Starter Setup ?

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mfny
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Starter Setup ?

Post by mfny » Thu Feb 06, 2020 8:50 am

Hi all,

Looking for some guidance as to if it would be possible to get a starter modular setup up and running for at or under £600. And if so anyone got any suggested builds ? Retailers to be used would be Andertons and/or Gear4Music in terms of available products and pricing.

I have a Master keyboard that does DIN midi out and has a built in arpeggiator, the Novation Impulse 61.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Moerder » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:28 am

hi there! first, it depends on what kind of size constitutes a 'starter' setup. some people on here somehow 'started' with 13u 168 hp cases and while I definitely wouldn't consider that to be a regular starting point, some do. there are plenty of very affordable modules out there, so you'd have to have an idea of the (non)musical direction you're interested in to delve into the nitty-gritty there. chances are you'll want an oscillator, vca(s), filter and some utility/modifier stuff to make things more interesting.

also, the case is going to be a big investment which would again depend on the size of the proposed system. it is generally cheaper to build your own case, but it also means you need to check things like power supply, rails and such. bit more research but certainly worth it if you're on a budget. to give you an idea, Nonlinearcircuits has graciously provided free schematics here.

lastly, instead of relying on retailers you mentioned, you might find it cheaper to order from the actual manufacturers, or if you're handy with a soldering iron, maybe DIYing modules could be an option that will save you a bunch of money as well. for this, Thonk and some others have pretty broad offerings. but in terms of built modules, you're probably looking at Doepfer, Ladik, Takaab, York Modular, etc. and the second hand market here on muffs or elsewhere. modulargrid can give you a general idea of module cost but you can usually find cheaper offers if you keep your eyes open.

compare stuff, do research, narrow down your selection and try to map out what you want and if it's affordable. good luck!

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Kattefjaes » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:31 am

Have you considered the Erica Pico System III? You'd need either a MIDI to CV convertor or a CV-equipped controller, but you could pick both up for your budget, if you grabbed (for example) an Arturia Keystep.

It's a nice place to start, and get your feet wet if you're new to modular synthesis.

Also, have you played with VCVRack? It's a free download and most of the modules are free, it can be a nice way to get a feel for what you want to do.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by mfny » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:48 am

Moerder wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:28 am
hi there! first, it depends on what kind of size constitutes a 'starter' setup. some people on here somehow 'started' with 13u 168 hp cases and while I definitely wouldn't consider that to be a regular starting point, some do. there are plenty of very affordable modules out there, so you'd have to have an idea of the (non)musical direction you're interested in to delve into the nitty-gritty there. chances are you'll want an oscillator, vca(s), filter and some utility/modifier stuff to make things more interesting.

also, the case is going to be a big investment which would again depend on the size of the proposed system. it is generally cheaper to build your own case, but it also means you need to check things like power supply, rails and such. bit more research but certainly worth it if you're on a budget. to give you an idea, Nonlinearcircuits has graciously provided free schematics here.

lastly, instead of relying on retailers you mentioned, you might find it cheaper to order from the actual manufacturers, or if you're handy with a soldering iron, maybe DIYing modules could be an option that will save you a bunch of money as well. for this, Thonk and some others have pretty broad offerings. but in terms of built modules, you're probably looking at Doepfer, Ladik, Takaab, York Modular, etc. and the second hand market here on muffs or elsewhere. modulargrid can give you a general idea of module cost but you can usually find cheaper offers if you keep your eyes open.

compare stuff, do research, narrow down your selection and try to map out what you want and if it's affordable. good luck!
In terms of "target musical direction", Industrial is my thing, in particular bands like Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly.

Case wise Id be looking at something like this and therefore building to the limitations of this ?
https://www.gear4music.com/Keyboards-an ... to-CV/350R

Id prefer to order from a local retailer for logistical reasons. Buying from individual manufacturers due to my location could be a nightmare to be honest in terms of shipping and such. DIY is not an option as I live in a an apartment and am prohibited from doing soldiering.

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Martebar
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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Martebar » Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:05 am

For that budget a more sensible way to start would be a semi modular like a 0-Coast or a Mother 32 depending on what type of synthesis you're more interested in. You'll get a functionning system, with a lot more functionnalities than what you could afford with that budget. And then you can expand.
Last edited by Martebar on Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by welhamc » Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:06 am

If you ever need someone to build you a DIY module feel free to PM me :)

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Moerder » Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:28 am

mfny wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:48 am
In terms of "target musical direction", Industrial is my thing, in particular bands like Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly.

Case wise Id be looking at something like this and therefore building to the limitations of this ?
https://www.gear4music.com/Keyboards-an ... to-CV/350R

Id prefer to order from a local retailer for logistical reasons. Buying from individual manufacturers due to my location could be a nightmare to be honest in terms of shipping and such. DIY is not an option as I live in a an apartment and am prohibited from doing soldiering.
the nifty case is indeed pretty decent, but you might as well get the bundle rather than just the case and expand on that, if you were so inclined. in terms of its size, a relatively small case like this is comparatively more expensive though.

don't mean to pry but what about your location makes postage a nightmare? afaik gear4music operates within the EU so wherever is local for you, if it's also within the EU then surely postage can't be that terrible (or is it Correos? xD) ? and who the hell specifies that no soldering is allowed in an apartment (who would check or know that it happened)?! case building wouldn't necessarily require soldering, but maybe some sawing, sanding and drilling..is that allowed? sorry, I'm just really baffled by the 'no diy rule'

but as welhamc already offered, you can ask people here to build modules for you, no problem. the semi modular approach is also not to be dismissed. I started with a mother32 and, apart from some desktop Bastl stuff I already had long before that, I decided pretty quickly that there should be more things with inputs and outputs so..dfam/m32 still are versatile and great packages to begin with, but either one will set you back quite a bit for that one piece of equipment. so many things to consider :P

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Yes Powder » Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:01 am

Martebar wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:05 am
For that budget a more sensible way to start would be a semi modular like a 0-Coast or a Mother 32 depending on what type of synthesis you're more interested in. You'll get a functionning system, with a lot more functionnalities than what you could afford with that budget. And then you can expand.
:agree:
If you're trying to get yourself up and running on a 600GBP, something like a 0-Coast will give you plenty to play with without having to worry about a case and power supply, which can easily cut your budget by a third, or even half!
If you insist on going straight into modular, don't cheap out by getting a small case and power supply; get something at least 6Ux84hp- like the Doepfer LC6. You might not be able to put together something usable as quickly, but you'll have much more room to explore and expand- and maybe house a larger module that catches your eye that you otherwise wouldn't be able to fit without sacrificing some vital functions.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Capt. Cosmo » Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:16 am

Sorry if this isn't the place to ask, this is my first post and it seems like this is a good place to get advice starting out. Yesterday I bought a synth for a really good price ($300!) online that was a

Mother 32 Case
Synthrotek MST Midi to CV
Synthrotek MST VCO
Synthrotek MST LPF
Synthrotek MST VCA

and of course a power supply and patch cables.

When I bought it the guy said he was selling it so cheap because he wanted to just get rid of it and he had already sold off some modules individually. Do I still have enough for a decent "beginner" set up or are there more modules I should purchase to get started? I was thinking about a LFO or a mixer, as those have been recommended in the beginner videos I've been watching.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by stoiker » Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:26 am

I started with a Pittsburgh SV-1 and it's really cool to learn the basics with it. So yeah, like other people suggested you should have a look at all those semi-modular synths like the SV-1, 0-coast, M32.

Or start with a synth voice module, like Frequency Central Monograf, Doepfer A-111-6, Erica DIY Synth Voice and add more fun stuff around it.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Yes Powder » Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:33 am

Capt. Cosmo wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:16 am
Do I still have enough for a decent "beginner" set up or are there more modules I should purchase to get started? I was thinking about a LFO or a mixer, as those have been recommended in the beginner videos I've been watching.
In the future please start a new thread to avoid hijacking an existing active topic. But to answer your question, your setup seems to be lacking envelopes and attenuators. An LFO would be a wise investment, and another VCA as well.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Capt. Cosmo » Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:48 am

Yes Powder wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:33 am
Capt. Cosmo wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:16 am
Do I still have enough for a decent "beginner" set up or are there more modules I should purchase to get started? I was thinking about a LFO or a mixer, as those have been recommended in the beginner videos I've been watching.
In the future please start a new thread to avoid hijacking an existing active topic. But to answer your question, your setup seems to be lacking envelopes and attenuators. An LFO would be a wise investment, and another VCA as well.
Will do, sorry about that. Thanks for the response

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by mfny » Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:11 pm

No soldering is policy of the landlord (local government in this case) due to fire alarm stuff. If it goes off the whole building( 4 floors, 18 apartments) has to clear out and the fire service is automatically summoned. So very serious business indeed. Cant afford to take that chance at all even if it is silly as the implications if this happened would be serious to me as you can imagine.

I am on the Isle of Man and to cut a long story short getting stuff here can be very expensive inside and outside the UK, and if something goes wrong getting it back for warranty service can be a nightmare if bought outside the UK.

So regarding that Nifty Bundle, what else would I need to build on the bundled items and make a good solid budget small system for that case ?

And yes I am aware of the semi modular options to, but I am just seeing if "full modular" is an option first..
Moerder wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:28 am
the nifty case is indeed pretty decent, but you might as well get the bundle rather than just the case and expand on that, if you were so inclined. in terms of its size, a relatively small case like this is comparatively more expensive though.

don't mean to pry but what about your location makes postage a nightmare? afaik gear4music operates within the EU so wherever is local for you, if it's also within the EU then surely postage can't be that terrible (or is it Correos? xD) ? and who the hell specifies that no soldering is allowed in an apartment (who would check or know that it happened)?! case building wouldn't necessarily require soldering, but maybe some sawing, sanding and drilling..is that allowed? sorry, I'm just really baffled by the 'no diy rule'

but as welhamc already offered, you can ask people here to build modules for you, no problem. the semi modular approach is also not to be dismissed. I started with a mother32 and, apart from some desktop Bastl stuff I already had long before that, I decided pretty quickly that there should be more things with inputs and outputs so..dfam/m32 still are versatile and great packages to begin with, but either one will set you back quite a bit for that one piece of equipment. so many things to consider :P

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Moerder » Thu Feb 06, 2020 5:05 pm

mfny wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 4:11 pm
No soldering is policy of the landlord (local government in this case) due to fire alarm stuff. If it goes off the whole building( 4 floors, 18 apartments) has to clear out and the fire service is automatically summoned. So very serious business indeed. Cant afford to take that chance at all even if it is silly as the implications if this happened would be serious to me as you can imagine.

I am on the Isle of Man and to cut a long story short getting stuff here can be very expensive inside and outside the UK, and if something goes wrong getting it back for warranty service can be a nightmare if bought outside the UK.

So regarding that Nifty Bundle, what else would I need to build on the bundled items and make a good solid budget small system for that case ?

And yes I am aware of the semi modular options to, but I am just seeing if "full modular" is an option first..
ahh, that explains it. it's always the tiny islands that have the weirdest regulations. I never familiarised myself with the logistical peculiarities of that part of the Irish Sea, but UK sure seems like the safer bet in that case. thanks for sharing! :)

well the bundle itself would give you a case, if not particularly big (84hp), and includes a voice/filter/lfo module and sort of sequencer so you can already create some kind of (even melodic) noises, while taking up 24hp. that leaves you with 60hp for anything else, until/unless you replace the included modules. this means that you probably won't be going for massive modules like...I don't know, rainmaker for example (36hp) so you could instead try to piece together a few different small footprint modules, such as more LFOs, VCAs, maybe a cv/audio mixer, perhaps another voice/oscillator but what about drums?! that's a whole other can of worms but there are very interesting and compact modules there as well, might just not be the first thing to get, but rather for later..depends. maybe something that does a few effects. I hear the newish FX Aid is very handy, but in 60hp you probably won't get around a Disting either way, but it'll take up a bunch of your budget so again, maybe not right away. but it'll also give you plenty of stuff to try out so you can then further refine what you want. as has been mentioned, the Erica Pico and/or 2hp modules may be a way forward and are usually feature packed as well.

I know it's all kinds of vague but personally I'd say don't spend your entire budget on a bunch of modules right away but work your way towards completing it bit by bit (if you go that route). watch more videos to get examples of what you can do with certain modules that you think you may enjoy using. check modulargrid for prices and inspiration on low-hp high-function modules, I've mentioned a few manufacturers for that already. most importantly, take your time and inform yourself as much as possible before pulling the trigger.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by mfny » Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:02 pm

Moerder wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 5:05 pm

well the bundle itself would give you a case, if not particularly big (84hp), and includes a voice/filter/lfo module and sort of sequencer so you can already create some kind of (even melodic) noises, while taking up 24hp. that leaves you with 60hp for anything else, until/unless you replace the included modules. this means that you probably won't be going for massive modules like...I don't know, rainmaker for example (36hp) so you could instead try to piece together a few different small footprint modules, such as more LFOs, VCAs, maybe a cv/audio mixer, perhaps another voice/oscillator but what about drums?! that's a whole other can of worms but there are very interesting and compact modules there as well, might just not be the first thing to get, but rather for later..depends. maybe something that does a few effects. I hear the newish FX Aid is very handy, but in 60hp you probably won't get around a Disting either way, but it'll take up a bunch of your budget so again, maybe not right away. but it'll also give you plenty of stuff to try out so you can then further refine what you want. as has been mentioned, the Erica Pico and/or 2hp modules may be a way forward and are usually feature packed as well.
So the extras I would need would be some VCA(s) and a compact multi effects module for the Nifty bundle as a minimum ?

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Moerder » Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:07 pm

mfny wrote:
Thu Feb 06, 2020 6:02 pm
So the extras I would need would be some VCA(s) and a compact multi effects module for the Nifty bundle as a minimum ?
do you have any pedals you could use for effects? distortion, reverb, delay,etc? that would save some rack space. otherwise, yes, I believe something like that would help you. just tried to think in terms of your industrial leanings but since it's modular and should be specific to you, I don't like saying 'you absolutely need this!'. I'm just one guy and there are plenty other opinions out there. hope you'll come to a well informed decision eventually though.

the nifty case already includes MIDI and some other connections so you wouldn't have to worry about a midi->cv module so that's handy. perhaps an envelope generator. I don't know how familiar you are with modular building blocks and if certain things are absolutely necessary so I'd once again suggest looking through some other 'starter threads' here and checking the basics. you'll probably find that certain things are always mentioned and it only gets a bit more specific when a particular genre/style is involved. typically, you'll see VCO, filter, VCA, EG, attenuverter, mixer, LFO, LPG, and then more utility stuff like logic-based modules, passive modules (that could fit different categories), switches, multiples (could be stackcables instead). you won't need a sequencer or vco since that'll be in the bundle, but more vcos obviously gives you more voices to play with, that in turn could use modulation and other stuff...you see, endless possibilities.

I'm not familiar with your novation product so it might be worth searching for videos of it used with eurorack and finding out what it can do in terms of cross-operation. like can it send gates, what about pitch and so on, to give you an idea what you can control or maybe won't need a separate module for. and stuff :razz:

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by thermisonic » Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:49 am

Unless you really really have to have FX in your case there are much better sounding, cheaper and easier to use options on the used rackmount market. Most people prefer plug ins in these days the wider music market

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Moerder » Fri Feb 07, 2020 4:52 am

thermisonic wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:49 am
Unless you really really have to have FX in your case there are much better sounding, cheaper and easier to use options on the used rackmount market. Most people prefer plug ins in these days the wider music market
so you're suggesting to get an entirely separate rack and power supply just to have some effects? my guess is that space is at a premium, budget is obviously a concern and this would also hardly be a beginner move..plugins sure, if you like them. rackmount gear, I'd stay away from until later, if anything.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by thermisonic » Sun Feb 09, 2020 3:28 am

Sorry I didn’t fully explain my thought. A used 19 inch multi fx unit costs less than 100 of whatever currency. Not sure you can get a useful euro module for that, and case space costs too.

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Muff McMuff » Sun Feb 09, 2020 11:29 pm

If i was starting out with £600 i would probably do this. Buy a secondhand Neutron £200 or better. Secondhand Tiptop Uzeus £50 ish or better. DIY rack with wooden rails cost probably less than £10. That leaves £340 for secondhand Doepfers, Ladiks , Mutable clones? Disting Mk4, Radio Music sample playback? Waldorf NW1 £130 or less, SE Quadnic £110 (ebay a few days ago). Something that you find interesting and cool. You could also start some synth DIY. Cheap soldering iron and multimeter off ebay? Some easy kits from Thonk like Multiple, Attenuverter and ease into it. You may enjoy it save some cash that way. If you go down this secondhand route don't expect it all to be available cheap on day one but over some weeks or a month you may have the cheap Neutron, Uzeus, Plaits? Doepfers off ebay or Muffs BST. Your £600 wont last long and few months later you may have spent £1200. Add it all up after a year £2400.

You really want a Morphagene, Odessa, Assimil8or ? check this out ..... https://www.trials4us.co.uk/trials/faqs.php

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Martebar » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:12 am

I believe that the following configuration can be accessible in your budget if you focus on buying second hand:
  • Doepfer A-190-2 as a small MIDI interface for playing with an external controller
  • ALM MCO as oscillator
  • Doepfer A-124 as VCF
  • Make Noise Maths as modulation source mainly, but all sorts of other things
  • Doepfer A-132-3 as a Dual VCA
According to Modulargrid, this adds up to 720 euros new, so I'm sure you can get it for les used.
For me this would be a very interesting little system with Maths giving you a surreal amount of possibilities already.

As other said, put them in a 6U case if you can to give you space to grow

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by mfny » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:56 pm

Update,

Ok so for reasons more complicated(and stressful, frustrating) then I have the inclination to explain right now I have to buy from Thomann. They do not sell Cre8audio at all so their case and bundle can not be done sadly.

Seemingly the only options there for a starter modular "micro system" type setup are the Erica Synths Pico System III and the Make Noise O-Coast. Thoughts on these for a newbie ?

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Martebar » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:30 am

I would say look at demos and trust your guts on this, it's really difficult to decide for you.
The pico seems like it is a more complete system with a sequencer, two oscillators, two low pass gate, a delay and a memory card system, plus you can buy it as a module and kickstart your system with that, however the small pots and the fact that so many functions are crammed in such a tight space might make it weird to handle.
On the other hand, the 0-coast lacks some of the Pico system's functions, but it brings others to the table that open it to the weirder side of modular, you have EOC and EON gates, shapeable envelopes with different characteristics, randomness, a more complex oscillator, some hidden fucntions such as an arp and an LFO, and the layout seems much more enjoyable, but the sound is specific and maybe you will not like it.
So honestly, consider all of this but mostly check out demonstrations, go try them for yourself if you can and go the one you find the most inspiring

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by Moerder » Fri Feb 14, 2020 3:38 am

oh, sorry to hear that. the 0-coast would be going the semi modular route, which is not a bad thing at all, as many have stated, certainly to begin with. you can already create quite a bunch of diverse sounds and patch things etc. so a decent option. this doesn't need a case of course so it would save some money for now, in terms of potential expansion it obviously means that you would then need a case at some point.

just checked the pico system 3/desktop versions. desktop would be similar merits to the 0-coast, but more expensive and not expandable since it's all in one box. getting the pre-made block of modules gives you a number of staples to work with, but also means you still need to think about a case/power which, after shipping, would leave you more ore less with 150 quid for that. doable, but you'll have to shop around a bit/ideally 2nd hand to save money.

both systems are versatile enough for starters, I'd just think about whether and how you'd go forward from that and if you're happy with essentially a desktop synth for now. don't have an 0-coast but a few separate Erica Pico modules and am very happy with them. maybe check few youtube videos for sound of each unit, might help you come to a conclusion. fingers crossed!

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Re: Starter Setup ?

Post by mfny » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:01 am

Its my impression that the 0-Coast is very much for the more weird side of modular ? I have not seen much in the way of it being used to make normal "bread and butter" sounds, but I assume it can do this ?

The Pico looks a lot less inviting layout wise, but also seems to be much more of a traditional setup then the 0-Coast and therefore more clearly capable of the "bread and butter" stuff as well as some weird stuff ?

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