Hi there!

I recently got a drumbrute impact and a minibrute 2s and I'm now planing to expand it with some modules. I'm a complete noob and I'd like to make sure if this setup makes any sense at all or I'm getting it completely wrong.

I wouldn't get all the modules at once - this modular thing is quite expensive - so I'd buy one at a time starting with the shapeshifter, which I could patch with the minibrute 2s sequencer and VCA. From there I think it makes sense to get more VCAs and envelope generators before getting the erbe-verb, otherwise my patches are going to be very limited.

Does this rack make any sense to expand on the minibrute 2s?

ModularGrid Rack

Yes and no. Like you note, this current build is really limited. I'm presuming you'll be relying solely on the 2S's filter which is...OK, up to a point, but you could try and add something small here. The overall problem you'll be facing in a 3U Rackbrute is space, so going with large widths on your modules is a bad idea. Consider smaller alternatives or, perhaps more sensibly, go with the 6U version which would then open up another 88 hp for additional modules with which you can work in the Rackbrute or use them to alter the 2S's functions. But even then, I still suggest you keep the module sizes small...you want as much functionality as you can get in that tight a cab.

I agree with Lugia— I have a MB 2 and a MB 2S and the 3U rack can feel very limiting. (Currently working with one 6u and one 3u rack now.) Perhaps you might want to try a smaller module like Expert Sleepers Disting which would add a lot of functionality. Also echoing the thoughts regarding filter — adding Polaris to my rack made a lot of new sounds possible. Finally, you may find the clock limiting on the 2S. A small clock divider/multiplier is really handy. 4ms makes a quad clock distributor that would allow you to trigger events at different rates. Good luck!

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Hey guys, thanks for the replies,
I'll consider getting the 6U rack, I think it's the sensible choice just in case I need more space in the future. Regarding the modules sizes, I guess the shapeshifter and the erbe-verb are the guilty ones, can you suggest smaller replacements for them?

I've watched a couple of videos about the Expert Sleepers Disting suggested by Laupellim, it seems a very powerful module, however, at this point I'm not sure I would know how to use it or how to patch it with the 2s, there's a lot I still need to learn. Right now I lean towards something that can produce smooth and soft sounds, as the 2s can already pretty harsh.

A lot of the key to that, IMHO, would be in your filter selections. You'll want some LPGs (I suggest Make Noise's Optomix) to add that plucked, woody Buchla-oid sound alongside the 2s's Steiner-Parker-derived VCF. For the other, given space and cost, I doubt you could do better than G-Storm's Tonus VCF, a copy of the tried-and-true ARP 4012 "pre-lawsuit" VCF. And in both cases, you get two-input mixers thrown in for good measure, which cuts out some of the need for mixers for your VCOs.

As for a replacement for the Shapeshifter, you might consider a pair of Mutable's Plaits...two morphable digital VCOs for less than the other, in 24 hp, still saving you 2 hp for something else. And for reverb, look at Purrtronics' Purrvrrb...a mono-to-stereo digital spring (the classic modular reverb) emulator in 8 hp for only $130, then you can also add a delay like the Chronoblob II for $250, giving you stereo reverb and delay in the same space as the Erbe-verb while coming out over $100 ahead.

Hey, thanks a lot for your suggestions Lugia.

I've been doing some research on these modules as I didn't know them all. I think getting a pair Plaits is a great idea, and the chronoblob2 is also a fantastic suggestion.

Having the delay and reverb in two separete modules makes complete sense, however, I'm not totally sold on the Purrvrrb because it doesn't have any cv and I'd have to tweak it manually. Maybe I don't need the cv as much as I think I do, but I guess I'll make some more research for the reverb module.

The filters you suggested are pretty cool too. I like the G-Storm's one a lot, but wouldn't an Intellijel Polaris make more sense? It would save 2 hp and provide more filter types. Not sure if the Tonus just sounds better or if the mixer makes it worth the extra 2 hp.

I find the Optomix quite interesintg, isn't it like an VCA + VCF? if so, would I still need the Quad VCA at this point? having a couple of Plaits and being able to use the Optomix as an VCA may be enough, or how would I use the Quad VCA in this system?

I'm also considering replacing the Quadra with a XAOC Devices Zadar, there's not a lot of difference on the price and the Zadar seems able to provide many more shapes.

Complete noob as you see, but really appreciate the help and all the knowledge I'm getting here!

Lessee here...as far as the VCF question, the difference is in the circuits. The Polaris is definitely the more complex filter circuit, with the ability to do many sorts of multi-response types, has an OD control, can be configured as a phaser, etc. But you do lose the 2-in mixer. The G-Storm one, though, that's a very old filter circuit, replicating the "pre-lawsuit" ARP 4012 lowpass that was in the original versions of the ARP 2600. Very iconic sound, for one thing...that classic ARP filter pops up all over the place, and I know you've heard it on a lot of tracks from the 1970s. You do make a good point though, particularly if you're still considering the Optomix in the build, since that also has a lowpass VCF in its filter section.

But the Optomix isn't really a 1:1 substitute for a pair of VCAs. True, it does have a VCA in there, tandemmed with the VCF, but the Optomix is very much designed for audio. Technically, yes, it can pass DC, which makes it usable for CVs and modulation signal control, but that's sort of a waste of what it's really designed to do. The better thing to use for CV/modulation level control is always going to be a proper DC-coupled linear VCA, hence the need for the Quad VCA, which also allows you to sum CV/mod signals via its mixing capabilities. In fact, you can use the Quad VCA to mix two sources of audio and CV/mod signals at the same time, by taking one output off of OUT 2 and the other off of 4 MIX, and you can alter the VCA response along a continuum between linear (which you'd want to use for CVs and mods) and exponential (better for audio).

But wait, there's more! The Optomix (rev. 2016 and fwd) has the ability to process a sidechain signal to allow some rudimentary compression to the audio signal. And that's something the Quad VCA can't do. In the end, yeah, both are preferable, and the use of the Optomix for your final subtractive VCF(s) would enable the use of the Polaris with some more complexity, such as LPGing separate Polaris outputs differently to create a rapid timbral "morph" by feeding the outputs to two different LPGs, then using differing envelope curves to "strike" the LPGs.

Zadar...yep, good idea there, long as you don't object to a little menu-diving. That would give you four envelopes that can be more complex than just the two (or three) stage Quadra ones, plus you wouldn't need an expander for looping and/or chaining envelopes, which the Quadra requires for that sort of voodoo.

Here's my take. The MiniBrute 2 is capable of sending and receiving Eurorack clock pulses. I would expand it based around that functionality. I would consider three modules initially: Expert Sleepers Disting mk4, Ornaments & Crime, and Temps Utile.

All of the modules are multifunctional. This will give you a wide palette of options to augment your brute with. As you learn these three modules, you'll get a better taste for what direction you want to go with your expansion. O&C and TU are available in micro 8HP formats. That will go a long way in a cramped case. You're looking at less than $700US for the lot if you shop around.

There are tons of videos on these modules on Youtube if you choose to go that way.

The ErbeVerb is tasty. You will always want a good reverb. If you have the budget get that too.

Once you feel you've mastered these modules, you'll be in good shape to decide what's next. If you find yourself using a specific feature of one module over and over... you might want to find a dedicated version. For example the Disting and the O&C have quantizers. If you're always using a quantizer then it might be prudent to get a stand-alone module.

Thanks a lot for your comments, it's been super useful!

Based on the feedback I'll be getting the rackbrute 6U instead of the smaller 3U and I'll replace the shapeshifter with a couple of plaits, which are smaller and cheaper too. I still like the shapeshifter a lot though, and having some extra space in the case I might buy one at some point.

As for the filters, I'll go with the Polaris and the Optomix. The G-Storm's Tonus is really interesting and having the input mixers makes it a good candidate for a small system like this, I'll keep it in my 'cool modules' list jus tin case I want to add more filters in the future.

Xaoc's Zadar seems to be a reasonable replacement for the Quadra given the cost, features and size. The Quad VCA I was planing to get still seems a good choice so far.

Regarding the effects I like the Chronoblob 2 suggested by Lugia, but I think I'll get a Pico DSP instead of the Purrvrrb. The Pico DSP is smaller and can provide different effects. The Erbe-Verb sounds really great and I might buy one once I know a bit more about modular synths, for now the Chronoblob 2 and the Pico DSP will work just fine.

ModularGrid Rack

The top row is a bit more expensive than my original rack proposal, but it will be much more flexible and much more fun to play with.

The second row of the case are some modules I'm still considering:
- Most of the time I'm already using all the LFOs in the Minibrute, so I guess having the Batumi will be really useful.
- The 2S clock a bit limiting, as Lauprellim said, and I've been considering the 4ms clock dividers, but having the Pamela's New Workout would give many more options.
- A part from that I think I may be short on mixers, maybe I could add the MI Links or something similar if need to.

I'll be getting my first modules in the next few days . Anyway, I'm still open to suggestions if you guys think I got this rack all wrong or if there are some modules I should reconsider.

For your current set-up, the Pamela's New Workout should be plenty for setting up multiple clocks. You don't have to divide a clock if your clock source can output multiple clocks in sync. For your small set-up a divider wouldn't be all that necessary.

Get the Poti for the Batumi. It's the one thing that should have been STOCK on the Batumi. It's well worth the $60US.

As far as a mixer, Blue Lantern's Stereo Sir-Mix-A-Lot. For the price and the feature set it's hard to go wrong with it. It's about $225US. For your next expansion, consider a quantizer, sample and hold, traditional ADSRs, and possibly one of your big effects modules (ErbeVerb, Z-DSP, Magneto, etc.).

What you have should be a lot of fun to begin with. I assume the DrumBrute Impact will be handling the sequencing portion of the build?

Well, unfortunately the DrumBrute Impact is not connected to the modular, but I guess you meant the Minibrute 2S anyway. Yes, I plan to handle the sequencing portion with its sequencer, it's a 3-track and I think it will be enough for this small set-up.

I'll check out the Poti expander and the Blue Lanterm's mixer, thanks for the suggestions!

Just a follow up to keep this rack up to date,

So far I’ve bought the 6U rack, one MI Plaits and the Intellijel’s Quad VCA. It seems like I’ve taken Ronin1973’s advice as a mantra - ‘Once you feel you've mastered these modules, you'll be in good shape to decide what's next’ - and I’m allowing myself plenty of time to learn how everything works before deciding what’s next.

ModularGrid Rack

Right now I feel I’m short on modulation sources and my next purchases will probably be the Zadar or the Batumi, and one filter too, as I’d like to use different filters for the Minibrute’s VCO and the Plaits.

Regarding the filters, I reconsidered the Polaris and I’ll probably get one of the G-Storm filters instead. I’ve been listening a lot to the System80’s Jove recently and it’s totally rad, the G-Storm’s JP6-VCF is only 8hp and it should sound pretty similar as both are based on the Jupiter 6 if I’m not wrong. Also the JP6 includes a small mixer which will be very useful in this small system.

Although I’d rather avoid using the computer at all, I find it useful to record some sessions to track my progress and see what sounds good and what doesn’t. Once I’ve got it on the DAW I can’t refrain myself from adding some effects, and I like to use a lot of them! So I though it would be a good idea to add a Clouds clone in the rack too. The Monsoon looks pretty cool and would fit perfectly in the rack.

I’ve also seen the Levit8 recommended in a different thread, and I think it’s something I may need at some point, I could use it as a mixer but also as an attenuator. I’m already short on attenuators as I’m currently using the ones in the Minibrute, and as I add more sound sources I’m probably going to need some kind of mixer, so the Levit8 seems like good choice for this rack too.

Anyway, I’ll probably keep updating the rack as I’m getting new modules and learning more about modular synths.

On the other hand, I’ve been reading it’s not a great idea to have the sound sources besides the power supply, should I move the Plaits to the bottom row instead or is this something I shouldn’t worry about?

Technically, it's something you shouldn't worry about...until you have to worry about it when you start getting noise/crud, so it's probably best to deal with it now. My suggestion, however, would be to move the P/S next to the Pam's; since that outputs clocking/trigger signals, P/S garbage won't be problematic for it, and the Arturia P/S should be just as happy on the bottom row as the top. In fact, the cable-draping for the P/S's line from the external "wart" will work even better down there, minimizing its proximity to the rig altogether.

Yes, it makes sense to move the P/S to the bottom, good idea. Thanks Lugia!

I wasn’t really satisfied with this rack and I gave it another try. I added the ErbeVerb and the Shapeshifter back, and as a plus I think this one would allow me to get rid of the Minibrute easily if I decided to do so, and maybe replace it with a second Rackbrute.

Right now I’m using it for techno, but it would be great if I could use it for some ambient too, I think there’re enough modulation sources but maybe it would need more effects?

I already have the Plaits, Quad VCA and Zadar, but the rest could still be replaced. I’d appreciate your opinions on this one as I’m still learning and I might be missing something.

ModularGrid Rack

Hi man, if you feel like you don't have enough modulation, you should pay attention to multipliers. These modules are not that big and can be very useful, especially on a "reduced" setup like the Arturia's ecosytem. It will help your modular to evolve in the same way during your live sessions.