I've got the semi-modular MiniBrute 2s and I'm looking for a reasonable way to expand it to modular setup. I currently route its output into VCV Rack and add extra stuff: mostly rhythm section (perc/bass) and effects; sometimes other voices. This is all fun, but it's not really a hybrid modular setup: I just route one audio channel from Minibrute into VCV rack. I enjoy fiddling the actual knobs, so I'd like to start assembling the case that would shift the weight from DAW more into hardware, maybe eventually getting rid of the PC completely. This is not supposed to be a live setup any time soon.

Now, I would be grateful for advice on rack construction there. My plan so far:

  1. For the second voice or rhythmic sounds, get Mutable Instruments Plaits. Everyone loves Plaits :D
  2. Something for triggering percussive Plaits with. I was thinking about either Pamela's New Workout or Grids. How should I choose? I was leaning towards PNW, because I can also use it for all kinds of modulation (LFO/random); Minibrute 2s has nice sequencer, but the modulation is a bit limited (e.g. LFO's have no offset).
  3. Modulation. In VCV rack, I sometimes do simple CV manipulations, e.g. modulate envelope output with an LFO, so I would need something for that. I was considering IntelliJel Quad VCA, because it seems quite versatile (both lin and exp, and is a mixer), but I'm not sure if that's not an overkill this early. Or perhaps just save for Maths instead?
  4. For effects, keep the poor man's output to DAW for the moment. I think adding a reverb/delay as a last step is rather easy in the DAW. Later on maybe Clouds? I know a lot of people use Expert Sleepers Disting, but as long as I have a PC in the loop anyway I don't see a benefit of using it.
  5. More percussion? I like twisted rhythms in general, and I'm worried that I will not have enough drums&clicks. In VCV rack, I make extensive use of 16-step trigger sequencers with all kinds of sound sources. I was thinking about Basimilus Iteritas Alter, but I've read that it tends to dominate the patch and that it's crunchy; I'd rather do something smooth/soft and I may be short on VCAs/attenuators to make that happen. I would totally use a module that has two trigger inputs and produces two different sounds there, so that I can patch two PNW outputs there. Does such a thing exist? Or can I just keep hitting Plaits four times a second and still make it sound nice?
  6. For sequencing... Nothing, at the moment. Minibrute has a 4-track sequencer, and each of these tracks can be of any type; with PNW being a good trigger/modulation source, I can devote 3 or even 4 tracks of Minibrute for pitch sequencing.
  7. Case - I should have probably started with this - everyone keeps saying "get a bigger case", so I guess I'll skip the single-row episode and go for a 6U.

I haven't bought anything yet, so it's a good time to point out everything :)
Ah, I should mention that I don't have a dedicated studio, so I have to set up my gear on a table for every session, and then clean it up. As far as I understand this means I should not get the cheapest cases; I was thinking about RackBrute 6U or TipTop Mantis.

Now, I'm not going to do all of this at once; I'd do this one item at a time and see how it goes - since I'm starting with Minibrute, I can immediately plug any new modules and fool around. I would be very grateful for any comments and hints, though.

Personally I'd choose the mantis over the rackbrute for a few reasons - I don't like it aesthetically and it uses a power input module that reduces the amount of hp available immediately, the mantis is also efffectively 33hp bigger (power is 5hp)
However, as you are a minibrute owner, I can also see the appeal of it... and it can be connected to the minibrute and there's a bag
that fits both together and it's a bit cheaper
As for modules - to start with I would concentrate on modulation and utility as that will add most to the minibrute
So I'd either go for maths (or Pams) and a quad cascading vca (the intellijel that you mentioned, but also look at veils)
I'd also get mutable links and kinks as they are such a great utility started package
Then and only then would I consider adding an extra voice - plaits is a pretty decent choice - especially as you could use the model selection cv input to sequence the model - so you can hit it quite fast and change the percussion instrument between hits
Then I think I'd be tempted to grab an analog filter, probably a multi-mode one, and whichever of Pams or Maths I didn't get earlier
And a disting!!! - it's just so handy to have, really, really useful
And then some basic utilities - sequential switch, clock divider, maybe a matrix mixer
But go slowly and have fun

Thank you!

I see the point about modulation: the more I have played, the more I miss some utilities indeed; having an envelope generator with a delay would would help, for example. So, MATHS and Veils first.
I've seen people using a VCA to reduce the signal level and connect it to a line input of a regular (non-modular) mixer or sound interface, do you know if I can do that with Veils? Not looking for a high quality sound in that case, but I'd rather not fry anything.

Regarding filters: minibrute already has one, so do I understand correctly that you'd plug Plaits into a filter? From what I see Plaits already has a low-pass filter built-in (although without direct CV input), so wouldn't that be a waste?

Yes Maths and veils first is a good start - then seriously take a look at links and kinks as the next 2 modules!
Veils will work perfectly for that application and for that matter the opposite (getting non-modular up to modular levels, as it has up to +20db gain)
It is unlikely that you will fry anything - most modules have input limiters which will clip the signal, to the range they specify, but will not fry at full modular levels, this generally applies to almost anything that you can stick a signal into - mixers and audio interfaces - you don't want that for these
But isn't that half the attraction of modular, that you can have a selection of whatever and mix and match?
Plaits has an lpg emulation, so the filter and vca are tied, you may not want this and want to just filter instead of use a vca, or the opposite, or have more control on the relationship between the filter and the vca (swap which is first, use different envelopes for the vca and the filter, etc)