Seeking advice for Mutable rack



I’ve found so much good information from this community so far, I’m hoping to get some advice about my planned system, I would really appreciate some help finding any possible holes in this plan or suggestions to make it better.

I got an Octatrack about one month ago and it has completely changed everything for me, in such fantastic ways. I would like to build a complete self contained instrument that will mostly be playing alongside the Octatrack, but also coming with me on work trips where I would like to have a single “musical” thing, as I can’t bring along all my synths, pedals, and guitars.

My time spent with a Music Easel has me loving a self contained box with 1/4” audio jacks and midi capabilities. The built in keyboard and 4 voltage presets are now something I’m not sure I could live without, at least for what I am trying to accomplish with this design. I love being able to dial in a drone and play a progression with the 4 presets, then a melody with the other osc and keyboard. I’m not worried about trying to replicate all of the Easel functionality as the Octo can handle the sequencing.

I am going with an Intellijel 7U 104hp Performance Case because it has the audio in/outs and midi taken care of with the 1U tiles along the top, as well as what I think is a nice implementation and good use of space.

My approach with this was to make a Mutable system with 104hp, then have the other 104 include a keyboard and Erbe-Verb (or more if possible)

I kept trying to work it out with the Sputnik touch keyboard, but the extra space available with the Pittsburgh seems like it gives the system so much more. Besides finding myself drawn to all things Mutable, the Mangrove and Three Sisters modules keep putting a big smile on my face. Plus having room for LoFi Junky on top of my favorite reverb is wonderful.

So I’m now getting into film scoring at school, after going through most of the production stuff as well as some synthesis and sound design, I’m hoping to make something versatile enough to be my “main instrument to focus on and attempt to master”.

As far as preferences, I love all of the ambient Mutable demos. I play in bands and collaborate with other artists, so mostly everything I would like to do will be tonal in nature, mostly fitting in drones and soundscapes around basses, guitars, sax, violins, drums, where I’ll want to follow along (to an extent) of what the others are doing. I had a quantizer in the rack, but wondering if I can get by without since midi and the keys should be able to keep me in line if needed.

So ambient, I’m a reverb junkie, Trent Reznor has been my favorite artist since the early 90s, so the more aggressive NIN stuff to all of his soundtrack work are some of my favorite sounds ever created. I have a ton of pedals, so the extra ins/outs will let me process anything external as well…if I’m at home with a pile of gear and not on the road.

The Mutable modules have so deep and can play such a wide variety of roles, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around it. Could you please check out my plan here and let me know if you see any problems with too much of this or that, not enough modulation, etc? I went back and forth about Elements so many times, but Braids is just so versatile and I love many of the sounds I’ve heard.

Sorry for the long post, figured it’s better to give too much info than too little when asking for detailed advice. Thank you for any feedback.


I’d take out the touch keyboard, too, too be honest.

You could consider one of these and a USB-MIDI keyboard or controller, instead:



my advice to you would be to start witch a few modules and then go on.

I don’t know if it’s a good idea to get a case full in one shot.


I always agree with folks suggesting to start small, but I think this does look like a really nice setup!

The main things I would want that you’re seemingly missing would be some random voltage sources (Wogglebug, Turing Machine, etc) and with those, a quantizer would be fun IMO so you could make melodies without the keyboard or OT, and they could also work VCAs to do some non-repetitive droning. I might also want a west coast style vactrol lowpass gate too, at least if you liked that aspect of the Buchla.

All in all, this looks like a super fun setup to me!


• this does look really fun.

• the QuNexus is a lil keyb that sends CV and gate and costs a lot less that either the PGH keyb or the Sputnik keyb and takes up zero hp.

• this seems very much about making sounds, but there isn’t a lot of modulation tools in there (the comment above indicates this as well). losing the PGH keys gets you room for a lot of good tools (as rec’d above and classic “gotta have em” things like Maths/Rampage/Batumi blah blah blah).


Thank you all so much for the feedback, really appreciate it.

toneburst - I was looking at that one, but the case and 1U tile already has usb and midi cable in and thru, so I thought it was redundant.

aroom - Right on. I’m willing to fill it and take it on the road with me for a good 6-8 months before messing with the configuration, to try and get a good handle on some of the modules and workflow. Going to pull the trigger fairly soon before heading out. I’m a little disciplined and constant travel will help with the “well I’ll just start trying everything and sort it later”

joshuagoran - For sure, I’ve been trying to do some solid research and planning to make a complete standalone that can play with the OT and DAW easily. I was considering a couple you mentioned but think I might be ok with the sample and hold for my random. I can mult it out to a few different destinations. I don’t use random much with my current synths that do have it. The modules you mentioned seem capable of so much more as well, I’ll need to look into them deeper. Thank you.

billygomberg - I had the QuNexus but never got on with it. I gave it a year. I returned the first one because the key pressures were very inconsistant, even with changing the values in the excellent editor. The second one I had for a bit before using the CV and that never worked right either. Maybe I just had bad luck. I do love my CME Xkey, but think I would need the Faderhost since I don’t think the case gives power through the port, only transfers midi. The addition power jacks I added wouldn’t help either with bus powered midi controllers.

So it is very important to me to have a way to play notes built into the system, even though it takes up some HP. I was looking at a few of the different quantizers that have a keyboard mode, but haven’t found any reviews praising that aspect of it. I initially was going to build a system around a Mother 32 because I like the Moog sound and really dig the onboard buttons that correspond to the keyboard. I don’t really care if it an actual keyboard, it can be 12 buttons or maybe 7 to play scale degrees after picking a key. Not sure if it is possible.

I found this crazy thing that looks to be a solution to a bunch of modulation, quantizing, and a whole lot more. I read through the manual and was hoping to be able to trigger notes with the 8 buttons in play mode after dialing in a scale with the rotary encoder. It’s called Rossum Electro-Music Control Forge.

I also need to look into Rene. I just want to play the 12 notes without having to tune things differently between songs.


It would be a separate unit, but I presume you have already thought about the Arturia Keystep? Hard to beat the price and built in seq/arp


The Keystep is why i have yet to indulge in a pittsburgh keyboard module.


I forgot about the Keystep, I saw that when it first came out, but haven’t looked at any controllers for a while, thanks for suggestion.

I still want something onboard, and found a video showing Rene

Which now made room for a quantizer and Wogglebug, and another 1U Quadratt since noise tools really isn’t needed now. Was torn between Batumi and Wogglebug, but hope Tides and Peaks X2 can cover it. Thinking about swapping Mangrove for Loquelic Iteritas as well for a different range of sounds.

Thanks again.


So I found a couple solutions for what I am trying to accomplish without an external keyboard, which is just trigger notes by pressing buttons. I’m not talking ripping intricate leads, I’ll use an external keyboard for that, I’m just talking about changing droney notes as a song progresses when I often only have 2-3 notes per song.

Yay for quantizers!

So uScale and TipTop Quantizer both have a keyboard layout and also modes to just trigger nots by pressing the keys. They both do much more than that, which I will definitely utilize, but at it’s most basic use, I just want to plug the CV out into an osc and hit a button and have it change pitch…all without having to tune osc between songs.

Now I am also looking at Flame Tame Machine and also Chord Machine 2. The Tame Machine manual states it and I also saw a video that it has a keyboard mode that does what I want. It also has a whole lot of other functionality that I may or may not use.

Has anyone used the Chord Machine 2? It looks to be what I am after, but the manual does not say exactly what the keynote menu does. There seems to be a somewhat convoluted way to save custom scales and recall them, but I am not sure if I can just play notes, or if it only changes the root of whatever scale is loaded.

Thanks for any info and for all the feedback so far.


I have an FH-1 Faderhost and I love it. I mainly use it in conjunction with a Mio 10 to and NI Maschine to create sequences and keyboard patches to connect to my Modular world. I highly suggest this module as well. It also serves as my master clock source so everything is in sync.


I recently purchased the Tiptop Quantizer. I have nothing negative to say about it. It gets a lot of use. I love it. As noted before I would also suggest a Woogle Bug and Turning Machine. Random sources are invaluable to modular synthesis. Don’t leave out the simple stuff like Attenuators, ADSR’s, Multiples, Mixers. I see you have Veils. Blinds is also a great module to have. It does a lot of things. You also mentioned Drones. The best Drones are created using 4-7 voices shifting in and out of each other. I generally Midi sync multiple keyboard synths to create these or use Clouds, 4ms Spectral Resonator, or a Reckless Experimentation Drone Squad, and Doepfer A-137-2 Wave Multi II. When building a modular anymore I mostly look for stuff that has multiple uses. Make Noise Maths is an excellent example of this. I try to keep everything as analog as I can on my Modulars. The digital stuff like Gates, LFO’s Sources don’t bother me much. But the voices, Filters and VCA’s are an analog must for me…


Thank you jimithing.

Right on, FH-1 gets lots of love for what looks like very good reasons.
Mio 10 looks so extremely useful, I remember seeing that a while back.

So here is what I’m thinking

MIDI in through Intellijell case/module - DAW, Octatrack, external devices
Plenty of Sound sources - Mutables, Loquelic Iteritas, Audio Damage
Modulation - Voltage Block, Tides, Batumi, Peaks
EG - Peaks
Random - Voltage Block, S&H from Noise Tools
Sequencing - DAW, Octatrack, Voltage Block
Control - uScale, Voltage Block, MIDI, Octatrack
Effects - ErbeVerb, Digiverb, Warps, Audio Damage, LoFi Junky, Clouds
I’ve got a mixer, quad vca, 8 attenuators
Filters - Ripples, Erica Ploivocks
Intellijel case gets audio in and out, plus headphone 1U tile

Hoping this gives me a complete stand alone instrument for composition while traveling, plus will interface nicely with DAW, Octatrack, guitar pedals, other synths and midi for when I’m home in the studio. If I want to go jam with friends, this is a grab and go.

Gigging and more elaborate setup - case, Octatrack, guitar/bass amps which add more character, additional synths like my MS20mini or Sub Phatty.

Unless there are some big holes in this plan, I’m hoping to be good and putting together next week.


When do you plan to buy this? I wouldn’t buy a Braids or a Peaks now (you probably won’t find them new anyway). “Interesting” sound and modulation sources will be coming the first quarter of 2018.


Thank you, I especially appreciate your reply.

I already knew I would be picking up the new additions whenever they are released, and looking forward to that. I already have a really good deal on a used Braids, Clouds, and Peaks lined up locally.

I’m planning on putting this together Tuesday or Wednesday. All the modules are in stock locally and ready to roll.

I also already know this will be an endless journey and that my tastes and workflow will change along the way. Planning on attempting to place the 7U104 restriction on my rig with an additional skiff on my desk to try out other options before reconfiguring and replacing anything. I am disciplined and my constant travel and relocating keeps my “gear” footprint light.

Actually all of the excellent youtube demos on all of your modules are what inspired me to build a modular synthesizer in the first place. Especially all of the music by ann annie, Emily Sprague, and all the amazing things that can be done with the 3 Module Challenge series by Comparative Irrelevance. Thank you.


@pichenettes “interesting”, you say… :heart_eyes:


Come on, pichenettes!
How can you throw this on the table without any… any… any… hmmmm… any…
Ok… I know… I have to wait… 1q 2018… soooooooo long…
But… a clue? (<3 <3 <3)


I would like to thank all of you for the replies and suggestions. Got it all up and running and am beyond happy with how it turned out.


Haha, Jesus! You bought all of that in one go? :star_struck: I think/hope you’ll have tons of fun with it.


Remember to stay hydrated, eat, and get adequate sleep.