Why did YOU go Frac?

Blacet, Metalbox, Synthasonic, PAiA and the rest.... a frac frenzy!

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whitewulfe
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Post by whitewulfe » Sun Oct 19, 2014 9:19 pm

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.

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Post by beyourdog » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:21 pm

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. :despair:
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....

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Post by e-grad » Mon Oct 20, 2014 3:45 am

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/ ... 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.

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Post by qstate » Fri Nov 14, 2014 7:04 pm

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?

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Post by Kyhotay » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:11 pm

They have less than asinine graphics??? Simplicity wins out every time over oVER tHe t0P graphics.
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Post by e-grad » Sat Nov 15, 2014 5:17 am

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.
Last edited by e-grad on Sat Nov 15, 2014 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by whitewulfe » Sat Nov 15, 2014 9:45 am

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.

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Post by Cat-A-Tonic » Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:43 am

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.

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Post by Adam-V » Tue Nov 18, 2014 3:29 am

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.

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Post by noisefor » Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:55 pm

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.
Last edited by noisefor on Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by e-grad » Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:29 am

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.

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Post by noisefor » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:41 am

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. :yay:

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Post by tron23 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:03 am

At first it was Miniwave, then I got bugged! :mrgreen:

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Post by monstrinho » Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:01 pm

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.

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Post by noisefor » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:34 pm

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.

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Post by monstrinho » Mon Dec 01, 2014 2:57 pm

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:

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Post by noisefor » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:59 pm

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?

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Post by cram1960 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 12:42 pm

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.

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Post by CopperHydra » Wed Oct 26, 2016 5:55 am

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:

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Post by chamomileshark » Fri Oct 28, 2016 9:02 am

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
Key Gear: Wiard 300 Series, EMS VCS3, Frac Modular (Blacet, Wiard, Bananalogue & Synthesis Technology).

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Post by KingOfTheTKBs » Tue Nov 08, 2016 11:05 am

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.

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Post by whomper » Wed Oct 11, 2017 8:24 am

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...

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Re: Why did YOU go Frac?

Post by cslammy » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:48 am

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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