Well, thanks everyone. I've had a think and come up with a mk ii version of my potential first system.

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A few thoughts:

-I used a lot of Lugia's suggestions but cut out a few things I know I wouldn't use and held on to a few modules from my initial build that I think are more vibey than functional

-I've got 2hp unused and I'm deliberating over what to fill it with (though that decision could be quite far down the line as I want to build my rig a little at a time and really learn each module as I go).

-Is there a smaller wavefolder that doesn't compromise? 6hp seems a little much for that but I don't know

-I'm quite keen to add a second Strymon AA.1 as I have a big collection of guitar pedals and it also seems like a good tool for bussing in stuff like my Deckard's Dream or whatever.

-If I find, as I build this system, that I'm doing well interfacing it with my Analog Rytm I'd probably scrap all the drum modules and chuck some other fun stuff there instead. Would you say I'd be better off with more sound sources or more sound processors?

-Mutant Brain seems a little bit cumbersome to use but I'm not sure if anything else is doing everything it can do in that small a footprint? Would love opinions on this. I would mostly be using it for interfacing my DAW to the modular system. But this would be happening via a MOTU MIDI express 128, so having DIN-MIDI as opposed to USB is important. If it seems like switching to USB-MIDI would really make my life way better I could reconsider this.

-One thing I've held onto from Lugia's redux but I'm not totally convinced I need is the expander unit for the Zadar. I'd love to hear from people who use it about why they do or do not feel like the expander is essential.

-I actually ordered my first modules yesterday! Happened to see a really good deal pop up on an eloquencer with the expansion unit and I grabbed it! Don't have any modules to sequence or a rack to put them in yet, but I'm excited to start my modular journey!

-Completely random: I REALLY want the Rossum Panharmonium but I can in no way justify the space and probably not the price either. Anyone else used one? I wish they'd put it in a desktop module or even a streamlined version in a guitar pedal. Anyone used this beast?

Hiya, sorry to have been rude. I got busy with a bunch of stuff and was not checking in on this. I really appreciate you taking the time to make such a thorough proposal for a redux. I definitely see what you mean about me having under-utilized the space. I was planning on leaning quite heavily into the Disting modules for some of the things you've suggested (like wave folding and sampling, for example, since I generally don't use samplers that much and I already own a few of them). Do you find the Disting to be kind of anti-climactic when you start to use it for loads of different things?

Also, having midi capability (as opposed to usb-midi) is important for me to incorporate it into my current studio setup, so maybe I need to check out a third midi to cv module that is smaller than the Polyend but different from the one you've suggested.

I also wanted to ask about your experience with the shrunk-down Mutable clones. I haven't had time to look too closely at them but it seems like they might be more of a hassle to program than the name-brand ones (shrinking the face means hiding features?). Curious to know what your experiences have been.



Good luck with this. I'm a modular newbie (so not a lot of direct advice to give on modular) but a longtime musician. I'll be interested to see where you land with this inquiry and build, as I'm in a somewhat similar position.

I am curious, what are you hoping to get from modular that you can't from software & standalone hardware?

Hearing about your "retro" focus, I would think you could be very well served with some non-modular options such as:
-- Roland software, Roland emulations, Roland hardware (like Jupiter Xm). IMO this stuff sounds great and is a joy to use. If I worked in retro like you do, I would definitely have an "Ultimate" Roland Cloud subscription
-- Sequential's current lineup: Dave Smith is still making beautiful instruments that mix the classic vibe (and presets) with modern capabilities. Any of those analogue boards could give you a real boost in great retro sound
-- less completely retro but very awesome is Native Instruments Komplete + their Komplete controllers. The hands-on integration for these is now very strong, and the NI library is so vast. I love the browsing and sound manipulation that can be done here without a mouse now. IMO this is also a great value, compared to equivalent spend on hardware / modular.
-- the Arturia software suite is also great for retro. The sheer # of retro instruments and presets is huge. The "modular" VSTs in that suite could give you a lot of the retro modular sounds, if that's what you're after.

I assume you know about most if not all of those above already. BUT, hearing your situation and objectives, I thought I would mention these as possible alternatives for you; to me they really stand out as potentially useful for your situation.

Having recently entered the modular domain, I can say: i) it is expensive ii) its very deep in terms of variety of modules, module designs, etc. iii) there's a vast amount of learning to be able to buy or run a decent rig iv) it does beat software and standalone synths for some uses, but not all. I AM enjoying modular learning and sounds a lot, and it also helps me understand and me appreciate my VSTs and hardware drum machines even more!

Best wishes,

-- nickgreenberg

Cheers, Nicholas, thanks for your reply!

I think, like any god fearing young man, I need modular synthesis to keep me off the streets.

Yeah, I have the Arturia bundle and I use it a lot. Also have a bunch of UVI stuff and other odds and ends in terms of plugins. I think they sound great and there’s little if anything that I strictly can not achieve with the tools that I own currently. But I would posit that a lot of what producers invest in is more experiential than functional (from a vintage German microphone in the live room to an expensive single origin coffee in the kitchen).

Also, I do find virtual modular stuff pretty hard to program on (ex Arturia’s 2600 and Moog system plugins, even the ZOIA which it’s taking me a long time to bond with for this very reason). I reckon that if I logged some time on a hardware modular system and that type of programming migrated more into the “second nature” part of my brain then I would be less annoyed/confused by virtual modular stuff.

I also just like having multiple flavors of things if something isn’t sitting quite right in a mix or is feeling obtuse in a session. My Deckard’s Dream can do most of things my Little Phatty can do but the one does not quite make the other obsolete. It’s a luxury to get to amass gear in this way, of course, but that’s part of what someone’s paying me for when they hire me.

So I guess the main thing that I’m after is the tactile creative experience of working on a system like this (not the least of which reasons being that a lot of my favorite records were made on early synthesis systems). And I like more modern stuff too but I don’t really work professionally on any EDM projects which seems like a distinct camp in the modular community. Also I dig the significantly increased probability that I will accidentally make something interesting I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise.

Admittedly it is more than a little indulgent to sink this much money into the idea that I just want to vibe out over some synth modules haha. But here we are. Ideally I would pair this down to something a little bit cheaper, but maybe this is a good future goal and I need to just build it up a little at a time.

For what it’s worth I got on my current modular kick after randomly hearing some demos of the Plaits and thinking it sounded extraordinary and I wasn’t certain I had anything in my arsenal that would do exactly what it does. I kind of always knew I’d go down this road some day but I was waiting for something to push me over the edge.

It problem have.

Go back to your build page, reload it a few times, then go into "view" and select "Screenshot". If the screenshot looks right, then edit the post by removing the page's URL, reposting, then re-editing it with the current page's URL (yes, even if it's the same). Otherwise, the Forum keeps the old screenshot version in place.
-- Lugia

Thanks for your help! I tried that a few times to no avail and ended up just making a copy.

Looking for some more experienced opinions on my first draft of my future first modular system. A little bit about what I do and what I'm hoping to get out of this system:

-I am a professional producer/engineer/musician and this would mostly be used on clients' music but I still want it to be populated with modules I enjoy. Also, I would probably be the one doing most of the synthesis or helping guide clients through the system so it should reflect my tastes etc.

-I have a few nice standalone synths (Moog LPII, Deckard's Dream MKII, vintage Microwave I, Elektron Analog Rytm MKII) and a lot of virtual synths but this would be my first foray into the world of modular. I'm looking for a mix of stuff that is not possible/easy with my current synths and also just different flavors of the classic sounds already at my disposal.

-Looking for both percussive and melodic patch capabilities but mostly the latter.

-Mostly interested in retro-ey musical applications (early Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, Moroder, Wendy Carlos, early Depeche Mode, Stevie Wonder etc) but would also like to dip my toe in more modern stuff like generative sequences.

-This would really only be for recording projects so easy integration into Pro Tools sessions is a must and live performance-specific stuff is not important to me.

-I have a lot of guitar pedals, plugins, and some rack units for FX so I'm not too concerned about having much in the way of effect modules in the system.

All that being said I'm wondering what redundancies and glaring omissions you might see. At first I was thinking I would build a system around the Mother 32 but I wavered and came out with this instead. But maybe I should reconsider? I'd love to get the cost down a bit (as things stand this isn't unimaginable for me if I think I'll use it a lot, but it's a little steep, though of course I don't need to buy everything all at once). Also, I'm fairly handy with a soldering iron and could maybe build DIY versions of some of the simpler modules.

Feel like I've rambled a lot, sorry. Would love some input on my first draft of my first modular system! Thanks!!!

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