Modular Synth Basics! Cases, power, modules, CV?! Come in :)

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broccolifish
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Post by broccolifish » Sun Sep 30, 2018 4:42 pm

I've been waiting/hoping to get into Eurorack. I think it might happen this winter. I've got a Microbrute and a Dreadbox Erebus, a Mininova, and a couple of Volcas. I'm wondering if I'd regret it if I sold it all so I could start with a bigger Eurorack setup, as opposed to getting just a few modules that I could interface with the Erebus and the Microbrute.

One of the difficult parts of my current setup is that it's all based around keyboards - a Keystep and the Microbrute - and I find the alternative control types really intriguing. I'm also thinking the west coast style is the direction I'll eventually go, but the 'Brute and the Erebus are decidedly subtractive/East Coasty. So... should I sell it all, or just buy a little tiny starter setup?

Thoughts?

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flx
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Post by flx » Sun Sep 30, 2018 11:59 pm

No, don't sell it all and start small and slowly, but with a big enough case, like 6U. At the beginning you won't know how exactly you'll use your modular synth, so the risk is high that you'll buy things you don't actually want in the end. Get a few modules to compliment your current favorite synths and figure out the way to expand as you play them.
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cptnal
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Post by cptnal » Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:26 am

Agree with flx. Modular is a pretty big leap in workflow and understanding. If you get too much at once you risk getting yourself lost and end up regretting it.

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The Junglechrist
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Post by The Junglechrist » Mon Oct 01, 2018 3:42 am

I also fully agree with flx on this.


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broccolifish
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Post by broccolifish » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:29 am

Thank you!!

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Lux A Turner
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Post by Lux A Turner » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:42 am

Speaking as a modular noob myself: I agree with flx, too. Sure, I'm gradually selling off some of my keyboards to part-fund a small (6-9U) system, but am not expecting it to be the be-all-and-end-all of my music-making tech - at least not in the short-medium term.

Yes - I've become interested in West Coast, but cannot deny that I still enjoy bashing out chords / tunes and playing around with the MPC. I still need to work out how to incorporate West Coast techniques with what I've been doing for the last 10 years or so. It's Evolution not Revolution for me.

I heartily recommend VCV Rack as a sandbox. It's a lot of fun in itself and great for a) getting used to patching b) experimenting with types of modules (e.g. logic, adders, comparators and sequential switches) of which I have no previous experience and c) showing me how little I really need. These forums and Youtube are also proving invaluable, for picking up tips and ideas on what might work best for me.

All in all, I'll probably start to get the first 3U together sometime around next Easter - around 6-8 months after I first decided, "Yes, I want a modular". By then, I reckon I'll have enough of a clue to get most of what I need, first time around, without making too many expensive mistakes, falling victim to GAS (again) and getting all frustrated.

sakodak
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Post by sakodak » Mon Oct 01, 2018 8:19 pm

Hey, thanks for putting all those videos together!

This seems to be a "I'm new plz help" thread, but feel free to point me somewhere else if it's not.

I'm just getting started with modular. I have a neutron and a Maths (and an unassembled Music Thing spring reverb) and I'm looking for some more modulation sources to poke into the neutron while I'm learning. Is the Doepfer A-143-3 Quad LFO pretty much the best bang for the buck I'm going to find for this purpose? Is there anything more interesting out there that gives me multiple modulation sources for around the same price? I'm looking at one used for $115 USD, so that's kind of hard to beat. That said I'm not unwilling to go up a bit. Over $200-ish is a bit much while I figure out if I wanna keep going though.

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flx
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Post by flx » Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:19 am

sakodak wrote:Hey, thanks for putting all those videos together!

This seems to be a "I'm new plz help" thread, but feel free to point me somewhere else if it's not.

I'm just getting started with modular. I have a neutron and a Maths (and an unassembled Music Thing spring reverb) and I'm looking for some more modulation sources to poke into the neutron while I'm learning. Is the Doepfer A-143-3 Quad LFO pretty much the best bang for the buck I'm going to find for this purpose? Is there anything more interesting out there that gives me multiple modulation sources for around the same price? I'm looking at one used for $115 USD, so that's kind of hard to beat. That said I'm not unwilling to go up a bit. Over $200-ish is a bit much while I figure out if I wanna keep going though.
The quad LFO is certainly a nice LFO, but there isn’t much to it, i.e. there isn’t any voltage control or special “modular” feature ... and 115$ doesn’t seem like a steal. It’s listed on the German Doepfer site at 120€.

Maybe you can find an A-143-2 below 200 bucks used? That’s a quad ADSR with looping (LFO) and chaining capabilities. It’s a bit big, but if you have the space left, it will certainly be a good learning tool I think. It’s a bit similar to your Maths.
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/doepfer-a-143-2

Or how about a Turing Machine with expanders? That’s also an awesome module.

What I like to do is browse ModularGrid and set the function drop down to LFO, CV Modulation, Function Generator, or something else and then pick a max module size (hp) that I want the module to have. This usually narrows the search down and usually I see one or two modules that seem intruiging, which I research then.
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cptnal
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Post by cptnal » Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:28 am

Hey, sakodak. Welcome to the board. Have you seen this for Maths...?

http://www.mediafire.com/file/671bvycm7 ... ntable.pdf

Maths can be a modulation powerhouse on its own (among other things) and when I was starting out I just went through the patchbook one at a time. Some of them I didn't get, so I just skipped them. It wasn't until I was further down the modular path that I understood those ones and why they're useful. One of the great things about Maths - you can take it at your own pace. :tu:

sakodak
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Post by sakodak » Tue Oct 02, 2018 11:16 am

flx wrote: The quad LFO is certainly a nice LFO, but there isn’t much to it, i.e. there isn’t any voltage control or special “modular” feature ... and 115$ doesn’t seem like a steal. It’s listed on the German Doepfer site at 120€.

Maybe you can find an A-143-2 below 200 bucks used? That’s a quad ADSR with looping (LFO) and chaining capabilities. It’s a bit big, but if you have the space left, it will certainly be a good learning tool I think. It’s a bit similar to your Maths.
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/doepfer-a-143-2

Or how about a Turing Machine with expanders? That’s also an awesome module.

What I like to do is browse ModularGrid and set the function drop down to LFO, CV Modulation, Function Generator, or something else and then pick a max module size (hp) that I want the module to have. This usually narrows the search down and usually I see one or two modules that seem intruiging, which I research then.
Thank you very much for your suggestions!

I'd love to get a Turing Machine, but I can't find a DIY kit in stock to save my life.

My thought process was: I kind of just want a "traditional" LFO for this specific purpose. Maths can be a bit unpredictable (right now) and I want to be able to clearly hear what's modulating so I can get a good feel for what the things being modulated sound like. Having four identical LFOs will let me leave things patched and do quick A/B(/C/D) listening. Once I know what to expect across the curve then I can apply that knowledge in a more targeted manner with stuff like Maths. Maybe that's silly, but it's what I was thinking.

sakodak
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Post by sakodak » Tue Oct 02, 2018 11:20 am

cptnal wrote:Hey, sakodak. Welcome to the board. Have you seen this for Maths...?

http://www.mediafire.com/file/671bvycm7 ... ntable.pdf

Maths can be a modulation powerhouse on its own (among other things) and when I was starting out I just went through the patchbook one at a time. Some of them I didn't get, so I just skipped them. It wasn't until I was further down the modular path that I understood those ones and why they're useful. One of the great things about Maths - you can take it at your own pace. :tu:
Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it.

I do have that printed out and next to me while playing around. I replied just a bit ago in the thread about why I want multiple traditional LFOs, but in short I want to use them for ear training. The Maths is great and a lot of fun to play with, but I wanted something more utilitarian (for this specific purpose.)

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JayEm
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Post by JayEm » Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:09 pm

Chozal wrote:Hi all,

so my first case just arrived (iko).

And now the first noob hurdle ... What plug do I actually use ? I know it's a dumb, dumb question, but I'm absolutely useless with most practical things. Wouldn't want to fry stuff. I assume I'd need a laptop-style cable, the plug itself looks like it could be powered by the cables I use for my guitar amps (aka this https://www.thomann.de/fr/the_sssnake_s ... bel_5m.htm)

Any insight hugely appreciated :D <3
i got the 3u orange case from iko and the power supply was mounted inside already. Only needs a standard 3 prong AC cable to run. Which case did you get? If it has a big Meanwell box mounted inside you just need the ac cable. You may even have a few kicking around the house (its the same type used to send power to monitors, desktops and a number of other devices)
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evanc
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Post by evanc » Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:00 am

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/754754

have this + mother 32. really happy with everything, not really trying to add anything else at the moment. that said, anything obvious missing? just doing kind of floaty generative stuff at the moment with some light melodic sequences but eventually will branch out

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Post by artieTwelve » Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:27 pm

evanc wrote:https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/754754
anything obvious missing?
You might need a simple mixer soon. Bubble sound makes a good 6x1 kit. Easy to put together. Other than that, maybe a second VCO. A Dixie 2 or a Make Noise STO will add a nice second voice to an ambient patch.

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LFOs and Turning Knobs

Post by mattcolville » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:13 pm

Ok here's a couple of questions I've had for like 10 months now. Basically my entire eurorack life.

I often use an LFO to modulate something. There's a knob like...Brightness on Rings. There's a jack below the knob, and between them an attenuverter.

But rare is the time when I want to turn the knob from 0 to 100. Often there's like a sweet spot of maybe 45 degrees in there and I want the LFO to just wiggle the knob between these two spots.

As far as I can tell, this is not normal LFO functionality. It seems like LFOs are mostly concerned with "how often" but not actually "how much" or even "within what range?" which are two different questions.

If I send the LFO through a VCA, I can control the "how much." Without changing frequency, I can change amplitude and this is good. Good use of a VCA. Although given how often I want to change the amplitude of the LFO it's sort of baffling neither of my go-to LFOs (Batumi, Doepfer Quad LFDO) have these as built in knobs.

But so far all I've found for "within what range?" is using an adder like Links or vpmne's T43. That works! I was deliriously happy to discover that after thinking hard about this and concluding it SHOULD work if I did this, it did! (LFO to VCA to adder) + (Maths' channel 2 voltage to adder) = an LFO that does all the things I expect. I can use the LFO to control frequency, the VCA to control amplitude, and the adder to control the range. I can now twiddle a knob however much I want, as fast as I want, within an arbitrary range. I suppose I could have used a mixer instead of an adder (and I could have used the VCA as a mixer).

Is this normal? I mean, is this how other people get an LFO to wiggle between two arbitrary levels? They need an LFO and a VCA and a mixer/adder? For me, I want this functionality from my LFO so often I'm surprised they're not just basic LFO functions. It makes me feel like there's something I'm missing, like maybe I'm trying to do something weird, or I'm doing something normal in a weird way.

Next question;

When I use CV to turn a knob...am I **replacing** the knob? Or am I supplementing it? If I want the LFO to take over a knob like the aforementioned Brightness on Rings, will plugging CV cause the module to ignore the knob's position, or does it add the LFO's CV to the knob's position?

And is there a standard for that? I mean to say, if I know the answer for one module, is the answer the same for all modules? Is it different from one company to another? Is it different within modules from the same company?

You'd think there would be an easy way to test this but a lot of these knobs do weird things that aren't evident on a scope.

Thanks for any help. I should have asked this a million years ago but I kept thinking it would soon become clear. :D

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flx
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Post by flx » Tue Oct 16, 2018 12:44 am

Check out this video again:
[video][/video]


So you will probably need an attenuverter + offset module, if I understand you correctly.

Why aren't those built into LFOs? Because it's a modular synth and you can simply add the features you nees by adding modules. Also, most modules that receive CV, like a filter, will have a CV attenuator knob plus a "base value" knob to act as an offset.

Example: You send an LFO to a Low Pass Filter's cutoff CV input. The input attenuator will control the amplitude of the incoming CV, or the modulation strength (how far the LFO will open the filter). Now if you turn the attenuator to the middle position, the LFO will only open the filter half way (50%) and by adjusting the cutoff knob, you control the base value, the LFO CV will be added to. So set the cutoff to the middle, then the filter will go from 50-100%. Turn it down to zero and the filter will go from 0-50%.

Same with a VCA. Gain/Bias sets the base value and the CV attenuator the amount of added gain by CV.

Of course an LFO can swing between negative and positive voltages, eg from -5V ton+5V. So it will subtract and add to the base value, which should make the base value the middle point around which the modulation happens.

This is all typical behavior, but there are no standards, so check the manuals for each module's exact way of working.
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TEKBRAIN
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Post by TEKBRAIN » Thu Oct 18, 2018 5:33 am

Dcramer wrote:Excellent job and good timing as there have been requests for exactly this!
I beg you could do an amazing video detailing the power connection issues most new users face when starting in Eurorack. :tu:
The power connection issues :razz: :mrgreen

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Post by nhouse » Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:41 am

nice

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artaslove
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Post by artaslove » Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:51 pm

Uh yes, those pesky keyed power connectors... second post! Now I can start a topic in theory. :party:

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Post by mmpingo » Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:20 am

evanc wrote:https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/754754

have this + mother 32.
How do you use a VCA without knobs (RYO 3VCA)?

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cptnal
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Post by cptnal » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:07 am

A knob on a VCA does two things - it attenuates any CV you patch into it and, if no CV is patched, it attenuates a DC offset that's normalled to the knob. So if there's no knob there's no attenuation on your CV, and you need to have CV patched because there's no offset behind the panel.

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Post by Griuk_negyvas » Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:39 am

hi. im newbie in eurorack. i have make noise maths, sto, modemix,rosie,wogglebug. i think add at my rack telharmonic and lxd. is this good decision? :despair: some recomendations?

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Donny
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Post by Donny » Tue Dec 18, 2018 1:25 pm

Hey all o/
I've just recently gained interest in modular synthesis, I've had previous experience with producing on daw's and using vst's as well as owning a few volca's and a novation circuit.

Last month I brought a neutron and a 6u 84hp diy case with a transformer and bus boards, would 2 bus boards be enough to power a 9u case if I buy another pair of rails?

The end product that I think I want from my rack is to be able to make a semi-fleshed out track from it, inc drums and sequencing, anyone have any suggestions of what modules would possibly be a good addition to the neutron for this purpose?

Also, the modules I'm looking at are maths as well as the Prok drum modules and some effects modules, another thing maybe to add is that I am experienced in soldering and would be looking to do most of my modules diy to save money.

Currently I've using the circuit as a midi controller/sequencer for the neutron but I am unsure I will be able to use that for the whole rack once I've got some got drum modules, I know that drums are on midi track 10 on the circuit but I'm not sure if there's a midi to cv module that will translate that to cv?

I know this is a loaded post but if someone would give me some ideas, I would appreciate it haha

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1986Bowler
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Post by 1986Bowler » Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:17 pm

These videos are sooooo good. I have been watching them over and over to get a better.

PLEASE keep making these- they're fantastic.

That being said, I'm now in that horrible tipping point to get into modular :omg:. I've got two semi-modulars- the Neutron and the Model D- and I really want to move forward with a case and some modules.

Do you have a recommendation for a very first module? I like the concept of the Doepfer stuff as starter modules, but I LOVE the Mutable Instruments stuff- I want something that I can really enjoy straight up. I know that Maths is another one that is considered a must-have, but I'm unsure where to start.

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sognage
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Post by sognage » Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:30 am

One of my absolute favourite threads! Thank you!

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