New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

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New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by calaverasgrande » Tue May 06, 2014 10:35 pm

So in the past couple of weeks I've seriously started to paint myself into a corner with my 'patchable' synths.
I've ordered a eruorack chassis and a single module to address my immediate shortcomings.
Any suggestions for "must haves"?
Any brands or models to avoid?
I'm already looking at some of the kits over at Synthrotek.
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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by moremagic » Wed May 07, 2014 4:26 am

i hear a lot about makenoise's maths and ive seen it in a lot of rigs, and they dont seem to change hands as much as a lot of other things
its whats makin me almost wana go euro

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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by griffin avid » Wed May 07, 2014 4:33 am

In a similar situation (going Eurorack) and thinking about just how deep I want to dive in.
While doing my research I came across these two articles.

The Secret World Of Modular Synthesizers
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr13/a ... synths.htm

The 11 Best Eurorack Synth Modules Of 2013
http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2013/ ... s-of-2013/

I figured to start there because every time I've seen someone ask this kind of question, you end up answering more questions [what are you looking to create?][What kind of music are you in to?][What's your current set up?][What band(s) do you like?][Why Eurorack?] than getting help and eventually two people that have a difference of opinion highjack the thread.
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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by calaverasgrande » Wed May 07, 2014 5:04 am

griffin avid wrote:... and eventually two people that have a difference of opinion highjack the thread.
lol too much of that on every message board ever. The polar opposite of which is the hyper vigilant Mods that shut down the faintest glimmer of discussion before it can flare up into a mild disagreement.

Thanks for the links, I've actually read those articles a couple times before.
I was kind of hoping for more of the "man on the street" take.

As far as my goals, well for right now I'm deliberately not trying to build a 'synth in a rack'. I have more synths at this point than I need for any one song. So it is not voices I am lacking, more the utility and non-standard processing that comes with modular. I'm pretty intrigued by the various logic modules that can perform logic operation based on CV, clock and gate. This and the clock multiplier and dividers.
So I guess I am looking for the nerd fodder that doesn't make a sound but facilitates the gear that does to better do its job.
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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by pflosi » Wed May 07, 2014 6:58 am

Well, in the end the questions Griffin posted kinda sarcastically are relevant. There's what, like 800 modules in Eurorack? Kinda hard to suggest stuff based on "must have". It's modular, the fun is that you can do the job a hundred different ways, so there's not really any "must haves".

If you're into logic stuff, I suggest you have a look at the various switching modules as well.

Don't forget to plan in tons of utilities, they are what makes a system come alive. Especially VCAs and mixers. Go to modulargrid.net and plan your system, then you can show it here.

Also, you'll want more than just some "complimentary" functions for your other patchable synths soon - be careful!

Oh and of course, consider joining Muffs or at least reading up a lot on there.

Have fun!

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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by sammy123 » Wed May 07, 2014 2:56 pm

As someone that went diy euro crazy last year I can recommend the following kits/brands. Of course not all are must haves, but they are all very nice, quality modules.

-Frequency Central UK: Rick makes some great analog filters modeled after Roland and Moog as well as some nice digital modules such as the new Ultra Wave LFO and the Waverider (low-fi trashy awesomeness).

-Hexinvter.net makes cool modules. I have the Jupiter Storm. He is also working on a nice sequencer. He offers kits as well as built module, A lot of percussion.

L-1: I have not finished my mixer yet but its is high quality and uses THAT chips. I want his Vactrol filter.

-Mutable Instruments: I have the Tides (LFO, VCO, EG, and more). Grids and Braids are on my want list.

-Manahattan Analog: Jason is currently working on an amazing sounding SVF filter. It tracks 1v/oct and has three inputs, BP/HP/LP/Notch. I have his passive mult and MVP built and a mixer in the backlog. PCBs are very high quality.

-VCAs!!!

-Barton Musical Circuits offers some fun and handy modules for super cheap. He offers raw panels so you can get creative with the design. I have his Clock, Nice and simple quantizers, Arp with expander, delaying AR, and a bunch of others in the backlog

-Fonik DIY: For more bread and butter VCOs he is offereing the Thomas Henry 555 VCO, and may again offer the 4046 VCO. I have both and they are very nice. I also have his sequential switch (now being offered at grayscale.info...this may be a must have!!), his DC mixers, and the Thomas Henry LFO almost completed and the Thomas Henry EG. The TH modules take up more space, but the cost is very reasonable. They can be tricky builds though...at least the 4046 was becasue of the wiring, but it was fun.

I pretty much wanted to do all DIY so I built my power suplies and used Ikea cases. I know I have other stuff in my rack that I am forgetting. Also, most of the modules that poeple say are must haves are way too expensive for me. Braids is like this, but I will probably get one eventually as I love all MI stuff.

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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by calaverasgrande » Wed May 07, 2014 5:14 pm

cool thanks for the heads up about the kits. I'm an old school Heathkit nerd (built my first crystal radio when I was 4). So when you combine "synth" and "kit" I get kind of hot under the collar.

c**p, I'm already fantasizing about hammertone finish modules with Magneto typeface labels.
Oh yeah and every color of LED.

I think I am infected now. Better start clearing room on the bench.


ps. the best impetus to hurry up and finish an old project is a new project pushing it out of the way!
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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by pflosi » Wed May 07, 2014 8:57 pm

Ok I'll play and suggest some actual stuff based on what you said :thumbright:

I also started out thinking I just wanna build an effects rack with some clock manipulation, no need to say it has grown very fast to a full synth.

If you wanna process audio, you need an input module to gain up to modular levels. I like the Intellijel Audio Interface, it does the job well. A new version is just out that's much more intuitive than my V1. There's also interfaces from Vermona, Cwejman, Addac and others if you prefer better quality, XLR or whatever. Unfortunately, there's not too much in regards to actual mic preamps... The Cwejman looks very nice though, and Doepfer does one too. In the end, you can also use amplifier modules to do the job, but I enjoy the convenience of the interfaces. For going out again an attenuator or keeping your VCA down should suffice.

For clock division and multiplication, the 4ms stuff is very nice (also available in kit form), as well as Pamelas Workout from ALM. Keep in mind that different dividers clock differently - on the up- or downbeats. The Doepfer A160 / 161 combo is very powerful, but the A160 clocks on the downbeat if that's a minus... Trigger delays like the Doepfer A162 are also very cool.

Definitely have a look at switches. Doepfer A150-A152 are almost no-brainers. The Addac 206 looks very nice, as does the Switch Matrix from WMD. If you wanna go very fancy check the Hinton Switch Matrix.

Mixers and VCAs, as much as possible. 4ms VCA Matrix is very cool, I love my Addac 802 and the Intellijel Linix looks good as well. The Intellijel Unity Mix is very handy as well IMO if you just need unity mixing. And there's loads of standard VCAs around.

Guess you already checked out all the logic modules?

If your gear list in the sig is accurate, I think you're missing also trigger sequencers. If you wanna play with logic, clocking, etc., programmable gates / triggers are indispensable IMO. I prefer to do that with my drum machines though. But I'm looking forward to the trigger sequencer Doepfer will hopefully release soon...

That should get you started ;)

Cheers!

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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by calaverasgrande » Wed May 07, 2014 9:31 pm

The KPR77 has 2 trigger outs.
Also building a couple sequencers.
I am not too concerned with audio processing modules, yet.
I've a lot of Moogerfoogers that take care of that for me.
I'm mostly just kind of annoyed by the CV and gate coming out of various sources making whatever I connect it to sound just like the source.
Super boring.
Well that is the cliffs notes.
More precisely I already have a couple Dark Energies, an MP201 and multiple Foogers. Plenty of CV ins and outs. Except that the volts are often too high coming out of one device and into another, so it pegs the param it's assigned to instead of just massaging it. In the case of using the Moogerfooger lowpass as an envelope source this is the worst offender. By the time I get the filter sounding good with the drive and the amount, the envelope it sends is very hard.
So just being able to attenuate or offset that is magic.
I've also got this great SH09 that no device I own can trigger. It want's too high of a pulse for my MP201, KPR77 or my X0x to trigger. Again I think a simple offset or some type of dc amplifier is called for.
I'm also intrigued by the concept of mathing the various LFOs and other CVs I generate with logic functions or even just rectifiers and differential amps. I may just take this as an excuse to freshen up my electronics skills and start building my own stuff (based on interpretations of Forest Mims circuits of course).

Though I do have a modded fuzz circuit I worked out a few years ago that could end up in modular form.
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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by pflosi » Wed May 07, 2014 10:04 pm

Check out CV Tools then! I think you can get it as a kit as well IIRC.

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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by Jonahs » Thu May 08, 2014 3:25 am

calaverasgrande wrote:more the utility and non-standard processing that comes with modular. I'm pretty intrigued by the various logic modules that can perform logic operation based on CV, clock and gate. This and the clock multiplier and dividers.
So I guess I am looking for the nerd fodder that doesn't make a sound but facilitates the gear that does to better do its job.
yeah the utility/sequencing/processing stuff is mostly what i'm into with modular. imo, it's less nerdy that using a piano roll in live or logic...

the neat bonus is that you can make plenty of cool sounds with your utility modules. :)

i just got as much doepfer (check mostly the a17-x down to a13-x columns) as my budget allowed (12u) and called it a day. ime if you have enough utility modules you can patch up anything.it just works / does what it says on the tin. if i want a utility i don't want to fight the module interface to unlock it to deal with different design perspectives/implementations. i'd rather get more modules than 1 that has 1 or 2 special abilities that's more than twice as much.

before i went to eurorack i had DIYd a lot of "modules" and for my skill level it'd be more of a time and money investment to put in the fit n finish to get the modules roadworthy, but i'm c**p at that.

ps if you order from schneidersladen you avoid VAT so even with shipping if you get 3+ modules it probably ends up being the cheapest option.

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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu May 08, 2014 5:56 am

calaverasgrande wrote:Any suggestions for "must haves"?
Nope.

Completely depends on what you want to do. Maths is handy cause it does a lot of different stuff, but if you want to use it as an ADSR envelope all the time it uses up the whole module and you'd be better off using a dedicated envelope for that. It's pretty useful as the extra thing that you have available for when you need an extra attenuvertor or trigger delay or envelope or mixer or logic module or slew limiter or LFO or any of the other functions it can do. The Ardcore and NW2S are both good like that too. But I wouldn't say any of those are 'must haves', cause it totally depends on what you want your system to do.

For me the things which I think are 'must haves' in my system, for what I want my system to do, are:
Bubblesound uLFO and VCOb - I really like the way these VCOs sound, very burly sounding
STG .mix or MA CP3 - both of these mixers are Moog CP3 clones and add a little magic to whatever goes through them
Buffered mults and unity mixers - really handy and get used all the time to split and combine signals
Doepfer A-132-3 Dual VCA - I've got a couple of these, both the first rev that people think sounds better than the new one. I really like a VCA with a pot for initial gain and one for CV amount. Have had some that don't have both of those and I didn't like it.
A Spring Reverb - at the moment I've got two of the Musicthing DIY ones which in my opinion are much nicer than the doepfer which I owned before that. I think modulars just have to run through spring reverb, without a spring things just don't sound right IMO.

So those are my incredibly subjective 'must haves', I imagine there would be a lot of people that would have none of those on their must have list, but that's the beauty of modular, you make the system that suits you best.
calaverasgrande wrote:Any brands or models to avoid?
Nope.

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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by calaverasgrande » Thu May 08, 2014 5:15 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:
calaverasgrande wrote:Any suggestions for "must haves"?
Nope.

Completely depends on what you want to do. Maths is handy cause it does a lot of different stuff, but if you want to use it as an ADSR envelope all the time it uses up the whole module and you'd be better off using a dedicated envelope for that. It's pretty useful as the extra thing that you have available for when you need an extra attenuvertor or trigger delay or envelope or mixer or logic module or slew limiter or LFO or any of the other functions it can do. The Ardcore and NW2S are both good like that too. But I wouldn't say any of those are 'must haves', cause it totally depends on what you want your system to do.

For me the things which I think are 'must haves' in my system, for what I want my system to do, are:
Bubblesound uLFO and VCOb - I really like the way these VCOs sound, very burly sounding
STG .mix or MA CP3 - both of these mixers are Moog CP3 clones and add a little magic to whatever goes through them
Buffered mults and unity mixers - really handy and get used all the time to split and combine signals
Doepfer A-132-3 Dual VCA - I've got a couple of these, both the first rev that people think sounds better than the new one. I really like a VCA with a pot for initial gain and one for CV amount. Have had some that don't have both of those and I didn't like it.
A Spring Reverb - at the moment I've got two of the Musicthing DIY ones which in my opinion are much nicer than the doepfer which I owned before that. I think modulars just have to run through spring reverb, without a spring things just don't sound right IMO.

So those are my incredibly subjective 'must haves', I imagine there would be a lot of people that would have none of those on their must have list, but that's the beauty of modular, you make the system that suits you best.
calaverasgrande wrote:Any brands or models to avoid?
Nope.
I hear you on the spring reverb. Though honestly for the past few years I have been content with a quadraverb GT and a Malekko Chicklet. I did used to own a Gibson spring reverb and a Furman unit.
There is something those noisy mono units do that all our digital confabulations can't touch.
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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by silikon » Thu May 08, 2014 5:36 pm

The modules I've come to appreciate as 'most useful' in terms of CV processing are indeed Make Noise Maths, Bananalogue VCS, Harvestman Zorlon Cannon, Bubblesound uLFO, AS RS-510e, and then Make Noise Brains/Pressure Points/Analog Memory. Certainly the trio of Brains/Pressure Points/Analog Memory were a game changer for me in terms of interactivity.

I've stayed away from Blue Lantern and Plan B just due to the overall controversy that has happened in regards to them, but by no means would I advocate blind following of that -- from my understanding both manufacturers have some interesting modules.

If you haven't already, I'd suggest spending some time on the euro subforum at Muffs, perusing the voluminous amount of posts on different topics ranging from beginning systems all the way into how people are using various modules and patching ideas. There's literally weeks of information to pore through that might also be of good service to you.

(edit)
Here's a link to my modulargrid page... by no means is my system complete (and a little 'not-up-to-date'), but it does contain those modules I put forth, with descriptions and whatnot. Perhaps helpful, perhaps not.

http://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/19737
http://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/27437
http://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/19744
echo 1 > /dev/awesome

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Re: New to Eurorack, what are 'must haves'

Post by Bitexion » Thu May 08, 2014 6:45 pm

I'm kind of hooked on aesthetics, so I prefer to keep my modular single-manufacturer. I use the bottom, mostly empty, row as patch cable storage

(sorry about the blitz, it's sort of dark in here)

Image
Last edited by Bitexion on Thu May 08, 2014 6:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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