Eurorack beginner's advice

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Jesper(modclubhouse)
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Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Jesper(modclubhouse) » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:17 am

Hi all,

I'm starting with Eurorack and I get a lot of great advice (like this one: https://bit.ly/clubhouseshorts1), what would be the best piece of advice you would give your younger self before they started with Eurorack?

Thanks a million in advance!

Kind regards
Jesper

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Jesper(modclubhouse)
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Jesper(modclubhouse) » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:17 am

Or which mistakes should I make sure to avoid :)

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Jturbide
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Jturbide » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:27 am

Buy a bigger case

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by fxxxxx » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:44 am

“Just don’t.”

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nicholasponcedeleon
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by nicholasponcedeleon » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:50 am

Buy a bulk of quality modules with a case so that you have a lot of time to learn the modules and it will give you an idea of how you want your modular to be. In the meantime while you learn, you have time to save. This is what I did starting out and it was a good decision. I bought the pricier modules because my knowledge was limited and so to avoid not liking any module that I bought I figured it would be safe "getting what I paid for".

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by transistorresistor » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:51 am

have. a. goal.

there is endless great advice here, but the best intentions can lead you down the wrong path if you dont have a clear goal for yourself. There are so many options and so many things you can do, before you invest in a system you should have some idea about what you want to do and how to do it. And something more specific than "ambient" because you can get that done with analog or digital modules and make two really different sounds.

If you could book some time at a showroom just so you can hear these things in person surely you will gravitate towards some modules more than others. Short of that spend a real long time on youtube looking at the genre you like and see what modules are making those sounds.

And you dont need a damn Maths to start modular. Your first couple modules should be simple, clearly labeled modules that clearly do a simple thing wo alot of menu diving and button combinations to memorize and heiroglyphics on the front panel to decipher. You'll get all that stuff later but it massively will slow you down in the beginning.

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by 1n » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:57 am

Learn to solder and build your own.

Or save up and fill a 4U Palette or a 4ms Pod with things you like the sound of + SQ1 for sequencing.

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by newrun » Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:59 am

Checkout VCVRack if you haven't already.

And there's this Youtube channel Comparative Irrelevance (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQBQ6F ... _FkTexeE8g). He does a bunch of 3 module challenges, which shows how much you can do with just 3 carefully selected modules.

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by transistorresistor » Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:04 pm

newrun wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:59 am
And there's this Youtube channel Comparative Irrelevance (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQBQ6F ... _FkTexeE8g). He does a bunch of 3 module challenges, which shows how much you can do with just 3 carefully selected modules.
this guys channel was so helpful to me when I was starting out. Mutable should have him on the payroll.

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Peng33 » Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:14 pm

I always get a lot out of Mylarmelodies Youtube channel too. He has a number that are dedicated to specific ideas/genres/functions (not specific modules, per se), which really inspired some ideas. The recent generative one was great, and he had one on voltage controlled switching that was helpful.

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by pugix » Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:31 pm

Assuming you're starting with modular synthesis at the same time as Eurorack, I'd recommend learning and practicing the basics. Start with mostly single function modules, VCO, Envelope Generator, VCA, VCF, Mixer - modules that you don't need to read the manual very much, but can just tell from the panel how to operate. In the last ten years or so, some Eurorack modules have evolved a lot of complexity. Keeping it simple to start out will avoid much perplexity. Modular synthesis is about getting your hands on some controls and patch cords and playing around, discovering things by doing.
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by 11235813 » Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:38 pm

1 VCA per 1U of rack @ 84HP is a good rule of thumb. i.e. if you have 6U @ 84HP, many people will have 6VCAs. If your rack is 104HP, then tend to have a few more. Another rule of thumb is 2 VCAs per voice. Some people use more, some less.

ALSO - Echoing TransistorResistor... HAVE A GOAL. Study some music. Study genres of modular. Ambient? Generative? Techno? Performance based? Noodling? etc. The modules are different for each situation.

Of course Modulargrid.net.

WARNING -you might get to the "final design" and find that many of your choices are not available. Start checking availability right now on modules that you think are important...

Here are three videos that really helped me.



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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Loudspirits » Wed Apr 07, 2021 12:43 pm

Utilities are sexier than you think. Most great sound sources may turn you off to the point of selling them unless you have the stuff to massage them properly

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klstay
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by klstay » Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:12 pm

Two questions for which the answers will significantly impact your initial choices:

1. What is your absolute starting budget limit? (Include case/power, patching cables, and anything like a computer audio interface if needed)

2. To what degree is your initial goal to learn the core principles of modular synthesis? (Some prefer to just jump in with Plaits or similar and start making sounds right away vs. focusing on a more core WYSIWYG module approach)

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Pelsea » Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:13 pm

Take your time and learn. Then practice.
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Patch responsibly.
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by uniquepersonno2 » Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:48 pm

1. Play with stuff before you buy it, and read the manual and watch demos
2. New is almost never better, just different. "Upgrades" are rare in this world.
3. Make sure you're buying a module for a reason -- work towards a goal, and make absolutely sure you can't do the thing you're trying to do already.
4. Read the manual again and actually learn every function of the gear you buy. I've seen people buy modules to fill "gaps" in their system when they already have a multitude of modules that could do the function they're looking for, simply because they didn't take the time to get to know their system.

I have a relatively large system. I've just finished another round of revamps, and I'm really happy with how it's turned out. Everything in my current layout either does one key function really well, or can do a multitude of things. I also got rid of most of my ultra complex modules -- I find much more satisfaction patching something together with simpler modules than programming a complex, menu-heavy module in most cases. Even my complex stuff is relatively immediate: Assimil8or only has one layer of menus on most things.

It took me 5 years to actually learn what kinds of modules I work best with. I now own about 80 modules, but I've probably owned over 150 in my time with the format.
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by VibratingMotorGate » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:06 pm

Your numerous aims will decide some generalized goal. Deliberate and change it to fit your needs. Now repeat this cycle many times over the course of years. Your goal is now more ambitious, and your system more open ended for interpretation. You're going to need a bigger case. Think about patching with a thousand cables, a hundred passive stars, and dozens of VCAs. Now you need active mults, offsets, atteneuverters and mixers. Your'e limited without utilities, might as well give up now, your clocks suck without logic, your patch is nothing without interconnectivity. I still haven't bought a modular, I'm still planning, and there have been times where I drastically change my fantasy modulargrid, so thank god I didn't actually buy in then! Time solves all problems, but it will also pass whatever modular you design now with better and newer technologies. No one is safe from the modular.

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by gonkulator » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:29 pm

In addition to others' questions to help give relevant responses, here are some questions I asked or would have liked to have the answer to: Why do you want to do this, as opposed to using less expensive integrated synths, even if they have powerful internal modulation capabilities? What is your knowledge level of synthesis, as well as music? Is this for fun only? Do you plan to perform? How willing are you to spend money on modules you may not end up liking. How motivated are you to learn what you don't know, especially about uninteresting subjects (to some, not me) like cases and power.
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Sysagent » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:40 pm

I started the journey with a few semi-modular synths (Neutron, 0-Coast, Pro-1, K2) and a fundamental modular synth in the form of Behringer's System 100M clone.

This is a pretty standard modular in it's architecture - VCO / VCF / ENV / LFO / VCA, therefore giving you the ability to learn the basic principles which are vital and also... It is cheap.

Also, make sure you have plenty of space for your area of wiggling, this is vital and I am suffering from a severe lack of it right now lol!
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Agawell » Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:51 pm

VibratingMotorGate wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 2:06 pm
Your numerous aims will decide some generalized goal. Deliberate and change it to fit your needs. Now repeat this cycle many times over the course of years. Your goal is now more ambitious, and your system more open ended for interpretation. You're going to need a bigger case. Think about patching with a thousand cables, a hundred passive stars, and dozens of VCAs. Now you need active mults, offsets, atteneuverters and mixers. Your'e limited without utilities, might as well give up now, your clocks suck without logic, your patch is nothing without interconnectivity. I still haven't bought a modular, I'm still planning, and there have been times where I drastically change my fantasy modulargrid, so thank god I didn't actually buy in then! Time solves all problems, but it will also pass whatever modular you design now with better and newer technologies. No one is safe from the modular.
yes but procrastination will get you nowhere either....

buy a big case buy a minimum viable synth (used simple modules) and start patching - and add slowly as you feel you need to - if you hate one of the modules you bought in the first batch sell it on for what you paid for it (costs postage!)
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Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!

an oscillator is an oscillator - utilities are possibilities

choose the case to fit the modules - not the modules to fit the case!!!

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Agawell » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:12 pm

Buy as big a case with as good a power supply as you can to start - minimum 6u/104hp or 9u/84hp - that way you will not run out of space in 3-6 weeks-months - tiptop and doepfer are particularly good for this when available

work out what modules you want and then work out what modules you need to support them (I see newbie cases with no utilities or modulation a lot) and then find the right sized/powered case based on that

1-1.5 voices per row (under 104hp) any more and the support modules will probably need a separate case

do not expect DIY to save you money in any way whatsoever! you will spend the same money, just on different things (a soldering iron etc to start with probably) and you probably end up with more modules than you would have otherwise - it's super easy to spend 100 on pcb/panels/parts to build a module that costs 300 - way easier than spending 300 on a module - probably 3-4 times easier

DIYing cases is relatively simple and cost effective - but you won't save much unless you go big a lot of the time (unless you use wooden rails and DIY the psu - at one point I had a plank of wood, cut in 4 and held together by blind panels and modules - as an overspill case powered by a couple of FC psus)
Modular Audio and Video Synthesis on Instagram

Utility modules are the inexpensive, dull polish that makes the expensive, shiny modules actually shine!!!

an oscillator is an oscillator - utilities are possibilities

choose the case to fit the modules - not the modules to fit the case!!!

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Jesper(modclubhouse)
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Jesper(modclubhouse) » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:18 pm

Already some gems right here in the discussion! I really embrace the "Have a goal" one and I think I will focus one of the future "Clubhouse Shorts" on that. For me personally it would be to have fun with and aim to make elektro-punk and black metal inspired ambient.
I studied physics where we had to do a lot of wave theory (Fourier transformations and analysis, etc.) so I have the synthesis basics covered but I am still learning a lot on a daily basis. I started with the devices I've shown on my channel (Korg NTS-1, Volca Keys, Volca Sample) plus a Crave and a Neutron which I still use on an almost daily basis (especially as I don't have modules that cover all basic functionality yet).

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Val
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by Val » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:29 pm

1 don't watch the "start your eurorack videos" its pointless, modular is a way to get a one off instrument, YOU decide what's inside (but i already knew that)
2 go to a shop and try stuff (I always do that when I'm in a city i don't know)
3 learn to solder or go doepfer!

also, just sell everything else



Agawell wrote:
Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:12 pm
do not expect DIY to save you money in any way whatsoever! you will spend the same money, just on different things (a soldering iron etc to start with probably) and you probably end up with more modules than you would have otherwise - it's super easy to spend 100 on pcb/panels/parts to build a module that costs 300 - way easier than spending 300 on a module - probably 3-4 times easier

DIYing cases is relatively simple and cost effective - but you won't save much unless you go big a lot of the time (unless you use wooden rails and DIY the psu - at one point I had a plank of wood, cut in 4 and held together by blind panels and modules - as an overspill case powered by a couple of FC psus)

false but also true!

absolutely false because I basically got the Random*Source modules at half the price, but I took a lot of time sourcing parts and all.
I have a 14€ soldering iron, does the job. tools for DIYing modules are cheap. 10€ multimeter ... I even was lucky enough to find a 20€ fluke 200MHZ 4 channel combinoscope (analog / digital) just look around
DIY IS CHEAPER (if you're ready to spend a lot of your spare time, for me it's a hobby, I like it)

I also DIYed my case and it cost me approximatively 1000€, but it's 104HP 18U with a TOTL PSU.

It's true because since you feel you save money you buy more panel and PCB and build a lot. but in my case I had a clear plan of what I want to do, not just buying random kits on Thonk.


my last advice would be getting a semi modular to start wiggling around with patch points (minibrute 2, 0-coast, moogs ...)
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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by luketeaford » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:51 pm

It took me a long time to get into stackcables and to arrive at a system of color coding by length. For the first couple years, I had multiple lengths in multiple colors so I could color code by signals (pointless in practice for me though I imagine some people maintaining a single patch or patching together a live rig might prefer that).

In general, I've wanted to "get away from the computer" but lately I've been interested in MIDI and Pure Data again and plan to use those things for their expressive potential. I wish I would have been interested in those things earlier because I would be many years ahead of where I am now with my custom PureData/MIDI setup.

At the time, I thought it was dumb to spend more money on the black and gold shared system since I would end up mixing in other modules anyway-- but now I realize the error of my ways and would rather have the stock black and gold shared system (the aesthetics matter more than I expect since I play every day-- again, probably just me...).

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Re: Eurorack beginner's advice

Post by starthief » Wed Apr 07, 2021 3:55 pm

Go slow-ish, but don't expect a tiny case to be enough.

Recognize that your plans are probably all going to be wrong, and that your goals and needs can change.

Don't skimp on power, a case, cables, accessories, etc.

Trying something in person for a few minutes is a good idea, but it won't give you a solid idea of what you can do with it. Few modules reveal their real potential until you've had time to really learn them. Some modules seem awesome at first, but then you get tired of them or realize you can patch the same thing with gear you already have, or some of their quirks are annoying.

If you buy stuff used, you can resell it for just about the same amount. If you buy new and then resell, you're basically paying a "rental fee" -- which might still be worth it! But be sure you're not paying more than you should, especially with weird prices on Reverb lately.

Get a few cables of different types from different manufacturers, figure out which style you like, and then get more of those than you think you need, in different sizes and colors.

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