What's your modular story?


#1

Hey guys,

Everything is in the title !

What was your starting point in the modular land ? How did you discover it ?

Mine :

I was surfing on youtube to listen some music videos and then…there was two clics…
One with a Mutable Rings and another with Elements… And you know what ?
I was immediately in love !!!
After viewing a LOT ( really a lot ) videos, reading some forums during more than one year, I took the plundge.
And now I’m here and I’m happy with my choice !

And yours ?

Have a good day ! :slightly_smiling_face:


#2

Nice idea!

My story with modulars is very simple. I was aware of them I think for quite some time, knowing about the old ones like the Moog modular. Then at one point a friend of mine (with more financial resources than I had at the time) started to build a Doepfer system. That was I think about 10 years ago, so the modules on the market were mostly Doepfer, Make Noise and a couple of other brands. That was my first live-encounter with a modular. At the time I wasn’t overly impressed, or better, I was impressed with what you could do, but it did not overly interest me, since I was more into small desktop synths, and drum machines. I also was cautious of the modular for its price and the risk of succumbing to GAS. I remember telling my friends: “no way I’ll ever buy into this whole eurorack thing”.
Some time later Olivier asked me if I wanted to help him with the visual design of his first modules and that was the end of my resistance against it. :slight_smile:
I should add that my first modular was 4 wooden planks roughly nailed together into a case with a Dopfer DIY kit PSU+busboards+rails inside. You could not take off the cable+brick so it was not very mobile, and it was really deep. I had “inherited” that from my bandmade who had built this himself prior to buying a proper Doepfer case.
It felt very DIY and adventurous :smiley:


#3

I have been asked to turn the Shruti oscillator section into a module as early as march 2010. I actually found this mockup in my email archives!

I was not super enthusiastic about the project because I did not have a modular at the time - these things looked too expensive, bulky, and 60s.

I bought a small Doepfer system at the beginning of 2012, mostly because I was looking for sound and modulation sources to assist in the development of filter boards and other circuits, but I immediately saw the potential in converting some of my existing projects/code to that format. This occurred at a time I was working on an ambitious “Ambika pro” project, which would have been super risky to launch, and I was looking for something simpler to get into mass-manufacturing.


#4

Just found this! This was my first modular. Very minimal :joy:


#5


Nice to read your stories ! And indeed for a minimal setup it’s really minimal :smiley:

My actual case is also based on the doepfer DIY and spent a lot of hours for the painting ( for a raw effect ), it can host 336HP and stands at 90degree. I’m making another one to try a desktop version :triangular_ruler: It was my very first step to enter in the modular land !


#6

I had been trying lots of granular synthesis VSTs and hardware over the years with nothing ever getting it quite right for me, I always wanted to be able to process live audio not have to sample first. Then I saw Clouds and it was like I had designed it myself. I resisted Eurorack because I had no one to discuss it with locally or learn from so I only had the Internet and I was also worried about the sheer amount of money involved. I then found out about Rings and my other love is Karplus-Strong synthesis and started to look at all of the Mutable Instruments modules. I am very big on design and aesthetics and every module was beautiful and matched, which appealed to me majorly.

I bought Clouds before I owned a rack or PSU. I knew I needed it. Then I mocked up a bunch of stuff on MG and asked a ton of noob questions at places like MW because it was all I had, and got flamed, ignored, and took my lumps. I asked here on these boards and Olivier replied directly and gave me a great starting point that was similar to what I had come up with but more fully-fleshed out and usable (especially looking back on what I had vs. what he recommended). So I dove in. I got a HEK and Tides, Rings, Peaks, Links, and Veils along with my Clouds and a BSP. It looked beautiful, sounded great, and did everything I had ever wanted out of more traditional synths that I never could quite get.

I really appreciate these forums, Olivier’s designs and approach, and more importantly his help to a clueless noob which I’m sure gets old and tiring but was invaluable to me.


#7

LXR -> Shruthi -> signing up here -> „Little Dieter“ by @fcd72. Thats how it started. Somehow it all just came together and it was perfect at the time. Thanks a lot, Frank, Dieter and Olivier! And of course Comboy/Julian for the LXR!


#8

My story began just recently. I became a fan of so called “IDM” and slightly more experimental electronic some years ago. I was using computer only, but dreaming for some hardware. Then I learned about Elektron, finally bought an Analog four. Since it has 4 Cvs out I started researching for Eurorack, to expand it.
I was blown away finding out what people could do with their modulars (still thought modular is more of a monosynth, VCO - VCF - VCA thing) , and what was possible with digital modules, for example with many of the MI modules. But still tried to refuse spending all that money. Then Reaktor 6 with Blocks came out, the ES8 was announced and I thought that’s the chance for a nice compromise.
Love it so far, still a noob, still learning, but it works great. Testing the Ipad with Audulus now, it feels even more hands on compared to the computer.


#9

Almost 2 years ago my bandmate bought a clouds so we could to real time granular stuff.
I was slightly shocked seeing an instrument that has so many jacks but not a solid back.
Luckily our drummers dad was electritian, so he built a 3U 18HP powered case using some crazy freestyle power supply within our glory first rack:

It was a really fun time. To me the yet still most interesting results with Clouds were achieved when it sat sole in this box. I wiggled hardcore like never again. We were one.

Although Clouds fit in perfetcly into this masterpiece of case i was about to build a Doepfer DIY case to let other modules do the work for me. I was highly inspired by all the innovation going on in Eurorack-World, the diversity, sound sources like Rings, Erbe Verb or Mikrophonie (which taught me soldering, i was highly surprised that i put it in my case and it actually worked^^) and all the other reasons, well u know – “I will not eat, but i will sequence”.

Good news/disclaimer: you can advance from being a synth noob being sucked in into eurorack by clouds loving it for the wrong reasons. ;p


#10

I first starting reading up on modular in early-2015. I was relatively new to synths and electronic instruments. I gravitated towards the DIY kit scene and built the Sonic Potions LXR and the Audiothingies P6, among others. That led me to Mutable Instruments. I was mainly interested in building a Shruthi, but I stumbled upon Luftrum’s demo for Clouds. I was blown away and knew I had to get this Clouds thing into my setup. I knew next to nothing about modular, nor it’s history.

After a few months of research, I purchased my first case and first modules in June of 2015. The first case was the Tip-Top Happy Ending Kit and my first modules were the Ginko TTLFO and a Make Noise STO. I got ahold of Clouds around then and the rest has sort of been history. Slowly falling in love with the format and slowly building a system. It’s been very rewarding from both creative and learning standpoints.


#11

Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves, at least up to a point, heh?

When I was about 15 I borrowed a copy of the Xenakis book (“Formalised Music”) from the library. It had FORTRAN code in it! I remember retyping that code into a teletype terminal for a Control Data Corp Cyber mainframe while on a summer computing camp for scholkids). It didn’t run… Later I bought a second-hand copy of Phaedra by Tangerine Dream, in about 1976 or 1977, and decided I wanted a modular synth. Several years later I had saved enough to buy partial kits for a set of Digisound-80 modules, which I built during the 1981/82 summer holidays (summer here straddles the New Year). I still have that synth, and have mostly refurbished it - see https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1335294

Then I realised I had no way to play it… so I bought a Roland System 100 Model 101, which had CV and gate outputs from its keyboard. Then I realised I couldn’t play the keyboard… so I designed my own 8-bit DAC (with a voltage adder and 8 trimpots) on veroboard, driven by the Centronics parallel printer port on my locally-designed Microbee computer (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MicroBee ) which I built from a kit in 1982. I used a generative sequencer I wrote in Forth (there was a Forth interpreter for the MicroBee in ROM). It all worked quite well,and made interesting Berlin School-like ostinato mélodies, but I can’t find a copy of the code for it (storage was static RAM and dump to cassette tapes using frequency shift keying, and I didn’t own a printer at the time…). But by then no-one else was interested in modular synths (pre-Internet, no YouTube or SoundCloud, not even MySpace, and the Yamaha DX7 was everywhere), so I stored it away in various sheds, lofts, garages etc for 35 years. About 4 years ago I was asked to remove it from storage and dispose of it, to make space. No way! So instead I started to restore it, funded by the sale of the then very rusty Roland System 100 (but it still worked perfectly) and a Roland MC-202 which I had never gotten around to using - both had appreciated a lot over the years and fetched crazy prices on eBay. At some point I came across the Shruthi and ordered a kit for one. And then another, and another. I now have five of them… Then Olivier brought out his eurorack modules, and although I could afford to buy modules, it was the challenge of trying to build one that attracted me (and the fact that the Mutable modules were clearly superior designs to just about anything else available, and they were hackable). At the time only one other person that I was aware of had tried to build any Mutable modules, and had failed. I went ahead regardless (I’d always been attracted to watchmaking as a hobby). To my surprise, it worked. Since then I’ve both bought and built quite a few Mutable modules, as well as building quite a few other modules (I don’t think I have any manufactured, ready-made modules except Mutable ones). And I’ve been steadily hacking away at module code ever since. Although I enjoy the sound design aspects of modular synthesis as much as anyone, it is the generative and aleatoric aspects of automatic and semi-automatic music creation that interest me most, and the weird, anachronistic (“fallen out of time”, as my friend Max says) biological-analogue-digital hybrid that a is a modern modular synth (plus human operator)happens to be a fun platform for that, more so than pure coding.


#12

Moog modular back in the day. Poured lighter fluid on it and set light to it as the record company insisted it was theirs and wanted it back. They got it back.

Recently got into eurorack. One of the best things aboit it are the funny clips on YouTube where people with loads of gear make music that sounds like r2d2. Love it.


#13

Good lord, BennelongBicyclist, you and I must’ve been separated at birth…
I grew up in North America, built my first computer (Sinclair Spectrum), got turned on by Switched on Bach and Tomita’s Snowflakes are Dancing, got an Atari 400 and learned Forth… and then moved on to other things :frowning:.
I never forgot my love of the sound of analog/modular, but could never begin to afford even a small rig (though I did have a brief love/hate relationship with a Juno Alpha).
I wasn’t lucky enough to have a gold mine sitting in my woodshed waiting for the second coming of e.g. the TB303 :slight_smile:.
I recently re-discover Mutable, and realized that the Anushri, which I had missed out on the first time around, had achieved a second life through the skookum Anookum.
Being completely foolhardy, and not having even thought about a soldering iron in many years, I decided to jump in, primarily due to the Anushri being a) analog, and b) euro-capable.
I also made sure to verify that my dusty MW and Mutable accounts still worked ;).
So, I started soldering in mid-May.
Since then, I’ve finished (and powered up successfully from first try, much to my amazement!) the Anushri and 8 modules, and built two cardboard skiffs (I’m nobody’s carpenter, that’s certain).
So:

Anushri (skookum version) 
Synthro/MST Dual VCA 
Synthro/MST Dual Envelope 
MTM Turing Machine 
Galilean Moons 
2x zSplit active mults 
vpme.de 4hp 
Erica Synths DIY Polivoks VCO II 

I’m currently working on a Doboz PRIZMA (sooo excited to get it in the rack); 0603 SMD - ouch. Good thing I already had a 10x magnifier…


#14

Hm, Frank (fcd72) warned me. Did not heed his warning. Long story short: i’ve been screwed since.
Lots of mostly DIY Modules from thonk and some other distributors and some MI modules. Doesn’t stop growing…:upside_down_face:


#15

Yes, I neglected to mention Wendy Carlos and Tomita - my father had copies of Switched-on Bach, Snowflakes and Pictures at an Exhibition that he played all the time. But it was the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange that was wondrous. And speaking of Pictures at an Exhibution, ELP also cemented my desire for a modular…

Yeah, Forth was fast enough that you could just push note values onto the stack and pop them off when needed in real-time. The whole sequencer/generator code was only 20 or 30 lines from (vague) memory. I wished I had bothered to write it down…


#16

My modular story is basically that I’m deliberately fighting the urge to get into Eurorack. I’m already far too much into playing, building and buying synths to get into this rabbit hole of endless possibilities to expand and spend. Love the modular concept (have Nord Modular, Axoloti, Reason, Phénol) but realized I’m “old school” in that I enjoy the feel of playing traditional keyboards.
Cheers


#17

Just found this picture on my old computer. CVpal, Little Dieter, Turing Machine. Ikea RAST! Lots of colourful knobs. Plus a NanoVerb! I really need to dig out this again


#18

In 2010 I got a Lowcostcase from Dieter Doepfer for starting modular and learning it. I bought a few basic modules (vca, lfo, env, mixer) and the case started dusting in my room as my second hobby(climbing) took over my life. The Moritz Scharf (from the endorphin.es) appeared again in our shop, in which he bought a Doepfer System a year ago, with a prototype of the Furthrrr Generator. And then(2012) the modular thing escalated because I had never worked with a Buchlastyle thing before and I discovered new sounds for me. Then the paths was to look at the Intellijel and Make Noise Stuff which was pretty awesome and a Quadra(w/ Expander), Optomix and FxDf are still in my rack. Then Mutable Instruments appeared and suddenly the room in my rack was gone. Since 2016 I have a portable Doepfer P9 and a small 1U Case with 104HP which hosts mixer and effects for live gigs and the endorphin.es system when I am at home. Lately I added some XAOC Devices modules (Batumi, Kamieniec and Praga) to the collection. I hardly sell anything - just keep it and exchange it when I need it.

Picture from 2013:

Picture from 2015:


#19

Great stories here ! Glad to see that there are new people to the scene, and also not so new ones :slight_smile:
So briefly my story:
Found an electric guitar in a bin >
got a strymon el capitan for it >
discovered the OP-1 through strymon videos >
discovered the Shruthi through OP-1 videos >
(Build an Anushri)
(Build an LXR)
Mutable going into modular, so am I, bought my first module, Elements, which I still have, love and used on almost every finished projects I made since :heart_eyes:

And here you are, My first fancy modular…


#20

My story is pretty simple and the result of an accident. I thought eurorack had a lot of interesting possibilities so I was curious. My local store Control Voltage in Portland had a simple 4MS case building class and that got me started. I then bought a few modules and it took off from there. When my system really took off was after I got hit by a car on my motorcycle and I spent the settlement money on more modules. I don’t recommend getting hit by a car to anyone though, it really sucked. :slight_smile: