Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

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Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by pricklyrobot » Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:58 am

So, I've sold some things and I have a few dollars burning a hole in my pocket. Naturally, putting together a small modular system springs to mind. My idea is to have a modular 'processor bank' for external signals (synths, guitar, drum machines, maybe some vocals), rather than a full-on modular synth.

I have about $500-$600 to start me off (and all of the disposable income for the rest of my life thereafter, I assume ;) ), so I'm thinking Tip Top Happy Ending for a case, and the Doepfer A-119 for getting sounds in. I reckon I'll need a VCA for getting sounds back out, and I'll probably want at least one ADSR as well (any VCA's, ADSR's with cool, non-standard features that people like?)

I have an x0xb0x with the x0xi0 back-panel kit that I'll be building soon. So that'll give me some MIDI-to-CV and basic sequencing abilities, as well as its VCF.

So, what to fill up the rest of the modular case with? Filters are the dead-obvious thing, and I would like a nice multi-mode that's a good compliment/contrast for the x0xb0x filter. The Analogue Solutions SY02 looks cool and has a VCA built in, the Flight of Harmony Plaguebearer looks good too as a less conventional alternative.

But aside from filters, what are people's favorite modules, or types of modules, for processing external audio? Especially things you wouldn't immediately think of, things that are versatile or can be used/abused beyond there intended purpose. Basically, 'things that can get as crazy and dissonant as possible, but still be useful in a somewhat conventional musical context' are what I'm after. I was listening to Add N to X earlier today, and they might be useful to cite as a vague stylistic reference point of the ballpark at which I'm aiming (any good metaphor mixing modules out there :D ).

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

P.S. Any thoughts on Tip Top's Stackcables as a space-saving alternative to mult modules?
Arturia MiniBrute -- bits o' Euro -- Sammich SID -- E-mu MP-7 -- Korg ER-1 -- Thingamagoop

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by tallowwaters » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:47 am

Squarewave Parade is making modular Teaspoons. Otherwise, I know nothing.
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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by space6oy » Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:06 am

good luck w/ your oncoming addiction. :help:

check out intellijel for compact utilities. about everything he makes is the s**t. far as filters... division 6 SEIII and malekko borg 2 are great multimodes. QMMG too, but they're huge & tough to land at the moment. harvestman polivoks is just lowpass/bandpass but is pretty great for the price. MFB dual ADSR's nice, just because of having two in fairly few hp. oh their dual LFO is badass too. that & the vulcan w/ mind meld are probably my favorites... flight of harmony sound of shadows delay is awesome too, though circuit abbey have a delay module coming out that'll be competition... think pittsburgh modular have one coming out too... am not in front of my rig, just throwin' out thoughts.

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:25 am

Good choice aiming for Add N to X's sound, they're still one of my favourite bands.

$600 isn't much to begin with, but it'll get you something. $150 for the Happy ending leaves you with $450. $100 for the A-119 leaves $350 and you still haven't done anything to the sound, just boosted it up to modular level and extracted its envelope, and compared it to a reference voltage.

I think the SY02 would be a good choice, it's actually two filters and a VCA in one module and sounds pretty good so is a good starting point. Another good choice would be the TipTop Z2040, it can be configured to be VCF->VCA with jumpers on the board and is a really nice sounding filter, the SY02 is probably more flexible though. You should be able to manage starting out just using that VCA for audio. $190 for that and you're down to $160. Think of the Plague Bearer as more of a distortion than a filter. So now you need a modulation source. The two obvious choices would be an LFO or an Envelope. I personally think that every modulation source should have CV inputs for its parameters, ie rate CV on LFOs and CV ins for A, D, S and R on envelopes. This rules out the cheapest Doepfer LFOs and Envelopes (Doepfer is often a good place to look if you're on a tight budget). So you could get the A-141 (envelope) for $145, leaving you $15 for some cables or you could get the A-147 VCLFO for $115 and have $45 left over for cables and maybe a couple of Stackcables.

Or you could choose option C, which is the correct option when buying modular gear, and blow your budget getting something that is a lot more flexible. For $280 you can get a Makenoise Maths, which depending on how you patch it can be 2x (AD or AR or LFO) and a two input CV mixer or an ADSR or a Quadrature LFO or a lot of different stuff. The slopes are controllable and very musical sounding too.

So that nicely blows you budget, but don't worry you'll forget about how much it cost. You can always save money on other things like food, and before long you'll be looking at Cwejman modules and thinking they don't look too expensive. :D Head over to Muffwigglers, there's often a lot of second-hand stuff selling there and you can get things for around 75-80% of their new cost. You'll also find quite a few posts from people like you who want a processing setup to start off with which might give some more perspectives and you can see what others have to say about it. And if you find what you want second-hand you might even fit it all in under $600.

The true power of a modular is the way as you double the amount of stuff you have, the ways you can put it together squares.

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by space6oy » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:48 am

short response, but i'd instantly disagree w/ the SYO2. module sucks in comparison to the dual filter of the MS-20 that it's trying to emulate.

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Apr 01, 2011 7:08 am

I'm not comparing it to the MS-20 filter, I'm just saying that within the budget it's a good option for a multimode with VCA for not much money. Doing anything in modular land for $600 is gonna involve some compromises, as I'm sure you know. A Borg 2 would be great but it costs more, you need 2 if you're going for the HPF -> LPF thing the MS-20 does and then you need a VCA as well unless you're going strictly for LPG sounds.

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by pricklyrobot » Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:08 pm

Excellent suggestions so far, thanks. I joined up at Muffwiggler a few days ago, so I'll be sure to have a good look around there. I also think I might spend a few hours and go through Analogue Haven's whole stock list, just to get a better idea of what all is out there.

I also have a few more things to sell, so I might be able to put together a few hundred more in the next couple of weeks.

I'll have the LPF in the x0xb0x, so I guess I could just get a high-pass filter (instead of a multimode) and run those together. Anyone make a good HPF? I haven't really come across any yet.

Also, anyone used the Flight of Harmony V'amp? Looks like it might be an interesting alternative to a standard VCA.
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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by space6oy » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:40 pm

didn't mean to be saying you were stabby, but that's what most say it's intended to be.

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by Hair » Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:09 pm

I'm in a similar position (though it's still a daydream for now) - I have a Syntecno TeeBee for 4 channels of MIDI to CV/Gate, and a MoogerFooger Low Pass which I understand plays nicely in the modular world.

I was thinking of shooting for a 3U system that would keep me happy for a long time, and these are the modules I'm really digging. Not a whole lot of external audio processing, but maybe some of the utility stuff will get you thinking at least?

to start:
Tip Top Audio Z3000 or Synthesis Tech/MOTM E340 Cloud osc (leaning towards the latter)
Doepfer A-132-2 dual lin/exp VCA
MFB Dual ADSR

to finish:
Bubblesound uLFO (I understand it can be used as a somewhat limited 2nd osc, too)
Intellijel mult
Fonitronik mh01 Attenuverting Mixer
Intellijel uMod
Bubblesound SeM 20 VSF (seems like a pretty sweet multimode)

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by pricklyrobot » Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:00 pm

Hadn't come across Bubblesound yet; looks like some cool stuff.

I've been reading good things about Doepfer's A-124 Wasp filter (like the sound samples I've heard as well), and it's quite cheap compared to other multi-modes. Looks like it might be a good one to start with.

I also just discovered these barebones packs that Flight of Harmony have. Looks like you just need to make your own panel (I've had good success etching pedal enclosures, just need to find an economical place to get non-anodized aluminum in Euro-panel sizes) and wire up the pots and jacks.

Just heard Analogue Haven are sold out of the Happy Ending kits, so I've got a few more weeks to ponder all of this.
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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by pricklyrobot » Wed Dec 21, 2011 7:01 pm

So, I ended up with the Happy Ending, the A-119, Moddemix for my VCA (plus other stuff), the Wasp filter, and just scored a second-hand Maths the other day.

Just sold something else and have about $125 sitting in my PayPal account, and I'm wondering if there are any cheapish modules that would go well with what I have so far. Either another sound-modifying type thing, that'd complement the Wasp, or a modulation source that'd complement the Maths. Don't have my eye on anything in particular, just looking for unique ways of processing external sounds (synths, guitars, drum machines, etc.)

Or maybe I should just hang on to my money and spend time trying to wrap my head around the various possibilities of the Maths? #-o
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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:23 pm

have you gotten or built some mixers and mults yet? You'll definitely need those. or something like synovatron's cv tools module. http://synovatron.blogspot.com/p/synova ... dules.html

or a wavefolder type thing - but probably won't find one for cheaper than your remaining coin.

oh and btw - :welcomeparty: to modular. it's never the same from here 8-)

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by Hybrid88 » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:03 pm

samuraipizzacat29 wrote:...oh and btw - :welcomeparty: to modular. it's never the same from here 8-)
Be sure to tell that to the wife in regards to the bank statement... :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:13 pm

pricklyrobot wrote:So, I ended up with the Happy Ending, the A-119, Moddemix for my VCA (plus other stuff), the Wasp filter, and just scored a second-hand Maths the other day.

Just sold something else and have about $125 sitting in my PayPal account, and I'm wondering if there are any cheapish modules that would go well with what I have so far. Either another sound-modifying type thing, that'd complement the Wasp, or a modulation source that'd complement the Maths. Don't have my eye on anything in particular, just looking for unique ways of processing external sounds (synths, guitars, drum machines, etc.)

Or maybe I should just hang on to my money and spend time trying to wrap my head around the various possibilities of the Maths? #-o
That's a nice start. You should definitely spend time with the Maths, do all the patches in the manual (you might want to download the newest one, I think it has more patches than what came with them to begin with) and also make sure you use the Envelope and Comparator outs of the A-119.

I reckon with what you have so far another audio processing module would be the way to go, I'd be looking at the Intellijel uFold, FoH Sound of Shadows or A-199 Spring Reverb as my first choices, they're all a little over the $125 budget but they're all rad. For a little more you could check out the Pittsburgh Modular Analog Delay, I just got one today and haven't put it in my case yet but a 900ms analogue delay with CV inputs for $250 is amazing. Worth blowing your budget for.

I also really love the A-199, makes everything sound like it came from the 70s. The SoS is great but takes a little while to find the sweet spots, and then it still sounds like cicadas from outer space, which I think is a good thing. I've made some nice sounding snares by running digital noise through a VCA with a very short gate into the SoS with a short delay and then used the feedback amount as decay time. SoS also gives you a bonus VCA which I wouldn't use for audio but it's great modulate your modulators with.

Plague Bearer is under $100 and would be cool for processing stuff too, there's also a few Doepfer wave folders and processors around that price but I haven't used them so couldn't tell you if they're good or not.

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Re: Sticking a toe in the modular (Euro) waters

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:34 pm

Hair wrote:I'm in a similar position (though it's still a daydream for now) - I have a Syntecno TeeBee for 4 channels of MIDI to CV/Gate, and a MoogerFooger Low Pass which I understand plays nicely in the modular world.

I was thinking of shooting for a 3U system that would keep me happy for a long time, and these are the modules I'm really digging. Not a whole lot of external audio processing, but maybe some of the utility stuff will get you thinking at least?

to start:
Tip Top Audio Z3000 or Synthesis Tech/MOTM E340 Cloud osc (leaning towards the latter)
Doepfer A-132-2 dual lin/exp VCA
MFB Dual ADSR

to finish:
Bubblesound uLFO (I understand it can be used as a somewhat limited 2nd osc, too)
Intellijel mult
Fonitronik mh01 Attenuverting Mixer
Intellijel uMod
Bubblesound SeM 20 VSF (seems like a pretty sweet multimode)

Image
Nice choices. :D I have the Z3000 and an E350 (not 340 but they look the same :P) and two A-132-2s. They're all great. I also have a uLFO (I use it mostly as a VCO, it's really good for it but I'm thinking of replacing it with a VCOb cause I don't really use the advanced modulation options) and SeM 20.

The Z3000 sounds more bold and modern than the uLFO, I think I actually like the uLFO sounds better. They work well together though, I usually run them both into a STG .MIX which overdrives them nicely. If you want a bit of variety I'd choose the E340 and either the uLFO or the Z3000, they're both really good though.

The SeM 20 is a cool filter, I use it mostly for leads rather than basses. It's not a great choice if you want to filter whole mixes as it distorts things that go through it, you don't notice it just running waveforms in but if you put vocals in you do, even if the filter's wide open.

Lastly the Pittsburgh multiple is cheaper than the intellijel one and has a four way and a five way.

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