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. 


Journey into Modular Synthesis - Part 1: Why Modular Synthesis?

I'm always on the lookout for trying to expand my musical creation capabilities with my synths setup. If you recall, a few years ago I was exploring a change in my groove box setup. I researched a lot of ways to try and mix up my sound. In the end I ended up getting a Waldorf Blofeld and a Tech 21 Flyrig 5

Fast forward a couple of years and I am now once again looking for something different for music creation. This time around though I am not going to try and change my core musical setup. Instead I am going to try and create a new "workstation" of sorts. Now, I have been exploring some various options over the past year ranging from the Korg Volca series, to the Teenage Engineering PO boxes, to even a workstation keyboard like the Roland FA series

I put most of those thoughts off to the side as I tried to finish my album last fall, (buy it btw) and I am once again back looking for something new. 

I have looked at modular synths in the past, but they have always frightened me off. The shear cost alone is intimidating and the completely opened ended nature of the market, with hundreds of modules, by dozens of different manufacturers is confusing. Coming from a "traditional" synthesis world I have a better grasp than most on what VCO's are and how envelopes and LFO's work. But modular synths, are something radical.

Learning the Mandolin

I am teaching myself to play the mandolin. I have been toying with the idea of learning a new musical instrument for a while now, but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to latch onto. I was confident that it would be a stringed instrument since that would be completely foreign to me. 

Megan has stated that she has wanted to learn how to play the violin, ahem, fiddle, for quite some time. One idea I had was to try and find a potential companion instrument, with the hopes that we could one day play together. 

Various instruments ranging from violin, cello, viola and banjo have all been under consideration. All would allow me to play some folk music and some Irish music as well for Megan. 

The mandolin emerged as the top contender a couple of months ago. Not only is an entry level mandolin dirt cheap, but I was surprised to find the wide range of music that the mandolin can cover. Being in the lute family the musical repertoire ranges from medieval court music, to just about every folk genre you can find. It seems to have a particularly strong presence in Italian, Irish and American (Bluegrass) folk music. 

So, mandolin it was. My first couple of days with it were productive, but also a real challenge. My form needs a significant amount of work and many of the notes get a metallic "twang" to them, I think due to my bad finger positioning. Through the book I have purchased and also a fantastic website called MandoLessons.com, I have been able to get down the basic notes, understand the basic fingerings and learn my first three chords. 

I hope there is a lot more to come.