Adding drums to the modular looking for ideas

I’ve had my eye on these for a while now: All the drum modules I currently have don’t have many modulation possibilities, and these seem to hit the spot in that regard!

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This is semi-necroposting as this was from November but I have a Manhattan Analog CP3 (same as DTM, previous name) and this thing does indeed overdrive very nicely (though it can be clean if desired). An added bonus is that you can get some sidechain-like behaviour when only one input is set to an overdriving level (typically the last quarter or so of the knob). Really recommended module, quite underrated and really useful (if you like overdriven sounds, obviously).


depends on your definition of subtle, i guess? :smiley:
personally I find it a little too metallic sounding for my taste and that can potentially be translated as harsh sounding imo, but it is extremely versatile. I recall putting together a few drum kits, basses and leads using only the BIA for a sample pack. crazy module

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How about this piece of kit?

The sample of the cymbal through it sounds amazing!

I decided to begin a modular system for the explicit purpose of making a drum synth. I have some reviews.

BIA: As good as everyone says. It seems like the alto & treble modes do not get represented in videos much but they can rule hard, esp. when sending pitch info to the 1v/oct hole. Very hard distorted kicks, if wanted. More mellow sounds are possible.

Bastl Tea Kick: Bread and butter synth drum. It goes bong. Especially nice on this module is the SQUARE OUT which gives you a nasty square drum bam as you might expect. Also has a WTF IN hole which I do not understand.

Meng Qi Karp + DUKRPLS: I have both because they produce amazing noise cymbals + noise snares. Noise hats, too. DUKRPLS has more mico glitch things happening whereas Karp is more straightforward with its circuit-bent sonics.

TipTop Audio ONE: I loaded it with hip hop drums and it rules. You can load it with anything. I sprung for the TG version because of the randomizer functions in the firmware and glad I did.

Akemie’s Taiko: I think this module is even more complex than the BIA. It has the original FM chip inside it according to the literature. It is an alien device. Very good sounds but sometimes difficult to wrangle. Like BIA benefits from having its hole stuffed with modulation. Long range death ray module I cannot describe. I love it.

For making the drums go boom I prefer a Trigger Riot as it contains infinity rhythms. Controlling rhythms with a bank of knobs feels good. Deep machine, can go places. I do not understand its depths but learning every day.


I forgot something. I also use a Sonic Potions LXR occasionally to sequence everybody. Seven trigger outs and an Elektron-like sequencer. Is v. good.

I too have a lot of experience drum modules and my opinions are fairly close to mrsoundboyking’s where they overlap:

ALM Akemie’s Taiko: I can get all kinds of weird sounds out of this but it can take a while to dial it in. It’s got a lot of sweet spots but also some not-so-sweet spots. Exploration can really pay off.

Bastl Noise Square + Skis: This combo gives a ton of range for various clashy drum sounds, many of which are pretty video-gamey. Skis is a little AD + VCA module that’s great size and cost value as it is all you need to turn a sound source into a drum.

Bastl Tea Kick: I like this more as a bass lead than a kick. Definitely thumpy and crunchy, also a bit video-gamey.

Intellijel Plonk: A physical modeling monster - if you want realistic-sounding drums, this is the way to go, and you can also push parameters into weird unreal realms. You can build up ‘kits’ and trigger related drums sounds through the same module. The presets sound amazing and it’s hugely powerful. I have friends who are moving all of their percussion towards just having a couple of these.

Malekko Voltage Block: This is not a drum module but I find it to be stellar for controlling complex drum modules on a step-by-step basis. If I’m using Akemie’s Taiko, BIA, or Plonk to make more than one sound in a deterministic way I am almost always using a Voltage Block to make that go.

Mutant Bass Drum: Good solid kick. I find it needs a lot of gain.

Mutant Clap: I’m not a huge fan of this one - it gets me some sounds that are similar to Bastl Noise Square + Skis.

Mutant Snare: Not a huge amount of range but a nice clean sounding snare. I think it must be 909-based because it pairs nicely with the SD808.

Noise Engineering BIA: If you want clashy industrial drums, this is the end-all-be-all. It’s great at cymbals and metallic thumps. If you modulate the heck out if it you get grimy alien laser attacks. Most spots are pretty sweet.

Radio Music: Pretty good for storing drum samples although a bit finicky to control.

SSF Entity Bass Drum: Somewhat misnamed because the pitch knob lets it go all the way from throbbing kicks to high pitched plinks. I find this a bit hard to dial in but once it’s dialed in, it gives me some of the best kicks I’ve heard in modular. The bass lead is also nice and a bit more smooth and rubbery than the one in Tea Kick.

Tiptop SD808: The classic analog snare. Levels for the noise, tone, and accent can be set. Not a lot of range but sounds just right.

All of this said, it’s also important to remember that a lot of basic analog drums can be built up from other modules. One of the best kicks I’ve ever created was actually a square wave fed into an Intellijel Polaris in LPF mode with two AD envelopes that were modulating the FM and the VCA that the Polaris was feeding into. So it can be worth looking at what classic drum circuits are made up of because you probably have the components in your rack already.


Great rundown.

I use Voltage Block for the same stuff you do. What a great module. Love the random functions, love the performance functions. Keeper.

Tea Kick as bass lead! I am going to try this, thanks for the idea.

Curious that you don’t rate the Mutant stuff too highly. I mostly think about the Rimshot but have never played one. The whole series seems popular.

Also v. curious about the SSF Percussion –

& I look forward to messing with a Plonk one day but not today, not today… because Beast-Tek Irukandji in the mail to produce 1,000 Nintendos. Planning to use it to beat level 8.

Any osc can be a drum if you treat it right. Been loving on a Piston Honda mk2 --> Pico Mod for thrashed digital drum. I use it to beat LIttle Mac.

In conclusion, drum modules.

With regard to the Mutants, I think they don’t hit a great spot in terms of bang for the buck + size. Modulation doesn’t do a huge amount for them, which means they don’t offer a lot more than Tiptops. The analog drum modules from SSF and Cwejman offer a lot more range and modulation capabilities than Mutants. That said, I do really like the sound of the Mutant Snare and don’t have any experience with the Rimshot or Machine.

One other thing worth mentioning is that if anyone is starting to look seriously at 808/909 equivalents in Eurorack, they should seriously consider whether they might be better served by getting an Elektron Analog Rytm instead.

That’s a good question re: the builds. The Mutant Snare I have is factory-produced and sounds pretty good. I do understand it’s meant to be used with other sound sources, but my comment that it doesn’t have a lot of range compared with other drum modules that I’ve mentioned does still stand.

The Mutant Bass drum and Clap that I’ve worked with were DIY builds (not by me). It’s entirely possible that there are build issues although they also sound fairly right based on my expectations. The Clap I have is very loud and seems to do what it’s supposed to, I’d just throw out that, say, pairing a SSF Quantum Rainbow and a Bastl Skis will give you more interesting options in that domain. I would need to hear factory built models to really know; feel free to take what I say about them with a grain of salt, especially if there’s some sort of a gain issue with my kick.

I have mixed feelings about the Mutant Drums. I love the concept of taking the stock 808/909 sounds and expanding their range, but they lack modulation on some useful parameters, and the additions are not always useful. I have the BD9 but have no use for the sub osc, and would rather have cv inputs for the pitch decay/amount; given the space it takes, I think I may be better off with the TipTop BD909 instead.

Another thing I noticed is that the layout of knobs differs on each module, so that the volume and pitch knobs are not in the same place. This is a little annoying in a performance context as you need to think about where the volume knob is on a particular module. Contrast this to the TipTop drums, where the volume is always top right, and the tune is close by.

On the pro side, they do sound good and the external inputs on some of the modules are really useful for expanding the range of sounds they make. The mutant clap in particular is very flexible in this regard.

Some other thoughts:

  • My next purchase is a Mutable Plaits: I really like the drums on the Peaks and it seems like the Plaits will be a real winner in this regard.

  • The SSF stuff will probably be next after that. The flexibility seems unsurpassed

  • The BIA is on the list as well. It does subtle quite well and can make huge kicks

  • The twincussion is another I’ve had my eye on for a while. With the outs for the various wave forms and the EG it can do a lot more than drums.

  • The Bastl Noise Square is a great building block, but you definitely need some filters as well as envelopes and VCAs to make the best use of it, and it adds up pretty quickly. But you get a complete synth so worth considering: something like noise square + dixie + quadra + quad vca with a couple of filters could be killer.

  • Sampled drums are currently a bit of a conundrum. TipTop one would same like an obvious choice, except there’s no decay parameter! PicoDrums has the functionality, but I would rather something bigger with knobs. Keeping an eye on the Future Retro Transient for this.

Curious to know your thoughts on the RYTM, it’s something I’ve considered picking up as well.

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I’ve actually been moving in the opposite direction. I’m going to be picking up a rytm mkii after selling most of my drum specific eurorack. I found that I love modular for synthesizing strange percussion and rhythmic noises, for more straight ahead drums the cost ratio is way off. It’s really hard and expensive to get as many voices, sampling, and the sequencing power of the rythm mkii in eurorack for a sane cost and size.

I’m planning to use both together, synced via Pamela’s New Workout.

Using the Multicassa for cool polyrhythms. Need to send the individual outs to a filter and mess with them, maybe blend some noise into the signal. It’s certainly an interesting device.

I also have my eye on varigate4+ and a couple of Erica Pico drums, or 2hp snare/kick/hats. We will see…


I have the TwinCussion and the three Bastl Modules for percussion duties - N2, Cinnamon, Skis. This gives me a simple, flexible, traditional analogue set up, more or less. I run them all into a qubit mixology with a pico dsp as a send effect. I sequence them using the DC1 drum computer, and have a Roland scooper at the end of the chain with a custom preset that gives me control over the dry/wet mix.

It works for me! One warning on the TwinCussion though - the sine output is really quiet. I need to amplify a bit prior to the mixer.

Why did I go this route? I guess I wanted something that was still ‘modular’ with lots of patching opportunities as opposed to more fixed architecture drum modules. And it was cheaper than a set of the mutants…

Anyone use Disting ?

FYI, the new RYTM firmware has an impulse machine for sending out gates via the individual outputs.

The impulse machine also sounds great as an audio source for clicky/glitchy drums.

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My drum “fills” module combo was/is the DU-RDT triggering a DU-KRPLS (TRIG and TYPE inputs) while modulating the DECAY setting (usually with Just Friends)… instant glitch beats…

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XO labs 1u 808 tiles look like they could be brilliant.