Hello everyone,
New to eurorack, just planning my first synth. Please tell me everything wrong with this setup (which definitively would cost me a fortune).
I would keep Maths and Marbles (yes they are expensive but I want them in the rack).
What am I missing? Are there cheaper (and/or better) alternatives to modules I have selected?

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Not sure how to post the preview of the rack... here is the link:
Rack

Thank you!
Ciao.


OK...a couple of things jump right out. First up, aside of the Dual FX, you don't have anything in here that's stereo. Yes, I know the Mixup seems to be stereo...but look closely: there's no panning on that. It's more of a "summing mixer", not something that can actually allow you to spatially-locate sound. Then, by extension, the Audio IO becomes pointless as well. Taken together, that's $350-ish, and it doesn't quite accomplish what it needs to. So...look instead at Doepfer's A-138s, which IS a four-in stereo mixer, and then at Happy Nerding's OUT, which gives you transformer isolation, a parallel stereo bus input, and master level controls...plus a headphone pre, 1/4" outs, and metering. Total: $270. Every bit counts, after all...

Then, I'd remove the drums. Seriously...you're probably better off with a dedicated drum machine, as this rig here doesn't really have the sequencing needed to support drum programming. And also, since there's no sequencing here, why is there a quantizer in there? Certainly not for the MIDI CVs...that's already quantized.

Filters...sort of redundant, really. The Forbidden Planet and the uVCF are rather similar designs. If you're going to have two VCFs in here, make them pretty divergent in sound...that way, you can put one out front as a "lead" voice and the rest of the sound can go thru the other.

Envelopes...the Quadra is decent as a two-stage EG, three if you use the ASR mode. But there's nothing here that can really make the filter(s) shine; for that, you'll probably need a couple of proper ADSRs...something like Doepfer's A-140-2. And then, with that in place, you can scale your AR envelopes back a bit.

TBH, the best way to reduce the budget here might be to make the build larger. That might sound counterintuitive, but the fact is that smaller modules tend to cost more in the long run than ones that take up more space, mainly because you can cram loads of them in. By moving up to a 2 x 104 hp cab, you can then put in a larger module that can cost the same (or less) that also gives you more functionality. For instance, let's say you were able to swap that 2hp LFO for a Noise Reap uLoaf. Same price. BUT...the uLoaf gives you a second LFO, more functions, some random capabilities in only 4 hp more space. But wait, there's more!...

Let's look at the cost of the spaces each module takes up! Now, $99 / 2 = $49.50 per space covered. But the Noise Reap comes in at $16.50 for each. So what's going on here? Simple...as you build up a row, make note of each module's cost per hp like that, then average this out when the row is populated so that you can see what a row costs per hp. This is a good indicator of your build costs; the lower that cost per hp number goes, the more cost-effective the build is. Filling a row out that comes in at an average of $17/hp is better than $21/hp, cost-wise...and by using that little formula, you can account for a single module that jacks up the row cost across the entire row's cost profile.

One last warning: this isn't a video game. You don't have a "win" here, there's no timer, no score. Don't EVEN try and get things right on your first build on MG; at this point, you're just sorting out that there's this many modules. It's NOT necessary to get the first build right...basically, NO ONE gets the first build right. Ever. Period. Even if you have decades of experience. Instead, whittle at this for a while...several weeks, maybe a few months...while researching what will get you a sound that's your sound. Proceed at a pace that works for designing something you'll live with for literally YEARS and which costs a sizable chunk of money. Speed, basically, is NOT of the essence here.


Hi Lugia,
Thank you for your feedback.

I quickly read it and already found very useful information.
I will now read it again carefully while designing another rack (6U 104 HP) trying to make one row with essential components (including first ones I may purchase) and second row with additional more advanced components.

Thank you again.


New version here:
ModularGrid Rack

6U 104HP case. Right now 1 row only filled with basic components. Does it make any sense?

Thank you.


Considerably more sense, yes. The choice of the Noise Reap Loafers is especially interesting, since it has all sorts of odd interaction possibilities between its LFOs. Tandemmed with a Maths, that'll be a killer modulation solution.

Not too jazzed on the STO here, though...it strikes me as too spendy, given that you're trying to drop costs. So, let's do several things at once by eliminating both the STO and the Plaits, and adding a Plaits clone by Codex Modulex (saves about $50) and a Braids clone from them as well, which is only $3 more than the STO. This then gives you two VCOs with similar characteristics, which works better for doubling VCOs to fatten up your sound. Then, to hit that Buchla-esque zone, add a Tiptop Fold Processor and use its two inputs as the VCO "mixer", which would put the two Codex clones into a configuration more akin to a complex oscillator. It's a cheap date, too...$135 for a killer wavefolder.

A delay. You absolutely want one now, so that you can properly (ab)use the resonance insert in the A-106-1's resonance path. By doing that, you can create echoes which degrade over time in ways which you control to some extent. A reverb would be really interesting here as well.

The last suggestion here would be to divide paths. Put your audio path in the top row (as best as possible) and the modulation in the lower one, along with the power supply. You want to keep that last thing away from any audio modules to avoid noise leakage. Plus, dividing your functions up like that makes the synth easier to program in the long run, since everything should have a specific place based on function. Going to a 2 x 104 is loads more sensible, too...


Hi Scozzola,

Lugia provided you already with some excellent comments, so just follow up on his advice and you should be fine.

Just one small matter, instead of getting the Intellijel's Outs module, you could consider the 7U 104 HP casing from Intellijel, then some basic input/output matters are already taken care off by the casing itself and with the 1U modules you can add some nice useful utilisation functions. That saves you even more space and leaves you more space here for the more valuable 3U space.

Good luck and kind regards, Garfield Modular.


The Intellijel 7U case has two jacks for input and two jacks for output. However, you still need to buy an in-out module to make use of them. It doesn't come with any hardware to use the audio jacks or the USB connection. It just comes "ready" for them. The Intellijel 1u in-out should be fine and buy some room in the rest of the rack.


Hi GarfieldModular and Ronin1973,
Thank you for you feedback. I am planning to build the case myself (I have tools and skills to do it) since they are really expensive (overpriced I’d say...).
I considered building a 7U case but I find Intellijel 1U modules offering less functionalities compared to other 3U modules (of course there is the benefit of having a smaller footprint).
Which ones would you recommend?
I was also thinking I may add the 1 U row later on (if I keep the 104hp length then I should only replace the lateral parts of the cases with 2 longer ones and buy the 2 additional rails).

Last question, if I may: which modules should I buy first to start having something useable? Of course Power, I/O, Plaits but then what else? 1 VCF and ADSR at least?


Before building your own. I'd see when Behringer is going to drop their massive case. It'll probably be priced right as well. I'd have gone that route if I hadn't invested in Intellijel.


You guys are so awesome for helping out us newbies design our first modular synth. Thank you!


I just hate seeing people make mistakes that'll cost them both money and their enjoyment of music. That doesn't further things at all...it just results in gear sitting in closets and frustrated musicians, and I don't like the idea of either. And since I've got some 40-ish years of synth experience, it would be irresponsible as hell for me to NOT pay what I know forward.


Personally I would not buy or recommend Mutable Instruments clones - unless they are discontinued, or are something like supercell - which is expanded - or I was going to build them myself
Why?
1. you have the space in a 104hp/6u case for full size ones
2. the originals are designed with ergonomics in mind - ie they are nice to play with - a lot of the clones - are not they are designed to fit in as small a space as possible
3. and most importantly - Emilie does not get paid for clones - you want more exceptional MI modules - buy the originals - the money goes to the original designer - buy a clone - the money does not - also MI support for MI modules is great - for clones non-existant

yeah you might save a few $/€/£ (and a few hp - but it's the same really), but in the long run is it really worth it?


Hi JimHowell1970,
On top of the points you mentioned (and I agree with you) I had also realized that it is cheaper for me (in Italy) to buy the original MI modules.

In general, some modules are not available here or I should import them from U. S. so I will have to switch modules available at least in EU.

I am proud to announce that today I have ordered the rails for my rack!!!

Next purchase: wood and power for the case!

Thank you.


Congratulations on getting started!
Availability of modules is also an influence of what modules actually get in your case
Take it slowly and have fun!!!


I finally have something to play with; this is my current setup (+ an Arturia Keystep).

Still no LFO and no VCF, I'll get them in a couple of weeks (no rush; meanwhile I'll familiarize with available modules).

Thank you for the feedback :)

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