Will $5000 get me a decent starting system in most formats?

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smitty.west
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Will $5000 get me a decent starting system in most formats?

Post by smitty.west » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:50 pm

I'm a longtime admirer of modular, but never really had the balls to pull the trigger and seriously commit myself to it. I've now got some money burning a hole in my pocket and as much as I want the new Model D, I think it's time I finally took the plunge into this incredible world. I've had some nice synths (OB-8, SH-101, Voyager, P~6, etc.) and have a very basic understanding of synthesis. I'm not even sure which format to get into, but am thinking one of the larger ones simply because I find Euro too cluttered and cumbersome- sucks that some of the great modules available there aren't available elsewhere, but what ya gonna do... Anyways, what I'm wondering is if $5k USD can get me a decent starter system in most of the formats. I know Serge and Buchla are in the upper price echelons so I might not get as much there, but I'm open to going that route if they're sonically superior- of course that's highly subjective and I know they're more feature-laden. I know $5k isn't much and can be gone in the blink of an eye, but I'm in this for the long haul and will add a module or two every month. My goal is to have a two or three osc core synth with some cool modulators that I can make spaced out mellow sequences on.

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ranix
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Post by ranix » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:57 pm

the model D is a little overpriced imho. I wouldn't mind having one, it's very nice. But if it were half the price I would have one already. Maybe 2/3rds

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Post by sduck » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:22 pm

Sure, you can easily get a basic system for 5K with enough left over for some cool addons. For MU/5U style stuff the obvious starting point is synthesizers.com - http://synthesizers.com/systems.html

And I wouldn't write off euro systems if I were you - get somewhere you can try one or several! Make Noise and Pittsburgh make highly regarded systems that can be entry points, among others.

While you could possibly come up with a serge or buchla system that'd fit your budget, it'd be really bare-bones, but might be worth looking into...
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Post by lootacow » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:55 pm

If I had $5k, I'd get a synthesizers.com system, and a two row euro. They can interface very nicely. I've been using a lot of euro modulation in my dotcom system and its been awesome. I got my 22space dotcom for $2000. $3k is more than enough to get a decent euro setup. Modulargrid is gonna be a great source to plan your wants/needs according to your budget.

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Post by MindMachine » Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:20 pm

lootacow wrote:If I had $5k, I'd get a synthesizers.com system, and a two row euro. They can interface very nicely. I've been using a lot of euro modulation in my dotcom system and its been awesome. I got my 22space dotcom for $2000. $3k is more than enough to get a decent euro setup. Modulargrid is gonna be a great source to plan your wants/needs according to your budget.
Exactly what I was gonna suggest. Pick the right Euro modules and they can be spacious. Doepfer ADSR's and LFO's are spacious enough. You can add a few esoteric Euro processors and there you go. Combined with a dotcom/MU system it would be sweet. I mix and match between systems all of the time (tonight as a matter of fact).

Dropping $5000 all at once should get you plenty. In fact I would just get a basic dotcom set-up and a couple of Euro modules then expand the Euro slowly as you feel your way through and see what you find yourself needing or desiring.
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Post by noobyscooby » Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:35 pm

This reminds me about the time I called Bruce Duncan years ago about a Modcan A system.

Me: "What kind of system can I get for 2000 dollars?"

Bruce: "Call me back when you have 3000 dollars."

LOL and true.

5k will get a decent system in any format. Even Serge or Buchla.

Do your research, buy used and have fun.

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Post by Robscorch » Sun Sep 18, 2016 10:32 am

I think the question you need to be asking yourself is what do I plan on doing with this system. You can go any route with 5K and I would look into checking out some systems first hand before making a big leap.

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moremagic
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Post by moremagic » Sun Sep 18, 2016 11:23 am

i think that will cover a music easel, which is very well regarded

unless you want the :buchla:

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revtor
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Post by revtor » Sun Sep 18, 2016 12:04 pm

You have enough $$ to get a great system in almost any format. Search around and pick what gets you excited. Don't worry so much about specs, most modular plays nice with most other modular. A big thing for many is the space requirements of their "studio". A 5U system will take up a lot of space, esp. 5k worth. On the other hand the spaciousness of a 5u system is a joy to work with.

Mixing formats is 100% cool too like others have mentioned. Buying used is a great way to get the most for your $.

And finally, perhaps most important IMHO, is don't blow it all at once. Spend a bunch, get a good foundation. Once you have formed an opinion about how you want to finish off your system (stop laughing guys) you can expand it in the direction you enjoy.. (sequencing, fx, drums, DAW integration, etc etc)

have fun, its going to be quite a trip!
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PrimateSynthesis
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Post by PrimateSynthesis » Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:26 pm

revtor wrote:Buying used is a great way to get the most for your $.

And finally, perhaps most important IMHO, is don't blow it all at once.
I agree with both of these statements. Get yourself a basic system, with a power supply, a way to keep them in place (I prefer to use 19" racks), and a small collection of meat and potatoes modules that provide the functions of a basic monosynth (eg. EG, LFO, VCO, VCF, VCA), and some way to play or sequence it. Then see what else you want to add.

Opinions vary widely. For example, you would have to pry my Encore Frequency Shifter from my cold dead hands. But others consider frequency shifting an esoteric function only used by electroacoustic geeks who used to subscribe to the print version of CMJ. On the other hand, some people consider a ring modulator an essential module. I have several modules and synths that can do ring modulation. But I don't recall ever using any of them to do ring modulation.

While you can mix formats, also keep in mind that most current formats, the notable exceptions being Serge and Buchla, have a large number of different manufacturers. For example, if you decide to go MU there are plenty of other brands besides dotcom.

You can find a good list here, even though the thread title is "5U and the soldering iron thing", it also lists those who make assembled modules:

viewtopic.php?t=153723

There is also this thread, "List of 5U format manufacturers" Although it doesn't have much of a list. And the wiki it links seems incorrect:

viewtopic.php?t=1727
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Post by Christopher Winkels » Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:34 pm

noobyscooby wrote:This reminds me about the time I called Bruce Duncan years ago about a Modcan A system.

Me: "What kind of system can I get for 2000 dollars?"

Bruce: "Call me back when you have 3000 dollars."

LOL and true.

5k will get a decent system in any format. Even Serge or Buchla.

Do your research, buy used and have fun.
Bless you, Mr. Duncan. :lol:

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Christopher Winkels
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Post by Christopher Winkels » Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:37 pm

I recently jumped back in and got a nearly complete (if basic) Euro system for $2,000 US. $5,000 will get you a helluva good setup, especially if some or all of it is purchased used.

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Post by smitty.west » Sun Sep 18, 2016 5:13 pm

i come from a guitar background and haven't bought new in many years. would definitely prefer to let some other sucker take the hit first and then swipe it up used for significant savings. i realize that might be harder with some esoteric modules, but i don't mind waiting. i'm definitely more interested in 5u if for no other reason but less cramped operation. i'm in toronto and am seriously considering modcan for that alone (+ shipping/customs). is he back to building steadily? i know last year he was taking some time off.

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Post by R T S » Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:23 pm

$5000 is an ENVIABLE amount regardless of format.

(Should we start a discussion entitled "What would you do with smitty.west's five thousand dollars?")

Even if you choose the Modcan route :moneyburn: you can still put together a great system.

I'll +1 the "take it slow" advice. I know that when I started out my idea of the perfect instrument changed and evolved a great deal as I spent my initial investment. (around $3000 If I remember correctly)

Keep us posted! Half the fun of this is living vicariously through the fortune of others!!

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:00 pm

smitty.west, what part of the world do you live in? Shipping costs as well as local and import taxes can eat up a lot of your budget, especially if you are going 5U and ordering cases and power supplies.

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Post by mt3 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:39 pm

$1k is enough. So is $2k.

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Post by smitty.west » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:41 pm

JohnLRice wrote:smitty.west, what part of the world do you live in? Shipping costs as well as local and import taxes can eat up a lot of your budget, especially if you are going 5U and ordering cases and power supplies.
as mentioned above, i'm in toronto.
that's mainly why i'm considering modcan, bruce is local to me.
i know his modules are very highly regarded, i'm just wondering if i go modcan a how difficult it would be to integrate other systems.

JohnLRice

Post by JohnLRice » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:57 pm

smitty.west wrote:
JohnLRice wrote:smitty.west, what part of the world do you live in? Shipping costs as well as local and import taxes can eat up a lot of your budget, especially if you are going 5U and ordering cases and power supplies.
as mentioned above, i'm in toronto.
that's mainly why i'm considering modcan, bruce is local to me.
i know his modules are very highly regarded, i'm just wondering if i go modcan a how difficult it would be to integrate other systems.
Ahh :doh: , sorry, I missed the mention! I usually look at the profile panel on the left to see where someone lives.

Have you researched the state of Modcan and Bruce's physical health situation? (sorry if I missed if that was covered too) At this point it is unknown, at least to me, how soon Bruce will be able to start filling orders again due to a serious health setback a couple years ago and the used market for Modcan, especially A and B formats, is very dry so it could take a very long time to get a reasonable system put together. :sadbanana:

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dirtbudda
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Post by dirtbudda » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:57 pm

I started with $2500 and spent another $1000 in a month. Take your time and get lots of utiliities, :woah:

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Post by Flareless » Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:28 pm

Make sure to work HST costs into anything you import. I get hit for everything I order from the US. :bang:

BTW, they'll even hit you for HST on used goods sold by private individuals if the packages are insured and the value is declared. Customs makes sure of it.
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Christopher Winkels
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Post by Christopher Winkels » Sun Sep 18, 2016 8:36 pm

I can't speak to Bruce's situation at the moment as I haven't seen him in three or four years.

I will say though that his gear exudes quality if you want to go that route. The 06 Phase/Timbre module remains one of my favourite to this day, and it's especially useful to a guitarist like yourself, especially when paired with the 45 Envelope Follower.

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jdkee
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Post by jdkee » Sun Sep 18, 2016 10:55 pm

Extreme learning curve here. Utilities (read VCAs) are key.

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Post by Paul Perry » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:28 am

jdkee wrote:Extreme learning curve here. Utilities (read VCAs) are key.
$5,000 will get nearly enough VCAs.

Seriously though, +1 for a euro row sitting below a 5U row.

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Post by Orwell » Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:36 am

Sounds like you want east coast stuff
As a beginner just getting a big modular is asking for trouble
I reckon the moog mother and euro small set up would be a good starter
Hell even two moog mothers, a maths, some other vcos maybe try west coast Sputnik and your flying
You could add in an a o coast
Go to store and try out first 8-)
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Post by loydb » Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:50 pm

If you decide to go Euro, both Makenoise and Verbos offer some really interesting pre-assembled collections, I think AH stocks them both.

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