Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Cwejman, Livewire, TipTop Audio, Doepfer etc... Get your euro on!

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:59 am

The new album is now released :)



100% of proceeds will be divided between Reclaim the Block and Afrorack. I will match all donations from sales today (June 5), and it's #bandcampfriday so they won't be taking their usual fees.

As usual I wrote up my patch notes and other thoughts. I also looked at gear usage and wanted to comment on that:

Rings into Clouds

Clouds and Rings were my most used Euro modules this time -- and yes, I did Rings into Clouds twice. :lol:

One of those times was Rings -> FM Aid -> Clouds -> a delay/spring reverb feedback loop. It's a sound that would probably cause houseplants to wither and die.

The other was Zorlon Cannon noise through Rings, and then Clouds was triggered rhythmically to let short little pinging sounds through. I think I use Clouds as a sort of psuedo-VCA-with-envelope and/or a (psuedo-)delay more than as an actual granular synthesis tool or as a mushy reverb. :)

Fire control

Zorlon Cannon was up there pretty high in usage. I find I use it more for gate patterns and sequences than for noise. I used Teletype a bit less than usual -- partially due to Zorlon and 0-Ctrl, but partially because I have a big mechanical keyboard on my desk right now for working from home, instead of my usual switchable wireless keyboard.

0-Ctrl led me to some strange places, and occasionally dead ends. I'd spend a while jamming with it, think I had something, record it, and then hate the recording. Other times, the inspiration and control it gives was spot on. Sometimes it's valuable just to have a bunch of manual gates and a pressure CV. Overall, I think I need to work with it more to see those dead ends coming and turn aside.

the floor is lava

My interest in pedals is waning -- I used them on three songs, but I feel like they didn't really excite me. I'm giving them the chance to work with the EMW Fixed Filter Bank, but otherwise I feel like Euro and VST effects are just better for me in general. In fact I foresee that filter bank going into E520 feedback loops a fair bit instead.

computer love

Aside from mastering and go-to EQ/dynamics stuff, the star plugin was Valhalla Delay. It actually got slightly more action than Clouds or Mimeophon.

Supermassive was an instant winner as soon as it became available. I honestly barely touched other reverbs from that point on.
supermassive.jpg
Bitwig's pitch shifter saw a lot of subtle use -- often limited to narrow bands where I'd double it with an octave up or down. Sometimes I just use it for its rough granulization; it reminds me a little of abusing Rainmaker's granular pitch shifting but is easier to work with.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by natureclubcassettes » Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:03 am

don't see that filter bank on your mod grid. any reason why you went with that module instead of a resonant one like the Serge or R*S ones? Or another fixed filter bank? I have a fxdf that I like to patch through multiple VCAs before sending the mix into a resonant filter and then the output back into the other channel of the fxdf for a neat, dynamically controllable feedback loop.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Mon Jun 15, 2020 10:38 am

natureclubcassettes wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:03 am
don't see that filter bank on your mod grid.
I'm still waiting for it -- it seems to be delayed due to COVID-19. Frustrating.
natureclubcassettes wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:03 am
any reason why you went with that module instead of a resonant one like the Serge or R*S ones? Or another fixed filter bank?
I consider this a pretty low-priority experiment -- so I wasn't ready to commit a lot of HP or money to it. Things like the R*S, Fumana etc. weren't in consideration.

Ladik F-110 was a possibility, as were EQ pedals. Those options don't offer individual bands per output, though, which seemed like a pretty big advantage of modular. Then again, neither do the Serge ones.

Fxdf is hard to find -- now Analogue Haven claims to have them in stock, but I'm pretty sure they didn't when I checked before.

The EMW seems like good value for money, and has two more bands than Fxdf plus mix controls, while still being small enough to fit in available space (if I either sell my pedals as I expect to, or pull the MG-1 back out for possible controller skiff use later).

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:27 am

What's on my mind now:

- I still need to work things out with the 0-Ctrl. I find the sequencer fun to play with but it keeps leading me away from the music that I want to make, if I'm not careful enough. As a touch controller I find it pretty awesome though. If I can't change my habits or figure out why I'm getting into this mess, I'll consider reselling it in favor of a Tetrapad or something (maybe in a control skiff)

- For the music I'm making, one Stages is extremely useful, but the second one isn't. I think I could put something else in that space.


- I've been thinking about quantizers, but in a generative/harmonizing tool sort of way. I don't know that I actually need a dedicated quantizer, or to approach it with gear that I already have (especially Marbles). Some thoughts:

-- Basic chromatic or scale-based quantization isn't that interesting to me. Disting can do it, and Teletype can do it with little fuss fuss, but I don't actually use them for that.

-- Note masking is better. I've found that using Marbles with its internal random source, sparser steps per octave leads to results that work much better with other voices. If you've got a drone going at C, it's "safer" if it never chooses to play a D.

(On a tangent: I have some ideas about the "ranking" system that Marbles uses for its Steps knob. Its behavior is to eliminate less frequent notes as Steps increases from 12 o'clock to fully CW, rather than to decrease their probability -- the quantizer doesn't itself have a random source.

A more "ideal" algorithm might adjust the probability of choosing lower ranked notes based on position within a musical phrase and length of the gate -- e.g. if you're in C minor, it won't choose D at the start of an 8-bar section, nor use it for longer notes -- but it'd be fine choosing it for passing tones on the way between C and Eb. That's a lot of sophistication to try to get under control of a few knobs, and requires more information about the musician's intent. One can sequence the Steps CV to get somewhat similar effects though. What I wonder about is a mode that outputs the "rank" of the last chosen value through the Y output, so you can use it for feedback. When it plays that D, the output CV is pretty high, so when you run it through a comparator and slew and feed it back to Steps, it temporarily decreases the chance of playing another D...)

Where was I?

-- CV control over note masking, harmonic transposition and other musical changes that could be sequenced or manually controlled. This is one of the things I like about Marbles.

-- One of the things where I'm not as comfortable with Marbles is programming custom scales into the quantizer. I think the method is clever, but I generally avoid doing it. It's possible I could come up with some sort of generative method using Teletype and/or Bitwig Grid.

-- Xenharmonic scales would be fun with this. Sometimes I like to play a bit with 5EDO tuning... although that's actually pretty straightforward on Teletype.

-- Teletype can certainly do some of this stuff. Note masking requires a lot of scripting or a clever hack that, thankfully, someone else figured out. It's still a little awkward (with the note mask encoded in binary but specified in decimal) and Teletype only has the one CV input without an expander.

As for gear that interests me in this department:
- Arpitecht has the masking and CV control stuff, and as sort of a hybrid quantizer/arpeggiator it could maybe be fun to work with -- I'm just not sure how much more it would offer me than Marbles.
- Stochastic Inspiration Generator is another possibility. It's obviously not a quantizer, and unlike Arpitecht it doesn't work with some other sequencer/generator. But it is a very hands-on generative source. It strikes me it'd be a fun way to program Marbles scales by probability, although that might be redundant. Again, I think it would be fun to play with but in practice I'm not sure it would offer me something that works well for the kind of music I'm making.
- Intellijel Scales is mostly "just" a quantizer, though with the harmonic transposition and some sequencing capability as well. It's one of the friendlier ways to create note masks I think. But it can't be manipulated as readily via CV. I'm not quite sure where my priorities are, here.
- A TXi to give my Teletype more CV inputs and knobs.

Right now I'm thinking, don't buy anything but see what I can work out with my existing gear. Just thinking about what other gear can do is giving me some ideas about using what I have.
Last edited by starthief on Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by natureclubcassettes » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:34 am

I'd grab a FxdF if you can find one; it's 4hp and fairly cheap, definitely smaller and cheaper than the EMW one, but if you already have that on the way, maybe hold off. I'm also partial to filter ecology of MN and it works well with Optomix, LXD and MMG.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by Granular » Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:49 pm

Just want to say that this is a really great thread. It's imteresting to see how starthiefs Rack evolves over time.

And I really like his Music :tu: :yay:

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sun Jun 21, 2020 12:04 pm

natureclubcassettes wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:34 am
I'd grab a FxdF if you can find one; it's 4hp and fairly cheap, definitely smaller and cheaper than the EMW one, but if you already have that on the way, maybe hold off. I'm also partial to filter ecology of MN and it works well with Optomix, LXD and MMG.
I did wind up canceling my order with EMW, since it had been sitting for over a month without shipping (the website mentions COVID-19, but... wow) and ordering a FxdF.

Granular wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:49 pm
Just want to say that this is a really great thread. It's imteresting to see how starthiefs Rack evolves over time.

And I really like his Music :tu: :yay:
Glad it's useful, and thanks :D

It occurs to me my problem with 0-Ctrl might simply be that I'm trying to start with a sequence, rather than starting with sound as I normally do. If I make myself a rule not to patch a sequencer until I know I actually want a sequence I might be better off. Funny how important things like this can be. Back in my pre-modular days, when I wasn't doing my more rare ambient stuff I often had to start with a drum part and build around that.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:59 pm

It turns out EMW had just dropped off my module with the shipper (after a month), so it's not cancelled after all.

I guess I will figure out which I prefer and sell the other, unless somehow I decide I need to keep both ;)

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:08 am

I put some thought into controllers. I could build a control skiff with a Tetrapad, a Sweet 16 and some other goodies (Planar?) and sell my 0-Ctrl and 16n Faderbank -- or I could replace my Stages with a Tetrapad but still keep the 16n.

But looking into Tetrapad, the main thing I would want aside from Combo Mode would be an unquantized keyboard mode. That doesn't exist without the expander, unfortunately. The expander is another $300 and otherwise offers features I don't really need. It'd make more sense to get two Tetrapads, or one plus an FSR or Lightplane. And anyway, I'm not sure I'd like working with it compared to the all analog, one-knob-per-function 0-Ctrl.

Playing with the 0-Ctrl last night, I found some cool patches that take advantage of its features while still acting entirely as a controller. You can trigger the dynamic envelope from the manual gate output, and optionally use pressure control to affect the level or rate. You can use the internal clock to turn the dynamic gate/envelope into an LFO (optionally pressure controlled!) while still playing notes/gates/pressure manually. Fun stuff. And of course, it's still basically 2x Pressure Points with its own enclosure. So I'm keeping it :)

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by SavageMessiah » Wed Jun 24, 2020 1:19 pm

FWIW, Tete does a ton of stuff. I found tetrapad to be a heck of a lot easier to use with it - especially with combo mode the display helps with setting up your various modes for each pad. Without it you kinda have to divine the settings from various colored lights which is a bit annoying. It definitely requires some encoder fiddling and screen squinting though. Pressure points is still king of flexible touch controls that are simple. But you basically have two of those in 0-ctrl so I guess you're set :)

Planar is cool as hell. I will never not recommend that module. I think you could find a lot of uses for it in your music - patching 4 different modulation sources (including the carrier, maybe) into the mixer section and sending the output to FM or suchlike, then patch 2 CVs in to control it. You can still use the stick to control X/Y while the mixer section is under CV control, too. :D

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Wed Jun 24, 2020 2:33 pm

Yeah, I am leaning toward replacing my second Stages with a Planar, and just rearranging a little to put it on the bottom row instead of setting up a skiff.

[update: and yeah, I went for a Planar. :tu: ]

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Thu Jun 25, 2020 7:28 pm

I just rearranged stuff. Current status:
modulargrid_june2020.png
The gap on the bottom left will temporarily house both FxdF and the EMW FFB, though they will be in competition and probably I'll keep just one. To the right of the big button goes a Planar 2, and right of that an E520.

Other decisions wait on the E520. The scope mode looks awesome in theory, but I expect there will be a lot of times when I want to watch something on a scope while using the E520 for other things, so chances are I'll keep my O'Tool+.

If I sell the FFB, I like the idea of grabbing an Erica Pico BBD and an SSF Autodyne -- but maybe I'll feel completely full of delays with the E520 in there, or have other priorities for feedback loops etc.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Sat Jun 27, 2020 6:11 pm

FXDf arrived today. After some poking around with it I've decided to go ahead and sell off my pedals.

I've noticed that feedback into the 6dB input needs to be inverted, while the 12dB doesn't -- not unusual given how filters work, but it would have been handy to have inversion built in.

I've only played with it a little so far, but found a couple of fun patches. One of them has the 373 band going through Mimeophon (with halo and some delay time modulation) in a feedback loop, but mixing a couple of the other bands in to the output. Another is using four bands with two ring modulators and mixing those in stereo. I bet this will be a fun partner for Planar as well.

Curious to see how the EMW will compare. It has more bands, but they're in octaves -- the top few might not be as musically useful to have separate outputs, but the main mix output might be a useful sort of EQ.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:06 pm

Planar 2 showed up this afternoon and it's a total blast :D

Excellent for controlling filters, FM, wavetable morph and mixing, panning, all of the above... sending CV into Bitwig to tweak the manual control on a flanger, etc.

And the recorder is really cool, as is the polar-to-cartesian converter with a couple of LFOs.

I'm not too surprised that the CV inputs aren't sampled at a high enough rate for clean audio, but it's another fun way to get downsampled and shaped audio :D

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by SavageMessiah » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:11 am

There's a video on Intellijel's youtube that uses the recording scan CV mode with an audio rate ramp to use recorded stick movement as a waveshaper. It's one of my favorite modules :)

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Thu Jul 02, 2020 2:31 pm

EMW Fixed Filter Bank arrived today, and I think I'm going to stick with the FXDf.

I should have paid more attention to the description. Each band has a 10dB boost or cut, making it more of a graphical EQ than a set of overlapping bandpass filters -- and I think especially toward the high end it needs to cut deeper to be effective.

The individual jacks confuse me a bit -- they don't isolate the bands either, and are dependent on the knobs just like the main output. There are only minor differences between each of them. I thought for a minute I misinterpreted and they were meant to be inputs, but no, that doesn't seem to be right either.

I took it out of my case already, but I'm going to put it back to give it a try with feedback loops -- maybe the more subtle shaping will be good for that purpose. [EDIT: yeah, as an EQ in the feedback loop of a delay or reverb it does work quite well. I think for that though, I prefer routing the signal through a software EQ.]

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:30 pm

I bought a WMD MSCL. I have a couple of favorite compressors in DAW-land, but I figure it could be beneficial to have a hardware one as well.

I'm kind of GASsing for Drezno and Jena. That's 20HP, which would require setting aside a couple of things (MG-1 and... ???)

- For generative sequencing, sequencing mangling, extracting gates from sequences etc: assuming a synchronous clock rate at "sequencer speed", where Jena would be relegated to using the rhythmic patterns: there's basically nothing here that Teletype can't do better than Drezno/Jena.

- For processing CV signals at "real time", asynchronous speed (e.g. processing an LFO): Teletype gets close enough for Drezno-ish stuff. It can't do a Jena-style lookup though. I could do that by routing into Bitwig Grid and using the CV as the position in a Sampler module, though it's not the friendliest thing.

- At audio rate, Drezno stuff: Teletype can't handle those rates. I do have other options for sample rate reduction/bit crushing/mangling, both in hardware and the DAW, but nothing fully modular to the extent Drezno offers.

- At audio rate, Jena stuff: I do have an E352, but there's no way to completely stall the oscillator and use the wavetables as a lookup (unless we can coax a firmware update...) It can kind of be faked with a slow LFO rate, and it's good enough for some sort of waveshaping but still a little funky. And there's Bitwig stuff as previously mentioned, but again, not so friendly.

I'd say "why not try it?" but I can't pick a module I'd want to set aside. So right now I'm just going to sit on my hands and not order those modules.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by dooj88 » Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:52 pm

if you're looking at extracting gates from CV/audio and drezno is a bit much, mystic circuits vert is a great option. its smaller and cheaper, though much going on under the hood. i love putting in samples from radio music and getting related rhythmic gate patterns to use around the patch. of course it does the bit mangling too. MSCL is great, always the last module in the chain to stand guard an clamp down on any errant resonant spikes.. but side chaining it to kicks/percussion works very well too.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:57 pm

Yeah, Vert is still a possibility. Maybe with an Olegtron R2R to convert back. Adding a Voltages is neat but puts it back in the same size category as Drezno.

Also, Jena is part of the attraction... but then that reminds me, Geiger Counter as an alternative. I had the pedal for a while and liked it -- it doesn't have to be a harsh distortion machine if you keep the gain under control. But then back in Xaoc's favor, Jena does have those Walsh functions...

Jena might work standalone, with the Phase input and an R2R to mix the digital outs. It'd miss some of the fun of Drezno though, and the scaling and synchronous mode etc.

But yeah, I'm not going to make any decisions just yet. Couple more weeks and the E520 should ship :)

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by SavageMessiah » Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:25 pm

It probably won't give you results quite as elaborate as drezno/jena but I use Compare 2 for rhythm extraction pretty frequently. And at audio rates you can do some fun stereo PWM even without the logic outputs. Not sure if that's what you're looking for though.

I have an MSCL before my main output pretty much all the time. I don't do any mastering work in a DAW so doing a bit of compression in hardware has been a nice improvement.

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by natureclubcassettes » Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:13 am

sorry that the EMW fixed filter didn't work out. I am a zealot for the R*S ResEQ... it just adds so much to any sound

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:46 am

natureclubcassettes wrote:
Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:13 am
sorry that the EMW fixed filter didn't work out. I am a zealot for the R*S ResEQ... it just adds so much to any sound
As much as I like the VCFQ, I expect ResEQ is awesome too. :)

...

I'm thinking about ways to slightly expand my rack space. In front of the case I really only have space for a Pod20 or 26, between the 16n and the 0-Ctrl. The upside here is it could relieve some of the load on my PSU -- I'd have enough power for a Casper/Bastl Waver, which I think I would love.

I've got an ES-3, ES-6 and two Bastl mults to connect the modular to my interface. I could get the two mults out by using a Mazzatron Mult + Pass Thru with a really basic DIY "stand".

A slightly goofier idea is to "bury" my ES-3 and ES-6 inside my case and connect to them via a Mazzatron MPT. I'd save 6HP, though I'd lose access to two of the ES-3 outputs (though I rarely use more than 4 anyway). Might or might not have to drill a hole in the side of my case for the TOSLink cables. I'm not sure whether I like this idea as much though.

[edit] went ahead and bought the MPT, it's cheap enough not to worry about and could be useful in the future even if neither of these ideas pans out very well. But not buying anything else until E520! :lol:

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by Severed head » Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:18 am

Enjoyable read!
WTB:, MA35 filter. -Mac recordings software from 2008/9
:help:

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:15 am

OK, I have my plan :D

I was given an opportunity on a 4ms Pod 60. To make room for it, I'm replacing/displacing my 16n Faderbank with a Tesseract Sweet 16 mk2. I don't mind short-throw faders, and as a bonus, it can convert CV inputs to MIDI and i2c messages. (If I can rig up another laptop shelf or something for the 16n and use it for MIDI control only, it'd be handy for stuff like Soniclab Tesseract or Bitwig Grid.)

This will let me pull some load off my main case's PSUs -- although I think I've been worrying a little too much about this. The RT65Bs have a rated current of 500mA on their -12V outputs, but the specs also say they those outputs can safely handle up to 1A as long as the total power is below 65W. It looks like I'm at about 22 watts on each of them. But now, if I do run into power issues, I could add a 4ms Row Power and run it off the same brick as the Pod.

This gives me the headroom to go for a Casper/Bastl Waver -- which I'm pretty sure I would love, but have been avoiding due to its current draw -- and a Drezno/Jena pair (also hungry for -12V), with some space left for future GAS. But only AFTER the E520 arrives, for real :hihi:

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Re: Starthief's Eurorack adventure, 2016-???

Post by starthief » Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:36 pm

dooj88 wrote:
Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:52 pm
MSCL is great, always the last module in the chain to stand guard an clamp down on any errant resonant spikes.. but side chaining it to kicks/percussion works very well too.
Mine arrived today and I've tooled around with it a little. I found that MSCL can very easily blow past the +/- 10VPP levels that ES-6 can handle and cause it to clip nastily -- but I also found if I put Gozinta after it, it just saturates nicely instead. I can really overcook a signal with it that way and it just sounds great :D I'm going to move Gozinta next to it, in fact.

It also works extremely well for bringing up reverb/delay tails etc. Haven't tried it inside a feedback loop yet, got a bad thunderstorm hitting and I'm shutting stuff down now.

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