What do you guys think? Is it worth it to put expensive modules in a nifty case?
Will it lack cv modulation or vcas? I plan to sequence it with a Digitakt.
I am in between starting with niftycase or intellijel 4u 62hp and a similar arrangement (minus the disting ex).


for about the same price you can get a doepfer lc6 - or for a bit more an lc9 - these are both significantly better starter cases than the beauty cases you are aspiring to... get one of those if you need to fit it in your handbag once you actually know what you are doing.. but start with a case you won't be replacing in 3-6 months!

it is not just missing vcas it is missing all utility modules - whilst you may be able to get a limited range of sounds out of this I suspect it will not meet your expectations

add a quad cascading vca (veils for example) and a basic starter utility set of links/kinks/shades and put it all in a 6u or 9u case

you will then have room for expansion when you realise that you are missing lots of things you need/want in order for the modular to be worthwhile

otherwise dump blades and/or morphagene - replace blades with a smaller filter - to make space for some utilities

the same could be said for maths - but - working your way through the illustrated manual a few times is a very good learning experience!

Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!


I have a Nifty Case and really like it. It fits nicely on my desk, which I appreciate and has just enough room to do something cool with. Looking at your module choices, they are quite similar to mine.

I think it's a good choice to have an analog oscillator, which I don't have in my case. But I do have Morphagene and Maths and a filter, in my case Ripples.

If I had my time again, I think I would not have bought the filter. I very rarely use it, which is surprising to me. Looking at your case, if it were me, I wouldn't bother with Blades - perhaps an Optomix, which would give your two VCAs and (sort of filtering), plus a mixer of sorts. I wouldn't bother with the Disting either (too fiddly for me).

If it were me and I wanted to do purely ambient I'd swap out Blades and the Disting and get a Mimeophon or Beads, some LFOs and some Random. Not sure how that fits in with your HP, but it might fit.

Of course these are only my opinions and I'm new to this so take everything I say with a pinch of salt.

Best of luck and happy shopping. MLC.


Good suggestions @ModLifeCrisis


the problem with starting with a small case (as highlighted by @ModLifeCrisis) is that the modular you want may not fit in the case - so you will end up buying more cases (which are comparatively more expensive)

the best way to start a modular is to get an idea of what modules you want and which modules are needed to support those modules (yes you probably do need vcas, mixers, envelope generators, etc etc etc) add 30% for expansion and then find the case too fit

starting with a tiny case almost always means that many more compromises have to be made - it's your personal, self-designed musical instrument - do you really want to make it a compromise??????????????????????

Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!


I thank you all for your feedback.

I realise that I lack experience and that a moderately bigger case would be a more practical (and economical) solution to ease my way into modular synthesis. I definitely need to do more research on utilities and trying them in person. That said, I don't agree on the idea of compromise.

I see compromise as the reason why I'm getting into modular instead of what I'm trying to avoid. I don't have much experience with synthesis as I have with guitar pedalboards, but I think that assembling one works in a similar fashion. I don't see myself expanding into a bigger system because modular for me is just a part of my setup that I would like to keep compact and simple to use (alongside other gear ).

Just like having too many pedals is (for me) a big bother and gets in the way of actually playing I would like to squeeze as much as I need in a smaller footprint. (With a specific goal in mind).

I guess the fun part of modular for me is finding a good compromise rather than embarking on an endless quest. Does this make sense? The more I look at bigger systems (say 176hp) and the more I think it wouldn't be something I'd like to use.


176hp is still very small - I'd call my 1500hp: medium to large

I am not necessarily saying don't get a small case - I'm saying work out what modules you want and what you need to get them to work properly (plus some room for expansion) and then work out the case to fit it

Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!


the problem with starting with a small case (as highlighted by @ModLifeCrisis) is that the modular you want may not fit in the case - so you will end up buying more cases (which are comparatively more expensive)

the best way to start a modular is to get an idea of what modules you want and which modules are needed to support those modules (yes you probably do need vcas, mixers, envelope generators, etc etc etc) add 30% for expansion and then find the case too fit

starting with a tiny case almost always means that many more compromises have to be made - it's your personal, self-designed musical instrument - do you really want to make it a compromise??????????????????????
-- JimHowell1970

Hi @JimHowell1970,
I agree with you 100% if your aim is to create, as you say, a personal, self-designed musical instrument. You definitely don't want to be limited by space if that's the end point because, as you say, buying a larger case is not that much more expensive than buying a smaller one and why limit yourself needlessly? Very good point.

For me, as I said, I like the fact that the Nifty Case doesn't impose itself too much on my desk and I have just enough modules to get a taste of what modular has to offer. For me, it's an add on rather than a centrepiece. I also like the fact (at least I think I do) that I've ended up with the modules I've ended up with - I see it as a sort of meta-random and I'm enjoying finding out what I can do with these modules, asking what do the modules want from me, rather than what do I want from the modules - if that makes sense.

But totally - your advice is a whole lot more sensible than mine and I would urge anyone not to listen to a word I say... :)


if you don't want to create a personalized self-designed musical instrument then you are probably better off with a poly-synth - not a modular!

I started out with a absolutely tiny 72hp 6u case - within 6 months it was almost full and the next module I wanted wouldn't fit - so I bought a 6u 204hp case (mantis) and moved everything to that - when that was full - i used the original case too - and when that was full I built myself one, I now have 4 diy cases - but if I'd bought the larger case to start with I may still only have 208hp - not 1500hp - as I wouldn't have run out of space when the module I wanted was too big!!!!!

Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!


I get your point JimHowell1970. Thank you both for the comments.
I already have a nord 2 for poly and the digitakt for drums, I just need another small box to have an analog mono voice and some sound mangling capabilities. A small case like nifty or intellijel already has some midi/audio ins/outs, that's part of the reason why I like them.
I delved into modular when I saw what Knobs, Ricky Tinez and Ihor were doing in only 62hp. That's what I'm into, I also have a ZOIA and never used the external cv.
I like modular because it's challenging to make it worth it and personal in a small footprint, the only thing that makes me question a small case now is the utilities necessary to make it work, as you pointed out to me. If it's very small I risk missing something essential, if it gets too big it defeats the purpose of being compact. If I had a big case I'd probably never end filling it up.
I think I'll go for a smaller filter compared to blades and add the utilities you recommended, but I'd like to keep Maths and Morphagene.


Seems like a reasonable plan to me @Lorenzzz94, I also like the challenge of designing an instrument in a limited space, and if you want to upgrade to a bigger rack down the road you can.


ModularGrid Rack

This is my collection of modules, which I have in a Nifty Case. It doesn't do everything but it does a lot.

I've had it a year and I'm still enjoying it and still making discoveries. It's also taught me a lot about synthesis generally. Personally, I think there is much to be said for avoiding a tyranny of complexity with a large case and too many modules, especially when you're starting out, as I am. As @troux says, there is no law against buying another case later, if you find you want to expand. I might well get another case at some point. I am considering a 6U 84HP or 104HP, and keeping the Nifty Case for hands on controller modules.

I look forward to seeing your final set up. Regards, MLC.


always remember you don't have to fill the case in one go

Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!


To your point and your example @ModLifeCrisis I think it can be easier to learn the ins and outs of modules and the foundations of synthesis if you start small and keep yourself from having too many options. In my case I originally started with a larger case and wasn't getting the results I wanted and didn't really feel like I was learning. I actually overflowed into another smaller case and funnily enough that became a chance to really refocus and and learn as I had to cut modules and make hard decisions about what I wanted and needed. I wouldn't advise this exact journey for everyone but I think a 104 or 208HP case can be a great place to really establish your foundations.


I delved into modular when I saw what Knobs, Ricky Tinez and Ihor were doing in only 62hp. That's what I'm into, I also have a ZOIA and never used the external cv.
-- Lorenzzz94

OK, hold it. Just because experienced, seasoned synthesists who know modular (to varying extents) are on YT pushing an idea does NOT mean that it's a GOOD idea. Fact is, beginning modular synthesists really shouldn't try this "tiny skiff" idea because it will lead to either a poor understanding of modular capabilities (as you won't have room for very many of them) or a decently-outfitted modular in theory which, in practice, contains teensy knobs with no space for fingers to get in amongst the patch cords, etc. Neither are worthwhile, and both can lead and HAVE led new users to abandoning expensive systems...which I suppose is great if you're a YT modular sort and like having an ample supply of cheap used modules on the market. Gotta build up that video set (that never seems to be used for anything else) somehow, right?

Even so, as noted above, a 6U x 104 hp build in something like a Mantis is STILL a "small" build. Even TWO Mantises, because you're still in the range of gear sizes that'll allow you to stuff the whole mess into a suitable gigbag. When it starts getting "big" is when you start using the big Doepfer Monsters, or ADDAC's 1 meter x 5 or 6 row cabs. But in 208 hp alone, you can still create a build that contains parts of most to ALL modular aspects, and it'll still be quite portable (a Mantis measures 21 1/4" x 12 3/8" x 4 1/4", which is about the size as a flattened trumpet case...and Tiptop even makes a custom canvas gigbag for them!).