A couple suggestions, though I think this looks pretty fun already:

  1. I'd consider scrapping both Ochd and Clep Diaz in favor of Pamela's New Workout (or, if you can find it, the new Pro Workout). Close enough to the same number of modulation sources, but with much more control over them, in the same HP.

  2. I think BIA is awesome, as ferranadsr says... but Tymp Legio covers about half of the same ground. I don't know that I'd swap out the Moskwa Ostankino combo... but I wonder if you might save HP in other places (say by swapping the Wasp filter for something in 4-6hp, using your last 2hp, etc.) to make room for it.

  3. One addition that might really be great, given your stated techno use, is the DivKid Mutes module. Being able to manually turn on and off 4 sources of modulation, sound, gates, triggers, etc. is lots of fun.

I think a lot of people haven't clicked with Beads they way they did with Clouds... so luckily there are other granular modules out there. I have Beads, a Noise Engineering Versio (which has the Melotus firmware), and Arbhar. I've spent the least time with Arbhar, but so far I'd say my order is Arbhar > NE >/= Beads. That said, the Versio can be whatever you want it to be... filter, granular, one of the best reverbs, an autowah, a wicked distortion, etc. So I'd say if Beads isn't speaking to you, give a Versio a try.

This will be terrific to get started with. Pam's + Zadar + Plaits + BIA + Marbles could keep you going for a good long while before you really "need" anything else.

Yowza! That's a beautiful rack. Infinite possibilities and ergonomically perfect. Would love to hear something from this.
How do you like the Leibniz system? I haven't quite wrapped my head around that yet.
Thanks for sharing.
-- farkas

Thanks! I have a Soundcloud page here https://soundcloud.com/user-114833897 ... but nothing there really uses more than a row or two at a time (I have a separate Palette 104 case that I use a lot of the time, swapping modules in and out as I work on learning them).

As for the Leibniz... I need to spend a LOT more time with it. I feel like nearly everything I've done with it has basically been trial and error. That's fun, but I need to spend a weekend doing nothing but watching Bries's YouTube videos on the system... I'd like to have a better handle on what is really happening with it. And the system in general really needs XAOC to develop a routing utility of some sort... having to take everything out of the case to move the cables on the back is a pain.

My 18U system. Still a work in progress, but getting close! The bottom row is for modules I don't have room for (left side) and modules I am considering adding (right side).

Thread: Last 8 Hp

A filter isn't a bad idea... but the voices here (Doepfer, Rings, Plaits) also have filtration built in, plus there's the Optomix. So that might not be as pressing a need as it seems, depending on how you like to patch. (I know in my case I have several filters, but they're actually among my least-used modules, for exactly this reason.)

Zadar and a switch are also great suggestions. If you go the latter route, I'd highly recommend Noise Engineering's Vice Virga, which gives you a ton of options in 8hp.

I think you're basically wasting the 1u row here, between two Quadratt's and the mults.

For the case option... If portability is the goal, I would not necessarily suggest the Pittsburgh 360 case... it is excellent, and built like a tank... and HEAVY. You would not want to lift/carry it when it is full of modules.

Do you already have the dual filter? If not, I'd ask what you think the need is for it. You aren't adding any voices here, and you have plenty of filters in your various semi-modulars. You might have more fun using that space for other things.

To answer the other half of your question: you absolutely cannot go wrong with Ochd. The only thing I'd take over it for a small system (though it takes twice as much space) is Pamela's New Workout.

I don't think either of these systems really do the trick, especially the second (that one has only a single drum voice, nothing else, which isn't in line with your stated goals).

For the first system: yes Maths is great and does lots of stuff, but in a 62-hp system, it takes up too much space. And the NE distortion module is fine, but it does only one thing. I'd consider removing these two modules and replacing them with something like the following: XAOC Zadar, a Noise Engineering Versio module, and whatever 4-hp module you think might be useful (the Q-Bit Nano-Rand might be fun, since you have no random source or S+H here). That'll cost you a little more, but it will pack a much greater wallop.

A much better idea though would be to move up to the 104hp version of this same case, and fill in the space you don't want to fill immediately with some blank panels (you can even make them out of cardboard). You're going to want the space eventually.

No, sorry, it would not. You have some of the basic building blocks... but you need sources of modulation (LFOs, envelope generators) and more basic utilities.

Also, it's worth noting that all of these modules except the Wasp filter are now out of production. There are knock-off versions available, of course (except for Beads)... but you may find it hard to buy these if you're looking for actual Mutable modules.

What Lugia said. If this is the size of system you're committed to, you can't fill it up with enormous modules. You can, however, pick one "pet module" and then build up a more workable system around it. In this case, I'd ditch the Starlab... you already have FX in your 1u row. Consider how much more fun and useful this system would be if you replaced the Starlab with the following:

Klavis Twin Waves (8 hp)
XAOC Zadar (10 hp)
Another small VCA module (4 hp)
Any of a variety of other utilities (mixer, attenuator, etc.) (6 hp left)

You'll probably have a lot less hassle if you just buy a pack of M2.5 Befaco knurlies, and don't worry about switching out the actual sliding nuts from the case.

Couple of thoughts. In a system this small, six VCAs feels like overkill... I'd cut the Tallin. The VU meter isn't necessary, nor is the mult (use stackables if you're running this small). That saves you 10 hp.

From there... I notice that you say you want random/glitch. Nothing here really does that. You could throw in a Nano-Rand for 4hp. That leaves you 6hp for something else, and one thing missing here is effects of any kind... perhaps you're looking at using out-of-rack solutions for that, but something like a FXAid would be great in here.

But still, the best advice would be to get a bigger case, if you can, even if it's just an Intelligel 104hp Palette case. This is going to be pretty limited.

One thing I'd note... as a Moskwa II owner, I can't imagine it without also adding the Ostankino expander... it adds so much functionality and fun. I'd suggest making room for that, if at all possible.

Good suggestions as always, thanks. I've definitely thought of moving the Moskwa and Ostankino next to the Erica sequencer. I change modules around every time I take things out of the case, so I don't mind moving stuff around. (And yes, I know, the organization here could definitely be improved.)

I've thought about adding Hrad, too, but alas... right now it seems to be out of stock everywhere in the world.

ModularGrid Rack

Been having fun with modular for quite a while... my first go-round was back in the late 90s with a 15u Doepfer system. Then I took a long break from music (huge mistake, selling everything!) but finally got back into synths 5 years ago.

I'm really delighted with how this system has come together, and what wild things it can do (unimaginable, really, back when I had that Doepfer system). I rarely patch the whole thing at once, as it's a bit overwhelming... I have an Intellijel 4.5u 104hp case that I use most of the time, taking modules out of the larger system and playing around with smaller subsets (I didn't post the 1u modules here, but the usual Intellijel utility stuff, with some NLC spice).

At this point, I have 27 empty hp to play with. Not in any particular hurry to fill them, but I'm curious if the experts here see any particular important missing elements that I've somehow overlooked (one that comes to mind is a matrix mixer, probably the Lion from Instruo, given that there's a Lion shaped hole right next to all of the other Instruo modules). One thing is for certain, and that is that I have plenty of oscillators/voices... too many, really, though choices are always nice.

p.s. the website is being a little flaky... there should be a Happy Nerding 3xMIA to the left of the 3xVCA... not sure why it isn't showing up here.

Doesn't matter how I would use it... it's your system!

Definitely seems light on VCAs. I'd try to sneak in another dual VCA module somewhere, if there's something you feel you could sell (the version the link goes to has a few blank HP that would work nicely... this version here in the picture doesn't... not sure which is correct).

Unrelated to the actual rack but what does 'milkless' mean? 🙂
-- aardvark_se

Some cases are lactose intolerant. Very important to verify before you buy.

(No, the site just assigns a random silly name to all new racks... you can change them if you want, and OP didn't.)

First thing I notice is that you have no VCAs. They're crucial to any system. I'm not really in the "you can't have too many VCAs" camp (I probably don't have enough for my system, given its size)... but really, you can't have too many of them, and you seem to have none at all, except for the one in the Erica Pico-system.

You also have very little in the way of other utilities... mixers, mults, logic, switches, etc. These are the things that make modular interesting and strange.

I think the biggest thing I see here is that you have either 3 voices and 1 modulation module, or 4 voices and no modulation modules. Neither seems useful.

Second biggest thing: no VCAs.

Last question: how are you playing/sequencing this? That makes a difference for suggestions. If you're using midi, then not much to worry about... but if you're looking for in-rack sequencing, that would be good for us to know (though you have precious little space for it).

Assuming you want to keep this independent, I'd consider a 1u O_C, 1u VCAs, 1u noise/random, a 1u stereo mixer, and a Zadar or other quad modulation source.

I love both Beads and Clouds, but in a case of this size, I'd strongly consider Noise Engineering's Melotus Versio... it's a terrific granular module that you can also re-firmware at will into a clocked delay, or a VCA/VCF/Gate, or an amazing reverb, or various other things. Will save you 4 hp over Beads, too, while giving you all that flexibility.

Seconding all of farkas's suggestions... filter, VCA/mixer, EGs.


A mixer/attenuverter would be great. Either something like Shades, or something a little more complex like 4ms's SISM.

Some sort of random source / noise / S&H / etc.? Wogglebug, Nano Rand, etc.

A delay. Again, not entirely necessary, maybe, with the microcosm and Beads... and the tape delay in the Disting is very nice, too. But I dunno... I find that I can't have too many delays. One of the Noise Engineering Versio modules might be great here, as you can use it for several different things... delay, granular, reverb, distortion, etc.

Of course, the best thing might be to get the things on your current list and nothing else, then play for a few months and see what you find yourself needing... no need to fill those blanks immediately.

All of the suggestions so far are good (particularly swapping in a Versio for the Arbhar, as the Versio can serve any number of roles depending on what you need).

Ochd would be a wonderful addition to a case of this size.

You can take care of a lot of the "eye candy" bit by making sure all of your panels are the same color, and/or matching knobs where possible. I've done that with my system (having the same passion for visual order) and it looks great. Swapping out Intellijel knobs for Mutable knobs, for instance, is really simple and effective.

I don't know if it's a matter of too many voices per say, as much as it is a matter of too many hp taken up with voices. Here are a couple things to consider:

-- Do you need the Nerdseq expanders? This is still a fairly small system, and I find it a little unlikely that you'll need so many extra triggers and CV outs. Maybe start out with just the basic sequencer, then add an expander later once you're sure you need it (and you may find that you need one or the other, but not both).
-- I'd go with BIA over Taiko just for hp savings.
-- 10 VCAs seems like a lot for a system of this size, so I think you could cut the DVCA (yeah, yeah, I know, you can never have too many, sure).
-- The Castle is huge. If you're dead set on it, you might swap the Megaslope for a function generator that uses fewer hp.

I have Beads and Mimeophon, no experience with DV. Anyway, they're very different modules. If I had to go for one, I'd say Beads, but it'd be better to make room for both :)

A Wogglebug is a solid choice for randomness/weirdness/probability.

Another option that is always, always useful is Pamela's New Workout. 8 channels of LFOs/Envelopes/Random/Euclidean sequences/etc. etc. etc. Great in any system, but in a system of this size, you won't find anything better for the space.

I'm using the Erica Black Sequencer. LOVE it. Super-intuitive. Not much menu-diving, which was a firm requirement for me.

^^ This is definitely even sweeter!

When I took my first tour of modular synths back in 1998-2002, before taking a break from making music due to life factors, I had a Doepfer system of this same size. It was terrific, and this looks terrific too. And I think you're right... having one manufacturer to focus on takes some of the G.A.S. out of the equation, and also makes the system look and feel cohesive. Enjoy!

I've definitely considered it. I'll watch some demos to help make up my mind. That always works out bad for my wallet though. Haha.
-- farkas

My attitude when I purchased it was "if it doesn't live up to the hype, I'll be able to sell it instantly." But now that I've had it for a while, I cannot imagine selling it.

Hi Shakespeare,

Are you saying you want to volunteer to provide us the USA prices in US$/HP per each rack? That would be lovely, thank you very much in advance ;-)

Kind regards, Garfield ;-)
-- GarfieldModular


Pittsburgh 420: $899 USD, $2.14/hp.
Pittsburgh 270: $649 USD, $2.40/hp.
Pittsburgh 360: $899 USD, $2.50/hp (but also portable, with a locking lid).

Definitely the LC9 0r Mantis are lower cost options, if cost is the OP's primary consideration.

Also, I don't know if you already have the Natural Gate or if it's on your wishlist. I haven't been able to personally justify the substantial cost or wait for this LPG yet. I know it doesn't have the same cool factor, but I just got the Takaab 2LPG and it sounds incredible. It's only 2hp and costs about $40. If you are in the market for an outstanding vactrol based LPG, the 2LPG is hard to beat.
-- farkas

As a very pleased Natural Gate owner, who has also used several other LPGs, my suggestion is to get on the waiting list for a Natural Gate if you want one, and pick up the Takaab to keep you busy while you wait. The NG is a very special module.

Pittsburgh cases are also good bang-for-the-buck. I have had Doepfer cases (back in 1999-2002), the Mantis (when I got back into modular in 2017) and now a Pittsburgh Structure 360 plus a separate 104 Palette. I love the Pittsburgh case... but it's also wildly larger than the OP was looking for, so I didn't mention it.

If you can find one used, I also really love the form factor of the Pittsburgh 270 case. But it's also very close to the same as the Doepfer LC9 case (just 18hp larger), and significantly more expensive.

Ha! Was posting this at the same time as farkas, apparently

As others will no doubt tell you, you're going to want a bigger case... especially if you want to be able to make music in such diverse genres. You're going to find what you've planned here extremely limiting.

If you must keep it small, I'd at least suggest going for the 104hp Palette that is now available... it offers significantly more space, and a couple of additional utilities as well, and it's only a bit more expensive than the 62hp version. Even that is pretty tight, though... a better option would be something like a 2x104 case.

Much as I love the Palette cases, the 1u row really isn't the best in terms of space economy. It's great if you have limited space, or if you need it to fit in your backpack. But in terms of function-per-hp, 1u is awful compared to standard 3u modules.

Odessa is lovely, but as you suggest, it might be too large for a case of this size. It's also hungry for modulation, and you don't have much to go around with this current configuration (since, as you say, you're using the VB predominantly with the BIA). I'd suggest moving up to a 6u 104 hp case, to get a little more room.

Oh, good lord...

You ORDERED this? First up, you have things in here that will NOT work in this configuration. The Doepfer "mixer", for example, isn't going to mix ANYTHING without the output stage. This is also VERY dependent on the 0-Coast in there (where it really shouldn't be, since 0-Coasts have their own cabs and power) for filtering, proper envelope generation, and so on.

This is "sexy module syndrome" taken to the usual, horrible extreme. What boggles my mind is that you admit that you don't know what you're doing, BUT YOU BOUGHT THIS ANYWAY! Yep, you'd better be anxious...because it's probably going to take ANOTHER Rackbrute 6U to house modules that can make this build work. Far as I'm concerned, you've made a grave mistake in dropping a wad on this and then expecting to get a workable synth. You won't. The only thing in here that's useful is, in fact, the 0-Coast...which you might've just gotten in of itself and learned loads more than this rack will provide.

If you can cancel the order, I'd suggest you do so.
-- Lugia

This is needlessly hyperbolic. There are plenty of people who come in here planning a 104hp skiff that is Morphagene + Mimeophon + Arbhar + Magneto + Hermod, with no idea how it will actually function. That is "sexy module syndrome taken to the usual, horrible extreme." But this system is nothing like that.

These are all perfectly functional choices, aside from the mixer... there are just a couple things missing (others have given you great suggestions on that front). Taking the O-Coast out of the rack will provide more than enough room for those modules. You do not need to add "ANOTHER Rackbrute 6U" to make this a terrific small system.

I suppose to some extent it depends what you're trying to do musically, and also what other musical gear you have hanging around. It's hard even then to recommend a single module... but I think my suggestion would be to add the Plaits first, then Maths.

Maths is not a VCA, and for a tiny system like this, it's probably not what you want. You only have 22 hp left in the case.

I'd suggest spending that 22hp on a quad function generator such as Zadar, Stages, or Quadrax. They'll give you tons of flexibility, and can even act as sound sources if you like. Those modules range from 10-14hp, so you'd have either 8 or 12 hp left. With that space, add a VCA module. Plenty of options... a dual VCA like the 6hp Intellijel VCA would be good. That would leave you a few more hp for something else, and I'd suggest a Disting mk 4 (because it does basically everything).

This looks pretty awesome, honestly. If it were mine, I'd cut Kinks (and put it in your main rack) and substitute in a quad mute module (the DivKid one is the one I use... Happy Nerding also makes one). The DivKid module is very much a performance tool... three settings, and a very pleasing vatrol effect when muting channels... so it would make sense amongst other control tools.

If you switch the old version of Veils for the new version, you'll save 2hp... and then you could replace the ENVF with a 4hp envelope follower like Mutable's Ears.

Couple of things.

Quadra is discontinued... unless you're looking for a used Quadra, Quadrax is the new version (tons of added functionality, too).

Turing Machine is terrific... but Mutable Instruments' Marbles is essentially an expanded Turing Machine with added functionality. It's really terrific, and I'd suggest using it instead of the TM and expanders.

You don't have a filter in either version... that seems like a serious omission, especially given your oscillator choice.

Thread: 1st R0deo

sacguy's version above is excellent... much more functional, and fun as well.

Intellijel and Mutable both make tremendous modules... hard to go wrong with either of them.

I would suggest doing a LOT more homework before you do anything. This is not close to being a functional system, and 8hp isn't going to fix that (you'll be able to make sounds with it, of course, but with very little variety).

^^ I can't speak to the case you're planning to use, since I have no experience with it or the Intellijel interface. But XAOC modules are fantastic, and Sewastopol is roughly the same price as the Intellijel module, with less depth.

Opinions on this will vary, but I think Maths may not be what you want in a setup of this size, with so many big, modulation-hungry modules. I'd suggest replacing it with something like Quadrax or Zadar... more function generators, smaller footprint (but yes, some reduced flexibility in other ways). That would give you space for some other things... in a small setup like this, a Disting 4 would be a great Swiss Army knife, and you might find yourself also wanting a couple of basic utility modules (attenuverters, etc.).

Pam's is definitely worth keeping here, I think. It's just hard to beat the functionality per hp.

This looks fun, but I would definitely consider adding more function generators. Pam's + Stages is a great start, along with the Disting EX... but I would add at least one more dual or quad function generator. Maths, Quadrax, Zadar, etc.

Given the oscillators you have, you might be fine with one filter. Plaits has a LPG built in for many of its modes, and Rings gives you plenty of control over timbre as well. Plus you have the Disting EX, which can provide a second filter if needed.

And seconding the recommendation for some sort of switch or similar utility.