Hello guys!

I'm just at the beginning and that's the modules that I've baught for now. Any suggestions on what should I add next?
Kinda stuck right now.

ModularGrid Rack

So this is what Lugia helped me compose, I think it really should get the job done. Although I have much to research what some of the modules actually do!

ModularGrid Rack

Arkadiusz Reikowski

I did a small update. Now I really don't know where to go next ;)

Fixed rack link so it's easier for folks to see

ModularGrid Rack

Strange, I'm seeing the old version with only 5 modules. Got it updated when you click the link..

Go to the rack, then click Show => Screenshot and refresh a few times.

Go to the rack, then click Show => Screenshot and refresh a few times.
-- troux

Thank you!

OK...now that we can see it, my first reaction is that this has the "Sexy Module Syndrome" in spades! I see exactly ZERO VCAs for starters, and that's pretty much a fatal flaw. Without VCAs you have no way aside of manual changes to alter the amplitude of either audio or modulation signals. Then there's the Erica Stereo Mixer...which is a mixer for stereo signals and not really a mixer that allows you to pan mono signals then mix those into a stereo result.

Then there's that Bizarre Jezabel filter...looks cool at first, but have you considered what it'll be like to work with those panel markings in a low-light situation, particularly the sort of lighting you're apt to find in a club gig? There's a number of manufacturers whose panels are a royal pain to view in those circumstances (looking at YOU, Noise Engineering!), but I really think this hits a new high in lows as far as being able to suss out what controls do in a glance. And that's what you want, really...clear, obvious, straightforward panel graphics, especially if you're beginning with modular. In short, Eurorack isn't necessarily about appearances...but ergonomics, and nothing fubars ergonomics worse than illegible panel markings (well, almost nothing...a cab full of two and three hp-width modules would, in truth, be FAR worse because you then have tiny panel markings AND no space for your fingers once the system's patched).

I would suggest stopping what you're doing immediately, and examining two things here...

1) be super-critical about what's in place already. Do you R-E-A-L-L-Y need that Plasma Drive in the cab? Would it be more useful as a stompbox so that you can reclaim 16 hp for the modules that can make the rest work better? Are there any other modules that pose the same question? And...

2) what utilities do the present complement of modules need to operate at their best? Do you have room for them? If you don't, do you have a "plan B" about the present cab?

But stop now and consider those two points VERY carefully. This build hasn't turned into an expensive noisemaker YET...but it's awfully close, and you need to proceed carefully and with a lot of careful deliberation in order to avoid winding up with an unruly and difficult to use mess.

OK...now that we can see it, my first reaction is that this has the "Sexy Module Syndrome" in spades! I see exactly ZERO VCAs for starters, and that's pretty much a fatal flaw. Without VCAs you have no way aside of manual changes to alter the amplitude of either audio or modulation signals. Then there's the Erica Stereo Mixer...which is a mixer for stereo signals and not really a mixer that allows you to pan mono signals then mix those into a stereo result.......
-- Lugia

Hello Lugia!

First of all, thank you so much, I really appreciate that you took the time to write all of this.
Well, as I'm not a newbie when it comes to writing music (I did scores to Blair Witch, The Medium, Layers Of Fear etc.), I'm
completely new to the modular stuff. But it's addictive and hypnotizing so I'm looking for something that would complement
my work in new ways. I really like making ambient/ drone'y music, which builds up the tension over time.

So I see the weak points of this build. However, I'm a sucker for cool looking things (my whole studio is like that, haha), so I want to squeeze a tiny bit of that too.

When it comes to VCA - isn't Manis Iteritas one? Once again, sorry for my lack of knowledge. Could you give me some recomendations? For now, I only have Mutable Instruments Plaits, Rings and Ears (and Stereo Out, MIDI).
I want to control everything through my DAW, as I make music mostly to picture. Then, maybe I should invest in a sequncer
like Hermod. Erica Synths - damn, you're right. That's a huge mistake.

Plasma - not necessarily. I like the distortion it gives, the sound of it is awesome. But I won't buy it anytime soon.

I'm lost. But so far so much fun :)

I've made some adjustements.

It has one, yeah...but the thing is, you need A LOT of VCAs if you're really going to wring quality results out of any modular. The reason for this is simple: VCAs control ALL levels (audio AND modulation), and having "raw" VCAs for this purpose is pretty essential. They also have uses such as four-quadrant modulation (sort of a VCA-based version of a ring modulator) and amplitude modulation (modulating a thruputted signal with an audio-frequency signal from a VCO).

Example: have a look at Mutable's present iteration of Veils. Now, this contains four VCAs which also sum down via a "breakable" mixbus. If you need a separate VCA, just patch its input and output separately, and as long as this output patch doesn't break the mixbus downstream from your mixed VCAs, you're good. Plus, this has that famous and ultra-useful response curve pot, which they pioneered and which allows you to change the behavior of the VCAs continuously from exponential (which is mainly used for audio, as we perceive changes in apparent loudness on exponential curves) to linear (which mainly gets used for modulation, as linear responses don't distort the modulation curve responses that other modules want to see). Note, also, that you can make a linear VCA respond exponentially for audio by feeding it exponential control signals, such as from an envelope generator that can output exponential envelopes.

BUT WAIT...there's MORE! Not only are there two different response curves (in general), you also have two different circuit topologies! When using a VCA to control signals below the bottom limit of hearing down to DC, you have to use a DC-coupled VCA. But for audio...especially at the very end of your signal chain, before the output to the mixer...you need AC-coupled VCAs for a very important reason: you DO NOT want to output DC to your amplification and monitors because, well...

Now, if the objective here is to output numerous separate audio channels in sync with the DAW...THAT has a very elegant solution, thanks to Expert Sleepers: their ES-9 is a soundcard interface module, which gives you 14 outputs and 8 inputs, and which works with any VST-capable DAW via a plugin called "Silent Way". This then lets your DAW sequencer DIRECTLY control the modular via the 14 outputs, which you can dedicate however a project dictates, and you can send eight channels of audio back to the DAW directly from the modular...or if you need to, you can also use the modular clock and feed that down an output channel and then that will become the entire system's clock, with the DAW responding perfectly to any changes you make with the modular's timing. If this is going to be a film scoring rig, I'd strongly suggest something like this.

It seems to me, also, that what's REALLY needed here is a build that's more soundtrack-specific...something that integrates with the rest of the studio seamlessly and which is sort of genre-specific for the majority of your scoring work. As far as that's concerned, something bigger is definitely called for here, as well as something primed for a more industrial/cinematic result. If you're good with majorly upping the size (and cost, annoyingly) of this, you can get into a build that will be able to deal with LOADS of sound for film possibilities with ZERO issues.

This is amazing, thank you for that.

I've made some adjustments, what about now?

ModularGrid Rack

I have added veils and Erica synths VCO and other mixer. Not so sure about the instruo but I guess thst Maths is essential? I scraped the Jezebel, not sure if I can get it that easily.

I was thinking about expert sleepers and I think I'll buy it in the future. Seems like a wonderful idea for me. I have Doepfer A-190-3 so it must be enough for now. Upgrading the case is not a problem, I'll do it in the future. I just need to start with something.

I'm very curious about that cinematic - oriented modules, could you recommend some? I guess Noise Engineering is quite capable of making gritty, distorted but also beautiful sounds. I work mostly with horror, thriller and dramas so I guess that would be all right to squeeze more of those.

Once again, thank you so much!

OK...I opted to show what a full-on modular for the sort of soundtrack work you do would turn out. This build is based on a pair of Tiptop Mantis cabs with their connecting hinge add-on.
ModularGrid Rack
Yep, it's much bigger than the original, but the objective here is to show an "optimal final configuration", which should give you a decent aiming point for that.

Top row: Two Plaits, then a Void Gravitational Waves, which is a complex dual VCO with its own ring modulator. The Fold Processor allows you to mangle the waveforms of these, even via crossmixing the waveforms, plus it also gives you a subbass divider. A Veils then allows VCA level control and/or mixing of all of this. The A-106-1 VCF (actually a dual VCF, as this is based on the MS-20 Sallen-Key pair) is tandemmed with an Erica Pico BBD so that you can easily insert this delay into the A-106-1's resonance path, with some very interesting results! Then I put in a G-Storm Delta VCF (a copy of the Korg Delta/Poly-61 VCF) for more pad-like behavior, and after this, the Rings.

Second row: This is your modulation row, although the external preamp/envelope follower is at the left end and potentially feeds into the top row...but you can also use this as a modulation source by sending it audio and using only the envelope follower to track the incoming dynamics. The Frankentides is an expanded dual Tides clone for long LFO curves. The uLoaf is two somewhat conventional LFOs with the usual Noise Reap crossmodulation weirdnesses. After this is Maths, then a dual rectifier which can force over-zero or under-zero modulation signals out of the usual bipolar ones. The MISO is a modulation manipulator in addition to a DC-coupled mixer with CV tricks. And after that, three linear VCAs which can also CV-controlled mix modulation signals. The Quadrax handles the AR/ASR envelopes, with its Qx expander allowing cascaded behavior as well as the ability to trigger other actions. Then for ADSR envelopes, I put in an Instruo Ceis for CV-controlled envelopes, and a Doepfer A-140-2 for fixed-level ADSR envelopes.

Third row: The Verbos Random Sampling module gives you a comprehensive array of random signals and noise colors, plus it also contains an analog shift register that can also function as a quad sample and hold. After this is an array of modules for messing with timing signals coming off of the ES-9: a CVable clock divider/multiplier, a step counter, quad gate swing, dual probabilistic pulse skipper, a dual Boolean logic module, Xaoc Bytom for combining clock/pulse signals, and a dual window comparator for picking gates off of modulation curves as well as a "squaring" waveshaper. Following this are two VERY destructive audio mangling modules from Schlappi Engineering, then the Instruo Lubadh sampler, which is positioned so that it's easily usable with the mixer.

Bottom row: There's the ES-9, then a Make Noise Rene which can function both as a sequencer AND a touchplate controller. An AI Synthesis matrix mixer allows you to manually alter CV/mod routings, mixing, and levels. Then the effects: a Tiptop Zverb, Happy Nerding's FX Aid XL, and a clone of the Mutable Warps module designed to fit into a 6 hp space. The Toppobrillo Stereomix2 is the main system mixer, with VCA control over levels on each input, plus CV over AUX sends and panning as well as muting on each input channel. This also gives you a "cue" channel in case something needs adjustment on the fly, plus a stereo AUX return. This mixer allows you to automate a number of functions while you're free to adjust other aspects of a patch.

Missing: I got rid of a number of the original modules because of size vs. functionality issues. For example, there's little point in having a single VCA taking up the same space as four of them. The NE VCO got tossed so that you can have two identical Plaits, which you'll find a much better choice, especially for detuning to fatten up the sound, plus they'll sound very distinct when you also employ the Gravitational Waves at the same time. And so on...the whole point was to up function while conserving space. And as for that last thing, I didn't spec any multiples since this would take up space in a smaller-sized build of this sort, and using inline mults makes far more sense under that circumstance.

Extras: Two of them, actually. If you look at the left ends of the top and third rows, you'll find Konstant Labs' PWRchekrs, as this allows you to keep an eye on your DC busses "health" at a glance. Very, VERY useful little things, those.

Again, this is more of a "destination" build, but at the same time, it's not all that prohibitive. Keep in mind that this is a 416 hp build, which is actually pretty sizable...but it comes in well under $10k, even with a few rather spendy modules in there. But this does what you need sonically (and then some!) for film work, right down to being able to split patches out into individual tracks for the DAW.

SO when I came here I didn't suspect that much help for a newbie like me and now I got a full rig composed!!

My goodness, this is crazy. Thank you so much for that, Lugia. I love it. I have no idea what some of this do, but this only gets me more excited to find out.
I will start collecting those modules. One thing is that for now I only have Arturia's Rackbrute 6U and it's smaller
than tiptop mantis. I guess I have to replace?

It may be a stupid question, but how does Hermod compare to Make Noise Rene ? I've heard some good things about both of those, I guess the workflow is entirely different (and Hermod is more "live-setup" oriented?). The touchplate controller in Rene seems to be a dealbreaker for me, really useful.

I'm digging through all this modules and I'll order Veils next.

I'm also wondering about effects - Microcosm, Magneto and things like that - is it better to buy them as standalones?

This is amazing, thank you!

fx - get an fx aid xl

they are incredibly versatile and good value for money - get the xl for more modulation and btter ergonomics

Rene always strikes me as more hands on than hermod - I would read the manuals for both carefully and watch some videos before buying one or the other

Yeah, the idea there was to put the Rene in so that it can work as either a sequencer OR a touchplate controller, depending on what a patch called for. Plus, the Rene has some neat interactivity when running that could be rather useful. This is also why the matrix mixer is right next to it, since those can also function as a sort of controller for altering CV behavior on the fly. FX Aid XL, definitely! Happy Nerding's really cooked up a WIN with that module.

Not to hijack the thread or anything but modules from IME/Harvestman and Schlappi Engineering are superb for the classic NIN/Reznor sound. I have been using Hertz Donut, Kermit, and 100 Grit with Angle Grinder for some amazing industrial sounds.

Yuppers, plus Schlappi's Interstellar Radio module admirably lives up to its blurb: "DESTRUCTIVE TRANSMISSION LINE". It's perhaps a bit less Trent-ish and a bit more Throbbing Gristle-y.

I see they're also working on a PLL-based frequency divider/multiplier called the Harmonic PLLaser. I think we can all expect it to be suitably brutal!


Once again, that is a big help. Thank you guys.

So, before buying all the stuff (and gathering money) for what Lugia composed for me, I need to fill my little Arturia Rackbrute 6U.
I have modules from Lugia in my mind, so I was trying to squeeze some of those to my current build, just to have them in the future, upgraded and bigger rack. Could you tell me how does it look?

ModularGrid Rack

I'm also considering upgrading Rackbrute to two more rows, but that would give me less HP than Tiptop Audio dual Mantis racks.
What do you think Lugia?

I think it'd make more sense to go for the extra hp with the Mantises. For one thing, like you noted, you DO get more panel space with those. It would also let you avoid the compromises that happened to the 4-row build; whenever you condense a build, it's a good idea to try and shrink it down while still maintaining the same general functionalities, plus you can't simply put things back based on size alone; the Rene might fit, sure, but it's not intended to take up the same percentage of space if the build gets cut in half.

This is why the miniskiff issues crop up all the time. Synthesizers need FOUR specific elements: generators, modifiers, modulators, and controllers. When there's ample space, you can go with bigger modules. But if you shrink that available space down (especially this much!), you still need the same four elements AND the same proportion of those...and there IS a limit to how small this can go before you either fall into having insufficient panel space or have to make compromises that cripple a build.

So I guess that I'll go with 416 HP. What I did right now with my Rackbrute doesn't make any sense, does it?
Well, the things is that it's what I have now, so I really wanted to fill it up and then upgrade.

Considering that I have Rings, Ears (not really useful but..), Plaits and 4ms Listen I/O with Doepfer 1-190-3, and I want
to order Veils and Maths.. What should I put next to get that modulated, long ambiances. Or ambient noises, foggy chords in the atmosphere of Silent Hill, Twin Peaks etc. ?

I know I'm probably asking too much already, so you can just shut me up and I'll move on ;)