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Total modular noob - some questions
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author Total modular noob - some questions
Mr D
Hi folks,

I'm a complete beginner with modular, although i have some production / studio experience.

I'm thinking of putting together a modest modular system, just for fun really, to see what this modular stuff is all about.

So i have a few noobish questions.

1) Eurorack modules and other modular systems take their power from the power-supply built into the case, right? Can you basically buy any case and fill it with any (compatible) modules, or is there more to it then that? Any pit-falls i need to be aware of with regard to power supply issues?

2) Any modular system can hook up to any other system, because they communicate via control voltages, right? So i could put together a Macbeth 5U system, and use that together with a Eurorack system, right?
Or are there some systems that are incompatible?

3) I'm liking the look and sound of Macbeth stuff. But apart from that, could someone suggest a small basic system that would get me off the ground? Say to a maximum budget of 2000 euro, including case? Eurorack, 5U, or whatever. I guess for starters i'm only interested in basic synthesis, so no sampling or other exotic stuff

4) what about Polyphonic synth stuff? Is that doable with modular, or is it just to much hassle and you're better off just getting a dedicated polysynth? If not, any suggested products in this regard?

5) Where is a good / reputable place to buy in the E.U.? In in the Netherlands.

I guess that's it for now, thanks (hopefully) in advance for any wisdom!
Keltie
Check the stickied posts in the various fora. You will find answers to many of your questions there.

For a basic system, imo, a doepfer case and modules is hard to beat.
synkrotron
Good advice from Keltie, methinks.

I went down the Doepfer route, with a 9U "low cost" case populated with 6U x 84HP of modules. Cost, at the time, was around 2000 Euros, and, because I am in partnership with my eldest son, he bought Metropolis to chuck in.

I briefly looked into building a case from scratch, researching power supplies, self build kits and what have you but I quickly got bored of that and took, what I think, is the easy route.

As for polyphony, I think once you get into what modular "is about," you will quickly forget about all thoughts of polyphony. Layers, yes, but when I looked into this I felt it was not doable, on a "reasonable" budget.

cheers

andy
zengomi
I wish this had been available when I started out 4 years ago. endorphis.es Shuttle
felixer
if you want polyphonic you could do worse then get a couple of those behringer model d's. they sound good and have a chain function. so the first one will play the first note, the second one the second note and so on.

built the box myself. works nicely. only problem is that those model d's are sold out. you'll have to preorder and be patient. next batch is supposed to arrive in june. but the last batch was late. nice thing is you can set different sounds for each note. not something you can do with most polysynths. if you want just a standard/normal polysynth check ebay. loads of nice machines at low prices due the the fact that most think analog is better. which it obviously isn't ...
AW198
Felixer that's pretty awesome
bmoren
Mr D wrote:
Hi folks,

I'm a complete beginner with modular, although i have some production / studio experience.

I'm thinking of putting together a modest modular system, just for fun really, to see what this modular stuff is all about.

So i have a few noobish questions.

1) Eurorack modules and other modular systems take their power from the power-supply built into the case, right? Can you basically buy any case and fill it with any (compatible) modules, or is there more to it then that? Any pit-falls i need to be aware of with regard to power supply issues?


You are correct, power from the built in PSU. You can buy basically any case and populate it yes. The only thing that is non standard are the 1U tiles, there are 2 different sizes. But for standard modules, they are all the same size/power. Get enough power to power your system. Use http://modulargrid.net to plan it and check power specs listed at the bottom against the powersupply you are using

Quote:
3) I'm liking the look and sound of Macbeth stuff. But apart from that, could someone suggest a small basic system that would get me off the ground? Say to a maximum budget of 2000 euro, including case? Eurorack, 5U, or whatever. I guess for starters i'm only interested in basic synthesis, so no sampling or other exotic stuff


The best way is to really ask yourself what you want to do and get a few modules that push you in that direction, once you have some, you will know what to get next. As many beginners are recommended the Mother 32 is a good starting system because it allows some patching, can later be euro mounted if wanted, and has a full voice built in with a sequencer. basically a little system ready to go out of the box. Of course other manufacturers make similar things, Make Noise 0-coast, Pittsburgh, etc...

You can do a lot for 2k euro, get on modular grid, plan out a system and post it to the eurorack section for community review, people do this all the time smile

Quote:
4) what about Polyphonic synth stuff? Is that doable with modular, or is it just to much hassle and you're better off just getting a dedicated polysynth? If not, any suggested products in this regard?


Lots of modules have polyphonic capability these days, check out mutable instruments rings, 2hp pluck, or intellijel plonk. As for more basic building blocks, just get double, or triple.....! maybe a set of mother32s?
Mr D
Many thanks for the advice so far!

Yeah, polyphony is probably something for down the line.
Some interesting products i saw in this direction are the Vermona Perfourmer and Macbeth Minimac.
That 4-way Behringer system looks way cool!

I've narrowed my search down a very little bit to the idea that i really want to get a Oberkorn, because the sounds that thing (help) produce are really what i want to get into Modular for.

I also want to be able to apply swing to a sequence and i read that's also possible with some Doepfer units, gotta research that some more 'cause i really need that.

I'm a little reticent to get started actually as i feel this could be an endless money-pit haha!
Mr D
Ok folks, so i've kinda decided what route to take but i still need some advice.

I'm gonna order an Oberkorn.

I already have a Vermona Lancet '15 (which sounds amazing) and i'm gonna order the Vermona Modular Dock so i can interface it with modular gear.

So then that takes care of the filter, envelope generator and an osc., right? Or not???

Could you please tell me what other modules i'll need to get going?

Oh god, this is so frustrating.

So how do i hook up the Oberkorn to Cubase? I'm totally in the dark about this! Cubase sends ***what?*** to the Oberkorn? Obviously midi, but midi WHAT?

Anyone can give me a quick rundown of what i need to do / buy?

Thanks!
chamomileshark
4) what about Polyphonic synth stuff? Is that doable with modular, or is it just to much hassle and you're better off just getting a dedicated polysynth? If not, any suggested products in this regard?

I found trying to do standard polyphonic sounds alot of trouble for little result. Not only do you need to have sufficinet kit for the voices, like a dedicated oscillator, filter, envelope and VCA per voice you have to think about the what the keyboard can send, your MIDI to CV converter etc. In theory having got the latest EPROM for my Kenton 2000 pro it should work but I've never got it working. Creating block chords by playing one note on the keyboard but having the different voices differently pitched didn't sound great either. I got better results by playing something polyphonic on a soft synth, splitting the MIDI track created and then recording the mono lines from the modular.

But really, better get a standard poly which actually is probably alot cheaper than multiple oscillators, filters etc which probably need to be the same.

The other form of polyphony is to create totally different voices in the modular - creating seperate lines with seperate timings, pitches, filter settings. That does work.
kiki_90291
I found this video super useful to understanding what a bunch of components (particularly VCAs do) - it's focused on generative music, but I think it's helpful generally, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvrxQbh6vAg
chamomileshark
Mr D wrote:

So how do i hook up the Oberkorn to Cubase? I'm totally in the dark about this! Cubase sends ***what?*** to the Oberkorn? Obviously midi, but midi WHAT?


It would be the MIDI clock I think - it looks like the Oberkorn will take a clock in - but check that it is MIDI clock in, rather than something like an analogue square wave LFO.

In Cubase the MIDI clock out probably isn't set by default - so you will need to do that, but that is easily done. The Oberkorn may accept MIDI so you can transpose notes - don't know.

My own set up I use Cubase, a MIDI to CV convertor (Kenton Pro 2000) and that CV then goes into the Modular for pitch, gate and anything else I want as in addidion to Pitch CV and Gate it has a number of aux CVs.
Keltie
chamomileshark wrote:
Mr D wrote:

So how do i hook up the Oberkorn to Cubase? I'm totally in the dark about this! Cubase sends ***what?*** to the Oberkorn? Obviously midi, but midi WHAT?


It would be the MIDI clock I think - it looks like the Oberkorn will take a clock in - but check that it is MIDI clock in, rather than something like an analogue square wave LFO.

In Cubase the MIDI clock out probably isn't set by default - so you will need to do that, but that is easily done. The Oberkorn may accept MIDI so you can transpose notes - don't know.

My own set up I use Cubase, a MIDI to CV convertor (Kenton Pro 2000) and that CV then goes into the Modular for pitch, gate and anything else I want as in addidion to Pitch CV and Gate it has a number of aux CVs.


I've previously had good results simply sending something like a v short sample - rim shot what have you - out of a DAW straight into an analog clock in at 16 to the bar or whatever.

Even clocked an Xox rig using a sustained low note with a square wave out, once.

It takes some experimenting, and different gear will react differently, or need different clock rates and levels, but in my experience with these kinda techniques, once you have found what works for any given set up, it's stable and repeatable. YMMV, but I found this worked fine with a MOTU 828 sending the audio, which means signals around about a volt or so, IIRC.

There is some mileage to be had in creating odd kinds of push/pull and shuffle by changing the qualities of the clocking sample; slight attack, longer sample, or sample release etc etc.
scanningthemirror
felixer wrote:
if you want polyphonic you could do worse then get a couple of those behringer model d's. they sound good and have a chain function. so the first one will play the first note, the second one the second note and so on.

built the box myself. works nicely. only problem is that those model d's are sold out. you'll have to preorder and be patient. next batch is supposed to arrive in june. but the last batch was late. nice thing is you can set different sounds for each note. not something you can do with most polysynths. if you want just a standard/normal polysynth check ebay. loads of nice machines at low prices due the the fact that most think analog is better. which it obviously isn't ...



Woah, any chance of you posting some stuff you've recorded with the model d's? Would love to have 4 of them myself
Mr D
[quote="Keltie"]
chamomileshark wrote:


It would be the MIDI clock I think - it looks like the Oberkorn will take a clock in - but check that it is MIDI clock in, rather than something like an analogue square wave LFO.



I got my Oberkorn. It can actually be clocked by midinotes from you DAW, which is really cool, so for example you easily sequence with a swing value or any other weird rhythm you want.

So it works like this: each E3 it receives will move the sequence on one step. So you choose (in your DAW) the timing. And other midi notes perform other functions. Like F3 will jump back to the beginning. So you can easily program a 5 note sequence, Deadmau5 style.
There are more functions i think but thats how for i got so far.

It really is a very cool box.

I'm ordering an Intellijel Metropolis and also an ES-3 so i can sequence with Cthulthu or other VST plugs, then i should be good for sequencing for a while!
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