the modular bug...

  • i am about to start on a terrible terrible addiction and feel i need to consult everyone on this board.

    modular synths: what do you prefer and why? what should i start my addiction with?

    musically, i enjoy making glitchy and droning music, but i also plan on using some of this for sound design and mixing. any suggestions?

  • Well, eurorack is at this point the most prolific when it comes to new modules and new module design. The DIY option is most cost effective when it comes to a housing -

    The most expensive part of euro-rack is the initial purchase of the case so the above link would save you a lot in retrospect.

    As for modules, I am not so into the glitchy bit crusher modules coming out these days so I would not be able to comment on what's the best. I had a malgorithm at one point but never used it so I sold it. For drones, I recommend perhaps a doepfer A-137 wave multiplier. It can make some pretty sounds when modulated slowly.

    My favorite modules: The Frequensteiner, The Dual Cyclotron, The A-156 quantizer, the A-149-3 Attenuator/offset. And of course LFO's. Any LFO's.

    Favorite oscillator was the planb M15 until I connected it upside down on accident and burned it out. The Cwejman VCO-2RM, although very expensive, is the greatest most accurate oscillator I have. It also has some great built in functionality. The tip-top z3000 is also very nice.

    Be wary. This is an expensive addiction. But it is also a great escape.

    Good luck!

  • Listen very closely to the man posting before me and start a eurorack system. Your only regret will be not having enough money for MORE MORE MORE!

  • Go to

    No one there will discourage you, but they will certainly help you. It's the of the modular world.

    Monomes and Modulars are fun as hell. M&M.

  • i just got this

    and a few of the harvestman modules!!! im a total n00b but i had to start with something.

  • it's a beautiful world if you like noise.
    the only bad part, at least for me, is that i can't try before buying. but that happens with pretty much 90% of the gear i buy anyway.
    if you're going euro, tyme safari is definitely a module you would love, but i'd personally start with buying a vco first and then some lfo's and filters/whatever.. then i'd add the glitchy/bitcrush/crazy stuff later. but that's just me, you could also just want a modular dedicated to processing external sounds..
    if you're not totally sure you want to buy a big/expensive case there's a cheap doepfer mini case that can host like 2-3 modules. and it can always be handy to have around even if you decide to get a bigger case.

  • Check stretta's blog, be posted a bunch of stuff last year, one was an example of how to not buy doepfer but get other stuff and end up with something neater than the OOTB A100 system for about the same price.

  • thanks everyone for all your help!

    the DIY case route looks really fantastic and i think that will be my first project. as far as the "not doepfer" stuff, i agree. since i am new to all of this i do not know which companies are the roland or akai of modular. and the glitchy stuff will come later for sure. yea!


    Found the link. Although I have to say one of the starter systems on Analog Heaven looks so much less scary.

  • Stretta's blog in general is a great place to get info. His opinions are well thought out.

    Also, seconding the muffwiggler thing as well. The great thing about Muffwiggler is that all the eurorack manufacturers are also posting members on the forum so demo videos, audio samples and pictures of the latest soon to be released modules get posted there first. If you go to the eurorack forum the first 5 threads are usually discussing the coolest 5 modules to be out or soon to be out.

    Although, I must leave you with this caveat - they're hunger for modules is voracious. You will find it extremely hard to say no. You will find yourself wanting ALL the modules. Must have modules! Must have modules! haha, just kidding. but seriously, check em out.

  • "modular synths: what do you prefer and why?"

    i prefer to make my own modules when possible. my first soldering experience was a 40h kit a couple of years ago. i made 19 modules this year; almost all of them are functioning as designed. besides being less expensive, it is very satisfying and i'm constantly learning.

    "what should i start my addiction with?"

    learning as much as possible and experimenting ad infinitum. muff's forum is a good place to start buying used modules.

  • Goiks makes a good point. If you have any skills with a soldering iron there is a guy who sells PCBs for various modules and his documentation is really good and pretty beginner friendly. It would be a challenge no doubt but a good experience. Plus you get to design the way it looks from top to bottom.

    here's the site:

  • Make Noise are making some nice modules. The Livewire stuff always catches my eye too. A livewire AFG and the Make Noise qmmg would be a nice start to an affordable Buchla style set up...

    I almost started a Eurorack modular last year but unfortunately ended up getting a bit stung by Plan B and got a bit put off (It's ok, I know the Plan B bad practices aren't representative of the community as a whole).

  • +1 for MFOS. If you'd like to try something semimodular the SoundLab Ultimate is ace! The only issue is getting a power supply, but you can find that to buy separately at other places like and the like I think (MFOS stuff works with both +12/-12V and +15/-15V.) I have the wallwart kit, but I've been too wimpy to try building it yet.


  • I'll chime in on the eurorack format purely because of options. There's so many interesting modules being developed and now the more esoteric modules are starting to surface (video synthesis, Digital Signal Processing, etc)

    the only thing I dislike about euro sometimes is the small size, and how that can impede things in a performance sense when you have a big patch.

    +100 on - the only other forum on the internet besides this one ;-)

  • i have been surfing around the muffwiggler forum for the past few days, on your advice. personally, i would rather build a lot of my own stuff and design some modules as well, so thank you so much for the link egon! i just finished building an arduinome and hope to do a 128 monome kit this year.

    the video synthesis really intrigues me though i fear i shall stay out of it for a little while. i learned from rock climbing that getting into rock climbing and ice climbing, though similar, are both to totally different expensive hobbies. oops!

    and in the good spirit of things, let's see some of your racks!

  • It's not euro, but a nice entry level DIY would be the stuff from PAiA¬Ö

  • i caught the modular bug.

    planning to build it myself!

    i'm in love with the ems synthi aks aesthetic (who isn't?). no question, gonna have to go briefcase form factor with built in spring reverb tank. what do you folks think of a patching matrix?

    searching the 'net over the last few days leads me to believe that the mfos soundlab ultimate could be the best place to begin..

    anyone know anything about the elby designs asm-2 kit?

  • Oh sweet baby j shellfritsch why did you do it? WHYYY?

    Now I'm sitting here sweating and trying not to spend all day looking at modulars. My monome project is almost complete now...I'll need something to do...


    Actually, I'm thinking of building a dual osc > cv / midi > cv module. Just need to source the right v-out DAC, I'm thinking 16 bits x 8 or 16 outputs will be one expensive chip, especially if I can find one that'll swing -2 volts to +15 volts and take serial input from a uC. Getting CV hooked into the rest of the system seems to be the way to go first for me followed by a module or two from mfos.

  • Man I'm so going to dig this...

  • the asm-2 looks like a serious project, it also comes with a serious pricetag, the full kit to do a soup-to-nuts build is 1685.13 Australian dollars = 1509.5395 US dollars.

    $1,500 will get you a pretty good none DIY starter system, and you'll have a months worth of build time to actually play with it.

  • I caught the modular bug, I now have two 6U cases full of modules, most brought on Muffwiggler for 60% of new price. I think I'm nearing all I need though, so I'm planning on trying to use it now rather than just research and buy.

  • actually i just got the CGS Psycho LFo pcb which i plan on making later this month. or next? also i am trying to decide to go for MFOS or CGS VCO. both sound pretty exciting. both i will have at some point, but which first? hmmmm.....

  • yea the asm-2 is a bit much, isn't it?

    soundlab is feeling like the way to go...
    the documentation is very thorough- with lots of tips for modifications.

    anyone ever imagined a monome interface module? with built in sequencing firmware?
    i like the image of a 256 plugged straight into a modular, no pc in sight.

  • my project is mounting a modular in an arcade machine, using the joy stick and buttons as CV, as well as mounting two small monomes on each side. but we will see! maybe just a port to connect the monome/computer midi input.

  • oh no.. what have i got myself into.. i just ordered the first three months of the entry system from i guess now i'll have an endless black hole to throw money into... :)

  • I'd recommend going with EuroRack. Best selection of modules and easy to setup.

    Surprised nobody has mentioned Expert Sleepers. With the ES-1 and their Silent Way software you can interface your DAW with just about any modular synth ever. Not to mention the plugins speak OSC.

    Couple pieces of Advice:

    - Know what you want and need from a modular system before you buy/build it.
    - Try to buy used if you can. Muffwiggler is great for that.
    - Avoid Plan B - good specs, terrible company and reputation...