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Moving back to modular - many questions! (Long)
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules  
Author Moving back to modular - many questions! (Long)
VFR750
It's been a long time since I've done anything in modular but I'm tempted to get back in it. I'm hoping the answers to a few questions here might speed my learning curve.

1. Currently my set up is Ableton Live using a few external MIDI instruments. One of the draws to modular for me is the creative process, which is different and for me and produces different results than just sitting at a computer. It will be important that I can integrate it into my Ableton workflow, however. Are many/most of you using a DAW with your modular systems? How do you work with it?

2. I have some raw circuit boards sold by Paia a long time ago that used chips from Curtis Electromusic. They are exponential and I remember them sounding quite good. I had built them into custom modules that I fitted into a Paia 4700 system, using Paia power supplies. One thought I had was reconfiguring these to Frac. Does this make sense or might it be more trouble than it is worth?

3. Paia and Blacet both sell Frac cases, with the Paia case much cheaper, but it looks like most people opt for the Blacet cases. What are the considerations here? Will I regret going with the Paia case? I don't mind wiring the power up to each module and the cases won't travel.

4. The Paia MIDI2CV converter is reasonably priced and I don't see many other options (Blacet out of stock). Any reason the Paia converter is a bad idea in a system including modules from a variety of companies?

5. From my preliminary research, the two primary Frac brands appear to be Paia and Blacet, but I'm not seeing many Paia modules in systems. They are lower priced, but are they significantly lower quality in comparison? Is there a power requirement issue, or some other issue I’m not seeing?

These are my "getting back up to speed" questions. Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies.

Charlie
e-grad
VFR750 wrote:
2. I have some raw circuit boards sold by Paia a long time ago that used chips from Curtis Electromusic. [...] Does this make sense or might it be more trouble than it is worth?


You're talking CEM-chips? Unless you've got the very chips in your project box you' ll have to spend some time to track them down. Some of them are rather expensive nowadays.

VFR750 wrote:
3. Paia and Blacet both sell Frac cases, with the Paia case much cheaper, but it looks like most people opt for the Blacet cases.


The Blacet racks are more sturdy and lack top and bottom panels since they are supposed to be rack mounted which would mak them even more sturdier. For me PAiA racks work just fine. However, they should be rack mounted, too.

Since the rack ears on the front are slithly higher than the case itself the cases (both Blacet and PAiA) will slightly bend backwards if they are placed on top of each other. However, I had a 6 cases 'tower' tied together at their rack ears and it worked - even though it was shaky. Today I'm using SKB racks.

VFR750 wrote:
4. The Paia MIDI2CV converter is reasonably priced and I don't see many other options (Blacet out of stock). Any reason the Paia case is a bad idea in a system including modules from a variety of companies?


PAiA and Blacet modules work nicely in companion. Keep in mind, that PAiA modules are designed for +/-18V while Blacet for +/-15V. AFAIK any PAiA manual includes a mod that will allow to run the module on +/-15V

VFR750 wrote:
5. From my preliminary research, the two primary Frac brands appear to be Paia and Blacet, but I'm not seeing many Paia modules in systems. They are lower priced, but are they significantly lower quality in comparison? Is there a power requirement issue, or some other issue I’m not seeing?


For power requirements see above. I have the PAiA 97xx Dual VCO only. It's a cool module, yet, I rather use if for complex mod. duties since it makes a great complex LFO.

I think Blacet the best bang for the buck out there. Each and every modules has some nifty feature. They might appear simple yet they're rather deep.

The VCO excels in many regards (good tracking, stable and great for FM). The SuperVCA has plenty of uses.
VFR750
e-grad wrote:

You're talking CEM-chips? Unless you've got the very chips in your project box you' ll have to spend some time to track them down. Some of them are rather expensive nowadays.


Yes, CEM chips. I phrased that poorly. These are built out circuit boards that were fitted into my 4700 system. I always liked the way they worked, but I wonder how they might compare to modules of a newer era.
e-grad
VFR750 wrote:
Yes, CEM chips. I phrased that poorly. These are built out circuit boards that were fitted into my 4700 system. I always liked the way they worked, but I wonder how they might compare to modules of a newer era.


They've got plenty love untill now. They're used in many famous anolague synths and a plenty of early Doepfer modules rely on CEM chips. You can check threads on Doepfer VCFs such as A-121, A-122, A-123 to learn more on how they are received today.

Personlly I don't particarly dig the CEM based VCFs but love the now discontinued Blacet Final Filtre (FF). But then some ppl don't like the FF. I've built the MOTM 485 for my Frac system which is a great LPF and a very strange HPF!

To my experience any MOTM and Oakly board that allows for not more than 3 panel mounted pots will fit behind a Frac panel.

BTW PAiA racks have slightly more clearance btn the mounting rails that Blacet racks.
Cat-A-Tonic
e-grad wrote:

The Blacet racks are more sturdy and lack top and bottom panels since they are supposed to be rack mounted which would mak them even more sturdier.

Actually, Blacet currently offers a 2-row non-rack case with top and bottom covers.
Kyhotay
I use both the PAiA and Blacet Racks. I rack mount mine and do not add the top or bottom panels on the PAiA Frac Rack. It's plenty stable. Remember, PAiA invented the Frac format.

I use a mix of PAiA, Blacet, CGS and the occasional odd ball Frac module. Synthcube.com is supporting Frac and I have some of the filters and VCOs the sell and more are being developed. I run all PAiA modules off either the 9771-15 or Blacet's 15V power without any issues.

The second gen PAiA modules are very high quality utility modules and I would highly recommend them, especially for the cost. The first gen modules are high density and pack a lot of value but the filter is nasty and needs to be tamed to be musical. The VCA has tons of functionality.

I have both the PAiA and Blacet MIDI>CV. The PAiA is more versatile but is 8 bit vs 12 bit for the Blacet. I do agree the Super VCA is a cool module and that there is a lot of depth to Blacet's modules.

I also have a rack of Eurorack. I prefer the ergonomics of Frac better especially considering my fat fingers!
e-grad
Kyhotay wrote:
I prefer the ergonomics of Frac better especially considering my fat fingers!


No, fat fingers over here, however, ergonomics were one major reason why I switched from Euro to Frac. Furthermore, I think Blacet designs some of the most interesting modules out there.
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