starting a eurorack setup with a white whale

  • @naburo asked a good question on the white whale thread which I thought could use a separate thread:

    >What do you think, as a Eurorack beginner, I thought, I could start with a Doepfer Dark Energy II, a White Whale and my monome. And if I like it, I could expand to other modules.
    > Are there any reasons against this procedure?

    The white whale also has me tempted to get into modular. What other min spec ways are there to start? Is a case/rack obligatory? I'm slightly more interested in sound manipulation than synthesis...

  • Why don't you to start with something that can utilise the triggers then? Such as a make noise phonogene, optomix and maths? It wouldn't all have to be the same manufacturer they they pack a lot of functionality into a 20hp panel..

  • Anyone wanting to start with "real" modular gear and who like the Dark Energy could do worse than buying a powersupply and an A-111-5 module, which is essentially the DE1 only rackmountable. The A-111-5, a white whale and a couple of more fun less useful modules could be an excellent way of starting.

  • i would like 2 things in order to really help people. an idea of what they hope to accomplish and a budget. the best thing to do is post modular vids you like and a money figure!

  • I have a large and ever-expanding euro system, and have to recommend that if you're going to spend serious money on modules, to then get a suitable power supply. I use Monorocket cases designed to handle Metasonix (vacuum tube) modules.

    I recommend a Make Noise system to get started, but that isn't the most affordable option out there.

  • I´d like to build a modular drum machine with the monome as a control center
    My budget depends, lets say 800.- for a start

  • i would really not advice this, this is really expensive to do something that regular drum machines do better.
    My opinion.

  • I'm wanting to use the white whale to get into eurorack as well. I'm starting from zero, so all of this is new to me. I was thinking about just starting with a couple modules from Intellijel (probably a Dixie, a μFold, and a μVCA) and going from there. Is that a good start?

    Looking at the case tehn is using in his videos, it looks like a Pittsburgh Modular Cell series case. I like the look of that case more than others I've seen. The white whale requires +5v to work, right? It looks like the power supply in that does +12v/-12v, but it's "+5v adapter compatible". So does that mean the white whale wouldn't work out of the box with that case and power supply? Would I need anything else to get it powered?

  • i do not suggest the pittsburgh power supply for digital heavy systems. the synthrotek is a good supply with a lot of power. try starting there. its a little more but its good. as far as modules go you may want an envelope with your system as well. i would suggest just getting a dpo and maths. that will give you a lot of ground to cover plus you can use the triggers from the white whale for a few different things. if you have the extra money then add an optomix for even more control and some more things to trigger.

  • There is a lot more information about modulars and users at Anyone starting out on the euro-modular game should join and read up on some beginner threads. Please do search for those threads, these questions are well answered there. My suggestion with starting out is, get a good powered rack, go for more rack space than less. Then whatever modules peak your interest you'll probably go through a range of modules over the years, it's a pretty addictive and sometimes expensive hobby.
    It's best to start out with a sound generator (VCO, wavetable OSC, sample player) and a few modifiers (VCF, Delay, more VCFs) and a shapers (ADSR, LFO) If you're planning to bring outside audio in or mangle a guitar audio you'll need to boost up the signal to the 10v range euro modular uses so an IO module will be needed.
    Any choice of modules will be a good start, It's all modular so you can patch them a million different ways.

  • agreed ^

    Also, if you're lucky enough to live close enough to a modular retailer, being able to go in and actually get your hands on and demo modules is of huge benefit.

  • Hard to go wrong with DPO+Maths+Optomix or similar combo from another manufacturer.

    @rratleph - You'll want a envelope generator (Dual ADSR, Quadra) and maybe filter (Dr. Octature, Korgasmatron) as well.

  • i regretted buying the pittsburgh case about 3 hours after buying it. would have gone for the tiptop happy ending kit but control was out of stock :-/

  • @galapagoose Is that because of the power supply that comes with it, or something else?

  • yeah i'm curious

    i have a cell 48 (but i'm only casually interested in euro so i'm not sure what makes it a poor choice)

    knowing what i know now, i wouldve built a case or repurposed a wine crate and gotten a tiptop/4ms supply

  • the tip top happy ending kit is a great starting point for euro. it is cheap and the uzeus power that comes with it is pretty damn solid. i added a few extra flying bus boards and it powered my 6u/84hp set up with no problems. i diy'd a wooden case for it from some scrap birch plywood i had laying around, put a little amp handle on the top and was good to go.

    i started my set up by buying some used things on the muff wiggler forums. i started with just a filter, and input/output module and a dual LFO. after playing with those for a while i jumped on a dual VCA and an envelope generator.

    i really focused on things that were small, affordable and were dual purpose.
    it's a strategy i still keep to today.
    i try to stay away from stuff that is too big or are one trick ponies.

  • @companyofquail makes a great point re: budget/intention as the beauty of modular is that you can take it into any direction you'd like, with recommendations varying wildly depending on your intentions. There are a ton of similar threads on muffwiggler and, as others have mentioned, I'd highly recommend joining the community.

    That said, I'm assuming that if you're reading this thread you're looking for the most cost effective way to get a bare-bones system for your White Whale to control. With that, here are a few thought-starters as I myself started building my system about a year ago on a budget:

    Case/Power: at the bare minimum, you're going to need a power supply and something to mount your white whale to. If you're not looking to make a large initial investment, I agree with @mapmap about the TipTop audio Happy Ending Kit as it comes in at ~$150 for rack/tabletop ears, mounting rails and a power supply. There are definitely other options out there, but I've found this to be a cost effective point of entry if you're looking for something that is stripped-down to an essential utility and don't need a travel case or something with aesthetics as nicely designed as your monome.

    Euro/Non-Euro Hybrid: keep in mind that you can use your white whale to send triggers/CV to any hardware synths with these ins/outs. With the recent euro resurgence, many affordable hardware synths are now including these in/outs (Moog Phattys, Arturia microBrute, etc). If you already have existing hardware, this is a great way to buffer some of the initial cost as you build your system

    All-in-One Modules: VCO/VCF/EG/VCA combo modules like Pittsburgh's block are convenient for those looking to stick to the euro standard without taking the full plunge into an a la carte system. I'd also put the Dark Energy in this category, though this tends to be a bit pricier (and more feature-rich) so if you're really on a budget and aren't specifically after the Doepfer sound, there are a few cheaper options out there. I personally don't love this option as all-in-one modules tend to have more of a fixed-architecture design, and I think there is more variety in the non-euro market for comparable trigger/CV-equipped hardware synths. Personal opinion aside, this is certainly an option as a building block to get started with your White Whale.


    @naburo -- with a budget of $800 and drums in mind you're probably looking at a simple 3-voice system. I'd recommend picking up a TipTop kick module. You can pick up the 808 clone for ~$90 used. From there, look into a noise generator to serve as the foundation for hats/snares/clicks/etc. instead of continuing down the tiptop dedicated-module route. I recommend the SSF Quantum Rainbow for ~$100 used as it provides multiple outputs across the frequency spectrum. The hexinverter Galilean Moons is great as an duel envelope/gate/VCA combo to shape the output from your Quantum Rainbow. It comes in at $300 for the built module and $200 for the kit (a fun project). If you need a basic mixer, the Pittsburgh’s offering is a decent value at ~$60 used. Assuming you go with something like the TipTop happy ending kit, this will get you a 3 voice drum synth for ~$700. Of course, this also assumes that you have a white whale to serve as the clock and trigger sequencer.

  • @mapmap and @backtowarwick - really helpful, thank you.

  • casewise - strong rec for the doepfer lc6. solid power and a really nice case you can easily finish yourself.

  • @chapelier fou thank for your remark.
    I think you are right and I will probably stick to my 1st idea and start with a dark energy and than get some additional modules, the others here pointed to. Like DPO+Maths+Optomix etc

  • "Hard to go wrong with DPO+Maths+Optomix or similar combo from another manufacturer."

    I would take 3 classic sounding vco's over a dpo anytime... Because I'm into polyphonic stuff.
    It's such sentences that you need to learn to filter out (no offence, I actually kind of agree. but it's assuming the op shares the same interests, which he doesn't seem to). Look out what you're aiming for, read a lot, and buy modules in respect to that.. Of course your plans are going to slightly change over time.. Still, there's so much out there, plan your direction.. But: Start small and try to get the most out of what you have already!

    Agree, I would aim for stuff that isn't or is not immediately possible with other gear..

    I just started my modular this year and one thing I noticed: It's very easy to sound "modular-like", specially with something like a maths.. And it's so much fun creating those outta space bleeps and stuff.. You get sucked in and remember hours later you wanted to do something completely different. I'm the last to vote against that since it can lead to the most interesting results... But I found I kinda need to learn to tame the beast (or my workflow) and go past just noodling around, and stick to a goal.. (Ideally it's somewhere in between) I guess that's a problem with any gear, but the possibilities of a modular makes it specially prone to that.

    Another vote for the doepfer LC, albeit not a cheap option per se..

    My 2 cents.

  • @naburo - if you're looking at a small CV synth to get you started that can then be expanded with other modules make sure you also check out the microbrute - it has an amazing sound and is cheap as chips, so might give you more of a budget for further modules.

  • @kineticmonkey thats cool i'll check it out

  • Thank you all together for your input.
    I think I will forget about Dark Energy 2 and start directly with a Eurorack.
    The possibilities of the DS sounded tempting, but watching it closer, it seems to be a bit limited, as far as patching is concerned.
    Now I will have to sort out what modules I want to use for a start in conjunction with the white whale. Fortunately, i can check out Muff Wiggler and Modular Grid.
    I'll keep you informed

  • Dear all... White whale + monome + eurorack Is something I hope to get into this winter... Modular is... Is... like the nicest most frustrating drug I ever taken next to sugar and ponies. I am both overjoyed and infuriated in equal part by its insufferably impossible to replicate ness. I used to have sets really tightly planned, cue sheets, counter timers and 3...2..1 [hit trigger]... throw that out the window unless you are a wizard, I am not. It's quite possible you will patch something onstage and make silence or a squealing mess or usually something quite inexplicably wonderful.

    My eurorack has ponies in/on it, I take great pleasure in taking it to gigs... You cannot seriously stroke chins and get all Richard D James and frowny when you have ponies on your eurorack .

    For me, its a couple of oscillators and a bunch of filters a few weird uns plus more of the noisy filters, crunchy stuff and a lovely Echophon. Then leave the computers to make something basically aleatoric and sort of repeatable and then jam over the top...

    Spend a year doing this and I promise you will not be the same.

  • White whale plus jamming cvs down circuit bent machines and modded to breaking boutique stomp boxes.


  • @ awaiting.deletion

    i'm waiting on my whale fix as its in blighty's customs thiefs depot, hoping they dont search for blotters amongst the chips hehe

    sure this will fit nicely with the es3 :)

    modular drug binge fully started why did i start rocking the es3? :) hehe

    your arc looks amazing

    sanity isn't possible here !!