Hi folks,

I'm new to modular, but a longtime musician, and experienced with VST-based synthesis. I've gotten into the modular scene for about a month now. I'm really enjoying it, lots of exploration and learning!

See below my current "mid-size / portable" rack design. I'm making a rack with the goals of i) it can make rich and evolving EDM style leads or basses ii) it has enough CV to be internally sequenced / controlled iii) it is a platform with real sonic / musical DEPTH that is a fun and exciting way for me to explore and learn sound design and modular techniques iv) it is a medium-sized format I can easily move. I'm not trying to make a "forever" rig, just one that will meet the above purposes for a while and really help me learn core modular techniques.

Thanks to JimH, Lugia, Farkas, Troux, Zuggamasta and others who've given interesting and helpful feedback on my prior posts. I DO basically understand and agree with Jim's guidance of having module #s in the following proportions: "sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities." I would say in the longer term, I will try to have my rigs generally reflect that proportion. In the shorter term, I still have a lot to learn about what utilities are useful for my aims, and the specific techniques for using them.

So, I will ask of any of you who care to contribute some rack feedback, what might YOU add to the rig below if you were using it for rich & evolving EDM leads / basses (basically as a powerful monosynth for a pitched voice)?

ModularGrid Rack

My comments on the rack design so far:
-- it will have 1-2 oscillators: FSS OSC2 and likely one other (presently Plaits)
-- it will have at least 2 filter options, plus waveshaping available via Kinks and Fold6
-- the FX I'm pretty set with Kamieniec and Black Hole DSP for now
-- I definitely want some submixing available (with Link2 mult, and A138n + A138s Doepfer mixers). The intention is to be able to i) get multiple timbres out of my OSCs ii) have some parallel routings to & from filters, waveshapers etc. iii) have stereo mix and panning at relevant places in the signal chain iv) have CV driving interesting sonic changes to all of the above v) all of that would likely be summed to stereo for "finishing FX" with the Black Hole DSP2. In other words, the ideas is to have multiple parallel routes to get a rich, evolving EDM lead or bass.
-- the CV section presently planned includes Metropolix, Stages, Envy, Batumi, plus Scales for quantizing. I do not yet have a great plan for mults / mix / logic etc. from the existing CV modules.
-- the utilities (sigh) section is fairly sparse, mainly because I don't yet have a firm understanding of these. Triplatt, Quad VCA, Kinks and Link2 give some basic utility function. I'm just unsure the # and variety of additional utility modules needed to really extend the sound design depth of this draft rig.

For your comments / suggestions, please assume 35-70 HP to work with for additional modules (anything over 35 HP, I would have to yank out some of the current draft rig, which would be okay). What would you add or change to "superpower" this rig as an EDM monosynth?

Some of you have already responded to my prior, more "open ended" posts. Thank you! I continue to revisit those and try to "digest" the info that is new to me. Moving towards a more specific vision, this post presents a concrete "draft rack" above, and I will welcome any suggestions / comments that could improve it. Layout can also likely be improved, though I would want to have a clearer idea of what the remaining modules would be before trying to improve positioning.

I will be interested to hear your ideas. Thanks!


Hi Nicholas

things I've noticed

you can probably drop the quantizer - metropolix already has one built in - so unless you have a specific use case I'd leave it out (at least for now)

the expander for batumi is useful

you probably don't need a pair of buffered mults - I would opt for a links instead as it will give you a couple of simple mixers too - the top one of which can be used as a buffered mult too (and as a precision adder) - often all you want for a mixer is to add a couple of things together gates for example and these are perfect for that too

i'd go slowly with mixers - get the quad vca to start with and then work out what you actually need as you need it - I started with a veils and a rebel technology mix02 - which was a fantastic combination especially as I also got a headphone out - so it really depends on what else you are getting in your first batch of modules - if it were me these would be plaits, stages, metropolix, the quad vca and the black hole dsp (but I'd substitute a fx aid xl, personally) with kinks and the triplatt hot on their heels - it's possible that the next module you will want will be a mixer of some description

other than that I don't think I would plan any further - you will work out what you want/need as you patch

utilising utilities: take a modulation source patch it into a utility - to multiply, modify or mix it with other modulation sources in order to make more interesting modulation sources - slow lfo mixed with fast lfo, a slow lfo opening and closing a vca that allows a faster lfo through, mix this with an envelope that is opening a vca for a vco to get a tremolo effect at the end of each note, attenuate an lfo or envelope so that it's effects are less, invert it so it does the opposite - ie closing a vca instead of opening it etc etc

"some of the best base-level info to remember can be found in Jim's sigfile" @Lugia

Utility modules are the dull polish that makes the shiny modules actually shine!!!

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities

Jim, thanks for the ideas above!

Brief response:
-- Links is a great idea, I will likely add that to the rack plan. Same for the Batumi expander.
-- Scales is presently included for two reasons. First, I'm intrigued by the concept of a quantizer in a modular rig and would like to get my hands on one to learn its various uses. Second, it may be weeks or months before my Metropolix gets delivered. IMO Scales (fed by LFO, EG etc) will get me by on pitch control while I'm waiting for Metropolix, and still have plenty of uses / interest after my sequencer arrives.
-- many interesting other ideas, I will continue to chew on those

I'm on a tablet now so will.keep the response short.


If you are looking to get a part-time quantizer, you might want to consider Ornament and Crime instead of scales, you can get more use out of this module when your Metropolis arrives and don't need the dedicated 4 channel quantizer.


that's the only good reason for wanting a quantizer - but I agree with @mog00 - get something that can quantize, but isn;t just a quantizer - O&C or a disting would fit the bill and do other things once the metropolix arrives - I'd read the manuals for both before deciding - and make sure you check out hemispheres the alternate firmware for O&C which massively extends its capabilities

"some of the best base-level info to remember can be found in Jim's sigfile" @Lugia

Utility modules are the dull polish that makes the shiny modules actually shine!!!

sound sources < sound modifiers < modulation sources < utilities

Owning a Scales myself and having recently recommended one to another poster on here, I think @JimHowell1970 is probably right that an O&C or a Disting would both be a better choice here.

Thanks folks! I will take a closer look at O&C and Disting as advised.