 if you had to choose?
- The Westlich seems a little out of reach at the moment, something I might revisit in the future when the need arises
- Both the Trigger Riot and the Mimetic Digitalis looked sweet, I will definitely research them and add the to the list of considerations.

Thanks for the input


I had already been eyeing Pam's new workout, would you use Pam's or Euclidean circles v2 if you had to choose?

Euclidean Circles V2 is nice because you have easy to read and modify controls. So Euclidean Circles checks all the boxes for real-time performance adjustments. If you are composing on the fly or jamming, then that module makes a lot of sense.

Of course, Pam's does Euclidean plus a whole lot more (that's not Euclidean). Pam's is one of those modules you can make part of the core of your system for clock, sync, rhythm generation, etc.

My recommendation would be to buy Pam's New Workout and see if you can get away with using the Euclidean features on it. If you find that you MUST have real-time performance controls then purchase EC V2 later. A great strategy is to not purchase your entire system at once but just enough to get you going. Then add modules as you gain more experience and literal hands-on knowledge of your system.

I will definitely research them and add the to the list of considerations.

I'm highlighting this... because doing your own research, reading the manuals (before buying) will really help you select the best modules for your needs.


3x Mia and the WMD/SSF Toolbox. Both seemed like good utility modules.

Do you have any recommendations? Regardless, I shall look into it more though, and thank you for the reply!

those are great starting points - I'd just grab those 2 and see where you want to go afterwards...

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


My recommendation would be to buy Pam's New Workout and see if you can get away with using the Euclidean features on it. If you find that you MUST have real-time performance controls then purchase EC V2 later. A great strategy is to not purchase your entire system at once but just enough to get you going. Then add modules as you gain more experience and literal hands-on knowledge of your system.

I will definitely research them and add the to the list of considerations.

I'm highlighting this... because doing your own research, reading the manuals (before buying) will really help you select the best modules for your needs.

-- Ronin1973

completely agree with @Ronin1973 on these points - there really is no substitute for reading manuals as well as watching demo videos before buying modules

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


Get Pams, Euclidean circles and Plaits. You can use Pams for your clock and modulation sources for Plaits. You can use the euclidean circles to trigger Plaits. I would advise you buy a rings or a plonk whilst waiting for the tip top stuff. The wasp would be good too as you have two modulation inputs there too. The Wasp sounds wicked with Plaits in chord mode.

You don't need VCA's until the oscillator comes out as Plaits has a built in low pass gate, but you could get the Veils and use it as a mixer for the time being. Personally I would just get a simple 4 channel mixer, it will be much cheaper for you and these things are really useful all over the place.

The advantage of playing with euclidean circles is to allow multiple rhythms playing off each other to create hypnotic grooves. You would need two sound sources for that. Plaits, Plonk, Rings all work really well with euclidean rhythms as you can get very unusual percussive sounds with them when you modulate with cv ( this will give you that moving sound ) which is what I'm understanding from your brief.

Hope this helps.