My first Rack


i'm planning my first steps into modular. Can you give me any advice on my proposed rack. Mostly i would like to go in the direction of ambient and techno. I own an Analog Four mkII and a TR-8s, so i have 4 cv outs and 7 trigger outs i can use with the rack. My plan is to aquire the modules over some time. With which modules would you start? Until now it is not clear if two rows of 104 hp will be my final rack, as there are a lot more interesting modules.
I only incorporated the Plaits and Basimilus Iteritas Alter as direct voices, but the mimeophone and some of the other modules can act as voices, too. I'm really unsure of having a PNW and a tempi as clocks. Maybe one those is not necessary? What do you think about my choices for LFOs, Envelopes and VCAs?

Thank you in advance for every input you can give me.

edit: Can anybody see the rack? Fixed it.

Hi Worstname,

Ha, ha, I like your name :-) !

Well... I can see your rack as a picture image but not as a link to your rack. So please allow people to have a look at your rack and provide the link to your rack. Then I can have a more detailed look at it.

My first few impressions:

Yes your rack looks nice but for my personal taste a bit too many "nice & good looking modules" used and less focused on classic components, the "famous but partly boring ones like" VCOs, LFOs, EGs, filters, VCAs and other stuff like a logic module or something else to make your rack a bit more spicy :-)

I recognise the Maths module, certainly nice but a bit pity to use it "only" as a dual or semi-quad EG. René is certainly a nice module, it's also on my wishlist but it uses a lot of HP space and you might want to focus instead on other components first and then later with more (modular) experience looking into those "real nice modules" ;-)

Also found the Tempi in your rack, yes that's definitely a nice module, I use that one myself and I like it, so that one you can keep in your planning first.

Do I see there the Wogglebug as well? Funny and weird thing. I just got that module myself and just played a few days ago with it. Man what a module, it's difficult to tame that thing but I believe once one got more experience with using it, you can do some really weird and nice stuff with it. However to start with a module like that? I would rather start with the STO of Make Noise, that's a nice VCO and though it might look simple but after using the STO for a while one will realise that's a damn good oscillator.

By the way, we can shake hands regarding your Elektron A4, I just got recently one too. Nice device! I love the user interface and the decent quality of just using it, fantastic! I am still practicing with it. Yes it got 4 CVs/gates out and you need that. It sounds a lot but personally I feel a device never can have enough CV/gate outputs :-) Still... I am missing CV ins and gate inputs (or a clock input) on the A4, a real missed chance I think. So controlling with your A4 a modular system, yes that's feasible. However controlling with your modular an A4 (without using MIDI) that's difficult or just not possible; so I feel that's a bit of a pity other than that: A4 versus modular, yeah great! :-D

So in general please consider following:

  • Check out the classic components and see if you can use a bit more of those and a bit less of the "fancy" ones
  • Check out the rack size you are going to plan. You planned now already a full rack, so no space for extension. The "issue" with modular is that you always need more HP space. I planned a huge HP rack space and just recently got it full (seriously in no time it was full), not knowing what to do now, my hands in my hair so to speak (I am overdoing this here a bit but keep an eye on your HP space) --> thus plan a bigger one either plan to start with for example an Intellijel 7U case so you can extend it in the future with yet another same rack (there are rack plates on the market from Intellijel to connect two such cases; nice combination!) Or straight away plan something bigger like a Doepfer A-100 LC9 PSU3 (3 * 84 HP) or even better a Doepfer A-100 (3 * 168 HP) it's the most cost efficient rack if you look at $ or Euro per HP.
  • Plan also free space in your rack, so let's assume you get yourself a rack with 3 rows, keep at least one row free when you start into modular, so you have at least some initial space to extend without the need to buy a new rack

Modular is quite different from your A4, they are so to speak two different worlds, both are fantastic if you can value the positives (and accept the negatives). Once you got into Modular, wow, it's so great, especially in your case in combination with the A4, heaven opens to you ;-)

Welcome to modular, careful with the planning though, few thousand bucks is nothing in modular and wrong planning means bye bye bucks. Make sure that what you plan, is what you need and want. On the other hand don't worry to make mistakes too much, it's part of modular too, as long as you are open to learn from mistakes, with future extension planning you can then improve your modular system.

Good luck and kind regards,

Garfield Modular.

Edit: Update a typo.

GarfieldModular, you can see a user public racks when you click on his username.

Hi Defragmenteur,

Great, thanks a lot for the hint, didn't realise that yet :-)

Kind regards, Garfield.

Hi GarfieldModular,

at first thank you for your detailed answer. If you give me a hint how i correctly integrate the rack with working links i will do so. At first i tried it with the URL to my rack but it was showing nothing at all. A link to the screenshot made the rack visible at least.

Yes, i'm certainly more drawn towards the more "fancy" modules. I own a Minitaur, a blackbox and a TB-3 besides the already mentioned Tr-8s and Analog Four. So i have already a little bit of the classical Stuff going on and went for something else with the proposed rack. But a logic module is an interesting idea and i will have a look into those again.

The mkII Version of the A4 actually has two control inputs. Each of those can be routed to 5 Parameters and you can route them to nearly everything. One thing i want to do with the Maths module is using the slew limiter to build some kind of ducking effect on the A4 with the triggers from the TR-8s. Sadly the control inputs can be used only for CV and expression pedals, but not for triggers.

The Rene is not set in stone. Maybe i want a more traditional and less space requiring sequencer like the Hermod. For the start i would focus on other modules and use the A4 for that kind of sequencing duties.

A more "musical" approach to randomness would be a Marbles instead of the Wogglebug, but it's using quite a lot space in my opinion. Some randomness should be included in the rack.

I don't like to have a bigger rack size, because everything should be a least a little bit transportable. When i need more space i would invest in a second case and find some kind of loose arrangement of those cases. I can't acquire all modules at once, so there will be free space in the beginning if i change my mind on some modules. Any advice which modules would be the best starting point? I thought about one row of 104 HP in the beginning and the second row over the next half year.

Thanks a lot again for your insights and advices. I wish you much fun with the A4. It's a quite flexible device in small form factor. You can do a lot with it once you’re familiar with the interface.

Kind regards

Hi Worstname,

If you go to your specific rack that you want to show us, you copy that URL into this conversation here, that should work, but please make sure that if you had it set to "Private" that that is switched off. But I can see your rack actually (by the way Defragmenteur mentioned here above). And here is the link to your rack, if I am not mistaken:

ModularGrid Rack

(I tested it in the preview possibility when doing a post and it seems to work)

Yes, exactly! That's what I miss a bit with the A4 as well, the input-trigger possibility :-) Other than that all quite fine. Oh yes, and if I could change something to the A4, the direction of the sequencer with a few options like backwards, back & fro, random, etcetera.

Why not the Intellijel case 7U then? That's a travel case and you got the nice 1U row as well for the util modules, saving you space for the 3U modules. And in the (far) future when that case is full you can consider yet another one of that, still easy to travel with them and they can be mounted together quite nicely!

Thanks a lot, I just need to find more time to play more with the A4 and discover all its possibilities.

Good luck with the planning and have fun :-) Kind regards, Garfield.

I would buy the case, Maths, Disting, Veils, one of the vcos (BIA or Plaits) and one of the effects units and start with that - I'd also add MI Links and Kinks (as a superb utility starter set - you need more utilities) - and learn those modules well (including a few from Disting)
that may leave you with some cash in your pocket for future purchases once you actually have played with a modular, and then go slow - it's not a race - when you are ready for another module - add one or 2 modules at a time*, learn how to integrate them with your existing modules and repeat

*some modules benefit from extra utilities to get the most out of them - clouds needs attenuators, for instance, so sometimes a couple of modules are a better purchase than just one

At this point i wanna thank you all again for your input and give you a small update on my journey so far. In fact i went for the intellijel 7U stealth case and as i can tell so far it is a really great case. Concerning the modules i went for Plaits, Veils, Batumi with breakout, Mimeophon, BIA, Stages and a Disting which has sadly not arrived yet. Had a lot fun twiddling with the stuff i got already. For example it was quite interesting to learn that Stages has a hidden harmonic oscillator mode and the expert firmware for the Batumi added some nice features to it.

Nevertheless i updated my future rack plans a little bit after my first steps in eurorack. The new version must not be the final one, as i will update it probably on my further journey. As suggested i got rid of some fancy modules to incorporate some more classical and utility modules. I swapped the Rene for a Hermod because it uses less HP, has more channels and the ability to communicate with the midi world. I added an STO and Telharmonic as VCOs. The Telharmonic might be a Rings instead. The rack definitely needed more possibilities of filtering so i added a Wasp, Ripples and Forbidden Planet as Filters. Further on i added a dedicated quantizer and some logic modules. I went for the erica synths pico modules mainly because i needed to fill up the odd space left.

ModularGrid Rack

Hi Worstname,

Sounds good! I think you got yourself a nice rack here, enjoy modular and have a lot of fun with it :-)

Kind regards, Garfield.