Anybody here prefer semi-modular to modular?

Anything modular synth related that is not format specific.

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spilthyfred
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Post by spilthyfred » Sun Oct 20, 2019 8:25 pm

bobdylan wrote:I definitely prefer semi modulars these days. I've been in and out of eurorack so...many...times for lots of reasons but the main one is the difficulty I've always had with integrating it into existing compositions. Modular is amazing for starting a new project from scratch but I've had very little success chasing down ideas to throw on a song without getting lost in patching and then eventually losing steam and moving on to something else. That's totally a me thing though, obviously not a universal truth.

So lately the Moog Grandmother has been the perfect synth for me. Works right away to get ideas flowing but has many opportunities to reroute things to add some spice. Really feels more like an expressive and lively instrument. I've always wanted a Music Easel for exactly this reason but cant warrant the cost of one.

Anyway, I am very excited to see where the world of semi modulars heads in the next few years. It's definitely my preferred interaction with modular.
For me, the whole reason to have a semi-modular is for the ability to have a simple, great sounding synth that CAN integrate with modular. I also have the Grandmother, and I love that I can get something great sounding so quickly, and then how easy it is to throw a couple of my modules into the mix. For me it is very inspiring. LOVE the Grandmother!

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Post by b9 » Sun Oct 27, 2019 2:52 am

got into a mother 32, 0coast, diy'd some synthrotek modules...in 2016. Now I'm up to MN SS+ or rather ~ 300hp of the usual suspects 3yrs later. The memes thread had me rolling pretty hard earlier. This ride is crazy. My korg ms2000 and all the other normal gear has been gathering dust ever since. The only pre patching that would interest me now would be self wired, and completely unconventional. I'm ruined. feels good

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Post by deltaphoenix » Sun Oct 27, 2019 9:12 am

My first and favorite semi modular is the Knas Ekdahl Polygamist. Very patchable, very big vintage sounds all the way to chaotic blasts of sound. Hopefully someday the v2 is released and more people get enjoy it.

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Post by Morley » Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:00 am

My personal favourite is the ARP 2600. It's so useful, powerful and being semi-modular, easy to setup and work with. Sometimes that trumps ultimate flexibility. But I tend to use my Fenix II/III more often now.
But full modulars are a lot of fun and being an open book, can lead to places you might not go with pre configured systems.
Its all good!

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Post by Blairio » Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:18 pm

I like the way the small semi-modulars can easily be hooked up to each other to produce something far more powerful and flexible.

For instance, my Doepfer Dark Energy (mk1) and Moog Werkstatt play well together, especially when you chuck in a Korg SQ1 sequencer. Things get even more interesting when I add in my Korg MS10, except (of course) the MS10 doesn't 'do' 1v/oct pitch CV.

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vromr
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Post by vromr » Sun Oct 27, 2019 11:14 pm

deltaphoenix Re: Knas Ekdahl Polygamist
OMG, must have some day. Knobs looks like mini cups of sorbet.
:rastanana:
Last edited by vromr on Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by steffie268 » Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:49 am

- disclaimer: noob rant, feel free to disregard lol
If I'm not mistaken the difference between semi-modular and modular is that one is internally prepatched and the other isn't.
But when a single module is a complete synth voice, even though it needs to be patched to produce sound, it's not "really" modular because you're not "really" synthesizing any sounds yourself? If you use a kick drum module it's not the same as patching a sine wave oscillator into a filter and vca and shaping the sound with EGs - I get that...
I've only recently started to transition into modular and I have 3 modules so far: Grendel DC2e and SSF Entity BDS and EPS. I spent a bit over 1000 euros to get all 3. How many modules and how much money (and HP) would it take to do what these modules can do but then fully modular with separate VCOs, EGs, LFOs, VCFs etc. - and how long would it take for me to be able to create equally awesome sounds as the DC2e/SSF combo can produce?
I want awesome sounds, bang-for-buck and portability so semi-modular (or "soft modular") is clearly my best option. I have much respect and admiration for "hard modular" but I don't feel any envy because I know and accept what my limitations are.
Synth voices: Ra-9 Grenadier, Hydronium, DC2e, MIDI Narrator and soon the Ra-99 Grenadier...
Drum voices: SSF Entity Bass Drum, SSF Entity Percussion, 3rd to be decided (too many contenders to mention)

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Post by luchog » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:19 pm

steffie268 wrote:- disclaimer: noob rant, feel free to disregard lol
If I'm not mistaken the difference between semi-modular and modular is that one is internally prepatched and the other isn't.
It's a bit more and less than that. A semi-modular does not need to have normalized (pre-patched) circuits; but often does. What mainly differentiates a semi-modular from a modular is that the former has a fixed architecture, but the signal path can (or must) be created and/or modified by patching; while a true modular has no fixed architecture, individual components can be added or removed, and the signal path is typically created and modified by patching (although there are some options for normalizing, depending on the module).
But when a single module is a complete synth voice, even though it needs to be patched to produce sound, it's not "really" modular because you're not "really" synthesizing any sounds yourself? If you use a kick drum module it's not the same as patching a sine wave oscillator into a filter and vca and shaping the sound with EGs - I get that...
That's where the line between semi-modular and fully-modular gets a bit blurry. And why a lot of people like Serge synthesizers, since it breaks the function blocks down even farther than the basic VCO->VCF->EG->VCA (for example, the classic DUSG).
I want awesome sounds, bang-for-buck and portability so semi-modular (or "soft modular") is clearly my best option.
That's the other big difference between semi-modular and full-modular: portability. The more you break down the system into individual single-function modules, the larger the end result tends to be for a given format. Which is why so many single-skiff and "lunchbox" (small case) systems tend to depend on full-voice and multi-function modules rather than basic building-block modules; to the point where quite a few of them are essentially just small computers, and function accordingly.

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Post by pmboos » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:37 pm

@luchog This must be why one of the next steps I have been thinking of is a lunchbox with some utilities. I have several semi-modulars and see ways I want to alter signal paths and such in a more automated way.
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Post by steffie268 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 3:05 am

@luchog: Thank you very much for the clarification.

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Martebar
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Post by Martebar » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:12 am

I went the modular way a few months ago.
Checked out how much a used 0-Coast and Mother 32 would have cost me.
Felt a strange feeling of regret grow in me...

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Post by pmboos » Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:00 pm

Martebar wrote:I went the modular way a few months ago.
Checked out how much a used 0-Coast and Mother 32 would have cost me.
Felt a strange feeling of regret grow in me...
So you nixed the idea of those and went full modular? I'd say don't feel regret. While I have nothing but semi-modulars and love them it is really a matter of what you do with them. I have had a pref for semi-modular (I am coming from MIDI-centric synths with fixed architectures), and really feel it is nothing more than a pref. There are pluses and minuses to everything.

Make music (or even just creative noise)! Enjoy!
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Post by pines » Sat Nov 02, 2019 3:38 pm

Done both since the 70’s. Probably the best setup for me is just the B&G SS and my 2600. Bought the 2600 in ‘79, bought the SS in late 2016 as my first euro. The euro has expanded considerably since then.... but I’m in the process of deciding what to sell off. The right modular plus semi combination is a great place for me. I’ll also add that the Animoog on an iPad does a really great job as a big poly synth voice that integrates well with the rest of the setup.

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Martebar
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Post by Martebar » Wed Nov 06, 2019 7:49 am

pmboos
Sorry I did not see your reply until now.
You're right I should just focus on making music.
I'm now trying to combine both synths architectures in one case so it's become a fun inspiration :)

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Post by DeanG » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:41 pm

I've abandoned modular for semi for a couple years now because I wanted an instrument that could be an extension of myself in the way my guitar is. Though my objective is in, I suppose the "avant-garde" realm, I am pretty much an abstract expressionist and the machine music aspect of modular loses its novelty pretty fast for me. So I have gone through a lot of semi's. Now having got a Moog Grandmother, I realize what has been missing for me is the control interface and playability of a fully integrated instrument, much like the Buchla Easel is (except I can afford this). The modules are very basic, but extremely well chosen and superb sounding. Modulation options are many but limited ar some point. But hands and accessible controls make up for that. It requires hands on involvement to get what I want. The modular world, for me, is too equipment dependent, seems more and more a module for this, and one for that etc. Not for me.
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Post by ZargZorg » Wed Nov 20, 2019 4:18 pm

I think it also as to do in what way does your musical voice evolves. I changed to the modular when I couldn't get much more out of my MS20 after a couple of years. I don't mean it in a negative way, since I probably use that synth more than I've used the entire modular, but more in a "can't get a piano to sound like a Rhodes" way

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Post by pmboos » Wed Nov 20, 2019 11:27 pm

I love the contrasting opinions, but even more importantly the contrasting rationale.

So I'd like to pose the question, regardless of which direction you were swayed - towards full modular or semi-modular, what instrument was the one that nudged you one way or the other and why?

If you went semi from modular, did you keep any modules around and what do you use them for..? If you went full modular, what happened to your semis? Still used? If so under what context?

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Post by Faastwalker » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:08 am

I like the idea of self contained, affordable semi-modular devices. A good way to get into it but maybe not such a great way to learn modular synthesis. I mean you don't have to patch to get cool shit going on. The patching is more of a bonus to take more standard synthesis methods towards new territories. That's the main reason I went with a Kilpatrick Phenol. It's all-in-one, self contained, priced pretty well & fully modular in that you don't get anything out of it unless you patch. Great idea by Kilpatrick. I'd like to see more devices like this. Phenol 2 maybe? I'm probably wrong but I don't know of any other all-in-one fully modular synths like the Phenol.

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Post by Muzone » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:51 am

I was teetering on the brink of modular so decided to get an 0-coast to try out, rather than pitch me down the (so called) rabbit hole it made me realise how much could be done with a small set-up.
Now a few years on I've added a Neutron, Bastle kastle and Soft pop with an active mult and attenuverter box from Hungry Robot.
If I ever get to fully master this set up then maybe a small Eurorack beckons, but that is many years away as I'm finding new ways to patch these semi-modulars together every time I sit down and wiggle :)

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Post by Martebar » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:31 am

Went to my local Synth/modular store (Modularsquare in Paris) with a vague idea that I wanted something patchable to play with. Initially I was leaning towards the 0-Coast but on my way there I rewatched demos of Plaits and Stages and began thinking "I can't do that with a 0--Coast". Then I arrived there and they told me that unfortunately they were out of 0-Coast, so I took a look around and what do you know, Plaits and Stages were right there in their demo rack! I bet you can guess what happened next...

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Post by SnipeCatcher » Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:45 am

After many years of just being a ‘sampling/editing/effects’ guy who wasn’t really ‘into’ synths I’m shocked to find I have 10U filled in less than a year. And it all started with an 0Coast a buddy loaned me. I’ve always thought of presets and sample packs as ‘cheating.’ Like I’m using someone else’s sounds. Kinda dumb, but it is what it is :) The 0Coast was a real eye opener for me and made me want to learn the basics of synthesis, but not right away. My main interest was performing/looping/mangling live bass guitar, so the rig started out with an Octatrack, followed by a skiff with a Morphagene and Nebulae2. That was followed by a crazy addiction for VCOS and filters, mostly because I didn’t really know what anything else did! Still barely starting to get it, but having a blast.
Coming somewhat full circle, last week I managed to acquire a Cwejman SM-1 and I’m over the moon for it. My rationale was by the time I was able to find the separate Cwejman modules second hand, the cost would be insane, by my standards. Assuming you could find em. After 3 intense days with it, there’s something to be said for having such a mini system as everything works so well together and is a bit more noob friendly.
Was that an argument for or against semi-modulars?!

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Post by WaveRider » Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:12 pm

Well I have a nice modular, but I enjoy having semi-modulars and sequencers by the side...

These days I really enjoy patching the modular, and the results I get are good for me.

A big part of it is that I like modular sequencing! sometimes patching to a SEM is the fastest way to get started. But I also love the intricate stuff I can do with osc and modulations inside a modular... mine is pretty ergonomic, not too big but still powerful, and I know it very well, a good 8 years in a similar configuration, so I enjoy it a lot! the composition process is part of the fun, and I can't duplicate that workflow with a standalone sequencer or most midi sequencing software.

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Post by thermisonic » Sun Nov 24, 2019 7:33 am

I had a Korg MS20, Doepfer Dark Energy and an MC202 modded with minijack outs to be semi modular.

I sold the Doepfer, my first fully modular was a 6U rack to give me some options for cross patching, it became two racks, now its 9U (with at least two complete further synth voices in there...), I mostly do analogue subtractive sounds plus Loquelic Iteritas.

I then bought a Cwejman S1 Mk 2 and to be honest the sound and usability make a lot of my euro redundant. It's just a joy to play as an instrument.

I'm now going to shrink the euro to a 'greatest hits of eurorack' and get rid of things I can do elsewhere, having played with different filters, modulation options, etc.

Which will leave me with 3 semi modulars and maybe 3U 104hp of euro. I like semi modular in that I can patch when I feel that way, or not if I don't.

The things I'll keep are probably a digital oscillator, a Zadar, some utilities, a RES-4, a Macbeth filter. Maybe a Ladik sequencer or Batumi.

I realised I liked making music and high quality sounds more than designing my own synthesiser every few days. I'm sure others will differ completely, and use fully modular in other ways, but I like the fixed architecture tones the designers put into these synths, and their limitations. Total freedom strangled my creativity and productivity a little, and selling some modules is part of getting that back.

Just my experience, not expecting anyone to agree or have found the same.

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Post by pmboos » Sun Nov 24, 2019 9:03 pm

Muzone wrote:I was teetering on the brink of modular so decided to get an 0-coast to try out, rather than pitch me down the (so called) rabbit hole it made me realise how much could be done with a small set-up.
Now a few years on I've added a Neutron, Bastle kastle and Soft pop with an active mult and attenuverter box from Hungry Robot.
If I ever get to fully master this set up then maybe a small Eurorack beckons, but that is many years away as I'm finding new ways to patch these semi-modulars together every time I sit down and wiggle :)
That Hungry Robot attenuverter slooks interesting...
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Post by ToneBub » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:25 am

I've begun using a semi-modular synth (Moog Matriarch) as the "hub" of a modular setup (large 5U system + 208hp Euro). For me, listening to purely aleatoric patches often gets tedious pretty quickly, so I always like to have a keyboard and other controllers as part of a modular system.

Either a Moog Grandmother or Matriarch can make an excellent "hub" for a modular set-up. They provide several controllers (keyboard, sequencers, mod-wheels), a great selection of essential bread-and-butter modules in a normalled configuration, but with many patch-points on each module for flexible signal routing *and* interfacing with external modules.

It works well enough for me that I'm considering selling off of one of the 22-space 5U modular cases.
David

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