Suggestions for upcoming modular purchases?

With barely a month left before the end of 2017, I’ve started reflecting on this year’s buys (and lack thereof, as I was financially strapped while my partner was unemployed), and I’m starting to plan a list of potential gift ideas for Xmas, my birthday in January, and stuff I want to buy in 2018.

Current gear:

  • Trogotronic m168 Collier case, containing:
    • Make Noise Maths
    • SynthTech E350 Morphing Terrarium
    • Bastl Quattro Figaro
    • Make Noise LxD
  • Arturia MicroBrute
  • Korg SQ-1
  • Mackie PROFX8V2 8ch mixer
  • various old portable cassette players, variable-speed tape decks, and a TASCAM 4-track tape recorder

I’m planning to grab some DIY kits and build them with a friend who has offered to help me with builds until I’m more experienced with a soldering iron and have one of my own. A Turing Machine is on the short list of kits I’m after, as are some of @TomWhitwell’s other modules, and eventually, I’ll pick up a 4ms RCD and RCD Breakout kit.

I’m working toward an ambient/drone/generative music rig, so I’m looking for suggestions and advice to guide me toward a solid setup. I made the novice mistake of ignoring Doepfer modules early on and started with Maths and some used modules from the guy who sold me the Trogotronic case since he gave me a pretty good deal and threw in a bunch of patchcables and stuff for free. Recommendations for DIY kit builds, good used Doepfer modules (there are so many modules and variations on different modules that it’s hard to decide which would be best for me), and other things worth consideration would be greatly appreciated.

[Also, for what it’s worth, I’m not really interested in Mutable Instruments modules, o_C / Temps Utile, and the more digital preset menu-diving / alternate firmware / swiss army knife modules that are pretty popular, especially amongst the ambient/drone/noise-oriented synthesists out there. I may wind up with some of them eventually, but for now, I want to avoid them and focus on single-purpose modules.]

I’m going to start recommending VCVRack to folks that are trying to figure out what direction to head with their modular systems. It will never replace my physical modular rack, but it’s a great way to try out module types before you add physical equivalents. Their ‘fundamental’ set is like a box full of Doepfer stuff. You can mess around and see what works for you.


I have an old Macbook, incapable of running the latest version of macOS, and I’ve had nothing but trouble trying to make VCVRack work on my laptop.

it can probably run the latest Debian though :slight_smile:


If you’re think of a Turing, then it pairs nicely with a Doepfer a-156 quantiser (like any quantiser doubles as bit-crusher, but rather sedate one). Clock dividers and sequential switches also cheap & useful - although RCD probably does similar. At risk of recommending my own stuff, the Radio Music does bring a whole lot of new texture quite cheaply, and the new spring reverb mk2 is good for feedback/noise stuff.
But, really, the trick is to get bored of your modules, and then force yourself to experiment with them, push them into interesting places, rather than trying to buy your way out of boredom

  • also If you’ve got a maths & a morphing terrarium, get yourself a cheapo old analog oscilloscope with x/y inputs. FUN

Both the Radio Music and Chord Organ are will make their way into my case at some point. Any idea when US distributors might start carrying the Spring Reverb mk kit2?

I built VCVRack from source with all the Mutable modules on macOS. Where did you get jammed up?

I +1 VCVRack for everyone. Put those modules inside the computer, where they belong!


I was having issues with knobs, panel graphics, and other graphic elements not appearing, and inputs/outputs and cables disappearing or not acknowledging that anything was connected. I just uninstalled and reinstalled it, with a fresh download from the website, and everything seems to be in working order now. :grin:


Looks like I’ll be adding an A-143-9 to the mix soon, thanks to Trade section of the forum and my girlfriend offering to buy it as part of our Christmas gifts for each other.

I’ve started planning out the next couple of months of intended purchases, with some kit builds, some Doepfer stuff, and a couple of expanders for things I’ve already got or will have soon.

I could obviously use more VCAs and VCOs, and I’m looking at a few filter options, but I don’t have my mind set on anything yet. What would you all recommend?

Just finished putting this together as my goal for the next few months. As I can afford to do so, some modules will be replaced with stuff I’ve been lusting after (Make Noise, Mannequins, 4ms, Intellijel, etc) since deciding to go modular, but I think this is a decent setup for my first case. Thoughts?

You could swap the A-130/131 for a MI Veils or Intellijel Quad VCA, which would give you twice the number of VCAs, with continuously variable linear/exponential response, and save 4HP.


What do you plan to use for a master clock? Something external? I see fair amount of modules devoted to processing clocks/triggers but no main clock within the modular, though maybe I’m missing something.

I personally would probably go for a Pam’s New Workout instead of the RCD and expander, and it would also be able to do a lot of what you might use the A-162 and A-143-9 for. It’d also give you some modulation options, too.

I agree with @billyhologram to swap the A-130/131 out for Veils, Blinds (works as a polarizer but then doesn’t work as well as a straight VCA), or Quad VCA, though you may not need that many VCAs along with the Bastl right off the bat. The Mutable/Intellijel options work as mixers, too - not sure if the Doepfer ones can do that, but you’re definitely going to want mixing with so many sound sources.

Regarding the idea to replace stuff as time goes on: I’d personally opt to buy the stuff you really want in small steps (including used) rather than buy a bunch of cheaper stuff at once. You can do a heck of a lot with very few modules, especially if you really learn them, and then you really get to know what you want/need since it’ll come from thinking “if I had a _____, I could use it now” rather than trying to only imagine everything first. Check out some of Comparative Irrelevance’s “Three Module Challenge” YouTube vids for ideas if you’re not already familiar!

For example, Morphing Terrarium, Maths, Turing Machine, a LPG or LPF, a VCA module, and reverb could easily be a fulfilling instrument in itself IMHO.


I was planning to use my SQ-1 for a clock source. As far as Pam’s and Mutable stuff goes, I’m just not all that into it, even the stuff I’ve played around with in Rack. I’m trying to keep myself limited to basic, single-purpose modules and avoid a lot of the ubiquitous, feature-filled powerhouses that everyone seems buy right out of the gate when they start. (Maths being the exception, as my first purchase when I started with the dream of basically making a Shared System with Rene and Pressure Points being replaced by an SMR and some Music Thing stuff.)

That’s fair, everyone has different preferences, and I think that would make sense to not pursue MI digital stuff if that isn’t your thing, but I wouldn’t write them off for their utilities and such, which are some of the best-designed options out there IMO. A quad VCA can have quite a lot of versatility just in clever routing normalization, and that is the sort of thing Doepfer doesn’t really do as much. Veils can mix and/or be manual attenuators/amplifiers, but without getting in the way of just being 4 VCAs, for example.

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True. I’m still figuring out how to make better use of both the quad VCA and mixer functions of my Quattro Figaro. The Doepfer VCAs and stuff in the planned rack I posted are by no means definitive, just affordable and reliable options that I can easily manage with my current budget. They’re also in place as Xmas/birthday gift ideas that won’t break the bank in the way that a Morphagene or an SMR would.

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I think it’s a nice set up and definitely can see the value is single purpose modules, especially when starting out. A few thoughts… Are you particularly set on the Doepfer VCOs? I used to have one and found it’s lack of linear FM to be a problem (though I believe it can be modded). It has its own charm but something like the bubblesound VCO , Dixie or STO might be worth considering. Not many envelopes in this system so maths will be stuck performing that duty. Also you might want a dedicated mixer like the 138b so you can leave the bastl to focus on vcas. Speaking of vcas, like others I find those 8hp doepfer ones quite large for single VCAs. And you’re probably ok with just the bastl and lxd for now.


I’m not set on any of the Doepfer stuff and will happily snatch up STOs or Dixies if I find some used ones being sold for a price that I can afford. This also goes for the VCAs and most of the other stuff in the setup I posted. It’s more of a guide that will change over time as I acquire new modules and determine what I need next.

Just FYI, the second edition of the basic VCO ( A-110-2 ) has linear fm.


Good to know. :20chars: