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Euro Modular Synth ReadMe.1st
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, ... 9, 10, 11  Next [all]
Author Euro Modular Synth ReadMe.1st
Regarding your point about FM: last night I was playing with an FM patch using Maths as the modulator. I tried it using the Maths built in attenuator, the Maths going through a separate attenuvertor, and the Maths going through a VCA. Each version gave its own slightly different feel to the sound.

My point is, FM is a wild beast and you should definitely experiment with new ways of doing it smile
IS there a way to "subscribe" to a thread that I'm missing, or do I just need to bookmark awesome threads.
It's allllll the way at the bottom of the page is probably why you missed it. Below the Post box, last thing on the left side of the page.

I've been too embarrassed to ask that question about subscription. Thanks guys
Meat Parade
Paranormal Patroler
Wait wait, I already knew all that stuff you posted.
Then why do I still feel like such a BIG noob when it comes to modular? hmmm..... Guess it will never go away. That's why I love this stuff! lol

Thanks so much for the info you guys, this thread is really great.
after you get your modular going, at some point you're gonna be patching stuff and suddenly it wont work - i guarantee, it's gonna happen. DON'T PANIC!

before you get that horrible sinking feeling in your stomach where your head is going 'halp! i blew up my best friend waah ', read this.

although the only general rule with modulars is 'dont follow rules', i.e. be creative in an intelligent way when everything is working, when there's a problem the rule is always 'have patience and use logic'.

This post is making some general assumptions again:

i. when you installed your modules into the case you followed info from manufacturers and the stickied threads about power etc, hence plugged in modules correctly without lowing anything up.
ii. you have got the basic minimum of modules required to make a sound - i.e. bare minimum is something that oscillates at audio frequency, and most likely a set up like this East Coast, single VCO mono patch

to find the trouble, it helps greatly to follow this process - basically working through the signal path step by step:

a. plug just the VCO straight into your amp/mixer/phones. there should be a constant tone produced (check frequency and waveshape etc - you may have it outputting below audio frequency for example?)

b. now plug your control device, i.e. whatever you use to provide the 1v/oct signal to the VCO pitch cv in. you should still hear a constant tone, but the pitch should change when you press a key or a sequence runs. (if nothing happens to the tone, try using an alternate cv source like an LFO - this will help you find out if the control device is sending a signal)

c. insert the filter between the VCO output and the amp/mixer/phones. when you adjust the cutoff and resonance you should hear the continuous tone from the VCO change (depending on the filter settings you might get a piercing squeal with hi resonance or no sound if the filter is attenuating the frequency output by the VCO)

d. send a gate signal to your EG and the output of the EG to the filter cutoff. each time you send a gate signal the EG should shape the filter sound (a fully open LPF can't open more - nothing will happen when you send a positive envelope. also check any cv amount knobs - if they're at zero then the cv from the EG wont do anything.)

e. insert a VCA inbetween the filter and your amp/mixer/phones. move the working signal from the EG to the VCA cv input. there should no longer be a continuous tone (if there is you probably have some gain/initial/offset /etc. knob turned up too far on the VCA). now when you send a gate signal the previously continuous tone from the VCO should, depending on your EG settings, become audible then stop again. (long attack will take time to become audible, long release will take time to die away).

if you have progressed this far, and your basic patch is all behaving then you can test any individual modules or parts of a patch in the same logical fashion - switch audio generating modules or cv generating modules with the VCO or EG etc. as appropriate and wiggle some knobs to see if they are behaving right - since you have checked everything else it should be easy to identify a problem such as one knob silencing the sound or one output/input distorting the sound etc.

this same technique applies to any patch, but be very aware, once yu progress past this basic 'East Coast Patch', you will find that often one knob affects multiple modules in the patch, there can be dead spots where the phase of a particular wave cancels out another etc. not everything works at every setting.

WARNING!!! this technique is grand for testing things/tracking down errors/investigating new modules or patches whilst in a framework you know works or behaves very predictably, BUT, please - dont take this as a setup you must use to create every sound - there's so many other ways to patch your modules!

at the very least try patching your LFOs, other VCOs, EGs, Sequencers and even VCAs into whatever cv in you can think of - and when you've explored these avenues, try FM (audio frequency oscillators as cv sources) , using envelopes to shape other cv sources rather than just supplying a cv directly etc. etc. etc.

short of patching output to output or someother module specific not to do's that manufacturers warn about, do ANYTHING!!!
this thread should most certainly be stickied. thorough and detailed advice all around
PhineasFreak wrote:

short of patching output to output or someother module specific not to do's that manufacturers warn about, do ANYTHING!!!

What happens when you patch an output to another output? Will something blow up? confused
applause thanks a lot guys, this thread is full of great stuff !! should definitively be sticky
thumbs up sticky
Often people starting a modular are on a budget or limited by space - therefore want to cram the best amount function from a given spend. here's some things to consider:

*you will want oscillators to make noises, but oscillators also can provide cv for other modules. since you are likely to want as many sounds and functions as possible from a sound source, it's definitely worth looking for LFOs that go up to audio frequencies and VCOs that go down to useful cv frequencies. *also, resonant filters and some loopable EGs and slope/slews can be pushed to oscillate at audio frequencies.
*those EGs and slopes/slews that cycle etc. are also good sources of sequencing/distortion and other unexpected functions.
*VCOs with waveshaping and other cool functions not only save having to buy extra modules with those controls, but if they go down to LFO speeds then you can get weird wave shapes for cool /cving.
*Many of the less vanilla modules have multiple outs and ins, gain, offset, attenuation etc, saving on having to buy mixers, mults and other ustility modules. sometimes this justifies the extra cost.
*it's worth considering your need for processing audio, cv or both when buying stuff like VCAs and Mixers - switchable to Lin or Log can really save space.
*Modules with multiple audio inputs and outputs, cv inputs and outputs and cv-able parameters are good since they allow you to really get into the ethos of modulr sythesis - crossmodulation, feedback loops, frequency, gate or other control dependent shapes and rhythms etc.

fundamentally, it's often the case that:
*expensive modules arent just about sound quality - many sounds are trashy distorted screaming madness or the inherent errors that analog brings, so who gives a crap about 'quality'? function is often the real gain.
*cheaper modules arent in anyway 'bad' - there's a good reason some doepfer modules outsell everything else 10 to 1. they sometimes not only do a cool thing, but also can do it better than some of the competition when it comes to cv options, switchable ranges and ease of use.
*certain manufacturers or designs of module have a very specific character - for example, stuff like an Analog Systems RS-180 VCA or a Malekko/Wiard Borg 1 sound very distinctive when used in certain ways and this may be the true appeal of such modules.
*Don't go by module funtion, reputation, cost etc. alone - think what you want to achieve then read up and listen to examples to judge what would suit your desires the best.
*with some exceptions of very rare or expensive gear, it's uncommon to be able to build a replica of a specific bit of gear for less money using modules.

so basically, think first 'what do i want to do with the modular', second 'what allows this but gives options do do other stuff or expand further' and then choose solutions based on budget or space.

- Doepfer is popular due to reasonable prices for reliable modules and an incredible range of choice. but, some modules take alot of space to do one very specific funtion or lack a degree of cv options. dont judge Doepfer modules by price.
- Cwejman, Bananalogue, MacBeth and the like are insanely expensive for euro - they do offer nice things like well laid out panel designs, unusual sound quality, good VCO tracking, cv-able everything etc., but tbh, they're a luxury - you can do much similar stuff with a bigger case and multiple cheaper modules even if it does take more room.
-Intellijel are kings of cramming stuff into tiny spaces
- Malekko, Harvestman, Metasonix, Flight of Harmony, Livewire and the like tend to offer modules that just are utterly individual and hence if you really want them, they're probably worth getting - you wont be able to do quite the same stuff any other way.
- Analogue Systems may sound beautiful when you want analogue warmth and really decent cv-ableness/degree of parameter control, but they're a frikken pita when it comes to needing different connectors and screw placings etc.

these are not gospel hard rules that apply rigidly to the manufacturers mentioned some modules are just in a league of their own regardless of any considerations, but also, there are plenty of manufacturers i havent mentioned and some of the best manufacturers make modules that suck for the price/hp spacings/functionality.

it's all about how you use them. synth planner is your friend, demos are you friend, manuals are your friend - but it really cant be emphasised enough - try to get a hands on play or at least a video with audio before ruling something out.
it's important to remember you dont just need modules and a cool case - before you get all excited about what amazing $600 module you can get to do weird wiggling with, you need a bit of your budget to cover actually making the modular produce sounds:

*you can always just use the modules themselves - even a simple LFO or envelope with cycle/loop/repeat can produce patterns/rhythms etc as cv/gate/trigger signals.

*there are dedicated sequencing modules, some very cheap - pretty much they will range from something that sends a cv value when a certain time has passed, but the complexities are pretty much endless

*the simplest as far as instant results is probably a keyboard/trigger button/pressure pad/theremin/ribbon/whatever controller that produces cv signals. just plug the thing in and press/wave/slide hands and fingers to make noises. (often not the cheapest options, and sometimes not useful with anything other than a cv controlled synth)

*probably the most versatile for the money is a midi to cv module. there's a range of options from doepfer's A-190's that are pretty cheap through to polyphonic monsters that take some programming patience. these will of course require a midi source to drive them:
- if you have a midi controller/keyboard/etc. then just plug in and, configured appropriately, you're set.
- a hardware sequencer will be similar as far as setup goes, but you'll need a little knowledge of programming midi hardware - grooveboxes like the korg electribes and yamaha rm1x excel at these tasks
- a computer running a midi sequencer or DAW with midi capability is great if you get on with software, but you'll need a midi interface. anything from a $3 usb to midi adaptor cable through to a $1k studio interface card/breakout box setup will perform if you have compatible gear and the skills to set it up.

*the same midi options apply to non-module midi to cv converters - these stand alone units tend to offer greater fuctionality but often cost more. unless you already have the rest of the midi gear needed, even though you can have multiple scalable cv outs, Hz/V, s-trig, din-sync and built in lfos etc, they're rarely the cheapest option for the money.

*'midi' via usb is becomeing available now, and although basically no great difference to the midi setups above, you should be able to avoid needing a dedicated midi interface for the computer and find compatbility with many modern usb enabled hardware controllers and synths.

*if you want to use a computer running a DAW, by far the best option of the money is probably something from the Expert Sleepers range - dedicated conversion of the outputs of an interface into cv signals via a plugin for the daw and a module that takes stuff like audio, lightpipe and spdif in, and provides a stack of cv sockets.

personally i found there were a few basic factors affecting my decisions, based on:
- how did i want to use the modular
- what did i already own
- what was my budget
- how much space did i have in and out the case

i am so uncoordinated and desperately anal that i wanted to be able to set everything in stone and reproduce the results over and over. this lead me to wanting a programmable sequencing option. i generally seem to find that many many modular owners want to have much more immediacy, freedom and life from their setups hence choose keyboards/pressure pads etc.

i started with a studio based around midi gear so already had both hardware midi sequencers, a computer with midi interface and all the cables etc. choosing midi was therefore cheap as well as convenient. had i none of that i probably would have either started with a usb 'midi' interface or Expert Sleepers depending on budget.

due to limited budget i selected Doepfer A-190-2 modules since i had no shortage of space to put them in - had i not got midi gear, on the same budget now i would have chosen the doepfer usb versions of those modules - they may be monophonic and only have a few outputs, but with a starting system of only a few basic modules, they should plenty, supplying pitch, note length, velocity pitchbend and gen. purp out via the standard 1v/oct, gate, and cv sockets. though the default settings are pretty much perfect for most basic midi setups i found the config easy to alter and there's scope to experiment with the uses for the output sockets however you patching them...

having followed this rout i'v ended up using a monster external kenton midi to cv box, but the total spend on gear actually means that if i were to try and jump straight to this setup riht now it would have made more sense to just opt for expert sleepers from the word go.

i must admit, i'm really starting to crave modular sequencing options these days, but i probably could fill another 12U with modules like step-sequencers, logic, clock and other such cool stuff. s i try to pretend i'm not interested in that stuff... (ha!)
as well as a load of modules (what else do you immediately fantasise about?), and thhe bset case for you, have you remembered:

patch cables? cheapo ones can really spoil the fun - looseness, intermittent connections, etc. are they long enough? you will inevitably expand - but also, shorter ones will tangle less and be more convenient to trace routings as well as not crowding your working space...

a way of hearing the output? output modules, mixers, interfaces etc. could be necessary for you setup - headphones may need a dedicated amp, mixers will need some amp/spkrs/powered monitors/hi-fi or whatever.
studio monitors can handle the unexpected speaker blowing pops, peaks, thumbs, and other abuses with less likelihood of damage. (they're built for for raw, unmixed, unmastered peaky sounds)

a strong surface to stand the modular and controller on t the right height for comfortable use. likewise, a comfy chair or place to rest - you need space and ease of access from a position you can stand to be in for hours - i often end up on the floor with patch cables on a rack next to me...

it really is a very good idea to have at the very least a well grounded surge protected socket for the power into the modular - you'll likely have a mixer or computer or amp/monitors plugged in too, so a decent power conditioner or proper supply might be worth considering. the cost could pay for itself ext time you have an electrical storm or the cable guy cuts the wrong wire...

i also find, even as one with next to no electrical knowledge, a cheap multimeter can help you quickly check stuff like a dodgy cable, socket, fuse etc...
Where do you guys get your Eurorack/Doepfer screws (what's their name/id by the way?)? I ordered a module from eBay and it didn't come with screws or a bus cable. I ordered a bus cable from Schneidersladen, togther with an intellijel Mult module, which again came without screws, so I'm 4 screws short at the moment. grin
flx wrote:
Where do you guys get your Eurorack/Doepfer screws (what's their name/id by the way?)? I ordered a module from eBay and it didn't come with screws or a bus cable. I ordered a bus cable from Schneidersladen, togther with an intellijel Mult module, which again came without screws, so I'm 4 screws short at the moment. grin

M3 screws you can get from a local diy store.
M2.5 you have to order in bulk from the net. Or I can send you 4, pm me.
Dirk95100 wrote:
Or I can send you 4, pm me.

That's very very kind of you, thanks! we're not worthy But I just found a bunch of them online for cheap and ordered those. Like this I'll have some spare ones in case my next modules arrive without screws too smile
For a good, comprehensive guide to subtractive synthesis that's very applicable to starting out with a modular synth, I'd recommend all of Gordon Reid's Synth Secrets articles for Sound on Sound.
Warming thread.
just you wait...the clever-dicks will be out in NO time.......

great idea for a thread, but just have a look at how my "starter system" one went........(but maybe that was just a shit idea.....)

keep up the good work though. top thread thumbs up
just wanted to ask a few questions about the importance of clock dividers

did some searching on the forum but still not clear, thought this would be the best thread to bring it up in!

so pretty much i have some what of an idea but i still have no idea why i would want one / what it really does for a system
Basically it allows you to keep things in time. Your clock divider takes your clock, whether it's a lfo, or pulse,gate, trigger from a sequencer and allows you to rhythmically divide it. So say you patch a lfo into a clock divider. Divided by 1 would be the same as your clock. Say you want your bass line to be every 4th note. The clock would go 1,2,3,4 and on the 4th pulse you get a trigger out of your 1/4 clock out. So your high hats could be triggered by 1/16th divisions, your snare on the 3, you can patch the trigger out to a vca, or into the clock of a brains to control pressure points.
matos! thanks my man,

so pretty much it is used to keep everything in time. so basically, i can send a gate from lets say my doepfer midi /cv module to a clock divider and i can use the clock divider to send to different things such as an lfo or whatever and it will stay in time with the original source (ableton live)?

also would what clock divider module would you recommend?
Yep, it just gives you useable divisions of your main clock. So all your clicks are multiples of each other. I use an rcd( rotating click divider) which is cool because you can cv the divider to shift the outputs(division 1 shifts to 3,etc)
I feed the clock from my a190 which I set to sixteenths to the rcd. Then I'll feed that from the rcd to the wooglebug clock in, or the a156 quantized trigger in to lock things to a groove. Clock dividers are great for rhythmic stuff. The doepher one is great to, even with an rcd.
The 4ms Rotating Clock Divider (RCD) is a beast.

The Doepfer A-160 is an excellent workhorse as well, with the bonus of having access to that 1/64, which the RCD can provide if you use its breakout.
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