Hi all

I'm very new to modular, and would love some feedback on my build: ModularGrid Rack

Many of my modules are multi use (particularly the Dreadbox gear), so I think that I have everything needed to make some sound.

That being said, if there is something that I need, I'd be grateful for any suggestions. When you do suggest something, please state whether it is essential (E), useful (U), or just fun (F). As I said, I am new, and I am just trying to get a system up and working, and there is so much to consider!

Currently I am afraid to plug it in...


How many of these modules do you have already, and what case (if any) do you have?


I have all of them (got them cheap), and they are in a Tip Top Happy Ending.

I will probably split them up in the future, but they are what I have right now


Then I think you should probably use them for a while, and see what you think you are missing, and what you aren't using.


I've got to agree with plragde above...explore what you have until you absolutely know where the gaps are. I did do a quick reordering of what you've got, though:
ModularGrid Rack
In this rework, I split the modulation off from the "voicing" path. For one thing, it puts the non-audio modules next to the uZeus, so that you won't have to worry about induced crud from the P/S getting into the audio end of things. Then the audio comes in with the Waveforms VCO and runs all the way down to the final mixer. Otherwise, this is how a small build can and should work. No surprises, no "Sexy" modules...just very basic stuff with nothing odd about it, with a good amount of usability for exploration AND learning.


Lugia's build is also more attractive, aesthetically. Enjoy your rack! Don't be afraid to plug it in, or in fact, to plug anything into anything else. Experimentation is part of the reason to go this route.


Don't be afraid to plug it in, or in fact, to plug anything into anything else.
-- plragde

With the standard caveat that you probably don't want to plug an output into an output, of course.


Personally I would remove the pittsburgh waveforms and get the ataxia from dreadbox.

I would remove the Pittsburgh stuff and create a separate voice around it in a new skiff. I like the dreadbox chromatic modules and will eventually buy all of them at some point - excellent starter modules.


Well, as long as the modules are plugged into power correctly, there shouldn't be an issue. Knowing about the red-stripe is day #1 knowledge. Getting your modules plugged in is very easy to do. It's also very easy to plug something in backwards if you're not paying attention and get over-confident.

It looks like your case is full. So after you've explored what you have and how it works, I would say the next evolution is to transplant your modules to a bigger, more useful case. The Tip Top Mantis seems to offer the most value for the money from what I'm seeing. You'll have lots of room for expansion.

As far as exploring new modules, multi-feature modules are great. The Swiss Army Knife type usually allow for exploration in functionality. The big three I can think of are Pamela's New Workout, Disting EX, and Ornaments & Crime. There are others that are nice to have as well. In my opinion, you'll probably keep these three modules as there always seems to be an application for them and for the price (less than $1000US) for all three, you'll get a LOT of use and learn a lot from them.

I've mentioned the big three in other posts. I hate sounding like a broken record. But the questions seem to be the same. :)


don't worry too much about plugging the power in - iirc uZeus comes with a flying busboard on which the headers are keyed - mostly power cables are the right way round - out of 60 or so bought modules only 1 was incorrect and that was an old doepfer module - with a non-standard power cable (power header on multiple pcbs)

but it's still a great idea to know how to check power cables

on modules that don't have keyed headers they should be marked with a stripe or -12v - this corresponds to the red stripe on a correctly made power cable

if the headers are keyed then the power cable should just plug in one way

power cables should be red stripe match up to a small triangle to the left of the key on the connector

NB some modules/power cables don't work like this but they are the exception and I don't think any of the modules that you have are in this group

re: swiss army knife modules - another one is fx aid (xl) - igor keeps adding more and more algorithms - there are over a hundred, of which 32 can be loaded at any one time - including - reverbs, delays, filters, drum sounds etc

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

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities


+1 on the FX Aid XL! That module is a real gamechanger...there's been Spin FV-1 FX modules before, but what HN's done with them really ups the game.


Thanks for all of the advice everyone!!

I'll triple check my power ribbon, and give it a go!

Thanks for the module/rack upgrade recommendations too. I will await the next big sale, once I have had a good play with what I have :)

One final question: do I need to do anything special to get my sound out?

I have a floating ring CV patch cable that ends in a jack that will fit my audio interface. As far as I can tell, that should be enough as long as I don't do anything stupid with the gain on the AI. Please correct me if I am wrong...

My Arturia has a CV out on it, so I am 99% sure I can go directly from it to the modular. Again, let me know if I am wrong.

Thanks everyone!


One final question: do I need to do anything special to get my sound out?

maybe

turn everything down as much as you can on the modular and plug it into the audio interface with one or more normal (not floating ring) 1/8"->1/4" cable(s)

if there is an input gain control on the audio interface then turn that down 1st a well and then increase the gain until you can hear the audio

if there is clipping - unwanted distortion - then the 1st thing to try is a passive attenuator on each channel - these are inexpensive and almost always useful - 2hp trim is an example module

if there is still unwanted noise - then you may want a balanced output module - but that really depends on your interface and whether or not it expects balanced inputs

I have a floating ring CV patch cable that ends in a jack that will fit my audio interface. As far as I can tell, that should be enough as long as I don't do anything stupid with the gain on the AI. Please correct me if I am wrong...

floating ring CV patch cables are not meant for audio (hence the "CV" in the name!)

My Arturia has a CV out on it, so I am 99% sure I can go directly from it to the modular. Again, let me know if I am wrong.

you can send cv from the arturia to the modular using the cv out

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

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities


Thanks Jim

That clarifies a few things. Hopefully I get clean audio by just dropping the gain and output (and using the correct cable).

If not, I'll be getting another module to sort it out. That was a question to which I had difficulty finding an answer on google: whether a dedicated output module was needed. So thanks!

I am using a Focusrite 4i4, which is a pretty versatile little unit. Great with all inputs so far, but haven't tried it with modular gear yet... I'll find out soon enough if it can handle it - I suspect it will.


the 4i4 is about as small an interface as I would ever recommend anyone to buy

this is due to the 4 outputs - 2 for monitors 2 for sending audio out to process and re-record - any smaller and you can't do this unless you don't want to listen to what you are doing - which makes life very difficult imo

in fact mostly I recommend buy the biggest one you can afford with more i/o than you think you'll ever need - really annoying if you run out of interface channels - same with mixers!

just to reiterate, try with nothing, if that fails buy passive attenuators (eg 2hp trim - cheap and always useful), if that fails buy a balanced audio out module - if your interface has balanced inputs!

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

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities


the 4i4 is about as small an interface as I would ever recommend anyone to buy

this is due to the 4 outputs - 2 for monitors 2 for sending audio out to process and re-record - any smaller and you can't do this unless you don't want to listen to what you are doing - which makes life very difficult imo

-- JimHowell1970

Out of curiosity, does anyone use headphones out of their AI?

I almost exclusively use monitors for mixing, but curious if studio headphones are ok for just playing around?


I’m using headphones with my Motu 4 audio interface. Works great and such a good audio interface. Recording direct from modular to my DAW is a piece of cake now.


the 4i4 is about as small an interface as I would ever recommend anyone to buy

this is due to the 4 outputs - 2 for monitors 2 for sending audio out to process and re-record - any smaller and you can't do this unless you don't want to listen to what you are doing - which makes life very difficult imo

-- JimHowell1970

Out of curiosity, does anyone use headphones out of their AI?

I almost exclusively use monitors for mixing, but curious if studio headphones are ok for just playing around?
-- cj18

Not currently as I use an es8 as an audio interface (no headphone output) - but in the past I have - there is absolutely no need for monitors unless "mixing", even then arguably without acoustic room treatment, headphones may be better, depending on the headphones!

for "just playing around" I have used all sorts - laptop speakers, headphones, tiny rechargeable speakers and monitors

currently I use a tesseract tex-mix for mixing the output of which goes to an external mixer (an old yamaha mg10) and from there to either headphones or a pair of yamaha monitors (might be msp8s)

NB headphones won't help with the less than 4 channels problem - headphone outs are usually copies of channels 1 & 2, so you wouldn't be able to listen to the mix on headphones and use outputs 1 & 2 for external processing

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

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities


Out of curiosity, does anyone use headphones out of their AI?

I almost exclusively use monitors for mixing, but curious if studio headphones are ok for just playing around?
-- cj18

They're OK for basic sound design, but I know for a fact that mixing on headphones brings in some bad issues having to do with the "actual" soundstage vs. what your brain makes up as a "soundstage" from the two headphone drivers. Check this for the actual physics and voodoo: There ARE ways to correct this issue with hardware though, but the ones that actually work aren't cheap. In essence, doing a final mix on "cans" is just a really bad idea, as they can't give you a REAL idea of what's going on spatially. And we didn't even get into human hearing's proximity effects when dealing with having a driver within an inch of your inner ear. That can easily give you a very wrong impression of how your low end sounds.

Stick with the actual monitors. You can always get a monitor mix to "translate" to headphones, but going the opposite way has a lot of issues.