Looking for some feedback on adding to a rack build. The initial modules are based on a rack that appeared in this YouTube video:

I recently purchased the ASM Hydrasynth and an Arturia Minibrute...looking to dip my toes into modular and thought getting a Rackbrute 3U that could be used with both the Hydrasynth and Minibrute and incorporating the modules used in the video would be a good start. I've created a rack with the corresponding HP (88) for the Rackbrute and will have 19 HP left to add to. Is there anything critical that I'm missing and/or something I should definitely consider adding to the remaining 19?""

JB


Hi !
I hope what I'm about to say will not hinder your will to learn modular, but I honestly think this video is a good example of a bad example :-) See, I don't understand the point of this rack, this looks like something one would throw together from modules you already have on hand just to say it's modular stuff rather than a build you would design as your only rack (no beef with Perfect Circuit though, they put out stuff I enjoy as well and are very nice people)...
In such a (very) small cab, I wouldn't even start thinking about integrating the TipTop One and Varigate just to trigger some samples. Since you're not going for a pure Eurorack setup, a small box like the Model Sample from Elektron or something similar will get you there for the same price and with way more functionality. A used Digitakt or an MPC One would be my first choice for sample duties if you can afford it. There also the software part to consider, IMO the Elektron world is slightly better than Akai's, but that's another discussion entirely, just think about it before buying and make sure to inform yourself extensively ;)
Keeping the drums out would allow for your Eurorack setup to be entirely dedicated to improving your existing synth setup. Crazy modulation and analog filtering/waveshaping is what I consider the main advantage Eurorack can offer to an existing synth setup like yours, so if this was for me, I'm not even sure I'd keep the 810 (maybe just get an 860 if you want that JOVE filter sound) and I would rather try to focus on using what the Eurorack format is particularly good at to expand/improve my existing synths. I would think about some nice filter designs the likes of which you only see in modular, say Make Noise QPAS, Xaoc Belgrad, Doespfer's Wasp, etc + fun/playable modulation like the Batumi you have there (I don't know it that much), the Acid Rain Maestro which looks dope, my beloved Noise Engineering Mimetic Digitalis, and of course attenuverters/matrmix mixers/VCAs to go with it. Maybe Marbles, a Turing Machine or an O&C, if space allows for it. I don't know about the MiniBrute that well but depending on its patch bay (the Hydrasynth's looks very limited) you could even think about fun logic and switching modules... But that's just me, what do you feel is missing from what you already have ? What attract you to the Eurorack format and what do you expect from it ? Are you absolutely set on this rack size ? What is your budget ? What is the type of music/sounds you are making ?
Trying to answer those questions might help you see things a bit more clearly, and sharing those thoughts on here will help others help you ;-)
Have a good one,
D.


I hope what I'm about to say will not hinder your will to learn modular, but I honestly think this video is a good example of a bad example :-)

Not at all...I'm about as new as it gets to modular. I've watched videos, read through forums, and figured that Perfect Circuit built something specific to work with the Hydrasynth that I couldn't go wrong starting with what they built/included...sounds like I'm wrong about that :)

Crazy modulation and analog filtering/waveshaping is what I consider the main advantage Eurorack can offer to an existing synth setup like yours

This is exactly what I'm looking for. Want to extend the capabilities of both the Hydrasynth and Minibrute by stretching out their legs with the ability to integrate with modular, adding a lot of flexibility/experimentation capability that I can use with both.

What do you feel is missing from what you already have?

That's a tough question to answer because really, how do you know what all everything can do until you really have your hands on it and try it out? I've watched quite a few videos and its the "modular can do anything/everything you want it to" that makes it difficult to answer that...I want to do the crazy filtering/waveshapping sound design thing for sure with the ability to experiement as well.

Are you absolutely set on this rack size ? What is your budget ?

Yes and No :) I like that it can attach directly to the Minibrute 2 and I could easily carry it if I wanted to take it somewhere. I figured it was a good starting point and if I did things right, could add a few cool things while I'm learning more and then add additional things that would compliment the Hydrasynth and Minibrute until I filled it out...heck if I get completely consumed, (which I'm sure I will) I can see myself doing 'builds' from a square wood case like I've seen in a video series I watched and thought was pretty cool.

What is the type of music/sounds you are making ?

I'm all over the electronic music board and love listening and attempting to make anything that feels good to me, I don't try to get into any "I do stuff in this genre" discussion...I really like a lot of The Crystal Method, from Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, New Order, Depeche Mode to a lot of the Deadmau5, Glitch Mob, Massive Attack, Bassnectar as well...and everywhere in between I guess...Not saying I like everything that all of those artists do but definitely enjoy most of the stuff they make.

Trying to answer those questions might help you see things a bit more clearly, and sharing those thoughts on here will help others help you ;-)

Look forward to any suggestions or recommendations you and others may have based on my responses above

JB


That's a tough question to answer because really, how do you know what all everything can do until you really have your hands on it and try it out? I've watched quite a few videos and its the "modular can do anything/everything you want it to" that makes it difficult to answer that...I want to do the crazy filtering/waveshapping sound design thing for sure with the ability to experiement as well.

This sounds like a job for VCV, it's the next best thing - and it's free :-) I find it perfect to get familiar with what's on offer in modular world when you can't try the modules in the real... I would recommend you spend as much time as possible experimenting with not only synthesis techniques you know, but also trying new stuff. The ideas of what to try can come from replicating a certain module you find interesting and see what you can do with it, trying ideas from youtube videos like proper module reviews (have a look at DivKid's stuff if you haven't already, many ideas he shares are applicable not only to the module on review...) or Patch From Scratch videos and what not - the idea is to try new techniques that you can't achieve with what you have (or realize you can achieve it with what you have, you never know lol) and discover why so many of us get excited by a cascading VCA or clever logic modules. A trick that worked for me was to have a look at the manual from the Disting, and try every listed function in there. Find out if you can come up with a creative way to use a quantizer or if a full wave rectifier could be your favorite thing even if you didn't know about it 5 minutes ago... VCV should give you a good idea of what type of module could be interesting for your setup and your way of doing music. Take people's advice but do try things on your own before buying ;-)
If you have an iOS device, there's also Drambo on there, it's a paid app but I find it a lot of fun, albeit potentially confusing for modular beginners since all connections are hidden and automatic, it might not always be obvious what does what, but it's always fun to use.

Are you absolutely set on this rack size ? What is your budget ?

Yes and No :) I like that it can attach directly to the Minibrute 2 and I could easily carry it if I wanted to take it somewhere. I figured it was a good starting point and if I did things right, could add a few cool things while I'm learning more and then add additional things that would compliment the Hydrasynth and Minibrute until I filled it out...heck if I get completely consumed, (which I'm sure I will) I can see myself doing 'builds' from a square wood case like I've seen in a video series I watched and thought was pretty cool.

Ok, so here's an advice that has to do with building on MG specifically and not with the actual object: try with a much larger build, because you don't have to pay for that yet, as long as it's on here, it's free (well, there's Unicorn, but you have time to see if that's for you later). It will allow to think freely in terms of what the build needs, what makes sense etc, instead of what can fit. That way you may either confirm you had picked the right size or realize you may need bigger right away, but it will be after the dust settles and you have picked a direction. You will read the advice of picking a rack size bigger than what you think you need and I would tend to agree, especially if you are not yet sure of what Eurorack can do for you, I reckon you'll be like most of us and find out very very soon after taking the plunge that you actually need a bigger space to realize your vision, now that you know more about said vision :-)

That's all I have for now, I'll let more experienced builders propose something, maybe someone who knows your synths better and know what they lack - I don't, sorry.

Wish you good fun in your building adventures and see you soon !


Whenever you see a retailer pushing something specific, the correct reaction is NOT to immediately jump on it. Instead, you need to be asking "why?".

So, right now if you get over to Perfect Circuit's website, you'll see loads of small one-row skiffs that are in stock...but the REAL best for starting cabs, in the 84-104 hp range with two rows, those tend to be chronically out of stock because, overall, they're the best solution for beginning synthesists as well as experienced ones who need a cab for a "scale-down" for live work, etc. These "miniskiff" videos have been popping up for a hot minute from them, but not so much so when you could yank Mantises, Intellijel 7U x 104s, etc off the shelf. Just sayin'...oh, and this might just have something to do with the excess of these skiff builds in general, because if manufacturers are trying to unload these (too) small cabs, they'll be sending 'em to their A-list of "influencers" for appropriate product placement.

I, however, am NOT easily "influenced". I suppose I've been around the music business long enough to not be blind to the sneaky shit. So MY take on YouTube clips is one that's been focused through a rather jaundiced eye where "sneaky" is concerned; as for the outright incompetent stuff on there (and there is a BUNCH!), it's way more obvious and most anyone can figure it out. But you need to keep in mind that quite a bit of what you see on YouTube where these things are concerned is actually rather devious "free advertising", and while YT is presumably trying to crack down on this, using YouTube as a reference for equipment purchases is something that I wouldn't recommend for anyone starting off for precisely this reason.


Whenever you see a retailer pushing something specific, the correct reaction is NOT to immediately jump on it. Instead, you need to be asking "why?".

All very good points, which I will be taking forward in my modular journey

I, however, am NOT easily "influenced"

So where is the best place to 'learn' and get good information on beginning a modular system? I did take toodee's recommendation and have downloaded VCV and will play around with that. I think I read another one of your posts (I think it was you that made the comment) to buy a module or two and play around and discover where you want to go from there. I did order the RackBrute 6U earlier today as I know if I am going to dip my feet into modular, I like the idea of integrating it with my Minibrute 2 (being able to connect and carry so to speak). My my goal is to 'extend' the capability/flexibity of making cool sounds with my Minibrute 2 and Hydrasynth...I think I'll have enough HP with the Rackbrute 6U to do some damage but I really just need the 'compass' to point me in the right direction. All the videos on YouTube I've watched so far don't seem to just discuss the basics...these modules do this, that module does that and together they can do this...its more 'abstract' discussion and as I mentioned to someone before, how do you know until you really have your hands on it and are playing around with it...I get that time and experience over time is going to be a big factor in learning modular, but would like those initial recommendations of what someone with lots of experience would do in my shoes

JB


OK...well, here's a possible idea for the 6U Rackbrute:
ModularGrid Rack
Since this build is more intended as a "sidecar" as far as its own voicing goes, I opted to add more in the way of modulation sources so that these can go out to the Hydrasynth and/or Minibrute as needed.

Top row: The P/S, then a gated slew limiter - this lets you gate the slew response in a similar fashion to the TB-303 "glide", which can be selected between specific steps. In this case, you'd simply select the points where you want that "glide" and then sequence a pattern of gates for that. Oscillator (dual oscillator, in fact) is a Void Gravitational Waves, which gives you lots of complex VCO-style patchpoints as well as an onboard ring modulator. Then this is followed by Nonlinearcircuits' dual Buchla waveshaper clone, and then you've got a Veils for controlling oscillator (or other) signals that get fed to the VCF. This is also from Void, and it's their stereo state-variable VCF. Then after that...more VCAs. Since I opted for a stereo mixer that has no VCAs for level, I put in a Zlob Vnicvrsal VCA which gives you VCAs for six of the Cosmix's inputs, allowing level control for each mono strip as well as one stereo pair. The Cosmotronics Cosmix has four mono inputs and two stereo input pairs, plus an AUX send and pan per mono strip. The AUX allows you to tailor your effects send from the mono strips, and then you have two stereo inputs that function as stereo returns OR stereo inputs. Then the audio out is after this, which offers yet another stereo AUX return, plus your headphone preamp as well as isolation.

Bottom row: Your noise and sample and hold is on the left. Then there's a dual VCable LFO, Noise Reap's uLoaf, which has a very odd "psuedo-sync" control that can send one of the LFOs into less of a regular waveform and something more like a "wobble". Following this, Maths...then Frap's 321, which is a module for altering/mixing/inverting CV and modulation signals from other modules to create more complex "composite" modulation curves. Then Happy Nerding's 3XVCA gives you three mixable linear VCAs for mixing and control over modulation levels. Following this section, you've got envelope generators, although the Intellijel Quadrax is actually rather more complicated than a typical set of two-stage envelope generators, especially when tandemmed with the Qx expander. After that, you've got a pair of ADSR envelopes...then effects, with a Mutable Warps for your "frequency" effects and a Happy Nerding FX Aid XL for the "time" ones. And the very last bit there is actually a quad level shifter for line-to-synth voltage conversions. This bit allows you to input the outputs of other devices back into the modular, so that if a certain situation requires you to mix the Minibrute and Hydrasynth through a VERY minimal external mixer, you can rely on the Cosmix + these level shifters to let you feed THOSE sources through them, potentially making for an easier setup.

Like I said, this is sort of an "example"...but it's actually not a bad example as it is. But it does hit all the bases...you've got a very capable voice section, modulation is nicely overspecced for the modular and other synths to use, and you get onboard FX and stereo mixing that can also take external signals. This is pretty much the sort of thing that would be ideal as a Rackbrute complement for both the Hydrasynth and the Minibrute, though.


Since this build is more intended as a "sidecar" as far as its own voicing goes, I opted to add more in the way of modulation sources so that these can go out to the Hydrasynth and/or Minibrute as needed.

This is fantastic, thanks so much for your input on this!

Like I said, this is sort of an "example"...but it's actually not a bad example as it is. But it does hit all the bases...you've got a very capable voice section, modulation is nicely overspecced for the modular and other synths to use, and you get onboard FX and stereo mixing that can also take external signals. This is pretty much the sort of thing that would be ideal as a Rackbrute complement for both the Hydrasynth and the Minibrute, though.
-- Lugia

I just received my RackBrute 6U today and want to start building this out. I can't afford to do this all at once so I'm wondering what makes sense in terms of starting points? My thought was to build out the top row first by adding the first four modules and then playing/experimenting with those for a few months until I add the other four and then again playing around with everything for a few months before doing the same on the bottom row. Is that a realistic approach considering the recommended build?

JB


My thought was to build out the top row first by adding the first four modules and then playing/experimenting with those for a few months until I add the other four and then again playing around with everything for a few months before doing the same on the bottom row. Is that a realistic approach considering the recommended build?

-- jb61264

Totally makes sense, in fact that is what I would recommend you do, no need to rush into spending cash, you already have fun machines so adding to it little by little should be enough and allow for proper learning. Try and pick modules that will immediately bring something to the table, you'd have to seriously look at the patchbay on your existing synths but I'd probably go for Quadrax + Maths + Veils, those 3 alone have the power to rock !
Take your time to study Lugia's answer as well, not only here but other builds he did if you have time, loads of learning to do there as well. Ah, and don't forget to copy the proposed build, Lugia did comment some time ago that he won't be able to keep everyone's builds on his account forever so if you want to keep the work done for you, do copy the rack into your racks ;-)


Totally makes sense, in fact that is what I would recommend you do, no need to rush into spending cash, you already have fun machines so adding to it little by little should be enough and allow for proper learning. Try and pick modules that will immediately bring something to the table, you'd have to seriously look at the patchbay on your existing synths but I'd probably go for Quadrax + Maths + Veils, those 3 alone have the power to rock !
Take your time to study Lugia's answer as well, not only here but other builds he did if you have time, loads of learning to do there as well. Ah, and don't forget to copy the proposed build, Lugia did comment some time ago that he won't be able to keep everyone's builds on his account forever so if you want to keep the work done for you, do copy the rack into your racks ;-)

-- toodee

Thanks @toodee, I have been reviewing Lugia's reply and opened up browser tabs to each module to dig deeper into what each does...at least as much as you can by just reading about it :) and looking closer now at the "Quadrax + Maths + Veils" that you recommended as starting points in my build. One question on your starting recommendations...beings that one of the goals of my build is to extend the capabilities of my Hydrasynth and MiniBrute 2, would you still recommend those three as the starting point knowing i want to be able to patch into/integrate/etc with those two synths?

JB


good you went with the 6u! personally I don't like the rackbrute cases - rackwart, why?

but they do make sense with the minibrute 2

I'm not madly keen on the angle of the connection, but get the bag and you can cart the whole thing round as one thing

Thanks @toodee, I have been reviewing Lugia's reply and opened up browser tabs to each module to dig deeper into what each does...at least as much as you can by just reading about it :) and looking closer now at the "Quadrax + Maths + Veils" that you recommended as starting points in my build. One question on your starting recommendations...beings that one of the goals of my build is to extend the capabilities of my Hydrasynth and MiniBrute 2, would you still recommend those three as the starting point knowing i want to be able to patch into/integrate/etc with those two synths?

-- jb61264

Yes

Quadrax - quad modulation source - good - you have voices - with limited modulation sources... - but there's also Maths... which I would pick over Quadrax as starter moodule

Maths is a brilliant starter module - google the "Maths illlustrated manual" - which has illustrations of 32 self patching programs for maths - which is a great primer not only for Maths, but also for patching modular synths in general - it would be top of my list for adding more functionality to semi-modular synths

A quad cascading vca, such as Veils, would be second on that list

I'd probably replace quadrax with one of the effects though - either fx aid xl or warps

I'd also recommend grabbing a few stackcables - being able to use the same signal a couple of times is really handy especially in a small system - and they don't take up rack space

the next modules on my list would be Kinks and Shades or similar - they both add extremely useful functionality


Maths is a brilliant starter module - google the "Maths illlustrated manual" - which has illustrations of 32 self patching programs for maths - which is a great primer not only for Maths, but also for patching modular synths in general - it would be top of my list for adding more functionality to semi-modular synths
A quad cascading vca, such as Veils, would be second on that list
I'd probably replace quadrax with one of the effects though - either fx aid xl or warps
I'd also recommend grabbing a few stackcables - being able to use the same signal a couple of times is really handy especially in a small system - and they don't take up rack space
the next modules on my list would be Kinks and Shades or similar - they both add extremely useful functionality

Thanks for the feedback @JimHowell1970 - I just placed my order for the Maths last night and will be ordering again the first weekend in June to get the Veils...sounds like you're recommending to get either fx aid xl or warps instead of the Quadrax, not sure I understand completely what the Quadrax brings to the table, but I'll read up some more on it...again, my idea is to build what Lugia has recommended but do so gradually with what makes sense to start with...thanks for your recommendation!

JB


the reason I would buy an effect over quadrax is that you will then have 2 modulation sources (Maths and Quadrax) - whereas I would suggest reasonably early on adding something that is modulatable and will process the audio from your other synths - you may find you want something like quadrax next!

whilst I think Lugia's recommendations are always excellent, I would suggest taking them, and mine (and other people's, for that matter) with a little salt - they are much more about functionality, than specific modules, even when specific modules are suggested/recommended - except Maths and Veils!!! hahahaha

Part of modular is about having your own custom synthesizer - mine for example has 11 sound sources, one of which is polyphonic, and synthesizes both audio and video - it is quite large, I suppose, @ nearly 1500hp - NB the most common manufacturers in my modular are Doepfer, LZX (video) and Mutable Instruments (although some of both the LZX and mutable are DIY)

Even if you do buy all of Lugia's suggested modules, there's nothing wrong with swapping something out for something else, either if you don't get along with the specific module or can't find it due to availability issues and desperately need a XYZ module immediately


the reason I would buy an effect over quadrax is that you will then have 2 modulation sources (Maths and Quadrax) - whereas I would suggest reasonably early on adding something that is modulatable and will process the audio from your other synths - you may find you want something like quadrax next!

Awesome, thanks for the explanation and the recommendation based on my goal of using this with my Hydra and Minibrute 2

whilst I think Lugia's recommendations are always excellent, I would suggest taking them, and mine (and other people's, for that matter) with a little salt - they are much more about functionality, than specific modules, even when specific modules are suggested/recommended - except Maths and Veils!!! hahahaha

I get and appreciate that...honestly tho, taking module recommedations is probably my best option since I don't have a lot of experience with anything yet.

Part of modular is about having your own custom synthesizer - mine for example has 11 sound sources, one of which is polyphonic, and synthesizes both audio and video - it is quite large, I suppose, @ nearly 1500hp - NB the most common manufacturers in my modular are Doepfer, LZX (video) and Mutable Instruments (although some of both the LZX and mutable are DIY)

Do you have your system posted in the racks section of Modular Grid?

JB


ModularGrid Rack

anything that's upside down is either in the DIY backlog, on order or pre-order (chromagnon), out for repair or 'wish list'

it's currently 6 cases 29u/104hp, 29u/84hp, a mantis (6u/104hp) and a 6u/72hp - those are the top 6 rows and the bottom 2 rows and I've just got the rails and brackets for a couple of 6u 19" cabs I'm getting out of storage soon - which make up the 7th and 8th rows and the last row is just 'blind panel storage'

the arrangement of modules is for the future (I'm moving) - not on how they actually are at the moment - which is a bit less structured and a lot more spread out - the top 3 rows will be mounted on the wall with the next 3 rows at a slight angle on top of the 19" rack cases - and the last 2 cases will probably live on a desk to the side , whereas at the moment the 2 of the cases area on guitar stands and the other 4 are on the floor in front of the TV (which will also be wall mounted in the new house)


Wow! @JimHowell1970 - thats amazing.

JB