Quantcast
Basic Modular System question…. - Gearspace.com
The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Basic Modular System question….
Old 26th February 2014
  #1
Gear Addict
Basic Modular System question….

My question is - Let's say I want to put together a modular system - Not using a Boomstar or anything like it, but individual modules - maybe:

2 or 3 Oscillators
At least 2 filters
Maybe 3 or 4 EGs
2 LFOs
Ring Mod

What else would I need - power/amp/mixer, midi etc. (modules) and enclosure, to compile a working system? What would be the best company to go with - i.e., not super expensive….?

Any help would be appreciated.
Old 26th February 2014
  #2
Lives for gear
 
BTByrd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
A mixer for audio and a mixer for CVs. Several VCAs.

Whatever brand format you like. Eurorack has tons of options, some cheap and some expensive. Doepfer and Pittsburgh offer good, inexpensive complete systems. But don't be afraid to mix and match. Synthesizers.com are also nice and relatively inexpensive but it's a relatively boring format IMO.
Old 26th February 2014
  #3
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
No Vca? " 3 or 4 egs?" "at least 2 filters"? do you at least have any idea of what you are talking about? I mean, a modular synthesizer is a complex instrument, and you don´t even seem to understand the basics of a one voice system. My suggestion: do your homework, learn the basics of a subtractive synth (e.g. the different modules of a minimoog, arp 2600 etc) check the doepfer website they have useful information there and only after come here or muffs and ask for some help regarding specific modules.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiki1 ➡️
My question is - Let's say I want to put together a modular system - Not using a Boomstar or anything like it, but individual modules - maybe:

2 or 3 Oscillators
At least 2 filters
Maybe 3 or 4 EGs
2 LFOs
Ring Mod

What else would I need - power/amp/mixer, midi etc. (modules) and enclosure, to compile a working system? What would be the best company to go with - i.e., not super expensive….?

Any help would be appreciated.
Old 27th February 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Any modular is super-expensive by most people's classification, but once you get a large rig going it is very cheap in comparison to having a lot of different monosynths to house and take care of to have those sounds. Adding one filter adds a whole new personality that another synth would bring, so there is an economy of scale to it. At this size, it is difficult to justify the cost to have a basic system over buying a monosynth because a good case and power supply is not inexpensive. I built a 3 row, 84HP system and then went all out on the Doepfer Monster Case, which is now full and spilling into another case. $10,000 goes really, really fast. Once you have a few modules you will either want many more, or you will be frustrated by the idea of having to patch things and keep the cables straight in your head and sell it all on eBay in frustration.

I did not anticipate ending up with such a large system, and in hindsight, may have allocated my funds towards other things, so keep an eye on how much you might get into it for. Buying a $150 module here and there adds up. I could have gotten a Jupiter 6, Andromeda, Minimoog, and a Leipzig-S with the money I have into it... that's a lot of useful stuff.

I like the Doepfer modules a lot, I have about 50 of them. I feel they are conservatively designed and have added quite a few Livewire modules as well, which are very hard to find.

Add a VCA to your list, and probably a mixer if your filter only has one input.

Check out modulargrid.net if you haven't already, they have a nice system planner on their website.

Tim
Old 27th February 2014 | Show parent
  #5
Gear Addict
Thanks for your reply. I've been working with synthesizers for 41 years (since I bought my first Minimoog in 1973 new), but never got into modular systems specifically. I know what I'm after with this, but I do see what you mean as far as the cost possibly sky-rocketing…. I do have a concern that it would start to get out of hand…. thanks for the website suggestion, and Doepfer, I'll check them out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by timstoel ➡️
Any modular is super-expensive by most people's classification, but once you get a large rig going it is very cheap in comparison to having a lot of different monosynths to house and take care of to have those sounds. Adding one filter adds a whole new personality that another synth would bring, so there is an economy of scale to it. At this size, it is difficult to justify the cost to have a basic system over buying a monosynth because a good case and power supply is not inexpensive. I built a 3 row, 84HP system and then went all out on the Doepfer Monster Case, which is now full and spilling into another case. $10,000 goes really, really fast. Once you have a few modules you will either want many more, or you will be frustrated by the idea of having to patch things and keep the cables straight in your head and sell it all on eBay in frustration.

I did not anticipate ending up with such a large system, and in hindsight, may have allocated my funds towards other things, so keep an eye on how much you might get into it for. Buying a $150 module here and there adds up. I could have gotten a Jupiter 6, Andromeda, Minimoog, and a Leipzig-S with the money I have into it... that's a lot of useful stuff.

I like the Doepfer modules a lot, I have about 50 of them. I feel they are conservatively designed and have added quite a few Livewire modules as well, which are very hard to find.

Add a VCA to your list, and probably a mixer if your filter only has one input.

Check out modulargrid.net if you haven't already, they have a nice system planner on their website.

Tim
Old 27th February 2014 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Addict
Thanks - what do you find lacking? in the Synthesizers.com modules?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BTByrd ➡️
A mixer for audio and a mixer for CVs. Several VCAs.

Whatever brand format you like. Eurorack has tons of options, some cheap and some expensive. Doepfer and Pittsburgh offer good, inexpensive complete systems. But don't be afraid to mix and match. Synthesizers.com are also nice and relatively inexpensive but it's a relatively boring format IMO.
Old 27th February 2014 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
oopfoo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiki1 ➡️
Thanks - what do you find lacking? in the Synthesizers.com modules?
There's nothing lacking in the Dotcom modules. Personally, I have a large 5U and Eurorack system. That said, it tends to lean toward the traditional East-Coast Moog Modular style subtractive synthesis, though recent releases from MakeNoise, STG, Cyndustries, and others seem to be changing this. Roger Arrick makes an exceptional synthesizer, so you won't go wrong with a Dotcom whatsoever. He will be happy to help you decide what to start with, too.

Eurorack is a lot wilder scene. You have East Coast, West Coast (think Buchla) and other influences all in a single format. It's a lot less traditional, a lot more colorful, and SOMETIMES a lot more homework to figure out exactly what a module is doing. Musical? Absolutely, but not ALWAYS. If there's high weirdness to be found, Eurorack is where you're going to find it.

Come spend some time over at Muffwiggler and see what's up. You won't get steered wrong, and you may save yourself some frustration.
Old 27th February 2014 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
BTByrd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiki1 ➡️
Thanks - what do you find lacking? in the Synthesizers.com modules?
They're high quality, just a bit "vanilla." They've very much in the vein of classic 70's synths... well suited toward emulating Keith Emerson or Tangerine Dream. I tend to gravitate toward complex and digital oscillators as well as quirky and lo-fi filters and there really aren't many of those available in the dotcom format (at least compared to Eurorack). Modcan B is a much more interesting "large style" format, but many of their best modules have become available in Eurorack over the past couple of years. When I went modular a few years ago, I got a 5U MOTM/Modcan system in addition to Eurorack because there were a few modules from MOTM and Modcan that I thought I couldn't live without. Most of those are now also available in Eurorack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by oopfoo ➡️
There's nothing lacking in the Dotcom modules. ... Roger Arrick makes an exceptional synthesizer, so you won't go wrong with a Dotcom whatsoever. He will be happy to help you decide what to start with, too.

Eurorack is a lot wilder scene. You have East Coast, West Coast (think Buchla) and other influences all in a single format. It's a lot less traditional, a lot more colorful, and SOMETIMES a lot more homework to figure out exactly what a module is doing. Musical? Absolutely, but not ALWAYS. If there's high weirdness to be found, Eurorack is where you're going to find it.
+1.
Old 27th February 2014
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Mefistophelees's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Get a "synth voice" module. These are a synth in a module but are patchable so you can use the individual parts as modules in a bigger system.
In your case you could get another filter and use it in place of the built in one.

There are several around ranging from the Pittsburg Synth block / Synth box, Intellijel Atlantis etc.
There are also Euro compatible patchable synths like the Doepfer Dark Energy or MFB Kraftzwerg.
The Kraftzwerg has loads of patch points so you can treat it as a monosynth or as a collection of 10 modules.
Old 27th February 2014
  #10
Lives for gear
 
shadowfac's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The Synthesizers.com entry level system is a great way to start. Can't recommend it enough.
Old 27th February 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Dude163's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Id go Doepfer , small and readily available

for a start id get at least a OSC , Filter, amp and envelope, I ended up grabbing this:

Little Dieter – DOEPFER DIY Synth Incarnation – d:machinery

its a setup to make use of the Doepfer DIY synth module

DIY Synth

which has:

VCO:

Sawtooth output
Rectangle output (with variable pulse width)
Four frequency CV inputs (1V/octave with tempco option)
Frequency CV summing input (can be used to increase the number of CV inputs if more than four frequency CV inputs are required)
Two PW/PWM CV inputs
PW CV summing input (can be used to increase the number of CV inputs if more than two PW CV inputs are required)
Linear FM input
Hard sync input

VCF:

Multimode filter
lowpass, highpass and bandpass output (optional low-notch-highpass with external potentiometer)
12dB/oct
Two frequency CV inputs (one roughly 1V/octave, one roughly 0.5V/octave)
Frequency CV summing input (can be used to increase the number of CV inputs if more than two frequency CV inputs are required)
Audio input
Audio summing input (can be used if more than one audio input is required)
Overdrive/distortion possible
Manual resonance control
Resonance up to self oscillation

VCA:

Exponential control scale
One CV input
CV summing input (can be used if more than one CV input is required)
Two audio inputs
Audio summing input (can be used if more than two audio inputs are required)
Overdrive/distortion possible
Audio output

ADSR:

Connection for attack, decay, sustain and release controls
Connection for range switch (3 ranges)
Connection for LED display
Gate Input
ADSR output

LFO:

Connection for frequency control
Connection for range switch (3 ranges)
Connection for LED display
Triangle and rectangle outputs

Slew Limiter:

Connection for slew control
Input
Output

Inverter

Input
Summing input (can be used to increase the number of inputs, e.g. to built an inverting mixer)
Output
Old 27th February 2014
  #12
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I'm going to get some eurorack modules for sure but for mine starting with an expert sleepers system would be the smartest move if you already have a bit if cv around - cv on : anushri, a4, moog slim and sub phatty so I've got something like a pitsburgh modular system 1 already but I'm still unsure of how to stitch it all together
Old 27th February 2014
  #13
Gear Addict
Thanks guys - I'm now wondering if I should go with Kraftzwerg stuff or something like it, considering the potential ultimate cost of modular stuff….
Old 27th February 2014
  #14
Lives for gear
 
BTByrd's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Going the semi-modular route is a great way of getting your feet wet with modular since you take care of the building-blocks and can then add a new filter or oscillator to dramatically change the character of the synth. The Kraftzwerg is basically just a bunch of MFB modules in a box. The build quality on MFB stuff isn't that great but it's inexpensive. If it were me, the SEM Pro or Future Retro XS (or even the Doepfer Dark Energy) would be on my list over the MFB. If you go Eurorack, there are also several modules that have all the basic components of a complete synth voice... a sort of "semi-modular in a single module."
Old 27th February 2014
  #15
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Personally, I'd recommend against the semi-modular thing. It's a great starting point, but you might regret it in the long run as it's less flexible, slightly more confusing (due to normalled inputs) and is obviously harder to resell. I have a Cwejman S1 (which I absolutely love) but now my modular has grown up around it I kind of wish it were separate modules. Cwejman is brilliant quality though, super precise and very clean. The envelopes are fantastic.

I love the Make Noise stuff too, completely different, grungier and more conceptual, with a punky aesthetic.

I have some Doepfer stuff, it's fine, but it's definitely not as interesting. Like the Tesco Value Brand of modular. I'd go for the Pittsburg stuff for 'basics'.

Look into sequencers too. My modular is very rhythm-based There's a load of really amazing stuff from the Make Noise Rene to the AS Eurokorn and then stuff like the 4MS clock dividers and multipliers. You can create some incredible generative rhythmic stuff with these things, if that's your thing (it's mine). Loads of interesting possibilities.

Not sure how you're planning on controlling this stuff but Expert Sleepers is fantastic.
Old 27th February 2014
  #16
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
Oh and I'd definitely go Eurorack. It's fiddly and the quality is really variable, but it's much more vibrant and creative. There's so much interesting experimentation going on.
Old 27th February 2014
  #17
Deleted c40a31f
Guest
I'd recommend going with a basic 5U system. Typically it is much more comfortable to work with due to the controls being spaced apart more widely, the knobs are larger and easier to dial with precision and the jacks are of higher quality and make better contact with the larger plugs, etc etc.

Creativity depends on the musician no matter what you get. I think people get excited over the wider array of wild modules in eurorack land but many of these modules are just collections of basic functions that produce a specific result that could be patched together with simpler modules.

While saving money always sounds good, if you are an experienced musician I'd highly recommend going with the best quality possible and build up slowly so you'l have an instrument that you'll always want to keep.

Check out these manufacturers dor starters (and read up on MUFF WIGGLER :: Index of course! ):
WELCOME TO CLUB OF THE KNOBS
MACBETH STUDIO SYSTEMS
Modcan Synthesizers Main Page
Welcome to the Lunar Experience
mos-lab moslab
Modular Synthesizer Projects from Oakley Sound Systems
Synthesizers.com
SYNTH-WERK
Old 27th February 2014
  #18
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
I just recently started my first modular. I grabbed an Elektron Analog 4 as my starting point and I highly recommend that as a way to begin. It gives you midi to CV with 4 CV outs, a amazing sequencer, arpeggiator, multiple LFO's and envelopes that can all be used to control a modular, plus a really awesome 4 voice internal synth engine. I picked up just a Happy Ending Kit and a Mutable Instruments Braids oscillator to go with it and I can already do so much. The Analog 4 really gives you a good start on a modular and can save you a bunch of money on sequencers, midi to cv, and lfo and envelope modules in the beginning. I think if you were to buy modules that did all the A4 can do, you'd end up spending way more and take up lots of space in a modular case.

Though if you've never had an Elektron box or Eurorack, get ready to be addicted and want all the Elektron boxes and tons of modules. At least that is what has happened to me.
Old 27th February 2014
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Dude163's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
NIghtblair, I JUST grabbed an A4 myself because of the Midi>CV capabilities, and its like 4 MC202s chained together by itself, highly recommended!
Old 27th February 2014
  #20
Gear Addict
Great resources, thanks everyone…. of course now I'm not sure what to do, as the options are vast, and the money is limited…. hadn't thought about an Analog 4 but I see why it might be good to have…. hmmmmmmm…….
Old 27th February 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Dude163's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Ill try and get a video created tonight if it works to show what it entails, Ill be running teh A4 triggering my Hex inverter 909 BD and SD plus a cool analog noise module. be back later hopefully f I can get it figured out!
Old 27th February 2014
  #22
Lives for gear
 
danielb's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I also just started a modular system.

It is based around stuff that I already had - a Minibrute, an MFB Microzwerg, and a Moog CP251.

I have started with just one row of 84 HP. So far I only have two modules, with more in the mail as we speak, but because I already have all of the basic functionally, each module that I add is immediately usable and effective.

At the moment, I don't intend to eventually have more than two rows. I just hope I don't get addicted to it, because, basically, I like being married...

D.
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #23
Lives for gear
 
Mefistophelees's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by timstoel ➡️
$10,000 goes really, really fast.

I did not anticipate ending up with such a large system, and in hindsight, may have allocated my funds towards other things, so keep an eye on how much you might get into it for. Buying a $150 module here and there adds up. I could have gotten a Jupiter 6, Andromeda, Minimoog, and a Leipzig-S with the money I have into it... that's a lot of useful stuff.
I could have bought a CS-80 *and* a Jupiter 8 - and I'm not even joking!

As awesome as those synths might be (though I'd actually prefer an Oberheim over the Jupiter), neither will even come close to the synthesis power of the system I've built. Subtractive synthesis ("east coast" in modular speak) is just one type of synthesis, it's very powerful and flexible but tends towards certain types of sounds.

"West coast" (think Buchla music easel) is a completely different type of synthesis popular in Euro.

But, they're one 2 types. With modulars and Eurorack in particular you can experiment with all manner of different kinds of synthesis and even mix and match them. If you're into sonic exploration there's nothing better.
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mefistophelees ➡️
I could have bought a CS-80 *and* a Jupiter 8 - and I'm not even joking!

As awesome as those synths might be (though I'd actually prefer an Oberheim over the Jupiter), neither will even come close to the synthesis power of the system I've built. Subtractive synthesis ("east coast" in modular speak) is just one type of synthesis, it's very powerful and flexible but tends towards certain types of sounds.

"West coast" (think Buchla music easel) is a completely different type of synthesis popular in Euro.

But, they're one 2 types. With modulars and Eurorack in particular you can experiment with all manner of different kinds of synthesis and even mix and match them. If you're into sonic exploration there's nothing better.
CS80 - little comes close! Amazing synth
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #25
Lives for gear
 
Guns N Dope's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightblair ➡️
I just recently started my first modular. I grabbed an Elektron Analog 4 as my starting point and I highly recommend that as a way to begin. It gives you midi to CV with 4 CV outs, a amazing sequencer, arpeggiator, multiple LFO's and envelopes that can all be used to control a modular, plus a really awesome 4 voice internal synth engine. I picked up just a Happy Ending Kit and a Mutable Instruments Braids oscillator to go with it and I can already do so much. The Analog 4 really gives you a good start on a modular and can save you a bunch of money on sequencers, midi to cv, and lfo and envelope modules in the beginning. I think if you were to buy modules that did all the A4 can do, you'd end up spending way more and take up lots of space in a modular case.

Though if you've never had an Elektron box or Eurorack, get ready to be addicted and want all the Elektron boxes and tons of modules. At least that is what has happened to me.
Dude crazy, we have a very similar set up. I also recently added a modular to expand my A4 and also went with a Braids and happy ending. It was between a Monomachine and a modular and when I heard the Braids I realized I could kinda have both.

I can't recommend the A4 enough if your going modular. It is a eurorack Swiss Army knife. The four voices and effects are basically a bonus considering what you'd pay for all the sequencing and modulation modules. Not to mention all the hp it frees up for more modules!
Old 28th February 2014 | Show parent
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Mefistophelees's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by empirix ➡️
CS80 - little comes close! Amazing synth
Indeed.

Admittedly I never had enough money to buy it (or the JP8) in one go. I've built the modular over years which makes life a lot easier.
Old 28th February 2014
  #27
Gear Addict
This may sound silly to some, but here's part of my intention:

I have two Roland Gaias. I know, many people hate them, but I actually really like them. While it's true that by themselves the oscillators don't sound good, with some time, and using the effects well, I can get some Great sounds from them. I'll post a few examples soon (I did once in the "music section.")

The point though is that I love the programming functionality. Basically three separate polyphonic synths in-line and stackable. I can get great evolving pads, classic-style synth sounds etc. Since I have two, I can stack them very easily, and get even more out of them.

But. I would like to be able to modulate things much more than the Gaia allows for. It has it's limitations to be sure. I'd like to be able to basically recreate their sort of set-up with modules, which would give me full control over modulation sources and destinations etc. The components would also sound a lot better on their own, which is of course a real plus.

I also have a Virus KC, which is great but not the same - it has many of the modulation capabilities but not the "one-to-one" set-up I want.

Perhaps an Analog 4 is a good start, as I don't have many thousands to spend on this project….
Old 28th February 2014
  #28
Lives for gear
 
shadowfac's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Maybe you should start with a Nord Modular G1 or Micromodular? You can layer many oscillator/filter/VCA voices, with whatever modulations you can think of. And you will be able to make polyphonic patches (though not so much on the micromodular). And there's the price, of course. A modular system with 3 VCOs, 2 filters, 3 EGs, 2 VCAs, and other things (ring mod, midi interface, etc) will cost you at least $3K. You can find a second hand Nord Modular G1 for $600-$800, and that's a very powerful synth with four polyphonic parts.

Yes, I know you have to use a computer to edit it, but the Nord Modular editor is actually very friendly and fun to use. It's the nearest thing (in software) to patching a real modular. If you decide you like the modular way and find it useful for your music, then you can invest in an analog modular.

I'm not sure about the Analog 4. Just because something has CV outs, doesn't make it modular, and while I love Elektron (I have a MDUW that I use with my modulars), there's nothing modular about the A4. I think a Nord G1 is much more interesting and would cost less these days.

Anyway, if you want to try the Nord Modular way, you can simply install the Nord G2 demo in an older computer and see how it works.
Old 28th February 2014
  #29
Gear Head
 
🎧 5 years
You might consider sound quality, which in analog modular systems is excellent (with quality modules of course). It might easily happen that new analog modular pushes lots of VA stuff out of your setup .

Another thing is that when you have all in one synth, when something goes bad, usually you end up with nothing. With modular, you just exchange/remove one module.

If you are going analog modular, think in a way that less is more, and plan straight from beginning to build it with less but more complex stuff, it is part of the game and at the end much cheaper if you accept modular philosophy.
Old 28th February 2014
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Dude163's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Ididnt get a chance to record teh integration of my A4 with the modular, I had the wrong cables for the CV outputs, fixed now
📝 Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 78 views: 22798
Avatar for bobby68
bobby68 27th August 2015
replies: 80 views: 15076
Avatar for hogberto
hogberto 24th October 2013
replies: 3 views: 2044
Avatar for joonebug
joonebug 18th January 2012
replies: 6316 views: 281398
Avatar for cane creek
cane creek 2nd January 2017
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump