ModularGrid Rack
I am interested in moving into Eurorack and am looking for critical feedback on my setup design so far.

My Goals: I am a hobbyist with some experience with synthesis. My current gear includes Synthstrom Audible Deluge, PO-33, and a Keystep. I enjoy song-making but am self-taught and my efforts are not yet notable. I enjoy the spectrum of EDM and IDM. Sound design is where my interest in modular primarily comes from, and my thinking for now is to use the Deluge and/or PO-33 for drums, the Deluge for an additional option for sequencing, etc... BUT! I have been pretty inspired by Ricky Tinez's minimalist 62HP/4U setups, and would love to play with sound design, create a happy accident then add some drums and jam for a while. Ultimately I know I want rich sounds play with and good options to modify and shape and reshape the sounds.

I chose a larger case than I think I need (seems to be common feedback here) but am not attached to the case size. Someday I might make my own, but most likely will start off with either an Intellijel (I have a pared down version of the above that will fit into their 4U/62HP Palette (using nRings and a 1u Steppy instead of PNW and a couple other sacrifices) or more likely I will stick with this design and have found some cases on Etsy and/or something like the Dopefer A-100P6 or Erica Synths 6u (super open to case-recommendations if you have any).

Here's what I think I've collected.
* 2x VCOs (and I am pretty enamored with both the Rings and Loquelic)
* 2x Sequencers (I really like how the Mimetic can randomize to create new rhythmic textures; and Pamela's seems to be a versatile module with many applications) (note: the Deluge has 4x gate-out and 2x cv-out in addition to midi out/in)
* 4x Filters (2x Clep Diaz, Filthy LPF/HPF/BPF, and 0chd)
* 2x ADSR envelopes/VCAs
* 2x quantizers to keep the sounds in-scale (do i need these?)
* 1x 4-channel mixer with L/R out
* 1x USB/din Midi

Please offer opinions! I am new to this and my local synth-shop is not open to the public due to COVID. You are my only hope, modulargrid-won kenobi!


To add to this: I see this as a starting point and I fully intend to add more modules over time* once I've had time to play with it. I don't want to break the bank in my first purchase but instead buy enough now to get started, run into gaps and "I wish I could..." situations to inform future upgrades (which adds the benefit of being able to buy a little more here and there over time, reducing upfront cost).

*Reverb/delay, better it additional mixer, more options for randomness, more options for drums/samples, more vcas, filters, the possibilities are endless. I'll see what I actually find to be missing or compelling.


I've been making changes. I guess this is still a work in progress.

Latest version: ModularGrid Rack

  • I replaced the loquelic with a Plaits clone.
  • I got rid of the midi module since my Deluge and Keystep both have multiple CV out and the deluge also has gate out (x4)
  • I added usb power for the keystep and if needed for the Deluge
  • I replaced the rings with a nano clone to save money and space
  • I replaced the mixer with a channel that can do 3x: L, R, and Stereo
  • I added a nano motion (maths clone)
  • I added an abstract data event boss
  • I expanded the case to 6u 104hp (was 6u/84) (this current build will still fit in an 84hp case with some room left over (16hp total, not much)
  • I added a milky way for reverb, among its other effects

I am seriously considering buying a rail/power kit and building my own case to save a few bucks and have that pride of DIY.

How's the system looking now?


Hi Mikecd,

Sorry, my Japanese (assuming it's Japanese) is close to zero, what means won kenobi?

You might be inspired by the minimal size of Ricky Tinez's racks but please keep in mind that not many people have the experience like Ricky to be able to get some decent sounds out of such small casing.

It's as a beginner much easier to start with a large rack, not from the beginning planning it full though, leave from a three row 84 HP rack at least one row empty for future extensions.

If I am not mistaken then Rings (Mutable Instruments) is rather an effects module or a filter if you like than an oscillator. So what you could do is place it next to Plaits (Mutable Instruments as well) module, these two might go nicely together. I got the Plaits (DCO) and I like it a lot and I am now planning a Rings to add to it.

You mention the Ochd in the same context of being a filter but if I am not mistaken (the Ochd is rather new and the first few videos/sounds are appearing here on this forum and they are indeed amazing) it's an Octa-LFO rather than a filter.

You are mentioning sequencers but you got already a Deluge! You are making half the world population bloody jealous with your Deluge and you are still thinking of adding sequencers to your rack? ;-) On the long run yes, you might need that but for the moment put additional sequencers on a low priority (that's at least my advice). Your Deluge will out run on that level for the moment your needs within your Eurorack. Save the space of sequencers because you will need the rack space for (currently) more important modules and functions.

By the way, how's the Deluge? Are you happy with it? Could you please share some experience values with us? I heard only good news about it but the big pity with the Deluge is that no dealer has it, so you can't really test it, it needs to be bought "blindly" so to speak.

Another advice is to do some more reading, checking and planning "home work", take a few points of my above advice into consideration and once you are ready show us your updated (larger I hope) rack :-)

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

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads


Hi Mikecd,

While I was looking at your rack layout and writing my reply to you, you wrote another message :-)

Don't use the rack power supply for powering your Deluge and your Arturia Keystep; you are going to need the power of the rack for the modules themselves...

Since you consider to DIY rack then go for a large rack, 3 or 4 times 168 HP or something like that and add power supply once needed. In that way you save some bucks as you already mention it and at least you will have some space to grow with :-)

Please check my previous post too.

Good luck and kind regards, Garfield.

Edit: Removed typo

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads


Thank you for the replies, Garfield! I'm actually a Texan with no Japanese either. I was trying to quote Star Wars ("Help me, Obi-won Kenobi, you are my only hope" - princess Leia's recorded message on r2d2).

Rack size: this will have to be a compromise as my wife and I live in a small apartment and she is not thrilled by either the expense or space taken up by my hobby. 6U 104HP will have to do for now (with 2x 38HP unused based on my above design (the second one))

Rings: I definitely need to learn to read closer, you are correct. My above build only has one VCO at the moment, with rings as a mod. I'll ponder a second VCO for a while. Originally I was eyeing a Loquelic, and maybe I will re-add that, or maybe a Dixie. Any suggestions you would make for a beginner, to compliment the Plaits?

Ochd - I need to learn to write better, too! I did know this was an LFO. Oops.

Sequencers - I hope to use my rack by itself, and supplement with the deluge as needed. Maybe I can drop the Pamela's, but I love the randomizer in the Mimetic.

USB Power - good point. I have a terrific USB battery I can use for these, as well as the wall itself. I guess this really isn't needed.

Deluge: I started my synthesis journey with a Korg Electribe 2, the synth version, not the more common sampler. Then I purchased a PO-33. I've I understood sequencing well enough, and modulations, LFOs, Envelopes, and Filters I outgrew the electribe. So I bought the Deluge direct from Synthstrom Audible having never seen or used it (but watched countless videos from every super YouTuber, like Red Means Recording, Loopop, Cuckoo, and more. What impressed me most was it was all-in-one: subtractive and FM synthesis, infinite sequencer (no max pattern length), sampler, and now a looper. I love it! I have produced a different or more songs entirely DAWless, and entirely on the Deluge. But it has limitations, too. None of the synth engines are best in class. The FM synthesis is pretty limited, the subtractive is as well, with the unison not being amazing, the overdrive / saturation being good-not- great, no bandpass filter, the reverb and delay again are sufficient but nothing is ultimately exceptional except the sequencer and the fact that you get ALL of these pieces in one box. I love the Deluge and won't ever give it up. When I traveled for work I kept the deluge in my backpack and jammed out on the plane. I love it love it love it, but now I want more robust synthesis. My other quibble is the deluge quantizes everything (latest firmware unlocks 256ths notes) and while I can use probability triggering, that's ultimately different from the randomization and happy accidents I see people getting in modular.

I'm happy to share my music, or answer more questions on the Deluge. It's so good! (The Deluge, not my music. That's still not very good).

Thanks again for the reply. I'll continue researching VCOs for my second voice.

Besides rack size, and besides USB power, and besides maybe having too many sequencers (I envision these also triggering and mutating effects, as CV and gate modifiers - is a sequencer overkill here?) .... do you see other aspects of this build you would change?


I watched some more videos on the Rings and while it's not a VCO is is definitely capable as a sound source even without an oscillator fueling it. Still, another standalone VCO would probably be good to have. I'll keep researching these.


I watched some more videos on the Rings and while it's not a VCO is is definitely capable as a sound source even without an oscillator fueling it. Still, another standalone VCO would probably be good to have. I'll keep researching these.
-- Mikecd

Rings is a resonator. Feed it with an audio signal and the built-in pluck sound will become madness. I have Rings and it's definitely a favorite but in a basic setup I would start with 2 analog VCO with FM and Sync Input and a wave folder as my main sound source.

Distorted Rings


Rings is a resonator. Feed it with an audio signal and the built-in pluck sound will become madness. I have Rings and it's definitely a favorite but in a basic setup I would start with 2 analog VCO with FM and Sync Input and a wave folder as my main sound source.

Distorted Rings
-- defragmenteur

I've tentatively settled on a second true VCO but haven't considered anything in terms of waveshapers. Off to do more googling, thanks. At specific recommendation to start my searching?


Latest version: ModularGrid Rack

Top Row:
* Beehive (smaller, cheaper Plaits clone)
* Sinc Bucina (gate and more)
* Befaco Even VCO
* 2hp ADSR
* WMD/SSF Ultrafold (waveshaper)
* Filthy (LPF,HPF,BPF)
* Nano Rings (smaller, cheaper rings clone)
* Ochd (LFOs galore)
* Clep Diaz (LFO and more)
* UMotion (smaller, cheaper Tides clone)
* Milky Way (effects, including reverb)
* 2hp dial VCA

Bottom Row:
* Mimetic Iteritas (sequencer with randomizer)
* Pamela's New Workout (sequencer)
* 6 channel mixer all the way on the right.

I have 80HP for future additions. It's a bit over my budget once I factor in the cost of the case (even if I DIY), so I might omit something.

Playable? Fun? Anything obvious missing? If I had to drop $200+ in cost should I skip the Pamela's for now and rely on my Keystep and Deluge as the additional sequencers?


Latest latest update:

ModularGrid Rack

I took the wavefolder out because I think I can achieve similar results using the Tides and Rings modules and have plenty of automation with my LFOs and VCAs. (And to save money)

I took the Pamela's out to save money as I have 2 external sequencers (keystep and Deluge).

The Ochd and Milky Way are both not currently available anywhere that I can find, so those are future updates.

I'm pretty close to being settled on this. Any other feedback before I open my wallet?

Thanks again for the input so far!

--
Mike


Hi Mike,

Thanks for your extensive reply, also the information on the Deluge, very interesting!

Most of your arguments understood, still please consider a 3 row casing, you don't have to straight away put it full with modules but at least you have a bit of space to expand.

With either 2 or 3 rows, I would indeed drop any kind of sequencer stuff since you got the Deluge already. Use the Deluge first to save space in your rack. Once you got this rack full and you are ready to go for the next level then you still can consider what kind of sequencer should replace the Deluge but you will see that wouldn't be an easy task, so stick with the Deluge first.

You asked for another VCO that might go well together with the Plaits (I would go for the original one, better user interface, which is important, for me at least), I think the Make Noise - STO might be a good choice. I use these two (Plaits & STO) quite often together and I am with both more than just happy, they belong to my favourite oscillators.

Financially, consider to stretch your budget either now or on the short term, Eurorack is really fantastic but it ain't cheap! So don't fool yourself by believing you can keep this semi-reasonable... no it wouldn't ;-) At least not, if you are really going to "dive into Eurorack"...

But above all, just get a casing (or make it) and start with just a few modules (since you got already the Deluge) and then slowly start extending it while increasing your experience and then sooner or later you will find your way into it and of course you are always welcome to drop a few lines here so we can try to support you into your sonic Eurorack journey :-)

Good luck and kind regards, Garfield.

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads


You asked for another VCO that might go well together with the Plaits (I would go for the original one, better user interface, which is important, for me at least), I think the Make Noise - STO might be a good choice. I use these two (Plaits & STO) quite often together and I am with both more than just happy, they belong to my favourite oscillators.
-- GarfieldModular

I will not address the whole rack (I have new modules in my rack so burning to go patch those), but since this is between parenthesis here and haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere, I want to direct your attention to the presence of many "mini" versions of modules and what it implies: it's not for everyone, and the more of them you have, the harder it can become for some people to play the system. I say "for some people" because the Erica Pico System seems to be well received but I find it very hard to operate a system comprised of only tiny modules, possible but not confortable.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is please do not dismiss that aspect as being inconsequential and think about whether or not you could be bothered by the concentrated nature of the UI in the proposed rack.

Good luck for the rest of the planning ;-)

Diego