Noob questions

complete noob here.

i’ve been able to determine that i want to use modules as effects for my synths. but i don’t really know where to start??

what kind of modules should i be getting? what kind of case(s) should i be getting? what should i know about coding? what do i need to know about anything? im clueless.

links to stuff ive stumbled upon and liked:

(also if it helps you help me: so far i have a monome white whale and a sputnik four tap delay/dual crossfader)

any help would be appreciated! thank you!!

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If you’re just thinking modular, here is a thread I started not too long ago. The great folks of this community really help me understand modular. Once you get started, you take off really quickly.

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woah, that was extremely helpful!! i think i have a much better idea of how to go about doing this thing.

from what ive gathered it seems like we want to do the same thing with modules? (basically custom build an effects pedal for our synthesizers).

it looks like the first thing i shouldve done was find a case. so could you explain what 1U, 3U, 4U, 6U, 7U, etc. means??

Useful threads from the forum whose name I shall not speak:


Most eurorack modules are 3U tall. So most cases have rows whose rails spaced apart for 3U tall modules. Some cases have a row whose rails are spaced apart for 1U tall modules. These 1U tall modules are sometimes called “tiles”. When you see someone talking about a 3U case, it’s a case that contains one 3U tall row of some width. (Width is expressed in HP.) When you see 6U, they’re talking about 2 3U tall rows. 4U means 1 3U tall row and 1 1U tall row. 7U means 2 3U rows and 1 1U row.


Where are you based? If that’s within reasonable distance of a decent retailer (for me that’s a flight to another country) it’s worth the trip. Seriously, modular is a serious investment, and the answers here, while good and helpful, aren’t a substitute for for hands on experience. I say this as someone who browsed the Muffs forum for a couple of years before jumping in, and i control the GAS (Google it!) by not buying without trying (even after watching good YouTube videos and reading the forums). A good demo, where you can ask questions of the demonstrator is invaluable.

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tons of very good info in the forum that shall not be named! thank you very much!!!

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thanks for that explanation! this is definitely starting to come together now.

so assuming money isn’t something i’m concerned about, would it be wise to get a case in each “form?”

i feel like this is some super solid advice. money isn’t really an issue for me (even though i suffer heavily from GAS), but i can definitely understand how that hands on demo would help.

unfortunately, i live in denton, texas.
(about an hour to an hour and a half from dallas. if there was any place i could go it would probably be there i think ???)

Start small. Take it slow. Read a lot. Spend a lot of time at thinking it through. Every once in a while, share your modular grid rack with an experienced group of modular users in a forum like this one, and be prepared to find out how misguided your thinking was. :slight_smile: A few times. :slight_smile: But eventually the fog will start to clear. It takes a good while for most people.

Since you live a good distance from an urban center, expect to end up buy/sell/trading your way through this as you figure it out. Take it one module at a time. Go sloooow.

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for sure. i’ll definitely do all of those things - thank you very much!

and i’ve heard of on here before. i’ll be sure to use that tool to my advantage!

do you have any places you would recommend for modular b/s/t?

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thank you very much!! your advice has been INCREDIBLY helpful!!


There seem to be a few prevailing models of Eurorackism: giant wall of modular, each case is an instrument (or has singular purpose) and single manufacturer systems (e.g. Makenoise Shared).

I started with this traditional-ish mono voice ~5 years ago…

…and ended up going the giant wall route, just by adding a module or 2 at a time. (The VCO2RM was an accidental early purchase, even back then, Cwejman modules were hard to come by. SchneidersLaden had one leftover from a batch…)

Unless you have a lot of insight I think it’s really hard to know what you want until you start playing. So the suggestion to start small and add a few modules at a time is a good one, but the downside is that you may never feel as though you have a cohesive ‘instrument’. A small portable 6U case would be good to start with.

One word of caution regarding Eurorack effects modules, they are usually amongst the hardest modules to use. A lot of the fun ones (e.g. Clouds, SMR, Rainmaker) are complex digital beasts. Seeing as you own a White Whale maybe starting with a small synth voice would be a good idea? Even if you do pivot to a purely effects based system you’ll still need most of the modules anyway.

FYI, 2 of the videos you linked to make heavy use of the 4MS SMR, have a search on YouTube, you should find a few more demos. I may humbly suggest that it has a tendency to gravitate towards a certain sound.


Reach out to Emily Sprague (made two of your linked videos). She just started with modular synthesis this year, and you seem to enjoy her esthetic. Also, might as well check out her band Florist. They’re good!

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woah, for sure - i’ll definitely do that! thanks for the advice man!!

Yep. Yepyepyep. Can’t agree more. The effects modules are often challenging to use, and inventive use of them requires making use of lots of their inputs. For instance, Clouds really comes to life with lots of modulation - that’s what all those input jacks are for, after all. Buying an effects module without suitable modulation tools to manipulate it - LFOs, envelopes, looping envelopes, function generators, noise/random/s&h, etc, etc - will often lead you to wondering how you can’t replicate the way other people use it.

More generally, and more personally: I generally believe “modular as a big effects board” can often be a hiding to nothing: you end up spending a lot to do things that are not always its strong point; once you’ve put an input module, enough modulation to manipulate your effects, enough utilities… you have a very, very expensive alternative to a guitar pedal. Even compared to an expensive boutique pedal.

That said: building a small system, carefully working out what might be next, and ending up with an effects module as the ‘icing on the top’ can often be super-rewarding; all of a sudden, all the simple tools and utilities open up new possibilities in the effects module, rather than an effects module that’s only doing one trick.

Finally: modulargrid in moderation. So many people spend ages on that damn site theorycrafting their perfect rig. Don’t be that person. It’s useful to see what’s out there, get some inspiration; but it doesn’t tell you what things are like to listen to or use or how they synergise with each other. Listening and playing will tell you that.

Question: do you have a budget?


woah - ton of info! thank you very much!

and yuh. i do want to go the effects route, but i’m sure it’ll end up as giant wall of modular. lmao

welp. looks like this will take a lot longer than i thought. but i’m totally cool w/ that so !!!

[quote=“infovore, post:17, topic:5072”]
More generally, and more personally: I generally believe “modular as a big effects board” can often be a hiding to nothing: you end up spending a lot to do things that are not always its strong point; once you’ve put an input module, enough modulation to manipulate your effects, enough utilities… you have a very, very expensive alternative to a guitar pedal. Even compared to an expensive boutique pedal. [/quote]

ah, i see. but still! that’s what’s so fascinating to me - getting to build my own custom effects pedal!

lmao i feel this. i got an account yesterday and was brainstorming everything that goes along with that, but now it looks like i should do more listening than anything ??

i make around $800 a month (i’m 21). everything that doesn’t go towards my survival goes towards music.

If your expenses are typical, that means you can save up to buy about one module a year. So, unless bank robbery is in your near future, I imagine you’ll be taking this slowly one way or another.