Hello all! just a newbie seeking tips

Hi guys!
My name is Benjamin, and it’s a pleasure to be posting here for my first time. I am really interested in this community and lately have been eying the isms system. Is this system something that someone who is relatively amateur to modular should be looking at? I am thinking about buying individual pieces and slowly build up to most of the isms system, with a couple of make noise modules as well. This initial purchase would include White Whale, the 128 varibright grid, the isms case, a mangrove, Three sisters, cold mac, and just friends. Does this seem like a good place to start? i would eventually grow the system to have Meadowphysics and the teletype. I currently have a small eurorack system, part of which i am selling to get these new pieces, but i am keeping my Make Noise DPO and Maths, and a Mutable Instruments Peaks.
Here is a modulargrid link of what I am thinking.

Thanks all! looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

1 Like

the isms does offer a wide variety of approaches and would also allow you to change your ideas as you build.

that initial buy represents a ton of functionality. you may want to sit with just that for a good amount of time before going further. monome and mannequins modules have many layers, and you may find that they can do things that might dissuade you from feeling like you need more right away.


Well, that all looks very coherent, but as @tehn says - it’s also a lot of functionality. Given you already have a DPO and a Maths, you could hold off on the Mangrove and perhaps even the Just Friends up front - you have an oscillator and you have a function generator, and you have a Peaks to do its thing. But the filter and the Cold Mac would be quite handy from the getgo.

And then what you’re really wrapping your head around, to start, is everything isms offers plus the depth of a single Monome sequencer. And, of course, the Mannequins modules.

But yeah, there’s certainly nothing missing to do interesting things and, indeed, to last you a while.


Hey thanks for the advice/input!
Yes I am expecting that learning the ins and outs of the white whale to be quite a feat and something to keep me busy for some time!
One thing that really intrigued me is how much complexity can come out of such a small system,I am hoping that the limitation of system size will push me to use the modules to a more full extent. Also it seems like Monome’s compact sequencing modules really nicely compliment the WR line.
All in all the isms system seems really well put together!
Very excited to dive in. Now just the struggle of selling modules and saving up!

1 Like

Hey thanks for the great advice on holding off on the mangroves and just friends!
I think it will be invaluable when trying to learn the White Whale and other WR modules to not fill up a system with even more modules I am unfamiliar with, by limiting myself to the DPO and Maths as my sound and modulation sources (aside from the Lfo and noise in the Isms case) I will actually be doing myself a favor!
Also lightens the financial load of my first investment.

1 Like

for someone totally green to modular, i always recommend buying a doepfer system. they’re great and very under represented in the current modular market place.

if you are new to synthesis and modular, i don’t know that i could recommend make noise, mannequins, or monome modules. imo no one likes hearing this advice, but it would be beneficial to not start in the deep end. (just crawl through the muff wiggler forum if you need an example, so many confused users who started at the complex end when they should have started with ‘building block’ modules.)

that said, if you don’t want to learn modular synthesizers and want to learn the isms system, then feel free to disregard everything i wrote.

1 Like

It looks like @bwlb is downscaling an existing system to move into isms - he already owns the DPO as well as a bunch of Mutable modules, the Maths, and so forth. So he’s perhaps not totally green…

1 Like

Hey! I greatly appreciate the honest opinion! Yes it is difficult to hear that one isn’t necessarily ready for all the shiniest toys, but it is often the case. To give some context for where my knowledge is at, i have been practicing synthesis for about 4 years and have been using my small system on/off for about two years now, i still feel like a beginner but I do feel that I have a pretty solid understanding of the DPO and Maths. From this description should I stray away from the isms system?

What do you feel are the pros to starting with a deeper system?


Yes, true, I am looking to downscale and remodel my current system to focus on the isms system, however when i first got into Eurorack i did make the mistake of buying all the cool looking modules and bypassing the importance of the utility modules, that is one reason that isms looks so appealing because of that sweet 1u of utility, along with a bunch of the more “fun” stuff. But i want to start off on a good foot and grow my knowledge on modular synthesis so if people who are more experienced than i tell me that the plan i mentioned up above will lead to me being frustrated and lacking the knowledge to utilize these awesome tools i have, or that the learning curve will overwhelm and frustrate me then i can respect that, and do appreciate the honesty.

if you have multiple years experience, then you shouldn’t have any issues with the system you’ve laid out! in fact i wouldn’t describe your experience as that of a newbie. the mannequins modules aren’t as difficult to understand as one might initially think and the monome modules are simple but have lots of depth.

imo starting with a complex system with no prior synth or modular experience can lead to frustration-- you’d have no basic understanding of how synthesis works and how modules are supposed to interact, along with the added complexity of modules that can serve many purposes or are designed in unique ways (hence my suggestion of a doepfer system, which doesn’t really apply to your level of experience).

if your ‘current’ rack on modular grid is up to date, then yeah, i can’t imagine that you’d have trouble with an isms system. it looks like you lean pretty heavy in having oscillators and sequencers-- you might want to consider getting the just friends before a mangrove since it can pull double duty as a VCO and modulation source.


Ok awesome! I will persue it further then. And I dunno, I still feel like I have a ton to learn but I think the WR modules will be a good next step for me, I think the White Whale will be the thing I will have to focus on the most, I understand it conceptuallty but I expect that I will need to spend a bunch of time to learn the grid interface well enough to use it comfortably.

Yeah I totally agree. When I first invested in my system I was pretty frustrated, I didn’t know how to use any of the modules, expected to sound like Richard Devine or something and was to arrogant to spend the time to study the full manuals a academically so I kinda shunned it for a little while but I have learned to really appreciate working with modular hardware, it’s a really nice contrast to working with software, simply by being able to have all the controls right at your fingertips, it opens up a completely different workflow. Much more organic, it feels like playing an instrument.
I do wish that I had been started on something simpler and more uniform, but I am glad to have thrashed around and found out what I like and what I don’t like.

Cool yeah that is the system I have been working with for a while now, I am trying to sell the braids, elements, Circadian Rhythms, and a Shelves that I don’t have hooked up so that I can buy into this new set up. My plan is to get the isms case, the grid, white whale, cold Mac and Three Sisters like @infovore suggested, this way I will be working with my DPO and Maths that I am already familiar with while I learn these new pieces. Then expand from their as I feel more comfortable/money allows