Good day everyone ! :)

I am looking for VCO recommendations.
I thought for a moment to hijack the similar thread from GarfieldModular but for the sake of clarity, I'm opting for a new one.

The module I'm thinking of replacing is the Erica Synth Black Wavetable VCO. My use for it is quite simple: I feed CV modulation to the Wave CV in and send the OUT to a big reverb, the 2hp Verb with max Time and almost 100% wet (sometimes through a filter first but more often than not it's unnecessary), bam, I have a cool drone. So far so good.

What grinds my gears is the limited modulation destinations I have on this thing, and the apparent uniformity I get as a result. Even letting more dry signal through, most of my drones sound very similar and a bit too "behaved" for my taste. In other words, I think the Black Wavetable VCO is not crazy enough for me, and I need harsher sounding stuff, especially if it's drenched in reverb afterwards, I found that some modulation applied to bitcrush on the Black Wavetable VCO can bring some life to my patches, I just don't like too much how the bitcrush sounds. I don't use the internal VCA at all and the FM is just ok, nothing to write home about IMO. YMMV of course, it's just my personal taste.

The only limitation I have for now is space, the module has to be in the 8HP->24HP range, preferably 20HP maximum. I have done some research of course, and came up with the following challengers:

- Industrial Music Electronics Piston Honda Mk III. Basically another Wavetable VCO but I feel I would have a wider sound palette and better modulation destinations for sonic variety/evlution on it. 
- Industrial Music Electronics Hertz Donut Mk III. I love FM, and this VCO seems capable of outputting some pretty weird stuff, not sure how relevant it is for the use case I have defined though.
- Noise Engineering Ataraxic Iteritas. Sounds harsh enough, wondering about variety of sound on this one but the width is ideal.
- VOID Modular Gravitational Waves. Not enough demos online, but it came recommended by Lugia in Garfield's thread and a complex VCO sounds like something that could be useful for what I have in mind.

What are your opinions on the above ? Does anybody have experience with those ? Or maybe other modules I've missed and should really look into ? I often have no possibility to test the modules in person so bonus points for demos.
Other suggestions I'm interested in include those telling me to keep the Black Wavetable VCO and use it differently of course, I am in no rush to switch the module out ;)

Thanks in advance for your time and knowledge !!
Cheers,
D.


Well... it's hard to say if you need to replace the Wavetable VCO. As a source, it doesn't have a lot of modulation inputs. Are you running the VCO through... filters, wavefolders, distortion, comb filters, etc.? Each module you place between the VCO and the reverb is an opportunity to alter your sound as well as modulate that alteration.

When you wash something in reverb, the sound basically smears. Subtle differences in timbre tend to wash away. So you might want to possibly try the same VCO and run it through two completely different signal paths (or more!) then mix between them using some very slow modulation... just an example.

Before you toss the Wavetable VCO and spend more money, maybe a picture of your current set-up would be helpful. Oh, and the 2HP reverb is pretty limited (I own one). It's good to have. But I'd want something with more parameters that can be modulated. Oh.. and have you tried placing a filter after the reverb. Even a simple band-reject filter can add some motion to your ambient sound.


Thanks Ronin for your answer !

To help the discussion, here's my current rack:

ModularGrid Rack

I started asking myself those question after thinking of getting a distortion module actually (because that's the only effect I really know about, but wavefolders and comb filters sound like something I would have to investigate further, thanks for the suggestion ! ). I was thinking about introducing one of the small distortions from Noise Engineering between the Black Wavetable and the reverb, and that (plus playing with the BIA in my rack) made me consider the fact that instead of 12HP for the VCO + 4HP for the distortion, I could maybe get a harsher sounding VCO from the Noise Engineering offering for just 10HP, if they're up to the task.
But again, I'm in no rush to switch out anything, for now I'm just thinking about it and considering some options while continuing to explore what I can do with what I have ;)

I definitely should also consider the possibility that, as suggested on MuffWiggler, I might need to make space for some sort of CV controllable mixer that would allow the type of patch you suggest with different signal paths. Signal paths are actually something I struggle with, even when looking at other people's racks, I am convinced that with Eurorack I can really build a signal path I could adapt to my needs on the fly, I just have a hard time figuring it out after years of using traditional synths.

Of course, I realize the 2hp Verb is limited but I had to make choices due to space and while something like the Erbe-Verb would without a doubt improve over what I have, I don't think I could make space for it. I also have to admit that working with reverbs was always something I also struggled to use, for example sequencing the reverb on my Octatrack is something I avoid doing lately as I always find the results worse than having it almost without any movement. Nevertheless, you're again right about suggesting to experiment with a filter or effects after the reverb as well. My 3 Sisters filter could definitely do the job, sounds like another thing I should try !


Tasty.

I'm looking at the rack. The Erica DSP and the Disting are both capable of producing reverbs, delays, and can be addressed via CV for modulation. I'd try using those. That Mimetic Digitalis would be great for varying parameters of either or both. Make Noise offers a slew limiter much like the two in Maths... but in a much smaller package. I'm not telling you to get one. But a slew limiter can give you a much more musical transition between CV signals that suddenly change in voltage. For the most part, slew limiters come in two varieties: one that slews rising and falling slopes the same (basic), one that slews rising and falling slopes independently (like Make Noise Maths or Befaco Rampage). The Mimetic responds to gates/triggers to advance to the next step. So you could supply those with the Squarp in any rhythm you find useful.

I'm still on the fence about the Wavetable synth. I dug a little deeper. It seems that it can only work with internal wavetables, though Erica does have a ROM expander for them. Without hearing all of the wavetables... I can't really pass much judgment on it... but it seems to be redundant if you have a Plaits module. It's not a wavetable synth, but you can get variations on a sound in the same manner (different architectures but you can index variation(s) of a sound in the same manner).

The Noise Engineering BIA is nice. I own one as well. The Noise Engineering stuff can be a little harsh sounding sometimes. But all of those strange harmonics might be nice if you're drowning the original signal in reverb as drone fodder.

I think the bottom line is that you might want to try a little harder to make something useful with the Erica before giving up on it. Not because I think it's a great module or not a great module, but it might be an opportunity to flex/grow your knowledge even if you ultimately dump it.


I could also consider using a slew limiter, it's true that I don't always like the sudden changes from the MD. I have read and watched videos about slew limiters but to be perfectly honest, it sort of flew over my head a bit as I had no hands-on experience. Are you referring to Function ? It's a bit big for just one channel, I feel, I'd prefer something smaller. Funny, when looking for slew limiters on here, one finds Stages but I don't think it could do what I need, am I wrong ?
I've been playing with how I feed gates to the MD, the most fun so far has been feeding several euclidean patterns from the Pamela to the N, X and Y inputs of the MD. Crazy sequences, totally worth sacrificing a few outputs of the Pam just for that ! I use it mainly for sequencing parameters on the BIA but I guess I could spare one output to play with the Disting or the Pico DSP. I found the reverb tails of those to be somewhat lacking for my use, compared to the 2hp which can sound huge.
I hear you with regards to the redundancy with Plaits, although I want to use that one for sounds with an envelope, I like the sound of the internal LPG. Nevertheless, I think both Plaits and the Black Wavetable are on the "mellow" side of sound sources, which is why the idea of another sound source to replace it sounds appealing. What you wrote about Noise Engineering, "a little harsh sounding sometimes", "strange harmonics", I have the impression that it's what I am looking for. For context, I have a track I didn't make on the modular (the computer I use to record stuff is broken right now) but which is representative of what I usually do and illustrates what sort of drones I'm interested in - sorry for the awful mixing work:
The plan is as you said, try harder with what I have first and explore all options I can think of before making any decision. Like that's going to be easy with my birthday and Black Friday coming up


Enjoying the conversation.

The Disting has a slew limiting mode. I'm not sure how advanced it is, but you might want to try it out with the Mimetic. The Disting also has a Euclidean mode. So you might be able to have it take on those duties if you're trying to spare you Pam. I use a Temps Utile for my Euclidean stuff. Same principle.

I listened to your Youtube... cool. Yeah... I'd definitely plan for a nice reverb module sometime in the future. I hope you have the money and space! :)

I'm not familiar with Stages so I can't give you any thoughts of how you can incorporate it. I know it can do envelopes.

Befaco makes a 6HP slew limiter. You'll find quite a few slew limiters that are 6HP and under.

I hope you get your computer fixed soon to record your stuff. You can use the Disting to record audio with if you have something you want to keep. Just be aware that the Disting records at 46kHz and not the standard 44.1 or 48... so you'll have to sample rate convert anything you pull off the micro-SD card.


Cool conversation indeed !

I'll definitely try the slew limiter on the Disting. Lovely to have a module like that, only 4HP and so many functions, it's just perfect for beginners. Trying to use as many different functions as possible is a nice exercise to learn about modular. I'm not sure I need a slew limiter though. Last night I was playing with BIA>3Sisters>Mimeophon with modulation from the MD on the BIA and I really liked how the sudden voltage changes from the MD made a cool rhythm. I thought it was epic but the beer probably helped :) I can see the MD + BIA duo becoming a more permanent thing for me so we'll see.

I could record on my Octatrack, I just didn't take the time to do it to be honest, I spent all my time experimenting with my new setup. I had plans to write sequences in Hermod, write tracks in a way, but I ended up enjoying randomization and MIDI effects too much so it didn't happen yet either. I should think about planning time for actual arrangement and recording work aside from my noodling...

Speaking of the Octatrack, another idea I have for drones is using the 1U space I have to get a stereo out and line out from Intellijel to send just the drone part to an individual track in the Octatrack where I have FX slots. That would mean sacrificing one the 8 precious tracks on the OT though. Options, options...

About the better reverb, money and space. Yeah, sometimes I dream of those fancy 14U MDLR cases. It would mean enough space for an Erbe Verb or a Z-DSP, a bunch of cool utility modules, a fancy complex oscillator, VCAs for days, maybe even enough to have a full drums setup in my modular and have a completely self contained setup. The ultimate groovebox... Maybe later, right now I want to spend the time getting to know each module in my setup really well and get way more experienced before investing outside of my 7U, which I already enjoy a lot.


I hate my Disting. I find the user interface to be just jacked and difficult to work through. However, it's a great module to have if you want to explore lots of different functions. I've used to to figure out what kind of modules I'd want to have complete versions of... like a quantizer or a comb filter, reverb, etc. It's also great in those "I just need one more (blank)!" moments... an extra VCA, an extra oscillator.

In all honesty, a Eurorack drum machine sounds great on paper. But once you start pricing out everything you're going to need, you'll find it to be an extremely expensive way to go... even if you get dedicated drum modules. That's a lot of money to reinvent a drum machine. I bought a 1010 Music BitBox to act as an in-rack record/playback system. Boom. All my drums. I can also record in-sync. So if I have a long ambiance, I can loop record it or any other part.

Beware the rabbit hole. It will suck your wallet dry.


In all honesty, a Eurorack drum machine sounds great on paper. But once you start pricing out everything you're going to need, you'll find it to be an extremely expensive way to go... even if you get dedicated drum modules. That's a lot of money to reinvent a drum machine. I bought a 1010 Music BitBox to act as an in-rack record/playback system. Boom. All my drums. I can also record in-sync. So if I have a long ambiance, I can loop record it or any other part.

Beware the rabbit hole. It will suck your wallet dry.

-- Ronin1973

I agree, I had already figured out that such an endeavor would indeed nuke my finances. I am already mainly using samples for drums so I would have considered a Plonk and a few Pico Drums but the BitBox looks like a much better option, I'll watch the demos attentively. I wonder if it could replace the Octatrack, live looping stuff on the fly and all that. Combined with a Mixer with PFL like the HexMix from Befaco, that sounds like a powerful live setup... As I said, I don't see myself making a move like that in the near future but it's nice to think of options... Don't worry, I have never in my life bought something I could not afford with ease, I have sold a lot of gear and got a few extras here and there this year before getting into this so I'm not spending out of budget and don't intend to start, however fun module X looks like or dreams I may have of wonderful machines.

I had a look at the rack you have in public, I see a 1U O&C. Since I have a bunch of free 1U space, it's been on my radar for a while. I often could use an extra EG or an extra modulation source (especially if I end up changing the VCO and getting something with more CV inputs), as I understand it fits the bill but reading the manual of both the original firmware and the one for Hemisphere takes a while. What is your take on that module ? Would you add it to my rack ?


My racks are a bit of mess between what I have and some desired modules... but I own about 90% of what's in my racks. Who ISN'T planning a rack upgrade?

As far as the 1010 Music Bit Box... you might like it. It also runs two alternative firmwares: one is a wavetable synth and the other is a multi-effects processor. If you buy the Bitbox, SynthBox, or FXBox, it's all the same module with different writing on the face-plate. You simply download the other firmwares to new microSD cards and then load the firmware. It's a big module at 26HP and $600... but you can find it on sale for as low as $500 brand new.

Be careful about the 1U 3rd party modules. Intellijel 1U isn't compatible with Pulp Logic 1U.

Plum Audio makes a 1U Ornaments and Crime for the Intellijel system labeled with "For Robots." It's more expensive than your typical O_C unit. But what makes it additionally fun is the extended CV range.
https://www.plum-audio.com/product-page/1uo-c-4robots

I really LIKE the OC module. For me it's how I would envision a user-friendly Disting module would be laid out. I like the quantizer in it. The sequencer is also pretty nice and responds in some very interesting ways if you wish. I haven't got into some of the more exotic features with LFOs and shift registers. There's a modded firmware that uses better descriptions. Plus, as you mentioned, at least one other full alternate firmware. I've not messed with them. I've had my OC since first starting my rack. It will take you a minute to learn the layout and how to get around. It's also not a module you want to try and make setting changes with too quickly because it's easy to adjust the wrong thing if you're not paying attention. But I still really like it. I use my Temps Utile a lot more... but mainly as a clock divider or Euclidean rhythm generator. Your Pamela does everything a Temps Utile does I believe....

If you gave me your rack, would I put one in there. Yes.


Indeed, between Hermod and Pam I have plenty of gates generation and modulation. Pam is so awesome and surprisingly playable for a module that has only one knob.
Nice to read your thoughts about O&C, I really feel like the 1U 4 Robots would be a great use of the spare 1U space I have, I mean from what I understand from the manual, your opinion and the few videos available, it would make a lot of sense in my rack and offer a lot of new options for what I already have. By the looks of it, I would have to agree with you on the analogy with the Disting, although I have the feeling the alternative firmware I am investigating at the moment, Hemisphere, is even closer.

Coming back to the original subject, I have made more experiments yesterday and earlier today with the Black Wavetable. I tried focusing on the raw sound of it, with very little to no reverb and I really felt like it's very mellow compared to something like the raw sound of the T-sL which I find more "powerful" for lack of a better way to explain myself, or even some algorhythms of the Plaits which can easily sound pretty gnarly. I can bring all my other sound sources (T-sL, Plaits, BIA) to noisy territories with relative ease and I'm starting to get a feel for sweet spots too (sometimes), but I struggle to find what I'm looking for with the Erica module. I have also tried mixing sub and main out in the Quad VCA feeding slow LFO's to the VCA, I get a much deeper sound but that's not what I'm really after, if anything it takes more place in the low section of the mix which is not always a nice thing.
On my list of things to try still :
- modulating pitch and/or wave with audio rate CV
- feeding abrupt cv patterns from the MD to wave cv input
- test using that sub output again and play with the octave switch manually
- switching back from the 2hp Verb to the Pico DSP for reverb and make good use of that cv input on the Pico module
- modulate distortion on the Pico DSP, placing before and after the reverb
- if I bring myself to sacrificing a track on the OT, testing of processing the drone in the OT. Sure, it would probably sound nice but I don't like being forced to have the track selected to play with the sound on the OT, I'd rather have that in my case, either on the module itself or the modulation sources I'm using. That is sort of the ergonomics I had in mind but it might just be stupid not to go for the inexpensive option of an extra stereo out in the 1U section, after all it might come in handy for multi track recordings. Nevertheless, I can't help but think that since I would have to make heavy use of the OT effects, I wouldn't be too far off just using drones samples on the OT :)
Any ideas of other things I should try ?

Also, can you tell me more about that Monsoon I see in your racks, do you own that one and if so, would that be relevant for me ? I know Clouds is a very popular module, I of course watched a couple of demos but I'm not convinced it would make sense for me, other than providing a better reverb option than the 2hp... Maybe that would already be a good reason ?


Hey Diego and Ronin,

Wow Diego, that music that you made and provided here is fantastic. I wish I was able to do something like that! But now you make me curious to what you can do with a modular system and your music, so hopefully you soon release some nice modular music? :-)

Regarding wavetable VCO, I got a Waldorf NW-1 and I am quite happy about it, perhaps something to consider? The price is reasonably offered at about Euro 200 here in Europe.

I finally got my Disting module received from my local dealer, it's indeed amazing what it all can do. I rather use it as a kind of emergency and functionality module: In case I need some functionality that I don't have with my modules the Disting comes into play or if I have already a certain functionality but already used it in my patch and I need more, I will consider the Disting too however practically other than have it tested, I didn't come across an emergency case yet where I really had to use the Disting. That's why I call it my backup and emergency module...

If you are looking into reverb, try the Intellijel SpringRay II, I got for that one the small and medium tank. Funny, I didn't expect that but I like the smaller tank over the medium one. The smaller tank is more rough, gives a more direct effect. The medium tank is way more subtle, but in its subtle way nice too. I really enjoy this spring reverb module.

Ronin, you are absolutely right. I am looking for an extensive drum module for Eurorack. My hope was put for a big part to the Blck_Noir from Endorphin.es however once I tested it at my local dealer... I am not sure any more. It wasn't a bad module but (and especially for that price) it didn't give me that wow effect on me where I was hoping for. It's difficult to find a good drum module for Eurorack.

I am currently looking into a non-Eurorack solution (which is actually against my "Eurorack principles" meaning I try to do as much as possible within Eurorack), i.e. the Vermona DRM1 (with trigger inputs so it can be used in combination with Eurorack). The sounds and demos I have heard on the Internet about this one is overwhelming good in my opinion. I hope to be able to test this one soon at my local dealer to see if it's really that fantastic. Any experience/info about/for this one?

Regarding "my Eurorack principles", it looks like I let that go a bit... I just got myself an Elektron Analogue Four Mk II (aka A4), great device, easy to take on travels (instead of Eurorack travel cases that I consider first but decided against it, at least for the moment) and nice to play with, even on its own; or should I say especially on its own? :-) I haven't had the time yet but want to hook it up with my modular system as well to see how the A4 goes in combination with modular.

By the way Diego, how is your Instruo Ts-L module getting along? Happy with it? Please tell me your experiences. I am still considering the Instruo Tóna.

Oh and I wouldn't have mind if you would had hijacked my OSC post ("Some good VCOs required"), that's where it is for :-)

Man... I can't wait for your modular music, you made me seriously curious! All the best and kind regards, Garfield.


Hi Garfield,

Thanks for taking part to the conversation and your kind words about my badly mixed music :-p

The Waldorf NW-1 looks nice but it's way too wide for my rack. I have decided that if I change the oscillator, I am going to go with Noise Engineering Loquelic Iteritas. Demos sound rad, it's only 10HP with nice modulation options and most importantly, I think it would be the one I'd have the most fun with. Already have a lot of respect for that manufacturer since I love the MD and every minute with the BIA is a real pleasure. Seeing how much distortion I was using when making music on Elektron machines + computer, I think something small and nasty like the Viol Ruina could also be a good thing for my rack too, I did some experimentation with the Overdrive in my Pico DSP but I wish I could turn the drive knob further :)

I'll have a look at Springray II. To be honest, I'd have to try different options with the sound sources within my rack, given that I clearly don't know enough about reverbs to have an opinion. I think that a reverb upgrade would have to wait for a bigger case, which isn't planned for the near future, and for a day when I would have some idea of what I need.

I don't know anything about the Vermona drum machine I'm afraid but I have owned the A4 mark 1 for a few years, it's a very deep synth that rewards dedicated exploration. I have read criticism about it sounding "thin" but in my experience it comes down to user knowledge about its sweet spots and general substractive synths programming. I recommend trying to get drums sounds out of it too, it can be a great drum machine as well, especially using sound locks. I wish you many hours of fun with it !

I'm still happy about the T-sL, definitely. I find its core sound just powerful and beautiful. It's surprisingly deep for only 6hp, its many outputs offer a wide sound palette from mellow to very harsh. The size could be viewed as a downside though, because if you use a lot of outputs and feed its inputs at the same time, the small knobs can be hard to get to with your hands after everything is patched. If you can live with that, it's wonderful IMHO.

On top of my Mac being broken, I had to send back my Intellijel Mixup modules (dead channel 1, already fixed by the awesome Intellijel support and on its way back to me) so I don't even have a complete setup now. Gives me some time to study modules in more isolation I guess. As soon as I'm back on tracks and have recorded something, I'll let you know ;)

Best,
Diego


Hi Diego,

Yes that's the real and perhaps only con of Waldorf modules, they are huge. On the other hand that makes those modules very nice and comfortable to use. Things like cables blocking you and not being able to reach the knobs, which can be a common issue with some smaller modules, is an almost non-existing issue with the Waldorf stuff. The Waldorfs aren't modules you just install and start playing. You have to sit for it. Read the manual, understand how to use it, taking your time for it, and then I realise the Waldorf shows you the beautiful side of enjoying their modules. I really like them but I have to agree since I got now 4 Waldorf modules, one row is pretty much full with Waldorf stuff, there goes about one seventh of the entire HP capacity :-(

Yes, you shouldn't hurry things, if you need more time and more space, then that sounds like a good decision.

Thanks a lot for your advice on the A4, I will have a look into using it for drums too. And yes indeed, the A4 is a very enjoyable device :-)

Since I was hesitating between the Tòna and the Ts-L, I think I go for the Tòna, that one is a bit more spacious and has less issues with the small knobs as you mentioned. Thanks for sharing that info.

I wish you good luck with getting your studio up and running again and stay in touch, kind regards, Garfield.