Looking for advice building my first Modular System

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

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Looking for advice building my first Modular System

Post by Chiaroscuro » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:41 pm

Hi !

I’m a film/tv composer who has been using synths for years but have been most impressed by the results I heard from friends and colleagues who created sounds from their modular setups.

I’m wondering if anyone could give me any advice on building my first modular system. Not a huge wall setup, most likely something that would fit into a rack mount suitcase. Perhaps the Doepfer a-100 Low cost case (9u or three rows of modules).

The type of sounds I’m looking to hopefully create are:

Ambient sound designy.
Big sounds that don’t sound “synthy” in terms of some dance music. More organic / hard to define.
Huge Rhythmic Pulses
Morphed bass gestures / phrases
Intense actiony percussive sounds

Assuming price is no object what would be your dream system that could create the sounds I’m looking for and fit into this size category.

Any input would be greatly appreciated ~

Thanks so much!!

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Post by felix » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:47 pm

There are really so many options available that can cover the range of sounds that mentioned and it would be impossible to recommend specifics that didn't come from someone's personal preferences.

If you have friends and colleagues with modulars, and like what they create with them, I would talk with them first about how they create the sounds, which modules they find the most useful and ones that they like best, and then look for equivalent modules in whatever format that you ultimately choose (euro, frac, MOTM, etc).
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Post by Chiaroscuro » Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Hi Felix!

Thanks for your speedy reply. I'm in the process of asking around / researching. Just wanted to find any other suggestions in this forum. What for instance would you purchase in this case to make these sort of sounds? I know there are so many options but I'm really completely new to this, I don't know of ANY options! Looking for any suggestions.


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Post by Audio Resistance » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:54 pm

If price is no object, I would suggest looking into Cwejman. Some people find the VCO's a bit clinical sounding, I can not speak for those but everything else I have is very gratifying to use.


I have been creating alot of rhythmic pulses with the PH-4 and phrases you could go after the RES-4.

Everything I have got from him has been excellent build quality and has never left me wanting.I went with Cwejman utility modules and filled the rest in with whatever caught my eye .

Sprinkle in some Livewire AFG, Frequenstiener and some Harvestman destruction and compose away. LIke Felix said, it is a personal thing.

Good luck,
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Post by love_hertz » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:11 pm

as someone who is a few months ahead of you, i recommend you start 'small' with enough stuff of a quality that you can afford and build from there. if you like the method and this is what i personally love about modular synths, then later on you'll most likely need a bit of restraint as its a bit addictive !

i started with a basic analogue systems setup partly y as i had some british pounds saved up and have been adding to it rather more quickly than i expected and bar being a little freaked by how much i am spending (and this is relative, as i just don't happen to have lots of spare readies at the moment) i couldn't be happier.

oh yes, in your quest for sounds -

don't forget the bread and butter stuff - vcas, mults, mixers

buy a bigger case than you think you'll need as they fill up quickly

use the modular planner to get ideas and what fits where

aside from the great sound and methodology, the point for me is modulation so don't forget some cool sequencing type stuff clock divider/trigger type things i also have a gate delay.

i wasn't too comfortable (before i bought my first setup) tuning multiple vco by ear so i got the tiptops - they have a tuner built in which is a fast way of getting it right. as it was i needn't have worried but they do save time and while i don't have anything to compare them to, they are highly recommended by others as sounding good.

i very quickly knew much more after a few weeks of messing around with 2 vco, an adsr, a vca and a ladder filter hooked up to an oberkorn sequencer about what i what direction i wanted to go. its hard to know until you jump in and i am glad i didn't drop all the money at the start

doepfer stuff isn't expensive but is meant to be decent and it is easy to trade stuff out. it is a learning curve and you will invariably end up with stuff you don't like or use

having said all that i have stuff from the harvestman and livewire on the way which is a bit more pricey

having a decent cwejman setup to start with if you have the money would be cool. there are lots of really unusual things out there like the make noise stuff,harvestman, livewire etc

and if i really had lots of money i would look into buchla, serge and wiard but in a way it would spoil the fun as for me it is a journey to what ultimately works best (and this is likely to be something that changes over time) it might be like learning to drive on a ferrari and having nowhere to go up from there !

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