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Anybody here prefer semi-modular to modular?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Anybody here prefer semi-modular to modular?
raccoonboy
Controversial I'm sure but I prefer semi-modular to modular. I love my semi-modular synths, altho to be fair I usually want to add mods for an extra feature or two, but they are designed to sound great from the get-go and are more of a complete instrument imo, I lIke being able to mess about unpatched. Just get started quick. Modular for me is to compliment.

In fact in my drum rack I have set up, I have many things such as 808 kick, 909 snare (hexinverter stuffl), clap etc. Which in a way are semi-modular modules. I don't always wanna make these things from scratch and they sound perfect as is, there is plenty of room to process them after or change osc or noise sources etc. I have the means to make stuff from scratch but I prefer to work with a skeleton rather than a blank canvas. Otherwise I end up getting distracted and making too much noise. Haha.

When crazy sounds are called for I'll start from scratch. For regular percussion or bass sounds. Not so much.

I know a lot of hardcore modular folk frown upon drum modules but their semi-modular nature (if they have lots of cv-able stuff) appeals to me. I'm not interested in triggering drum modules with little to no cv options so I do like to push as much as I can out of them for sure.

Anyone else feel the same?
lisa
I did for many years but view evolved over time. Now I’ll go with whatever works for my music. From acoustic instruments to VSTs, from presets to fully modular. It’s all good.
raccoonboy
That's true. I like software stuff too. Big Reason fan. Altho its not perfect it is pretty great.
Muzone
I like semimodulars, they give you all the basics for far less than a starter Eurorack system and don't provoke the "empty rackspace GAS".
I'm currently happy with a Neutron + 0-coast + Softpop and a BSP to control them, plenty there to keep me occupied and gives what I think is a good variety of sounds and patching options.
Expansion plans (if I ever do!) would be to put the Neutron in a 8U 19"rack case alongside a happy ending kit for a few extra modules, and have the 0-C and Softpop in a 2U slide out draw.
That for me would be pretty much "all I'd ever need" in a nice relatively portable set up smile
Fog Door
Quote:
I’ll go with whatever works for my music. From acoustic instruments to VSTs, from presets to fully modular. It’s all good


This thumbs up
raccoonboy
Fog Door wrote:
Quote:
I’ll go with whatever works for my music. From acoustic instruments to VSTs, from presets to fully modular. It’s all good


This thumbs up


This is definetly true for me too. Why I prefer semi mostly it just works for my flow
gonkulator
For me, I prefer to start from scratch every time. I have owned semi-modulars (and fixed) but used them to finance the beginning of this. Even my Jupiter 6, and other very deep synths remain largely unused next to me. I guess I am attracted to the creative process, or whatever you call it, more than results. But admittedly, that is a limiting thing. I do however, have a drum machine, mostly because I am not that interested in that part of things I guess, but I still do a variety of percussive sounds, so ...
Yodhan
It depends on what I am doing. I frequently find myself using my Boog for bass sounds because it’s there, patches, and ready to go. I use the Neutron for some things like easy pad sounds because of the built in delay and logs to control wave forms.
raccoonboy
gonkulator wrote:
For me, I prefer to start from scratch every time. I have owned semi-modulars (and fixed) but used them to finance the beginning of this. Even my Jupiter 6, and other very deep synths remain largely unused next to me. I guess I am attracted to the creative process, or whatever you call it, more than results. But admittedly, that is a limiting thing. I do however, have a drum machine, mostly because I am not that interested in that part of things I guess, but I still do a variety of percussive sounds, so ...


Yeah. If I'm honest the creative part is the most fun for me too, but I like to limit my creative abilities as otherwise I make nothing musical. Haha. Respect for people who are into their atonal/noise stuff, I like to listen to it sometimes but not really what I want to make. I love making noise, but wouldn't release it as music and I have to reign myself in a lot.

So I kind of impose limits on myself or I get frustrated for not making anything. In fact even all my distortions I've chosen because they are light distortion and not heavy so if I overpatch and wire everything in (which I love doing) it's not OTT on the distortion end, hahah. Although of course it's still possible to go OTT but if I bought a bunch of distortions that go to 11 at a half turn, I'd be screwed.

But I also hate being in a box and too rigid, this frustrates me more than anything, following rules and whatnot which is what attracts me to modular type stuff. I have a drum machine, like yourself, to keep some rigidity but trying to make things sounds great out of Virtual Analogue synths by spending hours finding the sweet spots and EQing and whatnot is no fun for me, with good analogue gear nearly everything is a sweet spot so I don't need to be too logical and can just turn knobs till it sounds good.

I guess my system is a good compromise of hating being rigid and boring but also hate being too experimental.
Parnelli
I started with two Mother 32s, and they were an excellent jumping off point! I have built a nice system that I'm very happy with, but I still incorporate those little Mothers in most patches as stand alone percussion or bass voices.

When I first started I was all about analog, don't like menu diving, etc., but then I thought why limit myself? Now I look for function with much less regard for analog or digital, but I still lean analog. I agree with Lisa, why limit yourself, use whatever works!

Quote:
...as otherwise I make nothing musical


While I'm at it I'd like to address this as well, because I think it's another way that we limit ourselves in the modular community. There's a good many folks here far more educated than I am in music, but as educated musician I think we are bound by far too many rules... musical rules... a song must be this or that, must consist of a certain structure, etc., and every instrument is pretty much laid out with these rules in mind... with the exception of the modular synth, it simply refuses to be bound by a set of rules.

And why should it be? It is the ultimate tool of sonic expression in my opinion!

Therefore I think we need to take a look at what we presently define as "music" in a different light when it comes to modular, because we are not constrained by the limitations of traditional instruments such as scale, key, range, and timbre to name a few.

Bearing this in mind I have set out on a journey to re-define my traditional understanding of music, and in the process perhaps invent a new understanding of what music can be outside of traditional views.

Not as an affront to anyone here, but when rap came out I thought it not to be music, but I was prejudiced and wrong about it, for it is a musical style that was different than anything that had existed up to that point, I just had to accept it for what it was... a form of music that though I didn't enjoy many millions do, and no amount of prejudice from me is going to change that.

Perhaps that is a poor example, and I apologize if it is, but I wanted to use it as an analogy of where we are in modular; it's a bold new venue that has only been around a few short decades, and for many of those years most tried to make it fit into their conception of music. I say we need a new conception all together... one defined more by the unlimited ability of the instrument rather than the limitations presented us by musical tradition(s).

Much of what I do is a departure from the traditional music making that has bound me in the past on other instruments; some of it is weird, descant, slips time a little, but most of it has basic musical structure of a nature that makes it listenable.

It's not that I play weird music, it's just that my audience hasn't developed yet! I'm like that first guy who was making a rap song when his buddy came by and asked what the f'k you think you're doin'?

It's rap, and when I get it down pat you're gonna really like it!

That's me.... thinking outside the box... waiting for my audience to catch up! thumbs up
kinkujin
I’m actually just getting started with my semi mod setup. Like Parnelli, I finally got my Moog Mother and am waiting for my DFAM. Just acquired a Behringer Neutron as well.

I like the flexibility of semi mods. I can use it like a normal rack synth or as a patchable mod. As my understanding grows so too will the use of the modular side. But, I don’t see myself going full on euro, at least not any time soon. Kids, college, insurances, etc. Plus, I’m not sure I can plunge into what I see as impractical for my way of working.

If I ever did, I think it would need to be Buchla or Buchla-like.
Pelsea
If I design and build a modular system and use it for 20 years without making any changes, what is that? That has been the fate of the dozen or so instruments I’ve worked with or owned over the years. Most were commercial products to which I added a few modules, parked in a studio, then left alone except for calibration and maintenance. The few real changes involved taking things away. The system in my avatar is down to just the vertical panels on the left side, as I removed the sequencing and logic modules in favor of computer control and replaced a big matrix mixer with a Mackie. Something similar happened to the UCSC Emu modular as the digital sequencer was replaced by MIDI control.

So I guess my preference is to build an instrument from modular components, but once I am satisfied it meets my needs, I just play it as if it were all on one panel.
raccoonboy
Pelsea wrote:
If I design and build a modular system and use it for 20 years without making any changes, what is that? That has been the fate of the dozen or so instruments I’ve worked with or owned over the years. Most were commercial products to which I added a few modules, parked in a studio, then left alone except for calibration and maintenance. The few real changes involved taking things away. The system in my avatar is down to just the vertical panels on the left side, as I removed the sequencing and logic modules in favor of computer control and replaced a big matrix mixer with a Mackie. Something similar happened to the UCSC Emu modular as the digital sequencer was replaced by MIDI control.

So I guess my preference is to build an instrument from modular components, but once I am satisfied it meets my needs, I just play it as if it were all on one panel.


Indeed. This is like a custom made instrument. By now you probably even have some 'default routings' like a semi but on the outside.

I like this approach. My system that I'm building is definetly modular but as I said 4-5 drum modules in there which are semi-modular in nature. I've been planning this for a few years and I'm not far off having it done. I doubt it will change much as it's maticulously planned and I want to grow into it. 6u 104hp. All for drum synthesis, no triggers or anything, like yourself I trigger from computer or hardware. Only sound design allowed here. I also don't plan to extend it at all. Once it's done it's done. If I ever get more modules it'll be for a different instrument with different purposes.

I don't even have any traditional effects except distortion. All delays verbs etc are in pedals etc.
terrymccann
I started with one 84 HP row of Eurorack and sold it to move overseas.

I've since switched to a semi-modular setup:

Make Noise 0-Coast
Behringer Model D
SQ-1

I'm definitely getting a lot more out of the semi-modular setup. Sometimes I wish there were more patching options, but ultimately I prefer it.

Next I'm looking to add maybe a KeyStep, Tanzmaus and some pedals. It's nice to be able to go in these directions without constantly breaking the bank on simple modules. Perhaps one day I'll return to modular, but not right now.
Henfield
I like both approaches. I like the idea of modular for flexibility and keeping everything in one case, and I like semi-modular, as I can change the sound on the fly by twisting knobs and flicking switches. Semi-Modular is nice because you don't have an interruption in the signal flow while you patch the sound through the filter or vca, but versatility with multiple filters is great from the modular concept. I have a Haliburton "Suitcase" that contains my 12U , 104hp of modules, which includes the Mother 32, DFAM, and Behringer D Semi Modulars, along side of other modules (ring mod, echo, mixer, VCAs, Phaser, etc). I like the fact that I can mount all of this into my euro case, and carry everything into a gig in one trip. I also don't need to have 20 wall wart adapters and little boxes all over the table with a combination of 3.5 mm and 1/4" conncectors.
Dave Peck
IMO, what makes some semi-modulars great is (A) if the 'pre-wired' patch connections are well chosen and (b) if the panel controls are arranged in a way that is well thought out, making the synth very versatile and playable as a live instrument even without adding any patch cords.

A good example would be the Arp Odyssey, and the various custom patch-point modified versions.

I think Korg missed a bet - they should have offered a version of the Karp Odyssey with full patch points like some of the cool modified original Odysseys floating around out there. It would have cost them about $20 more in PCB parts and a small extra cost for the alternate metal panel and they could have charged a LOT more for it. It still would have been a bargain, since doing those kinds of mods yourself as a one-off custom job is risky and expensive.
Fog Door
Quote:
what makes some semi-modulars great is (A) if the 'pre-wired' patch connections are well chosen


I'd have to say, and this might be a controversial opinion, I love the MS20 mini as a standalone synth but I am somewhat underwhelmed by its semi modular aspect. Same with the Neutron really.
ckwjr
I don't think I ever would have been able to get into modular without the Neutron as a launchpad for learning the basics, nor would I ever regret the flexibility of being able to add a semi-modular synth to my setup. These days, I'd have a hard time giving up my DFAM; It's so much fun.
Blairio
I find I get musical ideas down quicker with semi modulars. I pull up a sound that is in the ballpark for the part I am writing and develop the musical idea with that.

Later, once the part is nailed I may replace the sound with a more crafted modular source - but only if the part is good enough in the first place.

This approach works best for deterministic compositions - ones where I know where I want to go with them.

For more random stuff however I start with modular every time.

It may be an age thing, but these days I am more drawn instruments I can quickly get a sound out of. My current favourite is my new Yamaha Reface DX: a (relatively) straightforward FM implementation with a good interface and a great sound.

blair edit - by way of explanation, the main reason I class the Reface DX as semi-modular synth is the parameter (algorithm) which determines the arrangement of oscillators as carriers or modulators.
DeanG
I am not a keyboardist, and just use my synths for abstract electronic work. Because I am an improvisor I found I wanted less of a moving target than the eurorack. I was always tweaking the layout and modules in my eurorack. That seems to become a thing of its own, like buiding a model railroad that takes up the whole basement. As a musician it's very hard for me to get myself integrated with that...option paralysis.
So I sold my mostly make noise eurorack, at considerable loss, just to get clear. Then I started a journey to find an "instrument" with a defined structure and personality. That was its own rabbit hole because because I wanted just one synth..I had to pick one. So I've been using a Roland SE-02 for over a year, But now I discovered the Volca Modular. That's almost an about face because I got two and the patching and playing options are enormous. ..and so it goes..Bastl Microgranny has become a constant in any setup.. in fact someday I might just leave it at that.
Fog Door
Call me sad, but I really enjoy reading about people's musical aims and broader gear set up. Although, I am aware this forum is primarily for discussing modular smile
kinkujin
A semi mod subforum would be cool but maybe not enough potential visitors here?

The more I visit here, the more conflicted I am ... stay with semi mod, go full on mod ... hehehe I really just need to play with the instruments I have!
legionhwp
They’re different beasts to me. A semi modular is like a flexible monosynth. The MS20 is just brilliant as is. Patch it up a bit and you get more (especially with the external in and mod routings). I turn to an Arp Ody often as well as a Moog Rack mount voyager but have used a patched Ody and 2600 as well everything from vsts to iPad apps.

A full modular is more of a box of paints to me than a monosynth or semi modular. I recently picked up a Phenol and find myself steering away from the basic sounds I grab on a monosynth even though it’s dead easy to create them on it. I guess why paint the sky blue and grass green when you can make them both red and black with orange streaks? hihi



raccoonboy wrote:
Controversial I'm sure but I prefer semi-modular to modular. I love my semi-modular synths, altho to be fair I usually want to add mods for an extra feature or two, but they are designed to sound great from the get-go and are more of a complete instrument imo, I lIke being able to mess about unpatched. Just get started quick. Modular for me is to compliment.
Elmodlock
I’m in the hybrid setup boat. I love my modular, but also use a few semi modulars as well as vsts with it as one giant multi-timbral synth.
MindMachine
When I started with an ARP 2600 I just wanted a few more flavors within it's tone pallet (and one more LFO so I could use VCO#2 for straight audio. It is the best VCLFO and VCO). At the time the only thing available to expand was some Serge. I bought the VCM, VCFQ, PHA and some adapter modules. Those expanded the pallet of the 2600 greatly, but then I really lacked LFOs/ADSR's.

I scored a Roland Model 102 Expander which helped but also created more requirements for modulation.

Later once Doepfer modules were marketed I jumped on those for additional LFO/ADSR duty. Then I got a Moog CP-251. Then other makers came out with all sorts of cool stuff and I decided to build a complete modular in Euro. Then MU.

I still cross pollinate them (semi and full modular). The 2600 only needs an LFO or two and a different VCF or wave-tweaker and it is infinite. And occasionally I will pluck a module from 2600 or Model 102 to use in a modular patch (usually RM, VCF, S&H or VCO).

From experience for new comers I would recommend Semi-modular with slow modular expansion. But then again, I had no choice! Mr. Green

As for what I prefer now... I usually start brainstorming patches full modular because it is like a chemistry set.
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