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Advice on my plan for the Ostrich; my entry to the Eurorack
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Author Advice on my plan for the Ostrich; my entry to the Eurorack
seek
I want to build my own (Eurorack) synth to do many things. It shall be called the Ostrich.


My goals:

1. More interesting drum sounds and changing drum patterns while writing music and performing (~reggae and electro-rock type stuff). Intuitive and fast to program / sound design.
2. Live dub mixing (carry-on only)
3. Augmentation to my Voyager (with expander and CP-201) to broaden it's tones
4. Processor for my bass guitar
5. Additional colors (synths and such) to add to songs while playing bass in a band context.
6. "Warmer" for my Nord Wave
7. Playable electronic drums (velocity sensitive kick drum and hihat trigger pedals would be great; as would "hihat" variations via a pedal)
8. Synth mixing in the studio? (I sometimes use a Mackie mixer for this)
9. Create evolving atmospheric beds
10. Available options for learning more about and experimenting with synthesis/performance
11. Connectable to guitar/bass amps (I have a couple Little Labs Red Eye boxes (reamp tools) that can enable this)
12. Hands free tap tempo
13. Finger triggered tap tempo
14. Capable for new things that will come to mind


Other considerations:
I prefer to have a fewer number of tools and to learn them well.
Computers and music together haven't been so compatible for me.
I prefer reliability.


Replacing functionality of:
Jomox 999
Vermona DRM1
Mutronics Mutator
Zendrum Zap2 (5x5 grid of FSR midi finger triggers)
Drumkat (FSR pads played with sticks)
Monome

I dig the 999, DRM1, and Zendrum; they're all quality equipment; but I'm not satisfied with the expressiveness of midi velocity only changing level. I'm not so into playing with headphones any more; and I don't like the stick noise on the Drumkat. The efforts required to set up the Monome with SevenUp Live are a good example of what I don't like about getting computers involved in my music. Live itself is awesome though (I primarily only use it as a recording and playback device; level mixing, some EQ, minimal effects). The Mutator is awesome; it's just that it's too big for travel (and significantly bigger than the space that several Eurorack modules with the same functionality would take up).


I also own:
Moogerfooger MF-104Z
Moogerfooger ring mod and LPF, though I haven't been using them much. I'll be exploring them more.
Vermona Perfourmer (no CV/gate).
Metric Halo 2882
Live w/APC40 and Launchpad




My thoughts on what I've got below:
1. Z-DSP/Plague Bearer and Stilton Adapter may be redundant and I should maybe choose between them (I like my Moogerfooger MF-104Z a lot and I have some fuzz/overdrive pedals that may be good with a synth). If the Z-DSP sounds good to me, I gain stereo and a more integrated system for travel. The Plague Bearer has the benefit of VC and seems like something different.
2. The Z8000 may be unnecessary for me at this time with what my goals are (and I will have two sequencers available via the Brains/Pressure Points and the Schlagzwerg's step sequencer (seq-02).
3. I'm excited about the slowness of the uLFO as a modulator, and that it can function as an oscillator. I'm hoping for it to be a different sound than my Voyager and the Z3000.
4. I like that the Analogue Systems RS60 repeats and has an inverted output built in.
5. Some of these modules are experiments for me to learn more about some of the options with modular synths (particularly about drum patterns and drum type sounds).
6. I really dig stereo filters (that's why there are two of the Filtare).
7. Looking forward to the PLL for my bass. I tried a Snazzy Mini-Ark, but I wanted more control over it.
8. I'm not sure how best to do mass changes to the patterns for the drums (kick, snare, and hihat pattern changes at the same time, with fills in-between). Could use the two channels of gate AND on the Spock), and then there are also the switches. I can also step to different patterns in the Schlagzwerg (and this may be the simplest path), but I don't like this idea as much as it seems less "connected".
9. The layout is not set, and will probably require some time working with it to figure out what makes sense.
10. I may prefer to use the larger Synthwerks sensors (FSR-4C/B) over what's there below for playing drum patterns live. Not sure how easy it would be to use two fingers at the same time on one of those little sensors.
11. I'm also interested in the Tyme Sefari and Hertz Donut.
12. I'd like to add the Shuffling Clock Multiplier breakout box as well.
13. I naturally think "mixer with sends" for the dub mixing, but I wonder about other options via a modular. However, for the "mixer with sends", the evin 209, Cwejman VCA-4MX, and Cwejman MX-4S together seem like a nice combination (particularly with the CV options of the Cwejman modules). The Pressure Points seems like it will be great with it as well.
13. I'm not sure yet on how to power the skiffs; the solution may lessen the amount of available space.
14. I don't have a way with the equipment pictured below to satisfy the finger triggered tap tempo goal, other than (I think) the combination of Live, the APC40, and the Moog MP-201 pedal. However, I'd like to have a way to accomplish this without a computer.
15. I'd like to have at least one channel of EQ close by to patch within the effects for the dub mixing; I don't have something for this included below and I'm not sure what would be a good option.
16. I'm not sure if I'll need something to send audio signals from my computer interface (or possible standalone 8-track) into the modular for processing and mixing. I'm looking at 6 to 8 channels.
17. I'm wondering if the setup below is lacking in utility modules (like attenuators).



The modules (the first 12u in a Gorillabox briefcase; the last 6u in individual Gorillabox skiffs):






In the skiffs:


Plus:
MFB Schlagzwerg



And Moog MP-201





Thoughts?
felix le chat
Just a few comments,

1. Not sure if you can replace the DrumKat pads like this.
The Synthwerks FSR-4C/B sensors, for example, are 1.5 square inches -- just draw them on paper and try to play with two fingers or two drum sticks on the same square, to see if it's big enough for you.

2. You may need some multiples, or (better) some buffered multiples + some buffered unity mixers

3. Maybe you could add a few more VCAs or even attenuators, but actually it depends on what kinds of patches you are going to do (and filters can somehow work as VCAs or attenuators)

4. Some modules are overlapping, like (?) the Z-DSP and the Z-5000

5. I personally like the idea of getting very different modules as in your pictures. I have no idea of what you are going to do with this system, but anyway you can do many different things with these modules

6. Do you plan on getting everything at once, or progressively?

Best,
Flc
seek
Thank you very much for the feedback.

felix le chat wrote:

1. Not sure if you can replace the DrumKat pads like this.
The Synthwerks FSR-4C/B sensors, for example, are 1.5 square inches -- just draw them on paper and try to play with two fingers or two drum sticks on the same square, to see if it's big enough for you.


I don't intend on using sticks with the sensors (sorry I wasn't clear); what I meant with replacing the Drumkat is replacing its use as a trigger source. I'm fine with using fingers instead (like with the Zendrum). However, it would be great to be able to use my midi drum controllers, but I couldn't find an option that would convert all those pads to triggers/gates and a CV for the velocity.

felix le chat wrote:

2. You may need some multiples, or (better) some buffered multiples + some buffered unity mixers


I'm planning on using the Tiptop cables; but I will look at also adding the Intellijel buff mult. I have one of their unity mixers planned next to the Cwejman mixer.

felix le chat wrote:

3. Maybe you could add a few more VCAs or even attenuators, but actually it depends on what kinds of patches you are going to do (and filters can somehow work as VCAs or attenuators)


Hmm...I'm wondering about the number of VCAs. I want to experiment with automating the mix while I'm doing other things, but I was thinking that the two Cwejman modules would be enough for that. I don't know yet how involved I'm going to be able to get with all of this; and may not know if I'll need more until I try it.

felix le chat wrote:

4. Some modules are overlapping, like (?) the Z-DSP and the Z-5000


For the dub mixing I want delay and reverb at the same time.

I also like to use both at times with the sounds I make on the Wave; and would like to apply some of the same ideas to the modular. I don't have a reverb I like for the Voyager (tried a Rumour and a Retroverb); the Moogerfooger delay with the Voyager is excellent.

felix le chat wrote:

5. I personally like the idea of getting very different modules as in your pictures. I have no idea of what you are going to do with this system, but anyway you can do many different things with these modules


smile

It seems more connected to me, but I'm looking at in different sections to accomplish the different goals. Though, looking forward to cross-pollinating. Let me know if you think any of it looks off.

felix le chat wrote:

6. Do you plan on getting everything at once, or progressively?


Undecided. The AH sale is tempting to go forward with a chunk of it.

The challenge is that there are several types of things I'm wanting to do. I like the idea of starting small and working up as I learn more of what would be useful, but it seems to me that I don't have too many modules dedicated towards any of the goals (other than the drum patterns). And with the drum patterns, I tried to spread it around a bit so I could get some experience with the different options for making rhythms.


Thanks again for your comments.
mojopin
I am into velocity sensitive everything on the modular. If you have midi controllers that send it then you just need a midi to cv converter. I use the kenton pro2000 mkii that has 6 cv auxs. Any of those can be mapped to velocity cc from a specified channel. so you could have 3 sources sending gate and velocity. you will need more vcas for the velocity cv btw. i send my envelopes to a vca that has the velocity cv and then that goes to another vca that has your audio signal. at least, thats the smoothest method i have so far.
stk
For dub mixing you'll want a spring verb thumbs up

Looks like a cool project. Let me be the first to recommend buying a handful of modules at a time and learning to use them. Guinness ftw!
Kodama
I would research MFB around Muff's to get the 411 on other people's experiences with build quality, repairs, and customer service.
vedicspaceprogram
Based on my own experience with modular and drum beats for reggae and electro you are better off sampling modular sounds and putting them on an MPC. I also found the Z-DSP digital zippering annoying and the Stereo Memory Man sounds much more musical to my ears and the interface is more performance oriented. I bought a Rodec Restyler which hasn't arrived to use with the MPC as well. The MFB drum modules need to be compressed to have some bite and I found them lacking and never even bothered to sample them. I wouldn't sell your drum machine gear yet if I were you. The drum sounds from QMMG and Zorlon were highly sample worthy though. If you are hell bent on a modular drum machine you will want to try a Flame Echometer into the mix for making beats.
seek
Thank you for the suggestion.

Velocity sensitivity is important to me as well. I looked into some options for midi to cv interfaces, but have been gravitating to the Synthwerks sensors:

http://www.synthwerks.com/fsr4cb.php

I couldn't find a midi to cv interface that had a lot of outputs as well as cv outs for velocity. So, instead of going that route, I thought it would be better to just use analog triggers. Playing with sticks is not a priority for me right now.

The kick and hihat are still a question for me though. Eventually I may explore options for interfacing the Hatpedal and Fatpedal with the modular, but otherwise footswitches and an expression pedal should give some functionality. It would be nice to find velocity sensitive footswitches and an expression pedal with switches at full toe (and heel).



mojopin wrote:
I am into velocity sensitive everything on the modular. If you have midi controllers that send it then you just need a midi to cv converter. I use the kenton pro2000 mkii that has 6 cv auxs. Any of those can be mapped to velocity cc from a specified channel. so you could have 3 sources sending gate and velocity. you will need more vcas for the velocity cv btw. i send my envelopes to a vca that has the velocity cv and then that goes to another vca that has your audio signal. at least, thats the smoothest method i have so far.
seek
I wasn't able to find anything at first, but eventually did find a thread on here discussing people's experiences. It taking months for a repair to be completed is not something I'm interested in. I think I'll be dropping the Schlagzwerg from the plan.

However, that Drum-07 module seems fairly unique, and I think I'll be getting one of those. I've been wanting to try a 6-oscillator based cymbal sound instead of one that's noise based. However, I haven't been able to find a demo of it. The only other module that I could find that's designed that way is the Ken Stone Cynare, but I'm not sure how to go about purchasing a completed one of those.

Thank you for the head's up.


Kodama wrote:
I would research MFB around Muff's to get the 411 on other people's experiences with build quality, repairs, and customer service.
seek
vedicspaceprogram wrote:
Based on my own experience with modular and drum beats for reggae and electro you are better off sampling modular sounds and putting them on an MPC. I also found the Z-DSP digital zippering annoying and the Stereo Memory Man sounds much more musical to my ears and the interface is more performance oriented. I bought a Rodec Restyler which hasn't arrived to use with the MPC as well. The MFB drum modules need to be compressed to have some bite and I found them lacking and never even bothered to sample them. I wouldn't sell your drum machine gear yet if I were you. The drum sounds from QMMG and Zorlon were highly sample worthy though. If you are hell bent on a modular drum machine you will want to try a Flame Echometer into the mix for making beats.



I'm curious how the Restyler works out for you. It looks like it could be a great piece.

Thanks for the tip on the MPC. I've been happy with the sound of using real time synthesized drums, but it could be good to later experiment with samples.

As for the delay, zippering would not be good...I think I'll just stick with the Moogerfooger for now. I'm really happy with it. I was attracted by the prospect of fewer pieces to travel with, but a couple of pedals shouldn't be too big of a deal. Tap tempo for the delay could be nice...I'll check out the Stereo Memory Man. Otherwise, I just need to find a good (portable and preferable stereo-out) reverb.

As for the drum machines, I'm not going to be getting rid of what I've got until I've got a better alternative in place. The idea of the Echometer with the Jomox seems like it could have a lot of potential. I want to give modular beat creation a try, but otherwise, the Echometer looks solid. It's too bad there doesn't appear to be a way with it to send random variation to a midi cc.

Thanks for the feedback on the MFB drum sounds. Currently, I really like the Jomox 999 kick and the DRM1 snare. The toms sound good to me on both of them. The hihats sound alright on each, but I'm not happy with the crash sounds on either. I'm hoping the MFB Drum-07 module will be better.

I listened to some Zorlon demos. Sounds nice.
seek
I appreciate all of the feedback that's been given on my plan. In light of it, as well as some further research, I've come to the following.

The Moog MP-201 pedal, plus:

The briefcase:





The skiffs:

The lower right is the Synthwerks FSR-4C/B. The planner doesn't seem to have the photos for these.


So, if to revisit the goals:

"1. More interesting drum sounds and changing drum patterns while writing music and performing (~reggae and electro-rock type stuff). Intuitive and fast to program / sound design."

Forgetting about the MFB Schlagzwerg. Going to instead use the Cwejman BLD for kicks, and the MFB Drum-07 for hihats and crash. For snare, I have a Jomox Mbrane11 that has a trigger input, but I'm not a fan of the interface, and as a result haven't used it much in my setup. Otherwise, I'll use the other modules to synthesize a snare, as well as toms.

The bottom row of the second half of the briefcase for pattern programming. The Clockwork looks great for building grooves ( thumbs up shaft9000). The SCM with the breakout also looks great. The stillson hammer and uStep will be used within the back row skiff.


"2. Live dub mixing (carry-on only)"

Forgetting about using the modular for channel mixing. I couldn't figure out a simple way to have mutes for 8 channels. Will spend more time with the APC40, and if that doesn't work out, will look at getting a smaller analog mixer than the one I'm using now.

For effects, will continue to utilize the Moogerfooger delay, and a yet to be determined pedal for reverb. Going to check out the Digitech Hardwire Stereo Reverb. If a pedal doesn't work out, will consider bringing out the springs ( thumbs up stk).


"3. Augmentation to my Voyager (with expander and CP-201) to broaden it's tones"

AFG, Piston Honda, Wave Folder. The demos for each of these sound great to me. The multimode filters should add a lot as well. The envelopes should also be a good augmentation.


"4. Processor for my bass guitar"

A-119 external instrument processor, PLL, the filters, and a lot of experimentation with the other modules.


"5. Additional colors (synths and such) to add to songs while playing bass in a band context."

Moog MP-201, plus Pressure Points and Brains, plus Tame Machine, plus rest of the modular.


"6. "Warmer" for my Nord Wave"

Wave Folder? Plague Bearer? Filters?


"7. Playable electronic drums (velocity sensitive kick drum and hihat trigger pedals would be great; as would "hihat" variations via a pedal)"

Synthwerks FSR-4C/B + Moog MP-201 pedal, plus A-172-2 foot interface with pedals. The Pressure Points to provide additional triggers.

The same sounds as goal #1.


"8. Synth mixing in the studio? (I sometimes use a Mackie mixer for this)"

Not a priority. The Cwejman mixer and the evin 209 will maybe handle my needs. Otherwise, will look at getting a smaller analog mixer.


"9. Create evolving atmospheric beds"

A lot of options for this, but particularly excited about the AFG, Piston Honda, and uLFO.


"10. Available options for learning more about and experimenting with synthesis/performance"

It seems like there are a lot of options with this setup. Looking forward to experimenting with different envelope slopes.


"11. Connectable to guitar/bass amps (I have a couple Little Labs Red Eye boxes (reamp tools) that can enable this)"

Forgetting about this with the modular (will use the Red Eyes), though I suppose the stilton adapter would work fine for this.


"12. Hands free tap tempo"

Moog MP-201 pedal.


"13. Finger triggered tap tempo"

Will have to have Live up if I want to achieve this (via the APC40) and still use the Clockwork. Otherwise the Tame Machine would give this; too bad the Clockwork can't take sync from it.


"14. Capable for new things that will come to mind"

This setup, in combination with the capabilities of the Voyager, its expansion, and the CP-251, seems plenty capable.



I have the Malgorithm in the setup even though there isn't a particular goal I'm trying to meet with it. I included it because I've had some unexpected results with the bit reducer in Live, and would like to have similar functionality in the modular.
hawklord2112
space out the RCD / SCM / Spock / FlipFlop - otherwise you're going to have a lot of cables in a very small space :S
vedicspaceprogram
I haven't had tons of time to play with the Restyler, but so far it is pretty amazing. I had a Vermona Crossfilter (also a stereo remix filter device), but this blows it away because the Restyler has an envelope follower and a gain make up for when the filtered signal is weak. The build quality is exceptional for both units. I was using my MPC as a sound source filtering with the Restyler and then throwing it through the Stereo Memory Man pretty much instant dub. I am using this combo for an upcoming gig.

The Moogerfoogers sound great and I wish I kept them, because they sound very musical (lush warm). I especially like the MF104 with a short delay LFOed, it makes the delay sound like a rubber band stretching and contracting. I would love to have two of them for remixing, but they are not cheap.

Prior to selling off cases and modules I made a ton of recordings of the set up and I was going through listening to them last week and my impression is that the MFB snare and high hat need compression or they don't cut through the mix. I also found that sending them through the QMMG with a fast envelope on the gate gave them some bite, but should someone have to do this to make a module sound good?
seek
hawklord2112 wrote:
space out the RCD / SCM / Spock / FlipFlop - otherwise you're going to have a lot of cables in a very small space :S


Thank you for the tip. Maybe it would work better to move the FlipFlop and Spock to the left of the Clockwork (and the buffered multiple to the right of the Cwejman MX-4S).
seek
vedicspaceprogram wrote:
I haven't had tons of time to play with the Restyler, but so far it is pretty amazing. I had a Vermona Crossfilter (also a stereo remix filter device), but this blows it away because the Restyler has an envelope follower and a gain make up for when the filtered signal is weak. The build quality is exceptional for both units. I was using my MPC as a sound source filtering with the Restyler and then throwing it through the Stereo Memory Man pretty much instant dub. I am using this combo for an upcoming gig.


It's good to hear about the Restyler. I've been using a Mutator, but the performance controls on the Restyler are appealing. I wonder about how the sound compares. My thought with the modular is to get some of the same sound and functionality of the Mutator, but with more control.

What do you use for mixing? I've been using a Mackie 1640i, but it's too big to be portable (and there's not a bag for it as there was for the 1640). Was looking at an SSL X-Desk, but first going to try how well my APC40 will work out with the modular for routing and knobs. Easy EQ control is lacking either way. A Mackie 1220i is another possibility, though I haven't seen one in person yet to know about it's feel and size.

vedicspaceprogram wrote:

The Moogerfoogers sound great and I wish I kept them, because they sound very musical (lush warm). I especially like the MF104 with a short delay LFOed, it makes the delay sound like a rubber band stretching and contracting. I would love to have two of them for remixing, but they are not cheap.


That's cool. I've thought about adding a second MF104. It could be nice to adjust the delay time and feedback on both at the same time via something like the A-176 manual CV control or the CV knob on the Tame Machine.

vedicspaceprogram wrote:
Prior to selling off cases and modules I made a ton of recordings of the set up and I was going through listening to them last week and my impression is that the MFB snare and high hat need compression or they don't cut through the mix. I also found that sending them through the QMMG with a fast envelope on the gate gave them some bite, but should someone have to do this to make a module sound good?


Was the MFB hihat the Drum-07? I haven't heard a demo of it, but I'm mostly looking at it because of it not being noise based. I'm really curious about 6-oscillator based cymbals, particularly for crashes.

What would you recommend for hihats and crash?

The Drum-05 (snare) samples on the MFB website didn't do much for me.

Maybe for the drums I should focus more on solving what seems lacking for me with the Jomox 999. Generally, I like the sounds. If I put the time into sampling some of my crashes and splashes and loading them into it, maybe that would solve the cymbal deficiency I feel with it. I also read on the forum someone making a suggestion to use an Alesis Trigger I/O to convert modular triggers to midi. Maybe one of those, in combination with the pattern/groove generators I have tentatively planned (Clockwork, SCM w/Breakout, etc), would bring it all together with the Jomox. The Jomox snare isn't totally to my liking, but maybe I would patch a different one up instead, or to layer with it...or maybe just run it through a filter to beef it up.
johnnywoods
seek wrote:
hawklord2112 wrote:
space out the RCD / SCM / Spock / FlipFlop - otherwise you're going to have a lot of cables in a very small space :S


Thank you for the tip. Maybe it would work better to move the FlipFlop and Spock to the left of the Clockwork (and the buffered multiple to the right of the Cwejman MX-4S).


oh- i disagree. I have SCM-RCD-Spock-FlipFlop all set up in a row, and I like that it keeps all the cables in a small space. I got some itty bitty cables, which are perfect.
seek
johnnywoods wrote:

oh- i disagree. I have SCM-RCD-Spock-FlipFlop all set up in a row, and I like that it keeps all the cables in a small space. I got some itty bitty cables, which are perfect.



Itty bitty as in short, or with small connectors?
johnnywoods
both... the 6" doepfer cables have really small connectors (they are the same size as the jacks on the 4ms/intellijels)
jtclicker
from what I unsderstand you can't leave the modules patched up and shut the case. If you plan to gig this setup that means repatching everytime...
seek
I've come to the following for the birth of the Ostrich. I would appreciate any feedback before pulling the trigger.

The initial requirements have been simplified to the following:

1. Add capability to the Voyager
2. Add more rhythmic variation to my current usage of the Jomox 999
3. Some external audio processing


Will be integrating this with the Voyager, the Voyager CV expansion panel (includes 2x attenuators), Moog CP-251 (2x attenuators, noise, lag, mixer, lfo), and the Moog MP-201 pedal (tap-tempo clock, foot triggers, midi to cv).


There are many appealing modules, but I've chosen the following to get started.

In the Gorillabox briefcase:



In a Gorillabox boat:



Will use the 999 to trigger the modular. Will also be experimenting with using the trigger inputs on my drum midi controllers in order to trigger the Jomox from the modular.


I'm trying to not do too much at one time, but there are a couple additional modules that are calling:
1. QMMG in order to experience a LPG
2. Plague Bearer
3. Hertz Donut
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