Hello everybody and thanks in advance for taking the time to read this post (which is my first one, just like the 84hp modular case I'm planning to build)!

ModularGrid Rack

I’ve very recently started diving into modular systems. After a few months of research to get a grasp on the various concepts going on here, I finally decided to roll my own. To give some context, my experience with producing music so far was simply using a digitakt + moog bass synth (the minitaur) plugged to a reverb pedal. My whole understanding of what a mono voice synth actually does hence comes from this moog minitaur which is my only actual analog instrument...

My plans consists in replacing the minitaur of my current setup (designed to do minimal/progressive techno) for something that does more: a bass and a melody. I think it would be a multi-voice modular capable of sending 2 (maybe it could be more?) midi signals from the midi channels of the digitakt through the endorphin.es shuttle control module, convert them to cv, and play around with these two before mixing them into one output (sent to a big sky reverb pedal).

So here I am, looking for guidance as an ultimate check before buying the modules and the 3U 84HP case.
1. Is my understanding correct and that the following rack can fulfil the previously detailed needs?
2. As a first rack, is it a good setup to play around with while learning how to patch? (I just have used VCV so far)

I assumed some elemental things should be missing so I left some space left :)
Any input/advices/feedback is appreciated (please feel free to tell me if I got it wrong)

Thanks for your time

Have a beautiful day

Gastonn


Hello Gastonn,

Welcome to modular :-)

It depends a bit what you want to do with this upcoming rack? Just getting a few tones out of it should be possible ;-) If you want to get a bit more out of it, it's in my opinion far too small. Consider either a 9U 84 HP rack or a 6U (or 7U) 104 HP rack. Sooner or later you get used to the modules you have and start to realise that you could need another filter or VCA or perhaps even a third oscillator, i.e. you need reserved space for future extension. That might sound over the top for you perhaps but you will see, once hooked up in modular, nothing is big enough, neither your wallet nor your rack space ;-)

Another envelope (beside another filter and VCA) might be another idea to consider too.

I didn't mention anything about logic modules, sequencers and other "nice stuff" yet because there is just no space in your rack for that.

Oh yes, a very important component (or did I overlooked it?) I miss is the LFO, consider at least one or two LFOs, can't find them in your rack...

Good luck with the planning and kind regards, Garfield Modular.


Thanks for your time and reply Garfield, I truly appreciate your feedback.

This rack purpose is just getting 2 voices so I think the size can be ok for now (?)
Concerning the LFO, I was wondering if I can use the DixieII one (which is described as VCO/LFO).
In addition I was also planning to use a Disting mk4 (space left blank on the left).
Do you think Dixie + Disting should be enough LFOs for 2 voices?

Kind regards


Hi Gastonn,

Excellent advice by Garfield as usual, I would like to add my voice (no pun intended) to the "you probably will need a bigger rack" team. Let's see if I can explain why.

If you want to create a multi-voice modular system (so at least 2 voices), you will already need at least 2 sound sources, here I can only see the Dixie and the STO, excellent in their own right but using the Dixie as a VCO prevents you from comfortably using it as an LFO. How many LFO's you need is a question of taste but just Disting (+ maybe Dixie) on LFO duties is not nearly enough for me.
Sound source is not the only thing you would need more of, in my opinion:
- I would definitely need more envelopes, at least one for the filter. One could do without it, of course, but it would make me sad.
- I would also need another filter for the 2nd voice. Another module that could use modulation like LFO's and envelopes, most likely.
- Ideally, I would like a (cv controllable, if possible) mixer/vca to mix waveforms from the VCO's and get some timbre variation

Let's look at the whole project as well, how much of it could not be achieved with a more "traditional" synth like the Elektron Analog Four ? For now with this setup, I'm thinking "not much, actually", which would prompt me to suggest getting that synth instead if your only goal is having a few mono synth voices with "limited" modulation. You'd get an interesting sequencer, effects, a few more voices, audio via USB etc. Should you get the A4 instead of a modular system ? Maybe, perhaps not. My point is that in my opinion, for one to get into Eurorack, one should probably have (or plan to have) needs that could only be answered in modular. Or simply have a lot of money to spend I guess hehe :) In other words, for your setup to offer more than what can be achieved with a "traditional" synth like the Elektron Analog Four (which BTW is not necessarily a goal that needs to be achieved on the first iteration, but it's good to look at the foreseeable future too), you would most likely need more modules, hence more space.

You have some space left in the rack right now but not much and you said it yourself, the size "can be ok for now", so there is a risk that you outgrow this. It is my personal opinion that it would happen much faster than you anticipate, as it seems to be a common experience for most of us. Hell, I was a modulation freak before but not nearly as much as now that I got into Eurorack, I could have never anticipated that the format would challenge my synthesis and production techniques so much, but I guess that's what great about it. As a result, the rack I have now is very, very different from the first plan I made. More importantly, it's much bigger now that I learned to use my rack and realized I wanted more out of it. I had to buy a bigger case after buying a small one, which is définitely more expensive than just buying the big one straight away.

The risk of outgrowing your current space is enough that I feel I should encourage you to consider a bigger case like TipTop Mantis or Intellijel's popular 7U cases. At first, it will look huge and empty but I wouldn't be surprised if it gets filled eventually. The final decision is always yours, but I hope my comment will help you make the best decision for what you envision.

Have fun and make music !
D.


toddee,

Thank you infinitely for your detailed answer and the time you took to look at my current project and share your experience.

I'm starting to understand the reason why people tend to tell me to use a larger rack. I'm going to consider getting a larger (104) 6U case based on these advices to start the project. Also, thank you for the advice concerning modules, i'm now investigating into some VCA/enveloppe and/or LFO/enveloppe (any input appreciated).

As this rack also serves an educational purpose I still hope I could get started doing 'something' with these few modules modules and get a taste of what's missing from this point.

Do you think I still can enjoy the basic concepts with this setup before going further?


I'm now investigating into some VCA/enveloppe and/or LFO/enveloppe (any input appreciated).

For VCA's, my first one was a quad VCA from Intellijel, I still like being able to adjust the response between linear and exponential as well as the mixing possibilities. 4 VCA's was more than enough to start messing around in my first rack, I could have done with even less at the start. That being said, consider that a VCA is not only for audio but can also be used to control modulation (=cv) amplitude, so it's not necessarily 1 voice = 1 VCA. And on the other hand, some modules like Plaits, Plonk or Basimilus Iteritas Alter have integrated VCA's which are amazing space savers. Mutable Instruments Veils is another option similar to the Intellijel one, there are also many others so take your time to pick a module. Since you played with VCV, did you try experimenting with using VCAs to control CV modulation or even AM synthesis (amplitude modulation) ? Some practice using VCA's in your VCV patches should give you an idea of how many you like to use. If you really can't decide, start small, I suppose.

For LFO's, Garfield convinced me to get the Erica Synths Octasource and I'm grateful he did, it's loads of fun. The only "drawback" is that it looks like a simple module but it actually took me time to learn how to best use its particularities, clever patching is everything here and that's not easy when you're starting out (wasn't a problem for long though). Oh yeah, it's also not on the cheap side, albeit worth the asking price IMO. Another option I see recommended a lot is the Batumi, looks like a good module to me, less on the crazy side I think. In my rack, I also have a Mutable Instruments Stages which can be configured to offer up to 6 LFO's. The amount of options here is simply overwhelming, the best advice I think I can offer is again, take your time to select what suits you best. That being said, I don't think one could go wrong with any of the options mentioned.

For envelopes, I haven't tried enough options to really recommend anything, but I'd say decide first what sort of envelope you need. For example, I quickly realized, before I got into modular, that I'm generally fine with AD envelopes and rarely need a Hold stage (which stays open while the gate is held) or a full ADSR. I picked the Stages to be able to select the envelope type per patch, that kind of flexibility is really nice.
I feel like at this point I should mention Maths since you are considering a rack with more space. Maths is a large module but it's definitely worth it if you can afford spending some cash and 20HP on it. It's an amazing tool to teach newcomers about what I call "clever patching techniques": amongst its many uses are being an LFO or being an EG but there's a video out there (I think by Loopop) of it being used as sort of a Subharmonicon so really, sky is the limit. Also, you might not need that A-171-2 if you end up getting a Maths.

As this rack also serves an educational purpose I still hope I could get started doing 'something' with these few modules modules and get a taste of what's missing from this point.

Do you think I still can enjoy the basic concepts with this setup before going further?

Sure, if I were you I would even start with only one voice to begin getting a feel for it, you can always buy more later. Full disclosure, I didn't, but I'm definitely greedy :) You have the option to sample the voice into the DT and make another patch if you can live with sacrificing a DT voice for a while. I think that for the learning part of the experience, getting a Disting is a great idea, you can try many types of modular functionalities with it and discover which ones are worth getting their own module.

Oh by the way, what is the A-183-3 for ?


Looks good. To follow up with some of the other comments:

Two ADSRs would be nice.
You might also want to squeeze in a dedicated LFO module that can be restarted/synced.

I'm not familiar with your ADSR/VCA combo. As long as the two circuits can be used independently, that's fine. Else I'd want them separated, even though plugging an ADSR into a VCA is pretty usual.

The Disting will give you a lot of different features to play with. You can then figure out if you'd like dedicated versions of those programs.

With all of the inexpensive case options that are about to hit the market, I'd definitely go bigger unless you really will not expand the system in future.


Sorry for the response "delay" but it took me time to look into all these suggestions.
To sum up, i'm now considering a 6U 104HP case that I will fill slowly depending on my needs and starting small.

@toddee
- I haven't played yet with AM synthesis, that's clearly something i'll try! I'm watching a few videos on the Veils and it looks amazing
- This "subharmonicon" concept is definitely something I'm going to look into aswell. getting a Maths was somehow a plan for the future but i'm not yet sure how to use it. thanks for mentioning it and making clearer the lesser need of the A-171-2 if I was switching to a Maths.
- Probably going to start with one voice playing around with tiny patches between 3/4 modules.
- Concerning the DT, I'm not a big fan of live sampling for many reasons (quality, portability..) but thanks for reminding that to me

Oh by the way, what is the A-183-3 for ?
-- toodee
Well, I naively though i could use it to mix multiple voices into one and send it to the output, I now start to think that might be wrong. Is it?

@Ronin1973

The Disting will give you a lot of different features to play with. You can then figure out if you'd like dedicated versions of those programs.
-- Ronin1973
Thank you for your feedback about the Disting, that is precisely what I was expecting from it

To be honest, I wasn't expecting so much warmth and detailed answers, I feel like i'm going to spend a few hours in this forum during the next months. I'm not going to use more of your time but will for sure keep you updated of the updates of this case through next posts.

Again, thank you very much to all of you for your help