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Hi MG,
I recently dipped my toes into modular synthesis and I'm looking for some professional advice before I go too wild. It'll be important to note that I'm coming from a background in tape manipulation and 4-channel sound out of Max/MSP and I'm trying to replicate some of those characteristics in a rack. Now, I know some want to ask me: why not keep using Max? But, come on! You know why. You and I both get that same buzz when we get a new module in the mail.

Keep in mind, I'm not a musician, not trying to be one, and not trying to make music. I'm just trying to manipulate tape sound spatially using modular. So, don't be alarmed that the only dedicated audio source in this rack is the Instruo (I've done that on purpose).

Pictured above is a long-term wishlist. I already have Pam's, Sloths, Tangle Quartet, Lubadh, and XOH as a small, yet heinously expensive, start. The idea is to use the Lubadh as the only source of audio and to run it through a Sloths/Tides modulated x-pan and then a Sloths/Tides modulated ADDAC to move sound very slowly in a 4-channel environment. All the other goodies in the rack could provide modulation for the Mimeophone, the Lubadh itself, and a future stereo phaser of some kind (the Modcan Dual Phaser's price is a little bananas, alternatives anyone?).

Needless to say, I have a few questions. Do I have redundancies? Gaping holes? Could I be doing anything cheaper? Based on this rack, where are my gaps in knowledge? Also, I know that Maths and Cold Mac are both crazy deep. Is both overkill? I know maths is semi-standard but that surveillance mode on Cold Mac is pretty cool right? Tell me I'm dead wrong and let's keep that cost down! Also, any recommendations for crazy stuff? I was looking at the ADDAC300 to suck power from the Xpan and make it go nuts and that ERD unit that lights incense because cool reasons. Let's bring that cost right back up!

I've been creeping around these boards for a bit now and I know on everyone's first rack they ask about redundancies, gaping holes, and price. All great questions! With that in mind my biggest question is (admittedly my most obnoxious): What other questions should I be asking myself and you guys?

I'm psyched and nervous to be posting, but definitely more psyched than nervous to be hearing from people! Thanks any/everyone!


I would look at utility modules instead of (or as much as) more modulation sources - I've typed why in multiple answers here, on muffs and on reddit recently - use google too find out why - or find my posts - I'm either JimHowell1970 or Agawell on all eurorack centric sites (reddit/muffs/here) - but I would seriously consider getting Maths - see the illustrated manual (google it) for why

I don't really think that what you've bought is "heinously expensive" though, as that implies overpriced, but definitely not cheap - it's comparable to a decent slightly over mid priced electric guitar - and that still begs the same again (at least) on an amp and effects - and lets face it how many guitarists do yuo know with only 1 guitar and 1 amp etc?

This is due to the very nature of both the market and the manufacturers - the market is tiny so you are never going to get the economies of scale that are possible even with more mainstream musical instrument manufacturers (especially behringer) and really not compared to more mass market items

Most eurorack modules sell in the hundreds - a few sell a thousand, a very few sell multiple thousands - the Lubadh I suspect might sell a thousand, but probably not

The companies that do make them are generally small and based in the first world and most don't seem to outsource manufacture to 3rd world (although I think this is starting to happen more)

Even the economics aside - I estimate I spend at least 1000 hours a year playing with my modular (not including the amount of time I spend on the internet in relation to it) - as a hobby and I spend let's say 50€/week on my hobby (2.5K/year) - it works out at 2.50/hour - which is actually compared to a lot of other hobbies very reasonably priced indeed!!!

Thanks Jim! I'll shoot for Maths next and definitely keep my spending in perspective. As far as Maths goes: between that and Pam's I should be good on envelope generation right? I don't know how much need I have for envelope generators at the moment (seeing as not much in this proposed rack would benefit from non-cycling envelopes), but will I want more in the future or should Maths and Pam's cover me for the moment?

Also, I noticed you have a rack for video. How do you (or anyone else) like modular for video work? Seems like a deep and seldom explored cave.

I think you are probably alright for modulation sources - maths, pams and a triple sloth is not much less than I have in my racks at the moment - envelopes or cycling envelope (lfos) are the cornerstone of modulation - but utilities make them go so much further - in interesting ways - for example combining modulation from triple sloth and maths or pams works very well

Modular for video - love it - at least as much as the audio side

it really is a niche within a niche - I have absolutely no idea how many people there are into modular synthesis worldwide - I suspect somewhere in the 10s of thousands, maybe more, into eurorack alone I guess - but I have a reasonable idea of how many people use LZX based video systems - about 1000, maybe a few hundred more (including Vidiots - based on sales of core modules as of a year or so ago- but there is a lot of overlap - people having multiple core modules) and there are maybe a few 100 people extra who have either a the Dave Jones MVIP(?) or Erogenous Tones Structure or BPMC Fluxus 2(?) - which can all be used standalone or with LZX - there are a few other video synths that are standalone and some vintage ones (but these are very few and far between - often 10 or less were made of each)

I often post on instagram - username is the same as here - if you want to check out what I do:

Some of the strengths of Eurorack for sound mangling would be complex, audio rate modulation. A simple example would be plugging an oscillator into the frequency modulation of a filter cutoff. You can get a lot deeper down the rabit hole than that of course... especially with digital modules that weren't intended to be modulated at audio rates... but you do anyways :)

Another idea would be an interface like the Expert Sleeper's ES9. That opens a lot of options for getting sounds from your DAW into your Eurorack and back out (to record them). It will also allow for some hybridization between your systems as well as allowing you to modulate virtual instruments and effects with your Eurorack.

Oh, and check out using some filter banks and stereo filters like Make Noise's QPAS, envelope followers, and sample and hold units.