Modules to use with Ableton and Nord Stage 3

Hi!

I’m looking to see how Eurorack can expand the capabilities of a setup consisting of Ableton Live, Ableton Push 2, and Nord Stage 3. I would like to use Ableton Live for sequencing, arranging, recording, and mixing, but other than that I would like to work with physical devices and controls (rather than VSTs).

I’m particularly interested in Mutable Instruments’ modules, but I don’t yet know how the modules can fit into my use case.

Here are some of my spontanous goals and interests:

  • Making ambient pads with rich textures (perhaps with something like Mutable Instruments Clouds and 4ms Spectral Multiband Resonator)
  • Working with recorded samples (perhaps with something like Mutable Instruments Ears and Make Noise Morphagene)
  • Making FM/Autechre-like sounds in a hands-on way (perhaps with something like Mutable Instruments Plaits or Akamie's Castle)

My audio interface is a RME Fireface UCX. Since it has ADAT, I’m thinking that Expert Sleepers ES-3 might be a good way of controlling, sequencing, and feeding audio into the rack, through Ableton Live and CV Tools.

Here is a ModularGrid sketch:

https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/927305

Some random questions:

  1. Would I need some other modules to appropriately control Akemie's Castle (or a module like Mutable Instruments Plaits)?
  2. To what extent does Plaits' FM capability overlap with Akemie's Castle?
  3. Would it make sense to add 4ms Spectral Multiband Resonator to this setup?
  4. How soon will I need something like Espert Sleepers ES-5 in order to expand the ports on Expert Sleepers ES-3?
  5. What would be an appropriate substitute for Mutable Instrument Clouds (or should I try to find one second hand)?
  6. Is Veils a good choice for a mixer for this setup?
  7. What possibilities would modules like Verbos Electronics Harmonic Oscillator and Mutable Instrument Stages open up in this setup?
  8. Would the sound sources work well by themselves, or would it make sense to add modules like Mutable Instruments Stages?

I’m also thinking generally about to what extent, and how specifically, Nord Stage 3 can be used in combination with a Eurorack setup like this one (right now, I’m thinking about how I can use it as a sound source, and I also thinking about using it as a controller with its splits and general MIDI functionality).

Any thoughts about what modules that could work well in my setup, or just general advice, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Some random answers!

#1: It’s probably good to have something that can act as a VCO or other form of control voltage to get modulation, especially if you’re looking to create evolving sounds over time. There are so many options here, but even a simple 2hp VCO will do the trick. ModularGrid is your friend!
#2: Plaits can do some FM synthesis, but I think its value comes the wide versatility of things it can do. Akemie’s Castle however really gives you a lot more to work with on FM synthesis specifically, so it’s probably a question of “specialize in a FM OSC” or “go with something a bit more general that covers more ground”.
#3: Up to you! If you like the sound of it, you have space for it, and you can afford it, go for it. Worst case you sell it at a slight loss.
#5: I’d take a look at Supercell or Microcell. And of course there’s always Rings and Elements.
#6: Veils among others (I have an Intellijel Quad VCA) will do the trick. “You can never have enough VCAs”
#7: Suggest just listening to some videos, and if it catches your curiosity, go for it. It’s part of the experience!
#8: I’d really suggest taking a look at Intellijel’s Eurorack 101 if you haven’t. In general I think a lot of the interesting stuff comes from modulation and affecting sounds, though there are certainly cool exceptions (like many Mutable Instruments sound sources that already sound very interesting on their own).

Otherwise, it’s really up to you. Getting things to work with Ableton and a Eurorack doesn’t take much — as long as you have some device to pump MIDI to from your computer that has a MIDI out jack on it, and some MIDI device than can send Gate/CV, you’ll be good. I recently got a Squarp Hermod and can easily pump MIDI from my MIDI keyboard (connected over USB to my computer) to the Eurorack. I’m sure you can use the Nord in a similar manner.

Anyways, some food for thought!