Hello guys

I am new in the world of modular and I would like to share my initial idea to start a small rack. I did some research and want to start with an 84hp tiptop or behringer powered case for 4 modules. And maybe upgrade to a 104hp case when I decide to add a beads module.
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I make dub / dub techno and already own a bunch of synths and guitar pedals. But iam looking to expand my sound palette. I have a prophet rev2, some behringer synths, MS20 mini, strymon and eventide effect pedals. This is all connected with an analog mixer. So i guess Iam sorted with sound sources and mainly looking for sound / effect processors with my modular case.

I like the sound of a FFB to process some chords and pads to make an ambient atmosphere. I also own a spring reverb tank, which is connect via send and return on my mixer. But it lacks volume so a Springray should be an obvious choice. Lyra-8 seems interesting for processing chords and maybe drums. I do own a Timeline and Boss RE-20. Would this add another sound to my delay palette? Also the Shapeshifter seems to be in interesting new sound source for chords / pads. Can this be a standalone unit? Or do I need more vca or lfo modules to really make this work? I do have the ms20 which can be a cv control for this module? And an RD-8 which can provide clock and steps from the sequencer as modulation source?

I like granular synthesizes as well. So I might change the Lyra8 for a Mutable Instruments Beads. Or if I like the sound and workflow of this 84hp I might upgrade to a 104 and get both lyra and beads.

All tips and feedback are welcome. Would this be something interesting to start of? Any other recommendations for chord / effect modules?

I would skip the small case and go straight to the larger one - this is probably almost unusable for what you want - audio levels will be wrong for starters and there is no modulation or utility modules to leverage the effects you have into anything other than static effects - unless you turn knobs manually - which is a great idea, but you loose the interesting parts of modular - complex modulation

I'd also consider mono/stereo issues

Personally I'd always want a vco and lfo in a modular, even if it were predominatly for effects - something cheap and analogue will do nicely - doepfer basic vco for example!

you need mixers, vcas, envelope generators etc

Thanks for your tips and feedback!

To start of this journey I wouldn't really mind to use it as static effects. I was planning to take for instance a chord from the REV2 going into my mixer then take a send and return channel to send it to the 914 and take the output back to a mono or stereo input on the mixer. All the send / aux channels on the mixer are mono anyway. But there will be a problem with the audio levels that way?

On the Springray i think i dont need much modulation I will use it more like an amplifier. As for the Shapeshifter and Lyra8 I do see the need for modulation. Would the MS20 be an option?

you can try it but I think the volume coming into the rack will be too low and it will be too high coming out - you coould try veils which has 20db of gain available and a passive attenuator - or a dedicated i/o module, if you have issues

using MS20 for modulation will probably work - depending on the signal - may need attenuation or amplification to get it where you want it!

+1 on bigger case. I'm 100% down with that here, especially if these big lunky modules are going to be the norm.

OK...let's get a few things about voltage levels explained. First of all, in the non-modular music gear world, you'll find two standards in use. One of these is the "consumer" line level, for which 0.775 Vrms = 0 dB. Then there's the hotter "pro" level, which comes out to 1.4 Vrms = 0 dB. Note that both of these are the audio levels; clock, gate, and triggers tend to always be 5V, no matter what...


That Korg. The Korg MS-series stuff (and its relations, such as the SQ-10 and VC-10) uses a "negative-going" gate/trigger scheme, sort of similar to the old Moog "S-Trig" bus but far less prone to voltage sag. So while you could use the MS-20 as an audio input, your ability to fully use the envelope follower in a way that the modular likes will be pretty compromised. The solution to that is something like G-Storm's KVP, which is a "translator" to/from normal synths to the Korg MS-environment's negative trigger/gates and Hz/V scaling.

See, in modular, there's still some debate as to whether the level for signals besides gate/trigger/clock should be 5 Vrms, 8 Vrms, or 10 Vrms, and then there's the major CV scaling difference, which assures that you can't effectively use an MS-20 (without conversion, natch) as a controller for a "standard" modular (unless, of course, your name is "Richard D. James" and you make use of the scaling mismatch to work in microtonal tunings). But that scaling issue is pervasive...the entire MS-verse is set up for that Hz/V scaling, from your VCO CVs to the modulation sources.

My suggestion is this: first of all, disconnect the spring tank from your mixer's send/return. The reason it sounds so quiet is because the audio levels IT wants to use are different. You need to feed it a 1.4 Vrms (or higher...depends on the tank) for its input, and then the output from the spring tank needs quite a bit of preamping as that's a raw signal right off of the (usually) piezo pickup on the springs...very LOW level signal! Also, there's probably some interesting impedance mismatching going on there as well.

Next, jettison the present build. It just isn't going to do what you think it should. For one thing, you have no way to bring your inputted audio up to the proper voltage level; something like a Doepfer A-119 is needed. Secondly, go back and study your dubplate stylee masters...King Tubby, for example, made extensive use of the highpass filter on his MCI JH-416 desk; a filter bank of this sort isn't quite the right device for the job, either musically or historically. I don't see the need for the wavetable VCO, either, especially in the absence of the rest of the synth it should be a part of. And the SOMA delay, while really cool, is huge...it REALLY doesn't fit this, and it'd be a real stretch to jam into even a 2 x 104 build. Instead, there's loads of delays that even have that right lo-fi BBD sound out there; you could strap together two of Noise Reap's Dub Delays, or use just one alongside an Alright Devices Chronoblob2...which is stereo and which also features the quasi-irresponsible bit of madness that is its insert point in the feedback path, which allows you to put something else in there to mess with how the delay deals with repeats. But really, the overall point is to conserve panel space while keeping the functionality as high as possible. The build above, aside of not really being set up to work, is lacking in functional density when you compare it to other builds.

Instead, look into a WAY larger case...at least, while building on here. The rationale is that you can overbuild FIRST, then strip this down gradually into a system that does what you want AND which is engineered to fit into the optimal necessary space. THEN select a cab to put the whole mess in and put the result together in hardware. Also, expect this to take a while...it's NOT the easiest process, building one of these modular thingummies, but you've got the best resources possible with Modulargrid.

Thanks for your elaborate review.

I was hoping to buy a case put a few modules in and basically plug and play it with some synths and a mixer however this doesn't seem to be the (optimal) case for this rack and i might need to reconsider starting this journey.
I did saw some video's of a guy plugging a synth into the 914 filterbank and only use an attenuator to regulate his output to a guitar pedal. I was planning to start with the case and a 914. Later add the springray. Will this be of better use including a i/o module and or attenuator? I might skip the Lyra since i dont have any modulation sources and Iam good on 'normal' delays with my pedals. Same goes for the Shapeshifter, no sources for the cv inputs. But i did like the idea of having another sound source for chords. Just a simple sustained chord or with the percussion mode. I can always process the plain chord through my mixer, guitar pedals and into my DAW. Thats also how I work, I dont record complete jams but stems for every instrument and effect.

Anyway thanks for the comments, any other tips or info is always welcome. Main question for me is; will this be of any use with an attenuator or i/o module.

It really needs a proper input module. Not only will something like a Doepfer A-119 bring external levels up to the right voltage, it ALSO provides an envelope follower, which is a circuit that translates amplitude (incoming audio) levels to voltage levels, plus it also provides a gate output so that, as long as your audio is above the gate threshold level, you'll have a 5V gate signal to do things like fire/sustain envelope generators for use on VCFs, VCAs, etc.

A typical sort of A-119 patch would see outputs for your audio (now amplified to the correct synth level), the envelope follower's CV out sent to a VCF cutoff, and the gate out to an envelope generator or, if you just want on/off action, directly to a VCA in the audio path. By doing this, you can change timbre via your input signal's dynamics while also firing off a gate pulse for some other purpose. Useful.

As for the Behringer 914...filter banks are more like equalizers, not filters...despite the name. You can force them into resonance, though, if you use an attenuator to put together and control (CAREFULLY!) a feedback path from the 914's output back to its input; more than likely, this is what you saw being done. But this isn't going to yield the sort of results (and possibilities!) of a proper VCF, especially since there's absolutely no "VC" going on with a filter bank. Hmmmmm.......

EDIT: Hawt damm...OK, I whipped up something in an Intellijel 7U x 104 hp cab that's rather different. For one thing, it's got SIX inputs! Have a look:
ModularGrid Rack
So, there's two channels of input in the tile row (with level controls) and those are for feeding the two Ladik envelope followers below. Then you've got four more direct line-to-modular level converters over in that area as well for feeding audio without attenuation controls. But let's look at this a bit more systematically...

Tiles: Two channel input (fed by a pair of 1/4" jacks in the cab), single channel MIDI interface (also via a connector on the cab), Noise Tools (sample and hold, clock, slew limiter), DuATT (two-channel mixer/attenuverter/offset), Dual VCA, then a mono effect send/return and 1/4" dedicated jacks for that, and lastly, your level-controlled stereo out. As for that mono FX part, since you've got an outboard spring unit, I opted to keep that out of the modular and use these to let you put the spring into the system. This keeps crashes from random bonks and thunks on the modular from causing BLAAAAANG.

Top 3U: Quad level shifter, two envelope followers, then Noise Reap's Paradox dual(ish) VCO, with a Veils, a dual ADSR from Doepfer, then one of G-Storm's SH-101 VCF clones and an SSF ADSRVCA; those last five modules are intended to give you a hefty bass voice on the bottom end, using one of the best sub-wrecker VCFs around. And then...it gets weird! Next up is a Limaflo Motomouth...a vocal formant VCF, which lets you impose voice-like wahs on an audio signal. Alright's Chronoblob2 is after this, it's a killer delay line, capable of stereo or mono operation...and in mono, you get that twisty feedback path insert to play with. G-Storm's nice, gritty chorus cloned from Roland's JP-4 is after that for some dirty swishiness. Then we get one of Xaoc's devices, their Kamienec 4/6 stage VC-able phaser. Then next is Synthesis Technologies' Deflector Shield, which gives you a real frequency shifter for trippy detunings, wild, out-of-control phase effects, bending sounds into metallic FMed clangers, and so on. And the little white sliver at the end is a Konstant Labs PWRchekr to keep an eye on your DC rail conditions.

Bottom 3U: More Noise Reap trouble with their uLoaf, which is an LFO (per)version with a lot in common with the Paradox VCO in terms of interaction between the two circuits. Not so much a repetitive cycle thing, but more wobbly and weird. Maths (of course) next, then the Tiptop MISO lets you cook up more modulation signals from the sources by generally messing with the behavior of the modulation module outputs. The other source is the Intellijel Quadrax/Qx combo, offering two or three stage envelopes, CVable LFOs, etc etc. And the MANUAL modulation control, a Doepfer A-174-4 three-axis joystick with onboard "joystick math" outputs, allows you to add your own hands-on touch to many different functions in the build. Mixing gets done by the TexMix setup, with four mono inputs and four stereo, and given the high flexibility of the TexMix system, it lets you break out things via the outputs, the two AUX sends...PLUS you get four more VCAs over your audio on the mono module. And with the DOUTS module, you can even take a direct output from a single strip on the TexMix and send that separately to the DAW.

The idea here was NOT to create a typical modular synthesizer. Instead, I took a few cues from explanations of how Tubby's Dromilly Rd. studio plus Lee Perry's original Black Ark were set up, and cooked up a box here that can be dropped in to deal with a lot of that functionality, while making additions to the module complement that can work for the old-skool dubplate sound as well as the newer Deutsche Dub sounds. Now, to REALLY open this thing up, I'd also suggest some of the following...

First of all, you need some crossovers. Get as many bands as you can, because you'll be using a pair of these to split up parts of incoming mixes into different frequency domains. I use a pair of four-band mono crossovers from Wheatstone/AudioArts for this, then what I use NEXT are several of THESE: ZRMAAOSwEmlZ1RpV" target="_blank">https://www.ebay.com/itm/132351591652?hash=item1ed0c504e4ZRMAAOSwEmlZ1RpV Not necessarily that exact model, but Krohn-hite is THE name to know in outboard filters. Anyway, what I use these for is, once the crossovers have done their job of bandsplitting, these various Krohn-hite (and here in my studio, a few others) filters let me "zoom in" on a specific sound. This sort of thing is especially effective with the envelope followers, as you can use a VERY tight bandwidth on one specific sound to trigger one of them. You could even be putting some OTHER sound under the control of the envelope follower to create a "ghost" based on the original extracted sound's envelope...but NONE of its spectral material!

In short, it's a box of dub trickery and general sonic weirdness that goes along with that. Put to the proper use, I doubt you'd ever really hit the limits of what it can do, particularly if you've put it into your studio's workflow in the right place (right by the mixer, tbh!).

Hi Lugia !
Any feedbacks aboute those tesseract modules ?
I'm particularly interested in the DOUTs to multitrack my modular, no bleeding ?

thx !

I have a tex-mix setup - theres a tiny bit of bleed at higher volumes

not sure about with DOUTS - I have 2 3hp ones to build but that won't be for a few months yet

thanks for your answer, I'm planning to use it as a converter, without the mixer, to tame the signal levels (if it does that)