Greetings modular nuts.

This is my first forum post! Apologies in advance. (;

I never expect great answers to "noob-esque" posts in any forum (RTFM, dang it.), but this community seems so incredible that I am hopeful for some great insight. (:

So, like a small child learning to walk, I have been on my modular journey for but a few small steps, and am now taking the next step by acquiring a Pittsburgh Modular Structure EP-420 (got a great deal, could not refuse).

I'm very familiar with DSP concepts and the modular workflow is making great sense to me, but I am inexperienced. So, I have laid out what I believe to be a pretty tight setup, and would love to get some thoughts from all you seasoned pro's out there.

I am not 100% sure what style of sounds I'm hoping to make, I love it all. Ideally, this rig can do it all. Ambient, glitch/idm, noise, techno, et al.

My main questions:
- Do I really want 2 large sequencers? Or will I likely end up only using one?
- Do I have enough utilities, VCA, Mixers? I am going from 2 oscillators in my small starter rack to 7, and adding drum modules.
- How's the voice to effect to utility ratio?
- I am an Ableton and Max fiend. Am I ok in assuming I'll be able to have lots of fun goin "hybrid" using es-9? I intend to multitrack, final mix, post-process, sidechain, etc. in Ableton, as well as use Max and CV Tools to bring CV into the rig.
- I don't really have any "east coast" modules. Will I regret this? All of my oscillators fall on the complex side of the spectrum (or digital). I feel like I may miss having any pure sine/saw simple waves at my disposal.

I'd also be happy to talk about specific modules I've selected.

Let it rip!

https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/racks/modulargrid_1307555.jpg

ModularGrid Rack


Your proposed rack is actually very similar to my current rack, so I'm going to tell you that you are on the right track. :)
I would recommend eliminating one of the sequencers and adding a Pamela's New Workout as a master clock (and more). You could add a Euclidean Circles to Pam's and the Eloquencer and have a pretty powerful combo. It may be wise to eliminate the Mutamix and invest in a larger CV-able mixer like WMD's Performance Mixer. I think I would make do without the patchbays, and replace them with a buffered mult or two, maybe something like Mutable's Links. That's my preference, anyway.
Ripples is a great all-around filter, but it might be worth investing in two completely different styles of filter (Font and Ripples appear to be very similar). G-Storm Electro is making some cool reproductions of classic filters. A low pass gate would probably add some new flavor as well.
These are just a few things that came to mind as I was taking a once-over on your rack. You will have a blast with something like this, but take it slow... Just a few modules to start with until you realize what you really NEED next. It may turn out completely different than what you are planning now. Be adaptable.
Have fun and good luck!


Wicked farkas! Thanks for the input.

Your proposed rack is actually very similar to my current rack, so I'm going to tell you that you are on the right track. :)

What kinds of sounds are you producing?? Playing live, or mainly studio use?

I would recommend eliminating one of the sequencers and adding a Pamela's New Workout as a master clock (and more). You could add a Euclidean Circles to Pam's and the Eloquencer and have a pretty powerful combo.

Here's a good question. I have Tempi currently, it's OK.. I figure, with NerdSEQ or Eloquencer, I can just pull clock off of one of them and mult it around. Is it a better practice to have a dedicated module for clocking?

It may be wise to eliminate the Mutamix and invest in a larger CV-able mixer like WMD's Performance Mixer.

Good thoughts. I was thinking I'd mainly mix Ableton, but that would limit me doing interesting mixing in-rack. The Performance Mixer is friggin' huge though....

I think I would make do without the patchbays, and replace them with a buffered mult or two, maybe something like Mutable's Links. That's my preference, anyway.

Really those patch bays just look so good. And at like 80 buck a pop... (dang it Behringer..) But 2 of them is probably superfluous.

Ripples is a great all-around filter, but it might be worth investing in two completely different styles of filter (Font and Ripples appear to be very similar). G-Storm Electro is making some cool reproductions of classic filters. A low pass gate would probably add some new flavor as well.

Nice! I need more knowledge around euro filters...

These are just a few things that came to mind as I was taking a once-over on your rack. You will have a blast with something like this, but take it slow... Just a few modules to start with until you realize what you really NEED next. It may turn out completely different than what you are planning now. Be adaptable.

Absolutely (:

Cheers!


Looks like a great plan - of course it will almost definitely change between now and the rack being full

So I would go slowly - and keep the starter rack for overflow!

I agree with farkas - performance mixer seems like a good idea - you will also need a submixer - maybe 2 panmixjrs (for drums), as does links and a different second filter

I'd also add to that kinks and a matrix mixer - to help with modulation - I would prioritise these before adding more modulation


My 2 cents as a relative noob:

1) If you go for two sequencers, make one of them more playable, i.e. a Metropolis (unless the Eloquencer fits this bill?)
2) I had similar synth + computer visions to you, but I tend to totally forget about my computer when I'm playing my synths, they have a lot of magnetism and computers are terrible in comparison, so there's some chance you may not really want to use your ES-9 all that much
3) With a rack this size I would absolutely want at least one and maybe two analog voices, they just sound so good and they do a great job supporting your digital oscillators and adding weight (Ensemble Osc + a Dixie bass sine underneath it 🔥)
4) Realistically I'd throw another Maths in a rig this size, or a Serge DUSG, or a FrapTools Falistri, to keep things interesting, and tangible, but moving.
5) I'll second @farkas's suggestion to make sure you have some filter variation, and personally I haven't been blown away by this year's Ripples.
6) As always @jimhowell1970 is right about utilities.


What kinds of sounds are you producing?? Playing live, or mainly studio use?
-- vectrospectre
Like you, I am interested in a wide variety of music so I wanted something flexible. I just wrapped up a raw, glitchy, post-punkish art project thing, but I also love Boards of Canada, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Autechre, Depeche Mode, Brian Eno, Tortoise, Richie Hawtin, Japan, Cocteau Twins, harsh noise... you name it. I basically love any and all synth and sample based music. I may decide to play some minimal techno live, but I mostly just have fun creating at home. I just added a Sequential Prophet Rev2 to my rig, so I'm working towards a more polished and focused sound now.
I'm not that familiar with Tempi, so I can't comment on it specifically, but with all of the percussion modules you have planned, you are going to want a way to program each of them at individual meters/rhythms. A single multed clock won't really do that. The Eloquencer has eight CV/gate channels, but you will eat those up pretty quick with all of the voices/envelopes/VCAs, so with Pam's 8 (or 12 w/ the expander) additional clocks you can program more complex rhythms. That's how I use it, anyway. Ornament & Crime may be able to do some of that too, but I've shied away from that module's user interface. I don't enjoy complex menus, but you may work better that way.
The Performance Mixer is definitely overkill if you are mainly just using the ES9 and Ableton.
Let us know how you progress in this journey!


Looks sweet!

Since you're new to this, my suggestion would be to start with one row's worth of modules... cover the remaining blank space with blank panels (or make some out of thin wood or even cardboard). Take your time, get to know that row of modules, then after a few months add a couple more toys... it's easy to go too fast, especially with a large, empty case begging to be filled.


Y'all rule.

@Shakespeare & @JimHowell1970 - I will undoubtedly go too fast and make poor choices. (;

@farkas - Pam looks really nice, and I didn't know she has an expander! That's a lot of clocks, and a solid point. Tempi is cool, I just under utilize it I think. ... drooling at your Prophet.

@troux - killer points. I actually have René v2 as my sequencer in my small rig, but I find that a) I want more control b) I want to have a sequencer built for multiple voices. I kind of love programming (thus NerdSEQ). I'm hoping that Eloquencer will be subtle enough for accidentals and being more playable, though honestly that's still way up in the air. I haven't really looked into Metropolis yet. Also DUSG and Falistri are new words to me as well!

Pretty sold on adding more pure analog thoughh. What would you swap in this lineup for a dixie or similar? I freaking love the Noise Engineering sound and would be hard pressed to drop those. Maybe pull out Surface?


Personally, I would pull out the Surface and the Manis Iteritas. I love NE stuff, but something about the Manis becomes tiresome very quickly to me. You would have a much broader pallet of sounds by adding a Dixie or something similar to the DPO.


Might consider dropping a System 100, not sure you'll really need two? This would let you fit in an STO and a Dixie II+ both of which both bring nice features to the table.


If you decide to buy the loquelic iteritas make sure to tune it following the instructions on this NE blog post. Also using negative CV in modulation inputs will make both oscillators sound untuned.


Hey @defragmenteur - thanks for the pro tip.

Much appreciation to y'all for the input. Here is how the plan is looking now. Definitely realizing that it's 100% going to change, drastically most likely.

I'm kicking this off with BIA, NerdSEQ, and Ensemble Oscillator! With the modules I'm carrying over from my starter rack (Maths, Disting, O_c, DPO, VnIcursal), I foresee much wiggling in my future. (;

Cheers all.

ModularGrid Rack


That's a good start

I would save this dream rack and forget about it for a while!!

When you actually fill your rack you can compare and see how close you were!