In, out, shake it all about…

I’ve recently come to the realisation that I enjoy reorganising my modular synth almost as much as making music! This last couple of years have seen some major updates to my studio so I thought I’d document the key changes. I’ve also been listening to some old XTC albums as I write this, so you will see the odd lyric or song title sneaking in.

Down in the cockpit

Per my earlier post, I moved back to a three Mantis system, and bought a 4ms Pod 34x to use as a controller skiff. In addition to my Choices joystick, I added a Synthrotek Arcadian Rhythms which features 3 light-up arcade buttons to trigger the envelopes on a Dreadbox Ataxia. I’ve been thinking about using arcade buttons for my modular since way back in 2017 and must say they are a lot of fun.

But, since that post, I decided to repurpose the case from my Moog DFAM instead which gives me an extra 26 HP to play with. And in that space, is a newly built Music Thing Modular Control, a great module featuring 4 giant dials which are ideal for making more precise adjustments.

Another satellite / You and the clouds will still be beautiful

The 4ms hasn’t gone to waste though. I sold my original Mutable Peaks, Rings and Clouds and replaced them with smaller, reworked versions courtesy of Jak Plugg – The Pique, NanoRings and Monsoon. This trio are the basis for a standalone portable rig which also features a Disting Mk4 and an ALM HPO headphone output and is soon to be joined by a DivKid Ochd. I also sold my Mutable Braids module as I can get largely the same sounds from my Tides module running the Sheep firmware and also an ALM MCO which is a recent addition.

Drums and wires

In the percussion section, I’ve actually sold most of my dedicated drum modules with the exception of the ALM Taiko’s which I still really love.

I also realised that I much prefer using clock dividers, sequencers and multipliers to make drum patterns so sold my Beatstep Pro and ALM Mmidi as although they are arguably more powerful, I found them much too predictable. Ultimately, I want to use the modular to come up with unique sounds and sequences that are different to what I might do in a DAW. To that end, I’m building a few Befaco modules including a Burst trigger processor to give me even more flexibility.

What do you call that noise?

I’ve invested in some additional Make Noise modules including (finally) a Maths. Still getting my head around it, but it really compliments the DFAM well and I’ve got some great kick sounds using it with my STO oscillator.

Speaking of Moog, I’ve also added a Mother 32 to compliment the DFAM. I must say though, as nice as the Mother 32 sounds (and it really does), I’m not a fan of it’s sequencer which is all a bit button pushy for me. So I’ve gone with a Behringer 960 / 962 sequencer and sequential switch combination which I’m much happier with. As the Moog’s don’t run on the same control voltages as most other Eurorack gear though, I’ve added a handy Erica Synths Pico Mscale to allow everything to play nicely.

Explode together

On the mixing front, I’ve incorporated a DivKid Mutes which I can use to route an input signal to four outputs. This is great for creating live dub mixes. Output 1 is the dry signal, Output 2 will go to a Befaco Crush Delay which I’m in the process of building, Output 3 goes to my Erica Synths Tube Ring Modulator and Output 4 to the Erica Synths Black Hole reverb. These are then routed via an Erica Black Mixer and Befaco Output.

Wrapped in grey

In the top row are a set of grey Behringer System 100m modules including dual oscillators and yet another step sequencer. I must say, I’ve been very impressed with these and they are great for coming up with little 8-note, Howard Jones / Heaven 17 type sequences. That said, I know from Martyn Ware’s excellent podcast Electronically Yours, he isn’t particularly a fan of the 100m, favouring the earlier System 100 which he says has a better signal path. I’ll never be able to afford one of those though, so the 100m will just have to do 🙂

Are you receiving me?

And finally, I’ve added a Teenage Engineering OP-Z to my arsenal, complete with the Oplab module in case I want to use it to sequence the modular. It’s staggering how much this little unit can do and the integration with my Android phone works flawlessly.

I’ve actually been converting sounds from the Modeselektor Ableton pack into OP-Z banks and they sound pretty amazing to be honest. I’ve even built an accompanying Ableton template with drum racks mapped to the same Midi notes as the OP-Z sequencer so that I can convert my little OP-Z noodles into full tracks.