12-27-2016, 06:03 PM
I've made music for a long time simply on my computer using all kinds of DAWs and plug-ins and whatnot. Plus I've got a few very basic (hardware) synthesizers, too.
Now I've decided to get a nice Eurorack with a couple of useful modules to produce my music more intuitively. I've decided upon a VCO by Erica Synths, a filter by Doepfer (Wasp), a nice sequencer by Intellijel and an output interface to send the sound to my computer. This will only serve as my "starter pack". I plan on processing the sounds on my PC, so - as this shit can get mad expensive - I thought it would be ok to get some more FX modules later on.
Is this the right way to go? Am I missing something here? Like are there essential modules one can not go without? Also: Do any of you have recommendations on great modules?
12-29-2016, 03:16 PM
VCAs! This is going to be the running joke you're going to hit as you venture down the modular rabbit-hole: You can never have enough VCAs. These are truly what is going to shape and dictate the sound coming out of your system - it is the end stopping point. Here is where you will be hitting the signal with envelopes etc. For your first dedicated VCA, I would recommend going for something versatile and expansive... others might recommend starting with a LPG (low pass gate) like Optomix by Make Noise... that's a vactrol VCA/LPG, relying on photosensitive response to dictate the rise and fall of the envelope. This is a utility that was central to the "west coast" experimental Buchla systems. Personally though, I would suggest getting something that can handle a bit more for a starting option... like the Linxus (which I use in absolutely every patch) by Intellijel, or alternatively the 4ms VCA Matrix (which I've played with but do not own). You can throw in a LPG cheaply if you go for an unbuffered option like the Meng Qi one. Remember also that the nature and tone of a vectrol LPG will vary from unit to unit! They all sound slightly different, even the same make/model! If you have a shop near you, ask if you can come in and test some out once you decide on a model! As your system grows, you're probably going to find you have set up a series of VCAs, and you'll be reaching for the reliable ones for the given task at hand. For instance, my Boomstar VCA AMP is my go-to if I want fuzzy distorted sounds, and if I'm going for something more subtle but ballsy and overdriven, I reach for the Synthrotek Dual VCA. Drums I sum and run into the Optomix (often after smashing the shit out of them in a wave folder, but that's a different discussion).
Originally Posted by r_z
Also, if you're handy with a soldering iron, we're talking crazy cheap options here for really simple DIY kits. If you're REALLY handy, consider something from L-1. If you want an intro that you won't even be too sad that you just broke while trying to solder it and should be easy, consider Laurentide SynthWorks LPG/VCA. I think the faceplate/PCB combo there was like 20 bucks? Remember if you're good at this stuff you can save a holy fuckton of money, and I'm jealous (because I suck at soldering). For instance, almost all of the Mutable stuff is open source... which means you can buy a PCB from a third party builder batch for thirty bucks, and after a relatively cheap trip to the local step up from Radio Shuck, you could put together a module that would cost you 500 bucks. You can even turn a profit doing this for people if you're awesome at it, and a custom faceplate from Magpie Modular will make that shit look more awesome than the "official" version.
On that note, a powerful envelope generator and/or follower is pretty essential, and it's for that reason that one of the "musts" that people recommend to people dipping their feet in the Eurorack waters is Maths by Make Noise. Another module that I'm finding pretty indispensable is the Swiss army knife / beating heart that is the Abstract Data Octacontroller! Nevermore will you long for clockable LFOs, and it can come in clutch in so many other ways.
If the sequencer you're talking bout is the Metropolis, great choice! I have one and love it! Also, Erica is really coming in hard lately! I have the Erica Black Wavetable VCO and I love it. Still, it is nowhere near as flexible as something like Mutable Instruments Grains (which I also have). When you're starting out, flexible and deep options will carry you a long way, and Mutable really shines there. Everything they make is deeper than it seems at first, and then if it's still not floating your boat, there's custom firmware you can try.
Here's a couple other caveats as you venture down this dark path: You are going to spend more than you think you're going to. You're going to need more rack space than you think. Pay close attention to polarity and make sure your -12volt strips line up or you will fry your modules! READ THAT LAST SENTENCE AGAIN! If you plug in the power the wrong way the module will explode! You are going to need more patch cables than you think, and as you invest in these overpriced 1/8th" TS cables, consider spending a little extra and get stackables! Eventually, you're going to wish all your cables were stackable, however, this doesn't negate the essential (and relatively cheap) utility of a BUFFERED mult! I like my Malleko one a lot, and I'm probably going to get another.
Many of the things I'm suggesting here I think are more important than a filter (like the wasp). Some people would even argue that (depending on what you're going for) a filter is less important than you'd expect in a system, and some people would suggest you might not even really need one in favor of a LPG. Either way, I personally would not recommend the Wasp. Great idea, classic circuit, but just too bare bones and oddly noisy. I love my Polaris, but even then... like you're saying regarding computer processing, if your end game is on a computer, you can go nuts with filters there. But you want one filter recommendation (that I wish I had and I'm planning on getting)? Three Sisters filter by Mannequins! Holy hell does that thing scream.
I'm not going to be ridiculous and suggest you look at logic modules or waveform multipliers from the onset, but that's shit that will really change what is coming out of your system, and you can't "do that part" in the computer.
tl;dr - go with what you want... you'll probably find yourself selling / trading modules down the line as you feel they don't work with your system. There is a good chance though that once you dive into Maths you'll never find yourself capable of going without it, and look long and hard at what VCA you want to start with. Also, power polarity! On that note, make sure you're keeping track of how much power your system can handle... make an account on modulargrid.net
on that page you can plan out and organize your system visually, and it will tell you the MSRP cost and voltage pull. Also, keep an eye out for the essential, small, relatively cheap utilities. They don't sound as exciting, but they are what's going to make the difference, I promise.
Last edited by Jinsai; 12-29-2016 at 03:34 PM.
12-30-2016, 10:00 AM
Wow! I would've liked your post a hundred times if I could.
So... I took your advice and went to Modulargrid and if I got you right this would be an acceptable starting point, I gather?:
how do I know if the polarity is ok and the -12 volt strips line up tho?
Thank you so much!
12-30-2016, 03:18 PM
...and speaking about synthesizers for normal people ;-), Thomann.de seems to have first batch of Behringers Deepmind12. Not in USA yet it seems.
01-01-2017, 07:58 PM
Polarity is lining up the red strip with the negative point of the plug. Some are keyed in a way to make it impossible to do it wrong... unfortunately most aren't. If you go with a Tip Top Happy Ending Kit as your starting rack / power, it will make it impossible to key it wrong. Occasionally you need to look to check on the PCB, and it will often say something like "Red Stripe HERE!" or "-12 Volt"
Originally Posted by r_z
As a starting system, that right there is fucking badass.
01-02-2017, 09:31 AM
I may have switched the Erica VCO with an Atlantis tho. Oh, the urge...
Also, went with an Erica Skiff... 2x84 it is.
Last edited by r_z; 01-02-2017 at 09:38 AM.
01-02-2017, 03:54 PM
The Atlantis is dope, kind of a retake on the SH101. It's peculiar in the modular world because it's kind of like several modules all-in-one, like the Moog Mother 32. If it finds a permanent place in your setup, it's going to be awesome and it will make getting your feet wet a lot easier.
Originally Posted by r_z
The downfall is that it takes up a huge space and it's all or nothing. On the plus side there, it sometimes shows up in the second hand market for relatively cheap.
The Erica VCO is great... still, if you're looking for a starter VCO, going with something more crazy feature-heavy like Grains might be worth a look. Not sure where you're at geographically, but it really helps if you're in a city that has modular shops, like Austin or Los Angeles or New York. Once you've made the decision to jump, these places often allow you to make an appointment where you come by and try out a set of devices they have put together for you, and you try them all out side by side before you buy. I suggest Grains because it almost covers so many different types and approaches to synthesis, but it all depends on what you're going for. My first VCO was the DPO by Make Noise, and I still haven't sold that and probably never will... though if I were to do it again, I might have opted for a more contained and less gnarly dual analog VCO like the one by Sputnik. They make a lot of devices modeled after classic Buchla modules.
Also, this guy makes me want to give him money:
01-05-2017, 10:38 AM
I see. Thank you again. I'll try out the Atlantis for now. The Metropolis has been the main reason I got interested in this modular stuff. Saw it recommended in a few articles about the gear The Juan MacLean and Factory Floor are using, so that sparked my interest. Can't wait to get it going.
I went with an Erica skiff, cause it has 2 rows a 84 spots, which I consider an ideal option for when/if I'll decide to add some modules later on.
I'm actually based in Germany and I'm not exactly near Berlin, so unfortunatley I've got none of that opportuinities you've described above near me.
The Erbe Verb by Make Noise sounds interesting as well. Do you happen to have any experience with it?
01-08-2017, 03:51 AM
I'm travelling to the Czech republic for work soon and I found this really cool looking small indie synth making group
Including a portable, battery operated "modular" synth, and some weird samplers
01-08-2017, 04:01 AM
I have their Kastle mini - modular (for an intro to modular and also a fun noise maker for £80.. sold).. it is great, though it is very hard to me to get it to make anything that resembles a 'note'. Chaining stuff into fun patterns is great tho, and its so small!
Originally Posted by jmtd
01-08-2017, 05:05 AM
Looks like I could get it for £55 in store on today's euro prices...
Edit: I'm still considering a teenage engineering op1 so even 55 is 55 off that budget hrmmm
Last edited by jmtd; 01-08-2017 at 05:48 AM.
01-14-2017, 03:36 AM
Couldn't resist the kastle when I saw it. Bought. The noise kitchen was awesome too, the first time I've seen a big cabinet of synth modules . Now wondering what I can try hooking the kastle up to (it does CV) to experiment. I think there are cv mods for the monotron...
01-14-2017, 05:37 AM
There is a huge synth-related conference that happens in Frankfurt, and it's becoming a power-house reveal for new Eurorack modules. I believe it is open to the public. Either way, that would be a place where all of the developers will be gathering and chatting with users, answering questions and letting you play with their devices. I have never been, but it would be worth a train trip, and apparently there's tons of after-parties.
Originally Posted by r_z
Erbe Verbe is absolutely stunning, especially if you want some beautiful, cold, spacey color to your extreme effects. I want one really bad, and I say that having tons of amazing software reverbs that I know well and lean to... it does something extraordinary, especially on spastic drums. It just uses up a large chunk of hp (rack space) and it's expensive. Since you were saying you were going to do a lot of time-based fx and post work in the computer, have you looked at Clouds by Mutable Instruments? It depends on what you want it for, but reverbs + granular resampling and an intensely deep module.
That said, I have a Clouds, but I still want an Erbe Verb... the other module I'm looking at right now is Chord by Qu Bit, but that takes up a ridiculous amount of space.
I forgot to mention this earlier, but it depends on how strange/technical/deep you want to get, but for the price, it's hard to say "no" to Disting Mk3 by Expert Sleepers. Make sure you get the third iteration (with the large knob). That module costs relatively nothing, does EVERYTHING (seriously everything), even allows for an SD card to load in samples, takes up practically no rack space... the problem? It's confusing as hell. You have a tiny bizarre interface, and some random symbols. There is literally a road map that users print out... it's like a decoder ring... and even then it's not a walk in the park. But having one in your kit can be the life saver for that ONE THING you needed and were lacking. It can do it. Every now and again I'll need that one spare utility or simple effect, and I go there. Some people put several of them in their cases, especially if they're trying to build space-economic live-performance rigs.
Here's one page from the road map.
That's a rabbit hole
01-14-2017, 10:40 AM
If anybody is gonna be at NAMM, I work with Death By Audio now.
come say hi. Booth 1188
we're releasing something that might be of interest to NIN fans...
01-19-2017, 06:29 AM
Enjoy NAMM! If you get any insight into news from teenage engineering please let us know
01-23-2017, 05:44 PM
I tried to drop by Sunday morning before the floor opened but your booth was empty, and I needed to get back to my post. The pedals looked interesting though, wish I could have tried them out.
Originally Posted by DVYDRNS
01-24-2017, 03:59 PM
Bummer! We were probably sitting in traffic! Where are you located? West coast?
Originally Posted by Jinsai
01-24-2017, 09:57 PM
Originally Posted by DVYDRNS
I came by the booth fairly early though, so I might have dipped out right before you got there.
@r_z I should mention, since I was recommending Disting... at NAMM Expert Sleepers were showing off the Disting Mk4, so don't heed my earlier advice and get that instead if you're considering going down that route! The new version has a much better interface and the SD card slot is on the front now!
02-20-2017, 02:32 PM
So I may just have bought the Clouds module by Mutable Instruments. Thanks, Jinsai!
My setup now consists of the Atlantis, the Metropolis, the ujack and the Clouds. Looking forward to noodling around with this!
02-20-2017, 09:14 PM
Lord help me, I see the Prophet REV2 and I think I want to trade my Poly Evolver Keyboard in for one.
The PEK's sound design capabilities are unmatched, but the REV2's improvements in usability (not to mention panel layout and design) have me thinking I should leave the complicated synthesis to softsynths and pick up this modern performance keyboard.
It doesn't come out for a few months, so I've got time to stew on the idea. I haven't really been in a place to create music for a while, but I'm hoping to remedy that once we move into the new home. Soooooon.
02-20-2017, 09:23 PM
Some of the keys stopped working on the micro keyboard of my QY.
I make music on my QY70 more than anything else.
What sort of midi keyboard do i need? I would love to have an assignable knob or two as well.
, didn't you get a QY700?
02-20-2017, 10:01 PM
I've never owned a QY700, but if some of the keys on your stopped working, it might be as simple as unscrewing the case, opening it up, and using some rubbing alcohol on the contacts.
Originally Posted by elevenism
If you wanted a MIDI keyboard, I'd maybe look at a Novation Launchkey 49 or M-Audio Oxygen 49. Keyboard controllers are things you should probably try out in person - although I know it's a long drive to the Guitar Center for you :\