Journey into Modular Synthesis - Part 2: Cases

So the process into researching a modular synth is now ongoing. The apparent cost of this endeavor is striking, so this will not be something that will be completed in a short run. 

Research is the name of the game going forward. What modules do I want and how do they fit together.

One amazing resource online is a website called modulargrid.net. It appears to be THE place to go when researching modules and it has a truly fantastic community around it. Not only can you view modules from the hundreds of manufacturers, but you can also build your setup and get information on price. 

Before you get into modules though you need to first get a case and power supply. 

The Case

The first hurdle in this process is going to be the case for the modules. Cases as it turns our are expensive. These units from Doepfer and Pittsburgh Modular cost $700 or more. Some are custom built, while others are manufactured. There are some truly great ones out there that are really robust and will fold up for travel. For my purposes though I won't be traveling with the unit so I am going to opt for something a bit more basic. 

The best "bank for the buck" I could find  seems to be the TipTop Audio Mantis. It is two rails of 104HP and can be had online for about $340 with a power supply. Not too bad.

The other top contender for me seems to be a 7U case from Intellijel. During my research I have found that there are various 1U modules that are also available from various manufacturers. Some of these act as mixers or other CV routing options. Not all cases have the 1U space available though. It's unfortunately just another layer of complexity to add to this process. 

The Intellijel 7U case has this option. Here there are two rows of 84HP plus 84HP of 1Up modules. Price is almost twice that of the TipTop Audio Mantis, but it also is a hard travel ready case. They also have a very reasonable joiner to link two cases together, which seems interesting for a future investment on a case. 

So, these two options seem to be the directions so far. I have been doing my research on Modulargrid.net into modules. I'll have another post shortly to explore that. For now, I need to eventually make a decision on a case before dong anything else. 


First Bicycle Ride of 2017

The weather was great in Illinois this past week. Highs were in the upper sixties all weekend long, which meant everyone was able to get outside. 

Megan and I both got out and enjoyed a quick ride at the nearby Centennial trail. It is a great afternoon ride that we have done on numerous occasions. It is an all paved bike path for about 13 miles. A section of the path that was closed and under construction for all of last year had just opened up and we were able to experience it for the first time. It was a nice six mile stretch on the I&M canal which had water on both sides of the path. It was really fantastic. 

We also had the opportunity to try out both of our fitness watches for the first time cycling. Her with her Apple Watch and me with My Fitbit Charge 2. 

Both worked out great, but there were a few hiccups along the way. Megan's Apple Watch has built in GPS, but it seems that the Strava app on it has not yet leveraged that. We left her phone in the car so we missed the first few miles of recording for her. Instead we used the watch's built in fitness recording and that ended up working out great without the phone. Lets hope Strava updates their app soon.

On the Fitbit Charge 2, the connected GPS to my phone worked out well. I had to record the route using the Fitbit app instead of Strava, but the data did push over to Strava in the end, including the heart rate data. Very cool and something I hope to use more of in the future. 

Book Review: The Children of Hurin

The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They don't write them like this anymore. The Children of Húrin is a work completed by J.R.R. Tolkien's son, Christopher. The story reads like a Greek tragedy or legend, as if it was being told around a fire.

The story follows the life of Túrin, son of Húrin, covering his entire life, and focusing brief passages on his key adventures and misadventures. The book does not give you an in depth "play by play" of everything that occurs and it will summarize years passing in a paragraph or two.

What you get are broad strokes about the feats performed by a single man and the tragedy of his life. Rather than a book written for us, this almost reads like a book written for the denizens of Middle Earth, shared with its inhabitants about a tragic hero from the first age.

The readability this book rates high compared to some of the other incomplete works of Tolkien. This is by no means as easy as the Hobbit or LOTR, but it is much more digestible than any of the Unfinished Tales. The stories will be easy to follow, but the locations and names of many of the characters will leave you confused. The book assumes that you are familiar with the locations of places in the world, (again, perhaps it is written for the people of Middle Earth) and doesn't give you much reference.

Christopher Tolkien does an excellent job providing detailed annotations and notes on his father's work along with background information about how he pieced partial manuscripts together.

Overall, this is a great story for anyone who is a fan of Tolkien. If you have read The Hobbit and LOTR and you are looking for a story to make the jump before getting into the difficult ocean of the Unfinished Tales, this is a great bridge book that will give you a good story and also give you the background information about how the world was created.

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