Just noticed that it has been exactly one year to the day since I ordered my first modules. However mediocre and intolerable the sonic outcome of my creative endeavors, the fun, creativity, process, and community has made the last year a great experience, all things considered. :)
In the time since, I've put together a pretty nice instrument for myself. Adding cases and modules regularly to fill needs and wants, plugging holes in my racks, adding additional functionality, etc. I've tried to adjust the layout a bit at a time to accommodate new acquisitions, but the time has come to rearrange just about everything. I'm learning my own work and signal flow preferences, and trying to incorporate a more "performance oriented" layout.
Just curious how often you all rearrange your racks, if at all? At some point, a studio rack sort of takes on a life of its own. Do you all consistently rearrange modules to maintain your evolving workflow, or have you stopped trying to contain the beast? I'd much rather be experimenting and making some noise than unscrewing modules, so it would be cool to hear any insight into how you all approach this side of modular.
Thanks, and have a great day.

*Edit: Additional question, I have always started with a completely un-patched blank slate every day, but I'm moving towards leaving some module combos consistently patched. How often do you completely pull every patch cable and start over? What module combos do you leave plugged in long term?

I try to leave my modules in place as long as possible, because a) it's just no fun (even with knurlies) b) there's always a chance of plugging in something wrong (even with shrouded headers on the bus boards) and c) I hope I don't spread FUD but I've read somewhere that the Eurorack connectors are in fact spec'd for a number of re-connections that's in the double digits… [citation needed!] and I prefer not to test my luck too much. Still, I think I've rearranged >50% of my rack two or three times last year.

I have certain classic synth voice combos that I leave patched for a very long time. Also, I don't feel I need to mess with final fx->mixer->outputs wiring too often. In general I go blank slate when I feel like I'm completely stuck or actually done with a track. But that means I sometimes live with a patch for weeks and it gets very messy fast.

All that said, I do wish it was easier to rearrange everything. I agree, this thing does seem to have a life of its own. And the way modules are arranged has a huge influence on my patches. Most boring case, because I'm running out of long cables and mults…

Actually, I did a build just the other day that's a good example of how I proceed with groupings and flow:
ModularGrid Rack
OK...so, in this setup, the TOP row is audio sources and modifiers. And in that row, things flow from left (the A-119) to right (Veils).

Then the next row is random sources and modulation manipulation until you get to the QPLFO, then you're in modulation source territory. Dead-center in that are the key manipulation modules for CV and modulation, in this case they're a SISM and another Veils. The idea here is that you can spread the outputs from this to patchpoints above and below the row, which would make it easier to differentiate between your audio path and the various mod sources/destinations.

Bottom row has a Hermod which is also intended to drive an M32...so in the lower-left corner, you have the Hermod, the MScale, and a dual lag generator for direction-dependent portamento with two of the Hermod outputs. Then we get back into audio, as the system's effect processing sits between the lag gen and the mixer. This particular build ALSO had an emphasis on looping, so I co-located the two looping modules (Morphagene, DLD) near the mixer since they should be pulling audio from it and then sending it back there. Then at the row's end, you see a 3xMIA for summing when needed, a Mixology performance mixer, and an Isolator for output isolation, plus it adds some transformers which you can 'hit' a little hard for a touch of warmth from transformer saturation.

So, when you study this, the Hermod is where the various CVs originate...and flow upwards to the top row, with the ability to make use of the Verbos Random Sampling's analog shift register for arpeggiation/tesselation purposes. Then the signal flow goes across that top audio row, and back down to the mixer, with the modulation row able to "hit" anything in either the top or bottom rows.

Now, if you've ever had the pleasure of working with an ARP 2600, this flow pattern should seem familiar. Technically, the 2600 has two "rows" to it, with the EGs actually being in the top row before the VCA, and the output/reverb mixer is also up there. But otherwise, the builds I do tend to replicate something of that same pattern...because it's worked for 50 years, so why change? Alan Pearlman and his team nailed the flow on that synth, and LOADS of synths since then follow their own variations on it. The only time I deviate from this is when the top row is stuffed with sources, and the audio modifiers have to go downward along the right side. In that case, I defer to Nyle Steiner's Synthacon design, placing the CV/mod modules to the left end, and filters, waveshapers, LPGs, etc on the right so that you can easily break out mod sources to go to the other end of the row(s) for use there. Again, this lets the modulation, etc "fan out" from its section to wherever those signals are needed in the audio path.

Thanks for the responses. I can't remember seeing a thread specifically about module arrangement and maintenance, so I figured it might be a good discussion/thought exercise. This is a craft that revolves around long term gear acquisition in a way, and with that comes some occasional headaches.
Lugia, that's definitely similar to the signal/work flow idea I initially started with (and looks like a fun rack). Now that I've expanded to near my limit, added a few hardware pieces, and developed my personal preferences, I had to upset the apple cart. Spent all afternoon re-racking everything (God bless threaded rails, and screw some sliding nuts. Ugh!) after realizing that I preferred some modules in close reach regardless of how illogical their placement might seem to someone else. I'm thinking the new layout should keep me focused on creativity for a while. I may add a Low Gain Short Bus and a Knob Farm Ooots eventually, but I can't think of anything else I need to add for a while.
Would love to hear anyone else's approach to this minor tedious aspect of modular.

Re: case design, one aspect I'm really enjoying in eurorack that I think might be a little odd or unique is designing each case on its own terms as an instrument with particular goals in mind and limited range, that limitation helping me to be creative and learn. I've got an acid rack now, a drone rack, and a modulation focused weird ambient rack (R.I.P. my wallet). To do this you end up duplicating some functionality but that's also an excuse to try out new modules, and in particular to take modules that are underused in one case and to move them to another where they can shine or contribute in new ways. It also results in a lot of moving pains but I kind of just accept it because it feels worth the hassle.

I'll also note I've naturally gravitated towards the flow approach @Lugia laid out, but like you @farkas I'll put modules in odd spots if it makes patching easier or I want direct access to one, and yes sometimes if I'm just feeling lazy.

Good topic to bring up and I'm curious what others are doing.

Hi Farkas, All,

First answering your additional and a bit easier question about the patches. I like to keep my current patch as long as possible because once it's gone, it's gone :-) It grows over time though and it usually doesn't take much time or there is a kind of forest of cables "growing" over the case. When waiting really (too) long the forest becomes thicker and the supply of patch cables is thinning out seriously...

I just like to keep building on my existing patch, trying to make it yet more interesting and yes, I guess I just not dare to let go ;-)

However once I clean it up, I totally remove all cables and completely start from scratch but that can easily take a few months.

Now your more difficult questions. First the second difficult one, the reshuffling of modules. I also try to avoid that as much as possible because easily a few evenings can be gone by just unscrewing the modules put them somewhere in then realising oh damn wrong position (well I try to avoid that by using here the rack planner of course). Over entire last year I only did one major reshuffling. I foresee that I need one more large reshuffling but I try to wait with that as long as possible just because of the hassle (which is sometimes nice, if you have plenty time but sometimes also just a bother).

Okay, now your most difficult question ;-)

How to plan the modules over your rack layout, is definitely something for a long term view and building up experience. I usually plan my rack layouts for at least a half year till about a year or a little over it, just to avoid the reshuffle matter as just discussed above.

However where to put the oscillators, the modulators, etcetera. Lugia's approach is definitely one of the better ones. I try to combine that with the overview of Mowse's setup (Mowse can you please show it us one more time, your rack with those coloured boxes, beautifully done, it's just that I can't find it back) and some general ideas. Like how we read a book, the same "workflow" I try to keep with modular as well, starting the patch from the left (clock, dividers, sequencers, MIDI input, that "kind of stuff") towards the right (VCAs, mixers & output modules) via the middle (sound source modules, oscillators, etc.). Here and there a multiple where roughly needed.

Then I take a bit the approach of Lugia and putting the EGs and LFOs roughly on top there where I want to modulate most modules. Filters usually go on top as well.

Though once the rack(s) start to fill up and less space is available it all doesn't become so much organised any more due to the lack of space, makes the rack actually more messy when it's getting filled up...

I am still searching for the "ideal" module arrangement, for me it's Lugia's approach mixing with Mowse's (that's similar) and a bit of myself. The problem every time again, I realised, is that problems come when the racks are getting filled up... how to avoid that? Sure don't buy any more modules but I guess that's not really what you or I want :-)

Though how silly that might sound, but perhaps that silly joke I was kind of telling on that post where Sajmund showed us a case full of VCAs:


For every function a case full of it, might not sound too bad at the end at all, naturally space is a huge problem and of course the finance of it. But you don't need to fill up all the racks and to make this a rather bit more realistic you could certain functions that go almost always hand-in-hand together (like for example VCAs, mixers and output/input modules) put combined in one rack.

Take a rack (again, it doesn't need to be full, it needs to grow, so even if it's half empty still good, at least you don't need to reshuffle the modules) for the sound sources like the oscillators, wave tables and those nice fancy digital modules that can do a lot of stuff including samplers for example. Then all the modulating modules (LFOs, EGs, some fancy digital stuff) put that in one rack on top of that sound creation rack.

Take yet another rack for drums/percussion only (if there is still space left). Depending on finance and rack space, take one or two utility racks (could be small racks) where you put all the rest of the stuff and position those racks there between the other above discussed racks where it's most needed.

Yes this sound ridiculous but think about it, it might get close to an ideal setup. The racks can be for 80% empty, so what? At least you don't have for the next few years that reshuffle issue. It's just that one time investment of a few extra racks. Call me a blithering idiot, I don't care but I am actually considering this as an option, not saying it's going to be like that but it would solve here and there a few issues. Naturally there is this huge finance issue of getting those spare racks to start with... which is the reason why I haven't done it yet ;-)

Back down to earth :-) You could minimise the above idea, keep on shrinking it what has just been offered as an idea here above, keep it shrinking, thus less racks, less money, less space. Keep it shrinking till you reach the point that it becomes realistic for you moneywise, space-wise and rack-wise. I think it's not too bad, add that setup from Lugia and Mowse together with it and there must be laying the answer for all of us. Each in another way, sure, but I think it might be feasible.

The more I think of it, the more I like it. I am going to save a s***-load of money for a few spare racks ;-)

Cheers, Garfield.

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads

Thoughtful responses senor-bling, Lugia, troux, and GarfieldModular. As often as we recommend that beginners start with a bigger rack, that same advice applies to those of us with larger setups. I definitely wish I had invested considerably more in extra rack space to begin with, even though my original plan was fairly large. When I was first starting to build my modular, I didn't like seeing empty space between the modules. Unfortunately that led to a few impulse purchases that didn't work out for me. As we all know, impulse eurorack purchases can be expensive and a waste of time (I'm looking at you, Loquelic Iteritas Percido...). I probably should have invested in more empty rack space instead of more modules.
As far as mission-specific rack builds, I have thought about putting together a 104hp live skiff (inspired by @troux). That would be a fun and difficult exercise. I've also considered a small skiff of modules that I want to spend more time learning. For instance, I have kept Phonogene and Clouds in my rack because I see their value, but I rarely patch anything into them and haven't discovered their subtleties yet.
I remember Mowse's excellent layout post. Great advice on module grouping. As the rack continues to grow, it will be important to keep those grouping and signal-flow ideas in mind in the planning stages, while still taking into account our personal preferences and evolving music and individual workflows.
Thanks for the responses!

Coming from the perspective of a small, performance-oriented rack, an important consideration is : where are the your hands going to be and where are the cables? They had better not be the same place.

For my two-row setup this means that modules with the patch points at the top should be in the lower row, and modules with patch points at the bottom should be in the upper row, installing the module upside down if necessary/tolerable. Modules with the patch points along one edge (like the classic Doepfers) ... well they are a pain. This does tend to create an illegible mass of cables between the rows but the controls are usually not obstructed.

My rack has been hacked by a previous owner to have some horizontally oriented 4hp spaces above and below the rows. While this seems useful I still haven't figured out what are ergonomically acceptable ways of using it -- actually patching something in there would require cables across the controls of the adjacent row (or else very long cables) and the lip of the case makes getting fingers in there a bit tight.

I don't have the space to leave the modular set up permanently, which implies a very brutal approach to patching : one patch, one recording, pull the cables and put it away, usually the same night.

Yes, the question of cable management has to be front of mind! In fact, that's a big reason that I felt the need to rearrange everything. It wasn't so annoying when I was just tinkering around, but as I develop a more performance-oriented approach, I found that the typical signal flow layout made less sense to me. Thanks for bringing this up, the-erc.

As often as we recommend that beginners start with a bigger rack, that same advice applies to those of us with larger setups.
-- farkas

Absolutely! Why, when I moved into this house in 2012, I had an upstairs room that was 17 x 24. And now it's full of gear. Should've started with a larger studio...

Absolutely! Why, when I moved into this house in 2012, I had an upstairs room that was 17 x 24. And now it's full of gear. Should've started with a larger studio...

-- Lugia

Yeah, much to my wife's dismay, my record collection has its own bedroom. I may have mentioned before that I sold off all my old synths and gear many years back. I was paralyzed by options and just gave up. Modular brought me back to the dark side.

Hi Farkas, All,

I gave my above idea and approach a few more thoughts and I came up with this below figure. Please keep in mind this is just an example, I am not saying one must do it like this, just a quick example I could up with.

Now imagine that each of the below blocks is either one row in your rack or perhaps even a rack, how big each block (i.e. a category as per below figure), is entirely up to you. If there are too many blocks then pack some together to reduce the number of blocks till you reach the size in HP as well as in finance-size and voila there you/we are :-)

The examples of type of modules below the header of the categories are just examples and those lists are certainly not exhaustive.

As far as I know of all those examples at least one module of more exist of it, with perhaps the exception of leslie and vocoder. I mean as a (n Eurorack) module of a modular synthesizer, at least of these two I wouldn't know any module in Eurorack format, if you do, please let me know.

Any suggestions, feedback, typo updates, etcetera are very welcome, I will then update the picture and publish here again.

-Hmm... this seems not to work, how to add a JPEG here? Please let me know and I add the figure... -

Thank you very much and have a lovely modular day, Garfield.

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads

Hi Farkas, All,

I finally got this picture and I hope it works here below:

Alt Text

Ah, it works :-) So, please keep in mind this is just an example, it doesn't have to be exactly like this but that you just get the idea of my above post.

The idea here is that for each "functionality" block you see here, you could take, if you have a lot of space, one rack, or if you have less space consider each block as a row in your racks. With two large racks or with 3 small racks this is getting quite realistic. If you have less space then use for each functionality block a certain HP space reserved; at the end, it's up to you. It's just to give you an idea on how a (medium till large) rack could be rearranged.

For beginners it might be interesting to see what kind of functionalities one might need to think about, it might give ideas and also perhaps a perception on how much HP/rack space you might required.

Farkas: Good luck with the rearrangement and please keep us updated :-)

Kind regards, Garfield.

For review reports of Eurorack modules, please refer to https://garfieldmodular.net/ for PDF formatted downloads

This is great, Garfield. Very similar to the layout that I unconsciously ended up with in many ways. And I agree that this is an excellent primer for beginners in the types of necessary modules and functional grouping that should be considered when planning a larger rack.
I've been making some small tweaks to my layout, and even removed a few modules that weren't seeing any use (gasp Goodbye Clouds!). I've come to the conclusion that I will probably never finish tweaking it, as my needs change and I embark on different kinds of projects.
Thanks for putting this image together for us to consider. Have a great week.