Frap Tools: The Thread

I see that we have a few threads about specific Frap Tools modules, but I’d like to carve out some space to talk about the ecosystem as a whole. I’m currently building a case that consists mostly (if not solely- we’ll see) of Frap modules, and I’d love to bounce thoughts and questions off of anyone who’s been down this road.

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i was literally just planning something similar as of last night. the usta has been on my radar for a long time, and the brenso is pulling me in too. don’t really have much to add haha, just wanted to throw in some support for the thread.

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I started a similar thread on ModWiggler.

My Euro system almost 50% Frap Tools, and has been really great for me. Their modules are Buchla-inspired, but at the conceptual level, not the circuit level. Each module is really well thought out, and the implementation is always first rate.

I’m happy to answer any questions I can.

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I’ll take you up on this offer with a very lazy question (because I skipped this section of ManualOne): how essential do you find the CGM stuff to the overall experience? On the one hand, I’m very into the idea of staying All Frap as long as possible in this case. On the other hand, that’s about $1000 of stuff that I’m relatively well-fixed on elsewhere. I’d love some thoughts!

I’m only a week in with Brenso, Falistri, and Usta, but I think this is my favorite part so far. Contribution to the lineage without just spitting out circuit clones.

Well, I’m a big fan of a playable mixer, in general, and the CGM is a really great implementation of one, at least as far as Eurorack mixers go. If I hadn’t gone with the CGM, it probably would have been a WMD Performance Mixer. I like how the CGM is expandable / configurable.

If playable output mixers aren’t that important to you, you can save a lot of money / space by going with something smaller / simpler. The CGM sounds really good, but it is not really integral to the Frap sound.

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I’ve also owned pretty much every one of their modules at some point… But I have a very ambivalent opinion about Frap Tools. I love their care for details and the quality is just amazing. I think plenty of their modules fall into the “best of its kind” category (Brenso is for sure the most amazing complex oscillator in Eurorack, Sapel is just the perfect take on a musical random source, Fumana… just wow), but I think there’s also a lot of valid criticism directed at just how small everything is on their modules.

I personally don’t mind the legibility, even though I think it’s quite bad. I just don’t care about being able to read panel text or see symbols, because I tend to learn my modules very carefully and then just know what everything does. But some switches are nigh impossible to operate when the module is densely patched and I really wish they’d use a bit more space on their modules and add a few more full sized knobs instead of trimmers. Then again, I do understand the pressures of the Eurorack market - at least to me it seems to me like most people want things to be smaller if they have the choice instead of larger.

For some of their modules, I couldn’t live with the smaller UI and sold them. Falistri is such a case - I really wanted to love it, but I got into too many situations where I couldn’t actually perform the gestures I wanted anymore once it was a bit patched.

But I still love what they’re doing. The aesthetic is great and it’s easy to tell just how often they iterate over each module they design to make it as perfect as it can be.

By the way, I think everyone should have a 333. It’s relatively cheap and small enough to fit most systems and it really surprised me in just how useful it is. 3 unity mixers into 3 buffered multiples, each normalled into the next - it just has so many musical applications.

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Do you mind explaining more about why you think the legibility? I’ve always been curious about Frap Tools, and how they try to communicate with colors and whatnot (like Buchla), but have never dived deeper into it. (Though I’ve heard from other people that it becomes fairly intuitive once you understand the color system and everything.)

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I think their color coding and symbols are quite cool (things like the two dots for bipolar vs. one dot for unipolar on falistri help). It totally works when you look at a well-lit image of the module. It’s more that the labels are pretty tiny and can get very hard to decipher in less than optimal lighting conditions when you’re not right in front of the module. Add to that the density of the modules (and a few patch cables) and it gets hard to make out anything (compared to other module manufacturers labeling). Again, I don’t care because I don’t depend on labels, but I can see why other people struggle with this…

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Thanks for making the thread, looking forward to seeing more replies. Around half my case is Frap Tools - I have one of each module except Fumana and the mixer master.

As someone still relatively new to Euro, a large part of the appeal to me was the quality and breadth of user resources Frap provides. I find the symbology/interfaces pretty easy to learn using the manual and some practice — the value of the videos for me was in showing technique and patching approaches.

Quick module thoughts:

  • Half the time I think that I can’t justify keeping Sapel when a Teletype script would cover many of the output types. But it is so direct/intuitive and is a great cross-patching partner with Marbles or other more deterministic/ASR style modulators.
  • The white section of Brenso is the one part of a frap tools module I can’t consistently keep in my head. That’s probably more a comment on the range/complexity of what it can do though - labels probably wouldn’t help much.
  • USTA’s control over individual step/stage length opens up a lot of possibilities. I’m sure this feature is in other battleship sequencers or by sequencing sequencers, but it was a huge new ability coming from simpler sequencers.
  • The mixer’s plethora of modulation options is a fantastic capability but one that I rarely make use of. I don’t feel like it’s core to their system and I’d probably rather gain those capabilities through patching of utilities. That said, the QSC is pretty compact and surprisingly ergonomic.
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Thinking the CGM stuff through last night, I feel like QSC and Group would be good additions to the system, but MasterOne maybe feels redundant or unnecessary in my system (I’m in a performance case with IJ’s stereo out module handling final output).

Seems like I’m going to need some non-Frap VCAs in the case, and I’ll likely plop my Optomix in as well.

I think I’d echo most of what @x2mirko is saying, owning everything but the mix section as I do most mixing out of the rack. The approach and functionality I want is there but the trim pots are a hassle at times. I also find the panel wide layout of jacks lends itself to dense patching where you’re digging through cables more than other companies layouts. I do like a unified approach to jacks like Joranalogue myself but at the end of the day I’m still working with the Frap tools stuff and am happy doing so.

The Frap interface philosophy is discussed in this video, which I found helpful when I was first investigating Frap Tools. They have a lot of informative videos on YouTube & Instagram.

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Couple weeks in here, and I’m finding the workflow more and more intuitive. Sapel is so beautiful. I realized yesterday that the Frap Tools system is probably my first (or at least purest) exposure to Buchla 200 series ideas, albeit with some really clever and thoughtful modifications.

These modules feel really slept on for some reason. I can’t figure out why (and I hope that this statement is not foreboding in some way :joy:)

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I’ve had a good experience with Frap Tools! What I’ve heard from most people is that the price scares them away, but they are very well thought out designs.

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My goodness, the deeper I go with Sapel, the more I love it. What an absolute treasure.

Question for the group: is anyone using Frap’s modular case system? If so, what power supply works well with their modules? My intellijel case is not agreeing with some of the Frap stuff.

I’m using the Intellijel Performance Cases with a lot of Frap Tools modules without problem. The only Frap Tools module I don’t have is the Fumana.

What problems are you seeing?

Lots of weird noise and crosstalk. I’ll try to grab a recording next time I run into it!

What all do you have in your case? It might be some strange combination that is causing a problem.

My Frap Tools stuff is spread out over a couple cases, so maybe that’s helping? Mine looks like this (but you’ll have to imagine a WMD C4BN in the top 1u row):

Their modules can be surprisingly greedy in power consumption, particularly with -12V power which I sometimes can overlook.

Fumana: 430 mA +12V, 390 mA -12V
Brenso: 325 mA +12V, 235 mA -12V
Falistri: 170 mA +12V, 170 mA -12V
QSC: 170 mA +12V, 170 mA -12V

(just to list a few)

Here’s the case in question (though, oops, I’ve got a receive 2 in reality, not a transmit 2):

@naxuu wow, I hadn’t noticed, but you are totally right!

Also edit to say that, as these things go- since I sat down to investigate, it’s performed flawlessly. Of course!

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