I just completed a small skiff which I am super excited about. In this skiff contains a ZOIA Euroburo and a Mavis, and an extra mixer/output module. The Mavis was my very first gateway into the patching philosophy of modular and I still love it to this day (if I were to craft any large eurorack system, it would revolve around the Mavis). I've had the ZOIA pedal for awhile and have thoroughly enjoyed using its workflow, so adding the Euroburo was a cool way to integrate my love for ZOIA into my growing curiosity of analog modular systems. These two semi-modular units are ones I have good faith will be used together regularly, and it made sense for me to rack them together in their own case.

I posted a picture of my complete skiff in two different forum groups: one ZOIA users group and a general modular group. Most of the comments I got in the ZOIA group revolved around messages like "Looks like fun!" and "excited to hear it!" On the other hand, most of the initial comments I got in the modular group pretty much pointed out the fact that racking these semi-modular synths was a stupid idea, to just "Leave them in their own case." I admit I am over-exaggerating the contrast of the response of these groups, and I should add once I further explained some of my reasons for racking them most people started to understand. It occurred to me why my goal for this skiff was more easily understood from the ZOIA group: one of the more wide-spread tips modular users give to beginners is to leave semi-modulars in their own cases.

I am not saying that this tip is to be wiped from all the forums and never to be repeated again; I want to iterate that if you are trying to build a eurorack setup and you want to curate a specific set of modules, then this advice of keeping big chunky semi-modular synths out of your rack is a GREAT idea! What I am saying is that reasons exist in which racking these synths may be pretty handy. If you are trying to keep a setup mobile, having a single rack reduces setup time, and you save on outlet space too. If you use your semi-modular synth with other rack-able gear quite often, it would be real handy to have them live together in one easy space, easily within reach at all times. Both of these reasons come to mind when I think about the skiff I've made, as I planned it to be more of an expanded ZOIA than an "actual eurorack setup." These are the reasons that come to mind now, but I'm sure there are other reasons this could be a good idea for you and your setup.

Being an instrumentalist primarily, I like to think of it in terms of a pedalboard. If I have a few pedals and a big multi-FX, I could set them all up separately on a gig (that's quite a long setup), or I could get a pedalboard for my loose pedals and have the multi-FX to the side (getting better), or get a bigger pedalboard to fit everything on one footprint (how convenient!). Essentially what I've done with my skiff is made a "Euroburo pedalboard," and perhaps that is what many of the ZOIA users understood from my post. I think there are pros and cons to each setup ranging from convenience to price and other factors, and there may be no right or wrong answers.

I guess the tl;dr to this would be this: have a PLAN! Have as clear of a goal in your mind about what you want out of an interface to create music. This not only helps your end product, but it also helps you filter what advice you find to be either helpful or empty. Context online can be downright difficult to articulate, but understanding your plan will clear much of that challenge up!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter. What did I miss? What should be elaborated upon?


I say they're welcome to boss you around on how to use and rack them as long as they buy them for you as well.