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Frac vs. Euro Differences
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules  
Author Frac vs. Euro Differences
midiguru
Hi, everybody -- I'm working on an article for Drum magazine to introduce percussionists to the wacky, wonderful world of modular synthesis. (Don't ask how I talked them into doing this article. I don't even know how I did it.)

I want to cover all the bases. I'm very familiar with Euro and not at all familiar with Frac. I'd love to know about the salient differences, if you can clue me in. I have the impression that the power supply cables and power supply voltage are different, but the front-panel form factor seems very similar.

What else do those inquiring drummers need to know?
ignatius
id' recommend cruising the search function..

but basically.. different size modules, different power requirements, different cases etc..

fewer manufacturers, fewer modules. there's a lot of great frac stuff though. it's a smaller market.. smaller user base.

i'm sure someone deep into frac can chime in with more nuanced information.

also, check out this thread

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9323

thumbs up

good luck w/the article.
rezzn8r
Some of the differences would be 15 volts instead of 12 volts, and fixed module widths with a set number of spaces per rack.
Frac modules might also tend to be deeper in size, but this is not always the case.
midiguru
Thanks. Not sure the article is going to work -- it's just too big a topic! I may need to narrow it down somehow.
BananaPlug
I think it might be a more interesting article if you focused on the sounds and rhythmic possibilities of modular as opposed to regular drums or run of the mill drum machines. Maybe you should get in touch with some of the musicians who post here and let them guide you.
midiguru
BananaPlug wrote:
I think it might be a more interesting article if you focused on the sounds and rhythmic possibilities of modular as opposed to regular drums or run of the mill drum machines.

That would be an interesting article, for sure. But the readers of Drum are not, for the most part, owners of modular synths, so it's hard to see how they would get much out of it. In Keyboard or Electronic Musician, it would be an excellent topic, but for reasons having to do with corporate lawyers and their silly insistence on freelancer contracts, I can't write for Keyboard or EM anymore.

The original idea of the article was to introduce drummers to the technology ... but that turns out to be too big a topic.
dJ dAb
I've built about 20 or so drum modules (along with about 50 other various modules), midi to cv/gate/trigger interfaces, etc... all controllable via a midi drum kit. I could share some photos and info.
drumsofd00m
midiguru wrote:
BananaPlug wrote:
I think it might be a more interesting article if you focused on the sounds and rhythmic possibilities of modular as opposed to regular drums or run of the mill drum machines.

That would be an interesting article, for sure. But the readers of Drum are not, for the most part, owners of modular synths, so it's hard to see how they would get much out of it. In Keyboard or Electronic Musician, it would be an excellent topic, but for reasons having to do with corporate lawyers and their silly insistence on freelancer contracts, I can't write for Keyboard or EM anymore.

The original idea of the article was to introduce drummers to the technology ... but that turns out to be too big a topic.


I'm a drummer. And I think I've observed that drummers are more often than not often the most technology-affine members of bands, excluding keyboarders of course (usually, but not always tho, because some of these just like to dial up presets and "wweeeee" away at it). This is at least in terms of sequencing and synthetic sound replacements.

So, I'd leave any indepth discussion of specific formats out of the article - just mention that there *is* stuff from 6U down to 1U tiles, with the majority being 3, 4 and 5U, and with different supply voltage (=signal level) and patch cord standards that must be understood before buying and combining modules - and instead focus on how a drum kit or other percussions can be patch-programmed in a modular system. Again start with the sounds, but many drummers will already have an idea of where to use sine waves or white noise, like in analog drum machines, so I'd keep that brief and/ or entertaining with some special ideas. Next describe what modular systems can do for rhythm that most keyboard synths and MIDI sequencers can't: real time processing of signals like LFOs or random voltages so that properties of them have an influence on a rhythm's tempo, rhythmic divisions, velocity etc. This pertains to envelopes (especially those in the Buchla tradition, for several reasons - standard ADSRs without voltage control and any squared outputs are almost only relevant to the sound shaping part), envelope followers, dividers (or modules that can act as dividers, like many sequencers), Boolean logic gates, slew limiters, and CV mixers/ processors, since these can combine random and determined voltages for varying degrees of uncertainty (e.g. like a bird call that contains both repetition and change). Basically this is about the things that simulate the decisions that a drummer would make in interpreting or improvising, but with their own unique synthetic flavor. (Which can sound mechanical and stiff, or alive and floating, but will never sound like a human's decision-making of course.)

How does that sound? Any use for you?

Oh yeah, nonlinear transforms are a constant source of joy in my modular. Forgot that those can mimic, expand or even "mirror" several of the functions mentioned above. Pulse *multiplication* (i.e. tempo doubling, or even the whole "rhythm pyramid" - is that the correct English term?), inverting, folding/ rectifying/ compressing, quantizing etc etc.

And some modules do deserve special mention, contrary to what I said above about being brief on sound generation and brands/ formats. I cringe when I hear the term "Buchla Bongos" but it's a well known cliché by now, so I'd pick that up and clarify what it initially was, why the Buchla 292 was/ is so special, in particular for percussive sounds, and that many modules today are based on it (the first were the Wiard Borg Filters).

The Knas Ekdahl Moisturizer comes to mind also, because it's both an effect unit with patch points and lotsa' knobs - or several synth modules in a table-top box, whichever view you prefer - and a live percussion instrument. I wouldn't stroke it with the same force as a güiro tho ;-)
drumsofd00m
Another important point regarding formats: as far as I know, CVs in banana systems don't short out when inserting plugs while they often do in 3.5mm and 6.3mm systems. Hence the whole Eurorack market and much of Frac is IMO less suited for live patching of rhythmically delicate music (because those shorts can lead to envelopes retriggering, CV dropouts etc, still depending on module type and manufacturer tho). Serge, Buchla, Bugbrand, Fenix & consorts are probably free of that problem = smaller chance of timing problems, although I haven't used any of them long enough to be sure.
monstrinho
The biggest functional difference between frac and Euro has to do with the voltage ranges produced and expected by some frac modules. Blacet envelopes produce 0 to 10V signals and Blacet VCAs need 10V to open fully. Most Euro EGs and VCAs work with 0 to 5V signals (though there are exceptions; Euro doesn't have any standard for voltage ranges). This is easy enough to deal with when patching across systems, you just use an offset and a CV mixer to bring a Euro EG up to Blacet level or an attenuator when going the other way. So, in practice it isn't an issue at all, but you need to be aware of it or you might find yourself wondering why a patch isn't working as you expected it to.
BugBrand
Frac approach to standardisation (10V p-to-p compared with wild-west of euro) & combined with bananas = The Flow.

You can patch live with joy!

And, no, Stack-cables are not equivalent of bananas in the key area of FEEL (nor, probably, reliability)

But, Frac sure is niche these days - banana frac even more so.
drumsofd00m
BugBrand wrote:
Frac approach to standardisation (10V p-to-p compared with wild-west of euro) & combined with bananas = The Flow.

You can patch live with joy!

And, no, Stack-cables are not equivalent of bananas in the key area of FEEL (nor, probably, reliability)

But, Frac sure is niche these days - banana frac even more so.


Which is too bad. I never think about changing my Wiard for another system, but if I had to, I'd go with Serge, Buchla or Bugbrand.
(And BTW the secondary reason for using Wiard *is* its direct Frac compatibility)
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