Hi, I am building my first rack, and I need advice because I don’t think I can predict my needs. I don’t know if 6 VCAs is too much for my little system, maybe 4 is enough. I have no adsr, don’t know if I want one.
I don’t find any optodist to sell, so I need distortion/saturation/limiter module suggestions.
I have 16Hp left to fill.

Thank you


Well, you'll also need to replace the Clouds unless you have one on hand, since it was discontinued quite some time ago by Mutable Instruments. Several companies do smaller versions of this; you might look at Michigan Synth Works' Monsoon as a suitable replacement. As for the VCA count, no, six in a build like this...especially for music that has slow, gradual changes such as ambient...seems just fine. But if you insist on keeping this as 2 x 60 hp, you might want to lose all of the 2hp modules and then go with an Intellijel Quad VCA to handle audio, as this also lets you replace the mixer in the top row. And for CV/mod linear VCAs, a Happy Nerding 3x VCA would be a good choice, also allowing summing of CV/mod signals. Which brings this to seven VCAs, but you'll notice I'm not saying that's a problem!

Envelope generator...well, yes, you want that. Actually, more like "need," as that's essential to shaping the VCA and VCF behavior on each trigger from a note. Given the space limitations, you might consider Hikari's new Triple AD, which not only has a summing bus to all three of its AR generators for triggers, but each AR envelope can cycle, potentially adding three more continuous modulation sources to the build.

Last, an Optodist replacement...Antimatter Audio's Crossfold has a number of improvements over the Optodist in that you can literally "crossfold" two incoming waveforms, as well as have CV control over all of the wavefolding parameters. FYI, wavefolding works a bit better here, as you can be more subtle with timbral changes...and in ambient, "subtle" is important.

Thank you for the help Lugia!
Actually I have a clouds clone, but only found the real one on modulargrid, that’s why he is in my rack.
Ok that confort my thoughts about the number of VCAs. I like the 2hp because it allows me to have 6 VCAs for 6hp.
Crossfold seems nice! Thanks for the suggestion, it needs lots of mA compared to other distortion modules but the crossfold possibilities can be a good thing.
I think I will also follow your advice about the Triple D. Did it release this year? Don’t find much about it.

I will upgrade to 2x84hp because I want to add a nebulae V2 in my set. I love the sample stretch, I use this technique a lot, like always, in ableton, so want to try a modular version of granular manipulation. I am a bit afraid, wonder if possibilities are limited compared to software plugins. don’t really know what to expect and the man I buy it from told me he sells it because it is too complicated to use with the softwares and sample management... so I am anxious about that too. Do you have an experience with the nebulae 2?

I will add a stereo mixer as well, to mix samples from nebulae with rings and plaits going thru delay and clouds.

For the size of the rack and the amount you're spending... your results are going to be very limited. Ambient requires lots of subtle (blatant?) changes over time. That means multiple sources of modulation. That will require a lot of purchasing if you're looking for something that is generative (hands-off) in nature.

Your CV pal has two gate and two CV outs. That's going to leave you wanting. If it's capable of using one of those gate outputs as a clock a hardware sequencer locked to the clock would be helpful. Problem is that if one gate is used for clock... you probably want some way of resetting your modules....

Restarting LFOs, envelope generators, and sequencers yields more predictable results... even if you're only retriggering things on the first downbeat.

The Batumi is only half complete without the Poti expander. Get it.

Do you need to timestretch samples in real time? If not, then just use Ableton to get your samples to the right length then export them. Speaking of... if you can do without the time stretching then 1010Music's BitBox is a good choice. It also has two alternative firmwares that you can load giving you a complex digital oscillator or a multi-effects box.

Thank you Ronin for the advice. I should mention that I have a semi-modular dreadbox Nyx, it has an oscillator and three modulators I can use.
The cvpal is only here if I need to layer synths from my DAW projects. Not to use in my everyday eurorack ambient set.
I don’t actually need time stretching sampler you are right I can do that in ableton, but I love granular so it is just a pleasure. And I want to avoid screens in my system, so bitbox won’t fit, but thank you for the suggestion it could have been a good alternative!

What do you suggest to add more subtle changes over time? A second batumi?
And to restart lfo and enveloppes, something like a varigate 4+ could help in your opinion?

EDIT: Or instead of a second batumi, maybe an ornement & crime, a Xaoc Zadar, or a Disting mk4 would be a good complement (even if they have screens I wanted to avoid) ?
I plan to add a Triple d by hikari as well, based on Lugia’s advice.

Would it be a good improvement to my system, on a 2x84hp ?

I feel you on the "avoiding screens" sentiment. A good part of my own personal requirements is that a module be intuitive to use. I do not want to remember that obscure three-button combination times however many modules that I own. Unless you go exclusively East-Coast classic, you'll probably have some sort of menu diving in your system.

A restart or reset is nothing more than a gate or trigger used for that purpose. You send the gate to any module with a "reset" input to indicate that it's time to go back to the beginning and start playing from there. The only requirement is that whatever module is generating the reset is capable of transmitting the signal at the desired time(s).

Anything that can generator a slowly changing CV is a modulation source. When you're looking at LFOs and envelope generators... how slow can it go? A simple 8 step sequencer locked to a slow clock, followed by a slew limiter... that works too. Get a copy of VCV Rack and do some experimenting with slow modulations. It'll help you define what you're looking for in a real world module or modules. You don't need a varigate specifically for resets/restarts.

The Ornaments & Crime has an acceptable amount of menu diving for what you can get out of it. The same with Temps Utile. If you get the micro versions of each, you get some really nice tools to use in your patch that take up minimal space.

I'm with you on the menu diving issue...it's becoming a trend these days, it seems, to tack a little OLED display into a module and then expect users to memorize a catalog of menu locations and access procedures to get relatively basic functions to happen. It's OK if you have one or two of these things, but there's no way in hell I'd want a half-dozen or more of these sorts of modules in a rig. Modular synths tend to be a bit perplexing in of themselves, even for experienced users, and adding a load of "hidden" functions just seems to needlessly add to that issue. Sure, they allow you to shrink things down...but is that always a good thing? Not really.

I still prefer 1 function per control situations, especially live. And I'll re-emphasize that: especially live. Performing with a modular is even dicier than studio work, and everything's happening rapid-fire. There's no "undo" function on live, and if the objective is to get thru a set with a minimum of screwups, you absolutely want that "WYSIWYG" sort of interfacing with your instrument.

This is also why I'm not big on small rigs. Modular synths need panel space galore so that you can capitalize on playing the instrument. Stuff like the 2hp modules and Erica's Pico series are great space-fillers that allow you to add functionality into a tiny bit of leftover space...but I'd rather pull my own head off than try and use a modular made up purely of these, at least on a daily basis. Sure, going with bigger modules means bigger cases and so on...but it also means that when you need that crazy filter sweep at JUST the right time, your hand can go right for that VCF cutoff knob with no trepidation. You know where it is, and you know you can grab it with ease.

What do you suggest to add more subtle changes over time? A second batumi?
And to restart lfo and enveloppes, something like a varigate 4+ could help in your opinion?

-- Utilisateur_2


Ditch the varigate and get a Pam's New Workout or a Temps Utile. Each of those modules can generate multiple clocks among other features. You can set one output to be your reset. The others can be clocks, Euclidean patterns, even custom sequences.

You can have more room by using clones of the Mutable stuff. Just balance size with performance if you're going to want to play live.

I like varigate because I can create little sequences fast, and with the glide fonction I guess I can use it for cv modulation as well, am I wrong?
Don’t find some hikari triple AD in europe, what do you think about xaoc zadar? It has a screen, that’s downside but it is a quad env generator for only 10hp.. Same as Lugia, I don’t really want micro modules, I don’t like littles knobs at all, so I have to make compromise.
that’s where I am, is it better?

I followed Lugia’s advice for the quad vca, and I would like to incorpore 0c as Ronin suggested (or triple sloths? Never heard of it). And then I’ll consider ditching the varigate to get a pamela’s if I can get more out of it (or am I wrong and should I get pam’s first instead of oc?)

Thank you very much for your help

If space isn't the problem (is it?), why not getting a 3*84 HP case? Gives you more flexibility and you don't need to worry that tomorrow or next week or next month you need to buy yet another case ;-)

I want to keep 2x84 because in the beginning I wanted a 1x60 hp, then moved to 1x104, then 2x68, and now 2x84hp. If I don’t stop at some point it will never end, and I will end up with a 12U 104HP taking half of my music room ;)
Besides that, I would like something I can bring with me if I go on weekends or vacations.

Yeah, that's a fair point. I started planning with 584 ((2+3)84) but ended up now with 5168 HP ;-) So I recognise what you are saying here, there is never enough space, is there? :-) I admire your strength that you can stick with 284, I hope that works out for you.

haha you got it! I will at least try to not go into this money hole my first couple years. And after that I will reconsider my options and may sell my house to fall in the modular madness ;-)

He, he, looks like you understand this modular madness much better than I do ;-) I keep on extending my plans...
Selling your house is one thing, selling your wife and kid(s) for it, might be one or two steps too far ;-) In other words... it's sooo difficult to keep your hand on the wallet and not spending money on modules...
(by the way, I meant to write 5 * 84 and 5 * 168 HP, got struggled with the Markdown Syntax...)

Eurorack is a bottomless pit when it comes to money. You're going to start itching. :)

Eurorack is a bottomless pit when it comes to money. You're going to start itching. :)
-- Ronin1973

It started already ;)
So I made modifications with your suggestions.


I still have space and I hesitate between:
- zadar and disting 4
- ripples and ears

The two will expand my possibilities in different ways.
I also have a minibrute and a nyx for additionnal vcos and mudolators. I have a mixing table with 4 stereo outputs and 6 mono output for the audio outs from delay, clouds, nebulae, nyx and minibtrute.

If possible, replace all of the Mutable and Mutable clones with smaller versions. This will open up some rack space and perhaps you can have BOTH options for both concerns.