ModularGrid Rack

I'm planning on building a small modular system with a Mother-32 as the "heart", with a selection of modules to expand. You can probably tell I want to make ambient/generative with it. I cobbled together this rough idea based on my admittedly limited knowledge of Eurorack and the space a two-layered Moog case would give me to work with. How does it look? What am I missing? What could I get rid of? And most importantly, will it do what I want? No doubt in my mind that there's some potential there, but I could use some second opinions.

M32 as a complete voice w/ all those patch points, filter and sequencer to start with. Budget won't be huge and I'm trying to maximise on space, functionality and flexibility, so for me the A-111-6 as a whole additional self-contained voice in 10hp makes sense. Then, Beads, because Beads I guess - whatever those things do I like it. Two VCAs next, necessary or would just one cut it? TM and Quantizer seem like obvious additions...Seq. switch because I've heard people say they're important. Obligatory delay, reverb and mixer at the end. Seems like you can add quite a lot of functionality vs. space with the 2HP stuff, but that leaves room for basically two "big" modules. A digital oscillator perhaps?


Hello and welcome to MG,

Let's see if I can try to help and also save some time for the people who usually help everyone by pointing the obvious:

  • "Seq. switch because I've heard people say they're important" -> that's not a good reason to buy any module IMHO. Buy them because YOU UNDERSTAND or at least strongly suspect WHY they are important. Advice: pick up a copy of the free VCV rack and experiment, understand what VCA's and switches etc can do. Remind yourself that an amplification section in modular (a VCA) can serve many more purposes than the amplification section of most fixed architecture synths, most of modules can be "abused" in funny and/or musical ways. A similar remark comes to mind for Beads, I mean sure, Beads, amarite, but if I ask Beads or Mimeophon or Arbhar, do you still have a firm answer and justification ?
  • Doepfer + 2Hp VCA: looks like the space would be better occupied by a MI Veils 2020. If you don't understand why, I can only offer RTFM as advice :-)
  • 2HP modules are great but a bunch of them cobbled together can get hard to wiggle - those things are tiny, mate. You may want to consider the user experience aspect when designing your instrument.
  • Case size: Trying to rock 2 voices in a GENERATIVE setup with this space is ambitious to say the least. I can't remember what the exact titles were, but there are threads about this on this very forum. Basically, if you want to go generative, the 2HP TM will likely not be enough, and you have no ways to do logic, almost no modulation source. In the (approximated) words of a wiser member of this forum, the utility modules are the shine for the fancy nice looking modules, without it they remain dull for the most part. VCV will normally help you realize those shortcomings. Usually I see the TipTop Mantis case being recommended a lot but if you keep your build centered around only supporting the M32, you may not need a case as big as the Mantis. My advice is to at least PLAN your modular in a bigger space to get rid of that space limitation in your head, see what you need and then pick a case for the use you will have - and leave some space for (limited, if you want) expansion, modular is almost guaranteed to open a lot of doors in your head, so it can be good to be ready for when that happens.
    Including M32: NO. If you are thinking about putting the M32 in anything other than its own casing, don't, unless you have a large case that has a lot of empty space, it's a waste of space and therefore money (because you pay for the space in the case).
  • Obligatory delay, reverb: why obligatory ? Unless you have very specific needs in terms of effects, like say the need for being able to CV control FX parameters, there may be other cheaper ways to handle this... As you have not included an Output module, I'm assuming you will feed this to a mixer or sound card of some sort. The latter implies a DAW, and therefore cheap great sounding FX VST's which could liberate precious space.
  • Doepfer mixer: if you intend to keep the build as small as possible, I don't understand this choice of mixer, there are smaller offerings, or similar sizes that offer more.

For your future research, plenty of excellent advice for similar questions. Type "generative" or "ambient" in the search bar from forum index and you'll have a lot to read.

Hope this of some use !

--- Voltage control all the things ---


Let's see if I can try to help and also save some time for the people who usually help everyone by pointing the obvious:

Thanks @toodee - we appreciate it!!!

  • "Seq. switch because I've heard people say they're important" -> that's not a good reason to buy any module IMHO. Buy them because YOU UNDERSTAND or at least strongly suspect WHY they are important. Advice: pick up a copy of the free VCV rack and experiment, understand what VCA's and switches etc can do. Remind yourself that an amplification section in modular (a VCA) can serve many more purposes than the amplification section of most fixed architecture synths, most of modules can be "abused" in funny and/or musical ways. A similar remark comes to mind for Beads, I mean sure, Beads, amarite, but if I ask Beads or Mimeophon or Arbhar, do you still have a firm answer and justification ?
  • Doepfer + 2Hp VCA: looks like the space would be better occupied by a MI Veils 2020. If you don't understand why, I can only offer RTFM as advice :-)

couldn't agree more if I tried

  • 2HP modules are great but a bunch of them cobbled together can get hard to wiggle - those things are tiny, mate. You may want to consider the user experience aspect when designing your instrument.

ditto

  • Case size: Trying to rock 2 voices in a GENERATIVE setup with this space is ambitious to say the least. I can't remember what the exact titles were, but there are threads about this on this very forum. Basically, if you want to go generative, the 2HP TM will likely not be enough, and you have no ways to do logic, almost no modulation source. In the (approximated) words of a wiser member of this forum, the utility modules are the shine for the fancy nice looking modules, without it they remain dull for the most part. VCV will normally help you realize those shortcomings. Usually I see the TipTop Mantis case being recommended a lot but if you keep your build centered around only supporting the M32, you may not need a case as big as the Mantis. My advice is to at least PLAN your modular in a bigger space to get rid of that space limitation in your head, see what you need and then pick a case for the use you will have - and leave some space for (limited, if you want) expansion, modular is almost guaranteed to open a lot of doors in your head, so it can be good to be ready for when that happens.

see signature for the 'quote' & thanks once again - not sure I'm that wise though

re the tm and tune modules - I have had these modules from early on in my modular - of all the modules that I have, if I ever needed to sell any for any reason these would be the first to go - they can give you a taste of generative, but really they are a pita to use and you still really need a quantizer and a buffered mult to support them (distribution) and preferably a 2nd sequencer of some sort (mom maybe good for this) and a precision adder - so that you can transpose the generated melodies - otherwise they can get stale really quickly - I was so happy once Marbles came out -basically 3 quantized tms plus a load of other stuff in a really useful and ergonomic module - if you want psuedo-generative this is a decent way to go

the Mantis has a lot going for it in terms of starter case - decent size, not too expensive, very very good power supply - there's absolutely no need to fill the case - that's what blank panels are for - but it will leave you enough space to expand a decent bit in the futture without buying yet another case & power supply & potentially the 3 tiered stand

Including M32: NO. If you are thinking about putting the M32 in anything other than its own casing, don't, unless you have a large case that has a lot of empty space, it's a waste of space and therefore money (because you pay for the space in the case).

I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to put the mom in a euro case temporarily in order to make the case seem fuller, but keep in mind that it should have a much lower priority in the case than actual modules - these need putting in a case whilst the mom has it's own already!

  • Obligatory delay, reverb: why obligatory ? Unless you have very specific needs in terms of effects, like say the need for being able to CV control FX parameters, there may be other cheaper ways to handle this... As you have not included an Output module, I'm assuming you will feed this to a mixer or sound card of some sort. The latter implies a DAW, and therefore cheap great sounding FX VST's which could liberate precious space.

personally I like effects in a case - but possibly not taking up this much room in this size case - the fx aid xl is incredibly versatile - even has some drums and other useful non-effects programs now and has a decent amount of modulation inputs

  • Doepfer mixer: if you intend to keep the build as small as possible, I don't understand this choice of mixer, there are smaller offerings, or similar sizes that offer more.

assuming you already have the mom - how are you listening to that at the moment?

For your future research, plenty of excellent advice for similar questions. Type "generative" or "ambient" in the search bar from forum index and you'll have a lot to read.

Hope this of some use !
-- toodee

I think the doepfer voice module is an interesting way to go - instead of the 'obligatory' plaits - but it wouldn't be my choice - I'd rather have separate vco and filter to start with - 1 vco can feed multiple filters!

again totally agree - the more research you do now, the less money you will waste in the future - it really helps to think longer term than just what you can buy now - always leave room for expansion!

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

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities


  • "Seq. switch because I've heard people say they're important" -> that's not a good reason to buy any module IMHO.
    -- toodee

Damn straight! Whenever you see someone pushing a given module, the CORRECT response would be to ask them "why?". And if you get word salad or groundless superlatives or "I dunno"...flee!!! This is why, when I do a build and add/change modules, I try to explain in a sentence or two why the change would work better.

Now, as for "generative"...this little 2 x 60 isn't going to cut it, mainly because generative work requires quite a few different modulation sources, the ability of the system to "reconfigure" itself somewhat, and the ability to have several different signal paths that can be crossfaded/morphed/et al. It's worth noting that the very first piece that we'd recognize as "generative" ("Ideas of Motion at Bolton Landing" (1971), Joel Chadabe) was generated on THIS: https://modularsynthesis.com/moog/cems/cems.htm Now, sure, we have smaller form factors and functionally-denser modules these days...but you're still talking about a build that yours above isn't anywhere close to. Gotta second toodee's suggestion here: take some TIME to sit back and research this carefully. If you want to do generative, then look up generative builds by experienced synthesists...there's plenty on here. And also keep in mind that the first technically-"successful" generative synthesis thing was Sseyo's KOAN, which Brian Eno did a number of things in. It also ran on a computer, not hardware, so being able to hit HIS mark on this will either require that, or one hellacious build in hardware. Not saying it's impossible...just that you'll need to proceed slowly and carefully, and be cognizant of not just which modules go in, but how the modules synergize to create cohesive subsystems.