Design a Beginners Rack

Cwejman, Livewire, TipTop Audio, Doepfer etc... Get your euro on!

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CervelloAnalogico
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Post by CervelloAnalogico » Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:13 pm

I'm working my way through the modular world with the exact intention of not missing out the fun.
I have a fairly large experience with non-modular synthesisers and I've been fancying a trip on the modular route for a very long time. I'll try to find the best way into it, maybe trying some semi modulars first! Thanks again for this post!
Baddcr wrote:
CervelloAnalogico wrote:This is really fantastic, thank you so much.
I came here exactly to get started with modular synths and this is just epic. :bananaguitar:
That's great to hear CervelloAnalogico and pretty much exactly what I hoped this thread might do :mrgreen: :guinness:

I remember back when I started; it's so overwhelming, the dizzying array of options available that seems to change on an almost daily basis and then there's loads of little bits of knowledge you need to be able to make sensible decisions. It takes time to learn it all and approaching that without a particular vision in mind is tough.

I'm not saying you would do this, but just in case... it is entirely possible that you could just go for one of the designs, but I don't think they should be taken as a substitute for doing your own research, that would be a mistake and to be perfectly honest you'd be missing out on a big part of the fun.

They are of course very well thought out designs with a ton of experience and knowledge behind them (thanks again everyone!!) and they would all make excellent starting points, but I would strongly advise you to still do your own research and understand what it is you are buying before spending your hard earned cash :tu:

bastille
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Post by bastille » Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:03 pm

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2x RS95e for sound source & modulation. Great sounding oscillators that are flexible but accessible. Onboard attenuators for CV ins reduce systemwide requirements.

Noisering. Maybe not the most efficient choice, but provides a clock, a noise source, and a fun random source.

SVVCF. Ok, I haven't used this one, but it's on my list. Multimode and onboard mixer - again, like with the AS oscillators, going with a large module but one that does offer (apparently) excellent sound and some extra built utility function.

.VCA. Small, solid, dual VCA. I love mine as a gatekeeper for modulation signal from LFOs/envelopes etc into destination modules. Learning to use VCAs to create more interesting control over cv modulation was one of the most fun discoveries of modular for me.

ALM attenuverter/offset. Don't need many atts on this system with many of the modules having them built in, but great to have a couple for the VCAs + offset/inversion in a small package.

Quadra. I'm eager to get mine back from repair (I really wish Intellijel would use better switches.) Basic envelopes and LFO-ish cycling in an easy to handle package.

uVCA II. To me, this is an idea balance of quality, function, and size.

remaining 6hp were wild card. Though it wouldn't have been my personal choice as I've never been a big MIDI user, I think from a general perspective it's handy to be able to easily send control information from a MIDI keyboard, computer, or other device - and so, I complete my rack with the uMIDI.

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omiindustriies
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Post by omiindustriies » Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:57 am

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My current beginners setup, needs vcas/filter but it's a lot of fun to play around with.

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moegl
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Post by moegl » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:01 pm

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I think this setup from Meng Qi is the perfect playable 84HP I've seen. it's only four modules, but the modules are very versatile in their modulation and then his Voltage Memory as the main player really makes this a wonderful instrument!

I think these tips would have benefited me when I got into eurorack: get a controller! It is so much more fun when you can be tactile with your instrument. also get a reverb! erbeverb or a springray are good. brings the picture together.

see the magic he does with this setup! super inspiring!

[video][/video]

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subdo
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Post by subdo » Tue Jan 12, 2016 8:39 pm

moegl wrote: I think this setup from Meng Qi is the perfect playable 84HP I've seen. it's only four modules, but the modules are very versatile in their modulation and then his Voltage Memory as the main player really makes this a wonderful instrument...

see the magic he does with this setup! super inspiring!

[video][/video]
Lust for Mysteron ON :yay:

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Ranstedt
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Post by Ranstedt » Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:54 am

Great thread for us noooooooobs

guestt

Post by guestt » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:01 am

nice one moegl

Mang Qi is amazing - what a fantastic setup and lovely sounds - great post!!! :tu:

Kytopia
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Post by Kytopia » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:37 am

Simple start:
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This rack is aimed at getting you started asap. it has a sequencer to keep you noodling away while it plays but theres also a midi interface to sync up to other gear (and to provide clock).
there's 2 oscs in the system: doepfer A-111-2 and 111-3 (not out yet but they are awesome, trust me) which you can mix and match in the Birdkids Birdsnest (2hp mixer... awesome).
Envelope by doepfer, aimed both at sequencer play and MIDI play, hence ADSR in such a simple setup.
Aperture since its an awesome filter to play around with.
Dual VCA for it has neat switches for lin/EXP, good controls and sounds great.
All this leaves quite a chunk of space for a lush ErbeVerb. you could consider it overkill for 84HP but the point of this rack is to get you hooked on modulars as efficiently as possible. since the erbe verb makes everything sound awesome (even with no input) you'll probably be left wanting more after a mere day of patching and playing.

This system is ofcourse very limited, being just 84HP and none of the modules inside are anything complex. that said, since we're focusing on beginners here, that might be just the thing you'll crave: nothing fancy, just awesome sounds and a good chunk of control.

Cost: little under 1900,- including taxes.


In case you are part of the "Buy ALL the things" camp (which includes me) :wookie: :wookie: :wookie: I built a little Bonus Rack:

Techno Warrior's Delight
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Aimed at those who consider a Shared System a starter setup, this rack is designed to get you going asap, true Techno Viking style :viking:

it has a complete drum section plus the mighty circadian rhythm (a 104HP alternative would be the doepfer A-157 which packs some surprising extras) for sequencing.

The DPO would be the main osc, figuring out this badboy will take a while but it has everything to keep you busy for months.
A great osc needs a great filter. my personal favorite at this time is the WMD Aperture since it gives you very hands-on control over hi-low and bandpass at the same time. plus it squeels like a piggy ready for slaughter at a barbarian banquet.
For VCA I chose the Doepfer DVCA. sounds great, cheap and has neat switches for lin/exp modes.

since we need plenty of modulation options, the Maths is there to give you everything you'll ever want plus an extra ANA to fill the 2 HP while being extremely useful as a third osc/LFO at the same time. then for added overkill there's the QPLFO, which works great in combination with the spare circadian outputs and the mutant drums to make things sound a bit more alive.


Melodic sequencing is to be done with the Metropolis. tons of fun and easy to use. you might swap this out for the Audio Damage Sequencer 1 if you're willing to sacrifice the ANA osc. personal preference, its a bit deeper than the metropolis but plays differently as well. up to you.


For the output side of things I picked the WMD performance mixer. not sure if its out yet or not, but I've seen it in action and its quite awesome. more than 4 channels is always a win in my book, plus mutes, auxes and sliders per channel makes it a performance dream.
For extra added awesome I tossed in a WMD compressor as well. reasoning is simple: sidechain basslines! very effective way to destroy the barbarian banquet and drive the masses to a euphoric frenzy.

All this for less than 4700,- including taxes. from here on its very easy to expand your setup with stuff like the Erbe-verb, sweet sounding delays, wogglebugs or whatever your heart desires.
Loads of livestreams and modular jams here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/colinbenders

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strangegravity
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Post by strangegravity » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:57 am

[quote="Natsche"]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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After not looking at this thread for a while I'd say this approach is spot on for a nube. I also made the mistake of cramming maximum functionality in to a rack. Thinking back to my first row I should have gone with inexpensive basics.

The problem with a beginner is they see all the shiny new wiz bangers and want to go straight for them.

Wisdom says buy a few basic modules and leave rack space. Work with it for a while. Rarely does anyone do this. Like me, gas pedal on the floor out of the gate.

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loopt
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Post by loopt » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:33 am

How a bout a very playable row of west coast stuff:
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Citizen Klaus
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Post by Citizen Klaus » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:47 am

Here's another (mostly) single-manufacturer example of a monosynth-type rack. Explanations below.

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Overall, the goal was to recreate something similar to a Dotcom starter rack, but in Euro. I went with Intellijel's 6HP modules because of their balance between size and user-friendliness, and for a uniform aesthetic. The Mutable modules were added mostly because they provide a huge variety of very space-efficient utility functions, without looking too out-of-place.

From left to right:

Intellijel PE-1 (4HP) - Basic power interface module for cases that don't have power connections on the back or side. If you've got a case with built-in power, then I'd probably drop this and replace the µVCF (6HP) with a Polaris (10HP), for additional filtering possibilities.

Intellijel µMIDI (6HP) - A fully-featured monophonic MIDI-CV converter module that takes up a minimum of space. The 16th-note clock divider output is useful for triggering the Quadra, and the 4 CC channels (bender, mod, velocity, and user-assignable) give you a huge range of expressive control from an external keyboard. If you're not a keyboard player, or if you're using a controller that already has CV outs, then you could replace this.

Mutable Instruments Links (4HP) - You get a buffered multiple (perfect for precision routing of pitch CV to the 3 oscillators), plus a pair of mixers: a 2-in/2-out unity summer (which could also work as a second multiple for signal routing), and a 3-in/1-out averager that reduces the likelihood of clipping with hot signals. This is a great space-efficient utility module, and it ensures that you'll still have mixing functionality available even if you're using all three Triatt channels as individual attenuators or inverters.

Mutable Instruments Kinks (4HP) - This gives you some signal- and clock-warping options, plus an always-useful source of randomness. The top section (Sign) gives you some versatile waveshaping options: inversion (useful for CV, particularly Quadra envelopes), half-wave rectification, and full-wave rectification (the latter two being particularly well-suited to modifying waves from the Dixies). The middle section (Logic) provides basic OR (max) and AND (min) functions, with the benefit that they can also operate on continuously-varying analog signals, not just on gates or triggers. While the µMod makes this section somewhat redundant, it's still useful to have in case you want to dedicate the µMod to good old-fashioned audio-rate ring modulation. Lastly, the sample-and-hold (S&H) section gives you the quintessential random source, complete with a built-in white-noise generator. Use it to add a noise element to drum or woodwind patches, use it as an analog bit-reducer, or use it for traditional stepped-random modulation.

Intellijel Dixie II (6HP x3) - A basic analog oscillator with six wave outs. There's no pulse-width control onboard, but you can use a Triatt channel into the PWM input to effectively give you a pulse-width knob. (Mult it to all three Dixies if you want to keep things synchronized.) Three oscillators is a great number for a beginner's system, as it lets you use one as an LFO or audio-rate FM source while still allowing for traditional 2-oscillator patches.

Intellijel µFold II (6HP) - Probably the one module I'm least sure about in this rack, because it does pretty much one thing (wavefolding), and one thing only. But that one thing isn't found on very many monosynths, so it's a cool introduction to the sorts of sonic effects that you can get from the modular world. But if you think there's enough signal-mangling in this build already, you wouldn't go wrong swapping it for another VCA module.

Intellijel µMod II (6HP) - The ring modulator is a classic synth circuit, and for good reason. This one adds continuously-variable analog logic outputs for additional signal-mangling fun, and works on both audio and CV signals. You can also use it as a straight-up VCA, if both your µVCA channels are already occupied.

Intellijel Triatt (6HP) - You get a three-channel inverting mixer which allows for each of the three channels to be decoupled from the mix and used individually, if you just need extra attenuators. The input of each channel is normalled to a voltage source, so if you don't plug anything in to a channel, you can use it as a knob to control a function on some other module (like pulse width on the Dixies). A classic problem-solving module.

Intellijel µVCF (6HP) - Maybe not the most characterful filter around, but it's both compact and versatile. Unlike a lot of other filters using the state-variable topology, the µVCF can also serve as a sine-wave oscillator, if need be.

Intellijel Quadra (12HP) - Four channels of envelopes or (unipolar) LFOs, at effectively 3HP each. Perfect for all your modulation needs. Note that, if you want an envelope to be affected by velocity like on a standard keyboard synth, you'll need to run it through a VCA channel, and use the velocity CV to control the VCA's level. Intellijel's Dual ADSR has these VCA channels built-in, but takes up an extra 2HP and only offers two envelopes to the Quadra's four. On the whole, I'd say the Quadra is useful in a wider variety of patching approaches.

Intellijel µVCA II (6HP) - Two channels of voltage-controlled attenuation that (in the more recent revisions) are normalled together, allowing you to use this as a two-channel voltage-controlled mixer. It really is true: :vcas:

Intellijel µJack (6HP) - Another module that I'm on the fence about. Having a built-in headphone jack can be really nice, but output modules aren't strictly necessary. If you're planning to run your modular straight into a mixing desk, you could easily dump this for another VCA.

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strangegravity
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Post by strangegravity » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:42 pm

Those systems are over zealous for a new person. Would you seriously tell a newbie to go drop 2k on all that?

So fill your rack and empty your wallet in 1 shot. In 1 month later when you realize what you really need you are broke and have no rack space. :doh:

Good luck getting 60% of your money back selling stuff.

Misplaced advise IMO.

How about a journey of discovery without burning money:

Image

guestt

Post by guestt » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:46 pm

Different strokes different folks strangegravity - your approach is a good one for sure, but the beauty of Eurorack s that you can create wildly different systems to cater for individual needs.

I don't think anyone is telling any one to do anything, these are just ideas and starting points from which to start exploration.

Can't believe how many great contributions you guys have made, I think it's fantastic to see inside the minds of others and read about their rationale for choosing particular modules - great work! Thank you everyone :tu:

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Orange
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Post by Orange » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:36 pm

Baddcr wrote:Different strokes different folks strangegravity - your approach is a good one for sure, but the beauty of Eurorack s that you can create wildly different systems to cater for individual needs.

I don't think anyone is telling any one to do anything, these are just ideas and starting points from which to start exploration.

Can't believe how many great contributions you guys have made, I think it's fantastic to see inside the minds of others and read about their rationale for choosing particular modules - great work! Thank you everyone :tu:
I agree!
And a starting point can be acheived in multiple steps. You don't have to buy it at once. But in the end.... :sb:

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loopt
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Post by loopt » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:51 pm

strangegravity wrote:Those systems are over zealous for a new person...
Misplaced advise IMO.
There are many different kinds of beginners.
Maybe someone has a lot of experience with software synthesis and just starts out into the modular hardware world?

In my opinion modulars are not really suited for absolute synth newbs. And if they still insist, they should start with a fleshed out system to help them getting decent results from the start.

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Citizen Klaus
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Post by Citizen Klaus » Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:35 pm

strangegravity wrote:Those systems are over zealous for a new person. Would you seriously tell a newbie to go drop 2k on all that?
Depends on what kind of newbie we're talking about. Totally new to synthesis, period? Then I can see a lot of merit in the suggestion to start very small. But if someone is familiar with programming fixed-architecture synths and knows his or her way around a mod matrix, then I think you'd need a more robust system to really get the advantage of modular.

Otherwise, if it's purely a question of money, the question becomes something more like, what can these systems do that a Phenol or 0-Coast can't?

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Post by pixelmechanic » Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:29 pm

From the archives: viewtopic.php?t=43464

The same kind of ideas from 5 years ago!

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phonkmeister
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Post by phonkmeister » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:22 am

If I knew what I know now, I would have started with this instead of all the little modules that I started with, and that now I don't use anymore. There's lots to learn and it will last you a lifetime.

Image

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dark_carcass
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Post by dark_carcass » Sat May 14, 2016 9:02 am

how about this? Image

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williamcarthief
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Post by williamcarthief » Sun May 15, 2016 6:47 pm

how about a sort of three voice diy system with midi that could be built for maybe less than $1000.

Image

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mharpum
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Post by mharpum » Mon May 16, 2016 6:06 am

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/227002

I don't know how to screen shot!

This rack would need to be used with a BSP for clocking.
https://soundcloud.com/mark-harpum

https://www.instagram.com/harpum1/?hl=en

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/456680

FS/T loquelic v1, korgasmatron 2 w/ expander, zdsp w/ 4 cards, seq 1, control forge, rt60, English tear(faulty),


WTB anything WMD and Noise Engineering.

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poorness
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Post by poorness » Mon May 16, 2016 1:39 pm

I'm still in my first year of Eurorack (long time synth fan), so take my ideas with a grain of salt. However, from what I've learned so far, I think this would be a killer 84 HP setup...

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TipTop Audio µZeus: You gotta deliver power to all your modules (the 4MS Row 30 would be an alternative power supply).
Pittsburgh Modular MIDI3: I have the MIDI2 and it does a good job. The MIDI3 adds an arpeggiator and tap tempo. I'll probably swap mine out for this one someday.
Manhattan Analog CVP: Slew, offset, or invert any control voltage... awesome.
Synthrotek MST Noise/S&H: Add some random to your rack. I have one of these little gems and I love it.
Mannequins Mangrove: I wish I would've bought this for my first oscillator. I don't regret any of the purchases I've made... but this thing is a beast and it compliments nearly any rack.
Intellijel Dixie II: It packs a lotta sound options in 6 HP!
SSF Mixmode: I have one of these too. A great mixer/attenuator with a saturation circuit that you can use as an effect. Very versatile.
Make Noise ModDemix: Another module with a subtle distortion quality. Use it as a ring mod, VCA, or mixer (you could easily swap this one for an Intellijel µMod II if you'd rather).
Pittsburgh Modular LFO2: I have the older version of this one. This thing is just a modulation workhorse. Every rack should have one.
Erica Black Dual EG/LFO: I own this one too. I love it! I can be 2 ADSR envelopes, 2 AR envelopes, 2 LFOs or any combination of the two. So flexible for just 10 HP.
Razmasynth Alex & June: I wanted this for my first filter. I tried to buy one and it turned into a disaster. The module arrived with a broken pot, I had to return it, the return package got lost in the shipping facility. It took weeks but eventually I got my money back. I used the refund to buy a different filter (I felt like it was a bad omen). Still, this one intriguers me. I love the demos I've seen. Maybe I'll try to buy one again someday.
Synthrotek Dirt: Probably one of the weirdest sounding filters I've heard and it's only 4 HP (The Złob TH SVF would be another good choice here).
Intellijel µVCA: I wish I would've bought this when I bought my A-132-3. There's nothing wrong with the Doepfer but the µVCA does all the same stuff and saves 2 HP.
WMD Pro Output: I own this module and will never sell it. This is one of the greatest utility modules ever. Now that you have a modular... how do you get it to work with the outside world? That's what the Pro Output does. Integrate your rack with consumer electronics, recording interfaces, PA systems, headphones, studio monitors, etc. 6 HP of pure genius!

EDIT: fixed broken image
Last edited by poorness on Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:58 am, edited 2 times in total.

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poorness
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Post by poorness » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:16 pm

Resurrecting this dead thread... :hihi:

Rings has made me rethink how I view a 'complete' rack. If I was doing it again, I'd probably do something like this to start. It isn't the most powerful system in the world... but for about $1500 I think it would keep a beginner (or even an experienced wiggler) busy for several months. 6 modules (7 if you count the power supply) and a million possibilities.

Image

EDIT: fixed broken image
Last edited by poorness on Thu Aug 03, 2017 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Xssory
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Post by Xssory » Sun Dec 04, 2016 9:41 pm

Image

Ok here's a pretty luxurious starter rack, optimized for two things:

1) Sit down and go - no external equipment required, just a pair of headphones and a bunch of cables

2) Enormous tonal range and variation without adding any other gear. I feel this rack could keep me occupied for months and months. You could do drums, east coast, sound design and more![/img]

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Post by Siete » Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:02 pm

So, after a ton of reading on this thread and investigating modules,
Ive designed some starter racks, Im new to euro systems so any feedback
on any of them, including and order of preference would be really appreciated.

Image

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