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Just ordered a modular synth - suggestions?
Old 21st August 2020
  #1
Just ordered a modular synth - suggestions?

Ordered all this stuff the other day:

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/1298171

It’s all going in 2 7u intellijel cases. Slutty for one big purchase, you think?

Anyone see any obvious issues? I already know I need way more VCAs, utility stuff...

Any suggested modules to add? I make hip hop primarily. I like interesting percussion, beautiful melodic stuff...

not trying to emulate any vintage gear or popular sounds... this is for finding new and exciting sounds to sample and modulate in weird ways.

Thanks!
Old 21st August 2020
  #2
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pekbro's Avatar
 

Probably this should be moved to the modular sub forum.

Anyway, you've got a lot of percussive stuff going on there, some very nice choices definitely.
Lots of nice stuff that would work well with some nice VCO's, of which it looks like you have 1 of.
Old 21st August 2020
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by pekbro View Post
Probably this should be moved to the modular sub forum.

Anyway, you've got a lot of percussive stuff going on there, some very nice choices definitely.
Lots of nice stuff that would work well with some nice VCO's, of which it looks like you have 1 of.
2 oscillators : plonk and the harmonic oscillator... plus 8 more of you count the Rossum.

The purchase was a bit financially draining... it is by no means “finished”.

I’m planning on 2 of the new polygogo oscs, an intellijel shapeshifter, and some noise engineering stuff.

First I need more utility modules (hopefully in 1u), and some effects (rainmaker and the new noise engineering reverb).
Old 21st August 2020
  #4
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pekbro's Avatar
 

Ok that makes more sense, most of the percussive stuff should have built in envelopes
and whatnot I would think. Anway, nice rig regardless *I meant the plonk as well,
cant do much physical modeling without an onboard envelope of some sort.
Old 21st August 2020
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
Slutty for one big purchase, you think?
Sure is. But you'll spend more time with my modular system than with your car (and get more enjoyment from it) so it's perfectly fine that the former is worth a lot more than the latter. Right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
Anyone see any obvious issues? I already know I need way more VCAs, utility stuff... Any suggested modules to add?
Wait. Use it. Then you'll start to figure out whether there are any gaps for what you want to do.

It can take a bit of time to realise the full potential of what you already have with modular. It's a mistake to jump to conclusions too early for a couple of reasons. Firstly, working around constraints tends to force creative solutions with modular - which can often produce really cool results technically or musically. Secondly, you may not quite realise that you can do something you think you can't ... then one day it dawns on you "oh, I can do it THAT way!".

Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
I make hip hop primarily. I like interesting percussion, beautiful melodic stuff... not trying to emulate any vintage gear or popular sounds... this is for finding new and exciting sounds to sample and modulate in weird ways.
You will be well served by that rig then. Absolutely powerful percussive sounds, extra-gorgeous melodic and textural sounds, great sequencing and modulation along with the best mixer in the business.

The only suggestion I would have made is to choose a WMD MSCL stereo buss comp over the mono comp. But that's biased to the way I work - I mix into the compressor to get things pumping. You may prefer to apply compression in post, so horses for courses.

Anyway, enjoy it! Should be fricken awesome.
Old 21st August 2020
  #6
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
Ordered all this stuff the other day:

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/1298171

It’s all going in 2 7u intellijel cases. Slutty for one big purchase, you think?
I think I’d keep it all in it’s boxes except for a core setup and slowly integrate modules over time as you get comfortable with them. If I walked up to that setup for the first time I think it would be overwhelming and I’d keep forgetting what everything did.
Old 21st August 2020
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambiguous signal View Post
Sure is. But you'll spend more time with my modular system than with your car (and get more enjoyment from it) so it's perfectly fine that the former is worth a lot more than the latter. Right?



Wait. Use it. Then you'll start to figure out whether there are any gaps for what you want to do.

It can take a bit of time to realise the full potential of what you already have with modular. It's a mistake to jump to conclusions too early for a couple of reasons. Firstly, working around constraints tends to force creative solutions with modular - which can often produce really cool results technically or musically. Secondly, you may not quite realise that you can do something you think you can't ... then one day it dawns on you "oh, I can do it THAT way!".



You will be well served by that rig then. Absolutely powerful percussive sounds, extra-gorgeous melodic and textural sounds, great sequencing and modulation along with the best mixer in the business.

The only suggestion I would have made is to choose a WMD MSCL stereo buss comp over the mono comp. But that's biased to the way I work - I mix into the compressor to get things pumping. You may prefer to apply compression in post, so horses for courses.

Anyway, enjoy it! Should be fricken awesome.
Thanks for the great advice.

I chose the regular comp for sidechain compression duty mostly... I’ll look into the MSCL.

One of the annoying things about buying a modular ( the wait times) might actually be a blessing in disguise. I’ll get to hook modules up as they come in (which I’ve been told can take a year or more for some modules...) and spend time learning the system.

I have a lot to learn!
Old 21st August 2020
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

Great looking system. You could use the wait time to watch a load of YouTube videos on the modules although I’m sure you did before you chose / ordered them.

I started with a bunch of Doepfer and watched Raul’s series on YouTube which set me up nicely. It can be frustrating watching the vids without the modules in front of you.
Old 21st August 2020
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fivewire View Post
Great looking system. You could use the wait time to watch a load of YouTube videos on the modules although I’m sure you did before you chose / ordered them.

I started with a bunch of Doepfer and watched Raul’s series on YouTube which set me up nicely. It can be frustrating watching the vids without the modules in front of you.
Some of the modules arrived today!!!!

4ms PEG, BATUMI, intellijel dual VCA and mixer.

... still don’t have the case yet, but this is super exciting.

I’m already deep into Youtube land. It’s fun watching how everyone uses the modules differently. I’m taking notes on the stuff I like.
Old 21st August 2020
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Actual modules without a case and power is probably double frustrating!
Old 22nd August 2020
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fivewire View Post
Actual modules without a case and power is probably double frustrating!
It’s going to be a while... maybe until October for the Intellijel cases. At least that’s what my Sweetwater rep told me.

I split the sale across a few different vendors for financing reasons. So far, analog haven and Vintage King were the most knowledgeable and helpful.

If anyone ever needs to buy a modular, PM me. I’ll let you know who to ask for (that actually knows their stuff).
Old 22nd August 2020
  #12
Lives for gear
 
pekbro's Avatar
 

Shawn at AH is a good guy who definitely knows his stuff, the problem with them is that's it's often difficult
to tell what they have in stock, and they often don't get back to you when you ask, despite how many thousands
of dollars you've spent there. I rarely buy from them anymore due to that.

My sweetwater rep knows absolutely squat about modular, which is fine as I don't need him for that. Mostly,
I buy direct or from Perfect Circuit actually. PC has the best deals generally.
Old 22nd August 2020
  #13
Gear Head
 
paterursus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I think I’d keep it all in it’s boxes except for a core setup and slowly integrate modules over time as you get comfortable with them. If I walked up to that setup for the first time I think it would be overwhelming and I’d keep forgetting what everything did.
Definitely this. As frustrating as it is, with modular you really need to go slowly. You have enough here to occupy you for hundreds of hours. Take it from someone who did exactly the same thing at first. I never really got to know some of my modules on a deep level to figure out what they are really capable of. I would pick a simple setup out of what you are getting (a complete signal path) and delve into that deeply before incorporating the next module.

Another thing is case and power supply - you are spending thousands on modules. It is really important that you put a properly good power supply behind them. It should be linear or linear-switching hybrid (like the Doepfer psu3).

Enjoy the journey!
Old 22nd August 2020
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by paterursus View Post
Definitely this. As frustrating as it is, with modular you really need to go slowly. You have enough here to occupy you for hundreds of hours. Take it from someone who did exactly the same thing at first. I never really got to know some of my modules on a deep level to figure out what they are really capable of. I would pick a simple setup out of what you are getting (a complete signal path) and delve into that deeply before incorporating the next module.

Another thing is case and power supply - you are spending thousands on modules. It is really important that you put a properly good power supply behind them. It should be linear or linear-switching hybrid (like the Doepfer psu3).

Enjoy the journey!
What do you think about the Intellijel 7u racks?

I figured they would be decent because Intellijel makes quite a few power hungry digital modules... my assumption was that their racks would work well with their modules.
Old 22nd August 2020
  #15
Gear Head
 
paterursus's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
What do you think about the Intellijel 7u racks?

I figured they would be decent because Intellijel makes quite a few power hungry digital modules... my assumption was that their racks would work well with their modules.
I don't have any experience with them, but I haven't heard anything bad. You'll probably be ok for a while with that solution. With 1U, you have a lot less choice. I have a custom case for my 1U row. It's a pretty good assumption that their modules and racks should play nicely together.
Old 26th August 2020
  #16
Gear Head
 
LameAim's Avatar
 

Oh wow, I thought I was moving fast when I managed to pre-fill my second Intellijel 7U with modules before it showed up. Good choice with the Intellijel Performance case, Intellijel 1U modules can be scarce at times but they're quality builds and help free up the 3U rows to the exciting stuff.

Starting with 14U is ambitious as hell and I respect it, but I can't help but side with the folks who have suggested starting with a few modules and expanding from there. If I were in your spot, I'd start with the WMD sequencing and mixing modules for sure, swap the uVCA for a Quad VCA, then add the Zadar or the Batumi (whichever you prefer), a filter that looks appealing and the oscillator of your choice. That'll probably fill out most of one 7U case, and it'll be more than enough to explore for a few months while you get your bearings and plan for the next stage. The Metron is a powerful sequencer, especially when you've got some Volteras alongside it - definitely spend time with those before picking up a Voltage Block as you might not want or need both. Glad you mentioned that you're looking into Noise Engineering, the Basimilus Iteritas Alter and Manis Iteritas are both insanely great additions if you're into the sound.

What are you trying to do with your modular setup? What kind of sounds are you chasing? Get used to asking yourself those questions, it'll happen a lot and those answers might shift your trajectory a bit as you spend more time in this world. I'm a hiphop guy as well and thought I wanted a hybrid-type setup with 3 drum modules and a solid synth voice, then took out the synth stuff and made it a 4-voice drum thing, then tried the Expert Sleepers stuff with Ableton CV Tools and was hooked on those well enough to take all of the sequencing modules out. It eventually returned to a 4-voice drum/synth case, but with a lot more ways to add movement via random, CV sequencing and LFO modules than originally planned. And it has LPGs now, can't believe I overlooked those early on but that's just how this stuff goes.

Oh, and definitely dig into the #modbap tag on IG if you haven't already. Loads of talented, inspiring music to be found.
Old 26th August 2020
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by LameAim View Post
Oh wow, I thought I was moving fast when I managed to pre-fill my second Intellijel 7U with modules before it showed up. Good choice with the Intellijel Performance case, Intellijel 1U modules can be scarce at times but they're quality builds and help free up the 3U rows to the exciting stuff.

Starting with 14U is ambitious as hell and I respect it, but I can't help but side with the folks who have suggested starting with a few modules and expanding from there. If I were in your spot, I'd start with the WMD sequencing and mixing modules for sure, swap the uVCA for a Quad VCA, then add the Zadar or the Batumi (whichever you prefer), a filter that looks appealing and the oscillator of your choice. That'll probably fill out most of one 7U case, and it'll be more than enough to explore for a few months while you get your bearings and plan for the next stage. The Metron is a powerful sequencer, especially when you've got some Volteras alongside it - definitely spend time with those before picking up a Voltage Block as you might not want or need both. Glad you mentioned that you're looking into Noise Engineering, the Basimilus Iteritas Alter and Manis Iteritas are both insanely great additions if you're into the sound.

What are you trying to do with your modular setup? What kind of sounds are you chasing? Get used to asking yourself those questions, it'll happen a lot and those answers might shift your trajectory a bit as you spend more time in this world. I'm a hiphop guy as well and thought I wanted a hybrid-type setup with 3 drum modules and a solid synth voice, then took out the synth stuff and made it a 4-voice drum thing, then tried the Expert Sleepers stuff with Ableton CV Tools and was hooked on those well enough to take all of the sequencing modules out. It eventually returned to a 4-voice drum/synth case, but with a lot more ways to add movement via random, CV sequencing and LFO modules than originally planned. And it has LPGs now, can't believe I overlooked those early on but that's just how this stuff goes.

Oh, and definitely dig into the #modbap tag on IG if you haven't already. Loads of talented, inspiring music to be found.
The idea is to make great sounds and loops that will feed the Octatrack. I just want something new and inspiring I guess. I have o lot of other synths, but I want to go deeper and try out a different workflow for different results. I really believe the technology can sort of guide you in different directions... hoping this modular takes me to uncharted places.

I’ve seen a lot of the mod bap videos. Very cool stuff (some of it)...

I filled up the cases because I’m pretty good at Reaktor and don’t think I’ll have a hard time learning modular. I also had a modular synth many years ago (until it was stolen, only about a year after building it). Let’s hope I didn’t jump the shark on the purchase! Lol

My ultimate goal is to have a self-contained 4 case system that can be used standalone as a groovebox of sorts. Synthesis, drums, effects, sequencing, and sampling... the Elektron analog keys will work for additional sequencing too.

Im thinking the model one mixer will take the dsub outs from the WMD mixer to send to Octatrack/MPC/LIVE. That will give me additional effects and EQ. the intellijel pedal interface opens the modular up for all sorts of pedals and studio outboard. THE 1u stereo input let’s me process loops and synths through the modular to be resampled by the Rossum. So really it’s just a lot of flexible back and forth, with lots of interoperability.
Old 26th August 2020
  #18
Lives for gear
 
pekbro's Avatar
 

@ DomiBabi

You're going to love the assimil8or, initially version 1 firmware was somewhat
lacking, with version 2 you can slice and dice, overdub, layer, loop, oneshot
etc. all with super tight/fast triggering. My biggest problem with it, is that I
only have one
Old 27th August 2020
  #19
Gear Head
 
LameAim's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
The idea is to make great sounds and loops that will feed the Octatrack. I just want something new and inspiring I guess. I have o lot of other synths, but I want to go deeper and try out a different workflow for different results. I really believe the technology can sort of guide you in different directions... hoping this modular takes me to uncharted places.

I’ve seen a lot of the mod bap videos. Very cool stuff (some of it)...

I filled up the cases because I’m pretty good at Reaktor and don’t think I’ll have a hard time learning modular. I also had a modular synth many years ago (until it was stolen, only about a year after building it). Let’s hope I didn’t jump the shark on the purchase! Lol

My ultimate goal is to have a self-contained 4 case system that can be used standalone as a groovebox of sorts. Synthesis, drums, effects, sequencing, and sampling... the Elektron analog keys will work for additional sequencing too.

Im thinking the model one mixer will take the dsub outs from the WMD mixer to send to Octatrack/MPC/LIVE. That will give me additional effects and EQ. the intellijel pedal interface opens the modular up for all sorts of pedals and studio outboard. THE 1u stereo input let’s me process loops and synths through the modular to be resampled by the Rossum. So really it’s just a lot of flexible back and forth, with lots of interoperability.
Sounds dope, you're probably in better shape than I am, then. Modular is a great space to explore if you're looking for something different - you can decide just how hard you wanna go with it, and the only real limitations are your mind and your wallet, hah. Please be sure to report back on how the Assimil8or works out, I'm curious as hell about that thing.
Old 27th August 2020
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by LameAim View Post
Sounds dope, you're probably in better shape than I am, then. Modular is a great space to explore if you're looking for something different - you can decide just how hard you wanna go with it, and the only real limitations are your mind and your wallet, hah. Please be sure to report back on how the Assimil8or works out, I'm curious as hell about that thing.
Will do! BTW I updated “the plan”... started ordering a few more modules to fill in the blanks:

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/1300999

Still on the fence about the best sequencer to get for melodic stuff...
Old 27th August 2020
  #21
Gear Head
 
LameAim's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
Will do! BTW I updated “the plan”... started ordering a few more modules to fill in the blanks:

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/1300999

Still on the fence about the best sequencer to get for melodic stuff...
Sequencers seem to be an intensely personal thing. What works for one person might not work for another. Best advice I can give is to try as many as you can, if that’s a thing you can do.

My own experience is this: I had a Metron for a while, back when my case was solidly percussion-focused. Made sense, I love step sequencers and have had a revolving cast of Elektron boxes for almost a decade now. I liked it a lot, especially with the Volteras attached, but it was also overkill for my needs at the time. Never really tried doing any melodic content with it, so I can’t speak to that.... but for percussion, it was aces. Eventually decided to sell it and reclaim that space when I added some Expert Sleepers modules as the base of my percussion was being done with samples in Ableton Live and sequenced with Push, then accentuated with the modular setup - so it made more sense to me for that purpose.

When I added the second 7U I decided I wanted a melodic sequencer that could do generative stuff and would give me something different from Live. Came down to the Frap Tools Usta or the Vector from Five12, chose the Usta. Really digging it so far, still getting a handle on the generative/random aspects but I’m getting there. I don’t think there’s a bad choice between the two, though. Would strongly suggest looking into both.

Or maybe an arpeggiator tagged onto the Metron is more your speed? There’s Bloom and Harmonaig and modules along those lines that might work. Or maybe something thats more of a more random source, like Marbles or Sapel or Wogglebug. If anything, more stuff to consider....
Old 11th September 2020
  #22
Gear Guru
 
Derp's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by pekbro View Post
Shawn at AH is a good guy who definitely knows his stuff, the problem with them is that's it's often difficult
to tell what they have in stock, and they often don't get back to you when you ask, despite how many thousands
of dollars you've spent there. I rarely buy from them anymore due to that.
You can use that to your advantage, though. Years and years back, I ordered a Red Square from him that never came. Called him up, they're out of stock, and he realizes immediately that he never sent an email about it, so he offers me good deals on his gear anytime I call up. I've stopped doing it just because it's been over a decade later, so now it just feels like I'd be taking advantage of him, and he really is a nice guy.
Old 12th September 2020
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
You can use that to your advantage, though. Years and years back, I ordered a Red Square from him that never came. Called him up, they're out of stock, and he realizes immediately that he never sent an email about it, so he offers me good deals on his gear anytime I call up. I've stopped doing it just because it's been over a decade later, so now it just feels like I'd be taking advantage of him, and he really is a nice guy.
Thanks for the experience. Yeah, Shawn was very cool via email and seems like a nice honest guy.

I’m going to start with what I have and dig in and learn for a while once it all shows up.

I know the cases I am filling are very percussion oriented, and a lot of that has to do with my intention of sampling tons of one shots and loops to sequence via the OT.

It’s a weakness... I’m a sucker for ratcheting weird percussive layers and stabs/hits.

I think as it grows I’ll be adding more Oscs, filters, melodic sequencing, and effects. For now, I am using my Virus TI, Moog Voyager XL, monomachine, analog keys, Motage, and others for that type of thing.

I also use a ton of acoustic sounds in my music... EPs, pianos, strings, acoustic drums... ROMPLERs have always been where I compose and write songs. I’m a pianist more than anything, so the modular is really designed to give me inspiration and cannon fodder for the accompaniment.
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