Hi All,

I'm currently trying to put together a small techno system in an Erica travel case (2 x 104HP). I would be aiming to make mainly hardish, drum focussed techno rather than melodic but might sometimes do some ambient/drone or down tempo stuff.

I was hoping for some advice on module selection. I already own the Trigger Riot, 1 x Disting MK4, BIA and have the performance mixer on back order.

This is what I have so far: ModularGrid Rack

My rational for module choices is as follows:

Trigger riot:
Coming up with unusual patterns that I wouldn't program on an X0X beat grid

Performance Mixer:
Place to bring everything together with fader control realtime, 2 x Aux sends, main FX loop, outputs and headphone outs.

Main voice module for non-synth drums allowing some sampled kicks, hats, claps and stabs. Would also get used in Synthbox mode for ambient.

Polyend Preset:
Would allow for 'playing' groups of CV settings when jamming e.g. filter cutoff on bassline, DJ filter on main output, FX return levels, CV inputs on BIA, MI & Knit etc.

Pamela's New workout:
Clocked CV source and additional trigger source. Am hoping that it could be used on the level CV input in mixer to simulate sidechain on the bassline input.

Basimilus Iteritas Alter:
Interesting Drum sounds that can be modulated dynamically

Manis Iteritas:
As above with a different voice

Additional drum voice or melodic voice in the case of making an ambient drone track

Erica Bassline:
Primarily for basslines, compact voice with nice aggressive filter

6 x Disting:
General utilities like DJ filter for main output, clocked MIDI player for Bassline/Knit, HPF for MIA and MI, HPF for compressor sidechain, LFO.

2 x FX Aid:
Mainly reverb and delay, sometimes chorus.

Bus compressor for the main outputs to glue everything together and hopefully add some very mild saturation. I would probably aim to sidechain this using an HPF on a Disting to stop the kick and bass from pumping it too much.

Rotating clock divider:
Additional trigger source.

Distributing clocks and resets.

6->2 mixer:
Mixing the two FX processors so that they only use one stereo channel on the mixer.

All suggestions and advice would be most welcome.



Go slowly... it is not a race

personally instead of 6 distings, I'd get one and play with it a while - it's a great module but a lot of people don't like it as it has (some) menu diving

I think you have a poor ratio of utility modules to 'feature' modules - but if you go slowly you can work that out

I'd go for a cheaper smaller mixer than the 6->2 mixer for that purpose

you almost definitely need more vcas (the ones on the WMD PM are great for your audio, but what about modulation??) - I'd get something like a veils or intellijel quad cascading vca (and replace 3 distings with it)

how are you going to sequence the bassline etc w v/oct?

Firstly, thanks very much for responding, your advice to go slowly makes sense.

I was thinking of buying one or two modules each month so hopefully that will fit the learning process.

I do currently have one Disting and am currently getting to grips with it. I take on board you point about the menu diving.
I like the idea of being able to repurpose it in different ways for different patches. My understanding is that it powers up in the state that it was last powered down in. If that’s the case then the menu diving shouldn’t be too painful as it’s more of a repatching activity.

The design of the rack at the moment is loosely based on the idea of the Erica Techno System hence a lot of voice modules and trigger generators but you’re right, for ambient stuff, it is light on VCAs so I will certainly give that some thought as well.

The reason for the 6->2 mixer was to preserve the stereo output of both FX processors but if there is a cheaper unit that fits into 2HP then please let me know.

It possible that a single FX Aid may be enough as some of the algos on it feature both delay and reverb in with case the small mixer would be redundant.

For sequencing the Bassline I was thinking of using the MIDI file playlist feature of one of the Distings and using CV from the Polyend Preset or the Pamela’s New Workout to vary the pattern playing. Would this work?

Thanks again for responding, I really appreciate it.


I'd like to mix outside of the rack and take a small mixer with me where i could add a few pedals and at least 2 aux chains.

Doing show by myself it's all about a certain playfulness and so i would fill the free space with buttons and knobs for sequencing and control.

I missed that the 6->2 mixer was a 2hp model already
I think my advice about disting still stands - you are correct about it saving the last setting, using the favourites feature greatly improves the usability too - but it's better I think to use the disting to guide you on what modules you should buy, very very occaisionally that might be an actual disting!! - but always keep at least 1 in the rack for emergencies
I think it would be very very frustrating playing back midi files from a disting - no interaction - turing machine might work though!
EDIT - I actually just looked at the info for the PolendPreset and it would appear that it may be usable as a CV sequencer too - which would cover you for that - but it looks really complicated to me! good luck with that!
I'd also consider mixing outside the box as slumberjack suggests, it would free up quite a lot of rack space, or you could just add an extra case when you need it, I really like the performance mixer and I want one (maybe this year), but it is a bit big for this size case

One of the things that appealed about mixing in the case was that I could sling it in a bag and take it to a jam session without having to pack a bunch of extra devices and PSUs.
Do you think it would be better to consider a couple of smaller mixers?
I couldn’t find a combo that gave me the ability to have sends per channel and mix in stereo FX returns. Also the cue facility on the performance mixer is pretty handy.
The inclusion of the Polyend Preset was more for allowing me to play different combos of CV settings from the pads e.g increase the FX return volume and use the high pass setting on the Disting DJ filter to create builds and drops etc.
The Preset seems to allow you to set the CV values per pad snapshot so may not need a VCA for scaling.
Can you suggest a compact sequencer that could be used to drive the Bassline? I wondered if the Varigate 4+ might work...
It occurred to me that although the Bitbox provides a lot of voices I would be sacrificing some hands on control and I wondered whether it would be better replaced with a Sample Drum and Erica Kick module.

If it was me and based upon what you've said and that you've already ordered it I would keep the PM
I'd probably get one of the voice modules next along with an envelope generator (pams will work well for this) and something like an SQ-1 (yeah yeah I know external, but small and quite cheap) - treat this as a stopgap until you decide what you really want to use for sequencing
After that I'd want one of the fx modules and a quad cascading vca (for modulation purposes mainly) and some basic utilties (at the very least a kinks - for the price and size it is really worth it)
I would then play this for quite a while and try to grow organically - ie I need a XXX module
Regarding the Bitbox - only you can decide, but a possible solution is to get more stop gap modules - I find I want as a minimum for percussion about 4-5 'voices' - kick, snare, open and closed hats and one other thing for accents or whatever - I find using plaits for primarily hi hats, as I was for a while a bit of a waste, personally - but it does sound great!
The polyend module I would leave for a long while in the future - I'd work out how to use the other modules first and only add this if/when you feel it's necessary

Agree on the voice module - ordered a Manis Iteritas. That gives me three voices for now as I've got my Neutron bolted into the box until I need to reclaim the space (I guess 4 voices if I press the Disting into use as a sample player).

Rather than the SQ one, I decided on an ES9 as I would like to be able to use the modular in the studio as well. When the case is very full then I will swap the ES9 and the PM in and out depending on whether it's in the studio or standalone for jamming.

That also means I can use things like Ableton CV Tools / Reaktor / VCV to experiment with pushing signals from various different devices into the modular as well as routing each voice individually into Ableton for additional processing.

Kinks looks quite interesting and it's nice and compact, are there any VCAs that are similarly compact and still recommended?

Thanks again for all the advice, it's really helpful to have a different perspective on things.