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Why did YOU go Frac?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules  
Author Why did YOU go Frac?
chris_g
Newbie jumping into the world of modular synths! Though all my friends are into Euro, I've been exploring the other options, each format seems to have a different community! Curious why you all decided to take the plunge with the Frac format? From what I have gathered so far, less module options than Euro, but way more DIY possibilities. What do you think the future of Frac is? Do you use Frac exclusively, or have other formats as well? How do you feel it compares to other formats cost-wise?
noobyscooby
I ran into three different cheap system purchases that make up about 70 percent of my 15U system and then filled it out with a few expensive items that I really wanted.

There are days i think of selling it or at least the 1/8 inch jack part of it but the modules especially the blacet ones go for peanuts now. Their usefulness far outweighs their worth for me.

I like it more than euro though. Especially the connectors and the usefulness.
dJ dAb
I have 48U of Frac and 3U of Euro. Euro feels cheap to me but I only have 7 Euro modules... Pretty much everything else is built from kit / DIY. Honestly, I love the look, feel and consistency of most Frac modules out there. You can always go with both... They usually play fine together thumbs up
Kyhotay
That's easy to explain: around 1999/2000 PAiA created the Frac format and, as far as I knew, it was the only analog modular around, save for vintage synths. I don't know when the Euro and others were created. I do have a 3U Euro rack that isn't fully populated. Euro does have more esoteric modules - "west coast' aka atonal - and there's a new module now ever 5.7 seconds. What I like most about Frac is there modules are big enough to work with and easier to patch. Plus, maybe it's just me, but I think a +/- V power supply is more stable than +/- 12V and gives more voltage headroom, whatever that means. seriously, i just don't get it
Cat-A-Tonic
I started with Frac, and added some Euro.

Frac still covers most of my core functionality.
I have very few VCAs in Euro, but more than enough in Frac.

Euro has more DIY options now than it did when I started.

Frac still has the DIY convenience of 15V,
deep racks for big PCBs,
more regular panel units,
and better power connectors.

Blacet kits are still a great way to get started.
They have really good cost performance.

Euro has a few things that are really nice additions to a Frac system.
Dedicated quantizers for example.
They work really well together.
So you might as well mix and match.
e-grad
I started off with Doepfer more then 10 yrs. I had a rather large systems featuring almost three fully populated G6 frames and a Blacet Time Machine in Frac.

Due to Doepfer's poor ergonomics I didn't like to work on patches. I ended up calling my system 'Tower of Silence'. Thus I gradually changed for Blacet!

Blacet is fun! Most underrated make and best bang for the buck. Furthermore Blacet introduced me to world of DIY.

Currently I have 2 rows 5U modules with mini jacks plus 14 rows of Frac installed and more to come. By now many of my modules are by third party manufacturers respect. DIY projects.

Only downside of Blacet is the detorrating 2nd value. Other than that Blacet rules! Even though the modules might appear rather bread and butter each and every one of them has some nifty features.

Blacet
emmaker
I have a strong electronics background and planned to build as much as I can from kits, hacking others boards and my own designs. Blacet offers the best bang for the buck so to speak for the core functionality I need. I don't see the need to design my own basic VCOs, ADSRs, LFOs, mixers and so on. The only thing that I would say Blacet is weak on is filters but there are a lot of other options out there. I can concentrate on other things like wave modifiers, filters and other signal processing type things. Also it's good to see synthcube.com supporting Frac.

Jay S.
a100user
'Cos that is the format BugBrand uses w00t
shady smiles
a100user wrote:
'Cos that is the format BugBrand uses w00t

Same here!

BugBrand! BugBrand! BugBrand!
Acid Mitch
I was looking to start a modular around 6 or 7 months ago.
Tried a Euro rack at one of my local stores and hated the panel layouts. Everything felt too cramped and some things felt a bit cheap/flimsy.

I decided I needed a different format and a fellow wiggler offered to trade me some frac modules for a sequencer. (Thanks tib thumbs up )
So I've been buying a module almost every month since.
I thought 6u of modules and a UM410 Mult Utilis would do me , but I should really have gone for a larger cabinet to accommodate an extra row of modules.

I've been pretty happy with Frac so far. Even with dense patches you can still reach controls through the cables much easier than with Euro and it sounds v.good.
rezzn8r
Acid Mitch wrote:
a fellow wiggler offered to trade me some frac modules for a sequencer.


thumbs up

My first Frac modules were traded from a fellow wiggler for a Future Retro Revolution.
chachi
at that time you had wiard (loved it but i didn't have the cash), synthtech (i dabbled but ultimately it was just too big), doepfer (kind of vanilla seeming - although i appreciate it now), and blacet with an option for paia. when wiard started expanding into frac, the choice was clear.
scozbor
When I started it was doepfer or blacet/wiard. Pity frac wiard died soon after lol

I love Blacet's designs and the appeal of the single manufacturer system, but now I want portability, cutting edge audio tools, and dense functionality.

I also realised that DIY was a black hole of less music production time!

So I've jumped ship to Euro.
spacemod
I was lucky enough to be in a band with Michael Firman and Grant Richter. Those guys introduced me to Frac stuff and I had Grants assistant Nick Liebricht build me 2 custom Dark Star Chaos modules with all the modifications to add to 2 Micro LFOs and 2 Dual Linear VCAs. Soon after I purchased a Noise Ring, 2 Joysticks, JAG and a Boogie Filter from Grant. Other Blacet modules rounded out 2 & 1/2 rows of frac. I also have a Frequency Divider and a Time Machine, I made it a point to grab these when they were still available. I also picked up a Blacet I/O. This rig was used on & off for about 8 years. I finally added a couple more out of production Blacet units (Klangwerk & Binary Zone) with a 4th rack and 3rd power supply. Going to get a Oscillator next. Then a Improbability Drive and a Super Amp. Been getting into the studio on a weekly basis and making my version of jacked up techno. Everything on my soundcloud page uses my Frac synth:

https://soundcloud.com/spacemod

nanners

I knew about Doepfer, Analogue Solutions and Analogue Systems when I decided on Frac. Because I knew Grant Richter and really admire his designs I went with Frac. Michael Firman showed me some possibilities as well. Too bad the 1200 series is done. I still need to get a Borg. Hopefully a used one shows up some day. If I were starting now, I might go with Euro. Between Make Noise, Intellijel, Mutable and Malekko I have seen many enticing modules. I think I will start a Euro Rack at some point, just need to fill out the Frac a bit more. Would love to get a Bananalogue Serge VCS and some Cynthia modules too in Frac!
e-grad
emmaker wrote:
The only thing that I would say Blacet is weak on is filters


Even though many people will agree with you, I don't. The Final Filtre is my absolutely fav. filter! By now I've got a Filthy Filtre (and another in the pipeline) as well, and think this one great, too.

However, it is a pity that the Wiard 1200 series is gone. Don't know whether MOTM's frac series is still in production.
drumsofd00m
I started a Frac rack because I have a Wiard 300 and wanted to add the original Wiard 1200 modules (Boogie, Borg II, Noise Ring). Contrary to their Malekko counterparts they run on the same voltages as the 300 so that no separate Euro PSU is required, and they have blue faceplates with griffins. So it was a question of visual uniformity, convenience and cost. Finally, I wanted one of the infamous PSIM-1 modules before venturing into looking for its successor, the CVS.

I found the PSIM, one 1200 seller threw in a couple Blacet mults and two original Frac racks, and I'm quite happy with my 6 U of mixed Frac next to the Wiard 300 (and running from the same Hinton PSU). Will probably add a Blacet EG later on to complement the Envelators (which are very flexible and powerful but can't retrigger during the Attack slope).


P.S. Cheers e-grad, didn't see your post before I hit reply. :)

And P.P.S. - of course the greatest Frac filters are the Boogie (the meanest, thickest filter with the potentially most disturbing resonance I ever heard) and the Borg II, which can be exactly like a Buchla lopass gate but faster = makes for an exceptionally clean, special sounding VCA, and it has the sweetest, most vocal-like resonance to complement.
rezzn8r
drumsofd00m wrote:

And P.P.S. - of course the greatest Frac filters are the Boogie (the meanest, thickest filter with the potentially most disturbing resonance I ever heard) and the Borg II, which can be exactly like a Buchla lopass gate but faster


Don't get me wrong, I love my Borg 'n' Boogie, but the Frac format Livewire Frequensteiner is a serious contender for that title, as is the MOTM-1490.
I agree about the resonance, though. thumbs up
Acid Mitch
rezzn8r wrote:


My first Frac modules were traded from a fellow wiggler for a Future Retro Revolution.


It was a Sequentix P3 I traded for my Frac modules.I Kinda miss it but I didn't have deskspace for it and the frac modules are awesome so no regrets.

I had one of the bright orange Revolutions (limited edition, can't remember if there was 9 or 13 of them) for a while. I really liked the circular layout but some thing about the sound wasn't right for me. I didn't like the resonance and it didn't really cut through the mix as well as I like.
I also got the impression that the UI had been designed before the features. The FX were a total waste of time.

Sold it and bought an Oakley TM3030 and put the rest of the money towards my something else. The TM3030 sounds much better to me than the Revolution.
drumsofd00m
In case anyone is currently looking, I decided to put up half of my Wiard 1200 in B/S/T to make room for more 300 series. I'll likely never part with the rest tho, just have a few redundant ones.
chamomileshark
For me it was becaue of Wiard 1200 series. It's a shame it didn't develop further but I got the miniwave, boogie, borg and noise ring. Then banalogue came along. I got some MOTM and Oakley modules but the core is Blacet.

I tend to use my Wiard 300 series more but Frac is also a very nice system.
drumsofd00m
Interesting, with my Wiard modules it's the opposite - I use the Noise Rings more than the Woggle Bug, and the Borg 2s more than the Dual Borg 1 (mainly because of its bleedthrough issues). Guess the NRs will get even more prevalent once I get the clock input mod so they track pitch easier.
FireMouse
I have electronics fabrication and testing skills and wondered if there were any modular analog schematics/plans online. I stumbled onto info about Blacet kits online, liked what I saw. Over the last year or so I collected a bunch of Blacet and Paia kits. Now that I have some time I'm using the kits to build my first modular in Frac Rack/19" rack format. So far I'm very happy with the fit finish & function of the kits and the end results. thumbs up
Euro Rack format for me? Meh. meh
rezzn8r
FireMouse wrote:
I have electronics fabrication and testing skills and wondered if there were any modular analog schematics/plans online.


You may find Ken Stone's website to be of interest;
http://www.cgs.synth.net/
knobbyfischer
rezzn8r wrote:
FireMouse wrote:
I have electronics fabrication and testing skills and wondered if there were any modular analog schematics/plans online.


You may find Ken Stone's website to be of interest;
http://www.cgs.synth.net/


Thanks for the Ken Stone link! It had fallen off my radar. razz

The article "organ as a source of synthesizer parts" is really inspiring to get into the salvaging/frankenstein side of DIY.
Cybananna
Blacet functionality that wasn't readily available elsewhere. Improbability drive, klangwerk, mini wave, at the time

The frac frequensteiner is still my favorite filter. There's something about it. I have two frac and one euro. The frac nose have a little extra special to them. It may only be noticible side by side, but it's there.
whitewulfe
I haven't built a frac rack yet, but I've had this serious urge to get 6U or even 12U of it to go alongside my dotcom. I won't even consider eurorack because of how easy it is to fry a module, there's too much focus on cramming as many features as possible into as small of a space as can be, and then how the aesthetics just don't match up if you go more than a handful of manufacturers in the same racks.

Frac was always my second option, and I still want a nice lil setup.
beyourdog
Kyhotay wrote:
That's easy to explain: around 1999/2000 PAiA created the Frac format and, as far as I knew, it was the only analog modular around, save for vintage synths. I don't know when the Euro and others were created. I do have a 3U Euro rack that isn't fully populated. Euro does have more esoteric modules - "west coast' aka atonal - and there's a new module now ever 5.7 seconds. What I like most about Frac is there modules are big enough to work with and easier to patch. Plus, maybe it's just me, but I think a +/- V power supply is more stable than +/- 12V and gives more voltage headroom, whatever that means. seriously, i just don't get it


In 1999, 2000, Analogue systems and Doepfer were already selling modules....dotcom arrived in 2000, Wiard in 1999...

You can for example listen to Radiohead "Idioteque" from their kid A album in 2000 ...this is an Asys rs8000....
e-grad
Doepfer introduced the A-100 in 1996. He was the first one to re-start manufacturing a modern modular system. Analogue Systems have been the 2nd player in the market. AFIK Rob Williams/ASys was not aware of Doepfer when starting out by the end of 1996.

Ive no idea when the PAiA 9700 was available but in 1998 it was in the works.
http://search.retrosynth.com/ah/search/lookit.cgi?-v9808.2003

Doepfer has chosen the +/-12V PSU since he was relying heavily on CEM chips back those days. These chips were designed for +/-12V.
qstate
Cybananna wrote:
Blacet functionality that wasn't readily available elsewhere. Improbability drive, klangwerk, mini wave, at the time


What other modules would you say are still "unique" to Frac despite the flood of Euro available today?
Kyhotay
They have less than asinine graphics??? Simplicity wins out every time over oVER tHe t0P graphics.
e-grad
qstate wrote:
What other modules would you say are still "unique" to Frac despite the flood of Euro available today?


MiniWave. To my best knowledge it's the only wavetable module with an input which is a feature.

Filthy Filtre. Probably not unique yet rare is the voltage controlled filter mode select.

However, all Blacet modules have some features under their hood that are not obvious. That's why I think most of them are somewhat unique. The EG1 is far more than an ordinary ADSR-generator etc.
whitewulfe
Kyhotay wrote:
They have less than asinine graphics??? Simplicity wins out every time over oVER tHe t0P graphics.


That was the biggest thing that kept me away from Eurorack. Plenty of power and versatility, but aesthetics aren't one of it's main strengths if you want to use more than one manufacturer.
Cat-A-Tonic
whitewulfe wrote:
Kyhotay wrote:
They have less than asinine graphics??? Simplicity wins out every time over oVER tHe t0P graphics.


That was the biggest thing that kept me away from Eurorack. Plenty of power and versatility, but aesthetics aren't one of it's main strengths if you want to use more than one manufacturer.

It does allow you the freedom to choose the ones that fall within your aesthetics though.

...and Wiard modules are generally cheaper via Malekko.

I still think Euro and Frac make a great team.

I tend to build more DIY in Frac for some reason(s)...
Depth options, 15V power, nice power headers...

Fractional widths make it easier to have a few panels on hand for whatever you are in the mood to build, and easier to organize the rack without gaps.
Adam-V
Cat-A-Tonic wrote:

I still think Euro and Frac make a great team.


Definitely but I am really sick of Euro manufacturers using odd sized panels.

Cat-A-Tonic wrote:

I tend to build more DIY in Frac for some reason(s)...
Depth options, 15V power, nice power headers...


Same here, all of my DIY is Frac format. I just find it easier to do.

Cheers,
Adam-V
noisefor
I started in Frac after researching modular options, primarily taking into consideration cost savings - I wanted to learn as much as I could about synthesis and spend as little money as possible. I started building Blacet kits, and grew a 12U system over time, all of which I have since sold. Although I love Blacet's diverse and super smart CV everything circuits, I couldn't justify two discreet systems. I now have a small 12U Euro system, with which I have tried to emulate my favorite Blacet modules - VCO, Time Machine, Miniwave (Wiard) and Hex Zone. Richter Megawave is great, and the Doepfer A-188 BBD modules get sorta close to Time Machine, but no one has really touched the feature packed Hex Zone, and the VCO is in a class all its own - such a great musical circuit with a complex set of features not found in any Euro oscillators. Anyway, If I was a studio-only musician with lots of extra money I'd have both, but as it stands it's just too impractical (I tried combining both for a bit, but I do a lot of live and collaborative stuff and it became too complicated dragging around two systems). Although I understand the divide among some Frac die-hards, Euro offers just too much versatility to ignore, and there is (as mentioned) a growing selection of DIY/kit options for Euro users as well.
e-grad
noisefor wrote:
Although I understand the divide among some Frac die-hards, Euro offers just too much versatility to ignore, and there is (as mentioned) a growing selection of DIY/kit options for Euro users as well.


Blacet introduced me to DIY thus for me it's Blacet plus many DIY circuits by CGS, Oakley and the DIY community. I don't think I'm loosing out. However, I've to admitt that I still own a small number of Doepfer modules such as the A196 PLL and A166 Logic Module.
noisefor
e-grad wrote:
noisefor wrote:
Although I understand the divide among some Frac die-hards, Euro offers just too much versatility to ignore, and there is (as mentioned) a growing selection of DIY/kit options for Euro users as well.


Blacet introduced me to DIY thus for me it's Blacet plus many DIY circuits by CGS, Oakley and the DIY community. I don't think I'm loosing out. However, I've to admitt that I still own a small number of Doepfer modules such as the A196 PLL and A166 Logic Module.


Yeah DIY rules! I will say that size (depth) was a big consideration, and for me all the versatility and creative circuit designs in Euro were just too irresistible. That said, Blacet is king, and I would have both if I could - maybe again some day. applause
tron23
At first it was Miniwave, then I got bugged! Mr. Green
monstrinho
noisefor wrote:
Although I understand the divide among some Frac die-hards, Euro offers just too much versatility to ignore, and there is (as mentioned) a growing selection of DIY/kit options for Euro users as well.


I've 99% ditched commercial Euro in favor of DIY and returning to frac. There are a huge number of options in Euro, it's true, but I found myself far too distracted by every shiny new object. I was spending more time planning out the perfect Euro system, buying and selling modules to try different things out and just generally being OCD than I was actually making any music. Since I ditched Euro, I've spent that time building my own system (which is simultaneously frustrating and rewarding in almost equal parts) and finally making music. I think a good Blacet system is equal or better than a comparable Euro system, and there are more than enough DIY options out there to fill in any gaps. Apart from the Expert Sleepers modules, I honestly don't see anything in Euro that I can't do with a combination of Blacet + DIY.
noisefor
monstrinho wrote:
noisefor wrote:
Although I understand the divide among some Frac die-hards, Euro offers just too much versatility to ignore, and there is (as mentioned) a growing selection of DIY/kit options for Euro users as well.


I've 99% ditched commercial Euro in favor of DIY and returning to frac. There are a huge number of options in Euro, it's true, but I found myself far too distracted by every shiny new object. I was spending more time planning out the perfect Euro system, buying and selling modules to try different things out and just generally being OCD than I was actually making any music. Since I ditched Euro, I've spent that time building my own system (which is simultaneously frustrating and rewarding in almost equal parts) and finally making music. I think a good Blacet system is equal or better than a comparable Euro system, and there are more than enough DIY options out there to fill in any gaps. Apart from the Expert Sleepers modules, I honestly don't see anything in Euro that I can't do with a combination of Blacet + DIY.


I don't have inexhaustible resources, so I target synthesizer modules/formats as specific tools with particular functions - less as "shiny new object(s)". I do appreciate the rabbit-hole of fetishism that can accompany the acquisition of electronic music equipment (which is all good if you can afford it). For me, I found building/using a Blacet system was the ideal education both in terms of understanding electronic music circuits, and for learning how to employ subtractive synthesis as a form of musical expression. I didn't mean to re-ignite any tired debates about which format is better or worse, they are all different, and to each his or her own. As mentioned, if I ever have the resources I would likely re-integrate a Blacet system. Luckily for all of us, modular is a deep and inclusive world of possibility, both for the end user, and for the folks designing and building circuits/kits, etc.
monstrinho
noisefor wrote:

I didn't mean to re-ignite any tired debates about which format is better or worse, they are all different, and to each his or her own.


The point I think i was trying to get at is that "Euro has so many more options" trope is tossed around so frequently as if it were a truism. Yes, there are a _lot_ of options in Euro. Most of them, however, are really just variations on a few basic ideas, and most of those basic ideas are already available in frac. Those that aren't can be added through easily available DIY projects (thanks Ken Stone / MFOS / hexinverter / J3RK etc!). Whenever I see someone make the assertion that Euro has "more options," I think it should be qualified as "off the shelf options." As far as commercially available modules, Euro obviously trumps every other format. As far as available options if you are willing to put the time in to solder something, not so much (especially not if you include Arduino / Rasberry Pi / Teensy etc in the mix). Anyway, I didn't intend to resurrect a "Mac vs PC" type thread (and if we're going to go there, I think Blacet would be Linux in any case), I just disagree that Euro is impossible to ignore because of all the options it offers.

And yes, the "shiny new object" bit is more of a commentary on my own neuroses and addictive personality than anything else. lol
noisefor
Quote:
The point I think i was trying to get at is that "Euro has so many more options" trope is tossed around so frequently as if it were a truism. Yes, there are a _lot_ of options in Euro. Most of them, however, are really just variations on a few basic ideas, and most of those basic ideas are already available in frac.


I was only saying that the versatility of the format is hard (for me) to ignore. I appreciate what you are saying, and would only add that I disagree with "variations on a few basic ideas... already available in Frac." I mean, unless you are designing your own +/- 15v circuits which you have yet to unleash on the Frac community, I have never seen anything like some of the innovative ADDAC modules in Frac, a handful of the the Make Noise modules, Harvestman modules, WMD modules, for example... I could go on. Of course some of the modules those Euro manufacturers design are variations on basic/universal circuits, but many more of them are not, unless I am missing something?
cram1960
I went Frac because Euro was nascent, and 5U was too expensive to get started.

Then Frac sorta stagnated, while Euro exploded, and I wish I had gone 5U.

My Frac stuff will be sold off.
CopperHydra
I went Frac because I needed a MIDI-CV convertor and an I/O module that would run on a MOTM power supply when I was just getting started. I expanded to the Blacet's Time Machine and the Miniwave as well as the binary zone, an 808 clone by metal box and a Bananalog 4075. I mainly use the miniwave as quantizer when I'm working without a sequencer (like with an lfo or an Asys Rs35) or just trying to write something new. Works great Thanks to the ROM that Hylander sold me. I want to get a second miniwave because the wavetables add nice harmonic content when using them as an extra oscillator but I'd probably just end up using it as a quantizer and building more noodles. Having a little frac time machine is so cute too! love
chamomileshark
for the Wiard 1200 series which was only in Frac at the time.

Don't regret it - I think I'd be overwhelmed now with the choices in Eurorack
KingOfTheTKBs
I started out with Frac because that was the only format with decent kits available in my price range. At the urging of Grant Richter, I started out with the PAiA MIDI to CV converter and the basic PAiA rack. I left it over at his house for about a week around Christmas, and when I came back, it was filled with a Joystick, Joy Rider, and MiniWave. I'm so thankful for his generosity.

Since then, I've added some Blacet and DIY modules to the system. I like the panel density - dense but not cramped. The only thing I don't like about Frac is the racks themselves - five 2U Modules across a 19" rack doesn't sit well with me, but that's easy to address. One of these days, I'll get around to making a wider case...

Since I started out, I've had one foot in the Wiard / Frac camp and the other in Serge and I couldn't give up either one.
whomper
For me it was the affordable price of Blacet kits compared to other options back then (2008). I've built quite a few of them and then moved to other Frac modules once the cabinet was 15v...
cslammy
chris_g wrote:
Newbie jumping into the world of modular synths! Though all my friends are into Euro, I've been exploring the other options, each format seems to have a different community! Curious why you all decided to take the plunge with the Frac format? From what I have gathered so far, less module options than Euro, but way more DIY possibilities. What do you think the future of Frac is? Do you use Frac exclusively, or have other formats as well? How do you feel it compares to other formats cost-wise?



Hi Chris G: I think Frak gives you a good happy medium point between Euro (IMO: too small--knobs too small to be useful for a fast grab; patch bays too crowded etc.) and 5U (too big--not portable, takes up your entire studio).


The costs for the rack and Psups is very reasonable.


Unlike my 5U friends, I have never blown up a frac module due to incompaitble Psup wiring : )

The problem with Frak is that not too many folks use it. I am in a synth club and I am the only fraK guy there. But I don't think I'll switch soon.
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