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Advantages of going modular?

modular eurorack

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#1 Redman

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 19:13

I've been pretty fascinated by these machines in the last couple of week, with all their cables running everywhere, and the things they can do. Granted I know next to nothing about them, seeing people like Richard Devine, Datachi, Venetian Snare with theses crazy complex looking set-ups create such interesting sounds is pretty inspiring.

 

 

I can create & mangle sounds pretty well in my computer as it is. And I'm assuming that a computer can do most everything a modular set-up can do? So I'm curious to know if anyone with experience with modular set-ups can tell what the advantages are of going modular, like with a eurorack set-up, over using a computer?

 

Are they hard to use, is it not easy to get lost in that jungle of wires?

How many modules do you ideally need to create a full arrangement with multiple layers of sound, and multiple sequences?

Why did you choose to go modular?

 

How bigs your electricity bill?  :P



#2 magickz

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 21:47

Endless possibilities. Fascinating soundscapes. Damn space consuming and expensive. But not with software. :-)

 

So, why not try it first with a software simulation, to see if you like the modular workflow in general? They also have wires and racks. The free synths kamioooka and sonigen modular in this list are not too difficult to understand and maybe a good starting point to see how basic patching works. Or you try something else.   http://www.kvraudio....tg[]=24#results

 

 

Btw. You'll need some minimal knowledge about the components inside a synth, then it will be more fruitful. But if you can patch some simple synth on your PC, and know what the knobs do inside of the synth and understand how the signal flows, you already know enough to begin.


Edited by magickz, 22 December 2016 - 21:47.

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#3 gentleclockdivider

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 21:56

Some actual music .

From datach'i latest album : system

 

 


Edited by gentleclockdivider, 22 December 2016 - 21:56.

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#4 magickz

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 22:03

:walkman:  I could spend hours listening  this music


Edited by magickz, 22 December 2016 - 22:04.


#5 Redman

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 23:05

So, why not try it first with a software simulation, to see if you like the modular workflow in general? They also have wires and racks. The free synths kamioooka and sonigen modular in this list are not too difficult to understand and maybe a good starting point to see how basic patching works. Or you try something else.   http://www.kvraudio....tg[]=24#results

 Brilliant link, thank you. Unfortunately I'm using a mac so those two I can't use  :unsure: but I might buy one of the cheaper ones that work with mac to try it out  :walkman:

 

 

Some actual music .

From datach'i latest album : system

The new Datach'i album is great :yeah:  The patch of Richard Devine's I posted is a lot more psycho-acousticy gibber-gabber than structured music haha



#6 magickz

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 23:10

you should know when you have enough equipment at home, I guess it can be quite addictive ;-)

 

 


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#7 OopsIFly

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 23:35

lol all the money put into that wall...just for having the juicy sound and endless hours of mad cable knob tweakings...

 

I think I remember there were now and then options to download u-he beatzille for free. This is the entry-entry level to modular sounds, with the full bazille being the same with more modules and better sound. Maybe you can still find it somewhere around the net - I dled it, and there were win, mac and even a linux version in the zip. Or try the full bazille demo and live with a little noise running in now and then.

 

It is real fun, even when the stuff is just simulated like with bazille/beatzille and will thus sounds a lot cleaner and patches can be saved like for cheaters, not forgotten like they are by real men with their walls of gear.... But you must dig deep into the logic you are creating with patches, otherwise you're lost, so it is no easy thing to control. It is about an unique way of doing sound design, you quasi wire up your own complex unique analog synth.

 

Also it is a very organic thing, together with the inability to be able to always recreate a sound, let alone all those fortunate accidents.


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#8 magickz

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 23:47

Redman,  the Arturia Modular V for Mac  for a discount price in the pluginboutique ;-)


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#9 ffx

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 00:17

Maybe buy reaktor?


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#10 Redman

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 00:40

you should know when you have enough equipment at home, I guess it can be quite addictive ;-)

 

 

Holy smokes  :blink: Now that's dedication to your craft.

 

 

I think I remember there were now and then options to download u-he beatzille for free. 

Also it is a very organic thing, together with the inability to be able to always recreate a sound, let alone all those fortunate accidents.

I'll have a look and see if I can get that for free. I had a quick look there and there is still mention of it around so it's surely somewhere on the net. Thanks  ^_^

That is one thing I like about physical machines, the organic feeling of being able to tweak and turn all the settings by hand is so much more different than on screen automation.

 

 

Redman,  the Arturia Modular V for Mac  for a discount price in the pluginboutique ;-)

This looks great for learning, and t's priced nicely

 

 

Maybe buy reaktor?

On the other hand Reaktor looks like a powerhouse, and saving up for it wouldn't take too long.

 

I think I'll have to have a think on this for a while.



#11 00.1

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 02:58

Some companies have pre-built Euro compatible systems,

however if you plan on building your own system.. check out..

 

modulargrid.net/

 

If you haven't seen the documentary "I Dream of Wires".. check out some clips..

 

I Dream of Wires: The Modular Synthesizer Documentary

 

I'm looking at these two at the moment..

 

Sonic LAB: Erica Synths Pico Modular System

 

Make Noise 0-COAST Semi-Modular Synth Demo

 

Yes, they are expensive.. (no spamming intended, I just like frequency shifters)

 

Bode type frequency shifter.. $2,200

 

SonicCharge Echobode.. $44

 

As for "advantages", that really depends on a bunch of variables like

cost, goals (which also includes no goals, musically speaking), overkill ?, etc.


Edited by 00.1, 25 December 2016 - 07:57.

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#12 OopsIFly

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Posted 23 December 2016 - 23:39

...not forget the investment into a proper safety limiter, as to not blow your speakers and ears if something went wrong or when you were just trying something into the blue...



#13 Redman

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Posted 24 December 2016 - 01:20

Some companies have pre-built Euro compatible systems,

however if you plan on building your own system.. check out..

 

modulargrid.net/

 

If you haven't seen the documentary "I Dream of Wires".. check out some clips..

 

I Dream of Wires: The Modular Synthesizer Documentary

 

I'm looking at these two at the moment.. the 0 coast is not Euro compatible.

 

Sonic LAB: Erica Synths Pico Modular System

 

Make Noise 0-COAST Semi-Modular Synth Demo

 

Yes, they are expensive.. (no spamming intended, I just like frequency shifters)

 

Bode type frequency shifter.. $2,200

 

SonicCharge Echobode.. $44

 

As for "advantages", that really depends on a bunch of variables like

cost, goals (which also includes no goals, musically speaking), overkill ?, etc.

I think I might have actually stumbled across a few clips of Morton Subotnick from that without knowing it was from a movie. Definitely gonna watch that now.

 

I really like the look of the Pico Modular System, it's got so much in one box. Everything I'd need to get me started and keep me patching away for a long time. Sadly though it's out of my price range at the minute (the life of a post-graduate student isn't very glamorous), so I'll have to save up. But I've bookmarked both as possible future purchases.

 

Thanks 00.1

 

 

...not forget the investment into a proper safety limiter, as to not blow your speakers and ears if something went wrong or when you were just trying something into the blue...

good call, I wouldn't have thought of that and blew something up by accident  :D



#14 oneunkind

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Posted 24 December 2016 - 11:31

A few years ago, the answers would be obvious.  But, it wasn't so obvious then.  It's weird, you know.

 

A lot of the advantages that really matter now are in the literature.  I would buy reaktor and read lots of whatever modular synth related anything i could find. The mindset and methods are the advantage; they are still not largely used.  Feedback patching, recursion and setting up little systems as sequencers are all well possible in the box now. Really, they have been. But, they are doable real time now all while spitting out some very good analog sounding stuff to your speakers.

 

I still think analog sounds different but not by any worrisome gap, for sure, or anything to bother about, even. I don't even know why i bother about it. I admit i am probably even wrong and placebo riddled. OK, i don't admit.  But, I admit that i would admit that if it came down to it.

 

If someone insisted on hardware, I would say go 5u. If that one further insists on being something between a real man and a 5u godlike thing, i would suggest he buy a mantis case and patiently fill it up.


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#15 Redman

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Posted 24 December 2016 - 21:53

A few years ago....

 

Good points.

 

Personally I'm not that bothered with the whole analogue vs digital thing right now, I'm not really in the pursuit of audio perfection I just like the process of experimentation with sound and modular synthesis is complete freedom of expression, so choosing hardware over software for me really comes down to three things: cost, workflow preferences, and the effects of software on my laptops cpu.

 

In that sense then Reaktor would be a great starting point, it seems really powerful, and cost-wise it's great for me. It's seems like the sensible option as well for getting a taste of modular synthesis. I certainly wouldn't want to throw large sums of money away on buying a rack full of physical modules right off the bat only to have have it collect dust in the corner.

 

That being said this is still all really just early days for me, and I'm simply just satisfying my curiosity right now. But I can see myself going modular in the future for sure, so I'm doing my research to be ready for the future  ^_^

 

That mantis case looks really nice btw. 



#16 00.1

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Posted 24 December 2016 - 22:45

@ Redman

"I certainly wouldn't want to throw large sums of money away on buying

a rack full of physical modules right off the bat

only to have have it collect dust in the corner."

 

There's definitely plenty of options,  glad your matching your reality with what suits you the most at this point in time.

 

I always say with a bit of flexibility, that every choice is a mistake,

a cheap mistake is much easier to brush off than an expensive mistake.


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#17 Djeroek

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 07:07

If someone wants to buy me a wall worth of modular, I won't decline ;-) ...maybe if I win the newyears lotto I'd invest in a small set-up. From experience in school I thought it was helpful learning basic synthesis stuff, nothing you can't also learn through software, but there's something about creating spaghetti hell through banana plugs. The vids coming out lately from the idm wizards playing with modulars are great, though there's plenty of vids online where you see a ridiculous wall producing bleeps and bloops you could also produce hitting a key on some synthedit vsti. It all depends on the user, the audio outcome is often not that impressive compared to the light show.

 

Essential spam  :P , I made an album which uses modular produced sounds;

https://plugexpert.b...bum/stekkerspel

 

..got some renoise songfiles in the download sections if you want to toy with some of the analogue sounds;

http://forum.renoise...onas-vink-2005/

http://forum.renoise...s-analoog-2005/

http://forum.renoise...ontage-version/


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#18 OopsIFly

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 20:32

So have you already tried thinks like reaktor? Or the u-he bazille demo or similar plugin for cable noodle feelings? I can imagine for starting out the nodegraph with arrows type like reaktor is easier to keep overview (and you're not limited to number and types of modules), while stuff like bazille has more of the feel of actual hardware with it. In the beginning it might seem like total impossible madness. But just try wiring up some standard synth types (like 2 oscs mixed through a filter with envelope, and then through amp envelope to output) with such, enjoy them for a while, and then modify them or try extensions, and you might pretty soon learn by doing what is possible with such devices.

 

Important for the "modular synth feel" is the ability to feedback. There are quite some modular synth kits around, and those are probably often cool to create cool complex synth patches. But the feedback is like another dark magic dimension, together with (simulated) clipping/saturation of the modules often needed to keep things in balance.

 

I don't view it as the ultimate freedom of expression. It is more like...a normal standard synth has its rules and modes of operation, and everyone will find his own ways to use them for his own sound. A modular setup gives a much much more complex ruleset to find your own techniques in. You need to obey the rules, and find nice spots within, sometimes more by accident and experimentation then by completely planning it like an engineer. That is not really freedom, but it is cool also.

 

Here are vids of synth setups with module sequencers and such...I dunno if any external sequencers were involved, it sounds as though it could well be stuff without any pc... Now this game seems another different obscure game to me, and it is more like trying to steer controlled randomness into mindblowing results, than deliberately composing stuff. This sounds cool sometimes, but is not really my preference, I just write it so you get a little more idea of what is happening. Mod synths don't have to be used this way, but it seems to be a deeper discipline in using them. Like it is not only about ways to wire up custom synths, but also a whole shitloads of techniques to kind of create sequences of sounds that partially work via analog wired logics. A bit like creating so called "rube goldberg machines", kind of...

 

Many people owning stuff seem to rather like to make tweaking sessions with experimentations and such, and record them to disk. And then use the galore of different sounds chopped in samplers as material for their works. This makes more sense to me for more deliberate and controlled content creation.


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#19 00.1

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 05:01

Quote from OopsIFly..

 

"Many people owning stuff seem to rather like to make tweaking sessions with experimentations and such, and record them to disk. And then use the galore of different sounds chopped in samplers as material for their works. This makes more sense to me for more deliberate and controlled content creation."

 

Yeah, a friend of mine has a pretty solid modular setup (according to his preferences) and I do notice a couple of things when he goes into this other world which is universal in context of entropy and that is the subject of bifurcation.


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#20 Jalex

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 10:13

Perfect modular album

https://vitalee.bandcamp.com/album/--2
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#21 Redman

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 02:00

Sorry guys I would'a responded sooner but I was off stuffing my face with christmas food  :P

 

If someone wants....

The album sounds great Djeroek. Love the sounds on it, and the overall tone of the tracks. It reminds me of VI Scose Poise & Sim GIshel from Autechre's Confield album. I've been threading in that kinda direction lately myself, with spectral blurred, granulated, time-stretched sounds. A lot my stuff doesn't have much musicality to it though, at least not yet anyway. Primarily because I've gotten quite interested in more abstract electro-acoustic stuff, and because I've been playing around with the idea of self generating songs created with the phrase editor and sample banks. So it's all very all over the place and experimental.

 

Thanks for the songfiles, I'll download them and play about with. Reference material is always great. Much appreciated  ^_^

 

 

So have you already tried thinks like reaktor?

No I havent tried Reaktor before at all. I have seen it though in pictures from old Sound on Sound articles. The closest I've ever gotten to anything remotely like it I suppose would be Max/MSP and Pure Data, but I only did very very basic entry level patching in that like: generating a kick drum, making a randomised sequencer, making one oscillator modulator another, by watching step-by-step tutorials. That was about it because I bought Renoise then and just got stuck into sample based music for a good while. So yeah very limited in terms of cable noodling really, but enough to get me off the ground I suppose. Although I'll just be going back and rehashing what I did in the best to refresh my brain anyway.  :walkman:

 

I've heard feedback being talked about, which kind of led me to believe that it's got great sound design qualities, but I still haven't really gotten into the thick of how to use it for such purposes yet. I'm working my way through Curtis Roads Computer Music Tutorial (really slowly  :P ) but I know he uses it a lot so I'll no doubt be coming across it soon enough.

 

I dunno if any external sequencers were involved, it sounds as though it could well be stuff without any pc... Now this game seems another different obscure game to me, and it is more like trying to steer controlled randomness into mindblowing results, than deliberately composing stuff. This sounds cool sometimes, but is not really my preference, I just write it so you get a little more idea of what is happening. Mod synths don't have to be used this way, but it seems to be a deeper discipline in using them. Like it is not only about ways to wire up custom synths, but also a whole shitloads of techniques to kind of create sequences of sounds that partially work via analog wired logics. A bit like creating so called "rube goldberg machines", kind of...

 

Many people owning stuff seem to rather like to make tweaking sessions with experimentations and such, and record them to disk. And then use the galore of different sounds chopped in samplers as material for their works. This makes more sense to me for more deliberate and controlled content creation.

Yes as I mentioned above I've been interested in the idea of randomness lately and I know that in modular setups you can have clocks modulating clocks and all kinds of crazy setups, so I've really wanted to test that out and see what kind of things I can cook up. Because I'm not always great at imagining pre-defined structure in my music before I start, I like to create using randomness for either the entire piece, or for creating long passages of sound which I can pull out chopped melodies and sounds from, as you yourself said before re-arranging into more formal structures :)   


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#22 ffx

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 03:43

Maybe wait for Bitwig 2.0? Some rumors said it could be released in january. Maybe it will be fully modular then. No reason to use anything else then...



#23 Redman

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 03:58

Maybe wait for Bitwig 2.0? Some rumors said it could be released in january. Maybe it will be fully modular then. No reason to use anything else then...You've lost faith in Renoise?

 

I'll have check it out when it's released so. Only thing is, I prefer the vertical tracker display to the horizontal piano roll/waveform. Makes more sense to my brains, so I dunno if I could work with it really. It could be a hindrance more than a help is what would worry me  :unsure: But hey, everythings deserves a chance so I'll check it out  ^_^



#24 ffx

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 15:29

ffx_away, on 28 Dec 2016 - 03:43, said:snapback.png

You've lost faith in Renoise?

 

 

 

Did I write that? Mh, no, I try it to see like Taktik suggested. Renoise is still fine for what they sell it. Not a DAW in first, but a sophisticated sample mangler / sampler. Only Bitwig becomes really what I always wanted, and I don't see such things for Renoise in the future. Obviously lot of inspiration in Bitwig comes from Renoise.


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#25 Redman

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Posted 28 December 2016 - 16:16

Did I write that? Mh, no, I try it to see like Taktik suggested. Renoise is still fine for what they sell it. Not a DAW in first, but a sophisticated sample mangler / sampler. Only Bitwig becomes really what I always wanted, and I don't see such things for Renoise in the future. Obviously lot of inspiration in Bitwig comes from Renoise.

Wops sorry about that! That was my actually my initial question but I changed it then after I went and checked out Bitwig, I must have accidentally left it in instead of deleting it. My bad 







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