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Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3, ... 18, 19, 20  Next [all]
Author Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???
Over at the MI forums, Olivier suggested these modules to somebody who asked about a good starter rack:

Tides (sound source and complex modulator)
Peaks (more modulations)
Veils (attenuator, VCA, mixer…)
If you're interested in sticking with MI as far as possible - which does make for a nice-lookin' skiff - you could consider Frames. I just got one, and it's very flexible. It can certainly handle mixing and attenuation, though that's using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It's four VCAs at heart, but you don't get four independent VCAs, you get something... different. It's terrific for animating any kind of sequence, and the Parasites firmware packs even more features into the hp. Last night I just had two of the four outputs modulating Clouds inputs, with Tides also chiming in. It was great fun, and I imagine Rings would benefit just as well, if not better.

For a (non-MI) LPG the Make Noise lxd serves well, particularly if space is a concern.
Blinds is something I strongly considered, and might still go with. Seems like a powerhouse (probably more so for my purposes than Veils).

At the moment I'm prioritizing (A) spending as little as possible and (B) having some inexpensive modules on my wishlist as gift ideas (like a MengQi DPLPG and Noise Reap Swiss Army Mixer). Blinds is going to depend on whether I wind up with those and how I'm getting on with the A-133.

I'm avoiding researching Clouds at all for a while to keep temptation at bay. hihi
The Make Noise modDemix is a smaller alternative to Blinds - two bipolar VCAs that can be used separately, in series, or mixed, plus an aux input. Half the hp and cheaper, but of course you sacrifice four inputs for two (and the aux). Not quite the same level of control, either. If you're going to end up needing two modDemixes, you'd be better off going straight for the Blinds. I do find that the mD adds a bit of its own character, which can be good or bad depending on your goals...
starthief wrote:
Blinds is something I strongly considered, and might still go with. Seems like a powerhouse (probably more so for my purposes than Veils).

At the moment I'm prioritizing (A) spending as little as possible and (B) having some inexpensive modules on my wishlist as gift ideas (like a MengQi DPLPG and Noise Reap Swiss Army Mixer). Blinds is going to depend on whether I wind up with those and how I'm getting on with the A-133.

I certainly can appreciate the cost factor. I was fortunate to have a few things to sell, and there's only one module I've purchased that wasn't on some sort of sale (Thanks for saving me $200 Perfect Circuit! Seriously, get on their mailing list they have sale codes every week, and for nice modules too, not some crap they just can't get rid of). The one module not on sale was Blinds, hehe, still worth it!

Saw that you've been enjoying Tides. That was my first module. Talk about a powerhouse. Have you loaded Parasites yet? If not, do it, and prepare to be blown away. Also Sheeps can be some serious fun if you get in the mood for a new oscillator every now and again.

As for VCA's, I'm getting Streams, but the level/gain CV's on Tides and Ripples do act as perfectly good VCA's. Also, if you put the level'ed out from Tides into Ripples, it still has plenty of power and you don't need to worry about re-amping it on the other side of Ripples (at least for me) For simpler patches I'll often just plug an envelope straight into leve/gain and be done with it.
Yeah, I have fallen in love with Perfect Circuit, and got Peaks and Tides at 20% off. Got my Atmegatron from them earlier in the year at a pretty nice discount since it was a demo, too.

I haven't loaded up Parasite yet, but after rewatching the videos for Two Bumps and Two Drunks I'll be trying that soon. I'll probably wait a while on Sheep though.

I'll probably also wait a bit for Dead Man's Catch. I haven't checked out Peak's "secret" modes yet. In fact I was 3 hours into playing with it before I realized Expert mode gives you separate modes for the two channels, not just separate parameter control over two channels in the same mode. Mostly I was just basking in how fantastic the MicroBrute sounds with more modulation, FM, etc. smile
Sounds like good times. I've also found it helpful to get reasonably comfy with the stock firmware before loading any of the Parasites stuff. The nice thing with DMC and Tides Parasite, is that you can pretty much load both and not even notice it's there until you're like... "hmmm I think I need a sub-oscilator," or "This needs a random walk," or whatever else.

My system isn't yet sufficient for self-contained work. I've been using it to essentially expand my DEII and Werkstatt. Gotta be fun with the 'Brute!
Recorded my first track with modular tonight. Not pure modular -- I don't plan to do that very often.

Notes are in the SoundCloud comment, but basically: Tides Parasite Two Bumps, PLL tracking the MicroBrute sequenced in Maschine, and modulated by Peaks tap LFOs triggered from the MicroBrute's gate. Plus Korg Legacy M1, my own experimental VST synth "ByteBeater" some sampled drums and a lot of processing.

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starthief wrote:
Recorded my first track with modular tonight. Not pure modular -- I don't plan to do that very often.

All modular doesn't make music better or more pure. Also, nice track. nanners
Thanks smile

Had some fun with a Tides/MicroBrute drone, where every output on Tides was in use (audio, audio rate modulation, or simply gating the MicroBrute repeatedly so I didn't have to do it myself), and Peaks was modulating Shape and Slope with LFOs.

Then I installed DMC on Peaks and played with that... fun stuff! Some of it I find fun, useful or both, some not so much. I was surprised at how much I liked the Turing Machine mode, feeding Tides with its quantizer set to pentatonic or fifths, clocking it from an LFO on the other Peaks channel. Way more fun than the Two Drunks mode in Tides Parasite I think, but I'm not a fan of random walk algorithms in general.
I'll have to check out Turing Mode. I really like Two Drunk when set to "Woggle", so I hadn't bothered with Turing.

You can also use Two Drunks at audio rates to create noise. You can mold the noise a bit with the parameters on the module. It's also fun to run through a filter and hit with a fast envelope, Wait, now I have percussion?
So, right now it's Peaks, Tides, Rings and a Doepfer A-133 VC Polarizer. I suspect most of the use I'll get from the A-133 is as attunverters for the Tides or MicroBrute, with ring modulation a distant second and CV VCA use fairly low.

With the uZeus still in the top, I have 27HP to play with. No will to spend more money for a while. I'm not really feeling the need for a mixer for audio or CVs currently. I figure my next step is probably a Disting (or a gifted dual LPG).

I have my eye on getting a Three Sisters in a few months. Of all the filters I've looked into, that one seems to have the right combination of awesome possibilities, sound I like, and relatively decent size.

Cinnamon sounds great too, but in a system that doesn't have a lot of need for basic filter use, I want my filter to do a lot of other fun stuff.

I might talk myself into a Bionic Lester instead though. grin

A digital noise source is another thought, but I can do a lot with the computer there so it's low priority.
So, yeah. Current plan is now:

MengQi DPLPG -- the top section of the A-133 just does not close all the way and the bottom section does but is fiddly; it's valuable as a ring mod, attenuverter and gain/signal boost though. While with most patches I actually don't feel like I need more VCAs hihi I did run into a use for them last night. A dual LPG in 2hp for under is hard to argue with.

Disting MK3 -- as a flexible tool and experimental learning, seeing what would benefit me the most. I could see, for instance, falling in love with wavefolding, or envelope following my Korg Wavedrum, and deciding I need a dedicated module for that later.

Three Sisters -- Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is going to be the filter for me.

Ataraxic Translatron -- this is the sort of thing I love in software; a modular version would awaken new possibilities.
Here's the assembled skiff. Turns out it's 74hp, tightly fitting. The holes were a pain and not terribly well aligned.

Swapping blank panels for more modules is gonig to require disassembly and some new holes drilled, and I'm strongly considering getting rails and redoing this altogether, or just a premade skiff and no more messing with forces I don't understand (like, uh, wood).

For now everything works and I'm not in danger of tipping modules out from the weight of patch cables at least.
84HP vector rails and brackets should be arriving tomorrow. I'm about to go on vacation, but when I'm back I'll build a birch/basswood box around it; if I can manage it I will leave the "front" and "back" long sides off of it for the moment for woodburning, and then will have to disassemble for final staining and gluing.

The CV.OCD I ordered arrived today, and it really opens things up; I can properly clock and trigger everything from my sequencer as well as having multiple independent voices, velocity, CCs etc. It just happens to sit nicely on the monitor arm-mounted laptop holder right below the skiff, which is handy. For under $100 and not much bigger than a TV remote, it's pretty great.

Of course this means I need more VCAs. lol It takes one to combine a volume envelope with velocity, for instance. Still not feeling the need for a mixer yet though, between the Behringer and available inputs on my interface.
A Three Sisters should be waiting when I get back from vacation, and I've ordered a Meng Qi DPLPG that'll arrive whenever it does.

I came very close to getting an Ataraxic Translatron with the Perfect Circuit sale, but decided I definitely need more VCAs/LPGs first, and to see where the Sisters take me.

Glad I held off, because after looking into the Sinc Iter, that one might be a better choice for me. I can mimic the AT a couple of different ways in software, though of course without CV control. SI is more flexible and still offers tasty digital noise.
Three Sisters is great -- it can be really smooth or super dirty and weird. So far I've used it in feedback configurations with Rings, and as a sound source, more than I've used it as a normal filter.

Here I'm using just Sisters and Peaks (with two Tap LFOs driven at audio rate by Sisters, one of which is going to the output and the other feeding back into Sisters) and some VST reverb and chorus.

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Where I am currently: I occasionally want another VCA, and I occasionally want another envelope. I feel like I have enough LFOs. I often forget though, that I can use the MicroBrute's envelope, or use its audio path as a VCA/ADSR, when I'm not using the instrument itself.

I still am waiting on the DPLPG shipping; I've also bought an Ataraxic Translatron and S.P.O. from a wiggler here, which should arrive this weekend or Monday.

The A-133 is serviceable but not ideal as a VCA (it doesn't close fully), I don't use it for ringmod much, and the SPO is a better attenuverter -- so I have a low-priority eye on replacing it. Maybe a Skis and a Kinks, or a Function. We'll see.

As far as case matters go, I have the wood pieces cut to build a box around the vector rails/ears. My spouse is setting up woodburning gear again and practicing a bit so it'll be a while before that's done, stained and assembled, but meanwhile I can at least use the rails sort of perched on the 74hp-ish bamboo box I have, so I can move modules around as necessary. I need to calibrate the tuning on the Sisters and shuffle bus cables around even if I weren't adding the AT and SPO.
I went ahead and moved stuff to the rails. Everything's generally tidier with no gaps between modules and no lopsided placement thanks to my imperfectly placed pilot holes in wood "rails" grin

With the jumper pulled off the uZeus (no longer needed since Three Sisters draws 93mA of -12V by itself), and using two flying bus cables instead of one, the uZeus no longer even gets warm and the A-133 is no longer noisy. thumbs up

I noticed small trimpots on the A-133 and I wonder if these can tweak the range of the manual control. If I can get it to close fully like a normal VCA, I might just leave it in my system for good. I don't see any documentation out there though.
The AT and SPO arrived a bit early and I'll be wiggling them very soon.

My new plan is to replace the A-133 with a Streams. It's more HP instead of less, but it's functionally dense and covers the needs I have.

That will leave me with 12HP free. The likelist candidates for that at the moment are some combination of:

Pico VCF1

On the other hand, on my to-do list is to experiment with clock/trigger modulation with Peaks DMC and Tides Two Drunks; that might lead to wanting a 4ms RCD or the like. I've noticed that, even though I still sequence in Maschine, the modular setup leads me to a somewhat different rhythmic character in my sequences, and gives me the idea that I might delve a little more into more modular-ish rhythmic mangling.

I also wonder how long it's going to be before I start itching for a second skiff/case/rack/enormous monolith.
I find the Ataraxic Translatron a little annoying to work with, for these reasons:

-- the LED digit (which is necessary feedback for modulation, see below) is placed down a hole in the front panel, and at the angle I have my system, pretty much blocked by the Pitch knob unless I lean a lot. There's no transparent window in the panel, just a hole down a deep well. This is pretty minor though.

-- the Pitch knob is above the Tone knob, but the Pitch CV jack is below the Tone CV jack. I inevitably get them mixed up.

-- the Pitch knob has a fairly small offset, to allow for fine tuning. If you want a fixed high frequency value you need to send a constant voltage to the pitch CV. There isn't a separate FM input, and the CV input clips negative values to zero. Not too big a deal for most uses but something to remember.

-- the Tone knob covers the full range, but as soon as you plug anything into the Tone CV, it becomes an attenuverter instead of an offset, and of course negative CVs are clipped to zero. So you really need to get your voltages in order outside the module. I've been spoiled by Rings and its built-in attenuverters as well as offset controls, but I would still rather attenuate a signal outside the module and offset it inside the module than the opposite.

But that last point is one reason why I went for the S.P.O. too. I like it -- it's compact but pretty easy to use, with helpful bicolor LEDs to indicate the output range (which work much better than the Doepfer A-133's fairly dim red ones).

This is also making me think about rectifiers and comparators, which suggests Kinks, Cold Mac or Tromsø. (I really need to research Cold Mac some more. It's baffling to look at or to skim the description but it seems like a treasure trove of useful and possibly weird things.)

Anyway, the sound of Ataraxic Translatron is the chunky Atari-ish LFSR noise I expected, and also very bitey square and square-like stuff at the lower end of the Tone knob. I like. My fear that it would seem too redundant with my Atmegatron and VSTs is unfounded, and it sounds pretty great when filtered through and distorted by Three Sisters.

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Overall, I feel like AT sits a little uneasily with me, but it does work nicely with the kind of music I tend to make.

After experimenting as I said with modulating clocks and triggers, given the tools I have, I don't think I'll pursue that further. I'd rather build my rhythms on the software side.
Discovering all kinds of fun with the Ataraxic Translatron in clock mode. It's picky about the clock input -- if I try to drive with a squarewave from the MicroBrute, I have to give it a positive offset. But this mostly turns out to be a benefit, as chaos happens when things are on the edge of being wrong. Modulating or filtering the input (especially with the MicroBrute's unstable "Brute Factor" filter feedback) leads to all kinds of messy fun.

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+1 for Elements being an awful lot more than Rings, you get a heck of a lot of functionality in those extra 20hp including the most marvellous freeze reverb which I'd neglected a lot until recently!
Baddcr wrote:
+1 for Elements being an awful lot more than Rings, you get a heck of a lot of functionality in those extra 20hp including the most marvellous freeze reverb which I'd neglected a lot until recently!

I have no regrets about choosing Rings over Elements. Had I gone the other way, this would basically be an Elements instrument; it would have constrained my other module choices more by HP and "does it contribute to Elements?" above all else.

For instance, I would likely have bypassed Three Sisters, even though it's great with Rings and no doubt with Elements, in favor of something 4HP or less.

It still would have been a great system I'm sure. But I feel like anything Elements can do, Rings and some external stuff can also do, though with more effort.

Where I am now, I don't feel it's necessary to patch Rings in every single time. And if I want to push things I can get four different voices out of this rack at this point (usually I just go with one or two though).

As for reverb, I have that more than adequately covered in my DAW and don't feel the need to squeeze it into Eurorack too smile

(Plus a few Native Instruments reverbs not listed, and some things I have categorized under "Delay" and a couple more in "MultiFX" that also perform reverb duty.)
Nice reverbs!!

Of course, ultimately it's your decision and it's good that you are sticking to what you want.

It's different for everyone and these are just opinions. I found Rings to be too much hard work to get the same stuff that I can from Elements, you need a lot of support modules to be able to replicate it fully (envelope, three sound sources with attenuators, mixer, some way to hit and accent too, then the aforementioned reverb heh). Rings actually irritated me on more than one occasion, something to do with the tuning, it is different to Elements somehow.

I found a lot of the time I couldn't replicate Elements stuff no matter how hard I tried - I wanted two modules to make pretty much the same sound but sequenced separately and tried to do this a lot with Elements and Rings and eventually gave up because by the time I had got them close I couldn't modulate them both in meaningful ways and I lost the tonal compatibility I wanted.

Then I didn't find much at all that Rings could do that Elements couldn't. So I lost Rings ... and ended up with two Elements and I really couldn't be happier - it's amazing and I love them both so much!!

I totally get that if you don't have the luxury of space Rings can do an awful lot and get you most of the way there.

Anyway, nice discussion cheers Guinness ftw!
Yeah, I could see a lot of frustration trying to get an Elements and a Rings to match up. Sometimes with just one Rings I find myself wondering why it's doing what it's doing and how to get to a particular sound I know I've squeezed out of it before. grin
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