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New to modular. Please give me some advice
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author New to modular. Please give me some advice
dmitri
Hi
I've been trolling this forum for the past week. Been drooling over modulars for years. Rocked Midi kits for years and have circuit bent my share of drum machines. There is no time like the present. I'm ready to start building a modular synth.

I know Eurorack popularity is growing, making used modules available on ebay and many options available but seems to have less DIY info and less kit options out than Frac (Especially in the US) at the present. Am I wrong ?

So.. I have a rough plan and would like to post it here first so you guys can tell me not to do it if there is any reason why not to...

I wana get a Paia PSU and put it in a wood box. First modules would be,
9748K Balanced Modulator Kit
9752K Sample and Hold/Gate and Hold Kit
9700K MIDI2CV8 Electronics Kit

I plan to mod all modules with Banana jacks! I know about the normalization, the need to put a switch or a second jack, Jumpwire the grounds together. No problem.

Then I plan to get a Blacet VCF and VCO, mod them with banana jacks and custom power cables to fit the Paia PSU. / get other frac modules and mod the power cables.

Trying to lower the entry cost. If I want to add some Eurorack stuff later. I can just build another box with the right PSU and ground the two systems together before cross patching right ?

Also to get this clear. You can power 6 to 12 modules from a Blacet or Paia PSU with a power distributor but when planning you must add the milliamp draw of every module to ensure that the total draw (the sum) does not exceed that of the PSU correct ?

Any reason why not to go with the Paia Psu and the Paia midi to CV ?

you guys inspire me !!
SlayerBadger!
d
noisefor
IMO - I would spend the *little* extra dough and go with a Blacet psu and midi --> CV module as both, in general, will be easier to use, more reliable and better constructed - more bang per buck.
Mongo1
Congrats on making this decision - I'm sure you'll have lots of fun!

The Paia MIDI unit is reportedly good. The only drawback is that it's an 8-bit machine, so it might not be as accurate as more expensive models. It's a good place to start though.

I'm a little confused by your plan to order things like a ring-mod before you have an oscillator. What I did (if it makes any difference) is start out with a VCO, a VCA, and an Envelope generator. That at least allows you to make a 'note' under keyboard control (provided you have your midi converter of course).

After that, you can start getting things like filters and ring-mods to make things interesting. Of course, a ring mod does require two frequency sources, so if you don't have a second oscillator or other wave source, it might not help too much. Truth be told, I still don't have a ring mod in my system. Instead I just take one of my VCOs into the Linear Modulation input on another VCO, and I get all the bells and other wacky noises one could ask for.

Regarding power supplies, what I did is go out on Ebay and purchase a surplus +/- 15 V supply. It didn't cost near as much as the ones sold by the synth manufacturers, and the one I bought is spec'd at 5 AMPS on each side. I think that should supply more modules than I'm ever likely to buy. It's a good way to cut costs. Just be careful buying the switching supplies out there. In general, if the P/S is size of a pocket calculator, and is spec'd at 10,000 Amps, you probably want to stay clear of it. Look for great big capacitors and lots of iron.

Also regarding the supply - be sure and do your research on the whole 15V vs 12V issue. I use MOTM format modules, so I went with 15V. I'm not sure what the Frac and Euro stuff requires, but spend some time to check on what your requirements will be. Also, if you figure out that your dream synth will use 100 mA per rail, get a supply that will do 2 or 3 times that. The closer you are to the limit, the more noisy and ripply your supply lines are likely to be. Give yourself lots of headroom.


Good luck!
Gary
werock
noisefor wrote:
IMO - I would spend the *little* extra dough and go with a Blacet psu and midi --> CV module as both, in general, will be easier to use, more reliable and better constructed - more bang per buck.


I'd have to agree with that - the Blacet PSU has a bigger capacity so will power more modules. You'll run out of capacity pretty quickly with the Paia PSU.
tuj
Go with the Blacet stuff, its much more high-quality.

As for jumping full-force into Frac...well...as the owner of a Frac system (I started with Blacet years ago) and a Euro system, I would say go Euro or go home. Don't get me wrong, I like my Blacet and Metalbox stuff and think its great but Euro is the land of the popular right now; so many more choices in modules and great designs and less panel real-estate.

As for banana's, well stackcables are pretty darn close and while everyone is waiting for them to make a return, once you have them, there's really no reason for mults or banana's.

I would strongly encourage you to look into a Euro system, especially considering that you can pick up a lot of it used here on the forum for really good prices.
Cat-A-Tonic
Blacet tends to design a lot of multi-functionality into his modules.
You should consider that when comparing against the more discrete functions of the newer Paia modules.

Klangwerk contains:
- Balanced Modulator (ringmod) / VCA
- Gain Boost
- VCO
- VC Wave-shaper/folder
- Envelope Follower

Improbability Drive contains:
- Analog White Noise
- Window Comparator for deriving unique Digital Noise
- VC Filter
- Sample & Hold
- Quantizer

Some of their functions can be made more accessible by modifying with additional panel-mount jacks and controls.
If you are going for bananas anyways, you might as well mod them to the gills.
noisefor
In response to tuj, it's true Euro is an ever expanding wonderland of amazing stuff, BUT it's comparing apples and oranges. Frac, especially Blacet Research, while not (as) sexy, is arguably a better more cohesive core system for synthesis than most. Blacet has been building WIDE functionality and broad CV control/experimentation parameters into all it's modules from the get go, something many Euro builders are just starting to integrate. Compare the Blacet EG, Super VCA, or Klang Werk mods (as three off the top of my head) to any comparable Euro mods and note CV control for nearly EVERY parameter, not to mention all the other utility! Compare a Euro sequencer mod with the Hex Zone, or a Euro wavetable lookup with the Mini Wave, for example... There isn't a whole lot you can't do with Frac that you can do with Euro except some of the DSP and programming options as found in TipTop designs, and some others. With Synth Tech, Cyndustries, Metalbox, etc., all continuing to develop mods for Frac, you are well served by integrating both. A core Blacet system (VCO's especially) with Euro control mods is the way to go, IMO.
rezzn8r
Big love for John Blacet's modules over here. I have a VCO, EG1, Binary Zone, Mixer/Processor, and some others. All of them are fantastic modules. The VCO is ROCK SOLID. The EG1 is almost as versatile as a VCS, and the Binary Zone

MY ASS IS BLEEDING we're not worthy love It's motherfucking bacon yo
I have 3 Blacet PSUs. I've never had a problem.

Mike at Metalbox make top notch stuff, too. I have several of his modules. Great build quality, and a good selection of modules to round out the Blacet line.
BugBrand
I would 2nd/3rd the recommendation of taking the Blacet PSU over the Paia - start with a solid base and you'll thank yourself later. The Paia one is somewhat 'cheap & cheerful' - the Blacet one is a much more solid design, both in terms of electronics and build quality.
e-grad
noisefor wrote:
In response to tuj, it's true Euro is an ever expanding wonderland of amazing stuff, BUT it's comparing apples and oranges. Frac, especially Blacet Research, while not (as) sexy, is arguably a better more cohesive core system for synthesis than most. Blacet has been building WIDE functionality and broad CV control/experimentation parameters into all it's modules from the get go, something many Euro builders are just starting to integrate. Compare the Blacet EG, Super VCA, or Klang Werk mods (as three off the top of my head) to any comparable Euro mods and note CV control for nearly EVERY parameter, not to mention all the other utility! Compare a Euro sequencer mod with the Hex Zone, or a Euro wavetable lookup with the Mini Wave, for example... There isn't a whole lot you can't do with Frac that you can do with Euro except some of the DSP and programming options as found in TipTop designs, and some others. With Synth Tech, Cyndustries, Metalbox, etc., all continuing to develop mods for Frac, you are well served by integrating both. A core Blacet system (VCO's especially) with Euro control mods is the way to go, IMO.


So, true! Furthermore Blacet offers a fool prove way into DIY thus you'll learn to enough on electronics to add some of Ken's (CGS), Ian Fritz' or Tony's (Oakley) stuff.

I sold a big Euro system and never looked back. Especially if you're in the USA and willing to build from kits Blacet has an outstanding price/performance ration .

BTW I have a PAiA 9700 series VCO which I actually bought as a complex mod. source. However I think it makes a pretty good VCO as well.
tuj
Again, I like my Frac system and I'm not selling it. I use it with my Euro system all the time. But I just added 12U of Euro (for a total of 42U); largely new functionality that is impossible to get in Frac. Examples of modules that Frac can only wish for:

-Mutagen: the Blacet mixer, while yes it does polarize, doesn't have detents for zero or mutes and its only got 3 channels.

-E580 delay. I do have a Time Machine; but good luck getting one.

-Z-DSP. This is one of my favorite modules, I love the delays.

-RCD/SCM/Timetable/A160/A161. There isn't much for fun with clocks aside from maybe Binary Zone and I suppose a window comparator in Frac-land.

-Sequencers with knobs. Z8000, Rene, SQ8. Quick editing of the Hex Zone is not really possible in the same manner.

-LFO's. Serious lack of good modulation sources in Frac. I'm thinking about the A143-1, Vulcan modulator, Dalek modulator, Dual Cyclotron.

-Vactrols. Never seen any in Frac. I love my QMMG and A102-1 LPG.

-Quantitizer. Yeah I could use the miniwave, but uScale or A156 are better.

Now before everyone get's me wrong, I love the filthy filtre, I have two of them I like them so much. I love klangwerk; it was my very first module ever and I'm still loving it. I love my Metalbox drum modules. I think the Darkstar Chaos is really cool. I have fun with the Binary Zone. But I don't think it will be long before the argument that Frac has better modules goes awry. Euro is improving in leaps while Frac is languishing. Look at the number of Euro designers versus Frac and the number of very creative designs from the Euro guys. I've got 18U of Frac and I don't see it going away, but I don't see it expanding either. Especially not when the newest Blacet modules are just Frac versions of what I can already get in Euro.

Cat-A-Tonic
tuj wrote:
Again, I like my Frac system and I'm not selling it. I use it with my Euro system all the time. But I just added 12U of Euro (for a total of 42U); largely new functionality that is impossible to get in Frac. Examples of modules that Frac can only wish for:

-Mutagen: the Blacet mixer, while yes it does polarize, doesn't have detents for zero or mutes and its only got 3 channels.

-E580 delay. I do have a Time Machine; but good luck getting one.

-Z-DSP. This is one of my favorite modules, I love the delays.

-RCD/SCM/Timetable/A160/A161. There isn't much for fun with clocks aside from maybe Binary Zone and I suppose a window comparator in Frac-land.

-Sequencers with knobs. Z8000, Rene, SQ8. Quick editing of the Hex Zone is not really possible in the same manner.

-LFO's. Serious lack of good modulation sources in Frac. I'm thinking about the A143-1, Vulcan modulator, Dalek modulator, Dual Cyclotron.

-Vactrols. Never seen any in Frac. I love my QMMG and A102-1 LPG.


^ There is so much mis-information in this post.

- Blacet Mixer Processor does have detents.
Intellijel Mutagen does not polarize.

- MOTM F580 is available in Frac now via Blacet.

- Z-DSP... meh. I suppose you could get a Blacet FX/Reverb module if you want VCable DSP multi-effects.

- MetalBox/CGS Pulse Divider/Logic kicks ass for mad trigger patterns.
The closest Eurorack equivalent 4MS RCD + Intellijel Spock will cost you more.
The Blacet HexZone has no rival in any format for programmable sequential switching power (which can also be used for gate/trigger patterns).

- Binary Zone is a ton of fun for sequencing with knobs.
MetalBox/CGS Programmer / Sequencer looks pretty badass in that department too.
We shan't forget the awesome BugBrand CTL1 for knobby sequencing mania.

- Blacet Micro LFO is amongst the best available in any format,
and EG1 is amongst the most flexible envelopes.
I wouldn't trade my pair for any of the Euro modules that you mentioned.

- vactrols... Wiard Borg 2, Wiard Boogie, BugBrand Dual LPG.
...not to mention all the awesome stuff available in 15V DIY.


I have both Euro and Frac, and I personally find it beneficial to pick what you want/need from both formats.
Euro does have a lot of great modules on offer.
Several of the Frac designs are superior for a core system IMO.
dmitri
Thank you for the info fellas!
vmgas
ps
fuck the haterz Paia shit is great
yes the psu cant hold as many modues but 2 psus from paia is still cheaper than one from blacet!!
if you dont mind diy(they use headers that arent really standard to frac anymore) then go paia on the psu
Paia 4lyfe...though i have plenty of great blacet products..always sad to see the lack of love for paia
favorite frac adsr ive used is the one on the paia vca(ive had an eg1 which i sold and i currently also use a metalbox adsr which i like except for the need of a gate to make it work)
also great vco, cant say that enough. awesome modules. the s/h from paia is great too. i have an improb drive and prefer using my cgs digi noise paia 3 color noise and paia s/h over the improb any day of the week
i should probably really just get rid of the damned thing
paia is cheap and they work great, total work horses.
DGTom
as the OP is looking to DIY I don't see how euro is an option to begin with.

Sure there are lots of cool modules in Euro that don't / won't exist in Frac and there are getting to be more & more DIY options but nowhere near Paia / Blacet.

and yeah, nothing in Euro to compare with the microLFO or EG1. . .

also the photo @tuj posted keenly illustrates the MOST important reason a rack of Blacet wins everytime;



love love love
e-grad
Cat-A-Tonic wrote:
^ There is so much mis-information in this post.


Thanks.

Just one more hint:

tuj wrote:
-LFO's. Serious lack of good modulation sources in Frac.


As I wrote above: The PAiA 9700 series VCO is a fantastic mod source: 2LFOs/VCO and one A/R envelope make this module a great source for weird modulation.

edt: A Mini Wave is among other things a mod. source.
Babaluma
glad to see another fracker entering the fold! fuck all the haters, blacet stuff rocks! and it's black and sexy!
vmgas
FRAC
Norman_Phay
When I put together my Blacet-only rack, that's when I realised just how great Blacet's system is as a uh system in itself. It now gets more usage time than any of my other gear, really. There's really very little you can't do w it, plus it's very ergonomic, easy to tweak even when everything is plugged in.
e-grad
Norman_Phay wrote:
plus it's very ergonomic, easy to tweak even when everything is plugged in.


True! This is one of the reasons why I got rid off my Doepfer modules. Once patched up the densitiy of their modules removed the fun from making music/sounds.
dmitri
Thank you !! Super helpful and encouraging.

As I already have a solid analog midi kit i wont be looking to replace the "typical music writing" functionality with a modular. I think I'm looking at modular to do mostly the weird stuff at first. Break me out of the box musically/sonically.

DIY is the first rule of this project. I wont be buying mults or any of the easy stuff. I even got a buddy with a Cnc machine here in SF. Just needs software.. then we will be making our own faceplates. Also now that I look deeper i find that the other American "systems" use -15/+15 psu. So the big difference (aside from variety) is the rack spacing. Thats not an issue for me as i plan to custom build my box and face plates anyway. i could have a row in every size if i want.

To me it seems that the Blacet circuits and other American systems have some years on euro. With mods info online and many kits. Q/A has long been established for the format.

I was thinking of actually starting out with sound processing modules since i already have midi synths with VCOs. also I have a Novation Bassstation so that could hold me over for the midi to CV module for a minute i suppose.

Is there a thread on muff wiggler with a list of Buchla inspired modules in any format ?
Ive heard of plan B but am looking for Buchla inspired/clone modules in kit form.

Where can i learn about that ? Any thread or book suggestions ?
BTW Im in SF. contact me to colab on music, drink, smoke, if you wana talk someone's ear off about modulars im a sponge right about now.
d

It's motherfucking bacon yo
e-tron
http://users.ece.gatech.edu/~lanterma/buchla/boards/

These are circuit clones of some elements in the Buchla Music Easel.
I've had great results with his PCB's. Don't be put off by the "advanced
project" disclaimer, I consider these relatively straight-forward. Also,
they're all + - 15v. circuits.

The crossfade-timbre waveshaper is super cool. My friend recently
posted a video of his build.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwZLH61UawE&feature=player_embedded
scozbor
since the rise of euro in the last few years the time has never been better for a combined frac / euro system. thumbs up

and if you are not restricted by case depth the range of 5U diy which can be shoved into frac is mind blowing woah
solitaryzen
Cat-A-Tonic wrote:
tuj wrote:
Again, I like my Frac system and I'm not selling it. I use it with my Euro system all the time. But I just added 12U of Euro (for a total of 42U); largely new functionality that is impossible to get in Frac. Examples of modules that Frac can only wish for:

-Mutagen: the Blacet mixer, while yes it does polarize, doesn't have detents for zero or mutes and its only got 3 channels.

-E580 delay. I do have a Time Machine; but good luck getting one.

-Z-DSP. This is one of my favorite modules, I love the delays.

-RCD/SCM/Timetable/A160/A161. There isn't much for fun with clocks aside from maybe Binary Zone and I suppose a window comparator in Frac-land.

-Sequencers with knobs. Z8000, Rene, SQ8. Quick editing of the Hex Zone is not really possible in the same manner.

-LFO's. Serious lack of good modulation sources in Frac. I'm thinking about the A143-1, Vulcan modulator, Dalek modulator, Dual Cyclotron.

-Vactrols. Never seen any in Frac. I love my QMMG and A102-1 LPG.


^ There is so much mis-information in this post.

- Blacet Mixer Processor does have detents.
Intellijel Mutagen does not polarize.

- MOTM F580 is available in Frac now via Blacet.

- Z-DSP... meh. I suppose you could get a Blacet FX/Reverb module if you want VCable DSP multi-effects.

- MetalBox/CGS Pulse Divider/Logic kicks ass for mad trigger patterns.
The closest Eurorack equivalent 4MS RCD + Intellijel Spock will cost you more.
The Blacet HexZone has no rival in any format for programmable sequential switching power (which can also be used for gate/trigger patterns).

- Binary Zone is a ton of fun for sequencing with knobs.
MetalBox/CGS Programmer / Sequencer looks pretty badass in that department too.
We shan't forget the awesome BugBrand CTL1 for knobby sequencing mania.

- Blacet Micro LFO is amongst the best available in any format,
and EG1 is amongst the most flexible envelopes.
I wouldn't trade my pair for any of the Euro modules that you mentioned.

- vactrols... Wiard Borg 2, Wiard Boogie, BugBrand Dual LPG.
...not to mention all the awesome stuff available in 15V DIY.


I have both Euro and Frac, and I personally find it beneficial to pick what you want/need from both formats.
Euro does have a lot of great modules on offer.
Several of the Frac designs are superior for a core system IMO.


Pretty much agree with all of this, though unfortunately some of the modules mentioned aren't easy to come by these days :(

Still, you can't go wrong with a Blacet based system. Just about all of the necessary tools are there, just up to the imagination (& bank balance I guess Dead Banana ) to obtain a vast amount of possibilities for synthesis with really high quality components.
dmitri
so i was putting together a little first order with blacet to go along with the psu. thinking that it would be good to get at least one or two usable modules. thinking that the blacet cv reverb would be knarley ! with some modulation and then it dawned on me that may be i been lookin at this the wrong way. and could start out with some modules to cv modulate the crap out of the moog littlephatty and other cv/midi gear.
this is so dope !
d
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