The world of modular synthesis might appear a bit intimidating at first glance, but – and as someone who just got into modular a couple of years ago you can trust me – it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you’d think and Robin Vincent is going to show you why. He’s been a software guy for 20 years, so if he can work it out then anyone can….
Episode 1 – Introduction to Eurorack Modular series
Welcome to a new series of videos that aim to answer the question of “how to get into modular synthesis”. We’ve teamed up with Robin Vincent from Molten Music Technology to witness his first steps into the world of Eurorack modular.
Robin is our guide and our guinea pig as he strives to unravel this mysteriously musical form of DIY synthesis. There will be videos forthcoming on gateway synths to lay the ground work, software alternatives to whet your appetite, and on to choosing the right case and power supply. And then it will develop into an opportunity to try out, compare and review various modules as he starts to put his system together.
This is the start of a journey and we don’t know exactly where it’s going to go but it should be fun to find out. Here’s Robin explaining the plan.
Episode 2 – Semi-modular as a gateway to Eurorack Modular Proper
In this episode Robin explains why a semi-modular synthesiser might be a really good way testing the modular water. He tests out the Moog Mother-32 and demonstrates how it gives you a patchable and enlightening starting point.
You can learn an awful lot about synthesis and the way modular works from a semi-modular. He highlights the Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms SV-1, the Dreadbox Erebus and the Make Noise 0-Coast as similarly useful semi-modular boxes. The point really is that a semi-modular synth will always be a stand-alone synthesiser regardless of whether you go all the way into a Eurorack system. And if you choose not to go further into modular then you’ve still got a great synth to play with that will sit nicely with your existing setup.
Episode 3 – Wetting your feet with Softube Modular
Do you know how to make those basic modular connections? If you don’t then your new expensive case and modules could be a huge source of frustration. If you’ve just used regular synths and VSTi’s up until now then modular synthesis is not necessarily going to be as intuitive as you may think. It’s all very well reading about it or watching videos but it’s not until you actually sit down with a bunch of modules that the reality starts to become clear. In this episode Robin suggests that Softube Modular is the perfect way to get your feet wet. It emulates Eurorack in every potentially annoying and frustrating detail and gives you the opportunity to learn how to plug the basics together before you invest in all that hardware.
In our next episode Robin decides on a Eurorack case and it all starts becoming very real.
Episode 4 – We’re going to need a bigger case.
The first hurdle to get over on your way to modular is deciding on a case to put your modules in and a power supply to light them up. In this episode Robin takes you through the various Eurorack case options and expands on the reasons behind his choices. He then tackles the murky world of power supplies and finds it surprisingly straightforward – which is nice. Rounding it off with a tour of ModularGrid.net we are now ready to start looking at our first modules – very exciting. Stay tuned for more.
Episode 5 – Installing the Eurorack case and power supply
In this quick episode, Robin excitedly installs a 4MS Row Power 40 power supply into his 104hp Moog Eurorack case – ooooo. Right, now we can get on with choosing modules
Episode 6 – Choosing your first modules
Right, it’s time to get serious. Enough babbling about possibilities and gateways, at some point you have to choose a bunch of modules and splash your dosh. In this episode Robin takes us through the process of narrowing down the choices and picking out the modules that will become his first row of Eurorack.
Episode 7 – Installing the first row of modules
With all the choices made all that remains is to plug them in – this is where the fun begins. In this video Robin explains his final module choices and demonstrates how to install them into the case.
Episode 8 – Update on the Eurorack journey so far
Robin updates us on his progress with the rack so far. While some have really worked and others are more difficult to get to grips with he’s found that there’s a lot of fun to be had with a Maths and a Batumi.
Episode 9 – DC coupling, CV and DAW Control with Bitwig 2.1
Bitwig Studio 2 has control voltage generators that can used to send CV to a Eurorack modular or other analogue synth. To do that you need a DC Coupled audio interface. Let me show you what that means and how you do it!
Episode 10 – Installing the Mother-32 into a Eurorack case
If you decide to incorporate your Mother-32 into your Eurorack how do you go about installing it? Let me show you how – it’s easy! Grab a screwdriver and your anti-static pants and let’s get to it.
Episode 11 – Installing my second row of Eurorack
I have expanded into a second 104HP row of Eurorack. You always need a bigger case and the time has come to break out of one row. In this video I’ll show you the modules I chose and how you go about expanding from one row to two.
Episode 12 – AC Coupling, CV and DAW Control
Episode 13 – Building your first DIY Synth module
Building a modular Eurorack can be expensive. Modules typically start at around a couple of hundred quid and before you know it you’ve sunk thousands of pounds into this most awesome of set-collecting hobbies. One route of fiscal salvation comes in the form of DIY. There are many modules on which you can make substantial savings if you build them yourself. A DIY kit will contain the faceplate, the PCB(s) and all the components. All you need to supply is the soldering iron and the balls to do it. It can seem quite daunting for the inexperienced solderer but never fear because our intrepid modular explorer can show you the way. In this video Robin Vincent takes on the challenge of building a Music Thing Turing Machine. He highlights many of the issues you might encounter with through-hole soldering and demonstrates that it’s not as hard as it appears.