I've been reading endlessly, watching YouTube reviews and tutorials for 12 hrs a day, playing on VCV Rack, but I still feel kind of lost. Haven't even bought a case yet, but would like to stop imagining building a rack and start actually building one. Music-wise: I want to make everything from weird soundscapes to lo-fi hip-hop. I have a Digitakt for drums and sampling purposes. Any - negative, positive, neutral, whatever - feedback would be really great. THANKS.

ModularGrid Rack

Hi there,

I am new as well to modular. I highly recommend the book Patch & Tweak. I bought this bible of modular recently and been reading it as I learn to patch my new system. Glad you are using vcvrack that is a great free learning tool. One thing that I highly recommend from your post, buy a bigger case than you think you will need. I started with a Doepfer A100 Basic system that had the core modules from Doepfer plus 84HP free. I already filled that free row of 84 HP and ordered a new case. Also, from looking at your rack setup, I don't see any VCAs or utility modules except for the one single VCA. I recommend a larger case at least 168HP in size 2-3 rows minimum so you can fit those in. You would benefit from a buffered multiple module, mixer that can blend CV and audio voltages, and an attenuator of some type plus a switch module. These are small cheap but essential modules and don't get the flashy coverage but will open up many new patch opportunities. For a case, some good low cost options are the Tip Top Audio Mantis case that gives a lot of space I believe 2xrows of 104HP each or the Doepfer 9u powered case.

Hey Sacguy71 - thanks for the feedback! I plan on getting a 2x84hp case, but didn't want to just post a half-empty rack here. I appreciate the advice, though. Also, thanks for the utilities suggestion. Real easy to get caught up with all the weird, fun, noise-making/noise-shaping stuff! I'll go get that book and invest some time into finding the right utility modules.

Glad to help out. Lots of great masters here are helpful and when I got into it, wanted all the cool flashy toys as well. But the boring modules will come in useful. I ended up using my buffered mults quite a bit as I get into patching to route signals across my setup. I still need a few for my second case mostly attenuators/attenuvertes, sequential switch, matrix mixer. Fortunately, those essential utility modules are way less than the big voice modules.

Nice noisemakers in there...too bad there's not really a way to get them to really cut loose.

As noted above, start with a MUCH larger cab than you know you want. In other words, get stoopid! You may, in fact, find that the case wasn't as small as you'd thought! Starting larger also lets you lay out ideas such as module subsystems...you can discover groups of modules that work very synergistically that way, and once you've found something that works as a "system core" along those lines, THEN you'll know what case size to shoot for.

Also...and this is IMPORTANT...don't fill your build out with "sexy modules" while doing this exploration. Utility modules might not look all that jazzy, but they're 100% KEY to making a modular do what you'd expect out of it. F'rinstance, let's put in something utterly ridiculously expensive...a Cwejman RES-4 quad resonant filter. Wow! $800 of filter! Can I input just a little bit of LFO on one band's CV? Welllllll...do you have the cheapo external attenuator for that? Coz the Cwejman's not got ANY input attenuators.

That's one example. I could think of enough, though, that I would risk a brain aneurysm. If you leave those elements out, you ain't got crap...except for a very spendy box with some twiddly electronic noisemakers.

Since you also have VCV Rack, I'd suggest doing a little MG exploration with it. How? Simple...put up two windows. Work on your MG build in one...but in the other, put up VCV and "play along" as you build by building up...as close as you can...what you're assembling in the MG window. No, there's not a 1:1 equivalency there, but you'll have a really good handle on how, what, and where utilities work in the context of a patch, and this can help a lot when finally working out how much of a hole you want to burn in the Magic Plastic.

Indeed and you will need way more rack space than you think. I filled my first 6u case that had one row of 84HP Doepfer A100 Basic modules and one empty row of 84HP. Fortunately, Doepfer A100 Basic system gave me an understanding of what I need besides the one VCO, one LFO and one filter. Most of the first row is the boring but essential modules like clock divider, slew/function, sample & hold/noise and a mult module.

One suggestion would be to play around with VCV Rack watch some of the many tutorials on patching that first and then perhaps buy a prebuilt system that has free expansion space. Doepfer makes solid kits that teach the basics and still sound darn good. I created some good kick bass drums and acid bass lines with one VCO and one filter using the boring but key utility modules.
Then I added to it with more utility like a quad VCA, buffered 4 channel mult since the passive one that came with the system does not have the benefit of a buffered mult like maintain CV when patching and then more envelopes and a small sequencer. So out of the free 84HP, the only fancy modules added were a cool Richter Anti-Oscillator and Richter Borg filter that give me dual oscillators and dual filters and modes in two modules.

Now with my second Doepfer 6U case on the way and a few more modules mostly utility ones too by the way like Kinks and Links, I am looking forward to building my skills. I then realize larger modules will require a very large travel case like 9u-12u that can house 400HP for me to make buying large modules worthwhile. Which is fine because I am learning modular and don't need giant sized do all modules but rather basic functions that can mix and create cool stuff.