Hey guys Im trying to put together a modular rig aimed at more ambient, dubby sounds. I have a dfam and a mother 32 already but really want to dip my toes into the modular world. Thanks


Quick thoughts:

1) Echophon is no longer in production, so you'll probably want to look for a Mimeophon instead
2) Surface has a lot of detractors, so I'd suggest looking at Plaits as a comparison which folks claim can do really good dub chords
3) PNW + Batumi + Octosource might be overkill in a rack this size, especially without some attenuators
4) So, yes you could use some attenuators/offsets, as well as logic modules, utilities, etc. Your rack would be considerably spiced up if you dropped in some Ladik modules, c.f. 4 step sequencers, sub octave processor, comparators, any of his LFOs, transposers or something like a Cold Mac
5) A Links and a Kinks would do a lot of work here (as they generally do)
6) You could use some sub-mixers for CV and audio both (Links would help but you'll want more)
7) You have a lot of larger modules here, which is ok to an extent, but if I were you I'd look at removing one or two of them (probably Voltage Block but I'm not an expert on it)

My 2 cents


@troux is right - basically you need a lot more utility modules to get the most out of what you have got - the options are: throw out, minimise where possible, or go bigger (add an extra row) - I'd pick the third option personally

plan a 3rd row for now - and once case 1 is full by a 2nd case the same size - then you will have space for all this, the modules you need to support it and a decent amount of space to support further expansion - or some space to spread out the modules you do have so they are less cramped together


The thing is I already have the nebulae, echophon, surface, pip slope, desmodus versio, batumi, qpas and tangle quartet. The others modules I have fitted were the ones I think would be useful and/or cool. I do think i need a seqencer like varigate 4+ or maybe something else. I am not sure if I need to get maths or not too. The thing is I live in Russia so its quite hard to get some modules over here. I gotta work with what i can get my hands on

Thank you very much by the way. I really appreciate all this help.


It's quite difficult to get some modules anywhere at the moment - there must be a used market in Russia though!

What do you think is the thing you are missing most and try to find something that will do that - and repeat etc


https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/racks/modulargrid_1527781.jpg?1619549109

This is basically what i have, easier to look at rather than names of modules on a page. The main issue is Im still waiting for my case which should be coming in the next week or two. So i personally am not sure what I need hence the reason I asked for help. Ive played extensively with my small semimodular setup and i fell in love with all the possibilities they bring but going full modular is a whole different ball game since "i do not know what i need". Its just I still have some money and want to make sure I get things that will help me understand everything a this set up brings to the table.


Mainly I think i need more utilities but there are so many that I honestly do not know where to start. Like I thought I needed a clock for all this stuff but realistically i can use a passive mult and just use external clock sources eg drum machine to sync it all together. I think I need an euclidean sequencer of some sort since i like the possibilities they bring. Links and Kinks would be great but its hard to source anything from mutable here


"Mainly I think I need more utilities but there are so many that I honestly do not know where to start."

@timmy373, I empathize with your situation! I got into modular a few months ago and felt similarly.

After a few months and several design iterations, I've ended up with this: ModularGrid Rack

As that design reflects several iterations and a lot of input from various MG forum people, I suggest you spend a bit of time reviewing that rack and the KINDS & PROPORTIONS of modules in it. The main point is one of proportions:

-- it is about 30% (of HP) on voicing, e.g. things that make sound, plus sound modifiers like filters and wavefolders
-- it is about 30% of HP on CV sources, in this case a large sequencer (Vector) plus envelope and lfo sources
-- it is about 30% of HP on utilities including VCAs, mults, links/kinks, mixers, attenuverters, sum/diff, etc. What of that I'd really suggest for you is 4+ channels of VCA, 4MS SISM or similar (to combine / control CV), and enough mults / Links for your setup
-- the last ~10-15% of HP is effects and line out (for my headphones in particular)

IMO any small to mid-size setup needs careful balance of proportions of modules, otherwise it will be too "unbalanced" to perform well. My first rack was exciting, but too focused on sound sources; patching it I thought "all voicing, no score;" I had to up the proportion of CV and utilities to balance out and ultimately make a "deeper" rack.

For other ideas, you could look up Lugia's draft racks and postings, plus some other MG folks who you think have good rack designs. Reviewing good rack designs, thinking "why are they using that" and "what would suit me" will help you answer your questions.

I also agree with points from Troux and Jim above. All considered, I would suggest you add a couple "no regrets" utilities modules, spend a bunch of time with your rig, and let that process answer what else you feel you need.

I'm still newer to modular than a lot of other folks on the forum, so don't take the above as "final" or better than other people's points. But IMO I've recently been through a lot of the questions you're asking. Thought I'd share some ideas, hope this helps!


Thank you Nick, this really did help a fair bit. I am going to look into your rack in more detail tomorrow but from what I can see I can REALLY benefit from getting an attenuverter/inverter module like triplatt + links and kinks to get me going. The intellijel quad vca also looks somewhat interesting, I might be able to exchange my tangle quartet since I have not even unpacked it yet. Do you think its something I should try to do or my current vca module will do just fine?

Also that wavefolder by joranalogue should help me create much more interesting textures so Im gonna try looking around for something similar to that.

I see that you have scales too. I wonder if I should get it in order to tame some of the oscillators since I would like to have an ability stay in 'western musical scales'. Qubit Bloom can technically do that too but a dedicated quantizer especially with such a simple layout should only help imo.


Timmy,

Glad my post & rack help. Suggest you ALSO look at some other racks (esp Lugia's) to get some other ideas of what coherent builds look like. I mention Lugia's because he's very experienced, has a ton of draft racks, and has posted a lot of "here's the thinking behind this rack" type comments.

Regarding some of your specific comments:
-- Triplatt? Yes it is good and useful BUT I find if I'm using it at all, I'm using the whole thing to do a task that could be done in 1 of 4 lanes in the 4ms Shifting Inverting Signal Mingler (SISM). Hence I'd suggest you take a close look at SISM and Triplatt, and pick which might be a better first step for your intended use cases. FYI Tiptop MISO is very similar to SISM and another good alternative. IMO a SISM or MISO adds a lot of power / depth to a rack with a small cost of HP and $s.

-- Links and Kinks are solid choices. I NEED something like Links right away; I don't need Kinks right away. So you might inspect the sub-functions of each of those and see what you think you need right away. If Mutable Instruments stuff is not easy to get, Links is basically a convenient combo of other easy to find things. Tons of manufacturers offer active mults; I definitely need active mults. If I wanted Links but couldn't get it, I would probably get Joranalogue Link2 and Add2 as a substitute. I do own those Joranalogue utilities and like them; Add2 can be an adder or averager and is a great small unit for some of my needs.

-- re: VCAs and QuadVCA vs TangleQuartet? I have no real opinion here other than I really like my QuadVCAs. You can check around online more for what people's favorites and recommendations are regarding VCAs. DO check out the Erogenous Tones modules--if you need a ton of VCAs or Attenuverters or Envelopes, there are some really good options there. On the tinier side would be the 2HP VCA. It really depends how many VCAs you think you'll actually use, do you need linear vs exponential, etc. For me QuadVCA is currently great fit. I own more than one of those.

-- wavefolders: I love these. The Joranalogue one is good, the Intellijel one is great, the Instruo one is interesting. Just depends what you like and how much $s and HP you want to put to it.

-- quantizers: to think about these, think about your sequencer too, and how you'll be managing pitch values in your system. In most smaller setups, it probably only makes sense to have a sequencer OR a quantizer. For example, run a few LFOs at different rates through SISM, run that output into Scales, and that gives you pitch and gate outs. On the other hand, if a sequencer is driving most of the pitch and gate info, what good would a quantizer be? For me, I wanted both, partly just from a perspective of having fun, having options, and learning both as control systems. That said, there are some interesting patch options that would use both sequencer and quantizing. That topic "goes off the deep end" into another thread me and Lugia have running... IMO the simplest approach here is having a sequencer you really like to use, learning that in depth, then getting a sense of what if anything else you need for managing pitch and gates.

-- additionally, MORDAX DATA is something I'd recommend to almost anyone. Hard to get one, but worth the wait. It helps me a ton when trying to understand "what does this module / control actually do?" DATA shows me things I would have never understood from manuals or my ears alone.

I think you're heading in a good direction. I'd suggest you keep up with more web research, and consider a larger case (as mentioned by others above) to leave you some growth / wiggle room. When you come up with a next rack revision, you can post it and we'll help you troubleshoot.

Cheers,

NG


VCAs - if you can find a new veils - then get that it's smaller and does the same job as the intellijel - and for less money - slightly different spec - but you seem to already have a tangle quartet - so I would just stick with that for now

Wavefolders - there are lots of them from low cost to high cost - I use a lot of the Doepfer ones for video - they work great

Quantizers - if you are using a sequencer, the chances are it is already quantized - so you probably don't need an separate quantizer, as Nick explained they are useful if you are generating the v/oct using lfos etc - when you have a lot of voices (I have 11 + percussion) you might find you need/want to make sure everything is in tune with each other (multiple sequencers and vcos) in which case a 'biq' quantizer can be useful - I have a sinfonion, which I find useful - not that you need anything as powerful as this now!

quantizers won't so much tame you vcos, as send them v/oct that is in scale - the vcos still need to be tuned so they are actually in tune with each other - you can either do this by ear - or just use a tuner - pedal or app for instance - the more vcos/voices you have the better

taming your vcos is probably better done with filters


Desmodus and Nebulae don't have input attenuation, Batumi has no output attenuation. That might get frustrating.


passive attenuators are extremely useful and inexpensive

I have both 2hp trim modules and some DIY ones from Pusherman


@JimHowell1970 - you're not wrong, but attenuverters are a better use of the hp!


but a lot more expensive and power draining


True, true. I did see a cool video which showed how to make various passive things you can just stick in cables, attenuators being the most useful one.


yeah I find I loose things like that though - would much rather have modules


From what I see a good place to start as I said above would be adding kinks, links and triplatt (these modules are somewhat easier for me to source right now) and just go from there. I think once I will receive my case and start putting it all together I will realise if I will be needing anything else.

About mordax data... I have seen it in pretty much every youtube video that talks about modular are there any other oscilloscopes worth checking out? I guess its more of a learning tool rather than a necesity but I can see the benefit in connecting what you can hear and actually seeing it on a screen

Can you guys recommend me a sequencer (euqlidean perhaps) that is not overly complex or menu divey but is different from classic hardware sequencers?

PS i will look into veils since from what I gather 4 vcas isnt enough for a rack this size


triplatt or shades or similar - but definitely links and kinks

adding veils too is a great idea

Data I've always kind of wanted one since they came out but they have never been in stock anywhere - I saw one in stock last night at a online store and I decided not to buy it - I'd rather spend the money (and rack space) on other things - I have a DC coupled interface so I can use vcvrack if I want to as an oscilloscope - and if I bought an oscilloscpe I would want to be able to see video rate wave forms and I'm not sure that Data can do that

sequencers - do you want a v/oct sequencer, a gate/trigger sequencer or both (separately or in a single module)? euclidean usually refers to trigger/gate sequencing
PNW is not so menu divey it's annoying if you can see the screen and does both euclidean and random quantized loops for v/oct
if you want more control over the tune you might want to look at Rene - but it is significantly more complex - other possibilities to look at might be klee (a very long shot - as I've never seen one for sale only DIY and not often then) and the frap tools usta (but note it is very expensive)


Sorry it took me a while to reply. I have received my case and have put together the few modules I have. Bloom is pretty fun and intuitive and for the time being I should be alright however I am looking at Mimetic Digitalis as a cv sequencer. I like the 'shred' function since I do not need to input particular notes in and I can just go crazy. However in order to stay within a scale i would require a quantizer... or not?

Regarding utilities in general after playing for a few hrs I see how little I can modulate my osc. I cant even invert them so let alone fold or offset. Have to invest into that right now.

Also not a big fan of surface as it turns out but alas you live and learn :(

I have quite a lot stereo outs in most of my voices and imo a stereo mixer will help me A LOT.


you might find you like surface more when you have more modulation and it is more 'in the mix' with more voices

personally I've never used a sequencer for cv - I find lfos, function generators, sample and hold and envelopes work better for me

quantizers are very useful if your main sequencer is not quantized - just like mixers and audio interfaces and vcas - get more channels than you think you need now so that you don't run out quickly in the future!


I might invest in maths but Im kinda afraid it would be a waste of money since its kinda hard to understand :/

Mixer wise I quickly learned that i need more asap since i basically use my tangle quartet as a mixer and triplatt as a vca. Still dont have enough though.

As far as voices go I have surface and nebulae but at the moment I can not make them sound 'good' together. I end up using the clock from bloom and its controls are not ideal and I have to mult it to pretty much all my modules as well as dfam and i can not divide the 'channels' so everything sounds very robotic (not as much as harware synths but still).


I think Maths is quite easy to understand actually at it's most basic it's just 2 function generators and a mixer - definitely worthwhile and even more so if you work your way through the illustrated manual a couple of times

never enough mixers or vcas!

sounds like a vc trigger/gate delay would be useful to add some swing!

try mixing and then sending through a reverb or delay - it'll help gel them together - maybe surface is best through filter first, though!


One approach I like to take with ambient to get away from that robotic rhythm is to use the pitch CV information to add a little bit of adjustment to my clock. So for example, Pip Slope into Bloom, Bloom CV 1 into a buffered mult, one out of which goes into Surface, the second out of which gets attenuated through Tangle Quartet and sent back into the Pip Slope's decay CV. This will add a little pause after higher notes, and a shorter pause or perhaps none at all after lower notes. If you want the opposite, get an attenuverter instead of using TQ and invert the CV coming out of the buffered mult. You can also do this trick with your envelopes so that rather than modulating the tempo you're modulating the decay of the Surface, meaning the note itself will last longer or shorter depending.

Since it seems like you don't have a buffered mult at the moment you could use CV 2 on the Bloom instead of CV1 through a mult which might be interesting in its own way, not quite so clearly linked with what's happening sonically.


Thank you, Im gonna try that tonight. I have a pico mult so will be fine.