Hi guys!
In the last couple of weeks i have been enjoying a lot VCV and i tryied a bunch of modules. Now I would love to pick up my first semimodular synth but i don't know what to do.

A couple of notes:
1) My goal is to make the synth fit into an indie-rock / math rock band (lead and bass stuff) thus its sound should be as much "musical" as possible.
2) I want to expand this first synth with a small euro-rack in the future
3) my budget is like 850€ max

I was thinking about a moog grandmother. The Mother 32 could be good but it has only on VCO and i am not totally sure about it. It feels really limiting. I may be wrong but the minibrute 2s seems to have a "techno sound" and sonically it is not really what i'm looking for.
Another good candidate is the Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms SV-1. I kinda like the sound of the oscillators but a lot of people seems to report tuning issues with this machine. It ahs a lot of utility built into it tho.
I really don't know what to do lol.

The first modules i'ld like to buy after the synth are:

1) Make Noise Maths
2) MI Plaits
3) MI Rings


Hi Squallaz,

I don't want to take away your enthusiasm here however if your budget is US$ 850 (let's say Euro 800), perhaps you shouldn't start with an Eurorack system. A "basic" Eurosystem (depending on what you want) starts in my opinion with at least several thousands of dollars/Euros. Below US$ 2000 I think it's difficult to get you something that you need. With US$ 3000 it's getting better but you still want and need more ;-) It can go as high as US$ 5000 or more and than you still want & need more, that's the "lousy" part of Eurorack, the initial start up of getting started with Eurorack is immense expensive.

Why you don't look for a (semi-modular) desktop synthesizer (like the Grandmother you mentioned) and start with that first? If you still enthusiastic about that then perhaps in the future you can consider moving to/adding a Eurorack system?

If I would be you, I would spend US$ 850 into some nice desktop stuff, and start saving money for a Eurorack system, then let's say, if you are still enthiousiastic after one or two years and then consider a larger budget.

Naturally, that's totally up to you :-)

Kind regards,

Garfield Modular.


It's exactly what i want to do: start with a semi-modular synth and then expand it with some modules.
The problem is: i don't know which one should i buy.


Well, what you need to do is to come up with a list of six things you know the patchable MUST have. We already have one here: more than one VCO. So, let's start with that as #1, and work out five more.

Now, clearly you seem to be leaning toward something with a proper controller, such as a Moog Grandmother. But is that the right move? Would it make more sense to get something like an Arturia Keystep as both a controller AND sequencer, with that being capable of working with the initial synth and the later expansions? Also, if you eliminate the controller as being part of the synth, it's worth noting that you both widen the field of candidates + lower the price for them.

Next, what functions should the patchable have? Multiple VCOs, check. Filter...? How much "character" do you think is needed there? You're considering adding a Rings later, which is a physical modelling "filter" and therefore capable of some pretty strange transformative behavior, so maybe you can get away with something with a more simplistic filter sound for now and know that, later, you can expand on this.

More functions...modulation sources? Should it have ample LFOs and EGs? You've specced a Maths above, so again, you might go simpler here, either in terms of amount of submodules or in terms of potential complexity. Perhaps the patchable can have the "simple" sources and the more esoteric stuff can go in later?

Do you want this to be a purely subtractive synth? Or more "West Coast"? Or something down the middle such as the Pittsburgh Voltage Lab or the Make Noise 0-Coast? Or something just downright weird? And with that in mind, do you even really want it to patch with 3.5mm cables? Why not bananas, such as the Kilpatrick Phenol, or Dupont patchwires, like on the AE Modular system? After all, you can adapt one connection to the other in many different ways.

Lastly, should you jump right on into Eurorack with a voice module as your first Euro acquisition? Note that I'm NOT suggesting taking something like a Mother 32 and "de-casing" it to put it back into another case, but something like the Intellijel Atlantis, Malekko Manther Growl, Cwejman VM-1S, Eowave Quadrantid Swarm, et al.

So, work along these lines, sort your "must-haves" out into a list, then sift the data according to them. Given the sheer amount of equipment out there these days, there's SOME patchable that'll work on nearly all if not every one of the aspects you need.


Well, what you need to do is to come up with a list of six things you know the patchable MUST have. We already have one here: more than one VCO. So, let's start with that as #1, and work out five more.

Now, clearly you seem to be leaning toward something with a proper controller, such as a Moog Grandmother. But is that the right move? Would it make more sense to get something like an Arturia Keystep as both a controller AND sequencer, with that being capable of working with the initial synth and the later expansions? Also, if you eliminate the controller as being part of the synth, it's worth noting that you both widen the field of candidates + lower the price for them.

Next, what functions should the patchable have? Multiple VCOs, check. Filter...? How much "character" do you think is needed there? You're considering adding a Rings later, which is a physical modelling "filter" and therefore capable of some pretty strange transformative behavior, so maybe you can get away with something with a more simplistic filter sound for now and know that, later, you can expand on this.

More functions...modulation sources? Should it have ample LFOs and EGs? You've specced a Maths above, so again, you might go simpler here, either in terms of amount of submodules or in terms of potential complexity. Perhaps the patchable can have the "simple" sources and the more esoteric stuff can go in later?

Do you want this to be a purely subtractive synth? Or more "West Coast"? Or something down the middle such as the Pittsburgh Voltage Lab or the Make Noise 0-Coast? Or something just downright weird? And with that in mind, do you even really want it to patch with 3.5mm cables? Why not bananas, such as the Kilpatrick Phenol, or Dupont patchwires, like on the AE Modular system? After all, you can adapt one connection to the other in many different ways.

Lastly, should you jump right on into Eurorack with a voice module as your first Euro acquisition? Note that I'm NOT suggesting taking something like a Mother 32 and "de-casing" it to put it back into another case, but something like the Intellijel Atlantis, Malekko Manther Growl, Cwejman VM-1S, Eowave Quadrantid Swarm, et al.

So, work along these lines, sort your "must-haves" out into a list, then sift the data according to them. Given the sheer amount of equipment out there these days, there's SOME patchable that'll work on nearly all if not every one of the aspects you need.
-- Lugia

1) I would like to have at least 2 VCO just to be able to stack up a couple of voices
2) I forgot to mention but I already have a Keystep. I don't know how reliable a sequencer may be in a live band environment. This is kinda an experiment so I may be end using only the keys or I may find the sequencer usefull. Who knows?
3) I'm ok with going for the normal stuff first and then expand it with the "weirdness" later on. I would consider a cool low pass filter and a couple of modulation soruces + a couple of envelopes.
4) Being new to the hobby i don't really know the differences between the est and west cosat synthesys type. The only thing I can say is that i like the 0-coast but it's more on the "weird side". It's good for the strange sounds and modulation and I think it can give the best paired with another more traditional machine. Maybe I'm totally wrong about it but I don't think it's suepr good for melodic phrases or leads.


Yep...the big thrust of the West Coast and related designs is that they're more "texture" instruments. To get something "giggable" in a band sense, you'll probably want to stay in a lane that goes more in the subtractive area...straight-up VCO-VCF-VCA + modulators. Not that textural programming doesn't have a place in that sort of thing; David Bowie's "Heroes" is a great example of where washes of non-melody/non-harmony can work in a more "conventional" situation.

VCOs...really, you want two per voice. I know that you can get away with a single VCO, and many synths do just that. However, to get a really BIG sound, you can't beat having two VCOs, with one ever-so-slightly detuned.

Keystep: got. So the patchable in question should optimally have a MIDI-CV capability in addition to the normal CV/gate patching methods. This simplifies control, keeps the patchcord jungle a tad more manageable.

Filter: decent LP VCF or similar. Need EGs, need LFOs, but nothing too out of control.

So basically, something like an ARP 2600-ish architecture, minus a VCO, but with duophony. The device that immediately comes to mind is...........drumroll, please.......................the Plankton ANTS!. Costs the same as a Mother 32...but it's definitely NOT a Mother 32. Yep, you get duophony via MIDI, 4 VCOs, a multimode VCF, dual EGs, dual LFOs, dual VCAs, noise, an AND gate, sample and hold, 3-in mixer...in short, all of the basics and a little bit more, plus prepatching like the better patchables that you can defeat just by busting out the patchcords. And it's a little-bitty thing: 222 x 132 x 45mm; it and the Keystep would fit in a smallish gigbag. And it most definitely expands via the Eurorack world, for later on. The sole thing of note it's missing are multiples...but on a Eurorack system this small, you'd be using inline mults or stackcables anyway. Pop over to https://www.planktonelectronics.com/ants/ to have a closer look.


I'll drop the B word.

The Behringer Neutron is a good starter synth with lots of flexibility.

If you can find one of the first 2000 units, the K2 looks pretty tasty as an MS-20 clone. Lots of patching possibilities in Eurorack.

If you're in Europe you may find it a lot easier to find. Then there's always the Model D mini-moog clone. THREE oscillators but limited on Eurorack patching.

The great thing with all of these choices is that they are far below your budget maximum.