I'm curious about getting into modular and want to build a beginner system that allows me to make simple, melodic loops in the style of Gia Margaret or Green-House; if I were really lucky, I'd also be able to layer some drone-y textures underneath.

I'm set on Make Noise's René for its pattern generation and Mordax's Data for its educational aspects, but the rest of my system is basically a question mark. Picture below, but to explain my rationale:

Likely Want
Clock Div | Create interesting timings out of the Data's clock
Plaits | Catchall digital oscillator for melodic patterns
STO | Analog oscillator for exploring drones and getting a better understanding of wave construction
Quadra | Build envelops for Plaits and STO
1U Logic Gates | Add some interesting probabilistic stuff

Maybe
Just Friends | Possible envelope builder and filter to add texture to STO output
W/ | Basic tape loop

Does this accomplish what I'm hoping to? Are there some super useful functions I'm not thinking about? I suspect I'll need to move to a larger system eventually, but to begin I want to really understand my tools and this seems like a minimal setup that allows me to do that?

Thanks!

Let me be the first to tell you to get a bigger case and take your time populating it.

I agree that Data is educational and useful (I have one myself for those reasons) but you can't really afford the space. I would suggest Pam's New Workout, which gives you clocks and a whole lot more. Either Pam's or Data can do the clock divisions of the A-160 on their regular clocks. If you have an irregular gate sequence you want divided, that's another matter. You should go for the A-160-2 instead of the A-160, and Quadrax instead of Quadra. Pam's can do basic logic, so hold off on the 1U logic tiles, maybe. I wouldn't choose Plaits and STO but you know the sound you're looking for. Maybe consider Dixie II+ instead of STO. Just Friends and W/ are unobtainable and probably will be for a while, and René is pretty hard to get hold of.

Edit: you're going to need VCAs if you want to use those envelopes to shape sounds.

Appreciate the reply. It's nice to have feedback as I'm kind of making this up based on youtube videos and a history of signal processing in JavaScript.

Couple of followups, if you don't mind:

I agree that Data is educational and useful (I have one myself for those reasons) but you can't really afford the space. I would suggest Pam's New Workout, which gives you clocks and a whole lot more.

If I were to upgrade to a larger case, would you still suggest Pam's New Workout instead of Data? I've been under the impression that I would need to buy a clock - probably PNW - eventually but thought for my early explorations Data would get me where I'm going.

Is this a functionality suggestion, or am I misunderstanding what I'm going to get out of the Quadra?

I wouldn't choose Plaits and STO but you know the sound you're looking for. Maybe consider Dixie II+ instead of STO.

My thought is to have a fairly basic oscillator just so I can better understand what I'm doing. Would a Dixie II+ accomplish that? (What I really want Akemie's Castle but think I need to earn my way to that...)

Edit: you're going to need VCAs if you want to use those envelopes to shape sounds.

I had Veils in here but I pulled it out thinking the 1U Quadratt up top would handle things. Am I misunderstanding? Guessing that would be the justification for the bigger case.

Thanks!

With a larger case you can get both Pam's and Data, but either way, get Pam's first (or at the same time). It's really useful and usable. Data has a lot of added features, but you can only use one of them at a time (with the exception of fixed voltages, which you can use with other modes). So if you're using it as a clock, you have to stop doing that to use the oscilloscope, and then what you want to look at might be gone.

Quadrax is a newer version of Quadra and is also very useful, though it takes some study to grasp the added features. You can pretty much use it like Quadra soon after installation, ignoring the more complicated stuff. That's also true for a more complicated oscillator (and I don't think Dixie II+ is much more complicated than STO). You don't have to use FM or flip sync until you want to. (And Data helps when you do.)

Data has a lot of added features, but you can only use one of them at a time (with the exception of fixed voltages, which you can use with other modes). So if you're using it as a clock, you have to stop doing that to use the oscilloscope, and then what you want to look at might be gone.

I somehow have not come upon this information. Really helpful to know, thank you.

Quadrax is a newer version of Quadra and is also very useful, though it takes some study to grasp the added features. You can pretty much use it like Quadra soon after installation, ignoring the more complicated stuff. That's also true for a more complicated oscillator (and I don't think Dixie II+ is much more complicated than STO). You don't have to use FM or flip sync until you want to. (And Data helps when you do.)

Edit: you're going to need VCAs if you want to use those envelopes to shape sounds.

I had Veils in here but I pulled it out thinking the 1U Quadratt up top would handle things. Am I misunderstanding? Guessing that would be the justification for the bigger case.
-- new_moon

quadratt is a quad attenuator - not a vca - veils is an excellent choice btw - not only is it actually a voltage controlled amplifier - most vcas are technically voltage controlled attenuators (in that their maximum gain is 1) - it has so much potential gain that it can be used to amplify external signals up to modular levels - it also has 4 of them and they cascade so can be used as mixer (or mixers) - plus it has the ability to add an offset voltage on each channel, is dc-coupled in that it can be used for both audio and (just as importantly) modulation and is variable between linear (more useful for cv) and exponential (more useful for audio

I'll second get the bigger case - personally I would recommend a tiptop Mantis - 1u is seriously overrated imo

I'd also suggest Maths, if you can find one, as it has one of the best learning resources of any module - the 'maths illustrated supplement' which is probably the best primer for patch programming and modular patching in general

I try to think (loosely):

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities

this generally gives the most variety for money invested - at least in my opinion

hope this helps

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

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities

Maths is really great and I bought another one for my larger case. I would add perhaps get an Ornament & Crime as it does tons of useful things in small formats.

So, just to clarify, a VCA will replace the attenuator knob in a Quadratt channel with a CV input, so that one CV can control the amplitude of another signal. This is what you need to apply a volume envelope to an audio signal (the envelope "turning the knob"), but it is also useful for changing modulation signals in various ways. As stated above, some VCAs will amplify a signal beyond its original amplitude, which can be useful (for example, in bringing signals from other synths into Eurorack, which has different standard levels). The recent revision of Veils is currently unavailable (a worldwide chip shortage is affecting the industry and others as well), but fresh supplies are expected in the next few months. There are a number of alternates based on the older version available, notably the Intellijel Quad VCA, or you may get lucky on the used market.

Maths is very popular, but certainly not required, especially if you have Quadrax. You can wait and see if you want it or one of the alternatives. I suspect most users don't demand more from Maths than Quadrax can provide. It's also quite wide.

I listened to the artists you're inspired by, very nice. I really think you're going to want a filter. For basic value it's hard to beat the Doepfer Wasp filter (I think it's A-124).

Wasps is a great filter value. I just got mine and it has a wild nature but can be tame. I’m using it with Acid lab chainsaw oscillator in my palette case and it’s really good.

Case size for what you want to do...uhhh, no. Also, mixing Intellijel and Pulplogic tiles on the same row...also no. Hmmmmm......

Ah...that graphic isn't a link. However, I looked at the other builds you've got, and I've got a pretty good idea as to how to make this work...let's see now...

(Later): Hot damn...OK, here's what I cooked up. Notice the absence of the Mordax...if you're going to use this as a teaching tool, it makes far more sense to use an external dual-trace scope so that everyone can clearly see what's going on. The Mordax screen is just too small to do this effectively; been there, done that.

OK...this got upped by me into a 7U Intellijel Performance cab, because trying to do what you wanted here definitely requires more space. I put the "utility bar" in, also, so you can see the adders and buffered mults while sorting out what this will do.

Tile row: Stereo input (and output, also) comes in via the 1/4" jacks, of which there's four. Intellijel's input and output tiles all come with cables to internally connect those to the 1/4" jacks, so 1 and 2 could be your inputs, and 3 and 4 your stereo outs. The MIDI module goes after that, internally connected to the USB port. Then I put in a Noise Tools for noise, master clocking, slewing and sample and hold. QuadrATT is next for attenuverting, submixing, and the like. Then a Stereo VCA allows you to control the amplitude of an incoming stereo signal that would be patched to the Output Mixer's 1st pair, with a second (effects?) stereo in for a final "return" tap over the stereo mix, with the VCA controlling that return level.

First row: Now there's FOUR VCOs here...a pair of Klavis Twin Waves mkii dual oscillators, with internal quantizing and multiple methods of sound generation. Each VCO gets a Veils channel, then there's a digital complex VCO from Neutron Sound which gets two more Veils-topology VCAs. After all of that, there's a six channel stereo panning module for spatializing your oscillators. The stereo VCF is a Supercritical Neutron Flux, offering numerous filter topologies in one module. This is followed by a pair of LPGs, then we're into the effects with a Frequency Central Stasis Leak, which goes from a mono in to a stereo out for reverb, chorus, and a tap delay. After this is a Happy Nerding FX Aid, which is stereo in and out. The Stasis Leak is specifically intended for the Toppobrillo Stereomix2, as it also has (under CV control) a mono send and stereo return. You have CV over panning and level as well, making this your final set of audio path VCAs.

Second row: Rene with Tempi, hence no Pam's. Tempi and the mkii Rene have a backplane connection that makes them behave more like a single module while still allowing extra clock outs and the like. After the Rene is a Frequency Central Logic Bomb, which has CV-controlled Boolean gates. LFOs are via a 4ms Quad Pingable LFO, which is capable of working over a range from low-end audio down to crazy-long periods (as in 71 MINUTES)...that'll be super-useful in generative configurations. The Roti Pola and the second dual VCA provide mixing, inversion, and amplitude control over modulation signals. After that, we have the Quadrax + Qx combo, a Doepfer Dual ADSR, then a small clone of Clouds that can ALSO be patched into the audio path above.

This makes a lot more sense, I think. The bases are all present here, which you want in a teaching system. Plus the signal paths are a lot more sensible, with the separate row functions and the left-right flow. Not exactly the same design as before...but I think I managed to majorly improve on the first attempt.

If you Are in the EU and need a Mattis case i have 1 im Salling as I got a new case

Got a Mantis Case and a Squarp Hermod for sale,PM Me

I'm amazed by how helpful everyone here is. Thank you very much.

quadratt is a quad attenuator - not a vca - veils is an excellent choice btw - not only is it actually a voltage controlled amplifier - most vcas are technically voltage controlled attenuators (in that their maximum gain is 1) - it has so much potential gain that it can be used to amplify external signals up to modular levels...

The recent revision of Veils is currently unavailable (a worldwide chip shortage is affecting the industry and others as well), but fresh supplies are expected in the next few months.

Very helpful. Particularly for handling external signals which is something I'd like to do eventually.

I really think you're going to want a filter.

Wasp seems like a good choice. I've also been interested in Three Sisters. I'm guessing this is a one-or-the-other sort of thing at this stage?

Hot damn...OK, here's what I cooked up

This is incredibly nice of you, thanks so much for putting this together.

OK...this got upped by me into a 7U Intellijel Performance cab, because trying to do what you wanted here definitely requires more space.

I'm convinced I need more space lol. Looking at a 9U Doepfer A-100 as I like the look and don't expect this to ever leave my studio. I need to spend some time studying at the individual modules you've included but thank you so much for laying them out. I suspect I'll be back with questions :)

I've also been interested in Three Sisters.
-- new_moon

Three Sisters, like Just Friends and W/, is currently unobtainable, unless you pay well above list price for a second-hand one. There are lots of choices of filters; again, it comes down to your taste.

Yup I’ve been on the hunt for over year for Three Sisters and gave up. Besides the Wasp is less expensive, smaller size and sounds massive.

Wasp VCFs are great for leadlines...they have a very cutting sound that rips right thru the mix. Feed that something that's harmonic-rich (sawtooth, perhaps) and it'll shriek and yowl like the best.

The Three Sisters, though, is a different critter altogether. What it is is something between a bandpass filter and a formant-emphasis filter, which is useful for synthetic vocal sounds, which are usually the vowels as they contain all of the fundamental and formant spectra. But if it's not being produced (the listing doesn't show that as it's manufacturer-locked), there IS an alternative: https://www.synthrotek.com/limaflo-motomouth-formant-filter-eurorack/ Synthrotek's distributing these now, which I and others might consider problematic, but that's more or less the only game in town that'll get you into the Three Sisters turf.