anyone go from modular back in the box?

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Mitchk1989
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anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by Mitchk1989 » Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:08 pm

I'm trying to get back into music after a multiple year hiatus of sorts but my gear situation is kinda a mess - before I kinda shelved the hobby I sold like half my stuff with the intention of replacing it and then life happened.

So I basically don't have the money to get a DAW up and running AND replace some of my sold hardware so I'm sitting on half a modular (missing some key elements to be a usable instrument), a few random other synths, and a shitty computer rig (my music laptop died so I just have my old gaming PC) and no monitor speakers (sold them before I moved across the country with intention of upgrading). So basically I have no free cash to spend on gear and need to sell some stuff either way but my options at this point are basically to sell all my non-modular gear (analog 4, minibrute, some volcas, maybe a midi controller or two, maybe one of my guitars) to buy an MPC live II and some more modules to do a 100% mpc + modular rig, or sell all my hardware (except maybe one or two cheap things for inspiration like the volca modular) to build a new DAW PC, update some software, and get some nice studio monitors.

It does certainly feel like a lot of the things I got into modular for are now available ITB - I've never been a huge analog purist and mostly got into modular for the crazy sequencing/composition/modulation CV aspects rather than the modular sound pathways, and that if anything seems easier in software with VCV rack, Reaktor blocks, bitwig the grid, etc... So has anyone else made the jump back to software with these new software modular tools? Any regrets?

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by dreamdead » Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:35 pm

This is pretty similar to my story. I had a modular, life happened, and I didn't have anything for a few years. When I finally was in a place to start collecting gear again I asked myself the same thing and ultimately decided to spend my money on a good pc, daw, and a bunch of other software. I don't regret it. I think you get way more for your money going this route, and with a lot of the tools out there today I think you can get 90% or more of the way there.

BUT -- there's just no substitution for the real deal. No midi controller or plugin is going to take the place of patching up a synth and turning knobs. I think most of what people can or want to do with a modular can be done with a computer much cheaper, but even if you like the workflow of the computer you'll still be left wanting the real thing.

I've got a lot of time and money into my pc, and I've just started building another small modular. I'll be able to control it from and do a lot of things in the computer via expert sleepers, so I'll get a lot of mileage from a modestly sized rack focusing on things I can't replicate in the daw. But the fact that after having more or less everything I want in the pc I'm still going to be building a small rack to go with it speaks volumes.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by dreamdead » Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:37 pm

I also think the akai force and the new mpc live are extremely powerful and exciting tools, and could easily replace a pc for a lot of people

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by (((EMP))) » Sat Jul 04, 2020 8:34 am

Used hardware modular since the 90’s. Honestly I just got bored with it. Not mention the ridiculous cost for even a basic system. Sold it all. After a year I bought a “skiff” and tried putting a system together. It was nice enough and functional. But the love affair was over. Ended up selling that too. ALL my modular desires are now satisfied with miRack on an iPad Pro (running as an AUv3 inside of AUM). The combination of a Apple Pencil and touchscreen is actually really great for virtual modular.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by wuff_miggler » Sat Jul 04, 2020 8:46 am

you do not need modular at all no.

my favourite music - i'll say it again and again - is written by kids on laptops with some drum samples, serum, maxmsp and a billion other insane software titles. in fact - there's never been a time such as this where your STOCK daw - has everything you need to make anything really (bar extensive sample libraries ala orchestra or solo instruments)

some downsides -

*feedback is impossible to patch outside programs like Reaktor (which you may or may not like)
*routing can limit you - which is good and bad - good for getting things done - in this century, bad if you have some specific ideas.

upsides -
*building patches with 64 breakpoint envelopes - custom drum wavetables, tonnes of effects...is pretty sick - once you decide what your arsenal is.
*adding more effects/or plugins in a session isnt a matter of needing to wait for your next pay check

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by lisa » Sat Jul 04, 2020 2:39 pm

I never left the box. I run a DAW on my internet laptop and sometimes I make full tracks ITB, other times I work with cheap or expensive harware and finalize it in my DAW. Best of all worlds. I don't know why you would have to choose. VCV rack will run on a rather cheap computer. You won't have to get a monster computer to make music.
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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by andybizarre » Sun Jul 05, 2020 12:44 pm

If I were in your situation, I would sell all outboard gear except the one synth/preamp/you-name-it I liked the best, get a decent cheap computer (for example, based on Ryzen 3700 or the upcoming 4750G with a B550 board) and spend the rest of the money on the best monitors I could afford, a monitor controller and perhaps some room treatment. Ah, and Bitwig + Reaktor, of course. :cloud:

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by ersatzplanet » Sun Jul 05, 2020 1:36 pm

I have gone to a hybrid approach. I turned my modular into a predominantly Wav Player and Granular rig by replacing all but two VCOs with Nebulae, Nutella and 4ms STS modules (and LOTS of Filters). I generate sounds on my computer (Reason, VSTi, and Max) and play them/modify them on the modular. I also got a Nord Modular and a Nord G2 to make and play sounds. Both worlds merged.
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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by 3hands » Sun Jul 05, 2020 1:39 pm

I use a ton of hardware exclusively, but do all mixing ITB with Cubase and a Mackie Control Universal. I have some outboard for certain sounding effects (tape delays, BBDs Midiverb 2 etc), but mostly eq with Fab Filter, and some Waves Plugins.
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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by starthief » Sun Jul 05, 2020 8:09 pm

Despite my love affair with modular hardware, I still use a DAW for mixing, FX etc. and the occasional software synth.

I figure if I absolutely had to, I could take what I have learned and the style and habits I've developed back into the box, with things like Bitwig Grid and/or VCV rack, and still make music in a similar style. I know it wouldn't be the same, but I could make it work for me.

In fact... if I had to choose between giving up hardware synths and giving up the computer (for music production), I'd let go of the hardware synths.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by mamonu » Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:26 am

During the 2005-2012 i had a pretty spiffing hardware studio with polysynths and modulars etc.
However at around 2013 i needed to immigrate so i sold mostly everything apart from some choice stuff
(my roland mks racks for poly and a 100m and 100-102 for modulars....) which i stored and didnt have with me for 5 years.

For many years i was fine. got a miniak and serum vst and to be frank i did not *need* anything else really.

Now things are more stable i have went back into modular heavily (lol) but should the need come i just need a daw and serum really....

These days i would add VCV rack that scratches the itch to create fm-based farting sounds (lol) more than enough
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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by Tenderosa » Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:23 pm

I haven't left modular (though kept it strictly to a 126hp 3U box for cost reasons) but I have returned to Ableton (and guitar) front and centre. Not that I ever stopped (for sequencing, mixing, effects) but have found that modular completely rewired my approach to composition (with guitar as well) and now I approach the DAW in a different way. Very conscious of thinking about it as an interconnected system like modular but also getting much more out of what is actually there built in to the software in the same way you squeeze workarounds out of hardware. The envelopes and LFOs in max for live help with this & I've also learnt better workflows for sending CV out to the small modular I have to extend it. Sequencing and clocks always but also random and noise. It's great to be able to write a mod curve out to CV over the course of minutes in a timeline easily.
My take on your plan would be to look at small bits of hardware to keep or replace you can integrate with your DAW. Part of my journey with this was a detour into Softube Modular which sounds incredible (and I still use to output the doepfer noise module as CV) but didn't do the same workflow things being out of the box does. If VCV comes into the DAW as a VST I'll possibly change my mind on that.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by DeanG » Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:43 am

I have sold off my hardware synths, just this week my last, a Moog grandmother. Kept my microgranny and old yamaha QY 70, though. After spending heaps of money on everything from eurorack to volcas, I said screw it and I am using mainly madrona lab's aalto and also have arturia's easel softsynth. Qunexus for keyboard and midi guitar controller. For what I like to do with electronic music I can get much closer to what I want with these. But tradeoffs exist with the performance UI. I only use Ableton to host the Madrona Aalto synth and I don't construct pieces in the DAW. It is just another synth and I improvise primarily. record audio to a tascam field recorder. I find the GUI of Aalto to be superior for live performance compared with the GUIs that try to look like hardware synths. I am glad to have (hopefully) climbed out of the hardware rabbit-hole /money pit.
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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by mixxalot » Sun Jul 26, 2020 12:38 pm

This is a great discussion. I came the opposite way from a DAW and Ableton Push controller with tons of plugins and soft VTS synths then a Moog Sub 37 hardware synth and Elektron Octatrack/Analog 4 and now into semi modular with a Make Noise 0-coast and Korg SQL1 sequencer. Both have their place but honestly since I work all day on a computer for my day job, the tactile experience of patching wires and twirling knobs is quite relaxing and fun for me! If you can bridge the gap with a hardware sampler that has MIDI to CV integration between modular and PC DAW that would be the best of both worlds to sample the Eurorack and record into a DAW like Ableton or Cubase. Now I want to either buy a small modular setup like a Doepfer A100 or build a small 7U case and few modules to complement my setup.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by dp4 » Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:41 pm

personally would sell all modular and any synth you don’t connect with. buy a cheap but powerful comp as suggested above. maybe keep the A4 and get it working w daw. plenty of free or free to use software... point is don’t spend more money. once back in it, you can see if you want to add a small modular or other instruments. also maybe work with a decent pair of headphones until you can buy some decent 5” monitors.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by vadimred13 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:15 pm

Hardware for inspiration, software for perspiration. All actual work (finished tracks) I do completely in the box, but all the fun stuff/noodling happens on hardware. It's just more intuitive and tactile and better suited for coming up with ideas (for me at least). And like someone has already mentioned, I too work a computer job, and the idea of stepping away from the screen at the end of the day is very refreshing.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by ignatius » Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:48 pm

i've never stopped making tracks in the box. i just do whatever i'm in the mood for or seems interesting to achieve a goal/experiment etc. so, ITB sequencing, recording of hardware.. itb hybrid mix of sounds coming from the ocmputer while sequencing midi stuff and the modular.. or just modular.. or just midi..

there are times when, depending on the project, i'll stick with one set up/method for the length of the project just for continuity but other times i'm just making tracks and fitting together the ones that make sense into some kind of release.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by dubonaire » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:00 pm

vadimred13 wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 8:15 pm
Hardware for inspiration, software for perspiration. All actual work (finished tracks) I do completely in the box, but all the fun stuff/noodling happens on hardware. It's just more intuitive and tactile and better suited for coming up with ideas (for me at least). And like someone has already mentioned, I too work a computer job, and the idea of stepping away from the screen at the end of the day is very refreshing.
That's pretty much how I see it.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Thu Aug 06, 2020 9:20 pm

I use both. Ableton sampler and the whole instrument rack thing. I was posting serum coding tutorials when that came out. I got half way through making a wavetable pack and a sample pack but it never got that far. I used max/map, reaktor, VAZ modular logic protools Ableton fruity loops since the 96 some of them. I used custom sound fonts on SB live with midi in the joystick port hooked up to a yamaha DJX. The computer takes care of recording and arranging. I don't use the computer for modular now. It simply does not do what the eurorack does. Plain and simple. I have all this weird shit like a radio, joysticks, contact mics, lots of distortions and filters, real spring reverb. VCV is great for techno or ambient but it doesn't replace the modular in my use case.
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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by DeanG » Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:37 pm

Taking a step back, I bought a little craftsynth 2.0 last week thinking I would like a cheap hardware synth, but it's going back. Hoping for an immediate UI, but it's anything but. They have an app that improves access to parameters, but then if I am using the computer, what's the point of the little hardware box? It's not like it sounds better than the softsynths , IMO.
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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by sp1200 » Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:11 am

I had saved for a while and ordered a Shared System Plus. After 6 months, the order was still not filled so I requested a refund and in a roundabout way this was the best thing that could have happened. I’ve explored a number of software modulars and they’ve been a lot of fun. If you have some hardware gear and a capable interface, you could potentially make some use of Ableton’s CV Tools as you figure out where you want to land eventually.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:20 am

hardware to modular then back to hardware and have never looked back.
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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by supersuper » Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:39 pm

I did,

Modular is fun to noodle with but computer is more productive for actual composition.

Still want a modular for noodling again though :) and maybe sample it more proactively this time.

Eurorack modulars are almost like a fun sort of modern art now.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by Dilibob » Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:19 pm

From a time perspective I am moving everyday a bit more to vcvrack.

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Re: anyone go from modular back in the box?

Post by trickness » Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:28 pm

Sold all my modular stuff and three years later got back into it. The computer has its strengths, to me it’s not just the gear with modular it’s also the culture. And that’s not to say you can’t have a modular and then also use a DAW. I don’t know I found myself really missing the culture when I sold my gear, the builders, the artists who use the modules, the few really good people who demo new stuff, and some of the cool retailers. It’s a scene that deserves to be supported especially with all the negativity in the world.

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