(pre any of this, just want to say thanks for all the attention given to newbie rack builds. not sure what i would do without this site or community)

Thinking MBV if kevin shields had a synth vibes crossed with Alessandro Cortini’s “scappa” in a small footprint. I’m shooting for two voices, bass and lead. Lead will go out through a pedal board that I already have leftover from my power pop/shoegazer days and all will be summed into the filter and lo-fi junky.

Scappa ->

Part of the reason the small case is appealing (aside from cost) is the pedal board itself adds a fair amount of footprint and I’m shooting for something i could lug to a gig eventually.

I am 100% sure I am missing something here. My gut is that the sloths could be replaced with something more useful but what?? I love the idea of it so much.

Rack:
alt text

Pedals (not in any order, just some of what i have to represent available effects):
alt text

Setup notes:
- Arturia keystep for sequencing
- keystep pitch cv to buffer 1
- keystep gate to buffer 2
- buffer 1 to plaits and hold of noise tools
- use slow cycle from noise tools OR sloths to trigger hold
- hold out to STO (creating harmony and/or bass line)
- STO to optimix 1
- Plaits to optomix 2
- buffer 2 (gate) to TipTop EG
- TipTop eg can be used to affect Optimix 2 (plaits/lead)
- Optimix 2 out to guitar pedal send (1u)
- pedal send mix to Duatt A
- Optimix 1 out to Duatt B
- Duatt sum to Ripples
- Ripples out to Lo Fi junky
- Lo Fi junky out to headphones
- sloths and noise tools pink/white for random ish across rack

This seems to me like it could work. My concerns are:
- do i need another EG? if the bass can be drone-ish, LPG can be handled manually like a mixer as long as i can ride it
- would be nice to add a slight rhythmic element here. i considered swapping the sloths for a 4hp version and then a pico drum to sidechain the Optomix
- Ripples is my only filter but Lo Fi Junky has some of its own internal filtering/compression/modulation so for that tape-y sound, it seems like a good fit

Open to any and all feedback, and very much appreciated. if i were going for a bigger rack (considered, but worried about space and cost) i’d add a qu-bit bloom for sequencing and drop the keystep. I like random and generative stuff, but more when it is constrained within established boundaries and just gives some extra life to something I have already prescribed.

Thanks!


well that was a lot to read!!!

so you want a modular synth that you can sequence externally that has 2 voices (nominally bass and lead) and when combined with your pedal board will be able to produce music in the style of My Bloody Valentine/Alessandro Cortini

and here is another!!!

1 - get a bigger case - I would go for a tiptop mantis - it is very portable (similar to a guitar - carry it on your back) and has very good power - does not include parts that are irrelevant to some extent - especially as in your use case you are only using the buffered mults - and for all the 1u that you have added there are often cheaper/better solutions in 3u - get some blank panels to cover up the gaps (or make some) - you only need one buffered mult for example - you could use a mutable links for this and have 2 utility mixers as well in 4hp - I would at least have a play with this idea - don't fill the case - concentrate on what you think you want to fulfill your current goals - at least this way you will have space to add the modules that you find you need in the future without having to buy another case almost immediately

2 - if you are married to the case then you really have too many 'feature modules' and not enough support modules and not enough of the right support modules and a lot of redundancy and a mixing strategy that has not even been been considered

take out:

the lofi junky and get the pedal - it's cheaper, takes up no rack space and you loose very little in terms of modulation - which you have very little of anyway

sloths is a good 2nd modulation source for adding to another but not great as a primary modulation source imo - remove this and replace with say pamelas new workout - possibly get a 1u sloth, if you want to add some chaos and can find some way top boot something out of the top row - quadratt

optomix - I would remove this as well - it's big - plaits already has lpgs internally and ripples has one too plus your mixing solution needs improvement anyway

tiptop z4000 - replace this with either something smaller - do you really need adsr (probably not) - with pams above this is probably completely redundant in any case

that frees 34 hp and uses 8 (pams) which leaves 26hp

I would want vcas and mixing for everything else and a lot more in the way of utility than you can fit in this size case - plus aiming for a MBV esque sound I would want more modulatable reverb and delay modules - a couple of fx aid xls for example

Even removing all those modules - I see a lot of mono audio outputs (plaits (2), sto (3), ripples (3), pedal board return(1) = 9 audio outputs) and no way of mixing them to stereo - which is what your headphone module is expecting

currently the only mixer you have is duatt - which mixes 2 channels to one - yay plaits is covered - maybe

I would want a quad cascading vca such as veils or intellijel - but there won't be enough space for these

I think the best bet would be to go for a selection of Happy Nerding mixer modules - some combination of 3x VCA, PanMixJr, 3x stereo mixer, 6xMix will get as close to solving the problem in the available space as possible - probably won't be able to mix all outputs all of the time

3 - replan totally - ignore anything to do with cases for now work out what you actually need

2 sound sources - plaits is great as 1 of these/sto is fine for the other
pedal i/o - I would consider the ADDAC as it has 2 channels!
1 or 2 good modulation sources
a filter for the sto
a quad cascading vca - mutable veils and intellijel are really the only 2 I would consider here
whatever in rack effects modules you want - as I said above - a pair of fx aid xls would be a good choice for this style of music

Once you have all of those in a big (make it as big as you can, it is a sandbox, not an actual rack) modulargrid rack work out how you can provide modulation for all the modules - do you have enough - almost definitely not - spend some time thinking about how utility modules such as attenuators, mixers (especially matrix mixers), multiples, vcas, rectifiers, logic etc can leverage a relatively small number of modulation sources and what other utility modules you may need - kinks is an exceptional utility module in this regard - it can turn 1 modulation source into 7 related but different modulation sources, for example

Now consider how you want to mix the audio - do you want submixes before/after/between effects etc - does the mixing want to be voltage controlled? do you need stereo output? if so consider how you are going to convert mono to stereo and how you are going to mix stereo signals - if it was me I would want to be able to run effects in both parallel and series, over all the sound sources, individual parts and all points between

add all the utilities and mixing into the rack - don't rule out Doepfer and Ladik and other more inexpensive brands - if the module does what you want then use that over a more expensive brand

now take some copies of that rack and try to consolidate it into rack configurations

try some with 1u rows - the 7u/104hp intellijel case may be a good starting point for that one, or a mantis or even the palette - maybe you need to go for a micro version of a few modules - maybe you need to take one fx aid xl and one regular one - to enable you to cram what you need into a case - preferably with some space available - so that you can add something you find interesting down the line, without having to throw something else out you need

and then get a minimum playable version of what you need and start playing with it - add the other modules slowly - maybe spread the cost out over a year, or longer - so that it is affordable


I'd forego the Lofi Junky altogether and go with a Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water (for my money it's pretty much the most musical effects pedal on the market). You can also combine delay and reverb in one pedal with the EQD Avalanche Run and save some room on your pedal board. For a small case, the suggestion of Pamela's New Workout is excellent. My $0.02, which is probably worth more like 1/2 a penny.

Inscrumental music for prickly pears.

I'd forego the Lofi Junky altogether and go with a Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water (for my money it's pretty much the most musical effects pedal on the market). You can also combine delay and reverb in one pedal with the EQD Avalanche Run and save some room on your pedal board. For a small case, the suggestion of Pamela's New Workout is excellent. My $0.02, which is probably worth more like 1/2 a penny.
-- baltergeist
nah - at least 1.5c, haha

the shallow water is a great alternative to the lofi junky!

for me, for the required genre - I'd want lots of layers of both delay and reverb - so the more the better!


nah - at least 1.5c, haha

the shallow water is a great alternative to the lofi junky!

for me, for the required genre - I'd want lots of layers of both delay and reverb - so the more the better!

-- JimHowell1970

Lol! And very true regarding the genre and layering up on delay and reverb, hadn't really taken that into consideration.

Inscrumental music for prickly pears.

Hey thanks to both of you for the really thoughtful input! I tried to address common concerns up front (“how will this be sequenced”) etc, but even so all of this is super great.

Some thoughts/responses:
- i was not aware of the Shallow Water, that pedal looks awesome! My thinking with the original setup was that the bass shouldn’t be sent through the same fix chain as the lead because delay and reverb on bass can be muddy and gross so having the lo fi junky as a later stage effect seemed to make sense. but i like this idea a lot
- however! the ADDAC pedal i/o is a really solid choice that i also wasn’t aware of and since it has two sends i could have multiple fix loops for different signals which is great
- i actually initially had Veils in here because i really liked the cascading aspect of it but also did recognize the amount of space it took.

thanks for the great tips and reality checks around Pams and the rest. i love how flexible this all is but also it twists my brain up a bit trying to put it together. but in a good way, which is why its so much fun to think about.

Since I have the pedal board already I have been trying to resist adding fx to the rack itself, but I can see where it might still be worth it, particularly to be able to route fx sends in complex ways. maybe this can be accomplished with a couple mixer units and some sends. So it’s a good call out to be able to mix like crazy and focus on that ability to route signals. attenuators and rectifiers i am still learning about so I have some reading to do there!

On the stereo front, I’m split on that. In terms of live performance most club PAs at the level I am at are mono anyway so stereo is a bit pointless. But for studio recording and of course headphone jamming it cant be beat.

in terms of going bigger on the rack, i’ve looked seriously into both the intellijel 7u 104hp and the make noise 7u 104hp. people seem to not like the power supply on the latter but the bus looks like it could be really helpful for a project like this where lots of mixing and modulation is key.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and take it seriously with your thoughts :)


I'd forego the Lofi Junky altogether and go with a Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water (for my money it's pretty much the most musical effects pedal on the market). You can also combine delay and reverb in one pedal with the EQD Avalanche Run and save some room on your pedal board. For a small case, the suggestion of Pamela's New Workout is excellent. My $0.02, which is probably worth more like 1/2 a penny.
-- baltergeist

killer tip on the Shallow Water! Did not know of this. Thank you 🙏


Hey thanks to both of you for the really thoughtful input! I tried to address common concerns up front (“how will this be sequenced”) etc, but even so all of this is super great.

NP

Some thoughts/responses:
- i was not aware of the Shallow Water, that pedal looks awesome! My thinking with the original setup was that the bass shouldn’t be sent through the same fix chain as the lead because delay and reverb on bass can be muddy and gross so having the lo fi junky as a later stage effect seemed to make sense. but i like this idea a lot
- however! the ADDAC pedal i/o is a really solid choice that i also wasn’t aware of and since it has two sends i could have multiple fix loops for different signals which is great
- i actually initially had Veils in here because i really liked the cascading aspect of it but also did recognize the amount of space it took.

at 12hp for a quad cascading vca - veils only works out at 3hp per vca - and given the cascading and amplification that most smaller vcas don't have - it's space well used

thanks for the great tips and reality checks around Pams and the rest. i love how flexible this all is but also it twists my brain up a bit trying to put it together. but in a good way, which is why its so much fun to think about.

that's why it's a good idea to start slow and grow slow - get a minimum viable synth - and then add gradually and naturallyfrom their - it may take you in a completely different direction (in terms of modules) than you thought - as you come to realise that a matrix mixer is more important than a 3rd delay, for example

Since I have the pedal board already I have been trying to resist adding fx to the rack itself, but I can see where it might still be worth it, particularly to be able to route fx sends in complex ways. maybe this can be accomplished with a couple mixer units and some sends. So it’s a good call out to be able to mix like crazy and focus on that ability to route signals. attenuators and rectifiers i am still learning about so I have some reading to do there!

one massive advantage of in rack effects is that you can modulate them - another is that you don't need to attenuate/amplify the signal to use them and as such are easier to incorporate into a mixing set up

yes lots of mixing is useful - not just for audio - where for shoegaze style music I would want to be (voltage control) mixing a lot of layers of effects - but also for control voltage (modulation and gates) too - newbies often forget about mixing entirely or only think about final stage audio mixing not sub mixing audio or any mixing of control voltages with or without voltage control

I'd be tempted to make a list of all the types of modules that you don't understand and then ask yourself what do you think they do before looking it up and once you have gone through that exercise go back and ask yourself what you would use it for note down any further questions you have about it, note them down - maybe the only way to answer some is to buy a module - a disting mk4 or ex may be a big help in this regard...

On the stereo front, I’m split on that. In terms of live performance most club PAs at the level I am at are mono anyway so stereo is a bit pointless. But for studio recording and of course headphone jamming it cant be beat.

I completely agree on this - but it is something to keep in mind

in terms of going bigger on the rack, i’ve looked seriously into both the intellijel 7u 104hp and the make noise 7u 104hp. people seem to not like the power supply on the latter but the bus looks like it could be really helpful for a project like this where lots of mixing and modulation is key.

seriously - I think the mantis has better power than either of those - definitely cleaner - I use mine for video which is much more fussy and see no unwanted noise artifacts in the signal

and the mantis is significantly cheaper - ok you loose the 1u row, but I've never been a fan, the functionality (that you actually need) can probably be had in 20-30hp or so for much less and the savings can be put towards the next case

if/when you need to take it out the decksaver lid and case are not that expensive to add


killer tip on the Shallow Water! Did not know of this. Thank you 🙏
-- bigham

You're welcome! Admission time - Fairfield Circuitry is hands down my favorite pedal maker. Their Randy's Revenge ring mod rivals the Moogerfooger, imho, and is regular pedal size, the Unpleasant Surprise is king of the fuzzes, and the new Long Life tilt EQ/filter looks phenomenal, and it's cv controllable. I cannot wait until my Long Life arrives.

Inscrumental music for prickly pears.

I'd be tempted to make a list of all the types of modules that you don't understand and then ask yourself what do you think they do before looking it up and once you have gone through that exercise go back and ask yourself what you would use it for note down any further questions you have about it, note them down - maybe the only way to answer some is to buy a module - a disting mk4 or ex may be a big help in this regard...

This is great advice. I’ve started putting a lot more energy into this and on top of sketching here in modular grid i’ve been poking around in miRack (VCV rack fork for iOS) to put some of that learning into practice. Sometimes it doesn’t really come into focus until I see/hear what is happening.

I hear you on the mantis! Will definitely look hard at it. Backpack option is cool.

Again, appreciate the thoughtful remarks. Lots to think about! Very glad to have had this conversation before just going for it.


I'd forego the Lofi Junky altogether and go with a Fairfield Circuitry Shallow Water (for my money it's pretty much the most musical effects pedal on the market). You can also combine delay and reverb in one pedal with the EQD Avalanche Run and save some room on your pedal board. For a small case, the suggestion of Pamela's New Workout is excellent. My $0.02, which is probably worth more like 1/2 a penny.
-- baltergeist

I came here to say exactly this re: Shallow Water and Pam's. Very solid advice.