Hi everybody,

during these last months I fell down the rabbit hole of modular eurorack and would really like to resolve myself and buy my first modules.

I have a good background as a regular laptop producer and as a bass player. I've experimented a lot lately in vcv rack, but ultimately I'm still a total noob to modular world and really need advices.

This is the rack I came up with.

ModularGrid Rack

I would like to do mostly ambient stuff but with a strong melodic content, basically sequencing my own melodies (even using an external controller, so the hermod seems a good deal) and being than able to heavily process them.

I know I've listed many fancy modules, but obviously I plan to start by buying very few at first and than building a rack upon them progressively. Nonetheless I was wandering if the rack I made was any good or if I'm totally missing the right direction.

Thank in advance and I'm sorry for my poor english here and there :)


Hi Marco,

Interesting rack... with many fancy modules if I may say, never thought so many fit in such a small rack :-) Welcome to the club of modulars and prepare yourself for getting a huge loan with the bank ;-) Haven’t come across a bank who wants to finance my modular “needs” but that might be just me...

Just joking of course, here a few matters you might want to look into it:

  • I feel your rack is pretty small, sooner or later you will regret to start with such a small case and you have to get yourself another case, so better get started with 3 rows and at least 84 HP, if possible wider. Don’t complain about the costs because just leaving out one or two of those fancy modules should easily get you a bigger case ;-)

  • To repeat your words: “Many fancy modules” :-) That’s of course nice and fancy but you should also focus on classic and simple modules/functions like LFOs, envelopes, filters, etcetera. And yes most of those fancy modules can do that but that’s an expensive way of doing so. Maths for example can be an ADSR but I wouldn’t use a Maths for just being a simple ADSR, so get yourself some envelopes planned

  • The above regarding an ADSR is just an example, I think you need to rethink your entire concept to see if the complete system is that what you really require? My advice is to read in this forum in this racks section the replies of senior persons like ronin1973 and lugia, they replied to many cases, similar like yours and my advice is to follow up on their advice :-)

  • This shouldn’t put you off though but getting the basics right, make sure you got a clear picture what you want with modular is important because it’s just too expensive to make wrong setup mistakes and yes I read your text but I think you have to go a few steps back and think on how to archive your goals with modular, must it be modular? Etcetera

  • Another thing is that sequencer, the Hermod, that might be a good sequencer yes but is it really the sequencer you need? I am myself rather new into modular as well but almost one third of all the time I have spent into modular and synthesizers went into comparing different sequencers. I bought a few (Tirana II from Xaoc Devices for example and Hikari Analog Sequencer II to name a few) however the ideal sequencer I still haven’t found. Just don’t simply get a sequencer and assume that one will do. Try to get to a dealer and test there a few. Start with a simple sequencer like I did and then consider for yourself what’s important for you for a sequencer? I am still busy with that question and still don’t have a very clear answer to myself about that, it’s very difficult and one shouldn’t under estimate the choice of a right sequencer. Unless of course budget is no issue, then just get the Hermod and try it out :-) And then from there reshape your opinion about a sequencer to see what you need

Or wait for Endorphin.es to come up with their new sequencer Ground Control or Erica Synths with their Black Sequencer, both are not available yet but waiting for it might be worthwhile. I will wait for these two, have them tested at my dealer and then I try to make a decision which sequencer I want and then still I might not know but let’s see.

Good luck with the reading, studying modular materials, basic principles like VCO, LFOs, filters, envelopes, VCAs, etcetera. If you can read German consider this book: Synthesizer from Florian Anwander or just read yourself through the feedbacks people got here on their racks, there is really useful information coming from many people as long as you are open minded for it :-)

Then after that I wish you good luck with your planning, redoing your hopefully bit bigger case and I look forward in seeing your updated case/rack but please take your time, don’t rush it.

Kind regards,

Garfield Modular.

I think this looks like a great case. There is a reasonable balance between sound generators (VCOs), effects, and modulation. I don't follow GarfieldModulars' comments about envelope generators (ADSR). I use Stages for envelopes all the time, and it is excellent for that (along with Maths, which I don't have).

I really really suggest expanding slowly, if at all possible. I know everybody says that, but I built out my case too quickly, and I am still learning what modules I really need (though, some of my first modules were Filter 8, Disting, and Stages, and they are great!) Garfield Modular is exactly right that you should get a case that is twice the size of what you think you need.

I would hold off with the Links. Get some TipTop Stackcables, and then you don't need the mult (and you have other mixers). I will bet you, that you think of more interesting uses for those 4hp (e.g., Make Noise, LxD; Happy Nerding, FX Aid; Steady State Fate, MMF; Noise Engineering, Viol Ruina; just for some very different ideas of other uses of those 4hp).

I don't see much "percussion", but you can load some drum samples on the Disting, and use it as a trigger based drum machine (it can do two at the time). That was my drums for a while.

EDIT: Typo

I'll concur with the idea of buying a bigger case or be prepared to buy a second case if you're looking to expand.

The Dixie II is a good choice for your basic analog VCO. You've also included a digital one. That's fine as well. The Joranalogue is a good filter to get going with. Lots of outs and features to keep you busy creatively.

The Hermod can handle some LFO duties as well as some ADSR if I remember correctly. Dedicated LFOs and ADSRs (besides the stages) are nice to have. But there's some leeway on starter builds.

How do you intend on using the Chord module? Also, the Erbe Verb and the Nebula, I would purchase in a second round of buying. If you're going to keep a case of this size then you may want some wiggle room if you need to drop in a couple of more utilities or just-one-more module.

I don't see anything technically wrong with the rack. I'm glad you included some attenuverters. I'd think about the Intelljel 7U case if its in budget. They make a 1U Quadratt that could go in the 1U row. There's also an Intellijel compatible 1U Ornaments and Crimes that's pretty tasty... as well as buffered mults and a few other items.

Overall it seems that you put some thought into this rack and your time with VCV Rack shows.

Hmm. To me this looks like a perfectly usable case.

Of course you could go larger, or get a bigger case so you can grow more. But this isn't a bad build by any means.

You've got everything you need to make a good subtractive synth voice, with a backup voice that can be a bass-line or drum AND a chordy pad voice. With effects and a decent amount of modulation. And you can load basically anything you want into Nebulae. I'm not sure exactly what Garfield is getting at.... but I do agree that picking a sequencer is a highly personal thing - and that you really want to be sure you 'gel' with the choice as you often build around that.

Most of all, have fun! This case still looks pretty fun, so you'll be OK I think.

Nah, I'm in there with Ronin...this would be better off in an Intellijel 7 x 104. There are some modules in the Intellijel tile format that can replace/better what's here currently, and also open space in the 3U rows. For example, the Triatt can go in favor of the 1U Quadratt. The Befaco Out would then get replaced by Intelljel's Audio I/O tile so that the case's 1/4" jacks are useable, which also takes the output pair off the front panel and gives you an audio input as well. Then you can also add a Noise Tools for a noise source, clock, and sample and hold, and a uMIDI for a MIDI interface...and all of those changes would up this build's game considerably, AND leave space for some more tiles to keep that trend going. Maybe Intelljel's Stereo VCA would be useful for controlling the overall output...or if you can scrunch things on the tile row a bit, their mono digital reverb...?

Otherwise, the module compliment is pretty good. Looks like you did your homework in VCV Rack pretty well!

Looks like you did your homework in VCV Rack pretty well!
-- Lugia

This makes me uber happy. There's been a rash of posts from people who haven't done their homework. It's nice to go over the fine points of a build rather than telling someone to go back to the drawing board.

More posts like the original post please! :)

First of all I want to sincerely thank you guys for all of your feedbacks. I never ever thought I would so much response and I swear it means the world to me in this careful plannig phase. So, again, THANK YOU.

Starting with the size matter. Yes, while putting together this rack, I immediately felt that this size would unavoidably cause strong constrains and that very soon I would have need more space. Because of this, I confirm you that I actually was already looking to a 3 row case, as you are suggesting. Nontheless, I decided to put together this smaller rack in order to leave the third row for a time where I have deeper awareness of my musical direction and aspiration. I understand that it would surely be strategically convenient to plan a rack thinking directly to all of the space you may have available, but to me it felt just a shot too long to take and that I’d prefer to let the rack grow naturally over time. Right now, by the way, I’m looking at a very interesting offer in my hometown as a local studio is selling a 9U 104hp at a very good price, but that would be WAY bigger than the one I posted so I’m not totally sure about it. Aside from that, Ronin’s and Lugia’s suggestion of the 7U Intellijel case really blew my mind, as I see it as a way to maximize the potentiality of my build without twist its nature. I’ll surely think about it even if the only downside i see is the HUGE price of that case, to the point it becomes a crucial factor to take into consideration.

Concerning the mosorensen observations, I can confirm that the lack of percussive elements was “intentional” to a certain extent. Having to deal with a “restricted” number of modules, I tried to focus on a direction as clearely defined as possible, that being ambients and textures creation around melodic sequences. So this was the natural result of that thinking process, but I’m obviously completely open to the possibility to change my mind while building the case! As you mentioned, I think the Disting can be very useful to test that out as well many other features that can make me understend how other modules work I guess. I’ll also surely think about an alternative to Links! I didn’t thought about the stackable cables as a permanent alternative, thanks!

Finally, talking about the sequencer, I clearely admit that I don’t have a clear full picture of all the possibilities out there. What I can say is that while patching in VCV Rack, very often it come’s out my more traditional musical background. For example, I very often patch using Marbles and that modules really opened my eyes about what modular “can do” and how it can completely revolutionize the way I compose music. But still, there is always a time during my patching when I feel the need to lay down precise notes phrases to add to at a sequence or as an additional layer as fast as possible, so I guess that in this phase I still want to be able to have a deep control on the sequencing, even with external controller if I feel the need. That comes at a cost as basically the only randomness in this build may come from the randomize function of the hermod itself I guess, but that’s how I feel I need to start right now. Having this in mind, if you have alternatives to point me to, I would be really interested in hearing them.

Thanks again to all of you.

Hi Marco,

I like to appologise to you for my earlier feedback. I can see you definitely had this better planned and looked through than I expected, so please forget my comments regarding that matter. Regarding the 3rd row for space wise you planned but didn't show it, that is a good one :-) That keeps you tight to a 2 rows planning with future possibilities to extend a few modules in your 3rd row.

Good luck with finalising your planning and I hope you enjoy your hopefully soon modular system :-)

Kind regards, Garfield.

Yeah, the Intellijel 7u x 104 seems spendy...but let's look at it for a moment.

First up, it's powered. And not just powered in a typical way, but with an utterly bonkers amperage capacity: 3A on both 12V rails, 1.5A on the +5. Now, that's serious...it would be rather difficult (but not impossible [although very irresponsible!]) to overload that, even on the inrush at switch-on. A more typical supply in that size of case would give you perhaps half that current capacity. Also, the bus board IS the power supply...this means that you won't tend to have any power components near audio ones in a way that can cause noise/garbage. It also means there's basically NO internal cabling for your DC busses, ergo less to go wrong. See here for more: https://www.perfectcircuit.com/intellijel-tps80w-a.html ...it ain't no joke!

Next, check the construction: all aluminum attache case style, with a lid with enough depth to let you keep a patch in place during transport. Predesigned for a second case to attach, too, via Intellijel's bracket system. But then there's the I/O on this, which gives you MIDI I/O/T + USB MIDI, stereo audio in and out, and your power inlet/switch...all of which is kept off of the patchpanel, meaning more space! And the case comes with the necessary 80W Meanwell "line lump", which simplifies everything...no need to match up the right AC supply for the Intellijel TPS80 supply inside.

So, sure...$649 street. But what you get for that $649 in both hardware AND ease of use...worth it! Also, keep in mind that while you can shuffle modules relatively easily, your case is something you'll be locked into for a while. Get something solid and very capable to start with, and you'll be happy with it for years.

Thanks Lugia, you are really showing me very good points I never thought about...I will surely consider the 7U case option very carefully, you opened my eyes about it!

Thak also to you Garfield, you don't have to apologize. Every comment I recieve from people more expert than me is extremely valuabe. If I was sure about my choices I wouldn't have posted asking for advice. I actually am keeping my eyes open with much interest about Gronud Control and Black Sequencer! As I said, the sequencer is something I'm still trying to leran more about, so if you have any other advice about it I will surely be glad to hear them!

One more thing. Do you guys think it would worth it to look for a dual filter in order to filter more voices independently?

Hello Marco,

Thank you very much for being so tolerant with me, that's very kind of you.

I almost check every two or three days or so to see if there is any news regarding Ground Control and the Black Sequencer, can't wait for these modules to arrive in the shops and hopefully can test them. I hope either one of them is going to be my main sequencer :-) Let's see...

What can a dual filter do more than two single filters? Naturally depending on which dual filter, you might be able to mix the two filters' output or keep them strictly separated from each other. Not too sure how you meant your question? Or did you meant if it's worth it to have a dual filter? If that's the case, well I guess like oscillators, envelopes, LFOs, you just can't have enough filters, can you? ;-) Perhaps indeed you could replace the filter you have planned now with a dual filter, that might be indeed a good idea. Or take two different filters, so you get two different characteristics in your music.

Kind regards, Garfield.

Depends on the dual VCF in question. Some of them, like Doepfer's A-106-1 or the Intelljel Morgasmatron, have their basis in the Korg MS-20 Sallen-Key pair. While they have two VCFs, they're more intended to be used in tandem for thruput of a single audio signal but you can always screw around with that bit of architecture. Others like the Erica Dual VCF or Radikal's RT-451 are more like true dual filters with varying degrees of linking capability.

Frankly, I like the MS-20-based ones. That Doepfer, also, has an insert point in its resonance path that has MASSIVE abuse potential, allowing all sorts of things to be patched into the feedback path to majorly screw around with the behavior of the filter(s). Consider what would happen with, say, a monophonic delay line in there...fun!

Yeah, maybe I rushed the question, but you guys got the point. I was actually looking at the Erica Dual VCF evaluating a rather "simpler" filter but capable of being used also as a true dual filter processing two audio signal independently.
As always you guys gave me constructive comments and new ideas and ascpects to think about! :)

Yeah, maybe I rushed the question, but you guys got the point. I was actually looking at the Erica Dual VCF evaluating a rather "simpler" filter but capable of being used also as a true dual filter processing two audio signal independently.
As always you guys gave me constructive comments and new ideas and ascpects to think about! :)
-- Pescasphere

The Morgasmatron gets my vote. I own one just for the sake of disclosure. It's nice to have two identical* multimode filters. On channel one you can add overdrive and channel two you can phase reverse. You definitely can use it on a stereo source and modulate each side slightly differently. It also has a convenient switch to operate on a single signal in series or parallel.

Each channel is also capable of self-oscillating and has multiple filter options. So it's a good all-around workhorse of a filter module.

Here are my five cents:

If you want true stereo, may I suggest using a stereo reverb instead. The Erbeverb has only one mono input afaik. It has stereo out, but it's not the same and may be limiting you.

Speaking of reverbs, they pair naturally with delays. In fact, a full blown stereo delay is the only thing I would be missing in your setup, if I wanted to do ambient.

As suggested by the others, a true stereo filter or a pair of identical filters does make a lot of sense for ambient. You could do nice stereo modulation with it. Although I would prefer a creamy 24dB filter for ambient. I would definitely try out the filter in person if possible. I have made the experience that you only really know if a filter or LPG is for you, by playing with it first.

If you want to handle sequencing only via midi, a Poly 2 or FH-2 will save a lot of space.

Hermod really shines when using it's sequencing effects section and when connecting the modular to external gear. However Hermods pianoroll is a little tedious. I would not recommend Hermod for sequencing without some kind of external midi input. If you plan on using it as a sequencer, I would definitely recommend trying it out first, as it may not be what you expect it to be.

And my final piece of advice, as you have mentioned yourself: The cool thing about modular is that you can start very small and learn as your system grows. When I got into modular I wanted to go all eastcoast, only to realize that I love westcoast. I would recommend getting a minimal voice first and expanding organically, constantly refining as you go along. However I agree with the others about getting a big enough case, even if it's almost empty at first.