Hello all,

I've been playing/recording music for close to 20 years and am finally ready to make the plunge into modular.

The core of the system is the idea of having two stubby condensor mics on either side of the case that connect (almost) directly to the Little Mikey modules that each provide audio to the Lubadh in a neat stereo fashion. I could plug almost directly, just using a stubby adapter, two audio technica at4022 mics. Alternatively (or additionally) I could bring in signal from a guitar, the SP404, a synth, or whatever else into the stereo-in on the AA.1 module or the Little Mikey. From there, the Lubadh provides tape-like looping which can be shaped by the Three Sisters filter, then sent to the Beads module for color. Beads' scale is controlled by Scales and timing is controlled by Pamela's. Pam will also control the timing on the loops from Lubadh, as well as plenty of knob turning by me, I'm sure.

I don't know if the Scales module is really necessary or if it's redundant since I also have Scales. My undestanding is that Pamela's can do much of what Scales does, but I haven't quite worked that out in looking into the module. It seems like Scales will be more immediate with Pamela's keeping everything well in sync.

If Scales is unnecessary, I'm not sure what to replace it with. The whole thesis on this is that outside audio sources provide the audio. I could see having a drum machine focused on basic percussion to give some sense of rhythm,or even more inputs/mixers. I'm not really sure where to go there.

The future plan is to also build a rack that is more of an audio source and could be used in conjunction with this...so I understand that eventually I'll want some oscillators, and they will come, but on a separate rack.

I've been interested in doing more field recordings and finding a way to capture music more 'on the fly.'
With $10k or so in outside sound sources accumulated through the last 20 years in synths, guitars, etc. I want the focus of this to be using my existing gear in unique ways.

All of this will go into a Nifty 84hp powered case, so I should be able to come midi-in and get my clock from there.

Again, I'm a newbie to this world. The most modular instrument I have is my Moog Grandmother, which I think will play nicely with this. The music from this would be more in the realm of ambient with a health dose of taking in sound from the outside. My yard backs up to a state park and I have a deck with the ability to run power to it that I can use to capture some interesting sounds.

Thoughts? And some of my music FWIW: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3c1bvfJea35k5ZJZVkIPtP

Normally, I wouldn't suggest doing a build in 84 hp like this, but that would be for full-on systems. This fits better in the "mission specific" build category, though. Let's see here...

(time passes, then...)
ModularGrid Rack

OK...this is a fairly radical reworking of your original. Note that I didn't go with the mic pres on either end; you don't build these systems for looks, but functionality...and having these in the same place (with the new supporting modules) makes far more sense. So they're on the left end, and each one is paired with a buffered mult and an envelope follower. That last addition is super-important, as each one extracts gate, trigger, and amplitude information from the incoming audio, and these can be used in a number of points in the build for modulation, start/stop signals, etc.

As for the buffered mults...yeah, normally I would say to not put mults in a build that's this small, but I envisioned this as a parallel processing rig, and those buffered mults are critical to equally splitting the incoming signal. Once split, the signals (and this is a wholly stereo device) are sent to:

Twist: This is a clone of Mutable's Warps, handles lots of different timbral transformations; see here for what it does: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/mutable-instruments-warps

Beads: Mutable's updated (and soon to vanish!) version of Clouds, a granular processor.

Lubadh: Your stereo loop/tape delay.

FX Aid XL: More standard effects such as delay, reverb, and the like.

So, instead of being forced into a series arrangement (although, this being modular, you can patch it however you wish), you now have the capability of all four processors receiving and transforming the SAME signal. So, right after the FX Aid XL, you'll note that there's a 4-in stereo mixer. This lets you control your composite mix made up from the processors. And given that you can easily tinker with the wet/dry on the FX Aid XL, you also get a thruput from the preamps. Then at the end, since this is going to see field use, use with electric instruments, etc, I put in one of Happy Nerding's Isolator 2022 modules for a balanced output and your headphone preamp.

I removed several things...the Sisters VCF (the Twist does much the same thing...and FAR more, such as a 20-band vocoder), the Strymon interface (this will be dense enough...no stompboxes needed!), the quantizer (not really necessary, as you'd noted) and the Pam's (you can clock this...if needed...with the clock gens in your other devices) in order to implement the other modules, but from my experience with audio processing, this PLUS the parallel architecture will result in far better and more controllable results.

It is certainly mission specific.

My main quandary is whether to step up to the intellijel case and isolate some of the needed mixers to the top of the case on the 1u slots.

I feel like this case violated the 'never enough VCAs' trope, but on the other hand there are a decent number of mixers and not a million things going on at once. The signal path basically moves across the case starting at the looper, then across the modules to the right and into the output.

Well, if you DO step up to something like a Palette 104, you'll have some room for modulation modules. Plus, the gate outs from the envelope followers can then work to control envelope generators, and you'd get something of an auto-wah capability with the Twist. I'll cobble up a quickie to show how that could work...like, say, this:
ModularGrid Rack
OK, in this version, I've added a modulation section and made use of the tile row. This one also allows a stereo thruput directly to the mixer.

TILES: QuadrATT first for mixing/inverting/offset generation, then there's a 2-channel sample and hold which you can trigger from the envelope followers. A blank next, to show the separation between modulation and audio...very useful for live use. Then we have the stereo input, and a pair of buffered mults...although these can do 1 to 6 splitting, which gives you a direct "thru" as noted, but which also feeds effect #5, which is a basic stereo delay/reverb/chorus device. And last, the stereo outs. This version utilizes the onboard 1/4" jacks, so any mic preamps needed will have to be external...not a bad thing, really.

ROW: In this version, we start with a 4ms QPLFO...a quad LFO that can run from audio rates all the way down to periods of as long as 70 minutes or so. VERY useful for slowly-evolving effects. Next is an Intellijel Quadrax/Qx pair for four envelope generators, plus the Qx's interesting EOF/EOR trigger capabilities. You can fire the Quadrax from the envelope followers' gate outputs, plus you can use the followers' triggers to "ping" timings for the QPLFO. Note also that you can now mix the extracted amplitude signals via the QuadrATT for a L-R "composite" if you like. The blank panel does the same as in the tile row, and everything's the same as the 84 hp version until you get down to the end, where there's an 8-in stereo mixer from EMW (I suggest ordering direct with them, btw) that's considerably easier to use than the Happy Nerding one.

And yes, I know that the Palette 104 has its own mults and adders. But you'll want those for control routing and combination, whereas the After Laters in the tile row are solely for audio splitting for the five audio processors and your dedicated dry pair. So, the "core" is the same as the 84 hp version, while this gives you numerous modulation options that weren't possible in that smaller cab.

Normally, I wouldn't suggest doing a build in 84 hp like this, but that would be for full-on systems. This fits better in the "mission specific" build category, though. Let's see here...

(time passes, then...)
ModularGrid Rack

Damn, I feel like I owe you a consulting fee or something. This is great and very comprehensive.

A couple of quick notes/questions:

Originally, I had placed the two mic pre modules on opposite sides of the rack for the purposes of capturing more of a stereo effect. For example, if two people were playing acoustic guitars on either side of the unit simultaneously, you would have greater stereo separation between the two sides assuming you didn't comingle the signals later in the signal path. I may be making too big of a deal of that, after all they are only a couple feet apart, if that. But if you can imagine two condensor mics protruding up from the system, capturing some difference in the signals is somewhat of a priority.

Rather than using the mixer you chose, would I be better off using 2 of the little 2hp mixers from my orignal build to maintain more control over each signal on the left and right of the stereo signal? I'm assuming there are better and worse mixers, too. This is the mixer I'm referring to using as a pair: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/2hp-mix

On the topic of mults...and this may be obvious, but I want to ensure I understand. I send the original signal into the mult, switch off the second mult to give me 6 outputs and then send to:

Input on Env follower
Input on twist
Input on Lubadh
Input on Beads
Input on FX Aid
And send one signal to the aether...

And the envelope follower takes that income signal to create the gate, trigger, and env...I'm not sure I understand how that works as someone new to modular, though it does feel a bit more 'organic' than using a Pamela's.

Originally, as I thought this up and did a million iterations of a build until I settled on this concept, I didn't imagine it as parallel processing, rather, something that sequentially processed a signal. My worry was always that it might create results that were too similar. I do like that with this way of doing things I maintain a dry signal signal and processed signals without having to undo all my patching to hear the dry signal.

Again, a big thanks for the input.

Yeah, most people don't consider parallel routing for effects...but I ain't most people. Besides, I've been hooked on the parallel method ever since I got my hands on an Electro-Harmonix TriParallel mixer for stompboxes. Instead of the series result, which can easily result in lots of similarity, parallel opens up a huge pile of possible configurations which don't have a tendency to sound the same. I liked it so much, I built a more complex version for my studio by using a Studio Technologies Model 80 buffered distro amp for splitting and sending, and then a Rane SM26B for the return mixing. So, eight pairs (plus an unbuffered "thru") out, six pairs (seven if I use the stereo bus expander input) in. Utterly effing unbelievable...hell, you could use JUST THAT plus one single stereo audio source to cook up an entire piece all by itself!

As for the envelope followers, here's what's going on with those...

These take an audio input and then derive a gate and trigger from an internal comparator. When the level exceeds your setting, it'll fire a trigger and a gate, and all the while, the actual follower will extract the dynamic info from the signal and put that out as a CV that changes with your input's amplitude. Say, for example, you want the Lubadh to speed up as your external signal gets louder. This is the thing (or things) that does that. Want it to do the opposite direction? Easy...run the envelope outs into two QuadrATT attenuverters, and invert the envelope info. Easy-peasy! These can be a bit touchy when first dealing with them, but once you get a little practice with them, there'll be zero issues, and having that dynamically-related CV signal is something you'll seriously dig.