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Finishing out my first rack
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules  
Author Finishing out my first rack
Howdy, I've got some modules (9720 dual oscillator/modulator and 9730 dual filter/modulator) and and a rack from PAiA coming in on Monday.

I'm very excited to start assembling my first modular system!

I'm looking for recommendations on finishing out the rack. Right now I'm leaning towards the Blacet Super VCA and Improbability Drive and I'm going to put a passive mixer/quarter-inch out in the right ear (the other being occupied by the power supply panel). I'm trying to stay with 100% DIY/self-assembled modules.

As far as control, I have a Qunexus that I plan on using for keyboard cv, but I'd ideally like to move away from a keyboard and have a sequencer and further modulation on a second rack.

Any alternate recommendations on finishing out the rack are appreciated (as well as recommendations on the second).

Initially I was going to suggest an envelope generator, but I think the 2 Paia modules have some kind of A/R generator built in? Is that what you are planning on using to open the VCA?
If not, the Blacet DAD is a versatile envelope generator or the Metalbox ADSR, if you want the extra envelope stages.

You might also want to consider an LFO - the Blacet one is very good.

But good luck with your build!

Yup, the PAiA modules each have an A/R envelope generator, otherwise I'd definitely go for the DAD. After I get the VCA and see how I feel I'll decide on and LFO (one of the VCO's has a "low" setting) or the improbability drive... Of course, I may be getting ahead of myself. Who knows how long it'll take for me to get the VCO's calibrated.
I hate to burst your bubble but the 9720 with the "low" LFO function only goes down to 1Hz. Cycling the AR at maximum is slower than that. The only advantage is you have other waveforms to use. Don't get me wrong, I love the PAiA stuff and have two of the 9720 oscillators!

I use two of the Blacet LFOs in my rig and set them for different frequencies. They are really good modules. So is the Super VCA. You might think about the newer PAiA modules for a dual VCA and S/H. I don't have the Improbability module and do note every one raves about it.

Since you only have 4 spaces left I probably would go with the PAiA VCA, and the Blacet LFO along with their Binary Zone module. You'll have your basics covered and the BZ is just way too much fun for any modular system to have.

Whichever way you go, welcome to the wonderful and wacky world of Frac!
Yipes, with that in mind, I'm going with the PAiA VCA and a Blacet LFO.

We'll see what goes into that last couple of spaces - the Binary Zone looks awesome, except that it doesn't appear to be available on the Blacet site as a kit (or assembled).

Can't wait, tomorrow's when my kit's getting in - I've been trying to find time for this project for a few years now. It's always good to realize a dream.
The binary zone is awesome!

It has also dropped off the front page but is still listed on the manuals page as being in production. Hope this is just an issues with the web site and that it has not been discontinued.

I see there's a Metalrack ADSR on eBay (assembled...sorry). Michael also sells it as a kit. And don't forget about SynthCube. I have their Barton Dual Quantizer and AM4023 which is a 12dB ARP clone. It's a nice and gentle LPF which you will need to counteract the acidic 9730. They are coming out with more modules in both kit and assembled forms (for us guys who built PAiA kits in the early 70's and whose eyesight isn't what it was and the sodlering iron isn't quite as steady as it use to be!).
We'll see how it goes! I just put together the VCO and won't be home again for about two weeks, so my VCF will have to wait.

I was considering making the Barton Quantizer my most DIY project ever and manufacture and silkscreen the faceplate myself. I've never messed withe either, but a sample and hold with quantizer seems like an amazing combo.

How many spaces does the AM4023 take up?
You are a fast builder! Maybe I should hire you for some projects!!

The AM4023 comes in either a 1 Frac Unit or 2. I have the two which has more controls/features but, depending on your needs and space limitations, it may be perfect for your set up.

BTW, there is a new mod for the 4730 Q control to tame it it somewhat. It's on a recent PAiATalk posting that Scott Lee did. It may be something to consider as you are building it.
The provided instructions/checklists made the process a breeze. Although I have been running some numbers in my head for assembling modules and effects pedals as a side business...

Thanks for all of the recommendations and info! My half-finished filter is taunting me from across the country, but when I get back and finish that up I'll probably be ordering the VCA pretty soon. After that I feel like I'll have enough to mess around for a while and see what I'd like to do.

I did see that filter mod and, if you're talking about the one that connects some legs on an IC with resistors, it was included in the instructions as an errata with the extra resistors in a little baggie. PAiA may not be flashy, but their customer service appears to be awesome, with Scott responding to several emails I've sent him with technical questions.
Scott's the best.

Keep in mind PAiA pretty much created the DIY synthesizer movement plus they are the inventor of the Frac system. John Blacet, Thomas Henry and many others who make their living making analog modules, wrote up their project ideas in the pages of Polyphony (later Electronic Musician - yes, that Electronic Musician) magazine that was published by PAiA.

Their FatMan synth was one of the first MIDI controlled analog synthesizer to appear on the scene and the Frac system pretty much helped usher in this new age of modular synthesizers.

Not too bad for a company that's not too flashy! applause
dJ dAb
Amen! ^
I'd strongly recommend getting a Super VCA. It is so much more than 5 (!) high quality VCAs:

- It's a splitter, panner, fader, swapper, attentuator.

- Each VCA has both linear and exponential response plus any response in between these extremes.

Kyhotay wrote:
Keep in mind PAiA pretty much created the DIY synthesizer movement plus they are the inventor of the Frac system.

Yes! IIRC Grant's/Wiard started DIY with PAiA kits.

Kyhotay wrote:
John Blacet, Thomas Henry and many others who make their living making analog modules, wrote up their project ideas in the pages of Polyphony (later Electronic Musician - yes, that Electronic Musician) magazine that was published by PAiA.

Interesting - didn't know that.
I also have the Super VCA and it is killer, there's soooo many uses for it. I also have two dual VCAs by PAiA along with their 9740(?) VCA/Mixer/Expo Converter/Noise Module/Balanced Modulator/ADSR/LFO! It's the closest PAiA has to Blacet's multi-purpose modules that go well beyond the basic features.

There's several other authors that got their start, or at least the word out, to the DIY community that PAiA helped foster. I just can't recall them all. Doug Slocum, of Synthetic Sounds Labs was a PAiA rep and repair shop on the east coast although I don't recall if he wrote for Polyphony. Of course Craig Anderton's fingerprints are all over the mag!
Part of why we're so bullish on frac is to be able to carry on some of that great earlier work from so many people... The form factor and visual design have a great place amongst all the other formats.
And that's why I keep buying your modules! Keep up the great work. we're not worthy
I'm going to add a +1 for the Super VCA, I think it is the most versatile module in my entire rack, very powerful.
Super VCA is one of the most versatile modules out there.

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