Nice racks. (And modules and patches.)
April 29, 2017 8:39 AM   Subscribe

ModularGrid is a database for modular synthesizers with an integrated planner where people gather information and sketch out their modulars. Alternate, unmusical description: OMG look at all the knobs and sliders and buttons and switches and toggles! [via]
posted by Room 641-A (19 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just ordered my second piece of eurorack yesterday (a make noise 0-coast), so this is timely. But I hopefully can hold off a while longer before fully descending into madness...
posted by advil at 8:45 AM on April 29


advil, is the 0-coast Euro? I thought it was a standalone non-rackable modular.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:18 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


advil, is the 0-coast Euro? I thought it was a standalone non-rackable modular.

Maybe it's not very easily rackable (though it is possible). It's eurorack standard cvs though, and designed to be integrated with eurorack.
posted by advil at 12:33 PM on April 29


It's a standalone synth that's also compatible with eurorack modules. (I'm still not a hardware guy but that one has tempted me since it came out, especially since I went to the Don Buchla memorial event in SF last weekend).
posted by atoxyl at 12:40 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]


The 0-Coast is great, it's essentially a tightly integrated greatest hits collection of MakeNoise's core modules. Here is a good overview of it - skip to 24 minutes in for some sound examples.

I also use modulargrid, it's super useful when rearranging a larger system.
posted by Spacelegoman at 2:56 PM on April 29


In an effort to end the 0-coast derail, I am sure lotsa musicians use the 0-coast to great effect alongside their Eurorack systems; however, on ModularGrid there's no option to add a 0-coast I can find (not to mention my Boomstar 5089 desktop unit).

Here's part of the system I'm hoping to build. I made measured drawings of a dual-row 168HP case and spec'd out mounting rails, power rails, and PSU in an effort to save some cash for more modules. Turns out homemade Euro cases are almost always more expensive than store-bought options.
posted by infinitewindow at 4:03 PM on April 29


Whenever I watch my friends in the field building enormous, expensive systems of future-scratchy cabled-together craziness that you have to operate while reaching through a tangled mess like apes picking lice off each other, I thank the Nordic gods that I bought into the Nord Modular ecosystem in the late nineties and every bit of my desire for modular madness can be squelched with little red metal boxes and an external knob controller…and no additional expenditures.

And now there's Audulus 3, iVCS3, and Model 15 that'll run gorgeously on a 6th generation iPod Touch and no wires can tempt my immortal soul and mortal credit lines.

Maaaaaaaybe an 0-Coast…one day.

Small and unexpandable is an apt antidote to the insatiable gear acquisition syndrome that modulars seem to cultivate like a trial baggie of meth. As Saint Eno says, limitations are freedom.
posted by sonascope at 6:02 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


And now there's Audulus 3, iVCS3, and Model 15 that'll run gorgeously on a 6th generation iPod Touch and no wires can tempt my immortal soul and mortal credit lines.
Turning virutal knobs on an iPad is (probably) like trying to shave with a chainsaw. Neither effective nor satisfying.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:21 PM on April 29


Is this where we post our racks!? Here is my little video/audio system.
posted by hapticactionnetwork at 7:36 PM on April 29


Turning virutal knobs on an iPad is (probably) like trying to shave with a chainsaw. Neither effective nor satisfying.

I've got 18 years under my belt turning external MIDI controller knobs to control the parameters on my Nords and I'm here to tell you a knob or a slider on a controller is as real and satisfying as one buried in a nest of wire in a cramped rack panel. Knobs, switches, and sliders are knobs, switches, and sliders.
posted by sonascope at 8:33 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]


It's cool that you feel that way (really!) but for me and many others it is qualitatively funner to turn a real knob than a virtual one. Even if we have to spend 10x as much to get that knob, and are much less productive as musicians due to all the real-world cruft... sometimes the fun factor still makes it worthwhile.

That said, I have also had good fun fooling with Moog's "Model 15" app, and if I had to wait until I could afford a real one of those, well, hoping to get reborn as a synthesizer repairman would probably be my most realistic option.
posted by No-sword at 9:45 PM on April 29


my problem with virtual knobs is the hand-eye-coordination factor - especially when playing with other people, my eyes don't always belong on a screen
posted by idiopath at 2:49 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


Dont wireless MIDI IoS interfaces satiate the knobless?
posted by Devonian at 5:49 AM on April 30


I'm getting a 502 Bad Gateway error from the fpp link. Did the MeFi effect bork it?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:35 AM on April 30


I think you misconstrue me on the external knobs thing—the sliders on the Peavey PC1600 that I connect to my Nords, for instance, aren't virtual—they're physical 60mm sliders just like a 60mm slider on an ARP. The big sturdy knobs that control iVCS3 on my iPod Touch via a Bluetooth MIDI interface are big sturdy knobs on big mechanical bolted-on pots that are actually far more substantial than either Eurorack pots or the jinky original pots on a real VCS3. It's all just as physical, just as visceral, but you never run out of LFOs.
posted by sonascope at 5:55 PM on April 30


I'm not sure what part of "virtual" you are failing to understand. Knob boxes are one thing, touch-screen UI is entirely different. And terrible.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:06 PM on April 30


This thread picked up a weird vibe somewhere along the way so I'm just going to drop this video of colin benders playing his ridiculous eurorack setup live here in hopes that it will help.

A version of his setup can actually be found on modulargrid: 1, 2, 3.
posted by advil at 8:42 PM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what part of "virtual" you are failing to understand. Knob boxes are one thing, touch-screen UI is entirely different. And terrible.


My point being, though, that you are not obliged to use only virtual knobs. That said, a screen UI is as bad as its designer. I regularly use Lemur running on a $50 1st gen iPad as a controller and it's fantastic because I built my Lemur projects to work the way my hands and my instruments work. When you let go of the tiresome skeumorphism that virtual designers get stuck with for marketing purposes, you can build perfectly good interfaces [see also: TC-Data]. To each their own. I'm just glad that virtual modular exists for people who want the freedom without the bill.
posted by sonascope at 10:11 AM on May 1


For folks interested in experimenting with modularity in synthesis and getting a grasp of the limitations and freedoms of patchable sound before committing to a hardware platform, a good free starting point is XODULAR, which is a fantastic model of a modular system built in Miller Puckette's PureData visual synthesis language (cross platform, open source, free, and runs on pretty much anything).

For Mac OS, Windows, and Linux, fifty US bucks will get you Audulus 3 (twenty for the iOS version, which runs on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch of the later generations), which is an amazingly deep and comprehensive environment for modular synthesis across platforms. It's beginning to supplant my up-till-recently-omnipresent-on-stage Nord Micro Modulars as the ultimate stomp box/signal mangler because it adds the pitch shifting and delay lines that my old red boxes lack. Plus, I can keep a complete backup modular system on another cheap iPod Touch in case the bulk of my music studio falls through a hole in my pocket.

If you're old-school, iVCS3 is sufficiently true to the original that my chum with the genuine article says it only truly diverges from the original in (a) working consistently, (b) actually sounding like another instance of the same item, and (c) being immune to things like humidity, temperature, and line voltage issues while sounding right on the mark. It's a terrible training ground for beginners, in a way, because it's so bizarrely laid out (again, faithful to the original) and does everything its own way, but as a playground for demonstrating the most sound available through the least modules, it's perfect, and just thirty bucks, I think. Pair it with a hardware controller (I use a Novation Bass Station II because it sends 14-bit MIDI CC for that tweezly control that's nice with such a thing) and it's sublime, though it's pretty workable as a touch UI despite the skeumorphism because the programmer went the extra mile to make things work in a natural way.

For me, I started out when the modular revival wasn't really a thing yet, and by the time I was constantly performing live, I'd been working in DSP-based virtual modular so long that I don't notice all the things that are supposedly objectively wrong with it and I appreciate the fact that I don't have a mish-mash of rare and often fragile hardware from multiple manufacturers to worry about…but that's my angle, and plenty of the people I work with are content to bring a van full of 5U to plug into the mixer next to my little make-up case of glass cockpit and handmade knob controllers. I don't have a van and I like to fly places to play, so

As a tool for sketching out and doing trials on a system that you can live with and that works for you, though, a combination of virtual modular and ModularGrid works a treat.
posted by sonascope at 3:33 PM on May 1 [2 favorites]


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