Design a Beginners Rack

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guestt

Design a Beginners Rack

Post by guestt » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:02 pm

I've been thinking about how there were so many newbie threads asking for advice on their module choices for their first rack, which of course is totally cool, but I wondered if there was another way to approach this and have some fun at the same time.

So, thought I'd start a challenge thread, there is only one rule: design a rack 3U / 84hp that is suitable for a person new to modular and share an image here - that's it!

I'm a huge fan of Mutable Instruments so I've started this off with a little MI rack that could do anything from 4 voice drum sets to pretty complex drones and wicked bass/lead lines, this is a deceptively versatile little setup:

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An alternative would be to swap out Tides for Rings perhaps - that would be fun too!

Here's links to the selected modules for further reading:

http://mutable-instruments.net/modules/yarns £249 - A midi interface with thru midi (important for me!) and scale quantising, but also a sh101 style sequencer, euclidean pattern generator and oscillator too! The variety of options here is bewildering at first, enough to keep anyone happy for quite some time.

http://mutable-instruments.net/modules/peaks £139 - swiss army knife of modulation - the tap follower is crazy good and the 808 style drums are some of the best available in Eurorack imho!

http://mutable-instruments.net/modules/braids £295 - a huge array of sound sources, all digital, but they can sound quite analogue if treated well! Light on modulation options, but rich in variation, it can also be uploaded with alternative firmware Bees in the trees for more stuff!

http://mutable-instruments.net/modules/tides £185 - Olivier says this is still probably the best module he has ever made, tons of modulation and a big blurring of lines between what an LFO and an audio rate oscillator are - it sounds fab at audio rate!

http://mutable-instruments.net/modules/warps £175 - wave folder++ for crazy timbres! Another Oscillator and it will do through zero fm too!

http://mutable-instruments.net/modules/streams £179 - super snappy envelopes, envelope follower and compressor amongst other things - it sounds great!

http://mutable-instruments.net/modules/links £55 - I think all modulars should have buffered mults, but this also includes a little mixer which I use all the time for stereo stuff.

http://mutable-instruments.net/modules/shades £79 - and finally an attenuvertor for modifying signals and mixing.

Approximate cost not including case: £1356
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Last edited by guestt on Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:59 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by sgnhh » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:35 pm

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Post by brandonlogic » Mon Jan 04, 2016 4:40 pm

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Post by Natsche » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:38 pm

I tried to follow few rules: No "Synth Voice" module (not that it's bad, but it was for the challenge), easily accessible (at least one store in USA and Europe who sells it), "low-cost"-ish (I think I failed) and with an output module.

The necessity:
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Around 1'150 dollars

Expanded:
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Around 1'900 dollars

Here it is on modular grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/244651

I created a system that I would like to use, some people wouldn't need an output module, noise and sample and hold, or midi in their first system.

This system is a pretty basic one, it offers two oscillators, one filter, a multi-function module and few enveloppe generator/LFO. (and utility thingie.)It was thought to be use with a midi keyboard going to a DAW and then going into the modular. You can also use it without having an audio interface or mixing table. It would probably sound like basic monophonic synth, but it's a good start.
From left to right.
  • MIDI2 - Pittsburgh Modular: A duophonic midi module, with sync ouput. I like having a sync output because I use a DAW.
    Oscillator - V2 Pittsburgh Modular: A simple VCO module with FM or PW modulation.
    A-110 - Doepfer: Also a VCO module, but with a bit more modulation capabilities. It also has a sine wave.
    Filter - Pittsburgh Modular: A multi-mode filter, I chose it because I think it's nice to be able to test other filters than just a low-pass. Has resonnance and filter modulation, always nice.
    Rayonnement - Eowave: ADSR enveloppe, it has a cycle option which is nice.
    A-147 - Doepfer: A VCO with 4 shapes, you can modulate the frequency on it, really interesting to play with it.
    A-171-2 VCS - Doepfer: This one is a bit more special. I wanted to have a second enveloppe or LFO, this one can do both. It's a slew limiter which actually change the shape of the signal you feed it. It can create ASR or AR enveloppe. It has some modulation input, so you can have some pretty interesting patten/shape/sound with it.
    NOISE - Malekko Heavy Industry: Not everybody like noise, but I love it because it can give you some great modulation source or sound. This one has 4 types of noises. The digital noise is a kind of lo-fi sound, but could be great for some patches, also have a CV input for the noise.
    A-148 - Doepfer: It's also a module that isn't useful for everybody but it offers Sample and Hold, and Track and Hold. In general S&H goes well with noise as the sample and a rhythmic trigger.
    uVCA 2 - Intellijel: A dual VCA with knobs. You could go with knobless VCA but I like to have some controls over my signals.
    Unity Mixer - Intellijel: To sum CV signal or even audio if you don't want to use the mixer.
    Disting Mk3 - Expert Sleepers: Is a digital multi-function module, it offers a large range of possibility. I think this module is good for newcomers because you can test a lot of things with it. You have to use the menu and you can use only a function at a time but you will be able to discover function you don't even know you would need or like. See here for the possibilities: http://expert-sleepers.co.uk/disting.html.
    Mix - Manhattan Analog: Simple Mix module to mix CV or audio. Important to have more control over your system.
    OUTS - Pittsburgh Modular: As I understand the signal from a modular is too high voltage to directly output to monitors or headphones, you have to attenuate first and also put them in stereo. This module does just that, the out audio from your modular.
Synth Voice modules are really good for the possibility to price ratio, but it's a choice if you like pre-patch or not. I would actually recommend to start with a semi-modular synth, like the Mother-32 or the Atlantis.
Last edited by Natsche on Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

guestt

Post by guestt » Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:34 pm

Excellent - this is exactly what I had in mind, great work!! Really interesting to see different ideas, inspiring for sure :)

I like them all, especially the total antithesis to mine sgnhh hehe :tu:

I also thought the Erica Synths Polivox makes for a rather nice starter setup:

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I'm not sure I have the right midi to cv module, but the idea is there, well of course it's not my idea at all - all credit to Erica Synths for this one!

The DIY is not too hard but there are a few tricky points, but if you're up for it this is a very cheap way to enter, total cost is a mere 568 Euro and that includes the midi interface!!
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Post by appliancide » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:13 pm

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Post by albiedamned » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:38 pm

appliancide wrote:dirtari
Presumably you have dirt from each of the seven continents there, to give you lots of different flavors. Is the eighth one moon dust?
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Post by shredsickgnar » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:45 pm

Great! It would help us newbs if you guys gave a quick break down of why you choose each module.
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Post by appliancide » Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:25 am

albiedamned wrote:
appliancide wrote:dirtari
Presumably you have dirt from each of the seven continents there, to give you lots of different flavors. Is the eighth one moon dust?
The eighth one is dirt from Forrest Mims's garden. I cannot 100% confirm whether or not Mr Mims blessed the 556 chip in the APC, but the tone stepping is quite heavenly...

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Post by Natsche » Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:21 am

shredsickgnar wrote:Great! It would help us newbs if you guys gave a quick break down of why you choose each module.
Good idea, I edited my post to give more informations about the system and each modules.

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Post by Umcorps » Tue Jan 05, 2016 12:43 pm

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From left to right

E620 midi (forthcoming) Because it will host a controller/iDevice directly
Tirana. Small but funky sequencer
Nanorand. Maximum uncertainty in minimum space
Disting. 16 modules in 4hp
Dual oscillator. Because if I could only have 1 oscillator this would probably be it.
TriAtt Every system needs attenuators
Quadra Envelopes or +ve LFOs. This system needs modulators. Together with triAtt you've got a lot of flexibility here.
Quad LPG. Thought hard about this cos its quite large. An alternative might be to just get a dual LPG (e.g. optomix) which would then leave a bit of room for expansion. Maybe a couple of LS-1 lightstrips there would be fun. But with al the outs on the dual osc plus the option of having Disting as an oscillator, just a dual gate might feel a bit limiting.

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Post by bobbcorr » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:14 pm

This is a fascinating challenge. Given my limited experience, however, all I can do is recommend what I know - and those are the modules I've actually used.

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Left to right:

Xaoc Poti/Batumi: The most flexible, "playable" LFO for the size that I know of. The new firmware promises even more fun. I opt for the 3HP expander because I like switching between the waveforms.

Malekko MUTE 4: Transforms the LFO into a performance device: combine the waveforms and pick the one you want to "play" on the fly. Pairs nicely with the Brain Seed.

Expert Sleepers Disting mk3: Because Disting. I sold my mk2, and may buy a mk3 if it persists in the market for a year. For the small-rack beginner, it offers a lot of functionality in a small space and an awful lot of lessons.

Make Noise Maths2 (with Grayscale panel): Because Maths. I think it is essential for the small-rack beginner, as it combines lots of functionality in an accessible way. And sorry, I really like the replacement panel.

Mannequins Mangrove: Oh, how I love this VCO. So expressive and flexible.

Malekko Performance Buffered Multiple: Because you need a buffered mult IMO and this one allows you the flexibility to combine signals on the fly.

Mannequins Three Sisters: Oh, how I love this VCF. It wails when it self-oscillates, and it delivers endless wiggling pleasure.

Mutable Instruments Warps: Brand new to me, but for a small-rack beginner it makes awesome noises. It's internal carrier oscillator means its essentially another voice - which means you could conceivable generate four voices out of this rack with some clever multing (Disting, Mangrove, Three Sisters, Warps).

Antimatter Audio Brain Seed: It covers a lot of bases and makes you really think about performing too. Feed it a signal, hit Seed In, then just let it play into the VCA while you whip up something else to play with it into another VCA channel. Wow.

ALM Tangle Quartet: Tremendous value for the size. The Bubblesound VCA4p is another contender, but I've never used one. The "mix" output of the Tangle Quartet can also feed your headphones (be careful tho) or an external speaker.

Having done this exercise, I'm glad I opted for 126HP in my first rig so I had room for Peaks and Clouds (among other things).

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Post by strangegravity » Tue Jan 05, 2016 2:25 pm

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Post by taintedsun » Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:57 pm

If this thread is an attempt to brew up interesting ideas for new racks and/or inspire new modular users, keep on keeping on! If the goal is to reduce newbie threads, eh...

When I started, I made my own thread but, thinking back, it was a waste of everyone's time, including mine. Newbie threads are a bit like asking someone in the pool how cold the water. Just jump in and figure it out for yourself. If anything, this thread will go on to prove my point, too; just look at how little overlap there already is

I don't know, modular life is very public prior to taking the plunge and then quite introspective once your toes are wet. At least, in my opinion.
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Post by Roy72 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:31 am

This is mine - Voltage memory for sequencing, keys and arp.

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3 oscillators, which can also be LFOs, mixer and attenuators. The Qu-Bit nano rand, lots of random in a small box. The uMod does ring mod, can be a VCA, a mixer, and can combine waves in a lot of other interesting ways. 2 envelopes, of course - I haven't tried the FC ones, but I couldn't fit the Intellijel dual ADSR (love sliders on ADSR). The Intellijel filter because it also produces a sine wave for modulating. And, the Meng Qi DPLPG - great VCA/LPG in 2hp and its passive (I want more!).

Unlike the others, haven't used midi input to make a playable system!

guestt

Post by guestt » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:44 am

Niiiiiice!! This is great, I know I said I started this just for a bit of fun, but I am actually learning quite a lot here, great to see everyones designs and approaches!

Good idea on the breakdown shredsickgnar - I'll go back and edit mine!

I also had a thought that it would be really good to hear what these systems sound like too - I realise that's a big ask, so the original rule is the only requirement to participate, but if you can write up about the modules and add sounds too then I'm sure it's going to help a lot of people!

I don't know these modules at all other than by reading about them*, but I thought the Endorphin.es would make a great starter system too:

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* apart from the ShuttleControl which is a beast and perfect for hooking up to an iPad, a computer or actually pretty much any midi controller, I've tried with a Qunexus, a Quneo and a Bitstream - all worked perfectly! It does require a bit of setup work, but it's not difficult.
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Post by Goosecheese » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:49 am

Wow, you guys have put together some really beautiful setups! My proposal looks weak in comparison :hail:

Well, I've tried to keep this as simple as possible, as I have never built one before, and my experience has so far been limited to patching software synths, which I love (Audulus, Zmors, Reaktor etc.) but I have an urge to twirl real knobs.

I've been lurking for a while, and think I'm going to take the plunge soon, but I want to get a feel before I dive fully head first. I am hoping that this will give me enough to start making somewhat musical(?) noise, while giving me a mix of ready made and DIY modules.

I like making Rythmic/melodic Patches, as well as experimenting and making strange noises, and jamming along with keys/guitar/ukulele/kazoo/spoons.

I know from my previous experiences building an MFOS noise toaster that I like soldering PCBs, but hate panel wiring, but can probably manage it for simpler modules.
What I've come up with so far:
  • Ladik O-110 VCO1
    Ladik O-510 Synare 2 (Dual voice, Noise/LFO/Osc)
    Bastl Instruments Multiple
    Ladik C-040 Dual AD/AR EG.
    Doepfer A-160-2 Clock Divider
    Mutable Instruments Ripples
    Barton VCA Mixer.
I might then follow this up at a later date with:
  • intellijel uVCA2
    Ladik C214 ADSR **replaced with eowave Rayonnement , thanks to natsche**
    MATHS
    Mutable Instruments CV pal
And whatever crazy modules I find/DIY. I have a dalek voice modulator and 555 Osc that I built lying about, I might try to convert these to Euro Format for a laugh, and perhaps find a way to use the arduino or raspberry pi I have lying about to feed my midi keyboard into the mix.

Feel free to comment/throw whatever advice/abuse you think I might need, or point out what I've missed, which I undoubtedly have. After playing with Audulus lately I almost forgot entirely about VCAs. Haha.

*edit - changed ADSR module
Last edited by Goosecheese on Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Goosecheese » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:55 am

Now since I've made 2 posts I can post an image of what I am talking about!!

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Post by Roy72 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:59 am

I'd love one of those complete Endorphin.es rigs, not sure about them as starter boxes, that terminal is a touch obtuse.

guestt

Post by guestt » Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:13 am

Roy72 wrote:I'd love one of those complete Endorphin.es rigs, not sure about them as starter boxes, that terminal is a touch obtuse.
I know exactly what you mean Roy72, the manuals are really good though... I think it would be fun setup and personally wouldn't necessarily discourage anyone from getting it as a first rack if they liked the sounds, spending time with it is going to unobtuseify it!

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Post by RLK » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:25 am

I see there's only one rule, but what is the most appropriate 3U/84hp criteria for a "noob"?

Bang for :75: ?
Bang for HP?
Versatility?
"My Favorites" for 84hp?
Something to learn with?

Of course these aren't all mutually exclusive.

EDIT: Hey Look-ee, 100 posts at long last!!
Last edited by RLK on Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

guestt

Post by guestt » Wed Jan 06, 2016 11:27 am

RLK wrote:I see there's only one rule, but what is the most appropriate 3U/84hp criteria for a "noob"?

Bang for :75: ?
Bang for HP?
Versatility?
"My Favorites" for 84hp?
Something to learn with?

Of course these aren't all mutually exclusive.
As an experienced designer, those are your decisions to make, but seeing as you brought it up, why not do one each for all 5 of your criteria ;)

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Post by geh2oman » Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:36 pm

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I think I went with a "versatility, can be far out there or snug as a bug in a rug, learn the basics of modular" approach. I definitely have a particular taste, though…

Qu-Bit Nano Rand: Something to clock the sequencer, provide some noise, do all the great Nano Rand things.
STG Graphic Sequencer: Eight steps, visual indicators, nice and intuitive.
Intellijel µStep: Especially for someone first approaching modular, it can be intimidating not to have the kind of musical pitches one is used to.
Synthesis Technology E350: Toss-up between this and Braids, but I went with the more knobby direction. Amazing amount of timbres available and modulation points for someone to dive into.
Intellijel Dixie II: And on the analog side, the great Dixie to provide some classic synth tones.
Doepfer A-171-2: So we get some Buchla in the sequencer, we can get some Serge in the slope generator!
Mannequins Three Sisters: Personally an amazing and deep filter with great timbral shaping between the 4in/4out, switchable to all bandpass.
Mutable Peaks: So this one's not as straightforward, but you gain instead in versatility. Is it a sequencer? An envelope? An LFO? A snare drum? … yes it is!
Ladik Reverb: Because everything sounds better with some reverb.
Bastl Quattro Figaro: 4 VCAs, normaled inverting, varied sum outputs, wonderful applications for stereo. Pairs super well with the Ladik reverb and 3 Sisters.

So! That's my suggestion, though I only own half of these.

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Post by taintedsun » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:03 pm

Eh, so despite my rant above... here's a 84hp setup for someone who wants drums.

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This box would make wild drums patterns never heard before. It would also be very playable and require lots of hands on love, as it has no modulation. I'm a fan of this, others may not be. If you wanted some modulation, you could replace the DLY and QCD with a Batumi and a Quad-Atten, or a Function and something else. If you wanted more logic, you could replace either the RCD or SCM with one of the RYO Discrete modules.

As of this post, the price is $1,947 but a number of the modules are DIY (noted below with a *).

Modules:

CLX by Evaton Technologies: clock source, has built in logic
Shuffling Clock Multiplier V2* by 4ms: main trigger source
Rotating Clock Divider V2* by 4ms: additional trigger source
Quad Clock Distributor by 4ms: makes the clocks playable
Mutant Bassdrum* by Hexinverter: ... bass
Mutant Snare* by Hexinverter: ... snare
Mutant Hihats* by Hexinverter: ... hi-hats
DLY* by Synthrotek: delay to shuffle beats around
Pole-Zero by WMD/SSF: for fattening up the bass drum
MUTE 4 by Malekko Heavy Industry: muting on the beat, as opposed to "ramped" muting with a potentiometer
A-138b (Logarithmic) by Doepfer: straight forward mixer
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guestt

Post by guestt » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:56 pm

Just to say thank you to everyone who has designed a rack so far... :tu: :tu: :tu:

Have to say, this is already way better than I thought it might be - really inspiring stuff!!

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