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Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

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Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:46 pm

I guess this is kinda-sorta related to my 'how to thicken up the Mother-32' thread ... I just ordered a second oscillator and a Tip Top Happy Ending rack mount kit for the Mother and the new oscillator: a Studio Electronics Boomstar Oscillation. :D

I am so very excited to get them both in this week and have a play over the weekend!
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Dave B » Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:11 pm

Ooh the SE stuff is pretty darned good and the UK demonstrator is a giggle as well. I was very taken with their Tonestar 2600 and if/when (.... when ... let's face it ... ) I go modular, it will probably be the first thing I grab.

Happy twiddling ;)
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Aug 16, 2017 1:21 am

Well, it arrived, and in record time -- just one business day from LA to NYC! And it was just Priority Mail, nothing too special. Even arrived in one piece. :D

Have to wait an agonizing two days until the rack mount and power supply arrive, so all I was able to do tonight was make sure the switches switched and the knobs turned. What I WASN'T expecting was this level of workmanship; it has 3 boards all packed with components, a bit more heft than I was expecting and the knobs have a great feel to them.
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat Aug 19, 2017 10:58 pm

Well, everything arrived in good order and I was able to have a really short play with the Boomstar. Initial thoughts:

Great Mother of Mystery! What a great sounding piece of kit!

Very harmonically rich, very VERY fat sounding. To my ears it's fatter sounding than the Mother-32. Will have time on Monday to really play it in anger. More to come!
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:56 pm

Quick update:

There is a fair amount of Fine print/hidden cost when going modular that no one talks about that ended up delaying this process. Allow me to explain and hopefully save someone else the same hassle!

Most, if not all Eurorack modules use 10 pin connectors for power. Most, if not all, power supply bus boards use 16 pin connectors. This seems ludicrous to me in that you have to have 10 to 16 pin ribbon cables to hand to use anything. Plus, they run about $5 each, plus shipping, so make sure you have enough spare 10-16 cables in house before assembling!

Mounting screws, it seems, are optional. They also appear to be different sizes depending on what your skiff is. Some use 2.5M screws, others 3M. I ordered 2.5M screws. I was wrong. :)

After obtaining screws and proper cables I was able to finally get the rack assembled yesterday after about a 7 day delay as the place I orderd the ribbon cables from sent 16-16 instead of 10-16!

Installing Eurorack modules is its own kind of terror as well because if you get the cable wrong you will FRY THE VERY EXPENSIVE MODULE! I installed the Happy Ending into a 4U rack with my JV-880 in the bottom 1U, perfect for rehearsals and gigs, as its surprisingly lightweight albeit a bit bulky.

I will tell you that when you get everything connected and fire it up and see the Mother-32's lights a-twinkling, it was a very heady moment. I mean, the skiff just LOOKS super badass nerdy!

I actually had slightly better results using the Boomstar with the MiniBrute than with the Mother-32 with the KeyStep. My guess as to the reason for this is the input for Ext Audio on the MiniBrute is much hotter than the M32.

However, using dual square waves with the M32 and Boomstar ... the only way I can describe the sound is sumptuous, especially when I set the Boomstar one octave below the M32 and brought in the sub an octave below THAT. Press a key on the KeyStep, press the Hold button, and you have the thickest bass pedal sound imaginable. Seriosuly, it should be tested through a PA before bringing to a gig, it will rattle lights with ease.

So my takeway from this experience?

Make sure you have all possible excessories to hand before assembly.

Also, that I NEED another filter and VCA. :D Fortunatley I already have the Mother/32's skiff.

And thus began the great Descent Into Madness!! :D
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby nathanscribe » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:31 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:excessories

This pretty much says it. :lol:
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:22 am

nathanscribe wrote:
Ben Asaro wrote:excessories

This pretty much says it. :lol:
Ha! Freudian slip?!
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:31 am

Here is a short clip I made using the Moog/SE combination. Sequencer is a Korg SQ-1; echo is a BOSS RE-20 Space Echo. Bird song is from a sound effecst web site.

https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting ... eriment-02
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:33 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:There is a fair amount of Fine print/hidden cost when going modular that no one talks about that ended up delaying this process. Allow me to explain and hopefully save someone else the same hassle!

Most, if not all Eurorack modules use 10 pin connectors for power. Most, if not all, power supply bus boards use 16 pin connectors. This seems ludicrous to me in that you have to have 10 to 16 pin ribbon cables to hand to use anything. Plus, they run about $5 each, plus shipping, so make sure you have enough spare 10-16 cables in house before assembling!

Mounting screws, it seems, are optional. They also appear to be different sizes depending on what your skiff is. Some use 2.5M screws, others 3M. I ordered 2.5M screws. I was wrong. :)

After obtaining screws and proper cables I was able to finally get the rack assembled yesterday after about a 7 day delay as the place I orderd the ribbon cables from sent 16-16 instead of 10-16!

Installing Eurorack modules is its own kind of terror as well because if you get the cable wrong you will FRY THE VERY EXPENSIVE MODULE!

I don't envy you starting out on the slippery slope Ben - I've lost count of the number of people who post (particularly on the Muff's forum) that they've just fried their new module due to PSU cable error :headbang:

Non-standard mounting screws are an additional nightmare when you're attempting not to get rack rash on your modules too :beamup:

I'm glad that everything is fired up and sorted in your case anyway 8-)

Keep on keeping on!


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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:18 pm

Fortunately, I am done for now. I have some ideas for filling the Mother-32 case, but that's a ways away (have a lot of research to do first!).
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:19 pm

Update:

After using the now-skiffed (Make Noise 104 hp) modular setup for the past few months writing new songs, I have ordered the next couple of modules: a Doepfer SEM filter for the Boomstar and an envelope generator.

The plan is that I can now use the Mother-32 and Boomstar separately from the BeatStep pro as single oscillator synths, or combine them as I have been to thicken up the Mother-32.

The new songs we are working on have a strong J Rock/retrowave/synth rock sound and with 2 guitars, bass, drum machine, vocals, a poly synth and two mono sequencers going, I am not sure I need to have multiple oscillators for the sequencer lines. If that changes I have a couple of hp remaining in the skiff to add a small oscillator live; for home/studio use I have several things I can add to the uni-VCO synths.
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby ConcertinaChap » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:23 pm

I've bookmarked this topic in case I ever get modular kit. Didn't know any of this. Why isn't there a health warning on the packet?

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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Jan 17, 2018 11:02 pm

Cottage industry mentality?
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby zenguitar » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:10 am

Looking forward to reading the Arturia review with the RackBrutes. Could be a very tempting proposition indeed.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:12 pm

zenguitar wrote:Looking forward to reading the Arturia review with the RackBrutes. Could be a very tempting proposition indeed.

Andy :beamup:
Yes, if Arturia starts making modules, particularly the DrumBrute in my case, I don’t think I will be able to stop myself! One thing that I have noticed about my Minibrute is that, as awesome as it sounds, when you add a second VCO, it sounds glorious — it softens some of the grit and meanness of the MB.

I was able to play the new setup in anger last night with my at-home rehearsal setup: BeatStep Pro providing sequenced lines, Alesis SR-16 drum machine, and guitar.

The first thing that I noticed is that the pitch from the BSP was WAY too high. A quick read of a great article on Learning Modular and I was able to adjust the 0v note and bring the pitch down from its glass-breaking heights. I then tuned the guitar and oscillators.

The second thing that I noticed is that both synths are capable of putting out SERIOUS low freqs... I ended up re tuning the oscillators up an octave so that they won’t interfere with the bass guitar at rehearsal.

My third observation is that some drum sounds, particularly toms, don’t stand a chance when there are busy sequences happening, and with the rest of the band this will be increased as we also use a live poly synth, bass guitar, and vocals. I will have to re visit the drum sounds over the weekend when I have more time and select sounds that are brighter and snappier. I am now seeing the appeal of the 808 which I always found plinky sounding — they get out of the way from the other synths nicely. I wish I had a 1073 to send each synth through for tone shaping, I feel an EQ would work wonders. May need to get a couple of EQ pedals... I definitely had a case of ‘stuck faders’ as Mike Senior would say; changing level wasn’t solving anything. I wish Behringer would come out with micro EQs with the same form factor as the MX400 and HA400!

In the main I am over the moon with the sound.

After re shaping the synth sounds again I had a decent balance going and was able to get down to practice. The sound of the whole thing: guitar, drums, dual synths — even without the poly synth and bass guitar — is HUGE and exciting and has me playing Alex Lifeson style chord shapes to cut through. I am actually not a huge fan of tweaking sounds but in this case I am seeing that it’s necessary in order to get a good balance.
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Jan 30, 2018 1:19 pm

Been working away with the Eurorack skiff for a couple of weeks now and feel like I am finally starting to wrap my head around this whole analogue lark. :)

I have been using the CV outputs on the BeatStep Pro which is both good and bad: The Good news is that by using the CV outs I don't have to stop the Mother-32's sequencer from playing when the BSP starts (so very annoying). The Bad news is that CV has a limited octave range compared to using MIDI ... for a couple of sequences I would have liked to have had one extra octave down, but such is life, and I guess that's what a sub oscillator is for!!

I was wanting to modulate the PW on the Boomstar Oscillation but simply don't have space in the skiff for a dedicated LFO. Then I thought, I wonder if I can use the M32's LFO to modulate the Boomstar? Turns out, you can! So I have the triangle LFO running out from the M32 modulating the PW of the Boomstar and it works brilliantly. (It is also setting the PW rate for the M32 which creates a SUPER FAT mono synth sound; like, impossibly huge sounding)

Re: the SEM filter ... I guess I am a Moog fanboy at heart because the SEM filter is such a totally different beast; I wish I could tame just a bit of the gnarliness on the SEM; one thing I will give it though, it cuts through a mix like a hot knife through butter. The filter really starts to come alive when you are overdriving it, but with that harmonic complexity is that graininess ... it's a mixed blessing, I suppose, but the filter level is probably the one knob I find myself fiddling with the most from sequence to sequence, finding the sweet spot is pretty fine work.

On the whole, I couldn't be happier. I am going to bring the skiff out to band rehearsal next week for the first time (been using my iPad for the past month as a sound source) and am looking forward to hearing how it all sounds when played in anger and at gigging SPLs.

I also changed the drum machine out, but I will post more about that in the MIDI issues thread...
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:30 pm

Update: my very slow dive into the world of modular continues: an Expert Sleepers Disting Mk4 is on its way from Perfect Circuit.

I have been eyeing this one for a while and have been impressed with the videos that I have seen of it. I am really looking forward to seeing what it can do in the context of my music.
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby dwebb » Mon Mar 19, 2018 1:00 pm

I've recently got into the Eurorack thing and cost-wise a bit of DIY goes a long way. It's really easy to make the 16-16 or 16-10 power cables. You can buy the connectors on e-bay for next to nothing: search for 16 (or 10) pin IDC socket. You then get a reel of 16 way ribbon cable (which you can trim to 10 way to make 16 - 10 pin cables). Eg:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5-PACK-16-Pi ... Swjt5agize" target="phpbbpopup"

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/0-05-PC-IDC- ... hjq0qq2WvQ" target="phpbbpopup"

Fitting the connectors to the ribbon cable is simple assuming you have a vice - you just put socket in the vice, the cable in the socket and tighten.

I also find that it is a good idea to use thumb screws to attach modules to the rails. M3 computer case screws work really well for this. Eg:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Computer-PC- ... 2749.l2649" target="phpbbpopup"

Hope this helps!
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Mar 20, 2018 3:14 pm

Thanks, dwebb!
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Re: Sipping the Eurorack Kool-Aid -- first module incoming!

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:37 pm

Update: Still coming to grips with the Disting. It’s been very educational and eye opening to see how, when you expand into utility modules, you really start getting into actual synthesis (for lack of a better term). It has definitely highlighted how little I know on the subject as well as how terrible I am at electronics lol.

I am basically taking one utility at a time and working with it until something clicks. So many utilities do virtually, but not quite exactly, the same thing and it’s a deep dive getting down to the nuances. And then you have to remember the nuances (or keep detailed notes). And know when you want to use what. It gets boggling very quick!

It is also interesting to contemplate the differences between sound generation/performance in a traditional (East Coast?) method and ‘modular music’ which seems more random and “engineer-y”. My end goal as a musician is to see if I can wed the two together and wield it with enough skill to make it repeatable without using soft synths of any kind. Going way beyond ‘preeeooow’ now! ;)

One thing that became very clear is that a single utility isn’t really enough; so I picked up a Make Noise Function to use in tandem with the Disting. :)

That meant moving the Mother-32 back into its original skiff, and creating a haunting, tempting 30 hp gap crying out for a clockable LFO and some drum modules. Oh, dear!
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