Hello, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on my first rack.

My purpose is some ambient or electronic sounds and also learn how modular synths work without looking at too much youtube videos, although I think they already influenced my choices and budget!
The objective is something portable and light, keeping it square and simple.

Please comment if you think there is a cheaper and better option on any of my choices for modules.

I started thinking about voices and I wanted two voices and I went with an analogue voice and a digital voice. Next I went with a resonator module since Mutable Instruments Rings is too big I thought about µRings since this would be an optional feature.
Next to that there is a filter which is very simple and easy to comprehend, in this case I wouldn't mind to lose µRings for a more complex filter.
On the bottom I wanted to focus on soundscaping or some kind of trigger features. I went with Clouds which is the more reasonable option and Stages for sequencing. And in the end I went with power and some outputs.

You have to excuse my understanding of some of these modules because I think I am using them for the wrong purposes. Please comment on what you would change or if I am missing something.

Thanks!


Hi Bvkuz,

It's definitely one of the smallest racks (2 x 40 HP?) I ever saw ;-) And for being so small it looks actually quite pretty!

However... and now comes the bad news ;-)

I give you here a few points you might want to consider and working on:

  • consider a case that's much, much, no much, much bigger :-) For starters at least 2 x 104 HP or 3 x 84 HP as a serious minimum
  • so check if you are financially willing to spend more than what you had currently in mind, otherwise my advice is, continue saving money first, while doing that:
  • if you don't know yet, read/learn about the basic principles of a synthesizer, (basic) things like oscillators (VCOs), LFOs, filters (VCFs), envelopes (EGs), VCAs, etcetera and then look again into your rack ideas:
  • Get some more basic components as just mentioned, though if you don't mind some "menu diving" then a module like Plaits is a nice one, so that's okay but also consider an analogue VCO to give you ideas on the "other side of the world" so to speak
  • A modular synth is not about a pretty looking rack by the way :-) If it does then that's a bonus but shouldn't be a decision maker
  • Leave some space free in your planned rack, just to give you a very rough indication, take for example one third as a reserved free space for future modules, you are going to need that
  • I am actually not sure if modular synthesizers is about "keeping it light and portable" however if you like to stick with that principle (it is good to have here and there a few principles ;-) ) then consider for example an Intellijel 7U case (that's extendable with yet another same case and can be joined together with some metal spare parts quite nicely)
  • Coming more into the details of your rack, I see two oscillators so that's a not too bad start
  • That Optomix module, it is certainly useful but in a small rack like yours and even in a bigger rack, I wouldn't recommend it for starters; it's more if you get more experienced. I recently got that module myself and I admit I am not up to that experience level yet that I can fully utilise that even though I recognise the good qualities of it. What I am trying to say is that you (should) start with more simple and basic modules and slowly when you gain experience get to the more complicated stuff
  • I am missing pure LFOs, I see you got the Stages module so you might be able to use that for an LFO however I recommend to get just an LFO module as well
  • Filters? I don't think I saw a filter other than the Optomix module, which is actually an LPG. Okay the µRings might be able to do that but just get a pure filter module, for starters perhaps a multi mode filter?
  • Pure "simple" (they aren't really simple is my opinion) envelopes (EGs), if you want to save space get a dual EG or a quad EG; of course the Stages module gives you this functionality as well but weren't you using that one already for an LFO? ;-) Most likely you can do both with it, still I recommend an additional EG module. You just can't have enough modulators
  • VCAs? I don't think I saw a VCA, or did I overlooked it? One for CVs and one for audio or one that can do both (then take at least a dual VCA)
  • I see a small headphones module but I don't see a real mixer module (you are going to need it to mix for example your both oscillators, yes you could do that via the Optomix but then again, you might one day want to mix it without the Optomix)
  • I also miss here an audio interface module (for audio input/output to the outside world; for example to an external mixer)

And that was just the basic stuff, but I would say get started with that and I do think you could use a lot more of reading, checking and studying on basic synthesizer principles. The time you need for that gives you time to save more money to get yourself a larger rack :-)

Good luck with the preparations and once you are ready with that, show us your new rack and we will take it from there.

Welcome to modular (it's a lot of reading, checking, planning, etcetera) and kind regards, Garfield Modular.


Thanks a lot for your comment it really helped to put a nice perspective on things, and it was exactly what I was hoping for.
Getting with the basics!!

Really good for a first comment and feedback : )

I will follow what you said regarding what I am missing and regarding what I don't need.
I really wanted something to start then go from there withouth spending to much, I gess getting space to start is ideal and being able to produce some sound is also good ;)
I will go back to the books and then show what I've got.

Thanks again.