Frac vs. Euro pricing

Blacet, Metalbox, Synthasonic, PAiA and the rest.... a frac frenzy!

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dj_bluefalcon
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Frac vs. Euro pricing

Post by dj_bluefalcon » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:55 am

It seems like Frac pricing is consistently quite lower than Euro.

What are the reasons for this?

I haven't worked with Frac much yet (just once, actually), wanting to get an understanding of the differences.

Seems there's quite a bit more to the Euro world in terms of variety and functional depth, but are there other tradeoffs?

What do you all view as the pros/cons of each, comparatively speaking?

Is a Frac addiction generally less wallet-draining than a Euro addiction?

Thanks in advance for opinions, advice, etc.

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Re: Frac vs. Euro pricing

Post by e-grad » Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:20 am

dj_bluefalcon wrote:What do you all view as the pros/cons of each, comparatively speaking?
I switched from Euro to Frac before Harvestman and Make Noise et al. entered the market. That's why my personal experience is based on Doepfer, and a few Analogue Systems and A. Solutions modules.

I prefer the ergonomics of Frac. At one point I thought my crowded 5 row Doepfer system just a PITA. Back than I called it 'Tower of Silence' since it was no longer fun to make use of it.

Furthermore my I think my Frac system looks like a musical instrument while I think a Doepfer system looks like lab equipment from Duckburg. :hihi:

Blacet introduced me into DIY. Today my rule of thumb is: I can solder it myself or it is not for me. So I've got none of the notorious Euro modules in my rack but I don't think I'm loosing out.
dj_bluefalcon wrote:Is a Frac addiction generally less wallet-draining than a Euro addiction?
Not necessarily. By now I've got about 14 rows of Frac. (Don't know for sure since I'm in the process of rearranging and reducing my DIY-backlog.)

I'd encourage anybody to get at least some Blacet stuff since the price-performance ratio is outstanding.

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Re: Frac vs. Euro pricing

Post by dj_bluefalcon » Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:04 am

e-grad wrote:I prefer the ergonomics of Frac.
Is it the spacing, or layouts of the panels, or something different entirely? Would you mind explaining a little more precisely what ergonomic differences you're referencing? Thanks!
e-grad wrote:Furthermore my I think my Frac system looks like a musical instrument while I think a Doepfer system looks like lab equipment from Duckburg. :hihi:
I kind of like the sterile silver "lab equipment" look of the euro. Something science-fiction about it really keeps my attention.
e-grad wrote:Blacet introduced me into DIY. Today my rule of thumb is: I can solder it myself or it is not for me.
This seems like the most important part. I haven't done much build-your-own electronics yet, so this might be a little outside my comfort zone. I am, however, interested in learning and doing, and this might be the most important draw to Frac for me. Granted, there are some DIY Euro things, so I guess that's an option. Some of the Elby stuff looks really great, so...
e-grad wrote:I'd encourage anybody to get at least some Blacet stuff since the price-performance ratio is outstanding.
This is really the heart of my question. Do you find that generally Frac stuff has a better price-performance than Euro on average? What about the dotcom format? Have you worked with dotcom?

So many options, it's an endless chasm, isn't it? Just when you think you've got one format in mind, the others beckon to you.

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Re: Frac vs. Euro pricing

Post by werock » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:36 am

dj_bluefalcon wrote:It seems like Frac pricing is consistently quite lower than Euro.

Is a Frac addiction generally less wallet-draining than a Euro addiction?

Thanks in advance for opinions, advice, etc.
I've never particularly noticed Frac prices being consistently lower than Euro, it probably depends on which Euro manufacturers you compare to.

A Frac addiction may well be less wallet draining than Euro, if you're talking number of modules. I don't have any Euro, but just a quick look on ModularGrid at simple modules like mixers and ring mods generated a huge amount of choice - I honestly don't know how I'd choose what to get if I was into Euro! There's plenty in Frac I haven't got and may well never have room for. Between Blacet, Metalbox and Paia, there's plenty to keep you busy for a good while.

I prefer the consistent sizes of Frac (and 5U) compared to Euro. It may sound stupid, but it would really bug me to find I had an odd spaced gap in a euro rack. I prefer black panels to silver.

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Re: Frac vs. Euro pricing

Post by e-grad » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:56 am

dj_bluefalcon wrote:
e-grad wrote:I prefer the ergonomics of Frac.
Is it the spacing, or layouts of the panels, or something different entirely? Would you mind explaining a little more precisely what ergonomic differences you're referencing? Thanks!
At one point I had both Doepfer and Frac (back then basically Blacet) and counted the number of jacks and pots in both systems. The result was 200% jacks and plus 133% on one row Doepfer (Blacet = 100).

I know many like the feature density yet it has prevented me from using my Doepfer stuff.
dj_bluefalcon wrote:I kind of like the sterile silver "lab equipment" look of the euro. Something science-fiction about it really keeps my attention.
A friend of mine with no relation to synths once saw my Doepfer stuff and just started laughing! :hihi:
dj_bluefalcon wrote:
e-grad wrote:Blacet introduced me into DIY. Today my rule of thumb is: I can solder it myself or it is not for me.
This seems like the most important part. I haven't done much build-your-own electronics yet, so this might be a little outside my comfort zone.
I think Blacet is the perfect starting point since his kits are designed to be soldered by beginners.
dj_bluefalcon wrote:]
This is really the heart of my question. Do you find that generally Frac stuff has a better price-performance than Euro on average? What about the dotcom format? Have you worked with dotcom?
At one point I had a .com VCO. Amazing piece of gear! I’m sure .com has an outstanding price-performance ratio as well. They've come up with some clever solution to cut the costs.

However, for me any Blacet kit is priced very reasonable even though I’ve to pay shipping and an import duties of round about 23% (import VAT + .duties). Just compare the price of an A110 and the Blacet VCO! (Pls note, I've not checked the current exchange rate.) The Blacet VCO is awesome and excels at FM!

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Re: Frac vs. Euro pricing

Post by rezzn8r » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:38 am

werock wrote:
I prefer the consistent sizes of Frac (and 5U) compared to Euro.
I must admit that this is part of it for me, too.
:eel: I also like 15V 8_) and keyed power connectors :eurosmoke:
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Re: Frac vs. Euro pricing

Post by dj_bluefalcon » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:21 pm


I prefer the consistent sizes of Frac (and 5U) compared to Euro. It may sound stupid, but it would really bug me to find I had an odd spaced gap in a euro rack. I prefer black panels to silver.
Thanks for pointing this out, I can't believe I hadn't noticed this before.

Also, thanks for all the advice! Maybe one of these days when I'm out of school, and my wallet won't be quite consistently wrung-out, I'll take the plunge and give each system a go.

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Post by polyroy » Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:40 pm

I went from Euro to Frac. I too love the consistency of size with my Bugbrand stuff, keyed headers and bananas. Price wise it's relatively similar to Doepfer pricing and similar layout of the modules as well. Plus it sounds phenomenal.

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Post by noobyscooby » Wed Apr 17, 2013 5:43 pm

Depends on the module. Some can be very expensive when they come up used or on Ebay. But modules that are less popular literally go for nothing.

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Adding a couple of observations in the Frac vs Euro wars

Post by Kyhotay » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:58 pm

I was an early Frac adopter. Since I've been a PAiAHead since 1973 I bought one of the first 9700S Racks sold. As a result that's my format of choice. I have purchased most if not all of Blacet modules and they are truly magnificent and very deep. I particular like how John has at times joined with other manufacturers to product their modules in the Frac format. The newer PAiA 9700 utility modules are marvels of engineering, quality and price. I have been adding over time Metalbox and, on occasion, the odd ball module I've run across. (MOTM Ladder Filter? Amazing!!).

Having said all that I wanted to add some thoughts. The real innovation is on the Euro side. Sorry...with some exceptions it's true. I just got a Tip Top rack ears and power supply and a Blue Lantern Diode Filter. The Tip Top is about as cheap an intro to Euro as you can find. Frac is much less expensive when it comes to power and cabinets.

The Diode Filter is amazing. When I look over the 50 or whatever Euro manufacturers on sites like Analogue Haven, I just droll. Should I mention Metasonix?

My other observations is, with only one small VCF, I can see getting a crowded rack eventially that would be unmanageable. Frac is more ergonomic as others far wiser than I have already mentioned. Someone mentioned Frac looks like an instrument. Aesthetics are personal but, without sounding like someone who got into EM in 1969, a lot of Euro looks more like it was designed by Dr. Dre.

My conclusion is I would rather buy the basic and utility modules for Frac and anything esoteric buy Euro. This isn't religion people (uh...am I gonna be crucified for saying that??). It isn't all or nothing. They are the same rack height. Mixed marriages are OK in the 21st C. I might look at 5U down the road. Maybe, just maybe even mix up a Moog with an ARP. Oh. I do that already anyway.
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Funny thing I forgot

Post by Kyhotay » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:04 pm

The reason I chimed in (ring modulated in???) was about the DIY mention. Yes, you can build Blacet kits or you can buy them assembled. I started out building PAiA kits, so I know which way to hold a soldering iron. In my advanced age, limited time and dimming eyesight, I prefer to buy assembled. Original PAiA modules are DIY. The newer modules are either mostly assembled for you or completely assembled. Blacet is either/or and most of Metalbox is assembled. Metalbox uses Ken Stone designs so you can really DIY if you want to knock yourself out!

Cheers! :guinness:
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Post by thundermouse » Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:27 am

this has been super-helpful! i think frac (esp. blacet) seems cheaper than alot of the euro. doepfer and tiptop are pretty cheap, and are a great base in euro. but euro seems to get up in the high range with cwejman and metasonix etc. since theres SO much in euro you CAN go relatively cheap, but overall the frac diy seems like the best bang for your buck, too much $ temptation in euro :75: :75: :75: :75: :75: :deadbanana:
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Post by e-grad » Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:05 am

thundermouse wrote:but overall the frac diy seems like the best bang for your buck
My thoughts exactly if it comes to Blacet's stuff even though I've to pay a mark up of about 25% on import duties.

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Post by dJ dAb » Thu Nov 14, 2013 5:31 pm

Frac supporter here... Can't beat the pricing, ergonomics & DIY community.
Hmmm... been dabbling in Electronic music & DJing for 25+ years. Collector & curator of a fairly large vintage recording studio. Ran a couple record labels featuring DJ ESP, Hakan Lidbo, Jacob London, Martin Venetjoki, Vitamin D, Chris Anderson, etc. and licensed to greats like Carl Cox, Dave Angel, Chris Simmonds, etc. Oh yeah, I'm also a builder of D.I.Y. electronics junk, including a mighty fine modular synth.

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A

Post by ayesha » Sat Jan 24, 2015 5:32 am

Hmmm... been dabbling in Electronic music & DJing for 25+ years. Collector & curator of a fairly large vintage recording studio. Ran a couple record labels featuring DJ ESP, Hakan Lidbo, Jacob London, Martin Venetjoki, Vitamin D, Chris Anderson, etc. and licensed to greats like Carl Cox, Dave Angel, Chris Simmonds, etc. Oh yeah, I'm also a builder of D.I.Y. electronics junk, including a mighty fine modular synth.
AYESHA

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Post by synthcube » Sat Jan 24, 2015 9:39 am

we produce and sell modules and kits in both formats, and are constantly trying to add some of the more interesting DIY PCBs to Frac

As for price, all else being equal, a Frac module with the same guts as a euro module will be a bit more $ than a comparable euro module. The only reason is that the euro panels are metalphoto finish while frac panels are anodized and etched/paint filled.

Blacet sells great cases and power supplies, meaning the infrastructure is sound. In Frac you have some real classics (ala the Time Machine) and some really new stuff (pt audio dual digital osc, stroh modular mirror core vco, upcoming tabula rasa etc

Frac widths are more predictable (increments of 1.5") rather than euro (increments of 2 or even odd-number hp).

12V vs 15V is a matter of preference but Frac users almost universally prefer the ergo of Frac over Euro.

In addition, our Frac panels are spec'ed to allow either 3.5mm jacks or bananas using the same holes- so you have that choice always available.

Blacet kits introduced a lot of DIYers to synth DIY so we hope to continue that tradition in the format
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Post by Paulleitch » Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:16 am

Being a nooby, I am finding this very helpful! I am refurbishing my Digisound 80 set up and want to add some modules (that I wish I had built in 1982 when I still had decent eyesight). As a result, I am a bit old school and prefer the frac style. Again - great info. I look forward to staying in contact. As usual - any guidance is always appreciated!

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Post by tuj » Tue Jan 24, 2017 5:45 pm

Have both. Ultimately Frac is betamax versus Euro's VHS. Sure the ergo's are superior in Frac, the panels are bigger, the knobs are nicer. It gives you a more playable instrument. I don't DIY, but that's an advantage in Frac.

The good thing is they are perfectly compatible so just have them side by side.

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Post by e-grad » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:22 am

tuj wrote:It gives you a more playable instrument.
Yes! Absolutely.

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