i'm an electronic musician releasing my own music and also doing music for theater and commercials. last week i finally bought a powered portable case and began my journey into eurorack modular. i'm having some trouble defining where i wanna go. i would like to be able to detach from computer if possible and to play freely wherever there is a power socket. i already own a moog minitaur and would be glad to integrate it into the system. the case is 6u 104 hp.

i was thinking to start with maths, since i will be buying modules very slowly and with maths i could already start exploring minitaur cv capabilities. i'm not quite sure, but it would be nice to be able to integrate ableton live into the system, so i guess i would also need a midi or usb to cv, maybe polyphonic. i guess i would also need some kind of headphone amp... i don't know if i can use a mixer for that. recently i saw this video from tobi neumann which inspired me. i would like to have a kick and hat.

as you can see, i just have some rough ideas but i'm not able to decide where to go, what to buy and in which order. i would like to thank you in advance and wish you a great day.

well, if you want to work entirely "analogue", then you REALLY need to look into sequencers and probably clocks too to give your modules automation that you could do filter sweeps over etc. or backing while you play.

i would think it'd be A LOT better to buy a separate synth if you want to do polyphonic as it would get expensive building a system with multiple VCOs and VCFs that you can't fully match. you could get a 4 voice dave smiths instruments Mopho x4 for just $1,000 and i think with modules being even cheaper, a $500 korg polyphonic, or work your way up to more expensive prophets including the "ultimate" OB6 as from what i've read, oberheims have a much fatter sound than prophets.

not only would a separate polyphonic be cheaper, but you could get PROGRAMMABILITY you can't get from modular and potentially a sequencer and midi-CV so you can communicate directly with your modular rack. it'd take a lot of research to pick a poly that suits your tastes, needs & budget, or a separate thread asking about the pros & cons.

it wouldn't hurt for you to have an external drum machine from a cheaper one using sampled sounds up to an all analogue "808" type kit. personally, i'd be inclined to go the sampled route there as you're more likely to be straightjacketed by a step sequencer where you can play beats with looser timing on a sequencer you can record live on and turn the quantization up for looser beats where you can, for example, lag a high-hat. as with a separate polyphonic, which might have its own "high res" sequencer, you can save patterns and songs and probably tempos too on your drum machine and then sync your modular's clock to your MIDI gear.

while your pre-programmed beats and melodies are playing on your beatbox & poly, then you could do all of your modular type stuff over that with your rack, or even process audio from your other gear. i've heard some interesting effects running drum loops through a synth and distorting them in various ways.

as to headphone amps, there are modules for that you could put in your rack. you could TRY jacking into your VCA or mixer, but i think you'd need more juice to drive headphones. i'm not sure. then, there'd be the "left channel only" issue as your jacks are going to put mono out. you'd probably need some kind of stereo to mono adapter jack for that. if you were using external polys & drum machines etc., you'd likely run everything through an external mixer which would have both line outs and a headphone jack. little mixers are cheap, and some even come with effects.

as to maths... i'll leave THAT to you. it's a very powerful & popular module, but i personally hate it because it's so complicated. i'd rather break all of its functions, at least the ones i'd actually use, down into easier to understand individual modules that maybe do their specific tasks even better with additional control eg. an ADSR envelope generator offers more control than a maths could for that function. it's a more expensive rack hogging way to do things, but the route i'd prefer.

anyways, i hope MAYBE this helps you plan YOUR system and/or gives you ideas more than it takes you away from your goals 7 style.

as to interfacing with ableton, expert sleepers' ES3-Mk III MIDI to CV converter is the #4 rated of ALL eurorack modules, so i'm guessing it's not shabby, plus ES offers a bunch of different expanders as well as dedicated VST software for controlling the modules, both in a slimmed down freeware version, and a more powerful one you have to buy.

and for doing clock modulation & LFOs in your rack, little "pamela's NEW workout" looks like a really powerful PROGRAMMABLE clocking module to modulate your rack with and sync your hardware sequencer with. i had originally put a batumi 4x LFO & quad clock distributor in my play rack, but it sounds like pamela can do what both of those can with her 8 outputs and MORE with her swing tempo, advanced LFO shapes & memory, but then again, MAYBE batumi & quad clock are better for live synthesis because of their knobs & sliders. i'm actually new to all this and trying to learn what i can. i understand midi, DAW sequencers & studio gear better having read keyboard & mixmag since the 80s and am only now digging into modular, so don't take my opinions on modular as expert advice by any stretch.

hope this helps though

hi bubblefunk and thanks a lot for your answer.

there are so many possibilities available that it really is a journey, quite a nice one.

i've been considering several options since i wrote the post and i guess it really helps to write things down sometimes. by now i haven't quite think about connectivity with ableton, sequencing and modulation well enough. also, if you add polyphony is easy to see that i would need much more rack space available and that would turn my "make music anywhere" idea down. that's why i decided to start with this approach; i got me a volca kick and a volca sampler, so this will allow me to start experimenting with some drums and also use it as a sampler outside ableton. Also, i will try to use them as a clock for my system later, since i already saw some people doing it. although, i really don't know if i could use the volca sequencer to trigger the modular. i'll see with more time and calm. i guess this first approach will bring some useful insights to keep growing based on a solid idea. i also will try not to burn the cash and that's why i'm limiting myself from the start.

by the way, i could demo the oberheim ob6 and in my opinion it really sounds amazing. the poly korg you are referring too is the minilogue? i guess i could also try first with a second hand volca keys to get an idea if that's really the approach i'm looking for and then try to implement it into the modular if possible somehow.

also, thanks for your opinion on maths. it's nice to hear that you simply like more a different way to work. i'm not sure if it is a must for me, but i had the feeling that i was getting two modules on one, since it has two channels and can work as an attack decay envelope and also as an lfo. i'll do some more research on it and decide.

i also want to thank you for suggesting the new pamela. i know nothing about it, so i'll also do some research on that against batumi and quad clock.

thanks again for your input


i just made a REALLY LONG reply and got logged out before i was done and it got eaten when i logged back in! i hate that!!!

i guess it's lucky for you as you won't have to read me rambling on and taking 100 tangents, so i'll just summarize...

maths & similar rampage are VERY popular, powerful & handy. they're just too complicated for ME to be able to understand as they "HIDE" their features below the surface and expect you to be able to remember the 1,001 things a single jack can do. it gave me a headache watching a rampage demo where the OP just kept plugging & unplugging stuff constantly, naming the "new functions" and for all practical purposes might as well have been speaking chinese. i'm a "one thing at a time" thinker & have to understand each thing before going to the next one. i get lost trying to understand maths. besides, i have NO INTEREST in making big complicated patches. i see a MY imaginary modular as one big synthesizer that i can swap & stack oscillators & filters with, hence the name "tone bender" while sticking to the basic MIDI/control > clock > LFO > voltage control > VCO > VCF > ADSR > effects > mixer > VCA signal chain.

in this summary, i'll use that to jump to the topic of planning and start at what was the end... don't forget the site's rack planner. i use it to TRY and organize rack rows by that basic concept from top to bottom & left to right until aesthetics get in the way and i group modules by maker or just HAVE TO put the Z3000 smart filter in the center because all of that black trim bothers me when it's asymmetrical. DON'T get me started on mismatching all black modules... i need a row dedicated to just them to be happy. besides, the rack is imaginary, so looking at it is all i can do with it.

before that, i was talking about writing things down, agreeing with you. it really helps keep track of things. i keep TWO lists, one is a module by module list of each row in the rack including basic functions with a second list that breaks everything down by FUNCTION: control, CV, MIDI, clock, osc, filter, envelope, LFO, VCA, mixer, effect etc. so i can keep track that all bases are covered as well as where functions overlap when so many modules do so many things. i tend to overlook utilities as they aren't as fun as oscillators, filters & effects, and in the case of maths, in particular, as easy to understand.

if you have a rack, you can "cheat polyphony" by just multitracking your chords. you can't do it live, but you can do it with a DAW. let's ay all you're doing is an A/C/E chord. just record one pass of all you As, another for your Cs and another for your Es. now your mono is poly and it only cost you TIME, and all of your voices are perfectly synced. me? i'd take that one step further and record each note in stereo (binaurally) playing through a speaker, then move the speaker for each new pass so when you listen on headphones, the chords get spread out like a chorus. it'd also require 3x the channels... 3 channels for the direct sounds, plus another 2 each for stereo, but hey, that's what DAWs are for, right? they ALSO make life simple letting you sequence and fine tune modulations while ALSO making them complicated making you learn how to use them... again, with HIDDEN features, like maths & rampage... ARRRRGH! they CAN be learned though.

finally, back to your sequencer & drums, don't forget that you can use your modular to process audio in so many filtered & distorted ways! i think i'd use envelope following A LOT, human beatboxing triggers & envelopes instead of letting some heartless perfect timing (analogue) sequencer do it for me. you can fit an entire warehouse full of FREEWATRE synthesizers along with an entire recording studio in your DAW sequencer as VSTs, but digital will never sound as good as analogue, especially with synths & compressors. you could do all of your polyphonic stuff with VSTs (and even some freeware ones sound pretty good!) and then fatten them up externally with filters and TUBES. that's why my "tone bender" play rack has a metsonix tube VCA... for thickening samples, digital VCOs & the morpheus digital VCF (sick filter BTW!!!) and VSTs. tubes are great for warming digital up.

well... this reply is kind of long too, but i think i did MORE babbling last time. this time though, i'm copying & saving the text because i do not want to do this a third time, like turning your rack into a chord monster.

OK... this reply is a lot shorter and one more point... just because i hate maths & rampage doesn't mean you have to. there's a reason they're both so popular, but TYPICAL modular peeps LIVE to plug shee into other shee. not me. i just want a synthesizer that can make as many different sounds as possible along with mangle audio in as many ways as possible without sounding digital. otherwise, i'd do EVERYTHING in VSTs and save $9,000+ in imaginary money. LOL

hi bubblefunk, thanks again for taking the time to reply even when you had to do it three times.

i have already used this technique for polyphony with my moog minitaur. it ended up sounding really well, so it will not be a problem to do it again. the whole thing was about trying to fit all that stuff that i'm looking for into a 6u 104 hp, so i guess i'll have to dig some more and that's also why i was interested in modules that could do different functions even if they are pretty complicated. i see how convenient can be to have the ability to send audio and voltage from the daw, so i guess i'm also going for an expert sleepers module. i have been happily making music for years on the box and wouldn't mind doing it so, but i was looking to expand and have a box full of knobs seeking a different experience. thanks for pointing out the envelope follower, i'm also definitely looking more into those.

i just started to use the api hear on modular grid to start arranging some modules, let's see how it comes out (i'm not sure if i'll be able to mix the black panels also hahaha)

have a great weekend

rossum just blew my mind again, inventing ALMOST the same exact module i would, then adding a bunch of stuff i would have never thought of. the biggest differences are that i'd add pitch tracking to it so you could play notes with "tone envelopes" and that it's have a second layer where you could draw amplitude envelopes, which, maybe you can, as i understand it, with an expander module and modulating a VCA to act as an envelope generator.

regardless... check this awesome rack hog out!

control forge

i yanked morpheus out of my tone bender 4x104 play rack, replaced it with an intellijel mixer, and created an entire "awesome rossum" 1x104 rack out of control forge, 4 expanders, morpheus and their evolution filter because the kind of modulations you can do with control forge are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better than lame LFOs & ADSRs! you can even sequence & trigger with it. there might be a learning curve with it, but i think i'd use it a lot creating bass wobbles,
scratches" & boings etc. i honestly don't know what took someone so long to let digital do what it does best... "complex modulations" like wavetables & apply it do control voltages.

your mileage may vary, but i'd trade 100 maths & rampages for one control forge.. i mean, it even lets you draw CURVES... how cool is that?! but "granular, crossfade & wobble" steps? WOW!!! seriously cool sound design potential there. THAT's how you make sounds skip & bounce, even if you can only do it one sound at a time, BUT i bet using the quantize feature, you can transpose a "sequence" (note, for me) up or down and trigger it from an expander. i'm seriously jazzed about control forge

I've been thinking about a few alternatives since I composed the post and I get it truly records things now and again. at this point, I haven't exactly considered the network with Ableton, sequencing and tweak all around ok. likewise, in the event that you add polyphony is anything but difficult to see that I would require a great deal more rack space accessible and that would turn my "make music anyplace" thought down. that is the reason I chose to begin with this approach; I got me a volcano kick and a volca sampler, so this will enable me to begin trying different things with a few drums and furthermore utilize it as a sampler outside Ableton. Additionally, I will attempt to utilize them as a clock for my framework later, since I as of now observed a few people doing it. despite the fact that, I truly don't know whether I could utilize the volca sequencer to trigger the measured. I'll see with additional time and quiet. I figure this initial approach will convey some helpful experiences to continue becoming in light of a strong thought. I likewise will do whatever it takes not to consume the money and that is the reason I'm constraining myself from the begin.

well... if you REALLY want to conserve money, then just do EVERYTHING in freeware. i'm pretty sure there used to be a freeware modular synth that was so deep, you could even build your own modules and there's ALL KINDS of freeware synths and all the polyphonics you could ever want, BUT it would sound digital and if you're looking for portability, you'd be limited to how many parameters you can tweak with outboard sliders, but it's sure be a lot cheaper.

i'll probably do EVERYTHING with, likely cubase, and freeware if i ever can afford to do anything.