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ParsecWaves
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That’s it, I’m in!

Post by ParsecWaves » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:20 am

That’s it, I’m in!

A few weeks ago, I finally decided to make the jump, and build my own eurorack modular. :banana:

I always been tempted by making sounds, music. I took piano lessons during my teenage years.
Spent an embarrassing number of hours in front of a crappy tone bank digital synth.
Years later I played with Propellerhead’s Rebirth (The ol' Mac OS version), more years, then Reason.
I even bought a pretty good controller I mostly never used.

But I never had that academic music composer flux going...
Of course! I am not a musician. I am not even a passable keyboard player.
What was I thinking? :doh:

Years passed, but the itch was still around.

I had seen those patched blinking contraptions before here and there, but it didn’t even crossed my mind I could see one close up, much less own one.

About a year ago, while browsing YouTube I watched Alessandro Cortini’s Trash Audio at the Apothecary 1 and 2 (Hi Richard!). It was a blast!
I searched a bit to find out he was playing an EMS Synthi, then a Buchla Music Easel. Wow, yeah well, okay. Pricey.
Next up was Everything Ends Here, performed by A. Cortini and Don Buchla in person at the S.F. Electronic Music Festival 2010. Blast again and ouch!
Okay I now know what is a Buchla and how much it costs. Forget it.

...

Then, last year I stumbled upon this video, probably responsible for half the sales of Metropolises (hats off mylarmelodies).
Followed by the IDOW documentary. And was finally mesmerized with Dylan Brown's Intellijel Metropolis Opus 1 & 2.

What? – Yes I’m already obsessed by the Metropolis... :intellijel:

But not so fast.

I told myself this is the thing, this is what I want to do! As for the price, I can afford it: build it slow and steady.

All I ever wanted to do music-wise is possible with a modular synth:
- I want to understand what is going on, not just press a button for a sound thousands of people already heard.
- I want to turn knobs, not play keyboard!
- And above all, I want to explore not compose!

It make sense for me, at least. What do you think?

So here I am and hereby declare abandoning all hope to maintain any cash savings for the foreseeable future. :party:

I’ve been lurking around for too long already, let’s begin!

First things first, I need to build a case. And that’s about to be marked as done.
9U 104 HP, birch plywood, Ivory Tolex, black hardware – Monorocket style.

At this point I should mention I plan to start very small but have room to grow.
I'm a total newbie and don't want to make impatient choices or be overwhelmed by a monster.
So I will likely need your advice along the way.

This is my first real post – click! :guinness:

Stay tuned for part 2.
Last edited by ParsecWaves on Mon Mar 30, 2015 4:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

Kytopia
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Post by Kytopia » Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:37 am

:yay:

Welcome to the point of no return!

exploration vs composition - hit the nail on the head there. the funny thing is you'll end up composing anyway, albeit through a very different approach.

be sure to post your progress as you go. use the search function often and thoroughly when in need of general advice, there's tons of info out there. as for building up your system, taking it slow is a good thing to do. I didn't and a few years into euro I still find modules in my rack that I've never touched or known how to use them :doh: Metropolis is a fun starting point, toss in a nice osc, vca, envelope and filter and you'll be doing groovy acid basslines all day long :nana:

enjoy!

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Post by ParsecWaves » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:47 am

Thank you Kytopia!

I'll indeed start slow, but maybe not start with a sequencer, I'll reserve that for later in a few months. More on that in a future post

The thing that freaks me out totally is I already have a list of more than 60 modules I'm interested in. Some of them already pretty rare. I wouldn't miss an opportunity, but I have to fight to not compulsively bid on everything. This is the toughest part.

A new batch of Metropolises is coming in these days, will there be any left in 2-3 months? :hail:

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Post by Barlov » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:12 am

Welcome ParsecWaves.

IMHO modular synthesis is very purist. If you're anything like me you'll be studying the functions of just about any module you might be remotely interested in.

If you haven't already I'd suggest building a virtual rack on modular grid and even posting it on this thread so everyone will be able to give you some guidance.

I wouldn't sleep on the metropolis. It took ages for this new batch to be made because of an issue with the 8 way switches.

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Post by edgek8d » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:51 am

Welcome and congratulations on your decision! I'm new to Euro as well. I've been knee deep in fixed architecture synths for the last two years. I had ZERO musical background but have worked really hard to learn music, mixing, and synthesis. I started with software, but made my way OTB for the sound, but found myself going back ITB at times due to flexibility. Sure, sometimes two detuned saw waves and a nice filter envelope are all you need, but sometimes I needed more. Starting a modular just seemed the obvious progression of things.

I sold off a few pricier pieces of my gear recently, got a divorce, won custody of my daughter, and have my orders placed as of yesterday to fill almost 2 of 3 rows of an 84 HP case.

The best advice I can give is to learn your equipment. RTFM! Always! This will likely take a long time, thousands and thousands of hours to master. That's okay, and for somebody like me, part of the fun, the journey. You have to be a little bit crazy/obsessive I think to get into this.

A lot of people recommend modular as the best way to learn synthesis. So you'll be fine. I'm very comfortable with fixed architecture and semi-modular software. I can not wait to get started! Electronic music has become my passion in life. At 37, I feel like I should have been doing this my entire life. I am just grateful I found my way to it. Lot of life yet to live. I actually am grateful my degenerate x-wife preffered drugs to my daughter and I. It provided me the countless hours of time alone needed to study, practice, and learn my craft.

BTW.....I watched IDOW recently too....big mistake! Hook, line, and sinker!

Get to work my friend. Lots to learn, and for me too. The most important thing is to have fun. I have no delusions of being on a stage or releasing music. I do it for the goose-bumps I get at times when I create something wonderful. Also, I've met some really cool people and made some good friends by getting into this. Some in my home town, and some on the other side of the world whom I've never met and probably won't. It's an interesting community of people.

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Post by ParsecWaves » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:17 am

Thank you for the warm welcome Barlov and edgek8d!
Barlov wrote:If you're anything like me you'll be studying the functions of just about any module you might be remotely interested in.
I think we are made of the same stuff! :wink:
Barlov wrote:If you haven't already I'd suggest building a virtual rack on modular grid ...
I did! Let me clean those up and I'll post some links. I have 12U 120hp filled with cool modules (my soul is lost guys)
Barlov wrote:I wouldn't sleep on the metropolis. It took ages for this new batch to be made because of an issue with the 8 way switches.
I heard about that, but haven't they ended up making their own? Mhh, I guess I'll follow your advice and not take any chance...

edgek8d, I guess we will learn along at the same time! Welcome and congratulations to you too! :yay:
edgek8d wrote:The best advice I can give is to learn your equipment. RTFM! Always!
That's exactly what I plan to do! :tu: I'll certainly even start with only two modules, enough for simple drones. Then grow at a rate of around 2 modules per month. Enough time to be comfortable with what I have before acquiring more.

Oh and I forgot to mention I already have a MicroBrute. It will provide a combination of gate and pitch CVs, LFO, ADSR, Sequencer and even Filter if needed. Enough for a start, but I hope to use it as little as possible.
edgek8d wrote:Get to work my friend. Lots to learn, and for me too. The most important thing is to have fun. I have no delusions of being on a stage or releasing music. I do it for the goose-bumps I get at times when I create something wonderful. Also, I've met some really cool people and made some good friends by getting into this. Some in my home town, and some on the other side of the world whom I've never met and probably won't. It's an interesting community of people.
Thank you! For what I've seen you are very right :mrgreen:

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Post by h4ndcrafted » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:17 am

Run while you have the chance, think of all the other things you could do with that money!
Buy a helicopter, start an Airline or a lifetime of hookers and high quality cocaine.

Or you could sit in a room by yourself with blinky lights and strange noises :hmm:

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Post by ParsecWaves » Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:41 am

h4ndcrafted wrote:Run while you have the chance, think of all the other things you could do with that money!
Buy a helicopter, start an Airline or a lifetime of hookers and high quality cocaine.

Or you could sit in a room by yourself with blinks lights and strange noises :hmm:
:lol:

Actually I looked into learning to fly helicopters :wink: That's in fact way more expensive and time-consuming :deadbanana:

Besides, blinking lights and strange noises in the dark fits well my introvert type :razz:
Last edited by ParsecWaves on Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by botstein » Sun Mar 29, 2015 12:51 pm

Welcome. It's a good time for eurorack and you'll have great fun.

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Post by cannonball swandive » Sun Mar 29, 2015 1:01 pm

h4ndcrafted wrote:Run while you have the chance, think of all the other things you could do with that money!
Buy a helicopter, start an Airline or a lifetime of hookers and high quality cocaine.

Or you could sit in a room by yourself with blinky lights and strange noises :hmm:
:lol:

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Post by Herman » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:17 pm

h4ndcrafted wrote:Run while you have the chance, think of all the other things you could do with that money!
Buy a helicopter, start an Airline or a lifetime of hookers and high quality cocaine.

Or you could sit in a room by yourself with blinky lights and strange noises :hmm:
Wise words indeed :yay:

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Post by Convulser » Sun Mar 29, 2015 2:28 pm

One thing I would advise is that if you're looking for ANY KIND of streamlined workflow, you should limit your time on the modular while making songs.

I have a modular solely for the sounds not easily obtained from fixed architecture synths and have found that splitting my time between making songs and learning the modular inside and out is useful. Sometimes those two will mix together, but where the time vampire hits is when you're in a good workflow and you get caught spending a bunch of time messing around with the modular kit ('I had the sound I needed an hour ago...')

Regardless, I categorize my modular as the greatest toy a musician/adult nerd can have, because I can play with it for hours...and it's always satisfying! P.S. Everyone is right, it's a HUGE moneysink.

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Post by ParsecWaves » Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:21 pm

Convulser wrote:One thing I would advise is that if you're looking for ANY KIND of streamlined workflow, you should limit your time on the modular while making songs.

I have a modular solely for the sounds not easily obtained from fixed architecture synths and have found that splitting my time between making songs and learning the modular inside and out is useful. Sometimes those two will mix together, but where the time vampire hits is when you're in a good workflow and you get caught spending a bunch of time messing around with the modular kit ('I had the sound I needed an hour ago...')
You are making a very good point. Although I don't plan on making sounds for a long time (or am I lying to myself :hmm:), I plan on recording every session so that I can do whatever I want later on (review, edit, upload, redo). But I realize that is certainly a noob dream and totally impractical.
Convulser wrote:Regardless, I categorize my modular as the greatest toy a musician/adult nerd can have, because I can play with it for hours...and it's always satisfying! P.S. Everyone is right, it's a HUGE moneysink.
I'm already sold/broke! :mrgreen:

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Post by Aaronautical001 » Sun Mar 29, 2015 3:25 pm

welcome Parsecwaves :party:

Your aspirations sound very similar to mine. I took the plunge last year, although started with a happy ending kit with an oscillator and maths and filter. I didn't really come alive for me until I purchased an echophon and phonogene though. This lead me into buying more makenoise modules eventually leading to me trying to limit the number of modules I would consider to just the one manufacturer (not a comment on the quality of other manufacturers, just an attempt to avoid spending money)

Building up slowly is a good idea, but it takes some self control. At the moment the comment I would have from my limited experience, is expect your plans to change :mrgreen:

And that's the point really, isn't it?

I look forward to hearing your progress,

Aaronautical

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Post by ParsecWaves » Sun Mar 29, 2015 4:47 pm

Okay, let's talk business - Part 2

As said earlier, I plan to start very small, have room to grow and have time to explore and get comfy with what I have before expanding.

So – that's still open for debate – I plan on beginning with only two modules, both Make Noise: Maths and DPO. (Spot on, Aaronautical001! :grin:)

Since I already got a MicroBrute, if I need any other LFO, ADSR, Filter, Sequencer, Gate or Pitch CV I can use it.

But the goal is to explore the DPO's Dual Oscillator nature, FM, Shape, Fold and Angle and modulate with the Maths. I could do drones with this setup and mix percussive things with the strike input. Plus other combinations with my MicroBrute.

I also already have a Scarlett 6i6 for multiple inputs mixing and recording and plan to use software Reverbs and Delays with Reason or Live (that's of course temporary and the only use of my DAW I foresee).

Here is the link to my current setup on Modular Grid, I still don't have the two first modules, I anticipated a bit. But I'll update it along the way.

That said, here is the link to my Cool Modules (unsorted) rack. It is 21U 120HP and growing :woah:. Those all are modules I'm interested in, and are mostly all on my wishlist (I'll soon make a WTB list). I hear a voice in the back my head suggesting me to run away now.

From here I plan to augment my case by around 2 modules at a time each month or so.

This is already a lot to discuss. I also have a WIP and absolutely not final filled up case and accompanying skiff if you want to have a look. But I know I won't go this way in that order.

So I made a map! And I think it reflects more what I'm after for the first few iterations.

Image
Last edited by ParsecWaves on Sun Apr 05, 2015 7:43 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by nucleus » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:52 pm

welcome i dove in a few months ago and after a while i can say you start really understanding things. i got a few modules at first and was surprised with how i found it second nature to patch a classic synth voice. things are right there in front of you.

good point about growing too fast. i do believe it is important you understand the ins and outs of every module before you expand further and by starting with basic modules you figure out what to get next. i now have a filter, osc, vcas, envelope, distortion, sampler module, 2 drum modules and a sequencer and i figure out what i want next. some logic, clock dividers another sequencer, sample and hold and effects but i will be adding them a few modules at a time.

i started with a 6u which is not filled in yet but already another 6u is making sense. i reckon i will be fitting in with the 12u and will provide pretty much everything you want to try in euro. my suggestion is to get a 9u since you are diving in you obviously will be exploring modules. 6u can get you a good ride but i think you really get a bit of everything from 9u upwards considering you want to try more filters, different vcas, more sequencers cv routing modules, logic etc.... imho

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Post by moofi » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:10 pm

Alternatively to Pressure Points + Brains, may I suggest looking at Meng Qi´s Voltage Memory? Though I don´t have any experience with PP + Brains, I assume VM covers a lot if not everthing PP+Brains can do plus it´s offering additional functionality like saving settings, playable arpeggiator, versatile sequencer, etc. with a pleasant design at a more affordable price:

[video][/video]

Seeing you possibly planing on Pittsburgh´s VLFO, Pittsburgh´s Chain Reactor includes two VLFO plus 2 standard LFO for funky modulation.

https://modulargrid.net/e/pittsburgh-mo ... in-reactor

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Post by ParsecWaves » Mon Mar 30, 2015 5:23 am

Oh snap! I just realized how unvisited links contrast poorly against regular text. I've edited all my posts to properly underline links. You might have missed some.

Thanks nucleus! I did a lot of research, watched a lot of videos, pausing, looking at modules and finding infos on them, watched demos, and even read quite a few manuals. This is very comforting you say I seem to understand things. :grin:

I originally was beginning with 6U 84HP, but soon got the feeling this is foolish. I now have a DIY 9U 104HP case (photos incoming!) and while I'll have one or two years in front of me to fill it up, I already see a need for a skiff and a second case at least the same size. Crazy.

Thank you for the alternatives moofi, I had a quick look at the first few minutes of the VM video and it look very interesting! Will watch it fully tonight. I might totally try that one soon! Altough I guess it will not replace the Pressure Points (I have a sentimental thing going for the Pressure Points, Metropolis and a few other modules as they are the first I spotted and got me into this).

As for the Chain Reactor, hmm.. hadn't seen it. This looks like a beast! Aww, I was so tempted by that big ass LED in the VILFO. What am I going to do now?

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Post by cold_fashioned » Mon Mar 30, 2015 2:37 pm

Welcome to a strange and wonderful world, full of possibilities, and devoid of any kind of spare change. I took the plunge about a year ago myself, and it's been a lot of fun. My goal was to build a case on the cheap, and DIY as many modules as I could, to keep costs down. One thing you said really resonated with me - i.e. the desire to explore vs. compose. Prior to starting modular, I had Ableton Live and a couple of hardware synths. I still want to (and enjoy) making songs with that gear, but lately the modular has taken over all of my thoughts. I'll probably spend the next couple months immersed in learning all the ins and outs (no pun intended) of my modular. After that, I am hoping to be able to incorporate it into songs, along with my other gear. Granted, my production skills aren't all that great, but it's a fun hobby.

Anyway, enough about me! I think you're definitely taking a good approach. Take your time, your plans will change as you go along, but it's all good stuff. One suggestion, as far as sequencers go, what about the Stepper Acid? It looks like a fully capable sequencer, in a reasonably compact package. I'm looking forward to see how your case turns out. I just picked up some tolex and some hardware to pretty up my plywood box!

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Post by moofi » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:42 pm

Easy one - get both. :lol:
Then I guess the only true advantage of the standard VILFO (declared out of production but you might get one somewhere anyways) is that BIIIIG LED :hihi:
Chain Reactor offers quite some additional possibilites simply because it´s 2 VILFO and 2 standard LFO (triangle or square) while LFO 3 is being normaled to VILFO 2´s influence CV-in and VLFO 2 is normaled to VLFO 1´s influence CV in case you don´t plug anything in from outside. Chain Reactor´s priceadvantage is quite huge aswell.
ParsecWaves wrote:[...]

As for the Chain Reactor, hmm.. hadn't seen it. This looks like a beast! Aww, I was so tempted by that big ass LED in the VILFO. What am I going to do now?

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Post by ParsecWaves » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:09 am

Thank you cold_fashioned!

I'm also very much into DIY stuff, I hope to always have one project on the workbench.

The Stepper Acid looks nice, it reminds me of a TB-303. Added to my cool modules rack. But I have already so much samplers on my wish list... better have some audio modules too!

Of course moofi that is certainly what will end up happening :mrgreen: But since I will need to find the VIFLO second hand, I'll start with the Chain Reactor. It look badass in the same way anyhow, although maybe less steampunk. That big dark LED and knob have something special.

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Post by ParsecWaves » Fri Apr 03, 2015 4:27 am

I promised some photos of my 9U 104HP case...

I was heavily inspired by this post on Mutable Instruments forums. We don't share the same tolex color, construction method or width, but except those details they both look like sisters.

I did not take any photo during the assembly :doh: But if anyone is interested in details, part numbers or supplier, I could post some info here. Even some construction drawings, wood cuts, etc. Would be glad to share.

Another thing I am willing to share is about the mains input and wiring. I'll do a separate post about that shortly.

Here are the pics. Only the busboards are missing. I hope having them next week.

Image

Full of potential :loves:

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Post by Barlov » Fri Apr 03, 2015 4:44 am

That is an awfully nice case ParsecWaves. :tu:

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Post by h4ndcrafted » Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:42 am

Yes that is great looking case, please share!

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Post by ParsecWaves » Sun Apr 05, 2015 3:51 pm

I was writing a (very) long post about how to build this case and where to source the different parts. But it's all already here! Turns out flocked who wrote the post that inspired me was himself inspired by Kingnimrod's post here on MuffWiggler. :doh:

So I will not write the story all over again. There's a million different ways to do it and it heavily depends on the tools at hand and your know-how.

That said, I have a few useful documents to share.

What wood cutting dimensions do you need for such a case? You could find out with a pencil and paper, but as a programmer I wanted something more reusable. There is a software I use about every day, it’s called Soulver and it is a literal calculator. I like it for this kind of calculations because it allows me to play with a few variables (wood thickness, tolex thickness, eurorack HPs and rows, case depth, etc…) while having the final dimensions always up-to-date and accurate.

Here is the original Soulver document if you want to try and change some values. I also exported a PDF version. Finally, I made a crude construction overview and wood cut drawings you might find helpful.

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