Hi everybody,

First post here :)
After months of weighing the pluses and the minuses, it's decided, I'll buy my first modular system. I even have some money saved up for it.

I have a good background in music making, bought my first hardware desktop synth more than 15 years ago and I know what sounds I want to go for, how to make most of those using regular synthesis techniques and effects, etc. I've tried my hand at vcv rack and played a lot with the Axoloti, but while I really enjoyed the patching part, staring a a computer screen all the time to make music just doesn’t click with me. Modular + Elektron Octatrack sounds like the ultimate music making combo.

Below is the rack I came up with, started as a copy of the Erica Synth Black System, and I tried to move towards something that made more sense for my use.

ModularGrid Rack

The goal for this setup is
- making dark sounding drones
- creating sampler food, mostly interesting textures
- making simple sequences for bass/synth lines
- have fun experimenting with sound (although this would amount to creating sampler food, I admit)

I think this setup provides me with nice sounds sources and plenty of modulation to spice things up, some effects and utility stuff etc. Nevertheless, playing a bit with software doesn’t exactly qualify me as expert so I’m worried I overlooked important aspects of a functional setup.
So, what do you think, is this something you’d like to play with or an insult to your eyes ? :)
Am I missing something or would you add something that would take this to another level with limited space (there are some HP left).

Thanks in advance for your time and comments !


Hi Diego,

Nice rack you got yourself planned there :-) I did nearly the same thing as you did, though instead of Erica Synths, I took a Doepfer starter set and “uncoupled” here and there a few modules and put my own likings in it. It resulted in a set that was double sized and not many of the original modules left of the starter set :-)

By the way, I am jealous about your Octatrack. I had a good friend a week ago here who brought his Make Noise 0-coast and his Octatrack; together with my modular system we got some interesting and nice results. Very nice device that Octatrack if you take your time to learn how to use it, good stuff Elektron. I consider the Analog Four but I am not so sure, I want to see what Hydrasynth comes up with and then will take it from there most likely.

Back to your rack :-) Here a few things you might want to look into it and/or to (re-) consider it:

  • You got quite a few Pico modules planned, 3 HP width, I feel is a bit too small. I got a few Pico modules, in principle I am okay with them, they are good however once you got them patched full with cables and want to reach the knobs then it’s getting less comfortable, just too small. Similar opinion I have about modules of 2 HP width. I also got the 8 Multi module, it is just a buffered multiple so without knobs and then the width (4 HP) is just about acceptable for me but it shouldn’t get smaller. But hey, that’s just me. Anyway, I see you put some of the Picos near to each other, perhaps you should put here and there a module between them to make it more comfortable to use them.

  • I see one ADSR, the Doepfer A-140v, I got myself the A-140 (the standard one), is a good module and does what it should do: being an ADSR :-) Though in your setup I would go at least for one more envelope (if not more). I have for example the Erica Synths Black VC EG (with the expander), I love that module, you get the usual ADSR however each A, D, S and R can be controlled by a separate CV (thus 4 CVs). The extension provides you a separate output for each of the stages: A, D, S and R. I use this module pretty much and I am really happy with it. You might want to consider that as a second envelope. And/or another envelope you could consider is the Erica Synths Black HADSR EG, I also got that one and is a nice module too that includes the Hold phase and you got a switch on it to use it either as a HADSR or as AHDSR. Yet another triple-switch for loop mode: ADSR, AR or off. I can recommend that HADSR EG module too however note that this module can’t be controlled by CVs

  • Not so sure why you want to have that Black Mixer? You got already a Doepfer A-138p (I got the standard non-vintage version and I am happy with it, I can recommend it), so why do you need the Black Mixer for?

  • Talking about that A-138p mixer, are you sure that’s going to work with the Erica Synths Output Module? I use the setup Doepfer A-138p together with the A-138o output module and that works just fine, so perhaps you should reconsider that Erica Synths Module and perhaps instead use the A-138o? The A-138p can be daisy chained with another A-138p so that’s why I don’t think you need the Black Mixer, do you?

  • I notice a few double modules, nothing against it if you have plenty space but you don’t have much space left, so do you really need two Pico Modulators? And two Pico Logic?

  • In the same context I noticed that you have one Pico DSP and the Black Hole DSP v2, I would go for the Black Hole DSP v2 and leave the Pico DSP out, so you can reduce a bit on the Pico modules, I feel you got a bit too many of those Picos; but that might be just me. Or do you really need a second DSP module, i.e. that Pico DSP?

  • Similar you might wonder if you need that Pico Attenuator module, you got already that Black VCA (got it myself too, nice module, output could be at times a bit stronger but otherwise a good module) and you got already planned that Doepfer A-138p, so already two ways of reducing the signals if you like, or do you expect somewhere such a strong signal that you must have a separate attenuator for that? The Black VCA (accordingly to the manual) got an improved attenuator :-) The In Level pot-meter can be used to reduce your signal if you need that.

  • Once you got the Make Noise Maths, the Erica Synths Black Hole and the Dual VCF please let me know your experiences, these are on my wish list too :-)

  • The Erica Synths Octasource is a fantastic crazy bastard ;-) I have that module in my setup and for me it’s the craziest module (in a positive way this is meant) I have but I love it. It’s a psychopath of a module, it has 8 outputs each 45º in phase shifted (single mode) or you put it in multi mode and then any output can have any phase. I recently use this crazy LFO a lot in my setup, so you can make not so crazy modules a bit crazier by having their CVs controlled by this psycho ;-) Then I use yet another two LFOs to control the CVs (Wave, Phase and FM) of this Octasource, then it goes totally bananas! :-) If you then put the rate of that Octasource quite low, you get crazy but nice effects

  • What I am also trying to say with the above is that yes the Octasource is a good choice but you need at least one normal LFO as well :-) Preferable with multiple/simultaneous outputs so you can put that psychopath of an Octasource even more out of control...

  • Oh yes, and do yourself a favour please and get one more row planned, so 3 times 104 HP instead of now 2 times 104 HP, you will need that space rather soon than later and then you will regret if you stick now with just two rows. Don’t come with the excuse that you don’t have budget enough for that, then leave out first one of those fancy modules and put that money into that extra row

  • Sorry, one more, I am missing an Audio output module, so instead of that Erica Output, I would take the Doepfer A-138o and then an Audio output module from Intellijel (Audio I/O) for example, or Bastl Ciao or Befaco Output, something like that, to make sure you can go without worries (DC signals filtered away with such audio output module) to your external mixer or directly to your active speakers

Well that were my two cents of thoughts ;-) I am still a bit jealous about your Octatrack, together with Modular you might get yourself some interesting results!

Good luck with your planning and kind regards,

Garfield Modular.

Hi Garfield !

Wow, thanks a lot for the great feedback ! I’m really appreciative of the detailed answer, helps me out tremendously :)
So taking into account your input, here is v2:

ModularGrid Rack

I understand your concern with the Pico modules. In fact, I have the same concern, but my plan was to use them as “set once and forget” modules, setting parameter values for the patch and the never touch it again until the next patch, as opposed to bigger modules with bigger knobs and more space I will use in a more performance-oriented manner. Now that you’re expressing those doubts, I’m thinking I should really see if those couldn’t be replaced by more user friendly modules.

You’re absolutely right about EG’s, the A-140v alone probably isn’t enough. I was originally thinking that the Pico MOD’s that I added would do the job (I put one between the VCA module and the mixer), but taking into accounts your remarks about the size of the modules not being practical, I’m now leaning again towards a bigger EG module. Turns out the Black VC EG and its expander have been discontinued but they still have some stock over at Erica Synths, with a nice discount (40%), I’ll go for that. There would still be some room left for another A-140v but would that be useful ?

I’m not sure either why the Black Mixer was left in there, I added the beefier Doepfer mixer and forgot to take the Black Mixer out but indeed it’s not needed, well spotted. Frees up some space for that EG and its expander too :)

For output, I have no idea what I was thinking, thanks a bunch for setting me straight ! So I got rid of the Erica Synths Output module and introduced the 138-o. For the final balanced output, the Intellijel Audio I/O brings balanced input to the game so I could bring the rest of the instruments easily but I went with the Befaco Output for now because Audio I/O has no headphone output, which I think would come really handy for “quick” patching jams with just the modular. I’m no expert at levels, but using a 3.5mm To 1 / 4" Jack adapter, couldn’t I simply plug my desktop synth output to say the Black Hole module input ? That would be neat ! It would totally kill the need for an Intellijel’s Audio I/O, wouldn’t need such a complete i/o module. I'll do some research.

About the double modules, you’re right again, there are duplicates: the 2 Pico Logic were there to provide Maths-like functions but it might just be overkill. Erica Synths confirmed over email that the reason I can’t find any on their site is because they have been discontinued, so I guess that solves the issue. The 2 Pico Mod were, well, me guessing they’d be fun and that you can never have too much modulation. The v2 of my rack only has 1. Pico DSP was to complement the Black Hole, basically to have 2 independent effects on 2 different sound sources to blend them together at the end of the chain, but my plan was to get only the Black Hole first and see what’s up. I removed the Pico DSP, I’ll see if that space gets filled up by something else.

You bring valid points about the presence of the Pico Atten while already having similar modules and since Erica Synths confirmed that module has also been discontinued, it’s now simply gone.

I agree again with the need for more LFOs. Erica Synths Modulator was discontinued by Erica Synths as well so that’s another one I’ll get on discount I suppose. It has multiple outs. I also added a Batumi from Xaoc Devices in the plan but that’s probably one that will come later.

Another thing I did is get rid of the MIDI module, I figure the Analog Four that I already own has 4 CV outputs so I’ll just use those. I might get one of those BeatStep Pro that everyone seems to be rocking or some other similar CV sequencer in case I need more, the MIDI was a way to reduce things to only OT + modular, I'm still undecided about that. I guess the plan is to start without it and see what makes sense while playing.

About the number of rows, my plan is to get a TipTop Audio Mantis case, those are 2 rows of 104 HP, hence my choice. Would it be a terrible idea to get a separate single row 104 HP skiff when it’s time ? I expect that since my drum needs are way too complex to create from modular, I’ll rock the OT for that, so extra modular needs would come much later ? Maybe I’m just naïve, I honestly don’t know what to think here, one one hand the case is pretty filled already, on the other hand this setup seems like it’s going to keep me both busy (and poor) for a while. Foolish ?

I hereby promise to report on Maths, Black Hole DSP and Dual VCF modules once they’re home and I’ve had time to play with them a bit, seems like I owe you that at least :)

Again, thanks a lot for the time you took to help a stranger, it is super helpful !

All the best,

If you're set on that 104 hp width, Intellijel's 7U might make more sense. It would allow you to remove the Befaco Out, and the Buffered Mult (although, tbh, you don't need that with this few VCOs...you can use inline passive mults and open up more space), plus add some option possibilities that can give you more control, such as a Quadratt, MIDI interface, etc etc. Just keep in mind that with that case, you MUST use Intellijel-format tiles; the "standard" Pulplogic sizing won't work in their case. And yes, go back to a pair of Erica PICO Mods, since these are extremely useful for quick-n-dirty EG + VCA control over CVs and mod signals. Finally, yeah, I know black looks snazzy and all that, but those Vintage panel Doepfer modules add up. Going with the sleepy-looking aluminum ones makes more fiscal sense. Yes, they break up the color scheme...but given the ones you've got here, you can make use of those aluminum panels to break up the patchpanel into functional "zones" that're easy to see. Oh...and definitely spring for the Batumi's expander, Poti. It's worth it in $$ and the 3 hp it needs.

There are some great comments above so I'm not going to pile on. But here are a couple of this in no sense of priority.

The Intellijel 104HP 7U case is also available in black. (I'm sensing a theme)
Intellijel makes some nifty stuff in the 1U that includes a vector scope, a noise + sample/hold/slew module, and even some USB tiles that are great for mounting a USB reading lamp or two. You'll want that since your color scheme is going to be pretty dark to begin with.

For additional modulation you may want to check out Noise Engineerings "Clep Diaz" and/or possibily their Mimetic Digitalis.
Ricky Tinez uses a lot of Noise Engineering products and features both in this video.

I think you can also get replacement faces for the Maths in black.

Hi Diego, Lugia and Ronin1973,

You are welcome and no problem :-)

Yes, perhaps I was a bit too negative on those Pico modules, I see you reduced them enormously now in your 2nd version. You might want to follow up on Lugia’s comment to go back to two of those Pico Mod modules; naturally up to you, at the end you need to be happy with your setup.

Lugia, thanks a lot for correcting me here :-)

Ronin1973, thanks a lot for sharing that video, nice one!

Back to you Diego, about that Befaco Output module, if you follow up Lugia’s advice to go for the Intellijel 7U case, you could leave it out. If you stick with 6U then you might want to keep it.

I got them both the Intellijel Audio I/O which indeed has no headphones, so that’s why I took as a second output module the Befaco for the headphones connection. The Befaco can be used for input audio as well as for output audio however not simultaneously. That’s why I kept the Befaco together with my Intellijel Audio I/O. With the later you can do both at the same time, getting your sound out of the modular system into your mixer but also getting input signal into your modular system.

That brings me to your point you mentioned that you want to put your desktop synth output directly into the Black Hole module input. I am not 100% sure on the exact details but modular audio is a slightly bit different on voltage levels than line audio (which is your desktop synth most likely). I forgot which one has higher levels and which one the lower voltage levels but that’s why I recommend you to use an Audio Input/Output module so you don’t need to worry about that.

Yes, it’s a pity that Intellijel’s Audio I/O doesn’t have a headphone connection. I remember I saw one or two modules who can do that, if I am not mistaken, just go here on modulargrid.net to the modules section and try to look for one that can do both (input & output audio + headphones) instead of your Befaco I mean, but up to you. I could imagine that you can solve these problems by going for that Intellijel 7U case instead; just check out the options & possibilities.

He, he, fair enough about the TipTop Audio Mantis case with 2 rows of 104 HP. Of course you always can buy an additional single row 104 HP skiff case but I think on a per HP cost calculation that’s not going to make it cheaper. I don’t know where you live however I live in Germany and I calculated for most of the cases (that interested me, the rather bigger ones I must admit) the per HP price and I came to the conclusion that the Doepfer A-100 low cost cases are the cheapest on a per HP basis; not sure if that’s for every country the same, it might not be the case. If I remember well then indeed as second TipTop Audio came with their case. You can easily check that yourself (in case that’s important to you).

Regarding that Doepfer A-138pv module you don’t have to buy straight away two of them however if in the future you need more than 4 channels then it’s just easy to add one of those A-138pv modules and you got yourself an 8 channel-mixer, that’s how I meant it but you could easily start with just one A-138pv first, that’s exactly what I am doing now too, got only one A-138p at the moment (I just planned space for a second A-138p for future usage/extension).

Since it looks like you want to stick first with two rows ;-) Perhaps you should think about if you really need three envelopes (A-140v, Black VC EG+ext. & Batumi), perhaps take one of those 3 out first, build up some experience with two of them and then consider if you need a third one? I usually wouldn’t ask you to reduce the number of envelopes but in this case if you stick with the small space you might want to be a bit more space concerned and keep some “reserved space” left for future modules, if you know what I mean?

Yes would be nice if you could let me know about those mentioned 3 modules if you like those :-) That Fusion module from Erica Synths interests me too I must admit, let me know about that one too :-)

Have fun with the system and keep us updated how it goes, kind regards, Garfield.

Intellijel has a 1U tile for headphones. But you'll have to split your stereo signal from your mix to the headphones and your 1U audio input. I think a better choice would be getting a 3U unit that has independent headphone and line outputs with separate control over each and keep the Intellijel in and out for line level gear you want to bring into your system like external reverbs or traditional synths.

Hi there

You will need more space sooner than later :-)

I just finished my first rack about 1 month ago. I see you are interested in the Mantis.

I also have the Mantis and it's already full. So when i want to try a new module i have to get rid of an other module (that's stupid)

Tiptop Audio will release a dual Mantis Bracket later this month. So you can mount another Mantis case on Top.

Thats probably the way i will go in the near future.

What I realizes so far is that I don't really like small Modules. I've got a Monsoon Clouds but i would prefer the Original Clouds.
(Modules like the 2hp Pluck and the Arp are ok)

I also have the Erica Synth Dual FX. But i don't like it that much. I would prefer a nice delay Module like the 4MS DLD and for Reverb something like the Erbe Verb. Both of these Modules are 20HP. I need more Space.

Hi ! Great input here :)

Here we go, v3:
ModularGrid Rack

Lugia, you have a point about the price difference for the black modules and I like the idea of using the aluminum panels as dividers.

The 7U case has been on my mind all day to be honest. It just makes more sense, I guess, the 1Us are great to get utility modules on the cheap while freeing up some 3U space down below. In case I want to get crazy in the future, they have a system to mount a second one on top. The case itself is pricier but it seems like it's worth it, so v3 has changed case :)

Intellijel has a 1U tile for headphones. But you'll have to split your stereo signal from your mix to the headphones and your 1U audio input. I think a better choice would be getting a 3U unit that has independent headphone and line outputs with separate control over each and keep the Intellijel in and out for line level gear you want to bring into your system like external reverbs or traditional synths.

-- Ronin1973

1U Audio I/O + 1U heaphones module + 1U buffered mult seems to get me what I want, all in the same space, and I feel like having a 3U line output module and unused line I/O at the back of the case would be sort of weird, right ?

The Mimetic Digitalis has replaced the Vox Digitalis, seems like a better option, thanks for pointing me to it (I had actually watched that video, not sure why I dismissed it). I also added a Clep Diaz, the module seems like a lot of fun (I watched the video only about that module, from Rick Tinez as well). I couldn't resist addind a Lapsus Os too.

I could use the 1U Quadratt as a mixer (and get rid of the Doepfer A-138 modules for now). Not getting me a 1U µMIDI would be folly at that point.

A second Pico Mod is back too, it's cheap enough. I removed the Batumi for now, but a clock divider made its way into the setup, I think it will come in very handy.

How does it look ? :)

I also have the Erica Synth Dual FX. But i don't like it that much. I would prefer a nice delay Module like the 4MS DLD and for Reverb something like the Erbe Verb. Both of these Modules are 20HP. I need more Space.

-- Quantum_Eraser

I've been looking at the Erica Synth Dual FX for a while but it seemed a bit underwhelming. What is your issue with it ?
Yeah, more space, I suppose I'll have that problem too at some point :)

Hi Diego,

Looks nice! You got yourself a nice system there :-)

There is just one thing left...

Buy it and enjoy it ;-)

Have fun and kind regards, Garfield.

Yep, divider goooood...but choose the more capable A-160-2 instead. This gives you not just the usual suboctave division, but an integer count + divide by primes. Then, by adding a simple Boolean logic module such as Doepfer's A-166, you can combine the outputs from the divider + your regular clock to create more complex crossrhythmic gate patterns. Even better would be to add a comparator to this lineup, which would allow you to track voltage curves coming off of the Maths or the Black Modulator or EG to generate a gate pulse when the voltage crosses a determined level. Put this all together with the logic gates, and the rhythmic timing aspect will be bonkers!

And do put the A-138p and o back in there. The Quadratt is great for summing down the VCOs or attenuverting CVs, but it's not much on audio when compared to a proper stereo performance mixer. It's more of a "utility" mixer, plus offset generator and inverter, while the 138 series is very much audio-specific and allows you to build up a stereo image for your stereo Line Out. By feeding the A-138o to the Black DSP, then going from there to the Line Out and using the DSP's wet/dry knob (or CV control over it) to balance your stereo effects against the dry mix, you'll have loads of control over global effects...and STILL get to use the AUX send/return setup in the A-138p/o combo for something like a mono delay (something simple but with CV, like a Dreadbox White Line Echo) that you can mix in on a per-channel basis. Pretty cool, pretty neat!

But yeah, this is rapidly approaching "button 'er up" time. Think about those last two ideas, then I concur with Garfield...this'll be a damn fine system!

Good day Garfield, Lugia and all the rest of the fine people on here !

Indeed, the A-160-2 is a much better option, I changed that and added the A-166 too. Crazy rhythmic patterns, here I come :)

As getting rid of the Doepfer mixer was maybe a little too minimalist, I put the A-138p and A-138o back in the setup. As much as I'd like to add a comparator or another small FX module, looks like by adding the mixer back and the logic module I filled up all the space, I even had to move the Clep Diaz up to get everything to fit in there. Oh God :)

Updated version:
ModularGrid Rack

I got an email back form Erica Synths stating that they could maybe offer a discount for a large purchase and I'll see if I can source some modules from the 2nd hand market to reduce costs, but now I feel comfortable about the setup.

I'm repeating myself but I don't care: THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP ! You guys made my day, for a few days in a row :)

Cheers !

PS: not sure if you have the same issue: on my machine the Pico MODs are not shown properly in the preview above, gotta click on it to view the rack which shows the modules properly.

Hey Diego,

You are welcome :-) And yes, I got the same, I have to click on your rack to see indeed the Pico Mod modules properly; bit weird indeed.

Please keep us updated once you got the system and have played a while with it. Oh man, this rack with your Elektron stuff, that's just fantastic :-)

Well done and kind regards, Garfield.

Comparator? Easy-peasy...remove the Black VCA and the A-132-3, and replace them with an Intelljel Quad VCA, which then leaves you 6 hp you didn't have. Then, my suggestion for that 6 hp space would then be SSF's Tool-Box. So as a result of that swap, you now have one more VCA and all of the VCAs would then be variable-response for either audio or CV/mod work as necessary, plus the Tool-Box then gives you a 2-in summing mixer, a rectifier for positive offsetting and/or waveshaping, a comparator, an analog OR (gives the maximum of two inputs...feed it two LFOs and watch the mod curve craziness!), another inverter, and an electronic A-B switch. And all that for only $27 more than the current two modules!

There are ALWAYS solutions. They just require lots of poking at things. ;-)

Hey !

I'm on holidays in the countryside so limited access to the interwebs.

Genius idea to remove the Doepfer and Erica VCAs to replace it with the Intellijel one, I got the Tool-Box in the new version.

I have one last doubt: is the Octasource too much ? Would you keep it ? Sometimes I think it's going to be as fun as it is crazy, sometimes I think that it might be a bit excessive and that a smaller/cheaper module could be enough and would free up some space for small utilities.

I'll start ordering all that when I'm back from holidays and able to receive parcels :)

Cheers !

No! That Octasource is insanely useful...its ability to output phaseshifted results alone opens up a bunch of things that...well, just keep it in, you'll see! ;-) It's actually a variant on Suit & Tie Guy's Mankato VCF; see that for some further ideas/inspiration.

Hi Diego,

You can remove almost all your modules but not the Octasource, that's a fantastic module, leave it in, I totally agree with Lugia.

Have a nice holiday and kind regards, Garfield.

Hi Lugia & Garfield !

I’m actually laughing out loud imagining the next iteration of my setup just being a bunch of Octasources and a Pico VCO :-D

Thanks again, now I have to try and forget this fantastic setup you help me build in order to fully enjoy my time off work ;-)

I’ll report back when my bank account is bled dry and I’m a happy camper.

All the best and take care,

Hi Lugia & Garfield !

I hope life is treating you well and that you're having a good time, wherever you are :D

The case and modules arrived some days ago. As you probably guessed, the setup has evolved based on my investigations and further head scratching, here it is:

ModularGrid Rack

  • the Doepfer mixer module is gone, replaced by 2 linked Intellijel Mixup modules, essentially a 8HP gain (12 vs 20 for the Doepfer solution) with more channels. Quite happy with those except the ones I received were delivered with channel 1 broken (I suspect ModularSquare sent me returns instead of new ones).

  • I'm ok with Pico modules. I guess I have slim enough fingers to handle those, the limited size is not an issue for me at all.

  • Erica EG was replaced with the more adaptive Stages, I figure that between that and the Maths, I have the envelopes I need right now, in case I need an extra one a Pico Mod might come back in, or maybe one of those 2hp modules if I need space.

  • Black Dual Filter was replaced by a QPAS and a Doepfer Wasp filter. They're both amazing in their own style, no regrets here, Wasp's sound is right up my alley, any knob turn sounds good, almost feels like it's too easy lol. And the QPAS, well, I don't even know if I can call it "just" a filter, it's very very deep. I won't be able to comment on the Erica module though :)

  • I took a different approach on effects. For now, I just use a Pico DSP instead of the bulkier Black Hole DSP, with a plan to get a Make Noise Mimeophon when stock is back, sounds like something that is right up my alley and is more inviting to sonic exploration.

  • You were both right about the OctaSource, doubting its presence was a mistake, modulation fun for days, I just need to learn how to tame the beast, so to speak :)

  • Got a Pamela's NW, and again I feel like this was the right choice, its wide range of options is great for both modulation exploration and sequencing, it's a keeper for sure and it was immediately obvious why it's one of the best rated modules out there.

  • Introduced drums into the setup, using a couple of Pico DRUMS and a Steppy for this. It's basic but it works great, mainly thanks to the amazing Steppy, very fun sequencer really, with the very useful mutes to circumvent the absence of mutes and only 1 output for 2 drum sounds on the Pico's.

  • Replaced the Fusion VCO with a Ts-L from Instruo, saving HP and getting a different sound. Haven't explored this one too much yet but from what I've heard so far, it sounds pretty good. I spent more time with the Black Wavetable as of now though.

  • I love the Quad VCA, it's Boost is great for creating distorsion and it's super precise, if I had infinite space I'd get another !

  • I was expecting the Mimetic Digitalis to be a bit easier to use, but I might just need more time with it.

  • the A-134 was an unexpected gift so as long as I have space in my current setup, it's staying, I currently use it as a VCO mixer.

  • Maths is soooo useful, it's the ultimate Eurorack toolbox, also obvious why everyone recommends getting one. Mainly using it as an envelope generator or LFO, but I have plans to spend a lot of time exploring just that module.

  • Everyone should get a Disting. With that much functionality in so few HP, it's basically a must-have in my book. Already used it as reverb before the Pico DSP arrived, quantizer, filter, sample player, ... I'll probably spend a day or two exploring each of the functions, sounds like quite a lot of fun can be had doing just that.

This setup is great paired with an Octatrack, for now I have simply setup the OT as a looper using the XFader transition trick, this is ace :) I'm debating what will be done in the modular and what will be done in the OT, originally I was thinking of leaving the bass drum in the OT for example, I like using the OT's compressor on those but having introduced the Steppy and Pico DRUMS, I almost feel like I could do everything in the 7U case and just use the OT for transitions and effects.

Dreams for the future include
- a Basimilus Iteritas Alter to create weird percussions or basslines, demos sound amazing and more importantly, I think I can get sounds out of it that will be useable very fast... It's also a more complete voice using limited space which is nice
- an extra filter couldn't hurt if I get a BIA, I was thinking a MMF from SSF/WMD
- probably a Batumi for extra LFO's, not sure I need it, I'll decide in a few months when I have played more with what I have

That's where I am right now. I'd be happy to answer questions you may have on the setup !

Have a good one !

Diego, a happy Euroracker

Hey Diego, our happy Euroracker ;-)

I hope you had a fantastic holiday?! Live is good here; as long as there is a Eurorack standing next to me (which is currently the case), I am happy :-)

The good news is you bought a casing and some modules! Yeah! :-)

I noticed you changed quite a bit, hopefully not too quick last minute decisions?

Are you sure about your mixer choice? I see you got now a Doepfer A-134 panning module though if I understand that module correctly you can (for example) put at the end of the audio chain a left and a right channel panning with that. However if that was a gift, then it’s certainly not too bad :-) With the Doepfer combination A-138o & 138p you could change the panning per channel though and not just limited to two channels. Now it looks you can't do that (panning on a channel basis) anymore?

Good to know you can handle the Pico modules well. Yeah a few are fine for me too but if you have a bunch of them all next together fully patched with cables, small fingers or not, you can't reach the knobs because of all those cables ;-) Looking at your layout it might be not too bad regarding the cables so I am glad to hear you like the Picos! They certainly can come in handy for some quick patching.

I got myself a Doepfer Wasp filter too, fantastic filter, I love it too, so I can imagine you went for that one :-)

He, he, the Octasource, the psychopath beast, you don’t want it actually to tame, just start using it and enjoy the wild ride! ;-) If you seriously want to tame it put the rate quite low (the lower the rate, the tamer; but don’t put it at 12 o’clock, then it freezes), the switch to single (instead of multi) and put the wave knob completely anti-clockwise (i.e. at 7 o’clock) and don’t use the FM (IN) then it’s in one of its most tame conditions I realised…

Please let me know your experience with Instruo, and this Ts-L module, I consider the Tòna of this brand and would be interested in people’s opinion about this brand and their VCOs.

Glad to hear you love your Quad VCA, I know this feeling of having a fantastic module, it becomes almost magic what you can do with it compared to other modules and it feels so comfortable then to use it! So enjoy it.

Yeah, I want a Disting mk4 too but I am waiting now quite long already, still not on stock (or when a few pieces arrive they are straight away sold out) with my local dealer here.

I am glad to read that your Octatrack (OT) fits in well together with your new Eurorack. Don’t forget the fantastic sample possibilities on the OT though; I feel that makes the OT really powerful.

How you feel is the usage of the Stages of Mutable Instruments? Is it self-explanatory, i.e. easy in use? Or do you have to remember a lot of button combinations? I consider this brand too but I am not sure yet.

After a holiday, got yourself a Eurorack, what does one want more ;-) ?

Enjoy your Eurorack! Kind regards, Garfield.

Hi Garfield !

Holidays were nice, I needed that time off :)

So the mixer change, yeah, a lot of thinking and hesitating went in there, but I think overall the double Mixup is a superior option for me for now: I get more channels (2 stereo with mute switches and volume knob, 2 without but I can handle that in other modules as well), I still have mutes and more importantly, I realized I could just do away with the audio I/O entirely if I give up external input by connecting the Mixup output straight to the case's output, I could just then take that same output with patch cables to the headphones out (the signal is duplicated between the out plugs and another "hidden" channel with the connector on the back panel). Losing panning per channel is indeed a big downside but since some modules give me stereo imaging (QPAS, Pico DSP, Mimeophon), I can still create interesting stuff in the stereo space. The Doepfer A-134 was not part of my plan so it wasn't meant to solve that, it was given to me by someone who had no use for it but had not seen my setup plans :-p

I agree with what you're saying about Pico modules, clever placement within the case is important, and they're still to be considered as 'set and forget' items more than playable ones.

My opinion (being a massive noob) about the Ts-L is that it's very beefy and precise, it offers a few ways to modulate it but the small knobs on the bottom can be hard to manipulate when patching is done, I would have loved bigger knobs. This might just be bad decisions by me, mind you, setting it next to PNW was maybe not the best idea.

Sounds like we have similar filter opinions. What would be your recommendation to pair with the T-sL or Basimilus Iteritas Alter ?

I did what you recommend for the OctaSource. For now I like it to be a bit predictable, but experimentation will surely come soon. It's definitely very handy as a massive source of synced modulation !

I did see that sourcing the Disting can be a bit tricky but I managed to find some stock. Maybe I got lucky :)

I'm still debating the role of the OT in the setup, some days I want to use it as a looper and nothing more, some days I think I should keep most drums and complex MIDI patterns in there. Maybe it's just how I manage having an OT, I'm never quite sure how I want to use it and end up doing a bit of everything in disorganized fashion :-D

About Stages, I could start by saying that I wish I had 2. It is very playable and easy to understand, no menus or complex button combinations, the only thing to remember is what each state does (changed by the little button available per slider). Really, it comes down to your understanding of Eurorack and how clever your patching is, in my opinion. I realized I didn't know half as much as I thought I knew about enveloppes so exploring this will be another few hours but so far, I'm very happy with this module and would surely recommend it. If you're after enveloppes only though, maybe the Quadra from Intellijel is another option to look at, I hesitated between those 2 for a while...

Getting a Eurorack in the middle of end of year activity peaks at work, RIP my sleep patterns, couldn't be happier though :-)

All the best,

Hi Diego,

Right! It sounds to me that you are nice and good busy with your Eurorack :-)

Fair enough on the mixer part and you always can try to return a module to your dealer in exchange of another module, most dealers are quite flexible with that as long as it is within an x-number of days.

Thanks a lot for your feedback regarding the Ts-L of Instruo. Pity of the small knobs, I agree with you that big knobs are nice(r) to handle. Regarding the position of the module within the rack I wouldn’t be too much worried. Use it a bit longer and then see if you can find in your rack a bit better position and then just move it. I mean that’s one of the reasons why we got a modular synth, right? So we have the flexibility to do so.

… Not that I am using that flexibility a lot, for my rack, even if a module isn’t really 100% perfectly located I usually leave it there, too lazy to move it, not for nothing is my nickname here Garfield ;-)

Filters…. Hmmm… yes, a good and important subject. To be honest with you, I could have a few more filters in my system. The Wasp filter (Doepfer A-124 SE) is my best one so far. I also have to admit that I am struggling a bit with finding good filters. Haven’t made up my mind on what exactly I want. I think I still need to build up a bit more experience with filters before I can give you some advice on filters.

For myself I am considering a TouellSkouarn – Kala Goañv but I have no dealer nearby where I can test it, so that’s why I am still struggling if I want to buy it “just blindly” so to speak. I also consider Doepfer A-106-5 SE (Oberheim SEM filter). Then the Instruo Tràigh might be an interesting one.

I also still looking for a nice filter that beside low-, band- & high-pass also has a notch-filter but can’t find any interesting one so far. Do you know any notch filter that might be worth considering?

Thanks a lot for your comments on the Mutable Instruments Stages, it’s really good to know that there no menus or complex button combinations because I try to avoid that. The more modules you get the more difficult it gets to remember for each module how exactly the settings and button “pressings” are so therefore I try to avoid that kind of modules as much as possible.

Regarding envelopes, though you always can’t have too many of them, at the moment I think I am good on envelopes but will keep the Stages in mind. For the moment I like to focus on getting one or two more good filters.

He, he, yes I know what you mean with RIP on sleep patterns, when I just got my Eurorack I barely slept 4 or 5 hours a day, now I am trying to catch a bit more sleep but it’s difficult when you know the Eurorack is waiting for you ;-)

Well, continue enjoy your modular synth, at least I will :-) And any big news then of course would be nice to hear from you.

Kind regards, Garfield (most probably the laziest Euroracker, but also a happy Euroracker :-)

The Mimetic isn't all that difficult to use once you crack the manual or follow a couple of Youtube tutorials. The "O" input stands for "Origin" which takes the sequencer back to the very first of 16 steps. The "N" input stands for "Next" which will advance the sequencer to the next step. What I find nice is sending it a rhythmic pattern as well as a reset. There are additional inputs that control which step to advance to or even randomly. Connect Steppy to a few of its inputs and have a good play. I'd try one CV out for pitch info, another to control the cutoff on your filter, and a third to modulate something different. It could even go to a secondary VCA to give you an accented note if your envelope can take modulation (even raising the volume of a VCA is a good trick if you put a second VCA after your main VCA controlling amplitude).

In my experience, there are some modules that seem like duds on your first or second play with them. Then you find yourself really exploring them later on and finding "that's not half bad... wait... this is fantastic!" So give yourself a few weeks to get into the workflow.

I'm not a big fan of the Disting and the six double-sided print outs I have to keep around to remember what each function does. I like everything about it except the interface. Maybe it's the PTSD from working with an Ensoniq Mirage in my late teens. :)

Once you get the fever for some new modules, check out the micro version of Ornaments & Crime. Also, take note of anything you're using a lot in the Disting. That might give you some fodder as to what dedicated module(s) you might want to include in the future. Example: you find yourself using the quantizer program a lot.

Ha, seems I missed Ronin's answer, no email to tell me about this one weirdly enough.

Coming from Elektron machines, I don't mind a little bit of menu diving so maybe that's why I'm not bothered by the many functions included in the Disting and the need for a manual close-by. Another thing is that I intend to use it first to determine, as you suggested, which functions I find myself using the most and outline my future needs so I'm rarely changing function on it, looking at the manual every once in a while is fine. It's been stuck on Stereo Reverb mode for the best part of last week, so considering getting the 2hp Verb...

Thank you for going deeper in the sequencer subject, I've been investigating this all weekend. Basically, I don't find the Mimetic Digitalis (MD for short) hard to use, rather I find it limited for a few reasons:
- No onboard scaling
- Only 1 clock input, no division per track
- No copy/paste operations for a pattern or a step
- No way to go to the previous step other than Origin + advancing to it manually
These points make me spend too much time on programming sequences and out of laziness, I end up making simplistic stuff that gets boring very quickly. To be honest the MD feels to me like it would be better suited for CV modulation only (especially doing those tricks you describe with its inputs) rather than using it to sequence pitch like I'm doing now.

I've been looking at 1010Music's Toolbox or Squarp's Hermod to replace the Pamela's New Workout + MD combo I'm currently using to sequence the synth voices (I use steppy for the Pico DRUMS): more sequences, more tracks, hell, with one of those options I could maybe even remove Pam's New Workout entirely if it's really capable and feature packed.
I find the 8 sequences per project of the Hermod limiting as well, I posted a question on their forum yesterday to know if switching project can be done while keeping sync, no answer yet.

This is my shopping list for the sequencer:


- CV and Gate sequencing for 3 tracks
- Clock + Start/Stop via CV control
- Independent track length or clock division
- Around 26HP max, space in my rack is very limited and I dont want to end up with a rack completely full just yet
- At least 16 sequences of minimum 16 steps each


- Mutes per track 
- More CV capable outputs and sequences for tight parameter control on other modules
- At least 32 sequences of minimum 32 steps each
- Scales (I suck at music theory)


- More sequences/projects
- Transpose sequences via CV
- Variable gate length per step
- Value gliding between steps

Do you guys have suggestions, any opinions about the 2 last contenders I picked or other options I haven't considered ?

The fever for new modules is unlikely to leave me any time soon especially if I go for one of the above sequencers which could allow me to remove the MIDI module in 1U format to direct MIDI straight from the OT to the sequencer, this would open up some more space in that 1U section. In fact, there is a O&C module for the Intellijel 1U format (Plum Audio's 1uO_c 4Robots), I just haven't had the time yet to look at that module too much. How useful is it, what do you use it for, what do you think I should be using it for in my setup ? In short, why are you suggesting it, am I missing out ?

As for filters (addressing Garfield's points about this), I think Mannequin's Sisters (nice quality setting with CV input) should be a nice fit for the sound I'm going for.

Finally, my search for the 3rd voice is nearing its end, the fight is between Noise Engineering's Basimilus Iteritas Alter and Mutable's Plaits, I'm currently heavily leaning towards the latter. Haven't played with the BSA and only a short amount of time with the Plaits but it seemed very deep in terms of the different sounds you can get from a single algorithm, and it has more than one :)

This is the current plan for the future:

ModularGrid Rack

Hi Diego,

Thanks for recommending the Mannequins - Three Sisters filter module. Did you had a chance to have it tested at a dealer? I don't have a dealer nearby that got this module (or this brand). If you did had it tested, please let me know your experiences.

Regarding sequencers, I feel it's very difficult to find one that really suites one. I have a few smaller ones but for a big sequencer (minimum 3 tracks) like you mentioned, I still haven't found a suitable one for myself. The two you mentioned might be good ones but with their menu structure "scare me off" a bit. I prefer to have as less as possible menu stuff and direct knobs and buttons for as many as possible functions (i.e. without many button combinations or menu layers).

I am currently looking at what Endorphin.es with their Ground Control are doing, I am waiting till it comes available at my dealer so I can have it tested, hopefully soon. Another one I consider is the one from Erica Synths - Black Sequencer however no indication date yet when this should become available. You might want to have a look at those both too, though they are both wider than the 26 HP you were mentioning. Just remove the Toolbox and get yourself a sequencer that does what you want and need :-)

Kind regards, Garfield.

Sequencing is very much a personal preference.

I have the 1010 Music Toolbox. I'm not currently liking where the firmware is at the moment. They're trying to take sequencing functions out of their BlackBox and use them in the Toolbox... which is breaking the ease-of-use of some functionality, especially in making live changes. I do love how flexible the outputs are as far as LFOs, CV sequences (voltages and no gates), even audio playback.

I'm really looking at the Westlicht Performer. But they aren't manufactured, only assembled by enthusiasts. The Eloquencer seems nice but overpriced in my opinion. I think I would go with a sequencer that meets your needs first, then find a way to accommodate its HP in your set-up. Having a sequencer that doesn't work for you in the first place is a waste of HP even if it fits into the planned space.

Also, having a main sequencer is great. But it's also good to have smaller sequencers around that can also lock to your main sequencer. They are great sources of modulation information for filters VCAs, switches, etc.

Hi Garfield !

Honestly I'm not sure I can personally recommend Three Sisters right now since I haven't personally tested it, I'm relying on a friend who knows the "music" I make and he played with it a bit when he travelled, I don't have a dealer handy to test modules apart from the limited stock that makes it to the shop in my town unfortunately. As you put it, "just blindly" is all I have to work with most times.Demos on the web seem to demonstrate what my friend told me about it though, a filter with character and interesting I/O, I'm particularly curious to test in person the Centre and All outputs... But I'll tell you all about it when it makes it here, I just paid for a second hand one form a guy offering a good deal on a Plaits :) All in all, I think the Plaits is a better choice for me due to a larger sound palette than the Basimilus Iteritas Alter.

About the search for sequencers, I find it difficult as well, it sure requires a lot of research. Ground Control and the Black Sequencer both look great but at 40HP+, I feel I don't have the space. Getting one of those in would mean getting rid of other things I need or upgrade to a second 7U already, I just can't afford it :) The menu diving is not scaring me, both the Squarp and the ToolBox are way simpler than the Octatrack which is known to be a complex, "menu-divy" machine, the important thing for me is accessibility of the important functions during performance which seems to be on point for both devices (mutes, pattern switching in sync, etc can be accessed almost immediately). The deciding factor will be wether or not Hermod can switch project on the fly and in sync with the external clock coming from the OT, its 8 tracks are more flexible than the layout offered by ToolBox and it's less expensive but 8 sequences per project is just not enough for me.

A bit more about the T-sL: I think placement in the rack is very important because one absolutely needs access to the small knobs. Yesterday evening's experiment was about testing that module further (I'm still learning stuff so daily practice is my life now), and it further confirmed that I can get amazing tones from it by feeding it a lot of modulation and playing with those attenuators, provided that I can physically access the knobs :) Through the QPAS, with a pitch-shift delay from the Pico DSP and a touch of reverb from the Disting, it sounded amazing ! Worse case scenario, I can use the attenuators from the Quadratt 1U, although they're usually full pretty early in the patch, very useful performance tool that one.

I know understand what you meant by not wanting to tame the OctaSource. I realized that applying its modulations to key parameters (clever patching is everything, I know hehe), the change in sound or groove you can get by modulating its phase or wave is just ridiculous. Another module rewarding experimentation a lot, a simple but effective design really. I wonder what would happen if you patch one of its outputs back into the phase input, I'll try that some day soon :)


Two sequencers. 8CV+Gate outputs are standard for most sequencers. So you may need more than one. It's nice if you can get everything that you need in one box. But if you're dealing with percussion, you'll probably want a CV+Gate sequencer and one that does nothing but triggers. Higher end sequencers can be synced together as well as most mid-tier sequencers.

If you find yourself with a LOT of tracks, you may find it better to use an external sequencer and possibly a computer sequencer. Expert Sleepers makes FH2 plus lots of expanders for it. So if you're needing tons of outputs in a smaller space, it may be the only viable solution. There are other MIDI to CV converters out there too. But the FH2 goes directly from USB to CV.