Hi at all, I assembled my first modular with these modules:
ModularGrid Rack
I have 8 hp left over.
Do you have any advice for me?
I was thinking for a mixer and in particular the make noise optomix because I probably must mix verbos oscillators and voltages.
If I control everything from Qunexus via vca i feel frying of pressure on controller keys.
Could it be that it is not correct to control via vca? I saw online that through Optomix you can control well with Qunexus.
After that I plan to expand an additional 84 hp row of effects and maybe another oscillator.
With the Vermona Tai-4 I can connect my drum machine right? The xls attack is a bit uncomfortable but I found the right cable.
Thanks
FB


I would suggest doing a LOT more homework before you do anything. This is not close to being a functional system, and 8hp isn't going to fix that (you'll be able to make sounds with it, of course, but with very little variety).


Thanks, what do you suggest me to integrate to make it more functional?


Starting over would be a good idea at this point. This isn't even functional as a synthesizer. Just like there's not much point in trying to resuscitate someone who drowned 8 hours previously, this isn't close to being at a "fixable" point. Plus, you've bought this stuff...so you've got your initial modules bought already, and this will force how you can build from this point...and that's always a BAD IDEA.

OK, so this build here is missing...

Attenuators
Mixers
A host of modulation sources
Proper envelope generators
Any effects
Sufficient VCAs
Power (unless you're using a powered cab here...at any rate, you can't jam 3U height modules into a 1U tile case)
Sequencing
Random sources/noise
Sample and Hold
Clock generator and modifiers
Logic

...and the modules you DID get are ones that are generally large, so this will force your hand on a proper build. And most notably, a SMALL build...you're not in the range where large modules sit comfortably throughout the entire build. That happens once you start into the range of cabs beyond 2 rows and beyond 104 hp per row. So if you're keeping those expensive modules, you're going to be pushed into a situation where they dictate the build...and NOT YOU. At least, not in ways you want.

This goes for everyone reading this post...and I do mean EVERYONE:

Just because you see some hotshot on YouTube building a small build DOES NOT MEAN that you can do this, too! Invariably, the synthesists doing this are experienced, and they're putting together mission-specific builds...NOT general-purpose synths that fit into 1 x 84 hp (and even that form factor is a PITA to work with). Unless you're trying to do what they're ACTUALLY doing...DON'T DO IT!!!! If you're starting in modular, build a proper all-purpose system FIRST. Leave the tricky stunt builds for LATER...once you've learned everything the general purpose build does!

Also, there's a lot of YouTube synth channels that I don't recommend...EVER. I've seen equipment being misused, false/inaccurate information being passed on, module demos where you can't see the module being demoed due to the patchcords or, very often, the YouTuber's hands, and sometimes just absolute, outright LIES because the YouTuber's doing their gig for the free swag and gear, and NOT as impartial information. YouTube's accurate info really only seems to come from a small handful of YT users, but moreso from the manufacturers themselves...and you SHOULD be watching THOSE. But that'll wind up excluding maybe...hm...at least 2/3rds of what's on the platform, if not significantly more.

If you want to sort this out before another rather expensive mishap, my suggestions would be as follows:

1) Ignore YouTube's various synth guys, for the most part. I would suggest Loopop as being useful, plus Hainbach, Sam Battle's "Look Mum No Computer" channel, Simon the Magpie (especially for interesting, envelope-pushing ideas), and one or two others...aside of the manufacturer clips, of course.

2) Get your info from users in the trenches. MG is a great resource, as are Muff Wiggler and Gearslutz, although some judicious "noise filtering" is necessary there.

3) Get a copy of THIS: https://vcvrack.com/ Get familiar with it. You'll see why almost immediately.

4) Make a zillion prospective builds on MG. Try doing this for a few MONTHS, carefully fine-tuning and critically ripping into builds on your own and with users of the forum here. Don't even THINK about further purchases until you've come up with something that includes what you already have AND which you can intuitively sense is THE build. Believe me, you'll know when that happens.

One last thing to consider: this isn't a video game. You don't get points for nailing your build on the first shot...because NO ONE can nail a build on the first shot. ModularGrid is here so that you have a resource for doing this over and over and over and over and...well, you get the idea. Get things right here...THEN pull out the Magic Plastic. BUT NOT UNTIL THEN!


Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. I used a wrong case in MG because I didn't understand how to modify the row in MG but is not a real problem. I'm using this modulars on a doepfer a100 (obviously powered) for now but I'm building a two row 84hp case.
I know "look mum" and other guys of YT that you mention, I'm a musician.
About the shopping list:
- Attenuators are required by having the attenuation switch on the Vermona tai-4?
- Mixer is required if I have many vco right? For now I have only one (complex right), with two row I could add other simple and a mixer. Is a first build. My idea is to start with a maximum of two vco mixed. I need to play with a keyboard and other stuff. I'm using also comined with a werstatt-01.
- vca and eg, why is not properly the 2hp and stages? Le inputs are enough for now.
- effects are the next step that I had already considered. Mimeophon for example.
I decided to start step by step. Maybe can became big or not I don't know now. Could be a bad idea but I need to use for my music now. You could tell me that it was better to buy a ready-made synth (already done several times) but I wanted to understand how it works and there is nothing better than "getting your hands dirty". Must also make a mistake at the beginning. Example I advance a doepfer filter because I could not find the belgrad but I did it.
Thanks for the advices. VCV Rack is really useful.
FB


The attenuator switches on the TAI-4 have nothing to do with the sort of attenuators I mentioned. In order to scale or alter CV and/or modulation signals, it's essential to have attenuator modules. Frequently, these also have the ability to repolarize signals...so if you want to send an inverted envelope to your VCF, and the EG has no inverted output, this would be what you needed. These also have mixer-type functions quite often, which then means you can mix different modulation signals to create bespoke composite modulation signals that can be quite complex.

Which gets us to mixers. You don't mix JUST audio signals in a synth. And, accordingly, there's two different types of mixers in modular (and most other) synths. One sort has a linear response, and this is what's needed for signals where scaling is important, such as with CVs and modulation signals. The other type (which you see often at the end of a signal path in a synth) are exponential mixers; since sound's apparent loudness (not signal level, but how WE perceive volume) follows an exponential scale, and these are pretty much solely for audio signal mixing. Plus, there's one other type of "mixer", and those are adders, which mathematically add signals together...so, if you wanted to transpose something up by an octave, you could have your CVs being fed via an adder, then use an offset DC source to add 1V to this...and there's the octave shift.

The 2hp VCA is fine for modulation level control. But since it's a linear VCA, it's not as useful for audio...unless you control it with an exponential-response EG. The real problem, though, is that far more VCAs than two are needed. You need two right off for controlling the output level and for any modulation uses, but since the rest of the synth is still very deficient, you can't see what the necessary VCA complement should be...but let me assure you, it's NOT two.

Stages is an envelope generator, true. But it has a lot more uses, and a lot of users use it as a CV sequencer of sorts. But in order to do that, you would need a proper envelope generator along with the Stages. Plus, envelopes are something that can be sent all over the place (along with LFO signals) to modulate other things; this gets us back into the "this build isn't complete" issue, since a proper build should have a lot more to it. But even with that, the Belgrad and the Verbos complex VCO are modulation-hungry things from square one, so having JUST the Stages isn't sufficient. Some proper AR and/or ADSR (better for filters and output VCAs) generators are sorely needed as well.

But the crux of the problem comes from the simple fact that this build is extremely incomplete. It's NOT a synthesizer yet. It's more akin to an incredibly expensive dub siren at this point. If that works, then fine, but I still believe you should build this out properly, especially after springing for some very expensive modules like you've done here. The difference would be like night and day.

Oh, and FYI...I'm a musician as well. But with 53 years of experience, 42 of which have seen me concentrating on electronics and electroacoustics, I might have a bit more perspective on this sort of thing. After all, they don't let you in the door to study with Stockhausen if you don't know what the hell you're doing...


Definitely get a copy of the free software VCVRack and use it to try various combination of builds. There are free tutorials on modular setups with it online. Perhaps start with a semi-modular like Moog Mother 32? That at least would get you started with a patch synth and understand the basics. Also, get a larger case than you think will be needed. Most of modular is support type modules. In my setup, I only have 1-2 voices plus a filter and LFO but lots of support tools like VCAs, envelope generator, attenuator, mixers, logic modules and so forth. These are what make modular way different than say a traditional hardware synth or you could get a Moog Matriarch that has 90 patch points and would teach you how the various parts fit together. If you really want a full modular system, another choice are prebuilt systems like Make Noise Shared System, Doepfer A100 Basic System, or Erica Synths Black System or ALM Busy Circuits Super Coupe modular system that have all the basic modules together for you.

I started first with a Make Noise 0-coast and Korg SQ-1 sequencer then VCV Rack then a Doepfer A100 Basic System and added to it over time.


Here is an improved build with my recommendations

Maths- lots of modulation, EG, function generator- so useful
Veils- VCAs are needed and great
0chd- 8 LFO for modulating the Verbos and Belgrad
Mixup- great small mixer
Pamela New Workout- superb clock and sequencer with tricks and tools

ModularGrid Rack


Thank you all really for the advice.
As I said I certainly intend to complete this rack and I will treasure your advice.
I'm building the two-row case I was talking about and also remember that I'm patching with werkstatt.
On the subject of linear/exponential vca combined with linear/exponential eg I had watched a very interesting video of Learning Modular about it some time ago, and the initial idea was just to start with the 2hp linear vca + the exponential eg of the stages that I really like a lot and does a lot of things (eg, sequencer, now I'm using it as an lfo controlling everything from the keyboard), but actually only he can't do all this TOGETHER.
I know the Math and I know that it does many things too, but since it is a very used module (there must be a reason!) I thought I could replace it with something else and instead it doesn't seem so.
I certainly spent much money for verbos and belgrad but I was very impressed by them and the idea of taking something that I knew I would change in the future bothered me.
I am also testing with vcv rack. The basic set is very basic, as I had it in mind. A vco, a vcf, a mixer and an adsr (not even a vca). Sure as you say, it remains playable but nothing more, so I intend to gradually expand the starting point in pc and real modular.
Lugia before this my thread, I had read several your posts here on MG and I knew about your decades of experience. Certainly I did not want to be disrespectful and indeed know that I have a lot of respect for you.
Thanks also to Sacguy, I will study the modules you suggested.
Thanks again for your patience.


What is still missing for me is something like a headphone out to listen to the direct out of the rack. Because what is the use to mix your stereo drum singnal within the Rack if you're doing additional mixing listening outside of the box anyway. Also I'm not really sure if you really need the symmetric input of your drummachine singal you mentioned earlier? And wouldn't it will be line signal anyway? wWth lots of cheap adapters you do not get the performance you would expect from symmertric xlr cable.

I'm also just starting out but even looking at the updated rig I feel like there are a lot of complex boxes with just little facilitation? So maybe you could mix a line singal of your rack and then mix outside of the box with the drums. But thats just my 2 cents.

FYI, there are maths alternatives like combining multiple "Make Noise Functions" or "Befaco Rampage", but you would not get as much functions with the rampage as it is missing the two additional attenuverted channels. So you will always end up loosing more rack space with the Rampage in a system.

cheers
alex


Hi Alex, for the output I have no problems because I enter in a sound card so I already mix the modular with other synths, drum machines and listen everything with headphones (mute what I don't need and record on pro tools).
Regarding the drum machine of the first post, I was referring more to its synchronization and start/stop with the modular. I've seen Divkid do it by combining it with a volca beats. It seems an amplified input is enough (and for this I asked for confirmation of the vermona because I can attenuate the output but also +6/+12 dB amplify the input) and the sync cable of the volca (which is a minijack) just send it to a clock divider (or multiplier) to sync rack to volca and that would be what I would like to do.
I really think I need a mixing module to get the drum machine or the whatever external synth inside the rack and then in the headphones on the sound card.
Of course I can always switch everything in the sound card and just the sync cable between the rack and the drum machine but I wanted to try this internal step, also because in this way I could "effect" the drum machine to my liking with filters or future modules.
Even the Rampage seems particularly complete but I agree with your considerations.


Also the

This might need additional confirmation, but you can't just hookup some external audiorate drum signal to a mixer section? because the levels inisde the module would be much higher than the outside signal. and you

I now understand you vision with the drum sync, but yeah you still need clock divisions and double check +12db is enough to bump the volca signal. But thats also part of the fun, right? :D


the big advantage that Maths has over other DUSG style modules is that someone took the trouble to create the Maths Illustrated Manual (google) - it has 32 patch suggestions in it - working your way through it with is a good grounding in modular sytnhesis

I think it's funny that people complain about Maths being indecipherable and then go and buy fallistri or rampage, both of which to me look 10 times more complicated and way less ergonomic than maths

veils will work fine for amplifying your external drum machine to modular levels!


I also need to second this as the amount of info around maths is generally super good, and it’s very reasonably priced. Especially considering the ratio of hpprice (I still got the rampage tho🤞)


yes. perhaps maths remains the best choice. Fallistri is a little bit short in rack but i dont know if is more complicated.


TBH, I don't recommend trying to patch with headphones...for the same reason that I don't recommend mixing with headphones. In both cases, the frequency response and the driver proximity are going to cause various alterations to your sound that, once the sound has been routed to a pair of speakers, will become glaringly apparent. The tendency will be to lower the bass and high end when listening to phones...leading to sounds that won't cut and won't pound. Never do this. The ONLY rationale for using headphones with any synthesizer would simply be for practice; never do that when you're playing live thru a PA (unless you need them for a cue send) or in the studio.

As for the build itself...sacguy's on the right track here. I would suggest the addition of an Intellijel Quadrax, also...this gives you four cycle-able two-stage EGs, which means you can loop them to make additional LFOs for modulation purposes. Make sure and add the Qx expander for that, which then allows you access to the start and end pulses for more complex composite curves...and you can still break out an ASR three-stage from this for the VCF and/or the output VCA. Oh, and you can have CV over rise/fall parameters here, too, since the Quadrax has a pile of routing possibilities (it's got a mod matrix hiding in it!). Makes a good match with the Veils! Plus, since the TAI-4 has no envelope followers (boo hiss!), adding one to track your drum machine's volume contour might be very worthwhile (auto-wah? ducking? all need this). Plankton makes a nice 2 hp one (you won't need to tinker with it much once it's set) for a bit under $100.

Oh, and sacguy? Good call on mating the Pam's with the Plog! All sorts of wacky timing possibilities with that pairing...


I agree with tip of mixing/patching with headphones. I have clashed several times on this aspect.

well... This will be a possible finalization of first rack that I could complete in the next months...
ModularGrid Rack

About effects, is there space (10 hp) for something? My first idea was Mimeophon and others but the space now is not enought.

About power consumption I will use the power supply and bus board of Doepfer A100 that have 1200 mA so I think will be enought.


If I was looking to fill the 10hp left, I would probably add a Happy Nerding FX Aid XL and a Mutable Instruments Kinks.


Interesting kinks. Is a contrary links that add effects and noise instead of clearing and mixing. Nice thx


OK...I had a go at restructuring this:
ModularGrid Rack
All of the previous modules are still in there. But the additions are all designed to work with other modules as "units".

For starters, I put a 2 hp quantizer right by the Complex VCO. This will let you use the sequencing function of the Stages with actual pitch data being outputted to the VCO. And I added a 2 hp mixer after the VCO to let you sum different waveforms, adding some more timbral complexity beyond what the Verbos VCO does.

Belgrad, then Veils...two of the Veils VCAs can then easily be used for VCO-VCF levels and for the level off of the VCF to the Frequency Central Stasis Leak. That, I chose because it allows you to send in a mono signal, but get stereo chorusing, reverb, or tap delay. This then makes full use of the stereo output capability. The ENVF is next to this, right by the audio input. This rework also puts ALL of the audio path on the top row for an easier signal flow, moving the modulation, etc down so that these signals "patch upward" to the audio modules above.

Bottom: Pam's, Plog, then there's a dual LFO with a LOT of additional functions, notably sample & hold, noise, and 120 degree phase shift for the LFO outputs so that synced-but-rephased modulation can be done with this. Maths, the dual VCA, then I moved the Qx to the left of the Quadrax so that it's a little easier to "abuse" it and the Maths in tandem by crossrouting start and end (and likely many other) signals between these two. Then a Roti Pola, which is there to screw really hard with four channels of that Ochd octal LFO, by combining, attenuating, repolarizing those signals (and others, potentially) into complex LFO curves for elaborate modulations while still leaving four more outputs free for elsewhere.

Lastly, I rehoused the whole thing in a Doepfer A-100 case, since you'd mentioned that above as being where this should all end up. This still has all of the original modules, therefore...but NOW, all of the support modules are amply present that rip the lid off of them, and bring the whole build up to speed. In fact, note that my additions all have to do with the functionality of OTHER modules...this is how you've got to think when building modular rigs. You WANT complex interoperability and functionality to be present, if you need it...but at the same time, the build needs to be straightforward and performable. I think this nails both.


Thank you very much at all, so instead of Links, Kinks and Mixup I save space with mix and tune of 2hp and Roti Pola and still keep minimal effects with Stasis Link and Modbox.
Nice. Very clear also the organization of modules in rack.


what is the use case for the 2hp tune? I'm not conviced of it's usefulness - Pams does quantized doesn't it?
and re Veils grab the new one for an extra 2hp


Do you say that the 2hp tune can also be done by PAM and therefore you can pass the stages from there?
But then this could limit the use of PAM for other feats with quantized Stages?
Jim is right, the new Veil is large 10 hp instead of 12hp. Instead of two 2hp could be re-added Links that permitted more functions?


what is the use case for the 2hp tune? I'm not conviced of it's usefulness - Pams does quantized doesn't it?

Pam can quantise its outputs but it can't quantise external signals. (Unless they improved the firmware AGAIN while I wasn't looking.) Since it is an LFO at heart and not a sequencer this is a bit melodically limiting. I'm thinking of getting a 2hp Tune just to release my Disting for other duties! Although the Disting has many variations on the theme of quantisation, which Tune cannot do. Sad.


the-erc's got it, yep. By having a quantizer at the ready, there's a lot of interesting things you can do, such as scale constraint, deriving arpeggi from LFO curves, making more use of the Stages as a sequencer, and the like. It also functions as a useful on-the-fly transposition tool via its BIAS control. And, with a quantizer on hand, there's some glitchy things that becomes doable, sort of along the lines of using the MS-20's input section. By using the quantizer to "mistrack" incoming audio, and then also employing the Plankton ENVF to mess with the VCF in conjunction with that, this has loads of potential for Aphex-ish percussive glitching. Most people tend to associate quantizing with sequencers, but the fact is that they've got tons of abuse potential beyond that.

There's another twisted thing about those two modules: you can send the envelope gen's outputted CVs to the quantizer AND somewhere else...but one of those ENVF outputs is inverted, so this opens up another stage of glitching that the MS-20 cannot do. For example, you can have the quantizer deriving CVs from the inverted envelope, but FM the complex VCO via its modulation oscillator in the OPPOSITE direction. Pitch goes down as chaotic racket increases, and so on. And of course, if there's a sequencer in a future upgrade, the OP's set already.


I was literally just working on a patch like that @lugia before I saw your comment, great tip and definitely opens up some interesting possibilities.


ENVF is difficult to find here in Europe. Recovery two hp from new Veil is there a valid replacement for ENVF?

Edit: maybe the official store is European...


If you switch the old version of Veils for the new version, you'll save 2hp... and then you could replace the ENVF with a 4hp envelope follower like Mutable's Ears.


ENVF is difficult to find here in Europe.
-- frankbartoli

Looks pretty easy to me: https://www.planktonelectronics.com/store/envf/

Also, why add another set of inputs when there are these expensive Vermona ones already there? I can think of lots more sensible things to do with another 2 hp, and all that's needed here is JUST the envelope follower. No point in the rest of an Ears being in there.


Ok clear. Thanks.
Considering that in future upgrade certainly I'll buy the new version of Veils, you say that I could recover the two hp using the Links instead of the 2hp mix or do you have better ideas for that remaining space?


Yeah...if you get the 10 hp Veils 2020, that opens 2 hp more...and what I'd suggest there is to swap out the 2hp Mix with a Doepfer A-138n instead. This opens up the space and makes that source mixer more tweakable when working with a patch. Otherwise, this seems pretty spot-on.

I rebuilt the example above to show how that would work.