Making stand alone modular instruments

I spent 4 hours with this instrument last night. So many possibilities in the null.

If you want a little more space, consider moving the power out of the rack… you could cut a 4hp hole in the case and mount the row power there… or I’ve started only using cases with 1u rows for things like power. then you could add a couple more envelopes or all sorts of things!

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It’s the nono rover 60 case, I really don’t want to pop a hole in it!

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just want to say that seeing this setup detail is really inspiring, even just from an organizational standpoint! I hadn’t quite figured out a graceful way to integrate pedals with my little Euro case, but I think something like this is the way.

Are the pedals and Intellijel case Velcro’d to the board? Can you carry this whole thing in a bag or case?

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More ideas for paring down my setup. I keep flip flopping on the Kermit! I work best with when I’m heavily restricted, so thinking now about a rig of functions and LFOs, making feedback loops into and out of TT, and dirting up with Cinnamon. Using on its own, or with a couple of noisy standalone synths alongside. Thoughts welcome as always.

Another idea is my existing 6u 51hp case, but swapping the ABC mixer out for something more performative. Any recommendations here? I was looking at Frames, but not sure. There’s nothing else I’m really interested in to fill the gap!

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Thanks for the kind words!

The board itself is the Pedaltrain PT-3. It does have a flight case, but the depth is too much with the Intellijel case attached for it to fit–also the flight case is really heavy. I have been transporting uncovered in my car thus far. The pedals are fastened with just Velcro-brand industrial strength. The Intellijel case’s legs are outstretched and I’m threading through zip ties in the holes in them. You can sort of see this in the underside shot. There is a bit of give in the zip ties, allowing the legs to slightly stretch upwards (the case sits at a slightly steeper angle than the pedal board when set on a hard surface).

I posted about my desk setup a few months back in the studio corner thread, and I have since retired having the pedalboard’s flight case on the keyboard stand. I now just put the board on the desk when I’m doing music stuff, and take it off when I’m not. A bit more set up/tear down time, but I kind of like having everything (including an oscilloscope which was a recent get), all in the same area. My last instagram video shows the setup pretty well.

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borrowing this little case + phonogene + telephone game + the mallekko mute, then added my mmg. after a few previous tries with the phonogene, tonight i think it finally clicked with me within this little system.


This case, 1U modules and teletype arrived yesterday. This will be a compositional system. I’m planning on puttin in an er 301 when I can get one in place of the oscillators but am happy enough for now.


Tempted to put this together for a compact chaos/dirt box after seeing @Jonathan_Riley’s setup


Would love to hear what you’re making with this. I’m very tempted by the Null-A2!


I’m traveling for the next two weeks, but I’ll record some stuff when I get back!

Something that has kind of confounded me lately as my system has been changing is how do you guys decide on a general purpose/structure for your system? I very much subscribe to the idea of a singular instrument vs just throwing a ton of pieces into a case and hoping for the best, but recently I’ve been having trouble finding a real sense of focus and direction from my system. For example, when developing a system do you guys think about specific voice signal paths? Or even a specific amount of voices?

For this first year of my getting into modular I’ve generally approached it from the standpoint of making sure there is what seems like on paper to be a very deliberate balance of sound and modulation sources, but even that approach has left me somewhat unsatisfied with my system. I regularly will see videos from Make Noise featuring a shared system and feel this pull toward something as focused (and in many ways limited), because right now my rig seems to lack that sort of focus and limitation.

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Interesting - I’m posting in entirely the wrong thread for this viewpoint, but at the moment I view my modular as more analogous to a studio rather than as a single instrument. I might choose a particular module to explore initially, build a patch out from there by addition, explore variations in the patch via reduction and other methods, and then record down live as I play with these variations. This is a lot of fun, but with the two drawbacks of: a) lack of focus on a particular module / set of modules mean I’m reinventing the wheel a lot. b) I’ve noticed my patches seem to be very ‘full’ - I need to learn when to stop more / or be more radical in reduction. Hmmm.

I’ve only been on this train for a year so take my perspective with a grain of salt… I’ve been building my system with the thoughts of it being a contained instrument, supplimented by some other external gear like a drum machine, sequencer, etc. I, too, take a lot of inspiration from the shared system. Watching MN videos taught me a lot of general synthesis techniques, and seeing how a small set of tools provides a wide variety of options helps me when making module choices. The thing that has helped me the most is imposing constraints, the big one being case size. If I know I have a limited amount of HP then I have to choose my modules carefully to serve my needs. Then, I highlighted three of the most important aspects of synthesis to the music I intend to make: timbre, rhythm, and “playability” (i.e. minimum amount of menus, ease of improvisation).

When I make module choices I keep those three in mind always. So for example I’ll break down two modules I view as keepers. Just Friends checks all three of those boxes: polyrhythmic LFOs, multiple envelopes simultaneously, easy to use interface, drone monster. It’s limited in certain ways but provides so many potential uses and is really fun to use. On the other, the Cursus Iteritas has been my favorite oscillator in euro thus far. It only has one output, can’t be used as an LFO, and doesn’t always do well with audio rate modulation, but it does so much for me in the realm of timbre. I love the way it sounds and the controls are parameterized so well that it’s easy to interact with and change timbres in a significant yet controlled way. And of course since I have a size constraint, I have to work to strike a balance between modules that have multiple applications and modules that do one thing really well.

The last thing I’ll say is that it’s helped me a lot to keep my constraints loose and fluid. At one point I was trying to include lots of percussion in my rack as well, but found that it was spreading me too thin on space and required too much in terms of sequencing. And I was convinced at one point that I need four dedicated oscillators but also found that spread me thin on space. Having something like a filter that can be a great oscillator (3 sisters :heart_eyes:) but not always using it for that purpose is a good compromise. I’m a big believer in limitations inspiring creativity, which is what I think an modular instrument is better at providing over the modular studio route.

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The shared system is inspiring as a playable instrument. Sounds like that’s what you’re moving towards. I’d also look to classic systems (Buchla/Serge) as well for cues, as the Make Noise stuff really does a great job taking lessons from the past.

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My system has grown quite organically into several standalone systems, as various modules have ended up grouped together by brand, and then function. So with my makenoise modules I have most of a shared system, and with my mutable instruments ones I’ve put together a similar two voice system. Then I have a drum machine with a bunch of clocking modules, and finally various extra filters, distortion modules and a matrix mixer that I use for effects.

I find thinking in terms of voices is key to building a cohesive system, especially when your system is small: pick a few sound sources, figure out how you want to modify them, make sure you have enough modulation and vcas to use them fully. The classic Buchla Music Easel architecture is a great starting point, as the shared system shows!

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I’ve been struggling with building my system to a state I’m happy with. Even with a very small case (6u 51hp), I feel like I have far too many options. Last night I stripped it down to the modules I definitely use, and then re-add things if I find myself needing them. It currently looks like this, and I’m way happier with it:


What case are you using? I’ve been struggling to find a 6u ~50hp case that doesn’t look terrible.

It’s the Grau Pocket Case. They just upgraded it so it now has built-in power:


Thanks! But I can’t find it anywhere on that link.