So I just bought a prebuilt rack off of someone. Link below. Can I get feedback on it. I mostly play guitar and piano, but have wanted to get into synthesizers for quite some time, specifically modular. I have a small budget of about $700 more dollars to get any essentials that I may still need. I was hoping to primarily get a lot of percussive sounds and ambient sounds out of this.
Thanks in advance. https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/racks/modulargrid_645322.jpg
Yeah...I can see why they sold it. They'd not really built much out of it...added a bunch of sequencers, but not built out the voicing compliment much at all. I did fix it up, but the budget I hit was $1224, which overruns about $500 over your line. But as a result, I was able to turn this into a pretty respectable little rack. Vide:
Now...to make this work (and assuming that I'm right that this was built in a Pittsburgh EP-270), you're going to have to change one thing about the case itself. Remove the feet from the 'short' bottom, and reattach them so that you can lay this down on the larger side, what would normally be the 'back'. Basically, you're going to make this into a sloping horizontal cab instead of a sloping vertical.
And the bottom row is why. Notice: all of the control surfaces are now at the front of the cab, on an easy slope, which makes them...well, controllable controllers. The percussion sequencer is left, so that it can also work as the primary clock, for which I put the Brains (sequencing controller for the Pressure Points) next to that, and, natch, then the Pressure Points. Then the Rene, since it has its touchpad controls for changing things on the fly, and the Rosie mixer/crossfader is over at the right side so that your line out can go right off the side of the cab.
Top row: added a passive mult to do some CV splitting from the controller row or the Lifeforms' MIDI converter, or both. The next two were in the original build, but are mainly voicing, so they went up top along with a Plaits (the new version of the Braids) to double the Braids, then a Quad VCA because this original build was almost devoid of useful VCAs, plus it can also submix the sources.
Middle row is mainly modulation and modifiers, save for the Erica Pico Seq on the left, poised to use the Percussion Sequencer's clock. Added a Quad LFO for some extra basic cyclic modulation, then the Maths for the...well, Maths things, and a dual ADSR envelope for the VCF duties. A TriATT is there for offset voltages, attenuation/inversion of modulators, then a simple CV-controlled distortion module starts off the modifier chain. Next up, a very serious, very vintage character VCF: G-Storm's replica of the 'pre-lawsuit' ARP 2600 low-pass, the infamous Moog ladder copy. Beefy VCF...was very lacking. It can also handle two inputs for a bit of submixing. Then the Rings and DSP at the end to pass through to the Rosie.
Yeah, this thing was a mess...it seemed like whoever had it before had something of an idea of where they wanted to go with the build, but either couldn't get the resources together or, just as possibly, got utterly confused and gave up after adding too much of not exactly the right things. But this is a major improvement...as well as a very usable instrument with the additions and major structural reworking.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond here. Much appreciated. If I could ask for one more favor...since I don't have that amount of money to spend on this right now, can you tell me which of the modules you added that can get me started. Maybe $800-$900 worth.
Hmmm...sometimes I even amaze me...OK, got the additional module expenditure down to $986, a $238 drop. And strangely, in the process I upped a bit of the functionality, although the initial build was a bit better fit, I thought. New version's in the same position in this thread, so have a look...but here's what was changed:
This version changes the extra VCO (Plaits) to a pair of more conventional VCOs, a Ladik and a Noise Reap uBermuda, which is a somewhat weird thing that can go into internal feedback behavior, sort of like sending a VCF into self-resonance. Went to a single VCA/mixer with those also.
Quad LFO was changed to a TAKAAB 3LFO, which offers two waveforms in a staggered timing setup. ADSRs are now Ladiks, both with normal and inverted outputs, plus I was able to squeeze in a dual AD Ladik to give you two more envelopes. I switched out the Ladik dual linear VCA for a Noise Reap pair. Eowave Poles now handles attenuation/CV/inversion, and the Tiptop Fold also offers a suboctave generator, which wasn't there before. Same sort of 4-pole transistor-ladder lowpass VCF, albeit Doepfer's version which loses the dual input mixing...but the Fold has that now, so nothing lost there.
So...yeah. Filled cab, again. Functionality a bit different and, like I said, upped a bit in a few ways. And closer to the $700-ish budget line you quoted.
As to what to get first...hmm, that's a puzzler. I sort of build things as a 'unitized' set of subsystems, which is how I'm used to modular gear working (and, for that matter, a lot of prebuilt stuff). My suggestion would be to just add along as you can, and if you can kick things down a little more with used purchases (there's loads of used modules out there if you look), then cool. Otherwise, the only other way to reliably knock things down further is to go with a bunch of DIY kit modules...which is an option if you're OK with some soldering and assembly, but otherwise, this is not too shabby.
Wanted to follow up with you in regards to my updates and (hopefully) continue to get your feedback. So I took your advice and tried to make the best out of my rack. I played with what I have for a few weeks and absolutely love it. I'm completely addicted. Here's what I ended up filling up my rack with...kind of a mix of things you offered in the first reply and second reply.
So now that I've used it for the first time, I'm understanding things much better (though I'm still a lost newbie). I love sequencing drums but am realizing it's taking up a ton of my voices. I barely have any voices left to fill out my sounds that I want. I also realized how much I miss delay and reverb (these are the 2 effects I use all the time on guitar). So what I'm thinking is making another smaller rack. I want a delay and reverb module, but other than that, I just want to make it as flexible as possible. Can you help me fill this out? Your advice was invaluable last time and I really appreciate it. Take care.
Processing rack, hm? Check this out:
Contains stereo phaser (fully patchable), Intellijel Rainmaker stereo delay line, the Erbeverb, an attenuating buffered mult for splitting incoming signals for parallel processing, then two channels of a KILLER combo between two Eventide EuroDDLs and two frequency shifters (think dual Eventide H949 or 969s, but way crazier) and last, the Dual Looping Delay. Toss in a couple of passive mults, and that's got it!