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Expanding from a Futureretro XS to a modular rack?
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Author Expanding from a Futureretro XS to a modular rack?
flextone
Hello dear modulators,

I'm a proud owner of the futureretro xs, and I am starting to think of expanding it's semi modular capabilities to external modules, I think I want to go eurorack format btw. As I am a totally in the dark when it comes to modular synths I wanted to ask you guys if you have any ideas on how to combine the XS into external modules. More specifically, will I need more vco's, vca's etc, or can I start with the crazy stuff from the get go.

A picture of the synths ins and outs can br found here:
http://www.future-retro.com/images/xslarge2.jpg

Ideas?problems?

Looking forward to hear from you guys, thanks!
JohnLRice
Hi flextone, welcome to Muff's! w00t hihi

I'm a fan of the "large" format synths so I may be partially bi-assed lol but since your XS has 1/4" jacks, it would make life a little easier on you to go with modules that have the same jacks like Moog style modulars for instance:
Synth Tech MOTM https://www.synthtech.com/motm.html
Synthesizers.com http://www.synthesizers.com/
Club Of The Knobs http://www.cluboftheknobs.com/
MOS-LAB http://www.mos-lab.com/UntitledFrameset-10.htm
MODCAN http://www.modcan.com/
etc

I think since your XS covers the basics, it might be fun for you to get into some of the more 'exotic' modules. Or at least an analog sequencer would be cool to go with the XS! love
Or maybe a VCF with a 24dB cutoff since the XS only has 12dB cutoff filters.Check out the MOTM-440, it's a great filter! https://www.synthtech.com/motm440.html


Best of luck!!!
John

flextone
Thanks John

Would going eurorack only mean different cables? or will I need some sort of converter? Cause if it does I think I'd like eurorack for the variety. Sorry for the newbish questions, I just want to make sure...

BTW, I also own the FR Revolution, which can act as an analog sequencer smile
Roycie Roller
Don't worry about John, he is definitely bi-assed when it comes to 5u goatse.cx
That thing would go great with some Moogerfoogers, eg. Ring mod, Delay, Phaser. You can, and should, start with the crazy stuff from the get-go.
And don't be suprised if you wake up one day, and you have no more hardwired synths around because you sold them all off to fund the modular.

You don't need a special converter for leads, just an 1/8" adapter at one end, and a 1/4" adapter at the other. Alternatively, multiples are available which allow you to go from 1/8" to 1/4", eg-Makenoise format Jumbler

http://www.analoguehaven.com/makenoise/formatjumbler/
Cat-A-Tonic
1/8" to 1/4" adapters will do just fine.
I use them all the time between my Frac racks, Metasonix, Moogerfooger, mixers, amps, pedals, etcetera.

A sequencer is a good suggestion like John said.
If I were you I would get a mix of Euro and Frac.
The Blacet HexZone rules. The Binary Zone is very fun too.

You've got the basics.
Expand with weird stuff and then add mixers and other utility things as needed.

Do you have any stylistic goal in mind for your sounds?
flextone
Again, I already have an analog sequencer (FR Revolution), though I would like one in the rack eventually.

Stylistic goals? percussive syhth patterns is most important , and weird ways to modulate the output of my mpc3000. I'm also a sucker for drones
JohnLRice
Yeah, none o' dem udder dudes is bi-assed towards their favorite format so, just ignore me! razz lol Mr. Green

But yeah, special cables or adapters wouldn't be a big deal. I think probably the main thing to worry about compatability wise is to make sure to get 1v/octave stuff if you want definite pitch things to scale/track correctly. And I'm fairly sure there are no EuroRack modules to worry about, it's just some PAIA, Korg and Buchla items you'd want to be aware of. (but I don't know FRAC or EURO much at all so check with someone smart first! hihi )

Just FYI: Paul at Synth Tech announced that in late spring they:
will be offering Euro Rack modules. The first is called the E340 SuperSaw VCO. It is a digital VCO that has up to 8 detuned sawtooths and sines. It's not a full-blown Cloud Generator, it has maybe 40% of the features. Yes, there will be a Frac version.

Early demo (anti-aliasing code not tweaked) showing different settings
www.synthtech.com/misc/e340_saw_test.mp3



And that FR Revolution you've got is awesome from what I've seen from the demos! love I was seriously considering one before I put on the blindfold and plunged headlong into the bottomless pit of modulars! hyper
Kent
My 2 cents:

You can go with pretty much any format that strikes your fancy. I currently roll tough with Euro-rack, Blacet/Frac & some ¼ inch bearing boxes as well from Moog, Metasonix, the Adrenalinn, etc. They all work; they all be good. Space may be an issue which could rule out some offerings.

I think that the other guys have pretty much outlined how you should start here. Knowing your budget would be helpful though. How much can you allocate within the next 6 months?

If you are going to focus on percussion, then you will need more Envelope Generators and VCAs, plus the oscillators to go with them. Or you can use the short cut of grabbing some Analogue Solutions modules that have all of that stuff built into them.

http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~concuss/concussor/c-overview.htm
If making drum sounds suddenly seems like not so much fun (even though you can do them with the XS) I’d look at the Moog pedals and the Harvestman Tyme Sefari. Perhaps even the Malgorithm and/or Doepfer A-189-1 bit molestors. You may also consider thinking outside of the modular box by investigating the often overlooked Boss VF-1 which will sync to MIDI. And again, that Roger Linn Adrenalinn is nice and it will sync to MIDI as well. Thus, you can chain it with the XS or even use it to drive the clock of the XS since it will spit out Beat Clock. It is also the shiznit when performing live due to the stomp switches.

Good luck with the quest!
flextone
I definitely want a time sefari.

Kent, can you explain why I need EG's for percussion? I'm less interested in creating drum sounds, more in creating pattens, this can be done with LFO's, delay, a whole range of modules. I can see why I would want another EG if I get another VCO though.
Kwote
flextone wrote:
I definitely want a time sefari.

Kent, can you explain why I need EG's for percussion? I'm less interested in creating drum sounds, more in creating pattens, this can be done with LFO's, delay, a whole range of modules. I can see why I would want another EG if I get another VCO though.


the best percussion comes from super tight attack settings. practically instantaneous. Attack and Decay are actually all you'd really need for percussive stuff.

but EG's like Blacet's EG1 are great because you can switch from A/D to ADSR and the timing can be set super duper tight. Exponential is more convincing for percussion as well. some EG's will give you this option automatically or with a switch from Expo to Linear. but with the blacet you have to patch the inverse into the decay portion of the envelope to get things really snappy.
flextone
I'm no stranger to EG's kwote, but thank you. My question again is what applications will I have for envelopes besides creating the drum sound in itself?

Kent, my budget is tight at the mo (after buying the xs... ), but my plans are more long run. Start in a few months with a 3u case and two or thre
btw,

Do you guys know of any module that resemble the flame echometer or clockwork? that would be something I am after

http://flame.fortschritt-musik.de/start.htm
revtor
I think he's recommending EG's because you said you want percussive synth patterns. Envelopes can be used to shape not only amplitude, but anything - modulation depth, lfo rates, etc.. Get an EG and get a VCA too, these are basics, but there is so much within this realm. These are the "glue" that hold our patches together and let you get the most out of the esoteric guys like the tyme sefari etc...


the echometer and clockwork are difficult to really pin down. Ive never used either. Midi looping comes to mind. In the analog world, perhaps an ASR (analog shift register), gated comparator, burst generator, sequential switch. Sequencing/logic type of things. Maybe a sampler, Doepfer has one or maybe the Harvestman's. Use your Revo as the base and take some triggers and CV/s off of it to run through the forementioned modules. Dont forget a mixer or two to bring your audio (and/or CV signals) all together! Should get interesting, the XS is really a dreammachine...

have fun
~Steve
DGTom
So, you would like to create percussive sequences, but, you don't want another sequencer & you want to replicate the Flame units functions in the modular?

My advice is to use the FR boxes & the MPC & take note of where you think the system is falling short. Count up all your ins & outs & get a load of cables in - once you are patching you will soon find yourself saying "Damn! I wish I had a ... to go with a ... so I could ..."

flextone wrote:
More specifically, will I need more vco's, vca's etc, or can I start with the crazy stuff from the get go.


You already have the basics covered & it sounds like, at the moment, you are looking for more ways of twisting what you already have, so start off with a few signal processors, Kent makes some great suggestions, the Plan B Wave Splicer might be cool to modify the 'Wave' outputs on the XS. One thing I notice on the XS panel is a lack of a mixer, maybe look at a polarizing mixer & one LFO really isn't enough!

Thats the thing about modular synths tho, for example, you have 3 'wave' outs but only one VCA which is hard wired to a 2 knob EG, by adding a mixer, 2 VCAs & 2 EGs you will extend your sound palette a great deal, even tho none of those modules produce any noise by themselves.

You may want to look into external input modules if you are looking for ways of working the MPC into the rig. How does the MPC sound thru the XS at the moment? How long have you had the FR + MPC setup & what do you feel are the shortcomings of the rig?
Kent
I'd still really like to see what you come up with after you've nailed down a budget. Without the framework, it is pretty much fully open to random speculation.

However, if you can find them, Analogue Solutions used to make something called the FS01 which was a switcher that could switch patterns (or anything else that could travel along an 1/8th inch jack). It was primarily intended to switch patterns every so often as it has it own counter in it which could be set to switch every 2, 4, 8, or 16 bars. I tend to use it manually though.
It can be used in either direction: 2 outputs to an input or 1 output to either of 2 inputs; and you get two these per module.

Drones were mentioned and that brings me right to what Revtor mentioned: VCAs, LFO & EGs. These are great for automatically or controllably bringing drones to the fore or background; and then there's panning. There are also many good drone generators for the iPod & iPhone. Check out the Shruti Box or the Buddha Box.

I'm having a hard time giving solid options since I'm quite fuzzy still on what the end goal really is. I also get the feeling that investigating options that would mutate or add interest to your MPC & current gear would be the best way to go and then adding some logic/switching modules in the near future; hard to say.

I have similar thoughts to DGTom's:

1) what do you find to be lacking in your current setup?
2) if you could add just one thing to the XS and one thing to the MPC, what would they be?
3) why is Charmin so squeezeably soft?

Let us know, yo!
Kent
Come to think of it, with all of the Analog & MIDI I/O that you already have, this certainly wouldn't get kicked out of bed:

http://www.moogmusic.com/controllers/?section=product&product_id=21141


Kent
And you might want to watch these in order to see if there is anything that you can bite from them.

Using LFOs as Sequencers (similar result to what the Binary Zone does)

http://insidesynthesis.blogspot.com/2007/12/episode-two-using-lfos-as- sequencers.html


Korg MS-2000 as Drum Machine. Very cool trick for every synth


http://insidesynthesis.blogspot.com/2007/12/your-korg-ms-2000-is-drum- machine.html
flextone
First of all, thank you for all your help guys.

To the point:

DGTom & Kent, you got me a bit confused with the the VCA's and mixer. How do they come in handy? to take the wave outs and convert them to audio? and the EG's to shape that cv signal and/or whatever? and the mixer to mix it? is this basically correct? and if so, how does that help when all three waves are actually a single voice and I can't trigger them separately?

shortcomings of the rig:

I would like another LFO on the XS for sure, or at least a way to modulate the LFO rate so I might as well get an LFO module. As far as the combination with the FR Revo and the MPC, I feel I need some way to glue them all together, and thats where the flame stuff look good. At the most basic level, I want to use the FR stuff together with the MPC to make a mega groovebox and glue the all together.


I thought we agreed on me having the basics covered, getting VCA's, EG's and mixers will cost too much, I've just dropped a grand on the XS...
felix
VCAs can be used on control voltages too, not just audio. Let's say that you wanted to slowly change the amount of effect of an EG patched to your pitch. You would control that amount with a VCA, with another envelope (or some other modulation source) controlling the VCA.

A mixer is also useful for CV. Mixing a EG signal and an LFO signal together is not that uncommon. Some mixers available in Euro also offer voltage inversion as well as attenuation (Plan B M14 or Doepfer A138c) and this opens even more modulation possibilities (you could mix two EGs, one going negative and one going positive).
flextone
Quote:
You would control that amount with a VCA, with another envelope (or some other modulation source) controlling the VCA.


What is the VCA doing here? can't I control the first envelope's amount directly with a second EG or LFO instead?
revtor
Well you have the MPC which is a sequencer and sound module.. XS which is a sound module and MIDI-Voltage converter. Revolution which is a sequencer and sound source (and effects box?). Thats three pretty flexible machines there, and I think i'll jump on the bandwagon here and suggest really experimenting for a few weeks and trying to see where you think the system is lacking before dropping on random modules. Limitations inspire raw survival creativity - embrace that!

You can do so much with what you have already. Program beats and or drones on the MPC, send them through the XS to mangle. Program MPC sequences to feed the XS not to play as tones, but use it's MIDI-Voltage abilities and use the voltage signals to modulate filters, LFO's etc. Don't be afraid to route ins to outs with the FR gear... get a few short patch cords and let your FR pieces mingle. record revolution patterns into the MPC, play the XS with them, tweak it all together.

VCA's are useful not only to control the volume of an audio signal but also to control the level of modulation signals. You can send say, your LFO through the VCA, and the VCA out to whatever you want to modulate w/the LFO. Now your VCA is controlling the amount or depth of modulation... hit the VCA with an envelope, or any voltage (perhaps a short looping pattern from your MPC converted to voltage with the XS) and you will get varying levels of modulation from slight warbles to deep space tripper bends.. Mixers are useful not only for mixing multiple audio streams together, but also for blending the modulation signals together.. You could have a slow LFO and an envelope mixed together modulating the resonance of your filter. The res would be constantly modulated by the LFO and then whenever the EG was triggered, you'd add to the modulation.. which in the case of a filter's resonance turns it into a sine wave osc... lots of great unexected fun from this.

Do you have a desktop mixer with aux sends/returns?? set one of the aux outs to go to your XS input.. this way you can put your MPC and or Revo through it whenever, even create feedback by routing the XS through itself..

The Flame gear looks to me as more designed for drum fills and things like that. Until there are lucid demos available though Ill never know. Id steer clear of them for a while regardless.. Perhaps you can start a separate thread asking a few Q's about it.

Dont forget to record these experiment sessions!!!

The Moog Pedal is pretty sick and blends MIDI and voltage in ways that nothing else does. definitely check its specs if controlling 4 separate paramters at a time with one foot sweep interests you.

and finally get a delay or two to instantly double your fun.

have fun
~Steve
felix
flextone wrote:
Quote:
You would control that amount with a VCA, with another envelope (or some other modulation source) controlling the VCA.


What is the VCA doing here? can't I control the first envelope's amount directly with a second EG or LFO instead?

Only if the EG has a built in VCA. I don't know of any eurorack ones that do. Most fixed architecture systems "couple" these two functions together, but in a modular system a VCA is separate from an EG.

The VCA is basically a "voltage controller attenuator". Sometimes using the actual name "amplifier" confuses people because it does not necessarily make the signal source louder, more to the contrary, it usually does from fully attenuated to unity gain. Using a VCA allows for dynamic "amount" control. Anywhere you would normally manually control amount with a knob, you can use a VCA instead and have it be voltage controlled.
flextone
Quote:
Limitations inspire raw survival creativity


I feel u on that one revtor, though I think one monosynth, a 303 clone and an MPC3K is pretty limited. I could use a few modules and the clockwork or echometer (there are a few good vids actually). After that, a good compressor, a urei would be my first choice, and a decent mixer or even a patch bay.


Any more suggestions for a pattern generating setup? What do you guys think of the Moog CP-251 processor?
revtor
Well if you need more patterns (voices) then you're going to need another synthesizer or two. It could be modules, or a rack synth, or a keyboard... digital, analog, it could be anything. How do you want to control it? from your MPC? strictly through CV/Gate/Voltage control? DO you want it to have its own sequencer? I think we either need more info, or you need to sit down and do some research. Stroll through Nova Musik and Analog Haven's websites... drool and then come back.

As for being limited, how many tracks can the MPC pump out? You could sample a few drones in the MPC and then use the XS and Revo to give you two analog tweakable patterns ontop of that.. the MPC can also give you percussion. You want to do this all in one take, have you thought of multitracking some things?


The CP is a nice bunch of utility modules. Mixer, LFO, Sample and Hold, attenuators. No pattern generating there though.

Metalbox 8 step sequential switch is a great analog sequencer. Blacet Hex zone is nice too.

Get 2 blacet racks, hex zone, midi/cv, osc, filter, lfo, mixer, EG, and a few more. Do it -you know you want to. : )

~Steve
flextone
I think I have all the info I need from you guys,

I'll post back if I have any more questions

Thanks everyone
Kent
Elan? Anyone? very frustrating
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