Building my first rack, analog boi

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Polyterative
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Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:54 pm

Hello everyone, super new here.

TLDR:
I'm building a way to escape digital perfection, an analog inspire-me-and-growl machine. Any suggestions?

Story:
I have been making music for 12 years in the last 6 years I have specialized in electronic music by publishing 2EPs producing them entirely on Ableton Live.
(I am moving to more synthy stuff now, heavily inspired by Lorn)

What has always been missing from my music is that imperfection that gave it character.
I spent hours hours trying to create synthesizers voices with imperfection and error in Serum, and it made me lose a lot of time and energy.

I was initially looking for a analog hardware synthesizer , laying my eyes on the minilogue, but it still sounded too sterile to me. Continuing my research I discovered the existence of the DPO and the 0-coast, and I fell in love with the idea of being able to change the signal path, it opened my mind so much.

I started building a small rack around the DPO, in the intellijel little box (gorgeous).
I want to only use it with the computer to create sounds for use on Ableton Live (which will be the sequencer) controlled by my Push 2.
I want to create complex and rich, organic and alive sounds. I also plan to make a bit of strange things like cool kicks and percussion lines.

In the future, if the system expands, I'm going to buy a second palette for more processing of external sound fed by ableton(rainmaker is in the wishlist)

Current prototype
Image

Still not sure about the uVCA, I'm not sure if I really need it with the maths and stuff, but "you can never have too many vcas" is alive in my mind. I guess I do
Ripples is the most pleasing filter I found, so I tossed that one in there.
The Quadratt seemed ideal for my mixing needs.

EDIT:
new prototype after receiving suggestions:
Image


Alternatively I thought of building an economic system with a large case using only doepfer stuff, but I would like to keep the case small so that I can have everything on my desk.

I considered using one of the interfaces by expert sleepers but at the moment I have no way to interface it with my sound card since it does not have an ADAT interface. It would be cool though in the future to send control voltage from Ableton, (maybe for the phase 2)

I'm new at this this is my first time so I would like to ask you if it seems a balanced system,if looks suitable for my needs and if you have any suggestions to improve it.

Thanks a lot
Last edited by Polyterative on Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rew_
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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by rew_ » Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:15 pm

Polyterative wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:54 pm
Still not sure about the uVCA, I'm not sure if I really need it with the maths and stuff, but "you can never have too many vcas" is alive in my mind. I guess I do
You don't have another VCA in your system—for all of Maths' functions it does not offer that, so if you're keen on controlling the amplitude of either audio or control voltage, you're going to need a VCA. I would recommend you spend a little more time understanding what Maths actually does; your comment has me fearing you don't.

A couple of other notes:

* if you're going to go with Maths you can probably skip the quadratt, as Maths offers plenty of mixing and attenuation/offset in a system of this size
* use that newly freed space in your 1U row for random and/or a VCA (eyeballing it I think you could fit both)
* in a system of this size you should consider an Optomix, which would offer some filtering and could serve double-duty as a VCA; it would also more easily allow you to make little percussive plucks, one of your stated goals
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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:00 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, removed the quadratt and added the optomix, noise tools and vca in 1u.
Wanted to add the noise tools since the beginning, so I am happier now :)
Looks more flexible like this.

If I understand correctly, the optomix filters because of vactrols, so it's an always moving filter.
The ripples does not fit in now, any ideas?
I primarely use lowpass and bandpass occasionally, rarely highpass. 6hp left

Image

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gelabs
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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by gelabs » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:17 pm

There is the Happy Nerding HN VCF : https://www.modulargrid.net/e/happy-nerding-hn-vcf
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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Estes » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:40 pm

dude honestly if you are looking into the analog side of modular, I cannot recommend any Intellijel Cases.
I got insane problems with Intellijel cases, Noise and since they are not very deep, some modules might not fit. Really those cases are great for performing imho, but not for the studio. (my two cents) tons of people are for sure happy with the Intellijel Cases but if you search for power supply issues in this forum you will see this is not a easy topic and since you mentioned analog, I thought I might bring this up already.

Check out https://soundcloud.com/uzala
he does some magic with mostly analog modules, so you get a sense of what some modules might do. Also listen to the aesthetic of the sounds you get of the modules. If you already did a lot of music you might already feel a bit what you are after and find the answers in some demos of the modules out there.

I would recommend to start with a Doepfer Case two rows at least. And with a Maths and a O Coast you are good to go. But the DPO is for sure something nice as well. Maybe instead of the Uvca better a LPG? I can recommend the LXD and maybe something with a tube? A filter or even the lpg from Metasonix? the thing is with maths you have everything you need, now you just have to get into the new modular world which is a bit different from the synthworld (LPG, VCA, Attenuators, Waveshapers, Feedbacks, Matrix Mixers, Switches, Filter Pinging, Noise Sources, Randomness etc. etc). I'm super happy with the voltage reasearch lab of Pittsburgh Modular and the manuals with the patch examples will get you very deep into the modular world, but its a bit a pricey semimodular synth to start with (without the touch thing its a bit reasonable). However make some good research of the advantages of analog modules. The magic starts with subtile effects so make good use of the attenuators (in your maths).

If you want to go on with Ableton why not going into the ES-9 so you can use the modulation sources of Ableton and spend more place for oscillators, waveshapers, filters etc. ? Also to get startet don't understimate Doepfer modules, cheap but good quality and easy to understand.

Ripples was one of my first filters as well. Honestly I don't have much use for filters in modulars except for Filter pinging :despair: Anyway maybe have a look at all those Doepfer Filters out there or the GOD's BOX Humpback.

So the good answer is, I think you are doing good choices to get startet with, only thing I would reconsider if you already feel that analog is your path is the case. Not only because potential noise issues but also the depth of the modules. analog modules tend to be deeper than digital. The other things I mentioned are just ideas so you can do some more research and spend some more time on Modulargrid 8-)

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:46 pm

gelabs wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:17 pm
There is the Happy Nerding HN VCF : https://www.modulargrid.net/e/happy-nerding-hn-vcf
Wow it sounds great but it's gonna be hard to find here (i'm from italy)

Estes wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:40 pm
dude honestly if you are looking into the analog side of modular, I cannot recommend any Intellijel Cases.
I got insane problems with Intellijel cases, Noise and since they are not very deep, some modules might not fit. Really those cases are great for performing imho, but not for the studio. (my two cents) tons of people are for sure happy with the Intellijel Cases but if you search for power supply issues in this forum you will see this is not a easy topic and since you mentioned analog, I thought I might bring this up already.
[...]
So the good answer is, I think you are doing good choices to get startet with, only thing I would reconsider if you already feel that analog is your path is the case. Not only because potential noise issues but also the depth of the modules. analog modules tend to be deeper than digital. The other things I mentioned are just ideas so you can do some more research and spend some more time on Modulargrid 8-)
Thanks for the info, gotta investigate more. Still researching :)
Estes wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:40 pm
Check out https://soundcloud.com/uzala
he does some magic with mostly analog modules, so you get a sense of what some modules might do.
Wow it's some really good stuff, listening right now.
Estes wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:40 pm
Also listen to the aesthetic of the sounds you get of the modules. If you already did a lot of music you might already feel a bit what you are after and find the answers in some demos of the modules out there.
That's exacly what happened, just listening for some pure analog oscillators made me appreciate this cool hardware. Wanted an analog synth for years, with eurorack I just can't hold it anymore

Estes wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:40 pm
If you want to go on with Ableton why not going into the ES-9 so you can use the modulation sources of Ableton and spend more place for oscillators, waveshapers, filters etc. ? Also to get startet don't understimate Doepfer modules, cheap but good quality and easy to understand.
It captured my interest from the start, unfortunately I have no way to make it work with my current audio interface, I also heard on yt it suffers some latency issues because the modular stuff lags behing the buffer of the audio interface. I am keepping an eye on it for sure.

Estes wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:40 pm

Maybe instead of the Uvca better a LPG? I can recommend the LXD and maybe something with a tube? A filter or even the lpg from Metasonix? the thing is with maths you have everything you need, now you just have to get into the new modular world which is a bit different from the synthworld (LPG, VCA, Attenuators, Waveshapers, Feedbacks, Matrix Mixers, Switches, Filter Pinging, Noise Sources, Randomness etc. etc).
I have now swapped the uVCA and Ripples for the optomix as suggested, at this point I am wondering if I really need a standalone classic filter.
I mean I can always filter in post in ableton. Still, the distortion on the Happy Nerding VCF sounds really good

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by rew_ » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:24 pm

Polyterative wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:00 pm
If I understand correctly, the optomix filters because of vactrols, so it's an always moving filter.
I would encourage you to read more on Low Pass Gates, but a very simple explanation is that they are a combination of a VCA (which typically increases and then decreases the amplitude of a sound) and a filter (which controls the harmonic content of a sound). An LPG will simultaneously lower the volume as it removes upper harmonics. The rate at which it does so is controlled by a vactrol. As "low pass" is right in the name you can guess what kind of harmonic filtering they do, so the Optomix will not provide you with a bandpass option.

It's wrong to say the Optomix is "always moving." It will provide less precise control of harmonic content than a typical filter, simply because it's an LPG, not a fully featured filter. If you still want to consider a traditional filter the SSF MMF is small and inexpensive and popular, and would be appropriate in a system of this size.

Good luck!
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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Estes » Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:34 pm

You can also cheat a midi device (and keep some hp left for your analog stuff) with a Beatsteppro, Keystep or a Novation Launchpad Pro or a Novation Circuit Mono Station - this one is a monster cheater cause its a synth but has also CVs to play and has pads with scales so you either use it as a synth, a "midi" to cv converter or both while playing on your synth you trigger further effects and modulations while playing. But this is only interesting if you are not a classic keys player and happy to play on pads with scales. Not to mention that the Circuit Mono Station is currently super cheap.

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by LunaticSound » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:07 pm

Filters do so much more than actual filtering in a rack, I just want to point that out. For the kind of sound design you wanna do a filter will give you the options of using Filter FM, which Optomix doesn't, Filter Pings, Resonance... And the Mix part of Optomix is great, but what sources do you wanna mix? You have Maths and not a lot of Audio or CV sources...

I would strongly recommend trying Optomix somewhere before buying. Well, on the other hand, in about 8 months you will have bought a bigger or second case and the Optomix will fit into that just fine :lol:

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:20 pm

I feel your pain. my advice would be to go for tubes, transformers, real spring reverb that will distort nice when you drive it. there is a tape delay in eurorack. you probably want to buy %100 of the AJH collection right from the start. don't laugh, I would sample all of this and put it back into ableton sampler or something else. UVI falcon maybe. I like to take really long 10 second samples. multisamples are cool too if you have time. then I play bass or lead from a midi controller. I edit the notes after. I think it is easier to use eurorack to make sample libraries of interesting sounds than it is to use eurorack to make music. there are extra steps to send midi, sync, record, tag, chop etc.. you will need to buy a few more things to get a true hybrid setup. you lose the repeatability of samples. I know that is your stated problem but I think if you can get those vintage sounds into the computer that pretty much solves it. especially if you create the samples yourself. they will be perfectly fucked up samples if that makes sense.
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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Yes Powder » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:24 pm

While the DPO is a great oscillator, it seems a bit large for your proposed rack size. It also has lots of modulation points, I think you'll struggle to get the most out of it with the modulation you have. I'd recommend seeing if there are any other oscillators that interest you, and are maybe smaller than 30(!)hp. Maybe another modulation source, too. Batumi is a popular one. I don't know if the fact that it's digital would deter you, but it's an excellent CV source that gives you a lot for the size.
If you insist on staying with the DPO, I recommend a bigger case. Trust me, you'll want it sooner than you think.

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:37 pm

batumi is a shitty digital module. just enough to get that glitchy imperfect sound. maybe you want that.
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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Divinital » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:38 pm

Stick to the new Behringer modules!

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:54 am

LunaticSound wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:07 pm
Filters do so much more than actual filtering in a rack, I just want to point that out. For the kind of sound design you wanna do a filter will give you the options of using Filter FM, which Optomix doesn't, Filter Pings, Resonance... And the Mix part of Optomix is great, but what sources do you wanna mix? You have Maths and not a lot of Audio or CV sources...

I would strongly recommend trying Optomix somewhere before buying. Well, on the other hand, in about 8 months you will have bought a bigger or second case and the Optomix will fit into that just fine :lol:
I am pretty sure I will add a standalone filter like ripples or something more dirty if I can find it here. Also pretty sure to go with a 7U 84hp case instead.

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:56 am

EATyourGUITAR wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:20 pm
I like to take really long 10 second samples. multisamples are cool too if you have time. then I play bass or lead from a midi controller. I edit the notes after. I think it is easier to use eurorack to make sample libraries of interesting sounds than it is to use eurorack to make music. there are extra steps to send midi, sync, record, tag, chop etc.. you will need to buy a few more things to get a true hybrid setup. you lose the repeatability of samples. I know that is your stated problem but I think if you can get those vintage sounds into the computer that pretty much solves it. especially if you create the samples yourself. they will be perfectly fucked up samples if that makes sense.
I was in fact thinking about just that, I am a confident with my samplers and have lots of ideas to mangle them, just it's hard to find good ones. So instead I will build them myself.

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:58 am

Yes Powder wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:24 pm
Batumi is a popular one. I don't know if the fact that it's digital would deter you, but it's an excellent CV source that gives you a lot for the size.
I will check it out for sure
Last edited by Polyterative on Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by mulder » Tue Jan 21, 2020 2:54 pm

Are you sure this is the best choice of a case if you just plan to use it in the studio? It's pretty limiting, and it's almost the same cost as a TipTop Mantis

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:51 am

Time for an update.
Did a good deal of reserch, found a guy in my town who makes cases pretty cheap. I now have two rows of 84hp real estate.

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/1125631

Top is what I already have/ordered, bottom is cool stuff i'm looking at.
Still waiting for the ES-9 but had chance to listen for the DPO and it's even better than I thought.

I'm now almost sure about the quadVCA for mixing/vca duties as well as some saturation.

Any suggestions for nice processing/fx modules?
I'm looking for distortion (plasma drive sounds nice but is a bit much and pricey), and creative filtering(the xaoc dual filter sounds and distorts great to my ears) first.
I want to use them to process and add spice/analog heat my DAW's output (my custom chopped/processed vocals mainly)

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by SavageMessiah » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:11 pm

You might want to look at a morgasmatron. It's a dual filter with a great distortion circuit on one of the channels. It can also do ring modulation, cross fading between the two filters, and it actually makes a surprisingly good oscillator too - in self oscillation it produces a very clean sine that can be saturated by turning up the q drive.

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Yes Powder » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:01 pm

Polyterative wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:51 am
I’m looking for distortion (plasma drive sounds nice but is a bit much and pricey), and creative filtering(the xaoc dual filter sounds and distorts great to my ears) first.
Have you considered our Lord and Savior, Metasonix?
It’s not much cheaper than the Plasma Drive, but the RK3 is an amazing distortion unit that can go from gentle tube overdrive to electrical splat to PLL-ish octave-down and self-oscillation.
The RK4 is a bandpass filter with a character really unlike anything I’ve heard in other filters and some great distortion behaviors. Good for “creative” filtering :tu:

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by moremagic » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:40 pm

Polyterative wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:46 pm
I have now swapped the uVCA and Ripples for the optomix as suggested, at this point I am wondering if I really need a standalone classic filter.
I mean I can always filter in post in ableton. Still, the distortion on the Happy Nerding VCF sounds really good
you cant fm your filter with the dpo in post :miley:

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:31 pm

moremagic wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:40 pm
Polyterative wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:46 pm
I have now swapped the uVCA and Ripples for the optomix as suggested, at this point I am wondering if I really need a standalone classic filter.
I mean I can always filter in post in ableton. Still, the distortion on the Happy Nerding VCF sounds really good
you cant fm your filter with the dpo in post :miley:
Yeah I'm doing a full 180 on that :hihi: :hihi: :hihi:
I would really like to get that Happy Nerding VCF, but I can't find it anywhere here sadly.

Reconsidering the plasma drive a lot after hearing some comparisons on YT. Destroys the sound too much for what i really need. It's really cool but maybe I'm getting intrigued by the lightshow and not by the sound.

Can anyone confirm that Monsoon (Clouds) can saturate the input? Do you recommend to use it that way? Clouds looks like it can give good intresting sound with ease
Yes Powder wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:01 pm
Have you considered our Lord and Savior, Metasonix?
It’s not much cheaper than the Plasma Drive, but the RK3 is an amazing distortion unit that can go from gentle tube overdrive to electrical splat to PLL-ish octave-down and self-oscillation.
The RK4 is a bandpass filter with a character really unlike anything I’ve heard in other filters and some great distortion behaviors. Good for “creative” filtering :tu:
Liked it a lot in the comparisons, gonna consider it for sure.

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by twistedneck » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:34 pm

rew_ wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:24 pm
Polyterative wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:00 pm
If I understand correctly, the optomix filters because of vactrols, so it's an always moving filter.
I would encourage you to read more on Low Pass Gates, but a very simple explanation is that they are a combination of a VCA (which typically increases and then decreases the amplitude of a sound) and a filter (which controls the harmonic content of a sound). An LPG will simultaneously lower the volume as it removes upper harmonics. The rate at which it does so is controlled by a vactrol. As "low pass" is right in the name you can guess what kind of harmonic filtering they do, so the Optomix will not provide you with a bandpass option.

It's wrong to say the Optomix is "always moving." It will provide less precise control of harmonic content than a typical filter, simply because it's an LPG, not a fully featured filter. If you still want to consider a traditional filter the SSF MMF is small and inexpensive and popular, and would be appropriate in a system of this size.

Good luck!
Awesome explanation, and they do sound so good!

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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by lisa » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:41 pm

You can get HN VCF from Schneiders Laden.

https://www.schneidersladen.de/en/happy ... n-vcf.html
Remorseless modular beat; a bit discordant but melodic too. 🦊🦂


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Re: Building my first rack, analog boi

Post by Polyterative » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:14 am

lisa wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:41 pm
You can get HN VCF from Schneiders Laden.

https://www.schneidersladen.de/en/happy ... n-vcf.html
Do you happen to know if I can buy from Italy without any additional fees/import costs? I know that with thomann I had 0 issues.

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