Hi everyone so here’s my modular story i’m totally blind, Back in the day I try to make music with software instruments But found it next to impossible so started buying regular hardware I moved from ba synthesisers Through to real analogue . A lot of the music I like Uses wavetable and FM synthesis Through research I discovered this would not be accessible to me and software All regular hardware Three more research I discovered that the best way for me to gain access To these forms of synthesis Would be to go modular
That is awesome. I don’t think that that would have ever occurred to me!
8 or 9 years ago, I was lurking on the Narrat1ve forum (WTPA 8 bit sampler kit). Olivier asked for test builders over there for his new ‘Shruti’ synth. Didn’t bag a Shruti, but hung around for the later Shruthis and I built myself a pile of those (I still have most of them).
Later on, Olivier quit the DIY scene for Eurorack stuff… I held off as long as I could, but, umm… yeah… I gave in to temptation and now I have this modular monstrosity sat here on my desk. My music still sucks, but I gain satisfaction from knowing that i’ve done my bit to prop up the French economy and Oliviers pension fund. Vive la France!
I started with Synths in 1982 in the synth lab at Long Beach City College. We had several Oberheims, Moogs and other synths lined up in a windowless room and went crazy. Then the DX7 came out and it seemed that most people lost interest.
Skip forward about 30 years and after messing with DAWs and software synths and plugins, I bought my first module on Jan 1st this year. I now have about 24U of modules and am going strong!
In the experimental music lab at my university in the 90’s there was something that looked like an ancient telephone switch board with a keyboard attached. It was an ARP 2500, and I got to learn synthesis basics on it. I loved it, but modular synths seemed dead at that point, and I didn’t know of a practical way to get one.
A couple of years later my engineering department was throwing out 6 cabinets of PAiA 2700/4700/8700 modules. They let me take them home and I spent YEARS getting them all back operating and calibrated. Eventually I started fixing design quirks (the lack of regulated power supplies…) and designed and built my own modules.
I finally started DIYing a eurorack system a couple of years ago. I just sold off all the PAiA stuff to bank roll the next stage of my eurorack master plan.
I was fortunate to take six semesters of electronic composition at my college’s music school, using reel to reel machines and an MS-20. Got to participate in a Master Class in composition with George Crumb, who did not like electronic music. Years later I couldn’t resist the MS-20 Mini, which led to the SQ-1, Volca drums, and Bastl Kastle. My wife and I had started performing as a duo (she is a pianist, Soviet style) and when I started obsessing about modular she encouraged me to take the leap, particularly, as we had previously seen I Dream of Wires, and was looking into another semi-modular. Now I have a 3U system, and album in the works with my wife and an experimental quartet happening. I play a lot less banjo these days.
Five years ago, Befaco workshops and this forum… down to the sdiy. Learned a lot and enjoyed a lot more. Never solder anything in my life. Found myself etching my own pcbs, searching components and learning a lot here, really good times.
Take a break from modular last year to focus on other things but need to get a bigger case sooner or later and go back to the good habits.
Like some others here, I grew up fascinated by my dad’s 8-track tapes of Tomita, Carlos etc. I had my first real synth in the 80s – a beat-up Micromoog – and then went through a couple of MIDI synths, never really doing much with them except jamming. When VST plugins came along I got big into that and started seriously recording and self-releasing music. I was happy with just software for quite a while.
A couple of years ago my MIDI controller broke, and I decided to replace it with a Microbrute. That was my gateway back into hardware, and I tried a few desktop synths but still mostly stuck with software. Then last October, there were a few Mutable Instruments modules in the charity auction that Luftrum runs at KVR (which is happening again this year, and Mutable Instruments is a donor again: http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=492028)
I realized, with the Microbrute’s CV/gate outputs I could probably handle a couple of Eurorack modules… and I wound up winning Rings in the auction and buying Tides and Peaks from a dealer. And then Eurorack took over, changed my musical style for the better and made me more productive (in the studio, not at work ). A year later, I have an almost-full 9U 84HP where Rings, Tides and Frames have places of honor, the Microbrute and an 0-Coast are happy partners with it, and I still use the computer for sequencing and effects. I like working with this setup and don’t have plans to expand it for now, but we’ll see how things are a year from now.
In about 1976, I was living in Sunnyvale, CA and repairing Oscilloscopes for Tektronix. Having just paid off my car, I wandered into a music store in town where there was an Arp 2600 demo unit. I had hooked up a few function generators at Tektronix and understood what a VCO was, and, having taken piano lessons as a kid (later switching to guitar), I was comfortable enough on the keyboard that the Arp just seemed to be a must-have. I realized that if I sold off my car and bought a cheaper clunker, I’d have enough left over to buy the thing, which as I recall was about $2K. So that’s what I did. I still have the Arp, though it badly needs restoration, and it’s probably cheaper to buy the whole thing in Eurorack modules at this point (the sliders and jacks are toast and there’s a ton of them). In the 1980s I had a chance to buy a Moog modular from a Motown recording engineer friend for $500, but given the immense size of it, I didn’t take advantage of it (still kicking myself over that one). The Arp has been sitting in my home studio with a bad power supply for several years now, and I’d moved mostly to MIDI based synth modules, such as the Access Virus, Yamaha FS1R, a Korg K5000R and a couple of Electribes. I was vaguely aware of Eurorack, but found it hard to justify the cost of getting on board, until I got a closer look at Clouds and what it could do-- my first Eurorack setup was a Dopefer mini-case with a Clouds, two Ears (two for stereo preamplification) and an MST stereo out kit. This allowed me to add Clouds to my MIDI outputs, and that got me going. I’ve since added a Moog 104HP skiff which, is more than filled up at this point along with my original mini-case. I’m really liking where it’s going, and am on the lookout for the more unusual modules, given I’ve already been through the VCO->VCF->ADSR->VCA world fairly thoroughly via the Arp and that’s also covered well enough by the virtual analogs. Next on my want list is the Disting MK4 once it’s back in stock somewhere in the US. Picked up a second Clouds used when the opportunity arose, and a Morphagene. The Clouds is the one I’d never part with though. Another amazingly useful and cheap module turned out to be the RadioMusic kit, which can be used as a kind of poor-man’s Morphagene, but in many ways is easier to get what I want out of it with a little planning.
Like many folks here I’ve been playing electronic music for many years; my first synthesizer (purchased with money I saved from after-school jobs) was a Yamaha DX7 in 1984. From there an assortment of Oberheim, Roland and Yamaha rack-mount synths, QX1 sequencer, drum machines etc. etc., the vast majority of which I still own, maintain and play. In 1992 I began working with Rex Probe, Kevin Braheny and Roxanne Harper at Sound Transform Systems in Oakland, CA, building the Serge Modular; if any of you have a Serge system built by STS between 1992 and 1996 you have an instrument with my loving care built in. I did everything from hand-build PCBs, re-design and update the front panel graphics and update the wiring documents, to all the custom metal fabrication of enclosures, and the occasional cherrywood case. My specialty was the TKB - I was the only one in the shop to build those for 4 years. One benefit of working at STS building Serge, was that I was able to design and build my own 4 panel Serge, with custom configuration and all the “extra functions” and modifications, and of course, a TKB for myself. It is one of my most prized instruments to this day. After leaving STS I began working at Skywalker Sound as a re-recording mixer and sound designer, where I still am today. Somewhere in the late 1990’s I owned a Roland System 100M, which played beautifully with the Serge. Though I use Protools every day for work, I never got too much into plug-ins for music creating - I prefer the tactile, performance element of physical instruments. I was able to avoid the Euro bug for many, many years, but as soon as Olivier began releasing his fascinating Mutable Instruments designs I was hooked; I now have a Structure 360 case filled with MI modules, alongside some Roland System 500 and a few Batumi and Disting outliers. Mutable modules also play very well with Serge, and they continue to inspire me, in the way all well-thought-out instruments do. Thanks to Olivier and all the interesting and creative members of this community for continuing to make electronic music fun! It’s a pleasure to be on this journey with you all.
I’m just starting my journey into Eurorack.
Having messed around with Ableton Live, Push and various budget hardware synths like the Microbrute, Volca series, Electribe 2, Circuit and Pocket Operators for a couple of years, I hit a financial rough patch and ended up selling everything but Live and Push.
At that point, I thought that focusing my attention on learning Ableton Live inside out - along with some music theory - was not such a bad idea.
Then, earlier this year, I unexpectantly won a Dreadbox Nyx, complete with all those tantalising patch points.
Since then, I’ve been lurking on various forums and FB groups, gleaning what info I can about Eurorack and working out how the hell I can fund this hobby without my family going hungry. I’m a self-employed designer, therefore cashflow can be somewhat unpredictable.
Meanwhile, the Nyx was getting lonely so I picked up a bargain Doepfer Dark Energy II.
I was recently unsuccessful in my attempt to leave Sheffield’s SynthFest empty-handed. I’m now building a Radio Music kit from Music Thing Modular.
Oh, yeah. Then there’s that KOMA Elektronik Field Kit FX campaign on Kickstarter.
It’s a slippery slope. I’m thinking that a more lucrative career might be required!
Interesting to read your stories!
I’ve avoided getting into modular for 15 years. The reason for this is that the modular world seem to be a black hole for creativity. This sounds like a contradiction! Modulars are the most creative synths, right?
Well, I know many creative, productive people that got into modulars and the flow of great tracks seized. They used to put out a bunch of lovely releases per year and now they only post a few low quality noodling videos now and then.
Almost a year ago I got a 0-coast and that really excited my subdued modular interest. This made me get an account on the Muff Wiggler forum. There I found many users who posted great modular based music. This gave me hope! A few months later I stipulated some rules for myself, if I was going to get myself some eurorack. These rules boils down to this simple motto: Earn new modules by making music. If I compose and record a track that I’m proud of I’m allowed to get another module.
This has worked a treat! I’ve had my most productive year in a long while (possibly ever). And I’m really excited about the whole thing.
I’m glad that my preconception has been proven wrong and that I finally got into euro, after so many years of yearning.
Last year at Moogfest which I was attending in North Carolina on a visit from Arizona specifically to see Grimes, The Orb, and a few others along with taking some of the workshops all the while with ZERO interest in modular or hardware synths, I went to the Moog Popup Factory and saw that the Mother 32 was on sale for $100 off. This might be an interesting toy for a quick minute. Then I got lucky to see Maxwell Ravitz aka Patricia and Afrikan Sciences playing a very tiny venue there in Durham and for the first time in 20 years I felt like dancing. The next day I spent an inordinate amount of time talking withe Rick Burnett of Erogenous Tones and before the end of the day I had nearly half a dozen modules to compliment the Mother 32. I was 53, I’m 54 now and the fascination has bitten me hard.
I now have 143 modules occupying 1,773hp mostly mounted in an ADDAC Monster feeding Bitwig via an amazing Expert Sleepers multi-channel setup that allows me to record 6 mono and 2 stereo pairs simultaneously. I recently started exploring the Monome ecosystem and find the more complex and deep this gets, the more I like it. One knob per function? Not me I want this cockpit from the future to rip out my brain and thrash it in a 12V arcing fire of complexity.
Wow, is that really true?
So you’ve gotten two new modules every week since May last year? Is this a full time thing for you? If not, how do you get the time to acquire and learn such a huge flow of stuff and also get the time to actually make music with it?
I couldn’t do it, that’s for sure. Since I started I’ve gotten one module every other week and to be honest, that’s a tempo where I’ve ended up only using a fraction of what each module can do. Most of the functionality of my rack is yet to be discovered/explored.
It really is nearly a full time thing lately as I’m taking a couple of months off for myself. The learning process is extraordinarily fun and inspiring, even tonight learning to calibrate my two Ornament & Crime’s which were way out of tune or putting the original firmware back on my Peaks after I replaced DMC on it and had to re-calibrate it.
Making music is not my primary objective yet, learning the disparate elements is. Regarding stuff yet to be discovered, that sounds awesome to me. Many people enjoy “discovering” stuff on TV or video games, I stopped watching TV in 1985 and have had many hobbies that fill the time between. Currently and hopefully for a solid 10 more years at least I hope to be delving non-stop into this new language. It took me 45 years before I’d learned enough about English that I wrote my first book, I’m under no illusions that in order to create something out of this poetic flow I’m going to require a lot of practice, knowledge, and inspiration. Good thing we live in an age that so much is available for us to explore our imaginations.
Around 2012/2013 I was all about wavetable synths. And after getting some “regular” synthesizers of that kind, I was looking for other options and finally decided to try out modular. Modcan Twin Waves and FMVCO as well as the e350 lured me in. Braids was launched shortly after and it was done for me. At least for a while, because after the wavetable phase came an ascetic phase and I sold most of my hardware including the Eurorack system to focus on a portable software based setup.
I made two albums that way (one was never released) and then I felt the need to touch things again. So the whole modular thing started all over again and I re-bought many of the modules I had before. Now I can’t Imagine not having the eurorack system. But who knows what phase will come next
I m from Cannes in France…i always wanted to do music but no time and money for it…more time for music now so…i started i music 7 years ago…In modular i started with Mutable Ears Clouds Braids Yarns Grids Ripples and shelves…thats all for mutable for instant;.ive a Maths and doepfer modules too…
I started with Mutable but it was really hard for someone that never touched Modular…so someone told me to look for a Doepfer solution…i start with an A100 and sold it to a friend that wanted one…i bought other strange modules…watch the shot.I really like Olivier’s philsophy on Modular creation…he’s a brillant ;clever intiuitive personnality…hope he’s gonna create other fantastic modules…another Braids maybe…i loved Braids,but he stopped it…but in buisness sometimes you have to make choices…Anyway:thanks to Olivier.
I went to UC Santa Cruz in the late 1990’s and was roommates with someone who was in the electronic music program. I got invited to the Electronic Music Studios and saw that they had a huge E-mu modular with gorgeous metal and blue front plates. I had only ever seen modular synths on the cover of a stereolab album and really wanted a piece of the action. So in college I spent as much time as possible messing around on the E-mu and when that wasn’t available on the Serge modular with TKS sequencer that I found equally amazing. I would love to mess around with the TKS again one day.
After college, I gave up modular dreams for about 15 years. At some point last year I started clearing out the garage and came across a moogerfooger I had bought back in college and borrowed some more from friends, patching them together awakened some of that old enjoyment I had back on the E-mu and Serge. Around that time I was hit by a car while out bike riding and I realized that given life’s brevity there should be more attention paid to the enjoyment of it than the petty framework of politics and wealth that so frequently consume our attention.
I was unsure of what modular to get until I saw a video of Mark over at Audulus using an ES-8 to control eurorack modules and it was too amazing to pass up. I resisted Mutable for a long time because I was more interested in analog modules and I have a pet peeve against magenta and turquoise as a color scheme. Eventually my case needed an envelope generator in 8hp and peak seemed to fit the bill (and no magenta or turquoise in sight!) and had some extra features I only knew vaguely about.
Needless to say I discovered how useful peaks is for my small system and subsequently got a braids. Shortly after each purchase, the discontinuation of that module was announced so I thought If I held out on clouds I could save the module. It didn’t work . Still Braids and Peaks work perfectly in my 96hp case and I can’t imagine replacing them any time soon, I’m sorry that they will be all random DIY modules from here on out.
Soon I will get a second slightly larger case and I foresee a few MI modules finding their way into the rack, including a yarns and whatever reverb module replaces clouds. I was never a fan of the granular but the reverb was top drawer! Never have 9 all pass filters sounded so good to my ears.
Been an audio engineer, producer and writer for well over 10 years now.
Recently I got into eurorack.
My story? In short, I got the clouds module and some analog VCOs and could never go back.
The Long story? Well it may sound a bit pretentious but I was surfing youtube and ran into one of those commercials for “how to be a dance music master class blablabla, thing” staring dead mou5. I saw him going on about how these days, thanks to computers, it’s so easy to make EDM, a kid with a laptop and no training can be a star. Well, he’s right, and it made me question why therefor anyone would need his master class. More so, who thought this was a good way to sell a masterclass? I was perplexed! It got better though. As the commercial went on, I see deadmou5 pretending to patch in front of a WALL of eurorack. What is this technological wall of lights and knobs I wondered. You see in the studio I worked in, we didn’t have eurorack. Just your basic outboard gear. Racks, compressors, EQs, analog reel to reel decks and one of those giant analog mixing boards from the 80s. Nice studio for sure, I’ll be it, a bit generic I guess.
Curious what this eurorack thing was, I went to see what old deadmou5 was up to these days. I hadn’t listened to him since he broke out in the early 2000s (round the time I started my audio engineering journey). Well I find a vid of him having spent the entire weekend patching/programming a literal ROOM FULL of eurorack to play the theme from the old 1980s 8 bit castlevania game. A feat easily and inexpensively done on a laptop in under an hour. At the end of the video, deadmou5 comments, “a waste of time, I think not”. I laughed in amazement. A whole weekend and what was easily a quarter million dollars of equipment (probably more), just to play something authentic sounding. Some thing who’s authenticity was originally achieved using an 8 bit digital chip. I’ve seen people actually make hacked nintendos to play music using that chip. pretty sure they don’t cost that much money. Watching deadmou5 was like watching someone filling a barrel with sand, one grain at a time, using 1000 gold tweezers. All because they acted like it was a better way than using a cheep shovel.
So many engineering paradox starting echoing in my head. I couldn’t get over what I had seen.
What could possibly be the point to this?
I decided, foolishly, to buy a single 84HP box. Determined to provide proof positive, one can accomplish more with less, if composition and engineering are good.
Well I did but at the end of creating an album, I now have 2 84HP boxes and a make noise 0-coast, with plans to buy an even bigger box (if I can afford it) for some stuff I currently have no room for (because Olivier wont stop making awesome stuff).
Point is, I think I understand the paradox now. Eurorack gives an analog sense of accomplishment to music. Something that isn’t needed technically but artistically. Eurorack makes me feel like my creations are alive. Like they sit next to my hands during the months of creation (because they do!). It’s something that working in the box can’t deliver. On a technical note, in fairness, I never quite got the level of sweetness in the box that I get on my rig. And clouds, omg, if you are an ambient lover/artist, clouds will sell you on eurorack instantly.
I still think literal walls of eurorack are a beautiful shame. Like walking through a palace made of solid gold. The financial waste is extraordinary. The other end of the spectrum would likely be those who see no point at all in eurorack or likely any outboard gear for that matter. In the world of soulless mainstream music, I actually agree. However, if one wants humanity back in music, eurorack is relevant. As fall as the walls of eurorack, well, it’s what happens when one has the time and money for too much of a good thing. I don’t blame people for getting carried away but I have made it my pledge, that, if my rig ever can’t fit on a single decent sized coffee table, I’m not writing good enough material.
I still wish eurorack somehow had the speed and convenience of plug-ins but that’s the trade off I guess. Every time I look at my rig, I think, this is so silly! WHAT A MESS! But I love it lol.
Happy Patching Peeps.
I love your story ,its so right!..show us what you do with it!