Hi everyone, very recently started my modular journey. Still in the planning stages, but I would really appreciate some advice as I’m sure I’m missing something...

ModularGrid Rack

This is what I’ve started putting together. The bottom row is a bit more thought out, and closer to what I’d like to start with. Sequencing to Plaits is from my Squarp Pyramid, which is also master clock to Pamela. Drums are done outside of the rack.

I started working on the top row as well, which would be a second voice, etc. I think I might need a sequencer when I get to the top row because the squarp only has enough for sequencing one CV (or I could get an ES FH to turn the midi to cv).

I would appreciate any comments, thoughts, or suggestions.

Thank you!


Took a crack at this myself, didn't fill the whole rig out but made some changes:

ModularGrid Rack

  1. I'm not sure you need a Samara and an MVP both, so I dropped the MVP.
  2. In my personal experience, I wouldn't say Rings is actually a great techno voice, so I swapped it for a Manis Iteritas.
  3. I'm not familiar with the Stereo Dipole, but it's a lot of HP. I swapped it with a Viol Ruina and a Ripples 2020 both of which work for techno in different ways, and give you different filter characters to play around with.
  4. I added an Intellijel Quad VCA as I'm not sure you'll always want to use an LPG, and you could use a submixer in here anyway.
  5. You need some effects imo so I added a Happy Nerding FX Aid XL, I have an FX Aid and it's a nice module with a ton of range.
  6. Put in a Disting Mk4 because in a rig this size you can always use a Disting to fill different holes.
  7. Add a Peaks clone, opening up a bunch more functions in a small-ish package, including the ability to run drums in the rack if you want to.

I don't make techno so this may not be exactly right, but take a look and see if some of these modules resonate a bit more with what you're aiming for here.

Editing to add: Perfect Circuit has a nice vid on putting together a palette techno system, worth checking out: https://www.perfectcircuit.com/signal/modular-synth-techno-tutorial


  1. I'm not sure you need a Samara and an MVP both, so I dropped the MVP.
  2. In my personal experience, I wouldn't say Rings is actually a great techno voice, so I swapped it for a Manis Iteritas.
  3. I'm not familiar with the Stereo Dipole, but it's a lot of HP. I swapped it with a Viol Ruina and a Ripples 2020 both of which work for techno in different ways, and give you different filter characters to play around with.
  4. I added an Intellijel Quad VCA as I'm not sure you'll always want to use an LPG, and you could use a submixer in here anyway.
  5. You need some effects imo so I added a Happy Nerding FX Aid XL, I have an FX Aid and it's a nice module with a ton of range.
  6. Put in a Disting Mk4 because in a rig this size you can always use a Disting to fill different holes.
  7. Add a Peaks clone, opening up a bunch more functions in a small-ish package, including the ability to run drums in the rack if you want to.

@troux, thanks a lot for the feedback. Helped me think about this a little bit more completely. I've updated what I think a more complete rack would look like:

ModularGrid Rack

(not sure if the image above is updated)
https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/racks/modulargrid_1380510.jpg?1606078137

Switched things up as far as modules and layout, but not too much different from your recommendations. I'm most unsure about the 3rd voice. Your NE suggestion is great, I think that Basimilus will add a lot to this. For some reason I'm really excited about Plaits as well. The 3rd voice, I think ideally I want a nice analog osc. Not too much space in the rig but I think I can make something happen. Also I really like the 2 filter suggestion, not committed to these two but theyre a great start. I have 9hp left so could throw the disting and some other things to make the dixie work. I'm not really sold on the disting, I'd rather, philosophically, get something with a more defined purpose. But still open to it. I'm not really sure if the wavefolder is necessary, but I think it could be fun. Same with the SCLPL.

Very interested in sound processing modules if you have any suggestions.

It feels like the top row is a lot of modulation, but I think it fits with the bottom row being a lot of mod receivers.

Thanks a lot for the feedback. Helped out a lot.

Cheers

**Update: I think this looks pretty good after some additional thought. Let me know what you think.

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/image/1380510.jpg


May I recommend the Future Sound Systems OSC1 for your analog oscillator? I think that might float your techno boat.
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/future-sound-systems-osc1-cyclical-engine
Have fun and good luck!


I'll say that personally I love a nice wavefolder, and especially with an analog oscillator it'll open up a nice new range of possibilities for you.

Can you share a link to the new rack itself btw? A little hard to navigate the pictures, but one comment, the /W doesn't seem to have great reviews for what it's worth, might be a nice module but I'd do some research before buying one.


May I recommend the Future Sound Systems OSC1 for your analog oscillator? I think that might float your techno boat.
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/future-sound-systems-osc1-cyclical-engine
Have fun and good luck!
-- farkas

Yes you may! Very cool oscillator. Thanks for the suggestion, that might be perfect.

Here's the link to the updated rig. This is what I've put together as of now. It will be a gradual process to completion to I'm sure there will be changes along the way. Will start with a core and build out, but a roadmap is always helpful.

Thanks for the info on the /W. I knew it was probably not the best call. Mannequins seems like a lot of fun though as a company.

ModularGrid Rack

Let me know what you think!


A lot of this stuff is a matter of taste so my only other recommendation would be to consider Bastl's new Ikarie filter instead of the Three Sisters. While it's obviously a beautiful filter, you're going to pay a pretty hefty premium for Three Sisters if you can find one.


So...how would you send an inverted envelope to your Sisters VCF?

Oh, snap! No attenuverters! C'mon guys...also, I would suggest some more VCAs be added, since this thing's got ample modulation sources but there's only four VCAs in evidence that can be used for either the audio OR the modulation/CV level control.

Now, while it might be possible to take this to a two-voice paraphonic system in a space of 2 x 84, this would work loads better in a 2 x 104. Something like a Mantis might be a better pick here. With the extra space, also, you can easily add some attenuverters, a bit of logic to screw with your timing, and make two PROPER voices with two VCOs each, their own VCFs and VCAs, summing down to a proper stereo mixer. And if you were to go with an Intellijel 7U x 104, you'd then have the tile row for some of your basic functions, such as audio I/O, MIDI interfacing, etc. That's what I would recommend, tbh.


Uh oh... Lugia’s givin’ us a’scoldin’. Hahaha
I saw Maths and Samara so I didn’t think much about dedicated attenuverters. Agree with everything else. Someone should really hand out a Mantis with every first rack post.


So...how would you send an inverted envelope to your Sisters VCF?

Oh, snap! No attenuverters! C'mon guys...also, I would suggest some more VCAs be added, since this thing's got ample modulation sources but there's only four VCAs in evidence that can be used for either the audio OR the modulation/CV level control.

Now, while it might be possible to take this to a two-voice paraphonic system in a space of 2 x 84, this would work loads better in a 2 x 104. Something like a Mantis might be a better pick here. With the extra space, also, you can easily add some attenuverters, a bit of logic to screw with your timing, and make two PROPER voices with two VCOs each, their own VCFs and VCAs, summing down to a proper stereo mixer. And if you were to go with an Intellijel 7U x 104, you'd then have the tile row for some of your basic functions, such as audio I/O, MIDI interfacing, etc. That's what I would recommend, tbh.
-- Lugia

Hi Lugia - Thank you for the insight! Interesting to hear your thoughts on the next steps of this rack, and on the bigger case. I wish I could find the Intellijel 7u for sales somewhere!

I'm kind of on the fence about getting a 208hp case vs the 168hp.. Since this is just the beginning, there's definitely a lot of room for things. I actually also, once this 2 voice system is complete, I'd want to make a rack for percussion/drums, so starting with this 168hp case might work down the road and just swap it for my percussion case at some point... haven't decided yet.

What I am most confused about though, is how you see the evolution of this system as a proper 2 paraphonic voice system... I can't decide if I'm just lusting for cool oscillators because they're fun, or if I really need 4 oscillators in this system. I'm confused on how you would suggest going about this, especially with the Plaits and the BIA in the case, I feel like those are 2 sound sources that might be hard to complement... of course I could be wrong.... do you see it as simply playing the Plaits and an analog osc with the same sequence, going to the same filter and becoming 1 sound? (a simplification)

I kind of like the idea of just 2 voices and then processing and making them powerful (phat) and interesting on their own... and then I just feel lame because they are 2 of the most common digital oscillators, which hurts my analog lust, but these 2 might be totally the best bang for my buck.

So as far as the case now, with Lugia's great comments, I am not a couple of steps back, which is no problem at all! I am curious how to combine another oscillator with the Plaits and BIA in a system like this.

Thanks a lot for your comments! I will be thinking/working on this and hopefully come back here for some more comment.


" I can't decide if I'm just lusting for cool oscillators because they're fun, or if I really need 4 oscillators in this system. I'm confused on how you would suggest going about this, especially with the Plaits and the BIA in the case, I feel like those are 2 sound sources that might be hard to complement... of course I could be wrong.... do you see it as simply playing the Plaits and an analog osc with the same sequence, going to the same filter and becoming 1 sound"

Yes, limit yourself to two oscillators to learn how to modulate them! I have Plaits and BIA in my small 6u system and what I do is feed them into my hex vca and modulate them with Quadrax and Kermit LFOs in random patterns for pure variety. Modulation and CV is key to modular. You can take one oscillator and split it up many ways to create a palette of tones. That is what I really enjoy doing. I modulate BIA so it has a percussion and bass sounds for a full track.


That's what I was thinking! Your rig looks really interesting. Your rig really makes me think about 1) how much modulation is necessary (I think I might move some things around because PNW, Maths, Batumi, Stages, and Quadra seems very unnecessary), and 2) how many oscillators is a good amount.

Your rack seems like the opposite of mine.. a lot of oscillators and very little (?) modulation?

The Hexmix VCA + Quadrax/Kermit seems really interesting... Quad VCA + Quadrax might be enough for me.

Do you think Links/Kinks could help save some space and replace some functionality of the modulation sources I've got? (PNW, Maths, Batumi, Stages) I'm thinking that even without more, I'd like to get rid of the stages..

May I ask what you're using the Sequential Switch for most of the time?

This is what I'm playing with now:
ModularGrid Rack

Got a little bit of space, so could try to add some of the things Lugia suggested (logic, attenuverters, more VCAs), I could bring the Stages back, I could add some effects..

Always open to suggestions :)


I've changed things up a bit with this rack, but I think its starting to come together, also will be getting the Mantis case to get some more HP.

ModularGrid Rack

Would appreciate any input on if it makes sense on first glance and if there might be some other important things to add in there.

The Plaits is in there because it'll be the first module I get, but when the case gets to this point it is very possible that it won't make it in there, though the extra full synth voice could be nice to have. Was thinking of maybe adding a small Doepfer spring reverb to make the Plaits shine a bit more.

Other than that, the idea I'm going for is something like this:
- E350 can be used as a growly wavetable, or an LFO for the Mangrove
- Could potentially try to add another filter in there to make the E350 and the Mangrove their own separate voices (though the Dual Borg might be enough)
- Bottom row is obviously the modulation and envelopes, I wanted to add some random in there as well as just a solid amount of modulation for my sound sources
- Something that I'm excited by is taking these sound sources a step further in the processing direction, but need something more focused/special than a 2hp DSP effects module... though I'm sure they're great... I just want to have as much control over the processing as possible... Filters are a great example, which reminds me that a waveshaping module might be a good addition. Mimeophon, Clouds, etc could be interesting additions as well, but not totally sold just yet.
- Admittedly, I kind of threw in the Optomix and Quad VCA just because I know I'll need them but haven't had the chance to fully think it through to see if they might be repetitive, or if some other utility modules would be a better option.

Again - sequencing from my Squarp Pyramid, and drums are handled from 2 external drum machines. All going into my Apollo audio interface.

Thank you for the input!


This was getting close, so I opted to throw down on it. Vide:
ModularGrid Rack
The layout is still the same, although I put the audio out on the bottom row so that all cables to/from the rig will be on the lower tier. Otherwise, this retains the "audio up/mod down" layout.

I reworked the audio row considerably. The Morphing Terrarium and Mangroves now are set to submix (or not) through the Optomix LPGs, and I replaced the Plaits with two 3rd-party builds of it. But these now are set to feed through the Samara, and the LPGs can ALSO go through this for various mixing + waveshaping transformations. Filters next, then I tossed in one of Doepfer's new micro series dual VCAs (one per VCF) before the stereo performance mixer. And "spring" reverb got added, with the Purrtronics Purrvrrb spring emulator; you'll likely feed this through the mixer's AUX out and then return it to one of the non-AUXed stereo channels. Once the audio mix is set, this then feeds down to the transformer-isolated stereo out.

Modulation row starts with a little 1 hp sliver...that's a Konstant Labs PWR Checker, gives you visual feedback on your power rail status. VERY useful as an early warning if something might be going awry with your P/S. Then starting with the Poti (the expander for the Batumi), things get entertaining. I put the Roti next to this so that you have it handy as an inverting mixer for the Batumi specifically, and anything else in general that you might mix with it. This allows fast programming of weird, nonrepeating LFO curves. I then paired the Maths and Quadrax by putting the Qx between them so that they can actually play off of each other if desired. A dual ADSR follows for your audio VCF/VCA purposes, and there's one of Mutable's new 10 hp Veils revisions there so that if you need any of it for audio, it's perfectly situated...and if you need them for modulation level control, they're convenient for that, too.

What's nice about this is that it's turned out that you have a solid audio path and a solid modulation complement...but in both of those paths, you can get VERY complicated with your patching and turn each row into its own gigantic "composite module" if you felt like it. In the end, this now seems to be a solid instrument...in a very real sense!


I very much appreciate you taking a shot at the rack. It makes so much sense. I've got something to work towards. Thanks a lot!!!!

ModularGrid Rack

Wasnt sure if 2 plaits would be necessary so fit in the Basimilus and a Milky Way FX instead of the Spring (I know I said I didn't want that lol)

This was getting close, so I opted to throw down on it. Vide:
ModularGrid Rack
The layout is still the same, although I put the audio out on the bottom row so that all cables to/from the rig will be on the lower tier. Otherwise, this retains the "audio up/mod down" layout.

I reworked the audio row considerably. The Morphing Terrarium and Mangroves now are set to submix (or not) through the Optomix LPGs, and I replaced the Plaits with two 3rd-party builds of it. But these now are set to feed through the Samara, and the LPGs can ALSO go through this for various mixing + waveshaping transformations. Filters next, then I tossed in one of Doepfer's new micro series dual VCAs (one per VCF) before the stereo performance mixer. And "spring" reverb got added, with the Purrtronics Purrvrrb spring emulator; you'll likely feed this through the mixer's AUX out and then return it to one of the non-AUXed stereo channels. Once the audio mix is set, this then feeds down to the transformer-isolated stereo out.

Modulation row starts with a little 1 hp sliver...that's a Konstant Labs PWR Checker, gives you visual feedback on your power rail status. VERY useful as an early warning if something might be going awry with your P/S. Then starting with the Poti (the expander for the Batumi), things get entertaining. I put the Roti next to this so that you have it handy as an inverting mixer for the Batumi specifically, and anything else in general that you might mix with it. This allows fast programming of weird, nonrepeating LFO curves. I then paired the Maths and Quadrax by putting the Qx between them so that they can actually play off of each other if desired. A dual ADSR follows for your audio VCF/VCA purposes, and there's one of Mutable's new 10 hp Veils revisions there so that if you need any of it for audio, it's perfectly situated...and if you need them for modulation level control, they're convenient for that, too.

What's nice about this is that it's turned out that you have a solid audio path and a solid modulation complement...but in both of those paths, you can get VERY complicated with your patching and turn each row into its own gigantic "composite module" if you felt like it. In the end, this now seems to be a solid instrument...in a very real sense!
-- Lugia


Two Plaits is much more necessary than you think. True, there's plenty of synths that only have one VCO...but then, when you have TWO, you can then detune one ever so slightly and get a much fatter, beefier result. When I put those together, my intention was to aim things toward a VERY big, massive bass sound there. That's physics at work...the detuning causes all sorts of extra sonic phenomena due to the two oscillators phasing against each other. When the phasing is nice and slow, then you get phase reinforcement...sort of the sonic equivalent of 2 + 2 = 5 Or, with some of the Plaits waveforms, that's more like 2 + 2 = 17.6! Trust me on this one...I've left a nice "body count" of damaged subs, broken windows and such, and even some minor structural damage over many years in the wake of some of my bass patches.


Really appreciate that insight Lugia. That’s good shit, thank you. The BIA just seems so easy to make it sound reallllly nice. But that’s cool, thanks for pushing me towards experimentation rather than ease of use.

I still found a good deal on the Milky Way so I think I’ll keep that as an send fx instead of the spring em.. so I’m really into the fat sound of the Mangrove but I can’t find one for sale.. and moving that spring for the Milky Way gives me some hp. Any suggestions for a good (phat) (weird) oscillator (analog) to replace the mangrove with (and pair with the e350)?
(I also can’t find that mixer for sale, but it looks really sick so I’m willing to wait)

Other than that, super excited. And even with what I’ve got confirmed (in my mind) super happy with and know I can build from there. So really appreciate your help mate.

Cheers.

Two Plaits is much more necessary than you think. True, there's plenty of synths that only have one VCO...but then, when you have TWO, you can then detune one ever so slightly and get a much fatter, beefier result. When I put those together, my intention was to aim things toward a VERY big, massive bass sound there. That's physics at work...the detuning causes all sorts of extra sonic phenomena due to the two oscillators phasing against each other. When the phasing is nice and slow, then you get phase reinforcement...sort of the sonic equivalent of 2 + 2 = 5 Or, with some of the Plaits waveforms, that's more like 2 + 2 = 17.6! Trust me on this one...I've left a nice "body count" of damaged subs, broken windows and such, and even some minor structural damage over many years in the wake of some of my bass patches.

-- Lugia

Two Plaits is much more necessary than you think. True, there's plenty of synths that only have one VCO...but then, when you have TWO, you can then detune one ever so slightly and get a much fatter, beefier result. When I put those together, my intention was to aim things toward a VERY big, massive bass sound there. That's physics at work...the detuning causes all sorts of extra sonic phenomena due to the two oscillators phasing against each other. When the phasing is nice and slow, then you get phase reinforcement...sort of the sonic equivalent of 2 + 2 = 5 Or, with some of the Plaits waveforms, that's more like 2 + 2 = 17.6! Trust me on this one...I've left a nice "body count" of damaged subs, broken windows and such, and even some minor structural damage over many years in the wake of some of my bass patches.
-- Lugia

Two Plaits is much more necessary than you think. True, there's plenty of synths that only have one VCO...but then, when you have TWO, you can then detune one ever so slightly and get a much fatter, beefier result. When I put those together, my intention was to aim things toward a VERY big, massive bass sound there. That's physics at work...the detuning causes all sorts of extra sonic phenomena due to the two oscillators phasing against each other. When the phasing is nice and slow, then you get phase reinforcement...sort of the sonic equivalent of 2 + 2 = 5 Or, with some of the Plaits waveforms, that's more like 2 + 2 = 17.6! Trust me on this one...I've left a nice "body count" of damaged subs, broken windows and such, and even some minor structural damage over many years in the wake of some of my bass patches.
-- Lugia