So, I've decided to take the plunge and submit the first draft of my system for feedback. I'm looking forward to hearing people's thoughts.
ModularGrid Rack

A bit of background

I would like to build a system which I can use and enjoy on its own, but which I also can use as an element in live performances. Up until now I've been using ChucK (sort of like supercollider) to manipulate field recordings and samples I've collected myself over the years along with my 5 string violin+effects+looper. I also like to integrate clips from interviews I've done over the years.

This set-up gives me a lot of options and flexibility, but I have also been thinking for a long time that I would enjoy integrating a modular system in some way to expand my sonic palette (since tbh I don't really like coding synth sounds in ChucK) and because I really enjoyed using modular systems I had access to in college.

Despite some past experience with modular, I still feel very much like a beginner, especially with Eurorack. During my B.A. we were all required to start learning about electronic music and signal flow on a lovely Moog System 35 and two Buchla Series 100 cabinets. I really loved having these systems available, and since graduating I've missed having this option and the feeling of spending hours exploring the possibilities of a modular system. I get some of that feeling coding in ChucK, but it is not really the same, and definitely less tactile.

Additionally, since my only experience is using systems from the 60's and 70's, modern Eurorack modules are somewhat overwhelming in comparison. There's lots I've forgotten and lots of new things, so I've done my best to try and put a system together which:
- I could play and enjoy as it's own system.
- I could feed my violin or recordings into to see if that is a direction I want to explore with modular techniques. (Hence the Rings, Ears, and Mimeophon)

Some Notes

  • I'm starting to think that 104HP or 6/7U would be more workable in the long run...
  • I've already ordered the case (laser printed from Nonlinearciruit's plans), power supply, and a used STO.
  • Maybe a second VCO would be smart to have. MCO, and Dixie 2+ all seem to be good options. Mangrove and Two59 have also caught my eye. I have some options I thought of below, but am interested in your feedback.
  • I honestly wanted to include Optomix or LxD instead of ModDemix, but ModDemix was smaller than Optomix and seemed like flexible than LxD. But I could instead take out the Disting and ModDemix and have room for Optomix + a 2hp module.
  • I'm a bit concerned about the size maths takes up. I know it is very flexible, but I'm wondering if a small sequencer/midi interface + a 2nd osscilator/lfo + Pip Slope wouldn't be better in terms of having enough elements for a system of this size. Or a Function instead of a Maths and some more compact 2/3hp modules.
  • I have a Keystep for external control and would eventually like some sort of MIDI/OSC interface so I can integrate it with my live coding.

Thanks for reading until the end, and thanks in advance for your input. I've been lurking for awhile, so I'm really interested to hear what people have to say.

small cases are notoriously difficult to set up - especially for novices

they are almost always compromises - functionality/playability

you may be better off with a doepfer system - the small one in a 6u/84hp case perhaps or just get a mantis (by far the best value/powered case) - yeah the go is cheaper - but it is a blindly built clone of the Mantis power supply in a bigger case - so underpowered for real world applications!!! the small case that you had printed will come in useful as an over spill case or portable case (btw I don't think the line input module will work - you need the case inputs to link it to - which you probably haven't got) I'd also double check that the 1u row is intellijel and not pulp logic design (do the rails have lips? if so it's intellijel) before you buy any 1u tiles

LxD is smaller than either optimix or modemix - dplpg is even smaller!

Maths is maths - it is way more than the sum of it's parts - see illustrated manual (google)

as almost always I would want more utility modules - in this case more mixers (for sub mixing audio and for mixing modulation), and more modulation before another vco (which won't fit in this case - as you haven't enough room for support modules)

a second VCO is a good idea - but only in a bigger case - in this size case 1 vco makes more sense - you already have a second voice in rings

if you like the look of the Two59 be aware it is primarily designed to work as part of a pair with a wavefolder between them to form a complex oscillator - it will work standalone (afaik) - but to get it to be like a buchla 259 you need to add the extra modules

for live coding integration I would be tempted to go with a dc coupled audio interface (RME/Expert Sleepers) and not mess around with converting to midi then sending it to the modular and converting the midi back to cv - this will take more time than -> sending cv as audio and having it immediately available as cv

another alternative would be a cv.ocd which is an external midi ->cv converter (but quite small and inexpensive)

Thanks for your advice, this has given me some things to think about!

Maybe at first I should just focus on creating a small playable system. I would then get a 6 or 7u case and integrate modules that can do external audio processing later. Also thanks for the always necessary reminder about utilities. I started with more but of course they slowly got chipped away as I switched out modules.

I haven't bought my rails yet, but I had read about the difference in sizing so I was planning on buying lipless rails. These here are all intellijel format though according to what I've read. The Line In 1u tile will also work independently according to what I could find here:

Thanks for all the other information about the Two59 and the DC coupled interface! I will definitely look a bit more into that and the possibilities with ChucK.

no probs

there's a lot to be said for literally just getting - a sound source, a sound modifier, a modulation source, a way to listen and a way to play and slowly organically growing from there

for a way to listen get a quad cascading vca - it'll be mono, but it'll do the job perfectly well - veils or intellijel work best imo - and you will always benefit from it

if you need to use headphones then get a tile

yes all the tiles are either intellijel or shakmat (who do both - check when ordering i guess)

I've gone back to the drawing board and tried to make a more workable and simpler system as a starting point, including more utilities and modulation. Hoping I'm getting there!
ModularGrid Rack
I'm planning on getting a bigger case already, but since this is the case I have now I thought I would try something in that size with the elements that Jim suggested.
Thanks in advance!

maybe an idea to make the rack public! I can't tell exactly what everything is, but looking pretty good

oops, done!

ok - I would probably loose the pip slope - function is probably enough for envelopes - and you have batumi for modulation

this would allow for a bigger filter - any of the 8hp doepfer ones that catch your eye/ear or ripples, for example

Hey Jim,
Thanks for always replying so quickly!
ModularGrid Rack
Ripples was the clear choice on the filter, and definitely an upgrade from what I had in there before. The new version seems like something that I will keep around for awhile. Thanks for the suggestion!

I also got rid of Ears for now, and prioritized the Intellijel Quad VCA. Seems more flexible than the linear-only Doepfer model.

I also haven't forgotten about Maths! At the moment they just don't appear to be available new or for any reasonable price used where I live... So that was the thought behind the Function and the Batumi for envelopes and modulation.

Would you consider this a workable starting point? I'll be transitioning to a self built 7U 84/104 hp case if building my smaller one goes well.

yeah - looks better to me

use one channel of batumi as a clock I guess - which will work fine

I suspect that by the time the second case appears, you will have a better idea of what you need - ie what you feel is missing from this case - but that's also part of the fun - discovery

enjoy your journey!

yeah - looks better to me

use one channel of batumi as a clock I guess - which will work fine

I suspect that by the time the second case appears, you will have a better idea of what you need - ie what you feel is missing from this case - but that's also part of the fun - discovery

enjoy your journey!
-- JimHowell1970

The pulse output on the Noise Tools makes for a nice clock. I would use one channel of the Batumi as you'll only be able to use it in one mode if you're needing a clock.

You could also draw a clock pulse from Function's EOC or EOR... but you'd have to switch it to cycle and won't be able to adjust it without affecting your clock.

A clock is a bit moot in this set-up. The only thing that can use a clock signal as a clock signal is the QUBIT. But I don't think it'll need it in this set-up. You'd only need to feed it clock if it was slaving to another sequencer.

Hey Ronin, thanks for replying, sorry I missed it until just now! I have indeed mostly been using the Noise Tools pulse or the Function's EOC/R as clocks depending on my patch.

For what it's worth, here is the system I've ended up with so far:
ModularGrid Rack
I went with René mk1 since I found it used for a very nice price and the Bloom was less appealing to me after I found out about some of the bugs and limitations of the sequencer. I figured René mk1 is still a good module even after all these years.

I also went with Tides + the Doepfer A145-4 instead of Batumi. I just got Tides yesterday so we shall see how that works out.

I've also really been enjoying Function especially as a control center for some patches, so I've been thinking of getting Maths to get the full experience. No surprise there I suppose.

Other things on my list include another attenuverting/offset utility like the SPO, 3xMIA, Triplatt, or the O/A/x2 as well. Also thinking about a small mixer. If anyone has suggestions for further growth I'm all ears!