I am trying to close out the final spaces in my modular system. When I first got the Make Noise Black & gold shared system (original in the 7U Enclave case), I knew virtually nothing about modular (and not much else about any synth, really; as far as music is concerned, I come from the DJ side of things. Large music collection, lots of gear, but nothing on the production side).
A friend had been getting me into Modular once he started augmenting his musician collection during the resurgence of analog synths. I had seen I Dream of Wires, the expanded 4hr cut, which was my sum total knowledge that got me entering the synth world with some semi-modular gear. I purchased the Mother 32, DFAM, 0-Coast and even the grandmother. Progress was slow and I never got too deep into patching bc I was majorly expanding the DJ setup with all kinds of crazy lights and then suddenly, my friend with all the synths, passed away.

All his gear was way over my level, but it was just going to go to strangers on e-bay, so thanks to Hurricane Harvey, I had flood money bc I was not going to rebuild. I was uniquely positioned to help the family and I bought a lot of synths from the estate. He had a twin 94hp Pittsburgh Rev 1 (before lifeforms) system I knew would have been the better system to learn on, but I also knew Make Noise was the cutting edge one, but with a notoriously steep learning curve.

First thing I noticed when purchasing the B&G shared system was that mine was not up-to-date. Tempi wasn’t in there and Rene was completely different. My Optomix was not the latest (I have added since and it is also black despite the rack view), but my ModDemix, MATHS and Wogglebug were latest versions. Immediately, I found myself building out a new skiff to catch the updated modules, which included tempi, Morphagene (retaining Phonogene), Brains and Pressure Points, which I expanded to maximum allowed of two units. To fill in some gaps, I picked up Disting MK4 and 2hp Pluck and Arp bc I can’t stand a skiff with blanks and want it filled ASAP.

Then I started watching YouTube tutorials. I was clueless on patching and Make Noise tends to favor Buchla or Serge type systems over Moog’s subtractive synths, which I understand more. I get that basically I am in driver’s ed still watching videos and reading manuals, yet to be behind the wheel and I’m trying to figure out if I want a McLaren or a Bugatti and what trim options I should get when the thing is probably going to stay in the garage anyway, so I am sure requests like these are annoying, but after investing in another skiff to pick up some of the new Make Noise modules and an attempt to solve the problem of no drum kits, I started creating a final skiff for rhythmic variations and drum modules with an interest in more on-the-fly live playing simply bc this is the most expensive system in the house by far and so far my least favorite. Friends aren’t impressed when I turn it on a make a buzzsaw sound. We all much prefer the other synths with presets and what not, but I’m not giving up yet. I mean, of course the easier gear shows off better. Presets!

YouTube videos backfired in a way bc they kept showing other gear I liked so I went a bit berzerk and now have maybe 30 synthesizers, 20 of which are various drum machines and keyboards with about 10 being tiny boutiques (roland & Volca). It’s a stupid amount, taking forever to setup, update and load soundbanks. That’s taken up the bulk of six months and I have barely made a dent in those, but watching all the videos showed me they do have drum modulars and live play rigs which usually have all kinds of clock modulators. Now, I like all my modules to be black face, but in addition to the Semi-modulars I had before (M32, DFAM, 0-Coast, Minitaur, Grandmother and both Mini&MicroBrutes plus an 84 hp Roland System-1m with I believe the System 100M loaded out), I ordered a Eucliean Circles V2 with 6 switches in it’s own external enclosure that will affix outside the skiff, as do my semi-modular on various clamp mounting platforms.

Workflow I tried to keep like with like, so in the oscillator skiff, I have about 8hp to spare that I was thinking of loading up with 2hp Kick, Snare, HH and maybe Play for a very tight fit alongside of pluck and in between the BIA and MI.
That leaves about 12-13hp in the rhythm section for clock modulation. Tempi can do it, but it is complicated and I was looking at something more with switches that could drop out kick, snare, HH, etc. on the fly. Circles may handle that but most live rigs seem to have Pamala’s workout or the 4MS rotating clock div, usually with these DIY switching Mult mods. I think I need a clock mult and div for my drums. I have no logic modules. I didn’t even know those existed until about a week ago. Obviously, if I move the Numeric Repetitor up to the oscillator skiff, I would have 20 hp clear in the rhythm/sequencer skiff. Would be nice to have a combo drum module with 4 part voicing and a single signal out, but that is probably asking too much bc that would eat up my clock modulation space. I have line rack mixers and tuner in the system, too.

I plan to use Tempi and the Renes for more slow, in-depth programming, so the goal now is fast rhythm changes using compact clocks/triggers/gate modules.

Anyway, sorry for the length. Any black faceplate suggestions welcome. I don’t mind blunt criticism. That’s just the history of how this came to be.

Your link doesn't work. It's missing the rack number at the end of the URL.

Interesting feedback. My first attempt to post, but when I click the link, it works. I guess somehow the URL (which I thought the "e" for "5" was the rack flag) is triggered for my sign-in link???

It's the Make Noise Proposal skiff (missing 1U row, semi-modular but with external Circles v2 enclosure hanging around in the kitty mess area as it is a rhythm module I own off board).

I have filled the oscillator row (row 2) out with 4 2hp modules I do not yet own (Kick, Snare, HH, Play) next to Pluck and between BIA fir a very tight fit that will require use of flying bus cable off of one bus power header.
The rhythm/sequence/clock row (row 3) has 2 module additions for clock modulation I do not yet own, 4 hp M/Div dual channel and Noise Engineering Integra Solum Dual RCD.

. These were what I was leaning towards.

OK...going off of the earlier PM, I went ahead and moved this over to the public forum instead. This is what you started with:

ModularGrid Rack

...and this is my final result:

ModularGrid Rack

This is a markedly different build, although it still has a lot of the existing modules. However, the original design was just unworkable and obtuse. It was missing a LOT of necessary functions (fixed), numerous utilities (also fixed), had a lot of "why?" modules (fixed), and a bad case of "sexy module syndrome". I'm not surprised that the original was that sonically unimpressive, actually. Lots of useful things...but only IF the other parts were there, which they weren't. Here's what we have:

Row 1: No. Totally reworked this so that your entire "voice" is on this row. Disting on left for various control functions. DPO replaced by the VOID complex VCO, Gravitational Waves. Telharmonium and STO replaced with Codex Modulex clones of the Braids and Plaits; in this case, you could also do two Braids or two Plaits if that seems better. Submix via Veils clone, then a Rings clone for filtering/resonance modeling. Your ring mod, btw, is now part of the VOID Gravitational Waves. The LxD follows as a stereo pair of LPGs. After this is the Morphagene, allowing it to function as a "voice source" instead of consigning it to the bottom rows where your effects processing needs to be. The QPAS is next, which lets the Morphagene feed this directly OR the Morphagene can feed into two channels of the A-138s alongside the two LPG outs, and this stereo mix can then feed into the QPAS. Similarly, you can reverse the patching of the LxD and the Rinks, which then allows you to feed the LPG "plooks" into the Rinks and have that function as a "resonant cavity" for their output.

Row 2: Also no. The original row was a hodgepodge of functions, very easy to get lost in. In this build, your "percussives" are on the left, in the form of a Delptronics LDB-2 and its expander. This drum module uses the time-tested TR-808/606-type drum sound set. Next to that, I added a Tiptop ONE for one-shot samples, then the X-PAN is used for a stereo submix for these. The rest of the row is 100% modulation: another Veils clone for VCA processing of modulation signals, the Wogglebug, then an Erica Black Modulator for an extra LFO, sample and hold, and noise. Maths follows, then a pair of expanded Xaoc Zadars, as the original really had nothing in the way of proper envelope generation. And since the Zadars can loop, this also lets them serve as user-definable LFOs in addition to envelope generation. At the end of this row is a DC-coupled triple attenuverter/mixer, allowing you to manipulate and/or mix your modulation outputs.

Row 3: I cut the original WAY back to a single Rene, plus its Tempi. This should lower the confusion factor considerably. The Euclidean Circles got added to this row, as well as a Starling GateSeq, which is an interesting logic-driven combo of normal and probabilistic sequencers. All of this is intended to feed the percussives above it, but there's ample output so that some of the timing can be routed elsewhere. Tempi/Rene next, then effects, which is where the Erbeverb and Mimeophon wound up. More about that in a bit.

Row 4: I put the Shared System utility row here. The reason will be obvious momentarily.

Row 5: The Brains/Pressure Points combo was retained. I added a much more flexible and intutive clocking system to its left, in the form of 4ms's Quad Clock Distributor and its expander. THIS is what a master clock should be for a large system such as the one you've acquired, and it's capable of outputting numerous clocks with various divisions and multiplications under CV control. Note also that since most things that can take external clocks will know what to do with a +5V pulse, this module pair can actually serve as your studio's clocking "nexus", besides handling all of the internal clocking duties imaginable. On the other side of the Pressure Points, I put in a Tiptop MISO; the intention here is to give you a CV/modulation control point located conveniently between your manual controller and your mixer so that you can route critical modulation paths through this and adjust them there, improving the control paradigm considerably. Next, I put in a stereo compressor/limiter, which should prove extremely useful on your stereo drum path. Then, a Toppobrillo Stereomix. This is a proper performance mixer, allowing CV over level, panning, and AUX send. You can manually mute on this, plus you also have a cue send which allows you to audition channels offline for changing patches or settings during a performance. This is also where the Erbeverb comes in; since it uses the same mono-in/stereo-out that the Stereomix wants to see for its AUX send/return, you can now use the Erbeverb as a global reverb...probably its best use. As for the Mimeophon, this can either be used as a thruput for another stereo bus (either from the "voice" row altogether, the Morphagene, or the percussion bus) or it can be used as a final processor for the entire stereo mix. With these co-located by the Stereomix, this also reduces the ergonomic issues required in controlling all aspects of the final mix. And the output on the Shared System tile is in between the Stereomix and the Mimeophon, making it convenient to either module.

OK,'s not all black now. Mmmm...well, eh. Trying to go with all of your modules as one color at the expense of functionality is a very bad idea. It would be like specifiying that you want all of the hammers in your piano redone in purple felt because...PURPLE. Ergo: expensive and pointless. Since you didn't exactly have a functional instrument with the "paint it black" approach, that was actually the very first thing I discarded from the original, primarily because it's a pointless limitation. You should be more concerned with what's behind the panel, to start with, then whether or not you can make sense of the panel as a whole so that programming and playing the instrument isn't a brain-shattering chore. Anything beyond that makes no sense.

I also worked to synergize functions here, which was another thing missing from the original build, and also something that was almost certainly contributing to the build's annoying non-usefulness. Everything is now grouped while still maintaining the up-left/down-right general flow, although it should be very easy to patch outside of that flow pattern when necessary. So...timing is down and left, audio generation is across the top, drums are immediately above the timing/sequencing, modulation sources are central and to the right, sequencing is lower and central, and output + processing is lower-right.

But a lot of the previous modules got chucked out. And rightfully so, I think; in some cases, they didn't provide "bang for the buck" and took up space that could be used in better ways. And in other cases, they were obvious culprits in the confusionality you were describing. But by doing all of that culling, THAT opened up a large amount of space that allowed me to rebuild this...with actually quite a few of the existing modules, really...with the proper additions that will actually allow the modules that remain from the original build to outperform what they were capable of in the original. So, in the long run, this makes a helluva lot more sense to me as an instrument than it did before, and it should be far more capable than its prior incarnation might've led you to believe!

All valid points, as i expected they would be. The resulting conclusion - meaning buying a bunch more modules from other manufacturers, no matter the color, which I get is how it is supposed to be done, is a deflating outcome making modular even less enthusiastic for me.

Obviously, the proper way to build a modular rig is to take the best or most suitable module from all available modules and combine them in whatever finish they have. I mean, it is the entire point of modular. Had I started from scratch, I would have not abided by color scheme at all. But once I bought the black & Gold system from the estate; First, I thought that would be it on all modular purchases; that it was its own instrument, self-contained and would surely be enough with my Grandmother (hate that name), Mother 32, DFAM, 0-Coast, System 1-m, Arturia MiniBrute & Microbrute flanking it on all sides; Second, I got boxed in with a black & gold color scheme and my OCD wanted it all to match.

Make Noise even taps into that evil OCD by making me have to prove that I had a black & gold to even be able to buy the upraded modules in black when I angrily discovered Make Noise retained the exact same names for modules that were significantly changed in hardware and were not able to be updated by firmware. Since I was not original owner and didn’t have a receipt, I had to provide a ransom photo, so they were milking that black is limited thing. It cost another $3k on the upgrade skiff to get the new versions.

The last and final 4rth row skiff is on track to beat that, of which I've got modules ordered and arriving soon, including an external custom mount Euclidean Circles kit, all quite pricey, that now may just stay in the box. I only started the 4th skiff to pick up some new module releases and wanting to add percussion in the system because coming from the DJ world, if there’s no beat, it’s not a song. It’s movie soundtrack ambience at best. I mean, if that’s all it can ever do. But, then I discovered gating and clock modulation for percussion was a big factor. It wasn't so easy as adding in 2hp drum modules. You have to trigger them with offbeat, synchopation, rhtyhms, etc. I probably should have just used any of my other drum machines. I have all the Volcas and boutiques for Roland drums as well as big boy ones like Tempest and TR-8s and Drumbrutes.

I can see why now you maybe wanted effects processing down low where hands may be required twiddling knobs. My thinking was voices would be the top two rows, for the most part. Mimeophon can turn into a Karplus-strong voice – a sound I am quite fond of. Telharmonic supposedly can do some pretty voicing with chords. So those first two are technically synth voices, but as I planned on doing my mixing off-rack in two separate line racks, the main one located just above the top row, I was trying to get my effects processing (usually last in the chain) next to my mixer outs so that they could just pop into the external line rack mixer.

My second row was to be almost all Voice, which even MATHS can turn into oscillator in audible rates. I’m used to my filter being next to my Oscillator, which is why Q-Pas sat inbetween DPO and MATHS and I knew MATHS would get heavy use, so I wanted it kind of centrally located.

For the most part, I figured the third row should be all the rhythm, sequencing and clock gear. It would be close enough to the bottom that I could reach it for manipulation of more on-the-fly play, but I never intend to play it as a live rig. It’s not going anywhere. I’m not anywhere close to being able to play live. I just wanted a bit more “demo wow” factor for friends who come in a see this huge crazy thing they haven’t seen before. So, far, it’s not be great for displaying anything but chaotic or buzzy sounds, but I’ve been in theory mode, not play mode. I’m watching videos non-stop.

Of course Pressure Points just demands bottom placement where hands-on is very likely. But I also figured both of the tape-delay “gene” modules, where you can very granular with dicing up samples, likely required a lot of hands-on play, even though these two are technically voices.

For that matter, Wogglebug, probably known more for randomization clocking, can be ran into audio rates and become a voice rather than a clock. But as it has clock features, I kept it near Tempi. Now Tempi, Disting MK4 and Rene 2 are all shared bus select state modules, so to save patch cables, those had to be on same power bus, i.e. same skiff.

I was definitely worried about EG limitations. Having only one MATHS is just not enough if it has to pull EG duty. So, I totally get the quad looping EG Zadar inclusions (which does come in black). It was unlikely EG function from my semi-modulars could be used to salvage this apparent shortfall.

I’m surprised the BIA got canned as that seems to be a live rig staple. I just bought BIA & MI and they were very expensive. I probably shouldn’t have bought Numeric Repitetor, but I hadn’t known of the far better looking and more featured Via logic Sequencer Rhythm Engine you added. That one looks like a far better add, so maybe I clip NR rhythm out of mine.

I was familiar with Delphonic. Seems they are a kit outfit though. Not sure I am at the DIY module making skill level yet. Some reviewer said the drums were good for confined space, but not the best sound and I think that comment hung in my head, plus it was silver. I figured somewhere there had to be black faced module selection that would work.

So, I guess the solution set provided where I need to source and possibly build several modules from kits myself proves so substantial an effort, particularly after the hours I have put into trying to make this system work for me, that maybe the decision is to part it all out, sell it and take the loss and just move on. I may not even turn it on again. I’m kind of done with it after seeing all the changes I’d need.

I guess goodbye to modular for me. Christmas is coming around. I’ll turn it on one last time for a makeshift tree.