Dipping Toes (Eurorack advice)

So, after watching/listening to many of the modular videos here and youtube etc I think I may be ready to dip my toes in.

I have a Roland System 1m which I really like (And a werkstatt with the CV expansion) and think I could pair them with a couple of DIY modules for some controlled random jamming. I was looking at the Turing Machine and Sonic Potions Penrose.

Could I use my novation circuit to be the “brain” here? I guess I would require some kind of midi-CV device? (Please correct me if wrong).

I guess what I’m asking is how circuit could dictate tempo?

Thanks for any advice :slight_smile:

There are others, this is not an exhaustive list or even a direct answer to your question, so I’m really just pointing out some modulargrid features.


That’s a search for DIY, Clock generator, MIDI interface.

However, something like Expert Sleepers FH-1, while not DIY, might offer you more flexibility.

1 Like

If I understand correctly, the Circuit transmits midi clock from its midi out, so you’d need only a midi interface such as Mutable Instruments Yarns or some of those from the search that @jasonw22 posted.

1 Like

when it comes to midi to cv conversion, hard to beat cv.ocd… https://www.tindie.com/products/hotchk155/cvocd-a-super-flexible-midi-to-cv-box/
not racked, but that only saves you precious hp. it’s ridiculously flexible.

its default configuration is based around the novation circuit midi mapping, so you could even use it out of the box with it (connected over mini jack if you like)


I always forget about that one. It’s such a great deal.

Oo, that looks great. Thank you.

damn, one of these days I’m gonna get one of those myself. Very nice, thanks!

Also: the default CVOCD mapping is basically designed for a circuit: two channels of CV/gate, four channels of triggers, and some channels of divided clock. It becomes fairly immediate - you just need to turn the channel volume of a channel down to stop it sounding. (“Mute” on the circuit would actually mute the note data, hence me mentioning the volume knob).

I really should play with mine more - picked it up before I hit a bit of a lull.

1 Like

How did you decide where to begin your Euro adventures? I’m looking around and the options are bewildering. Did you know what you wanted to do, or did that evolve with the modules you bought?

This is where I am at. I think the initial cost makes my rational brain want to build an instrument that I can supplement my soft synths with. But the creative possibilities for random/experimental/evolving sounds appeals to me

Spend time in modulargrid and youtube and design cases at small sizes. Try 54HP, 84HP, 104HP, before you go any larger.

If you design a case that you think will work, try redesigning it with different modules so that similar functionality will fit in fewer HP.

This process teaches you how to achieve density and cut costs. Now switch gears and think about ergonomics, possibly spread out a little bit.

You want oscillators, wave manipulators (folders, filters), VCAs, attenuators, envelopes, modulators, and sequencers. It’s not impossible to fit all of that in a lunchbox case. If you already use a computer for music, consider an Expert Sleepers ES-8, so that you can use the computer to stand in for modules you don’t own yet.

Or, like, don’t do any of that. It’s expensive, and the end result is either noise, sound, or music, none of which are things society is bending over backwards to give you money for.

You can do it all in Pd for free. You might be fighting ergonomics a lot of the time, but some MIDI controllers will help, and they’re a lot cheaper than eurorack.


Perfect. I oscillate between thinking of mine as a studio and as an instrument (although it’s probably closer to mid-life crisis at this point).

When I started out I thought I just wanted a few modules to process field recordings and guitar… but as I got into it I fell in love with other things and my system exploded to two cases (104hp 12U + 6U), and I started planning for a full 2x12U setup that falls squarely into the “studio” type approach.

Now I’m actually considering condensing it again into a single 12U case as more of an instrument (albeit a complex and flexible multi-voice instrument). It feels better for performing, and some constraints tend to help me as I’m a bit of a maximalist when it comes to gear. If I force myself to stay limited to things that I use most of the time maybe I’ll feel more at home with my rig. We’ll see.

It’s all an experiment… playing, recording it, building it, and changing it is all fun.


And if you design a case you think will work, post a link to this forum. You’ll learn a great deal from the feedback you get as a result. There are no dumb mistakes if you learn from them, and learning from modulargrid and forum posts is a lot cheaper and easier than the constant trade route (but you’ll inevitably do some of that too).

1 Like

Thanks guys. I have some wood to use up that should be enough to let me make a case of 2 84hp rows. I also found some fabric that I may use (for purely aesthetic reasons a la carl mikael’s cabinet of curiosity) really need to clarify my purpose, but at the end of the day enjoyment is the main driving force.

Cabinet of curiosity link

doepfer is the best starting point for anyone getting into modular

Doepfer modules are not all that dense. They tend to do one thing well. This is an advantage in that you are truly pursuing a modular approach. This is a disadvantage in that a complete system can take up a lot of HP. Fortunately the modules are a bit less expensive, so that can help with the increased cost of a larger case.

Point I’m trying to make is that Doepfer is a great starting point, but “the best” is a very subjective evaluation.

everything in this thread is subjective. that said, I’ve been on mw for almost a decade (and mostly participating in euro discussions) – the amount of confusion that occurs when new players enter modular with ‘dense’ modules is staggering. doepfer is advantageous because it’s affordable and provides good clarity for how specific functions can or should interact.

1 Like

Sure. But the thing I’m trying to say, more than “Buy [x]” is “learn about what you’re buying and think hard about it before you buy it”.

And there’s a reason new people buy dense modules. HP/$ constraints are real.

1 Like

I don’t think we are in disagreement-- imo doepfer is the easiest way to learn about modular systems and figure out what you need, especially for a new player.

1 Like

Lunchbox cases are worthy of consideration: