Why are module manuals so bad?

Cwejman, Livewire, TipTop Audio, Doepfer etc... Get your euro on!

Moderators: Joe., luketeaford, lisa, Kent

User avatar
Franktree
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 256
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:06 pm

Why are module manuals so bad?

Post by Franktree » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:33 pm

Ok, I'm fairly new to the Eurorack adventure and just bought a number of new modules to build out a case. When it came to connecting the various modules to power, I had a number of questions--being unsure in some instances exactly how to connect them up. Being a good do-be, I went online to check out the manuals for the modules to try to make sure I didn't fry anything. In every instance where I had questions and therefore checked out the manuals (Qu-Bit Nebulae, Tiptop Audio Mantis, Tiptop Audio One, Doepfer A-108) the manuals told me nothing, or nothing useful, about how to connect the power. So now I'm just waiting to hear back from the manufacturers, rather than actually putting the modules to use, since i had to email them to figure out how to get their modules to work. :bang:

The manuals often had plenty of info about what the various buttons or inputs do, which is admittedly useful, but not nearly as useful as information that will keep you from frying the module itself! You'd think that would be the first thing that would go into every manual.

Just wanted to share my frustration and surprise at how mysterious these manufacturers seem to make something as routine and common as power connections.

User avatar
Rigo
Chief Spam Killer
Posts: 2562
Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:48 am
Location: Belgium

Post by Rigo » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:41 pm


User avatar
TemplarK
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1184
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:31 pm
Location: Outer Space

Post by TemplarK » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:42 pm

http://www.doepfer.de/a100_man/a108_man.pdf

You must have been looking at some other manual because the Doepfer A108 manual is as comprehensive as you can get for a filter. As for frying modules, well, you plug them in making sure that you get the polarity the right way and other than that your not going to just "fry" modules left right and centre not sure what gives you this idea tbh?

User avatar
bemushroomed
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2540
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 10:30 am
Location: Sweden

Post by bemushroomed » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:45 pm

This is why we have forums.

teamhobson
Common Wiggler
Posts: 106
Joined: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:26 am

Post by teamhobson » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:55 pm

bemushroomed wrote:This is why we have forums.
Lol. 95% of the world's information on modern modular synthesis is held on this php forum. One which is regularly down for a day or two because the bills haven't been paid :hihi:

For what it's worth, the make noise morphagene manual is excellent, but I know what you mean...

User avatar
Franktree
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 256
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:06 pm

Post by Franktree » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:57 pm

TemplarK wrote:http://www.doepfer.de/a100_man/a108_man.pdf

You must have been looking at some other manual because the Doepfer A108 manual is as comprehensive as you can get for a filter. As for frying modules, well, you plug them in making sure that you get the polarity the right way and other than that your not going to just "fry" modules left right and centre not sure what gives you this idea tbh?
Maybe I'm just dense, but I looked through that manual and nowhere did it provide me the one crucial (and simple) piece of information I needed: which pins are the -12v pins. Maybe I missed it, but if I did, the manual is not especially easily to parse.

I later found a (very helpful) video on Youtube that told me all Doepfer modules have the -12v pins on the bottom. But you'd have thought I could have gotten that info from Doepfer, rather than from Youtube.

User avatar
Rigo
Chief Spam Killer
Posts: 2562
Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:48 am
Location: Belgium

Post by Rigo » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:00 pm

Franktree wrote:But you'd have thought I could have gotten that info from Doepfer, rather than from Youtube.
The info is on their website, in the first of the 2 links I gave above.

User avatar
Franktree
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 256
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:06 pm

Post by Franktree » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:01 pm

Yes, at least that bottom link was helpful and shows exactly the info I needed. I found the same info another way, but I appreciate you passing this along, and hopefully it will be useful for someone else next time they have the same question as me.

Though, note that that's the manual for their cases/power supplies, not one of their modules. It would be useful to have that image, showing that the -12v pins are on the bottom, in the manuals for each module for which it applies (which, to my understanding, is all of Doepfer's)--at least online, where the added inch of text has literally zero cost.

emilng
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:37 pm

Post by emilng » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:11 pm

You might want to check the first sticky topic for the Eurorack section "The Definitive Connecting Power Thread" viewtopic.php?t=15109

There's also the "Modular Synth Basics! Cases, power, modules, CV?! Come in :)" sticky thread. viewtopic.php?t=106396

Reading through them might save you some future pain :)
mostly modular experiments: https://www.youtube.com/user/maztik8r

User avatar
kay_k
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:33 am
Location: Berlin
Contact:

Post by kay_k » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:32 pm

because they are often written by the very same persons who developed them .. engineers are the worst manual writers, especially on their own creations

User avatar
Jumbuktu
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1291
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:03 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Jumbuktu » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:44 pm

I agree that many module manuals are sub-standard - and some great modules don't even have a manual! I ended up writing one for the ADDAC Heuristic Rhythm Generator myself (it's now bee incorporated into an official manual).

MakeNoise always seems to put the power connection info in their manuals - something I find a bit annoying because I don't need it any more.

IMO, Doepfer have the most consistent and informative manuals (and by the way, the A108 is my favourite filter of all time). As you have found out, Doepfer puts all the power info in their case manuals. I think this is because Doepfer was one of the originators of the Eurorack format. Back when i got my first modules, they were all Doepfer and I just automatically bought a Doepfer case. I don't recall ever having any problems about the direction of the red stripe because it was all pointed out in the accompanying literature.

You are right to be concerned about this though - shortly after getting my first case, I fried a module (MIDI-CV) by inserting the power cable slightly offset. It's dark inside a vertical Dowpfer case, and it's easy to think you have the cable right when it is actually only connecting one row of pins. I am still paranoid about power cables - and I have since made the same mistake several times again - fortunately without damaging anything.

User avatar
IEC
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu May 15, 2014 5:07 am
Location: Australia

Post by IEC » Thu Jan 31, 2019 4:58 pm

i always plug them in offset somehow :omg: i always fondle both sides of the connector after pluggin in to try avoid blowing shit up

User avatar
bemushroomed
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2540
Joined: Sat Oct 25, 2014 10:30 am
Location: Sweden

Post by bemushroomed » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:11 pm

kay_k wrote:because they are often written by the very same persons who developed them .. engineers are the worst manual writers, especially on their own creations
...same with videos or any kind of promotion for their modules really, even some of the bigger manufacturers are truly awful.

- "so yeah i spent 3.5 years developing this module! here's a video i threw together in 1 minute recorded on my iphone!"

*awful sounding melody with horrible audio starts playing*

User avatar
TemplarK
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1184
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:31 pm
Location: Outer Space

Post by TemplarK » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:48 pm

Franktree wrote:
TemplarK wrote:http://www.doepfer.de/a100_man/a108_man.pdf

You must have been looking at some other manual because the Doepfer A108 manual is as comprehensive as you can get for a filter. As for frying modules, well, you plug them in making sure that you get the polarity the right way and other than that your not going to just "fry" modules left right and centre not sure what gives you this idea tbh?
Maybe I'm just dense, but I looked through that manual and nowhere did it provide me the one crucial (and simple) piece of information I needed: which pins are the -12v pins. Maybe I missed it, but if I did, the manual is not especially easily to parse.

I later found a (very helpful) video on Youtube that told me all Doepfer modules have the -12v pins on the bottom. But you'd have thought I could have gotten that info from Doepfer, rather than from Youtube.
In no way is that manual bad. Its just not convoluted by information that is pertinent for all modules manufactured by Doepfer and given to you in the case manual. If Doepfer added this information for every module they make it would add 200 pages to their already extremely informative website making it convoluted and difficult to find the information your really looking for, it assumes some prior knolwedge of plugging a module in but once you've plugged one in its pretty easy in most cases to work out how its done for all the others. If your still unsure a quick google of "how to plug a eurorack module in" will bring up several pages and videos with guides of how its done properly.

User avatar
ZenitSar
Common Wiggler
Posts: 140
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:35 am
Location: Eureka, CA

Post by ZenitSar » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:55 pm

Tip Top has the worst that I've seen, but only looked at a couple of them.

ZenitSar - Solo modular
CV - SciFi Rock

User avatar
Jumbuktu
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1291
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 5:03 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Jumbuktu » Thu Jan 31, 2019 6:19 pm

bemushroomed wrote:
kay_k wrote:because they are often written by the very same persons who developed them .. engineers are the worst manual writers, especially on their own creations
...same with videos or any kind of promotion for their modules really, even some of the bigger manufacturers are truly awful.

- "so yeah i spent 3.5 years developing this module! here's a video i threw together in 1 minute recorded on my iphone!"

*awful sounding melody with horrible audio starts playing*
I'm kind of Ok with this. ADDAC is a case in point - the demo video for the Heuristic Rhythm Generator sounds pretty awful but there was enough info for me to decide it was something I wanted. I am happy for module designers to stick with what they do best - it's up to me to make music with the gear. In some ways, it's almost better if the promo material isn't too slick - I have been sucked in by a brilliant video only to find that I have overlooked design limitations and flaws. I also get that many of these module developers don't have the resources for big budget promos by name artists.

Actually, some of the best promotional material for modules I have seen have been the informal beta testing explorations of Synth Tech modules made by JR Rice. I guess something like this also applies to DivKid's reviews.

paults
mice nuts
Posts: 4482
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:46 am

Post by paults » Thu Jan 31, 2019 6:23 pm

Ink is free.

User avatar
jimboburgess
Common Wiggler
Posts: 115
Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:28 am
Location: nyc

Post by jimboburgess » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:12 pm

paults wrote:Ink is free.
only when you steal it from where you work.

Sometimes you need a very specific manual.

sometimes the module doesn't need too much explaining and should be left for explaination.

either way a manual should have three things. It's max power demands, the way to plug in power, and a dirty limerick.

User avatar
TemplarK
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1184
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:31 pm
Location: Outer Space

Post by TemplarK » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:21 pm

paults wrote:Ink is free.
Yes it is. E370 manual is very nice too. Doesn't include any information about how to plug the module into a eurorack busboard though. Bad manual?

User avatar
motorhead412
Common Wiggler
Posts: 239
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:25 pm
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Post by motorhead412 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:32 pm

i like how the Noise Engineering manuals offer context on the concept and methodology of the module. even has a References section for us nerds who like to read academic papers.

i will say though that the 2hp manuals are quite vague and sometimes i just wanna know if a module is DC-coupled or whatever.

User avatar
gonkulator
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1458
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:56 pm
Location: Edmonds, WA, USA

Post by gonkulator » Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:52 pm

Most of the time, the module itself will tell you which end needs the -v. On the Tiptop modules I have, it either says -12v or it says "polarity protected." Doepfer, as others have said, is consistent in its orientation. The Mantis has keyed headers, at least according to the image on their site. Otherwise, more and more manufacturers either have polarity protection, keyed headers, or fairly clear labeling. There are exceptions though.

There are way worse manuals than Tip Top. There are a lot of quite good manuals, and there are many that are bad, incomplete, hand written, or nonexistent. As far as major brands, I consider Make Noise, Mutable, and 4ms as probably the most readable and comprehensive. At the other end, there are a couple of premium manufacturers that usually will provide a slip of paper (and nothing more online,) which is anything but comprehensive. I find that a bit contemptuous (but it doesn't stop me from buying their modules.)
Racks
Solaris Site
Stuff for sale
Stuff for sale shown on Modulargrid
WTB: Black panels


Unflappably nonchalant, with some exceptions

User avatar
Shledge
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 3029
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2016 5:47 pm
Location: UK

Post by Shledge » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:15 pm

Doepfer modules, bar a couple of exceptions, are always -12v on the bottom pins.

Said exceptions have strip indicators on them (except the dreaded quad LFO).

User avatar
anselmi
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 4278
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:08 pm
Location: Montevideo

Post by anselmi » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:58 pm

what manuals? :hmm:

:hihi:

User avatar
kay_k
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:33 am
Location: Berlin
Contact:

Post by kay_k » Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:15 am

bemushroomed wrote:
kay_k wrote:because they are often written by the very same persons who developed them .. engineers are the worst manual writers, especially on their own creations
...same with videos or any kind of promotion for their modules really, even some of the bigger manufacturers are truly awful.

- "so yeah i spent 3.5 years developing this module! here's a video i threw together in 1 minute recorded on my iphone!"

*awful sounding melody with horrible audio starts playing*
awwww
you know me so well

User avatar
tau_seti
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 705
Joined: Sun May 04, 2014 12:21 pm

Post by tau_seti » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:23 am

Doepfer manuals are beautiful and thorough. A while ago somebody sold me a rare tiny binder full of them. I love looking through it.

Makenoise’s manuals seem to be through, but it’s like reading a calculus textbook. It gives me a headache. Like Maths, really, it’s not very hard to figure out, but the manual makes it seem like it’s some kind of Wiccan astrological device. After a couple of months, it hit me, Maths is really simple, it’s the manual that isn’t!

I do wish there was a common physical format for Eurorack manuals. It’d make life a lot easier.

Post Reply

Return to “Eurorack Modules”