A little preamble...
I've played around with music gear for years, started way back with Rebirth 338, had samplers and bits of gear etc, Stayed with Reason since the start, always for fun.

Starting my modular journey now after getting back into the Roland Boutiques, I kinda liked the idea of a Hardware ReBirth 338!
My plan is to build a kinda generative modular rack that fills the gaps around the TR08 / TR09 / TBo3 & SH01, I just sold my Korg Volca Bass as I just don't get along with its sequencer, at some point I will get a Beatstep which could have fixed the Korg but hey!
Its really tempting on ebay when you see a module you fancy come up at a good price but its all too easy to get carried away and not get to my goal of heading somewhere generative to compliment and expand on the Synth gear I already have.

So whats best?
Buy the ebay deals or hold out for my plan?
There's so much good gear out there!!!!

Yeah, its a random first post! Hi.


Can you share your rack that you’re wanting to put together?


Here you go...
Its a work in progress, the stuff to the RH side finishing at the TM is whats in my rack now, the oher bits are waiting for spare funds etc
https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/racks/modulargrid_976055.jpg


Well first of all you want to keep in mind that a case that small isn’t going to have that many power connections and you have like 16 modules. 2hp modules are great. Especially for the size. But you’re not gonna want to fill a whole case up with them.

As far as your question about buying modules on eBay when you see a good deal; I would say don’t. I don’t know what kind of music or sounds you’re looking to get out of your modular synth, but always keep that in mind. Also I would highly recommend buying a complete synth voice first. That way you can hear it, patch it, understand it better and really figure out where you want to go from there. That’s the best way to decide the next module or modules that you’re going to need.

(I had to learn this next one the hard way)

I would never recommend buying any modulars based on looks or hype unless you’re absolutely sure that it can help get you where you want to go. Or else you’re going to be selling it and losing money. Get modules based on what you ‘need’ or modules you think could really inspire or push your modular music further. My motto is that I like simpler modules. If it has a steep learning curve, then it has to be completely worth it to me or it’s a no go.

Anyways long story short. If you don’t know already, figure out exactly what you what want your modular to do at first and then expand from there. And do a lot of research. Like a shitload of research before diving in. It’s all very very worth it. But if you come into it unprepared, it can be a less the fun experience.


Sounds pretty good advice, I'll restrain myself on eBay! (even if some stuff is what i want to end up with eventually)
the 2hp Pluck, Bell and Vowel are all full voice modules, I think these sounds get me fairly close to where I want to be, I've atched enough Youtube vids to think so at least.

Cheers


Uhhhhhh...I foresee problems. First of all, modular synths tend to have a specific sort of architecture; they're not put together with a "throw modules that look cool in a box, hope for the best" mentality. In fact, there's a very high risk of falling into the "sexy module" issue...lots of cool looking stuff, blinkenlichts und tvistenknobs, but you'll have neglected a lot of boring but essential modules in the process, resulting in a totally useless build that's then cost a pile of money to yield no useful results. And there are a LOT of important-yet-boring modules that have to be part of any build: attenuators, interstage mixers, OR-type summers, buffered mults (if you have enough CV destinations to require them), VCAs and the like.

ReBirth and Reason are NOT good starting environments for understanding what has to go into a proper modular build, since neither has you working at the module level on signal flow. Before proceeding further, I strongly suggest you do the following:

1) Get VCV Rack. This is a virtual Eurorack-type environment, and while things don't work precisely like they do in hardware, they do show how a build has to be put together, since the same signal path and architectural rules apply there as in a hardware build.

2) Study some classic modular and/or patchable systems, such as the ARP 2600, Korg MS-20, Moog's IIIc and System 55, the Synthesizers.com and other manufacturers' prebuilt systems, Roland's System 100 and 700, etc. All of these are successful designs, and still sought-after because they were done right. Notice how the signal flow works, what modules are incorporated, and the like. Make special note of the ergonomics, also; it might seem as if some panel space is wasted on some of these, but there are very real reasons why the various controls are located where and how they are.

3) Stay off eBay, Reverb, etc for the time being. That's just "modular porn", and it won't help you understand what you're trying to do. MG does a far better job of explaining what things do, why you might want them, why you also might NOT want them, and to explore how a build would work for you before dropping stoopid-huge wads of cash. You also get user feedback here, such as on this forum; commerce sites just can't provide that.

No one module will get you "where you want to be". That's actually a dangerous idea. Look instead at how modules interact in subsystems, and how those subsystems' signals get handed off in a modular environment. Saying that a certain module will achieve everything you need is like thinking that if you just had this specific, bespoke, boutique key on your tenor sax, you too would suddenly become John Coltrane. Ain't gonna happen. Do the work; throwing money at a problem without doing the work beforehand is simply expensive foolishness.


thanks....
The mention of Rebirth and Reason is a way of saying I've been messing around with music from the mid/late 90's, I never hinted that they would be of any benefit to starting Modular. They are certainly not detrimental.

I've already been doing the VCV thing as it seemed sensible before I bought anything, and its shown me that I don't want an all-singing-all-dancing module, I'd agree with darkblooCV above that simple is best.

First off I wanted to ensure I had some Stereo Output so the Intellijel Mixup, then 2hp verb cos thats stereo too so I can get a bit of simple stereo field from the limited cash and modules, Pluck makes some lovely sound so I want that to be able to spit out something vaguely ordered (2hp Euclid, I can currently trig the Euclid from TR08/09 and use Pitch CV for notes from the SH01 and have it play along in the fills), eventually Quantised with a 2hp Tune and then push that through a bit of reverb and delay (delay will be Erica Pico DSP).

At this point its simply adding a new voice to the mix with the Roland Boutiques.

Then the plan after that is to start looking at Clocking, Clock Dividers, Mults, VCA/s, LFO, maybe a Random Gate source again another 2hp, then a couple more voices and how to start bringing it all together Like you say, the important-yet-boring. Power-wise it looks like the TipTop uZeus will have me covered with the addition of another Flying bus cable for the moment.

I'll go back and edit my dumb-ass question at the start and just say 'hi' instead;-)


What Lugia said. If you follow the Rack forum, you'll see a lot of peoples' "first" system being just a collection of "that looks cool" modules without any thought to what they'll be able to produce with their collection. That's not bashing anyone's first attempt or amount of knowledge, just stating some of the common traps people fall into.

Attenuators, attenuverters, traditional ADSRs, even LFOs seem to be overlooked in a lot of first builds... they aren't cool or flashy... but they are fundamental elements in almost any kind of build.

Another factor overlooked would be ease-of-use. There are some really powerful modules out there... but the learning curve... remembering all of the secret double, long hold, double button presses to access features will really bum you out. Mutable Instruments makes some quality stuff. But unless you're devoted to committing each of them to your day-to-day thoughts, you'll always find yourself referencing the manual. The Expert Sleepers Disting is one of those modules that packs a lot of features but the interface is horrible to get around in. Again, I'm not bashing anyone's choices... but they may be a factor in what modules you'll want to select.

Ergonomics. 2HP makes some space-saving useful stuff. But dialing in settings is hard as hell with those little pots. A lot of modular is finding that 1mm of "sweet spot" of knob turning. Good luck on a 2HP module crowded next to another 2HP module. DEPTH can also be an issue with space-saving modules (or any other module) as some racks can be compromised on depth. Always know the depth(s) of your rack. You'll also want to consider ergonomics with things like VCOs. A great example is choosing the pitch. One solution is to have a course tune knob that runs the entire frequency range and a fine-tune knob. Another strategy is to select octaves (using layman terms here) and have a fine tune knob for the frequencies in between. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Compare the Tip Top Z3000 vs the Intellijel Dixie II+ regarding the two methods.


Hi Ronin1973..... looks like you are vaguely my age, i.e. not feeling old but beginning to feel broken in various places!!

I've got a plan, its evolved a little as I've discovered what I can do with the limited bits I've been able to purchase so far, I'd say that I'm 2 purchases away from buying a Mutable Blinds (for the Quad VCA / attenuverter).
Funnily enough I have my 2hp modules spaced apart by 2hp as it takes about 30 seconds of knob twiddling to realise that a rack of 2hps right next to each other is about as stupid and unusable as it gets, though the features of the 2hp do seem to make them look more appealing to similarly priced but more-hp modules so i keep circling back to the idea of 2hp.

Next up 2hp Bell and a Pittsburgh Modular Micro Sequence... then the VCA's and LFO's and maybe something like the Noise Engineering Sinc Defero Buffered Quad.
I love the 'look' of the Happy Nerding Mutes too but I don't see me having a use for it yet until I have more voices in my rack ;-)

Cheers :)


Looks like you have a plan. I bought a Pittsburgh Micro Sequencer. I hate it, personally. I find that accessing features to be really unintuitive. If your budget allows, try a micro Ornaments & Crime. They are 8HP... 2HP less than the Micro. The menuing system is much easier to navigate than the frustrating button combinations on the Micro. A Micro will cost you around $160-$200. The OC is about $250-$275. If you go with a larger format OC you can get them for about $200.

An alternative to the Happy Nerding Mutes is the Joranalogue Switch 4. It's $20 more but includes more features. Each of the four switches come with a three-way toggle (momentary, off, and on). Plus there are two additional outputs connected to two rotary switches with an on/off switch as well. It's a little bigger than the Happy Nerding Mutes but the additional features are worth it in my opinion.

You may also have an issue finding Happy Nerding stuff in North America.

Additionally, the 2HP bell... have you thought about a micro Braids module instead? It'll cover bell sounds as well as a host of other sounds. It's probably double the cost and roughly 10HP in width. But you'll get a lot more out of the module.

Another possibility to add more oscillators is a Behringer Model D and leave it in its original case. It has a Eurorack jacks built into it and includes a 1V/Octave input plus a jack out of the mixer section. That gives you a three oscillator stack plus noise for $300... plus a Mini-Moog clone. Lugia despises Behringer. But I find the cost benefit and the sound to be well worth it. $0.02.


Budget is pretty non-existent to be honest.... it will be slow progress. I'm going to dig around in the attic and see what i can sell on ebay to fund this new addiction.


Yep, I despise Behringer. ;) However, functionality definitely works when needed. My take on that would be to wait until B. comes out with the Pro-One clone, though, as I think the original was a superior monosynth overall when compared to the original Minimoog. The modulation routing capabilities alone are worth the wait, plus in the case of B.'s reintroduction of the CEM chips (even with their janky semi-piracy of the architecture), well, that was a move that I feel was 100% warranted. Now if someone would step up to the plate and get the SSM silicon back on the street, I'd be similarly unopposed.

Another way to get those bell timbres would be a ring modulator, of course. Yes, this requires two VCOs to work, but you really should have two anyway for detuning, working waveforms against each other (swept pulse against square, for example...quite nice) and the like. And the ring mod offers its own set of extra functions, such as being useful as a spare VCA of sorts, modulating audio with LFOs to create 'chopped-up' sounds, mangling incoming audio, and so on. It's very much another of those "boring" modules that gets overlooked...when that shouldn't be the case, as ring mods are part of the "bread and butter" of electronic music devices. Plus, they're small and cheap (usually).