I bought a Mother-32 six months ago to test the modular waters and ended up buying an Intellijel 7U 104 hp case with a few 1U modules yesterday. Although I have experience with semi-modular now, I'm still basically a noob when it comes to Eurorack. My goal is to set up a beginner rack to learn the fundamentals before wading into more specialized modules down the line (I even purchased the blank plates as an additional reminder to avoid impulse purchases). Here's what I'm planning to start with:

ModularGrid Rack

Note that I haven't ordered the Pico MScale, Dixie, Maths, or Quad VCA, so I could still reverse those decisions. I don't have any firm plans for the future but am intrigued by the idea of adding drums (maybe paired with Trigger Riot) and am not married to the Mother-32 long term. I love the sound but find the sequencer difficult to use and wish it had more than one VCO. My questions are:

1) Any general feedback on this design?

2) Any suggestions for future expansion?

3) Does the placement of the modules matter much, and if so is this layout sane, or is there a better way to go?

4) Does the Pico MScale make sense here? It's designed to improve tracking between Mother-32 and other VCO, but I suspect there may be a better way. Do I have anything in this design besides the MScale that could do this (e.g. Quadratt or Maths)?

Any advice or insight greatly appreciated.

Hi there

I'm also a beginner and there's not much advice I can give :-)

But if you want so save 4HP you can get the ALM Tangle Quartet. It's a Quad VCA like the Intellijel but you don't have adjustable response from linear to exponential. I have the Tangle myself and it does its Job :-)

You have a Moog and you plan to get a dixie. Maybe you could consider a Wavetable Oscillator instead of the Dixie?

Don't worry about the placement. Just put the Modules where you think its best and then you will see if you want to swap.


I see you don't have any effects like Delay or Reverb.

Thanks, Quantum_Eraser. Good call on the effects. I wonder if there's a way for me to squeeze something on the more basic side without breaking into that bottom level? I know there is a 1U digiverb module, so that may be an option. I'll definitely check out the ALM Tangle Quartet as well.

I always have fun playing wavetable synths, so I'll give those oscillators a look as a potentially better compliment to the Mother-32.

First up, don't get used to the idea of the M32 being in the 7U case. It's a lousy idea. It wastes space that needs to be used for modules which don't have a case, for starters. Then if you factor in the cost of rehousing it in the 7U, given that it already has a case + power, your M32 would then wind up costing you about $765, figuring $599 street for it + about $165-ish for the 60 hp it would occupy in the 7U. Not a good deal.

The rest of the modules are actually quite sensible. The Quad VCA is the correct choice, fyi; the ALM Tangle's VCAs are all linear only. It's necessary to have those, but mainly for CVs and modulation signals where you want that response. Exponential VCAs are the ones needed for audio, because of how our ears respond to apparent loudness (logarithmically). By using the Quad VCA, you can select either linear for your CVs and mod signals, OR exponential to control audio levels...or anything in between due to the variable response controls. Besides, the Tangle costs $10 more.

The DixieII+ is actually a decent choice as well. If you plan to feed the M32 through the 7U's audio path, that VCO will serve very well to double the single Moog VCO to allow for detuning and sync and other things that will be pretty useful to getting a "bigger" sound. In fact, I would suggest controlling the DixieII+ from the M32's pitch CV and then feeding its audio back through the M32's VCF and just presuming that it should be a doubling VCO for the M32. While the Mother 32 does have that Moog LP VCF...it only has the one VCO, which means it only has ONE part of the "Moog sound". Using the DixieII+ along with it fixes that issue to a decent extent.

As far as other VCOs/sources...wavetable VCOs aren't a bad idea as long as you can "scan" the wavetables, PPG-style. That's a big aspect of that sound, and one that comes to mind that has that ability is The Harvestman's Piston Honda, now in rev 3. Another route would be a pair of complex VCOs, something akin to the Make Noise DPO or Sputnik's Dual Oscillator; these are more akin to Don Buchla's 200-series oscillators, in which you have ample internal crossmod possibilities that can create loads of possible timbres before ever getting out of the VCO itself! Very convenient! But don't neglect other exotic possibilities as well, such as multi-op FM VCOs, thru-zero FM-capable ones, phase distortion oscillators (ala the Casio CZ series), etc. LOTS of possible directions there, from simple to utterly insane.

But this is coming along...just take this process slowly! It's not a race; consider ideas carefully, ask for advice/ideas, and the like. And don't expect the first build to be THE ONE...because it won't be. There's always room for improvement, along many fronts.

Thanks, Lugia! Any thoughts on the Pico MScale for M32/Dixie pitch tracking? Could I replace with Disting mk4 (which seems to do precision adding and a lot more) instead?

I greatly appreciate this advice. It's given me a lot to think about in terms of future direction and helped relieve some anxiety about the footprint of the M32. For now, it provides some functionality that I don't have in other modules (e.g. MIDI, Sequencer). But it sounds like eventually I should replace with more efficient modules.

I don't see a noise source on the M32. Maybe I'm overlooking it. But Intellijel makes a 1U sample/hold/slew/clock/noise module. It would be a great addition.

When you're ready to grow: think about effects like reverbs, delays, overdrive/distortion. Also a small clockable sequencer like Mimitec Digitalis would go well for some creative fun. Sequencers are great sources for modulation apart from generating notes.

Take it slow and experiment recklessly. This is a good entry point but you'll probably push the M32 out of the case within 6 months to a year.

Thanks, Ronin1973. The M32 does have a noise source in addition to the one VCO, but the 1U module you mention looks like it has a lot more than just noise to offer. Also, thanks for the recommendation on the Mimitec Digitalis. I'm definitely going to eventually want a dedicated sequencer module that's more intuitive to use on the fly than the M32's sequencer.

I definitely plan to take it very slow as I have a lot to learn about these modules before understanding where to go next, but I've seen enough warnings on this site and others to know that is easier said than done.

I would keep the MScale. Using a Disting for that one purpose is a waste of the zillions of other useful things that it could be doing. Which, of course, means that you really ought to have a Disting in this for all of those other things. It's a Swiss Army Knife of functions in a very small space, which makes it ideal for smaller builds like this. Besides, the MScale is designed for this specific purpose, and you'd have to prod the Disting into doing what it does in all likelihood.

That Noise Tools tile is also super-useful...lots of function, little space. Plus, consider pulling the headphone module...this opens up space you can use to put a much better MIDI module in. And with the extra 8 hp left, you could drop in a stereo VCA for your overall output level control or for controlling the level on a stereo FX return...or get all pimped out with a pair of USB power ports and a couple of gooseneck lamps on each end of the 1U row! But my bet is on the stereo VCA, as that would fit in with Ronin's idea on processing, above.

One other point about the 1U row: with the inputs, consider adding an envelope follower. This then allows you to extract gate and volume contour CV from an inputted signal, which you'll want if you get the idea to use this as a processor (modular synths can be KILLER processing gear!). There's not an Intellijel-format tile with this, but there's plenty of small 3U ones.

Thanks again, Lugia! Based on your post, I think I can learn more from the Disting, so I'll start there and swap in the MScale if I find that the tracking issues are giving me grief. You're right about the hp math not working well with the headphone module in there; as I expand the 1U over time I'll keep in mind that I may want to remove it to optimize the row.

I didn't know what an envelope follower was, but reading about them blew my mind as I hadn't really thought much about that application of modular. I may need to dust off the electric guitar down the line.