Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by 11235813 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:00 pm

Kawouddd wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:30 pm
Familiar brand, familiar colours, structure, shape, routine all helped break down that unfamiliarity and make more approachable.

Yeah. I now think you could probably get better functionality in other ways, op. But, yeah, I don’t think functionality is always the point. And I wouldn’t have stuck with modular if I hadn’t gotten the Frankly dysfunctional system I began my “modular journey” with. And u do like where I am, having stuck with it.
This is a great comment, and I really think that this familiar color, shape, structure may be what's driving me. I had a similar reaction to MI modules, but I couldn't figure out how to work them "just by looking". Maybe spending so much time with the VCV Rack default modules has tended me towards this structure? Thanks for your input!

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Tofupancho » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:07 pm

Do yourself a big favor and buy a used Erica Synths Pico System 3 before you shell out for all this stuff. It’s based on packaging together a number of their 3HP modules. It’s not a groove box or every feature you want but it has some powerful advantages. First, you’re up and running, having fun, making sound right away as you learn more about synths and music. Second, the cartridge preset feature allows you to remove many of the patch cables you would use most often, making your space efficient synth a lot more playable. Third, you get to experiment with a very small, very feature dense system that costs less than $500US used that you can turn around and sell as a package. It might turn out that unlike most people, you love working with the small interface and you’ll get back most of what you payed towards this system with even smaller modules and knobs. You might find that this collection of Pico modules serve you really well for the basics and you can simply keep it and expand it to your taste. Still saving a ton of money. Either way, playing with something, heavy experimentation, pushing it to the limits will inform things like how many VCAs do you *really* need, etc.

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by studio460 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:17 pm

That's not a bad idea. You could make your own "Pico" rack out of a bunch of their 3hp modules (i.e., Erica Synths' Pico-series is the "3hp" of 2hp!).
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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by 11235813 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:20 pm

Kawouddd wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:30 pm
Familiar brand, familiar colours, structure, shape, routine all helped break down that unfamiliarity and make more approachable.
This is a very good point, and now that I think about it... Maybe spending so much time on VCV Rack with the default, standard modules (which sort of look like Doepfer) have leaned me in this direction of all modules from one manufacturer. I've briefly considered and all Erica or all MI rack for the same reasons, but the modules didn't "speak to me" like the 2hp did. Sorry, that sounds super nerdy. :-) Thanks!

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by 11235813 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:24 pm

starthief wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:42 pm
Have you thought about power? Few cases of that size will provide enough current or headers. The bulk of ribbon cables you'll need for all those 2hp modules so close together is going to be significant and may restrict airflow too.
Hi Starthief - Yes, I've been in contact with Trogotronics and their 10amp DIY system will work just fine. The Pelican 1450 case has tons of room below the modules for cables - HOWEVER - I am worried about airflow. The case also includes a 15 watt amp and a big speaker, so I have some thinking to do. A quick thermal analysis is in my skill set. Thanks for bringing it up!

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by batch » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:28 pm

If you are going to go in this direction then invest in the tools required to make your own ribbon and flying bus cables. They are not expensive and available on Amazon.

I say this having built a case with 20 Erica Synths Pico modules in a Moog 60 HP case. I call it my Pico Mom - do a search And you can find some photos of it. It works and can be done. BUT the points people are making about the bulk of the ribbon cables and lack of headers is very, very true. But this can be solved. I made an insanely densely packed flying bus cable (literally every header next to the next, no space) as well as custom cables designed to be as minimal in length as possible. The result is a fun, portable little synth that works - can be easily battery powered etc.

One thought - the Pico modules are worth looking at, the extra space makes them just a little bit more accessible and the jacks are all on the bottom - two hp put some of theirs on the top which adds to the spaghetti. The Pico modules are not as deep as the 2 HP ones.

Have fun and enjoy the journey.
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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by 11235813 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:32 pm

Tofupancho wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:07 pm
Do yourself a big favor and buy a used Erica Synths Pico System 3 before you shell out for all this stuff.
WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?!? OMG I had no idea this even existed!!! I really like the Pico series, but I've never seen this synth.

WOWOWOWOWOW..... OK you may have derailed my entire month... in a good way... Overwhelmed. I guess I have some more research to do! This might be 1/2 the fun at 1/7th the cost, and you are correct about reselling if needed.

Oh wow... I don't even know what to say. THANK YOU FOR THE SUGGESTION!!! I have some reading to do... :-)

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by 11235813 » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:35 pm

batch wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:28 pm
If you are going to go in this direction then invest in the tools required to make your own ribbon and flying bus cables. They are not expensive and available on Amazon.
This is a great idea... We have dozens of crimp tools at work, possibly we even have on for the right modular header. Digikey is a good friend of mine, and I'm sure I could get ribbon, connectors, and a crimper and make EXACTLY the cable I need. Have to pay attention to max current carrying capacity on the ribbon cable I guess, but I can figure that out, and make several flying cables if needed. Thank for the tip!

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by bronzebygold » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:35 pm

11235813 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:57 pm
bronzebygold wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:17 pm
This is also needlessly inaccessible. For example, Batumi (which is VERY playable) has 12 LFOs in 10hp. Your 2hp LFO modules will only give you 6 LFOs in 12hp! So you're actually giving up playability in exchange for half the LFOs?? It doesn't even make sense from the perspective of maximum density.
Oh! That Batumi seems PERFECT! 28 hours to 500 Hz, now THAT is an LFO! I also like the Tap Tempo. At 10 HP this is very tempting, very powerful, and yet very simple to operate. I'll download the manual tonight. Thanks!
Batumi is FANTASTIC. One of the most popular LFO modules. I'm planning to buy a second one soon.

If your goal is a high density of functions in your synth, I think 2hp is actually not the most density you can achieve. That's counterintuitive, but similar to the Batumi, there are modules that actually pack more functionality into a tighter space without being unplayable.

For example:

Erogenous Tones LEVIT8 is 8 attenuverters in 10hp with gain and mixing. The 2hp equivalent doesn't have gain or mixing.

Rossum Electro-Music Mob of Emus is 6 fully-featured oscillators, noise sources, and modulators in 16hp.

Doepfer A-130-8 Octal Linear VCA & Mixer is 8 VCAs and three mixer channels in just 6hp! (No 2hp module even comes close to this).

ALM Pip Slope mk 2 is a fully-featured function generator in 4hp with trigger and gate inputs, shape and loop, and EOS trigger. The equivalent 2hp module, EG, is smaller but lacks some of the critical functionality that makes a function generator useful in the first place.

With very few exceptions, 2hp modules are not actually that efficient in terms of functionality per hp. In most cases I can name a module that packs more into less space than the equivalent 2hp module.
Last edited by bronzebygold on Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Whelm » Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:36 pm

I dunno, man. To me this looks like exactly what not to do with those 2HP modules. Eurorack already tends to be an ergonomic nightmare, filling a rack with 2HP modules is a trap set specifically for those who have not yet got hands-on experience. I have a video synth rack with 3U of 4HP Cadet modules and that's already pushing it.

Also, just speaking for myself, I strongly dislike those micro-pots. They are fine here and there when needed. But an entire system using them? Guh. These synthesizers aren't just machines, they are instruments. You have to balance the tendency when building fantasy racks of maximizing efficiency in terms of functions-per-HP with the tactile requirements of a personalized instrument. Unless you're hoping to do like totally hands-off generative stuff, which you will not be able to do with any system of this size, the music you make with this thing is going to emerge out of your interaction with the machine. Ergonomics matters, both in terms of the tactile quality of the instrument (ie robust pots, nice knobs, well-designed panels, etc) and access to the controls.

If you can fit a 5HP rack in your cramped space, then you can fit a 6HP rack. I think you'd be much better off with two 3U rows of full-sized modules. You can probably fit a 7U rack to get that1U utility row. I find it hard to imagine what your living space must be like if you can fit a 5U rack but not a 7U rack.

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by troux » Wed Mar 03, 2021 10:15 pm

Make your life easy and get a 208 HP 6U rack to start.

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Matt_L » Wed Mar 03, 2021 10:24 pm

NoLegs wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:15 pm
Just don't do it.
Seconded. If you are this tight on space that it would lead you to this, I recommend keeping on with VCVrack. Don't do this thing. It'll be a pain to sell all these individual modules too, after you realize this won't work. Sorry to pile on but the OP seems earnest and it'd be a shame for them to endure the hassle and heartbreak of a system not working out.

edit: other small but awesome modules to consider:
4hp DivKid Ochd (I like it better than Batumi)
4hp FX Aid (so many algos to choose from!)
8hp Pamela's New Workout (the menus aren't that bad and if you aren't performing live, then immediacy seems like less of a priority than depth/power)
8hp Ornament and Crime (see PNW)
4hp WMD C4RBN

Might I also suggest that when I see a conceptual rack full of the same brand, it makes me think that the designer wanted to limit themselves to a single brand because of the feeling of being overwhelmed with all the possibilities out there. I did this thing when I first started: I just wanted a Make Noise machine. By mentally committing myself just to MN, I had sorta relieved myself of the challenge of researching other modules out there. I had read that all their modules are great (they are) and their aesthetic was cool and all the demos were cool. But after I bought a few modules, I realized that I wasn't totally clicking with them, and it wasn't long before I branched out and tried new companies.

Last point: there are no final destinations in Eurorack, everyone is always trying new things, selling old things. That's why everyone recommends getting a few modules at first, because you're going to find what you like, what you don't ilke, what you want to try, what you don't want to do.

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Manresa » Wed Mar 03, 2021 10:51 pm

11235813 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:00 pm
This is a great comment, and I really think that this familiar color, shape, structure may be what's driving me. I had a similar reaction to MI modules, but I couldn't figure out how to work them "just by looking". Maybe spending so much time with the VCV Rack default modules has tended me towards this structure? Thanks for your input!
If you like the VCV Rack modules maybe look into getting some modules with grayscale panels (same designer).

Also gonna chime in that a case full of 2hp modules would be a nightmare—you might not even be able to patch it, and agree with everyone that says it’s easy to over-plan your case. Buy a limited set of modules and let them determine your next acquisitions. It’s not always obvious from reading.

Good luck!

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Raindeer » Wed Mar 03, 2021 10:51 pm

11235813 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:57 pm
bronzebygold wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:17 pm
This is also needlessly inaccessible. For example, Batumi (which is VERY playable) has 12 LFOs in 10hp. Your 2hp LFO modules will only give you 6 LFOs in 12hp! So you're actually giving up playability in exchange for half the LFOs?? It doesn't even make sense from the perspective of maximum density.
Oh! That Batumi seems PERFECT! 28 hours to 500 Hz, now THAT is an LFO! I also like the Tap Tempo. At 10 HP this is very tempting, very powerful, and yet very simple to operate. I'll download the manual tonight. Thanks!
I think this is a general issue (although I really like how you’ve planned it all out). Don’t assume that you are getting more functionality and possibilities because you’re going for the tiniest modules. I can’t see how you could patch for 2-3 hours with this without hand cramps or backache. Bloom is excellent though.

- You have two Bloom channels so I wonder if you should aim for two ‘voices’, for example one larger analogue VCO and the 2hp Pluck.
- I think you have space for an FX Aid.. loads of effects in just 4hp, and skip one of those 2hp delay/reverb.
- you don’t need that 3U mult; the double 1U one you have is more than enough. Use that extra space to get something with larger knobs..

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by CeilingFanDan » Wed Mar 03, 2021 10:54 pm

I love your dueling FSRs at the bottom.

I don't own one myself, but I wonder if starting with something like a Subharmonicon and building out from there would be an option worth exploring. It's not generative, but I think there's a similarity there because a few tweaks of a couple knobs can change things drastically.

I did own a Bloom, but very much didn't vibe with it. I didn't like programing sequences with it, and I didn't like what it came up with on its own. It's a very cool and powerful module, especially for the $$ and HP. And you may love it (not trying to diss the module), but should you find that don't, then I think you may run into challenges having a system built around a blank spot, b/c you sold it off or took it out, or patch around it constantly.
Which I guess echoes some sentiments above about starting small. I've definitely found that modules I was expecting to work a certain way or fill a certain role some times don't always work how I planned (even after extensive research before buying). Many times they end up shining in other ways I hadn't expected, I think it's important to allow room for that.

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by CeilingFanDan » Wed Mar 03, 2021 10:57 pm

ALSO
maybe consider putting your DC offset/attenuverting knobs at the bottom? Then you can use those to tap into CV parameters of the 2hp modules that you want to control manually, but don't have access to because of the tiny knobs hidden behind a mess of cabling, and you have all your manual CV control in one place.

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Muff McMuff » Thu Mar 04, 2021 12:00 am

It looks a bit of a nightmare in reality but ok as a list of specs written on a piece of paper. If you like the idea of a lot of functuality in a small space look at the Pico System as mentioned above. Gives you a lot and was designed to be compact so some thought went into knob and jack positions. Also only one power header to plug in on the eurorack module version!
Check out some of the these 3 Module Challenge videos to give you an idea what sounds you can get from just three modules. Maybe a Pico system and a couple of well chosen modules and you are off. Use it for at least a few weeks or months before buying more modules. There is no definitive right or wrong in modular.
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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Kawouddd » Thu Mar 04, 2021 2:17 am

11235813 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:20 pm
Kawouddd wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:30 pm
Familiar brand, familiar colours, structure, shape, routine all helped break down that unfamiliarity and make more approachable.
This is a very good point, and now that I think about it... Maybe spending so much time on VCV Rack with the default, standard modules (which sort of look like Doepfer) have leaned me in this direction of all modules from one manufacturer. I've briefly considered and all Erica or all MI rack for the same reasons, but the modules didn't "speak to me" like the 2hp did. Sorry, that sounds super nerdy. :-) Thanks!
As others have noted, the pico systems do a really good job of approaching this, fully voiced. Either could be expanded in a larger case. I think the 3 is essentially a plate of modules (?) that cannot be disassembled or detached from one another (but can be removed from the case). The 2 is full on modular, and some of the modules in it are the more kick ass version of what Erica offers in pico. The 2 is, basically, more modular. (But also more expensive).

The attached is the most modularly dense section of any of my racks. It’s all pico (plus a 2hp vowel). I love it. They’re fantastic modules. The wiring behind them - as others have noted - is dense.
94326175-282F-46A2-9A4A-714205B34AD5.jpeg

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by LunaticSound » Thu Mar 04, 2021 3:10 am

This system looks really cool! I would not want to touch it even with gloves on though :D

If you really want to try this out, I want to reiterate what has been said here before: If you buy this all at once, you will never understand, what a modular really can do. If you are very lucky, it will work somewhat similar to what you expect. If you are unlucky, it will not even make any sounds. For heat or power reasons for example.

Please just allow yourself to thoroughly try a smaller functioning subset of this. Then tell us, how you feel about it. Then you will have our blessings and show us, it can really be done.

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Raymond » Thu Mar 04, 2021 3:17 am

As everyone said this seems very tough to play and enjoy for me too.
I would replace :
- the LFOs by batumi too (12 LFO in 10hp)
- the Euclidean and division by Shakmat time wizard (6 clock in 8hp)
- the 2 VCA and the mixer by 3x VCA by happy Nerding. Same size, 3 VCAs / attenuator / mixer
- in a case that size you don’t need I think 3 multiple so you can take off the 2hp one as you already have 2 in 1U
- the EG and the Adsr with the noise engineering Pons Asinorum. 4 envelope with 2 more hp
- the snare and hats I would replace them with addac 103 (6hp) or 104 or 106 (8hp each) and you have 4 drum sound
- I’ll put the addac 604 for 2 filters in 6hp
- in fact I’ll keep the 2hp mixer cause mixer/attenuator at always needed

You could keep pluck, bell, delay, reverb and the VCO why not.
I think it would fit in the box and it would be more enjoyable and easier to resell if needed. I don’t think I have forgotten something but it is always tough to fit an entire system in a tiny place.

Overall it was fun to think about that system !
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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by nios » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:17 am

Well, "controversial" is correct. I don't think you'd even be able to fit all the cabling into that case with all those modules much less power them all. It's also super inefficient dollar-per-function wise as well. Like to an absurd degree. For example an Instruo Ochd is about $200 and is 8 (basic) LFOs in 4hp, etc. Definitely what would serve you well, is a lot more time studying the whole Euro biome and checking out how random racks are organized to get a feel for realistic potentials. Start with a couple core modules instead of all at once, and get an idea of basic patching etc as you progress instead of get everything at once before you quite grasp what would be good ideas or not. Also, check out the Erica Synths Pico system if you still wanted an ultracompact modular setup, as that's in essence a bunch of their Pico modules squished together for a far far more reasonable price than what is shown here and is all in one unit.

In essence, the 2hp modules are useful more to fill in little nooks in your system with some extra nice bit of function rather than themselves be an entire system. I mean there's nothing saying you can't do that, but fundamentally most of the modules are trimmed down, simplified versions of things far better-fleshed-out in other modules (such as Pluck, vs Mutable Instruments Rings). I used to have a few but sold them off once I expanded and had room for better options of the same kinds of functions.

Also for generative ambient the filters and effects will really be giving a lot of animation to that. Something like the Make Noise QPAS, IME Bionic Lester mkIII or SSF Stereo Dipole in there going into for example, the Mutable Instruments Beads, would give you a lot of great potential. Basically that case would be far too small to fit in enough other things that would be super-useful for generative such as some kind of sampler (like Morphagene or Squid Salmple) and what I personally think are what really give finesse to these setups, filter banks. For example the Random*Source Serge Resonant Equalizer, manually controlled with feedback engaged, is quite adept for this role and also isn't too giant/expensive (like the Frap Fumana, which I use and love but would think is really intimidating for a beginner to commit to).

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Granny » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:37 am

11235813 wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:52 pm
Granny wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:07 pm
if you want to save space, get an oscilloscope outside of the rack. you wont need it all the time
This is the second comment about ditching the scope! I am listening to everyone here who is more experienced. Thanks for your time. :-)
I use the JYE Tech Wave2 Dual Channel Oscilloscope, when I want to check what comes out of the module. Works 4 m3

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Agawell » Thu Mar 04, 2021 5:59 am

OP - have you read this thread - I was wrong (and still am)

read and re-read the 1st post

personally I think that starting with the case and trying to cram functionality in is the absolute worst way to start in modular

ideally imo it should be: find the modules you want, work out what modules you need to support those modules, add 30-50% for expansion - work out the power needs and then look for the case

often less is more... mostly regarding sound sources and modifiers - if modulation sources and utility modules take up 50% of the rack space you will have a nicely balanced modular...

especially as an engineer you should be aware of ergonomics and how much they affect enjoyment of using anything - a case full of 2hp and 1u modules is the antithesis of this... as are micro module clones to a large extent... even full size modules are mostly only just on the cusp of decent ergonomics - especially when you have a pile of patch cables plugged in!

I see you mentioned that the next size up case is suitable for 6u/104hp - this is definitely a better way to go
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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by Granny » Thu Mar 04, 2021 6:00 am

Most criticisms about this are valid and I think it would be a real PITA to get all those modules in the rack, if even possible at all. I have a few smaller modules and I was sweating when I put my case together. I couldn't really choose where to put my modules. It was more like a puzzle game of what was fitting together physically. My case is also not very deep (~5cm) which made it worse

BUT

I like this somehow. Maybe I saw too many Maths, Rings, Clouds constellations. They are great modules, no question. But modular for me is about being able to puzzle together your own weird little monster. So all power to you man. And please make a video ;P

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Re: Yet Another Newbie - Feedback on Controversial Rack Please

Post by bitSmasher » Thu Mar 04, 2021 7:23 am

Get a fistful of straws from your local takeaway, cut them in to thirds, gently warm the ends and flare them (with a pencil or whatever) to a size that'll snugly fit the pot shafts. They'll be handy for when you want to tweak a patch.

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