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life tried to weaken me but eurorack made me stronger

Post by rimbod » Mon Dec 07, 2015 11:41 pm

So yeah, I'm finally doing one o' _these_ posts.

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I've been researching and reading and taking everyone's advice in mind, and my brain finally came up with this idea for my first eurorack.

Certainly, it's gonna be quite expensive, but given the quality of the modules (projected quality in the case of the DC2e) and their interpatchability, this seems like a good first foray into a drone playground.

I'm thinking of taking this idea (sized for HEK) and gradually expanding it with a second rack with effects, filters, and sequencers as they find themselves needed (or on sale).

Is this bonkers? Or too minimal? What I figure I can do with this to learn about patching and also make really awesome drones (and beyond that to be able to use both the Benjolin and DC2e by themselves) seems both optimal and interesting.

Also, I read in another thread that the Benjolin may require an amplifier like the Gozinta. How necessary do you think that would be?
Last edited by rimbod on Mon Sep 16, 2019 11:40 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Phoobooz » Tue Dec 08, 2015 12:14 am

Get a filter!! God, I tried doing drones without one and once I got one, it made a world o'difference!

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Post by rimbod » Tue Dec 08, 2015 1:14 am

Phoobooz wrote:Get a filter!! God, I tried doing drones without one and once I got one, it made a world o'difference!
I was thinking about that. Both are devices that contain pretty awesome sounding filters... I figured it might be overkill to get a filter on top of that.

That said, a further filter would be in the works down the line. I put together the above rack as a place to start so that I could eventually build up a second one with things like filters, effects, etc. Basically give myself some time to learn the ins and outs of the modules while saving money for the next round of GAS.

I smacked the Pittsburgh reverb dude on there cuz it seems to be able to do some nice sounding feedback and blur-out (also reverb;P), but that'd eventually get moved to the second rack when I started expanding.

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Post by rimbod » Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:05 am

Also potentially worthy of note, I may start this before the Drone Commander 2 comes out, which means I may have more space for stuff to affect/be-affected-by the Benjolin until it does.

And then when it comes out, in goes the second HEK and my wife can start getting concerned. I love it.

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Post by rimbod » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:49 pm

So, I guess I'll just use this space to do some out-loud thinking. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to comment.

This WILL be super-TLDR, so feel free to skim or ignore this space. I'm sortof doing this to keep a log of my thought process and get feedback from anyone who has the time to help a noob with no eurorack community in his environment.

So, I've been re-thinking my concept, and I think this is perhaps a bit more reasonable. I've got it broken down into a three-stage plan so far. Of course, this is all subject to change based on experience.

Step 1
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- Batumi with Poti breakout
- Benjolin
- O'Tool
- Pitt Filter
- Pitt Mixer
- Pitt Reverb
- Pitt Outs

> The Batumi seems to be extremely multipurpose as well as being capable of holding very long cycles. It also does time division and is self-patchable, and that's useful. It can prolly drive just about anything in the initial setup in sync with itself or running on independant cycles. Having the Poti further expands its flexibility, so yeah, I wanna throw that on too.
> The Benjolin is very in-out patchable on a lot of fronts, which made it seem like a really ideal first series of inter-modulating oscillators. Also, the rungler is attractive as fuck. It's also capable of both drone and harsh noise, which really appeals to me.
> If I can get one, I really want an O'Tool. It seems really interesting and also useful in terms of visualizing what I'm doing to waveforms and sound. Also, it has a tuner, which I figure may come in handy.
> Phoobooz (above) suggested I get a filter, so I went on a filter-searching spree. Jesus Fuck there are a lot of filters. For a while I was considering the EMW Multi BP Filter, but in the end I figured I should go basic-and-multipurpose-with-good-quality so I can figure out what the heck to do with a filter. Everyone seems to have a few filters in their setups, I'm sure one will come in handy. It's also nice and patchable (and cool-looking), so I figure I'll make good use of it with at least one of the outs from the Benjolin.
The Pitt Mixer is there both for the purpose of mixing and attenuating. I will end up wanting more attenuators eventually, but for now I just want a way to both attenuate and potentially incorporate my Volcas into the mix. Beyond all that, the Benjolin can put out a number of voices at the same time, and I figured they might be fun to reorganize.
The Pitt Reverb not only sounds nice, but it can do feedback, and I sense that coming in handy.
Outs because headphones. Also amps if I bring the kit to the studio.

Image
- Pitt sequencer
- Pitt attenuator-mult
- ALM Dinky's Taiko
- AD Kompressor

So, this is kindof for when I am ready to upgrade to the second HEK, after I've had the opportunity to get to know the ins and outs of the previous gear.
> Watching people's videos, it seems like people make really good use of sequencers like the Pittsburgh one. There are other models that appeal to me more, but for the size and general review, I figured I'd go with the Pitt one for now.
> I was thinking really hard about Pressure Points, but I think that's gonna be way down the line. That said, I'm still pretty sold on grabbing a single PP and Brains... but the Pitt sequencer seems like a good multipurpose tool for what I anticipate doing when I upgrade.
> More attenuators, two triple mults, seemed like a good addition.
> Although I already have a Volca Beats, I've been a bit disappointed in the actual customizability of the sounds. Dinky seemed like a well-featured multipurpose drum module with a good review that could be triggered from the oscillator in the Benjolin or one of the LFOs in the Batumi.
(I know I know, with the present setup I won't be able to sync my Beats with the rack, but I'm putting off getting Pamela's workout till I start collecting more drum modules)
> The Kompressor is there because sidechain. Also having a compressor has been useful to me in DAW stuff before.

Image
- Drone Commander 2 plus breakout.
- AD Grainshift

THIS IS NOT EVEN ITS FINAL FORM. But it seems like a good goal for now.
> I'm pretty hooked on the idea of the DC2E for something that hasn't come out yet, but shit, that thing sounds fucking awesome and has so many ways to control the guts of it by both knobs and cv. And the first Drone Commander is a legend with amazing sound. And the knobs are pretty.
> My real justification for it is that it can work on its own or as part of a greater system. It's unclear whether the stand-alone DC2 will have a with-breakout-patchability version, and if it does I may swing that way rather than the eurorack one (to save rack space and also use it by itself). If it's in eurorack, though, that's pretty convenient in and of itself so as not to need to carry an extra thing if I'm bringing my kit to the studio.
> Grainshift does very cool things with sound and is well-patchable. I really like the look and sound of that series of AD modules, and grainshift seemed like a good place to start.

Dass it for now. If I have further "What I'm thinking" posts, I'll do them here to avoid clutter elsewhere.

Like I said, please feel free to pitch your two cents. I know no one who does this sort of music making, so anything you have to add, offer, or heckle will be of benefit to me.

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Post by bobbcorr » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:48 pm

You're going to have a heck of a time finding an O'Tool. As for other thoughts.... There are smaller mixers, and IMO better filters, but you seem to be happy so hey. Kudos on the Benjolin, it's a monster.

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Post by Ursidae » Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:07 am

I also got into modular to make drones, and it seems like you are off to a great start. I would say it would really help to start with at least two rows in your case, even if that means buying less modules to start with. you will really be surprised with how quickly your modular grid will fill up when you realize what kind of direction you can take this in and with how many awesome things there are out there. I was interested in the grendel drone too, you definitely need the expander to make it worth it, i don't think i have room though!


edit: I also have that pitts sequencer and dont really like it its super basic
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Post by rimbod » Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:23 am

bobbcorr wrote:You're going to have a heck of a time finding an O'Tool.

Lol, yeah, I figured as much from what people have said on MW. Really, it's more of a "really really want" rather than a "will probably be in my kit" unless I find one miraculously.
bobbcorr wrote:There are smaller mixers, and IMO better filters
That's the thing about the Pitt mixers: they look easy to use but they're pretty fat. Do you have any recommendations other than the Doepfers? I know Doepfer is the standard for eurorack utilities, but... they look like a hospital computer from the 90s. Not totally averse, just wondering if you recommend anything else.

I was thinking pretty hard about going EMW for basic utilities at the outset, cos they're cheap and supposedly made for the purpose of keeping costs down for folks getting into eurorack, thus somewhat beginner friendly. But y'know, if something is worth buying it's probably worth buying one that a lot of people recommend, and folks don't seem to comment much on EMW gear here compared to other makers.

In terms of filters, I'm sortof coming from a super lack of experience on that. I rarely used much in the way of filters other than timbre when I used to make things in DAW. The Pittsburgh just seemed (although, again, really wide) smooth sounding, basic, and multipurpose. What're some filters you like more? Or that are unique? I'll be happy to check out what they sound like from what demoes exist.

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Post by rimbod » Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:35 am

Ursidae wrote:I would say it would really help to start with at least two rows in your case, even if that means buying less modules to start with. you will really be surprised with how quickly your modular grid will fill up when you realize what kind of direction you can take this in and with how many awesome things there are out there.
That's good advice. I will take it. The more I look at what I eventually want to do, the more I realize that there are a lot of interesting/necessary bits that will take up more space but come in really handy.
Ursidae wrote:edit: I also have that pitts sequencer and dont really like it its super basic
Noted. I was thinking about the Moskwa, which is a bit better featured and cooler looking, but it's quite big... which may be a risk I'm willing to take. Do you have any particular sequencers you'd recommend?

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Post by homodyne » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:04 am

The Benjolin doesn't need external LFOs, mixers or filters. You can start with a Benjolin and a reverb.

For drones I am assuming you will monitor the filtered outputs in which case the output module may not be necessary as the filtered outputs are well below modular levels.

Since you were thinking about buying fewer 'high quality' modules (whatever this means to you) I would look into a nicer reverb/ sound processor and a nicer output module if you decide to get one.

I'm thinking a Clouds could go well with the Benjolin (I only have the latter) because instead of just a reverb you will be getting a second voice. The Benjolin can click and tick and the Clouds will create a tapestry of sound. If Clouds doesn't work for you then maybe an Erbe Verb - I like and appreciate mine the more I use it. Rings sounds nice but if you are getting one to work with the Benjolin you will probably need an AD envelope to trigger it (Benjolin pulse > EG > Rings) but this is just based on an answer I got here on the forum, not actual experience).

If you get a complex sound processor (these are instruments in themselves) then the Batumi makes sense but even so the Benjolin doubles as a complex modulation source as you have dedicated outputs for the triangles, pulses, PWM, XOR and Rungler. I like monitoring the Benjolin's audio out while using it as a modulation source - the correspondence between its actual sound and the effects of it as a modulation source is really musical - like having an accompanying voice that takes its cues from the lead.
Last edited by homodyne on Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:58 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Post by homodyne » Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:48 am

Double post.
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Post by rimbod » Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:09 am

(as always, everything I think I "know" is based on speculation, and as such my temporary conclusions are bound to be wrong fairly often, so please doubt/correct them)
homodyne wrote:The Benjolin doesn't need external LFOs, mixers or filters. You can start with a Benjolin and a reverb.
That's what I thought. The thing that attracted me to the Benjolin was it's raw sound and intra/inter-patchability. Though filters may come in handy down the line (like, seriously, folks use them in weird ways to varying awesome effect), I doubt the necessity of them up front.

That said, having an external LFO like the Batumi serves me both now and in the future. Though I'd like to eventually make patches that are entirely based on inter/intra-connections of my instruments, having a high quality LFO will allow me to see how my modules work with CV guiding. So I think I wanna stick with including an LFO like the Batumi.

Also, the Batumi does pretty amazing polyrhythmic stuff when self-patched, which may be useful. Also it can work with a VCA to make blubs of sound. I still think I want that guy.
homodyne wrote:For drones I am assuming you will monitor the filtered outputs in which case the output module may not be necessary as the filtered outputs are well below modular levels.
Noted. A question: When people talk about line versus modular levels (cos I've been guessing) modular level is pure max electric sound where line is media-player-like sound output?
homodyne wrote:Since you were thinking about buying fewer 'high quality' modules...
I don't recall saying anything to the effect of not wanting high quality modules, though I might have. I like the punk aspect of patching things together incongruously, but I'm actually kindof bent on getting high-quality creative-engineered modules. For now I'm cool with my utilities being Doepfer, Pittsburgh, and EMW (not to downplay any of those brands, they all seem to make reliable and well-designed devices), but I'd like the main workers of my rig to be made by people who formed a creative vision into a versatile device.
homodyne wrote: I'm thinking a Clouds could go well with the Benjolin (I only have the latter) because instead of just a reverb you will be getting a second voice. The Benjolin can click and tick and the Clouds will create a tapestry of sound.
I was a bit reticent to go straight to Mutable devices at first. I was one of those guitarists who got Line 6 Pod straight when I started playing electric, and it had a million functions that I only used 14 of. I sortof regretted that, cos I fairly quickly found more specific gear that suited me better, but I'd spent all my money on the Pod.

Whatever, I think more than anything, my foray into modular synthesis is to collect specified parts which can go together natively rather than a box of many tricks. However, Mutable modules (despite giving all of their knobs poetic/lateral names, which is annoying) are much more instruments than switchable bags of filters and distortions. Potentially worth it, but I'm going to hang back for now.
homodyne wrote:If Clouds doesn't work for you then maybe an Erbe Verb - I like and appreciate mine the more I use it.
I just took a look at the Makenoise youtube demo of it... I'm much much MUCH more sold on the Erbe Verb than Clouds. <rapid typing and mouse movements, inserting erbeverb into MG and dialing up more demoes/explanations, digging into my pocket for my credit card...>
homodyne wrote:Rings sounds nice but if you are getting one to work with the Benjolin you will probably need an AD envelope to trigger it (Benjolin pulse > EG > Rings) but this is just based on an answer I got here on the forum, not actual experience).
Noted. I'll look into it.

Thank you for your reply, Homodyne. It's made me think a lot. You are wicked.

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Post by REVIVER » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:58 am

homodyne wrote:Rings sounds nice but if you are getting one to work with the Benjolin you will probably need an AD envelope to trigger it (Benjolin pulse > EG > Rings) but this is just based on an answer I got here on the forum, not actual experience).
An envelope (AD, ADSR, etc) isn't necessary for Rings at all.

Rings can be "excited" by pitch CV at the 1v/Oct input or any audio signal at the IN.

The excite input will also respond to triggers, gates, pulses, etc.

Rings is great for droning, though. That's for sure.

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Post by EarlJemmings » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:15 am

None of these have any VCAs, so you'll be needing one- get a dual unit and you'll likely be fine.
Very helpful for controlling and automating CV amounts, feedback (especially if the unit amplifies), ring mod if it's bipolar, lots else.

And I can not recommend enough having some form of oscilloscope. Even just a stand alone one, it's so worth it.

I also find having a NLC Sloth or two very good for drones.
And finally I'd personally like a wavefolder put into the mix there for some different tones.

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Post by mwvm » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:26 am

Drones - anything that oscillates drones - including looped ENVs

Personally speaking drones are interesting if their harmonic content shifts either glacial or rapid. The movement of the content is the thing I like. Either by signal conditioning like filters, or FM, AMing oscillators. And delays and reverbs. There isn't a particular modular reverb I would recommend but in vst world you can't go further than valhalla DSP or audio damage EOS.

Precision adders can provide FM that is more musical and responds well to pitch change. Eg like a sine FMing one octave below saw - nice cello type effect.

Then there Granular stuff that is conducive to good sounding drones like clouds.

I like the DPO, tides (sheep), clouds and alm's new FM operator thing. The new noise engineering jobby sounds good too. Modulating any cv'able parameter gives results. It's all about the modulation
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Post by peripatitis » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:32 am

Just a few things that just popped in mind:
a couple of envelators, some logic module, a joystick and/ or some kind of vca matrix thingy (take a look at the toppobrillo for example) would complement nicely the Benjolin and the batumi. I wouldn't go with a euro-verb quality wise it is not really worth it (well ok the Valhalla ones for the z-dsp module should be nice but generally don't get you hopes up)
Now with so many lfo's you might not need a sequencer as well but if you do the rene could be a great addition (if your touch registers ok) or get a a couple of s&h's and perhaps a quantiser..

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Post by clarte » Fri Dec 11, 2015 9:38 am

bobbcorr wrote:You're going to have a heck of a time finding an O'Tool.. .
There were two within minutes of each other on b/s/t for less than $250 last week, keep an eye out.

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Post by clusterchord » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:29 am

what i am wondering tho ... why is an oscilloscope even needed that badly in a mini drone setup ? .. when trying to squezze as much flexibility and sonic potential in a 3u or 6u system, its the last thing i'd look at. also, compressor is something you can always add after the fact, in mastering. not crucial in this setup imo.

then, i prefer getting a set of modules individually to make my own drones, compared to getting one big module like grendel that is supposed to be a finished recipe. if Benjolin provides analog sources, id definitely look into something digital with wavetabling to complement it. for evolving drones with shifts in complex harmonics.


Batumi is a great choice for a quad LFO, it simplified many things in my 6u perf case.

for audio mixers with great sound, look no further than Manhattan Audio MIX (clean) or CP3 (hairy). however, a voltage controlled mixer or a quad vca mixer might be much better choice for evolving textures. Doepfer A-135-1, Bubblesound VCA 4p, or L-1 quad vca/mix. things get even more interesting when you introduce some vc panning. for cv mixing, inverting and dc offsets, utilities Intellijel Triatt is my favorite.


pittsburgh reverb - i dont see much point in small and limited euro reverbs. either go big where it offers something special with cv control and sonics, like Erbeverb, or just pickup something like Eventide Space or Blue Sky pedal and be done with it. it will lift your drones to another dimension. on average, pedals like that still sound way better than most euro offerings.



just a few random thoughts, cheers.
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Post by homodyne » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:29 am

Short version:
Erbe Verb and Benjolin is gold! I have them together in the same rack. I don't have a Batumi but it seems to be a great module. I don't think you can go wrong with it.


Long version - (long, awkwardly phrased, but hopefully informative):
The EV has a CV out that follows the amplitude of the reverberation. If you send it back to the Benjolin or patch it internally you get a nice (CV) feedback patch going. Normally you use negative feedback to tame things when they get too crazy (negatively influencing a VCA or affecting other modulators). The Benjolin is all about feedback - this is what gives it a life of its own. Said CV out from EV is cool because it extends the feedback loop further.

It (EV) also works great with audio feedback (e.g. feeding the EV with a mix of dry Benjolin and post EV Benjolin). To make this work you will need a small mixer (you should not patch outputs into outputs).

I like the Blender from WMD+SSF. If you patch the CV out from the EV into 3rd channel of Blender (which is CV controllable and can also double as a VCA) you can create a negative feedback mechanism that reduces the amount of wet signal (post EV Benjolin) that is being fed back to it (...EV). You can also use this signal to affect the EV's Absorb, Decay and Tilt ('tone') controls.

I have a version of this patch running for days now (Benjolin, Radio Music and Phonogene as sound sources) - I never switch it off, just let it play itself whether I'm in or outside, awake or asleep.

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Post by homodyne » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:35 am

REVIVER wrote:
homodyne wrote:Rings sounds nice but if you are getting one to work with the Benjolin you will probably need an AD envelope to trigger it (Benjolin pulse > EG > Rings) but this is just based on an answer I got here on the forum, not actual experience).
An envelope (AD, ADSR, etc) isn't necessary for Rings at all.

Rings can be "excited" by pitch CV at the 1v/Oct input or any audio signal at the IN.

The excite input will also respond to triggers, gates, pulses, etc.

Rings is great for droning, though. That's for sure.
I see, so feeding it the stepped CV output from the Benjolin would nudge the exciter. Brilliant, thanks.
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Post by CMM » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:36 am

I love love love Mangroves for drones!

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Post by homodyne » Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:29 am

Modular (eurorack) levels: 10V peak to peak
Line levels: usually 2Vpp

To make all of the above work smoothly or abruptly as required, a slew will do you tons of good (you will understand that while patching). MN Function is really really good and also works as a Track&Hold and AD envelope with variable curve. Same applies to WMD+SSF Mini Slew apparently (haven't used it but people love it and their stuff, in general, is brilliant). For dual channel Maths is awesome (but doesn't track and hold).
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Post by rimbod » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:03 am

REVIVER wrote: Rings can be "excited" by pitch CV at the 1v/Oct input or any audio signal at the IN.

The excite input will also respond to triggers, gates, pulses, etc.

Rings is great for droning, though. That's for sure.
That sounds really useful! I still think I'm gonna hold off on Mutable stuff until a litttle further down the line, but man... their gear is extremely enticing.

I've been thinking about ring modulation (an effect I've really loved for a long time) in terms of how it figures into the initial designs of what I'd like to do.

Regardless, I'm eagerly awaiting Divkid's video on the Rings. Man, Divkid is a useful person.

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Post by rimbod » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:14 am

EarlJemmings wrote:None of these have any VCAs, so you'll be needing one- get a dual unit and you'll likely be fine.
Very helpful for controlling and automating CV amounts, feedback (especially if the unit amplifies), ring mod if it's bipolar, lots else.
I was thinking about that. Particularly in terms of (I think this works) using LFO signals as envelopes, but also for other reasons. Do you think I should get a VCA with an attenuator attached to it, or put an attenuator before the VCA?
EarlJemmings wrote:And I can not recommend enough having some form of oscilloscope. Even just a stand alone one, it's so worth it.
Yeah. It seems like an important learning/visualizing tool. I'm still gonna make an attempt at snagging an O'Tool, but that might be somewhat tricky to do from Japan. That said, a stand-alone oscilloscope is probably gonna be in the works once I get the desk-space:)
EarlJemmings wrote:I also find having a NLC Sloth or two very good for drones.
I looked this up. I WANT ONE. But again, this all depends on me being able to get one shipped over here reasonably.
EarlJemmings wrote:And finally I'd personally like a wavefolder put into the mix there for some different tones.
Yeah. I was looking at the Loquelic Iteritas which has a fold built into it. It seems to warp itself in a very pleasing way. I see a lot of options around tho. It's probably best to get a utility module that does wavefold among other processes, nay?

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Post by rimbod » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:27 am

mwvm wrote:Drones - anything that oscillates drones - including looped ENVs
Reading this kindof got my brain thinking about the Intellijel Dual ADSR... but at the same time, the different waves that the Batumi puts out run through a VCA may be smoother/better/more organic...
mwvm wrote:Personally speaking drones are interesting if their harmonic content shifts either glacial or rapid. The movement of the content is the thing I like. Either by signal conditioning like filters, or FM, AMing oscillators.
Yeah. I can dig that. I am locking the "cello-like effect" you mentioned in my mind for later.
mwvm wrote:Then there Granular stuff that is conducive to good sounding drones like clouds.
I was actually thinking pretty hard about the AD Grain Shifter, cos it's CV controllable. Clouds seems much more multipurposeable, tho, and that appeals to me as well.
mwvm wrote:I like the DPO, tides (sheep), clouds and alm's new FM operator thing. The new noise engineering jobby sounds good too. Modulating any cv'able parameter gives results. It's all about the modulation
Locked in my brain. Is the ALM thing you're talking about Akemie's Castle?

Thank you for so much input. I really appreciate it.

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