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advice needed
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Fractional Rack Modules  
Author advice needed
Hello all. I have just purchased a batch of blacet modules as my first modular synthesizer. I am curious how others with more experience would lay them out in their racks for the best work flow. Also any patches that you would care to suggest to get me started would be awesome as well. I have some experience with midi synths and sequencers (mfb synth 2, doepfer maq 16/3, analogue solutions europa, and a vermona drm mk3), but I'm not exactly sure where to even start with this new project. Here is the list of modules:

2x - VCO 2100 Voltge Controlled Oscillator
2x - FilF2310 Multimode Filter
1x - VCA2410 Dual Linear VCA
1x - LFO2430 VC-LFO
1x - SS2800 Sequencial Switch/Sequencer
2x - MW2090 w/ Socket Rocket Miniwave
2x - MX2040 4 Channel Mixer
1x - BZ2300 Binary Zone CV Generator
2x - EG2070 VC-Envelope Generator
2x - VCA Quad Mix 2040 Quad VCA/Mixer

Thanks so much!
Try this:

Binary Zone out>Miniwave in
Set the miniwave to prom b(the socket rocket) and bank 16 wave 9.
patch the Binary Zone inverted out into miniwave wave select CV input.

Now, feed the output of the miniwave into a mult,
feed one of those multed outputs into the 1v/oct input on each VCO.
Feed the sine wave output of VCO#1 into the filthy filter,
feed the filthy filters lowpass, bandpass, and notch outputs into their own channel on the quadmix(LP to ch a, BP to ch b, etc)
Feed a(slow) Triangle output from the 2430 into CV a input on the 2040,
feed the inverted triangle out from the 2430 into CV b input on the 2040,
feed one of the multed miniwave outputs into CV c input on the 2040.

Now, feed the sine output of VCO#2 into a 2410 VCA.
Feed the output of the 2410 into the FM input on VCO #1(set the switch to Linear).
Feed the output of an 2070 EG-1 into the 2410 CV in.
Set the envelope to medium long attack and long decay.

Feed the ABC(D) output of the 2040 into a mixer so you can monitor the sound.

Now, twist some knobs
Get one of these too, so you can mult signals(send one output to numerous destinations):

wetwetsuit wrote:
Hello all. I have just purchased a batch of blacet modules as my first modular synthesizer. I am curious how others with more experience would lay them out in their racks for the best work flow. Also any patches that you would care to suggest to get me started would be awesome as well. I have some experience with midi synths and sequencers (mfb synth 2, doepfer maq 16/3, analogue solutions europa, and a vermona drm mk3), but I'm not exactly sure where to even start with this new project. Here is the list of modules:

2x - VCO 2100 Voltge Controlled Oscillator
2x - FilF2310 Multimode Filter
1x - VCA2410 Dual Linear VCA
1x - LFO2430 VC-LFO
1x - SS2800 Sequencial Switch/Sequencer
2x - MW2090 w/ Socket Rocket Miniwave
2x - MX2040 4 Channel Mixer
1x - BZ2300 Binary Zone CV Generator
2x - EG2070 VC-Envelope Generator
2x - VCA Quad Mix 2040 Quad VCA/Mixer

Thanks so much!

Welcome to Frac, and welcome to Muff's. Guinness ftw!
Blacet rules, and isn't getting as much appreciation as it deserves in the shadow of the growing Euro market.
Are you assembling some of these from kits?

Organization and 'workflow' are almost as personal as module choice.
...but for starters, I would group like functions together.
Sometimes when you shuffle things around new patches present themselves due to proximity.
You'll probably want that Mixer Processor near the EG1 and LFO.
Mini-Wave next to one of the VCOs.
Dual Linear VCA in the middle of things (between VCOs or Filters) for VC crossfading, splitting, mixing, panning, & FM indexing.

Many of these modules have multiple functions.
The VCOs make outstanding LFOs.
The LFOs are gate-able for funky combinations with envelopes.
The Sequential Switch can be rerouted for all kinds of crazy gate/trigger sequencing and with gate-width per step.
There is a thread on here about EG1 patches that explains how to use it as a VC slew/lag processor among other things.
The Mini-Wave ROMs include some banks dedicated to quantization.

Try feeding outputs of modules back into their own CV inputs.
For the LFO this changes the wave-shape.
For the EG1 it changes the shape per section from linear to logarithmic (regular) or exponential (inverted).
Try this sort of feedback through the bipolar mixer for more control between values and easy inversions.

There is a thread about modifications for Blacet modules that you may want to take a look at.

Have fun. w00t
Never mind the mults.
cable splitters like the ones used for headphones do the same thing and they don't take up as much rack space.
They are also much much cheaper than stack-cables and mults.
...perhaps more durable than molded stack-cables too. (hides)
w00t Awesome set of modules to start off with!!

How to layout the modules is 'just one of those things' one of the best parts of going modular (for me) is not just being able to patch anything to anything, its also in being able to create a user interface that suits me.

I have a kind of "ring of fire" approach with my Blacet set-up;

Sound & CV sources around the outside & mixers / processors / VCAs towards the centre... took alot of fiddling about, one of the great things about Frac IMO is the fixed 1.5" widths - makes it alot easier to shuffle.

There are a few threads around about layout etc.

As for patches, since you are used to subtractive synthesis, start out with the basic VCO->VCF->VCA & start getting busy doing all those things you'd wanted to do on a regular synth "if only I could get X to modulate Y" cos now you can applause

& read those manuals!!
There was a great essay on how to lay out systems written by Cynthia Webster of Cyndindustries. I think she gave me permission to repost - if I can find that I'll put it up.

For me, I have oscillors at the top, then filters, then various processors and finally EGs, VCAs at the bottom. I've also had a similar left to right arrangement.
ok, I can't find where she told me it was ok to repost it, but I remember she said it was ok. If this is not ok, mods edit this or send me a PM and I'll remove it.

so this was from Cynthia Webster of Cyndindustries

Laying Out Your Modules or Modular System Overview ~

I find myself following clusters of different philosophies or conventions
overlapping upon one another in the arrangement of modules in a modular

My very first synth was an Arp 2600, and I drove it along with myself to
Boston to study with the Jim Michmerhuizen the wonderful man who wrote the
2600 and 2500 synthesizer manuals originally for Arp.

Did you know that in the USA - all highways going North-and-South are
numbered in ~odd~ numbers, (US Highway #1 goes up the Pacific Coast Highway)
... and West-to-East highways, (like highway # 80) are always numbered with
~even~ numbers?

Well, the ARP manuals explained synthesis in an overall left-to-right signal
flow of little boxes for modules - with audio sources & audio modifiers
drawn first, and then any control voltage sources or control voltage
modifier signals drawn underneath them as arrowed lines going back and forth
vertically between Controller and Controllee.

Boston Style Notation

| [ Mixer]----->[VCF]----[VCA]-----> MAIN OUT
| [VCO]--->[ | |
| | |

So in my mind, audio signals flow West-to-East, or horizontally from module
to module, and control voltages travel generally South-to-North or
vertically from module to module.

This is exactly how I think when patching, and I find it helpful to conform
the physical arrangement of real world modules in the same order.

The Core Philosophy (A Boston type layout?)

Imagine the upper left corner of your cabinet with a Left-to-Right signal
flow... it would not make much sense to start with a Filter there as the
very fist module in the upper left corner of the rack - because most likely
you will need to start a left-to-right signal flow with something that
creates some sort of Signal (!) such as a Noise Source or Oscillator to
start with. Before the filter - you'll need a signal to put into it!

(The eccentric owners of some systems shun Oscillators altogether -
and instead have banks of several self-oscillating Filters creating sine
waves, combined with many mixers to create additive sound waveforms from
scratch). So ~whatever~ you sources of signals, in this philosophy, they
should go in the upper left of your rig.

Next come audio signal modifiers such as waveshapers and filters,
(most likely in that order) near the upper middle of your rig, followed by
exotics and time modifiers such as Phasors, Flangers, Delays, Echos and
Reverbs. (Of course you do not always use these in these orders)

Continuing on in a left-to-right signal flow to the rightmost end of your
cabinet, this is where you would put your VCAs and mixer type modules
(Reverbs are often found here as well) as this end of the rig is the final
output to the world.

Ok, so we've described the main row of audio modules with all their
interconnections patching horizontally from left-to-right, but what about
things like LFOs and Envelope Generators, or exotic voltage control
modifiers like Burst Generators, Comparators, Sequencers, or Peak & Trough

This collection of control voltage modifiers would all live in a row
~underneath~ the row of audio generators and processors - so that their
connections to actually control different parameters of the audio specific
modules travel vertically, or north and south.

(Note that the most basic of control voltage modifiers, Modwheels and
Keyboards, would live further down - underneath all of these).

That is the grand overview of they way that Jim Michmerhuizen taught
patching at the Boston School of Electronic Music. With this philosophy in
mind, have a look at many of the non modular types of synthesizers out there
- and you'll see it reflected in the front panels of many models and
different brands including the classic Arp 2600.

Ok then, what was all this about overlapping philosophies?

Obviously these examples are based on a medium to large size modular.
In smaller systems it's most likely that you may merge or overlay the
purpose of two separate rows on top of each other so that your patching
is in all four directions within the same row. No worries!
(Every little modular system has the potential to grow up big and strong!)

The same left-to-right signal flow is quite possible with the smallest
of systems. If you only have two modules, then put your Oscillator
on the left, and your VCA on the right, and as you expand your system
you may have to mix audio modules and control voltage modules within
your one row of modules.

% Mutagens %

Other thoughts that mutate the system layout are things like
whether you are left or right handed. If for example you have any
modules that you need to operate with your predominant hand, then
it makes sense to put your joysticks or envelope firing buttons on
that side.

The more knobs that a sequencer module has, the more of an investment
you have in tuning it - so you may think to place it up in an upper
tier far away from everything else so it won't get bumped out of tune

Another mutation to "the Boston Method of patching" is the
recommendation of sprinkling lots of extra Mixer and VCA modules
throughout your system, especially if they are DC coupled allowing
the manipulation of control voltages and not just audio.
You can never have too many of these!
(Mults would also fall into this category if you use them).

On Moog type layouts space must also be set aside for additional
Oscillator and filter ~Controller~ types of modules.

~My Own System~
(I call the "Winchester Mystery System" because it never stops growing!)

My Modcan A & Cynthia modular system is made mainly of banana jacks cables
which eliminate the need for dedicated mult modules, however many of our
modules also have larger 1/4 phone jacks for larger and heavier Moog type
patchcords at the main inputs or final outputs - so I try to place any of
these hybrid banana/phone modules along the bottom row of the whole system.
This keeps the heavy cables and hardware out of the way.
(Doepfer Ribbon Controller Modules might be best near the bottom for the
same reason)

This means I break with the philosophy occasionally such as putting
patch cord interface panels, mic pre-amps, or I/O send and return types
like the Cynthia brand Anything Modules at the bottom left under the
classification of Control Voltage modifiers with large jacks such as
MIDI or pedal Interface modules.
Technically, if they are a ~source~ of sound such as a pre-amp introducing
an external signal into the left-to-right signal flow, then they should be
on the upper left of a system, (possibly even further left than the

I started with a very meager system only buying a module every couple
of months (but it's kind of snowballed over the years smile

Work on my own system grinds along slowly as aside from keeping a
"Go By" example of every module in the rig as a reference - I spend
at least 90% of my time helping to build other people's systems!

Here is the system layout, [Each header below is a cabinet]

Cynthia's Winchester Mystery System

[Logic/Seq Wing] [Main Expansion Cabinet] [Mac & Surround Exp Wing]

[Interface Wing] [MAIN Stand Alone Synth] [4x4 Panning Matrix Wing]

I presently have a six cabinet system with two stacked central cabinets
and four wings on either side of them. Each of these cabinets is a
double-decker for a grand total of 128 spaces. The lower center cabinet is
what I consider the "main" system cabinet not only because it was the
first one I populated with modules, but also because it is
capable of acting as a fully functional stand alone system of it's
own. (Within this cabinet there is a Boston type left-to-right signal
flow from Oscillators on the left - to a Dual VCA as the Final Output module
on the right).

This is so that I can travel light with it and not always need to
bring the whole system every time.

The center cabinet above this basic system cabinet is an expansion unit
adding another row of audio generating and processing modules, and a row
of system infrastructure above that where I place my large sequencer, along
with pairs of gooseneck lamp Photon Interfaces, and monitor speaker modules.

Even when laying-out the four double-decker wing cabinets, I felt the need
to philosophize each one's purpose and placement within the system.

My lower center cabinet is designed to create a complex two-voice output,
that can be stretched when necessary into a less complex four-voice output.
(The center cabinet above it is designed the same way).

Together these two large (32 module "16D") cabinets are capable of
generating up to four or eight outputs of audio all at the same time so
I built the rightmost lower of the Wing cabinets to be a Quad Output Station
with a voltage controlled 4x4 quad panning matrix. Four voices of audio come
off the end of the two center cabinets to this separate wing cabinet which
contains (4) Quadraphonic Panners, (4) Joysticks to steer them, (4) Mixers,
(4) Reverbs, and (1) Quad VCA Dual Panner/Mixer module as a final quad or
four-channel Output out to the sound system and whatever recorders.

(This also puts all four of those joysticks by my right hand, and the
Quad Panning Matrix Wing is in a stand-alone cabinet that can go right off
to do live show on it's own if needed).

Because this whole system arrangement can also be patched to provide
~eight~ voices or audio surround channels, another Wing Cabinet above this
Quad Panning Output Station is also designed to output a second group of
four-channel signals for up to eight channels of surround sound.
This Surround Sound Expansion Wing Cabinet makes the system capable of
real-time output to Dolby, DTS, or THX ULTRA encoding for DVD and film

This surround sound expansion wing is also the home of
the Cynthia Macintosh & Major Monitor modules within the system.
Philosophically, this suggests the main use for the Macintosh module
is in the role of multi-channel recorder, but of course it can also
be used as a full sound effects library, and as an audio processing
module doing real-time doppler shifts around the room.
Where to put such a jack of all trades module?

I'm thinking with all of the new products we have in development,
I should probably add yet another expansion to the expansion for
the Macintosh, (maybe in the center?) as I'd like to use the upper
left wing cabinet for a host of new goodies soon to be released!

The far left Lower Wing cabinet of my system is now full of all of the
system interface modules including MIDI, BiPedal Interfaces,
pitch-to-voltage converters, pre-amps, envelope followers, and send and
return type interfaces. This puts all of the realworld Inputs at the
lower left of my system.

Above the System Interface Wing is the Logic & Sequencing Wing.
It has lots of exotic logical operation modules, comparators,
digital noise sources, RanDivides, smaller sequencers, and loads of
Dividers and is sort of what I use as a combo Source-of-Uncertainty
and Martian Metal Munching MoonMouse modular rhythm section LOL!

"Look at all the Paisley Modules!"

The idea of making a module or cabinet into a ~subsystem~ of it's
own within a larger modular system is a lot like the Buchla
Dodecca modules, or the Serge and STS Animal type panels... so I'll
call this "Berkeley type patching philosophy" </shoot!>
(see the East Coast vs. West Coast paradigm being supported here?)

It gets even deeper if you attribute the Banana type willy nilly
"everything connected to everything man..." thinking that was
as popular as Sandoz in California back in the early seventies.
Banana Cables are a wonderful system as every signal has the instant
freedom of a queen on the chessboard and can go literally anywhere in
the system. (of course you don't have to live on the west coast to
think "Berkeley Style" LOL!)

Names and labels aside, this subsystem type thinking
can be applied to the layout of any type of modular system by
building groups of modules into "Voices". Thus, clusters of
Oscillators, Mixers, Filters, and VCAs can be grouped into a
stand alone voice, and that entire group or building block
can get placed around in different spots as you arrange and
rearrange your system.

Perhaps a Japanese Philosophy might be to make the Final Output
subsection in the very center of your system - with all sound
generating modules around the outer perimeter and the filters
and processors in between? This way all signals come to you
in the center.

A Chinese Philosophy might be to determine the layout by chance?
(a radial layout using a dartboard to position the modules?)

A Hebrew Philosophy to flip the whole layout to read Right to Left?

(What conceptual layouts can you think of? Some of us have seen
a modular synthesizer that rolls-up like a quilted carpet!)

We each have a large investment in our systems and often think
about where the modules should be moved to after learning new
uses or favorite patches with them. It only can take ONE new
module to rock your whole layout into a different paradigm!

(That's the beauty of it!)

Some people even use the length of the patchcords in their
collection as an indicator of where the modules should
be laid out, (Scottish type Philosophy?)

Some manufacturers make dual and quad modules of the same
function such as the Modcan 4VCA with four VCAs, or their
Quad LFO with four LFOs, these can be placed alongside
the Cynthia brand Quad Bandpass, Comparator, or Low Pass
Gates modules and are a lot of fun when lined-up in rows
of "four of this" and "four of that". A versatile
subsystem could be dedicated just to those types of
modules for even higher functional density.

Yet another physical consideration are with modules made
with their jacks all at the bottom of each module, and
all of their knobs at the top. Aries, MOTM, Technosaurus,
and Wiard are fine examples of this type of layout where
in order to keep cables as out of the way as possible
modules are probably best aligned in as few rows, and
as long a horizontal row each as possible.

If all of this *thinking* wasn't enough, then there are
layers of practicality to apply to your layout such as
how portable do you want this thing?? Where do the Theremin
module's antennas go? And is there a spare gymnasium in
the house for all of this, or is your studio sharing space
in the broom closet?

You most likely will be presenting yours proudly to
the world and place it in a prominent space so that
it's fine appearance is a pleasure to behold, so why not
indulge some time in applying your own philosophies to
really make a statement with your system!

I hope that this helps in suggesting a few things to think
about as your own systems evolve. If anyone thinks of
some more ideas then please jump in!

Best Wishes!

Hi and welcome to Muffs! And congrats on the Blacet purchase. Nice starting point.

It's good to think about layout design philosophies. But these originate from experience, and you, too, will have experience. It's peanut butter jelly time!

The only thing you can be sure of is that you will change your module layout many times, if you're constantly rethinking it. Every time you get a new module, you'll be forced to reconsider the whole layout. It's fun, actually. And it's easy to do, since they are modules. It's a good thing to change layouts every so often, to help break up habits that limit how you patch. Because it does seem that we tend to patch more between modules that sit closer to each other. So, if you never change the layout, you are bound to fall into habitual patches. It's hard to avoid, if you don't work at it.

In short, this issue isn't a big problem for a true modular. In fact it's a feature that you can enjoy. Changing your mind entails more thought than work.
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