ModularGrid Rack

Hi all! Putting together my first rack and wanted to get some advice and insight on things I can change to improve the system, or areas where I might be lacking or run into limitations. I see myself using this with my Keystep and midi in from my computer, and I think it would be fun to route in external audio through beads as well (I'm not totally sold on Ears, but its got that fun factor and seems like it could open up some cool possibilities). I feel like it could use more utility modules, but I'm not sure which I should prioritize on getting in there. I also feel like uO_c might be underused without too many modulations sources? I'd imagine with pams or pachinko driving it you could get some neat results out though.

I've already got rings and forbidden planets on the way (along with the nifty bundle modules), but any advice on what would be best to purchace next would be awesome.

Look forward to hearing your feedback, thanks everyone! :)

A couple thoughts here: First, what kind of music are you hoping to make with this?
Second, you mentioned the "fun factor," which is my highest priority with my rack/music, and always what I encourage above all else. With the collection of modules you have here, do they all have the fun factor? I love Disting and Pam's, but they are not what I would consider fun modules. If you add uO_C to those two, you are REALLY getting away from on-the-fly tweakability due to the menu-driven set and forget nature of these modules. Is that the direction you want to go?
I have a few things that I would probably change about this for my personal tastes and goals, but I'll wait to recommend anything until you respond.
Have fun and good luck!

you appear to have started out with a case and then crammed functionality in

lots of people do this - it seems like a way of limiting costs - but really it just leads to either dissatisfaction and abandonment or another case very quickly - once the owner realises that modules are not VSTs - but lots of people also have no idea how small an actual eurorack modules is - they really are quite small - and are shocked when they actually get modules

however, this is, in my opinion, the exact opposite of how to put together a modular

there are for example almost no utility modules! - a token dual vca

a significantly better way is to find the modules you want, work out what modules you need to support them and then get a case that will house all those modules, with some space left over for future growth and then buy modules slowly - so that you get a chance to learn them in depth before adding more modules that you need to learn in order to use them properly

my advice = double the size of the rack, swap to full size versions of the MI clones you have in there and add more utilities

expect 50% of the rack to be taken up with modulation sources and utility modules - & imo this should be mostly utilities - you can do a whole lot more with fewer modulation sources and more utilities than with more modulation sources and fewer utilities

Thanks for your reply farkas!
I'm aiming for a sort of ambient sound, something close to ann annie, or state azure (definitely not going to get close to his sound with this setup though haha). This was something I put together in vcv rack a while back:

I guess this kind of style is what I'd like to get close to, but with capability to branch out a bit.
That's a great point about limiting myself with on the fly tweakability. My thinking behind adding all those in was trying to get the most flexible utility capability out of the small set up, and allowing me the most variety between patches. In vcv I really enjoy spending a lot of time setting up my patch and getting it just so and then letting it do its thing, so I feel like I might be okay with the loss of on the fly tweakability. But not sure how that'll translate to real life in this setup.
Thanks again, really appreciate the feedback! :)

First off, nice track, thanks for sharing!

Secondly, if you're committed to this smaller rack size my suggestion would be to get an ES-9 next and stop there for a couple weeks or so. You're good with VCV Rack and VCV Rack + a Rings + an analog filter will go a long way. From there you'll get a good sense of what you need next and how to integrate all the utilities Jim mentioned (even if they're virtual).

Thanks troux! :)
I really like the idea of getting the ES-9, having a hybrid system would definitely give me the biggest capability right now, and let me explore what I would really want in the physical setup next.

And thanks for the input Jim!
I definitely see this as a jumping off point for another case some point in the future haha. I know that I enjoy the workflow of modular from playing around in VCV rack so I'm hopefully not expecting to run into dissatisfaction or abandonment. I feel like I have a good idea of what I'm getting, but I definitely agree that I'm lacking in utility modules. I was thinking that a better play might be to replace ears with links or something like that, but I'd defer to your input. Ultimately I'd love to double the size of the rack, and would also love to get the full size of the Mutable Instruments modules, but just trying to keep the budget down a bit for now, and hoping to sell/trade up as I go along. Do you have any recommendations on the best utility modules to start with?


I hear you!

but it's possible to "keep the budget down" whilst thinking longer term too... by buying modules slowly - 1 a month or less (after the first few) and buying a large enough case to begin with and sticking to it!!! - it's your journey - remember it does not have to be a race!

otherwise it can be a slippery slope:

I started out with a smaller case (144hp) and within 6 months had bought a second (mantis this time) case, because I didn't have enough space for Maths

If I had been able to buy a mantis as my first case I would have (they started shipping during those 6 months) - and I suspect very strongly I may have been able to stop when I'd filled it... mainly as I may never have discovered synth DIY or video synthesis* (see for examples!)

3 years on I have 5 cases (1200hp ish), almost full and a 6th case ready to be built (just need screws and bolts - but the DIY store is closed!)

an ES9 will take up a fair bit of real estate in the small rack, though!

whilst I think VCVrack is a great piece of software and really useful as a learning/exploration/travel tool - I absolutely hate using it!

I hear you Jim but OP seems pretty good with VCV and you can always throw it in a Pod down the line.

I hear you Jim but OP seems pretty good with VCV and you can always throw it in a Pod down the line.
-- troux

yeah I think vcv as an intro to modular is a great thing and that great things can be done with it!

I started with modular pre-vcvrack though! and sit in front of a computer all day!

and there's the start of the slippery slope - I'll just throw this module in it's own case - and this one - and this one!!!


Well Jim, anyone who's posting here might already be slipping lol


for all the old hands yes - but I think it's still a good idea to warn the newbies - give 'em a chance to run!

hahahaha is it bad that I'm starting to consider the possibility of living in a van so I can dedicate all of my income to modular? lol XD

Seriously though thanks for all of your guys input! Excited to get started on this journey, so many possibilities to explore!

That van life is the real fun factor.

Seriously though, go slow. Don't spend your rent money on modules. :)