Stupid Eurorack Questions

Okay, so Im interested in a first date with Rample, but i have zero experience with Eurorack. I’m interested, but i get overwhelmed by all the beginner oriented articles that focus so heavily on the areas where i dont have questions…because Ive read the dang articles. Heh heh

Heres the question:
If at first i wanted to go as inexpensive as possible, and just focus on the Rample, i imagine bare minimum Id need is:

  • case
  • power supply (these two often come together)
  • output module to get the levels right

Would you concur? Share some info to help me decide?

The Rample already has MIDI In.
Would be controlled by Pyramid.
Im looking at some of the small cases/power supplies from 4ms and expect, if i get the Eurorack bug, to replace it with something else at a later date.

Note: my avoidance of Eurorack is based on my preference to be able to pgm stuff on the fly via SysEx or MIDI CC. Im fine in a digital environment, mostly. I just like to recall parameters with a bit of MTPro code and/or PgmChg msgs.

Self quarantine has me shopping online more than usual. Sorry.

Hello Creepy.

I very recently dipped my toes into Eurorack on a similar…‘looks fun!’ tip. So let me share some of my beginner learnings.

Yes a 4ms pod ought to do you here for rample + output module (I’ll get to that bit). But check module depth and pod case depth. I mention as I was considering one to house an Expert Sleepers ES-3 as a ‘breakout box’ but found the 4ms pod was too shallow. Only by like a couple of mm. (Bearing in mind there would be a ribbon cable floating around in there too though). In actual fact I think it’s more that the ES-3 is comparatively deep than the pods are comparatively shallow…but anyway, just check.

Power wise I’m sure it will he adequate for 1 or 2 contemporary modules. But do check. Digital ones like rample are much more power hungry than traditional VCFs, VCOs etc. Modular Grid is your friend here.

(U know there are powered and unpowered 4ms pods? Yes you do…)

A doepfer ‘beauty case’ is another lite touch, lo (ish) cost option but you might find yourself thinking “hmmm… for another $X I could get a Y case which would give me another Z of HP if I decide I like Eurorack thing and want to buy more modules” THIS IS EUROTRAP #1.

My analysis showed that those mini Doepfer cases crop up regularly in 2nd hand markets and appear to retain c.75% market value. About like £55 on a good day. But also, in the UK at least you can usually find quality (MakeNoise, Moog etc) 104hp powered skiff 2nd hand for about £110-£140 if you are prepared to wait/root about for a bargain… which is what I ended up with and, um, well, it’s 85% full of Eurojizzle already…

So if you DO think you will end up in the Eurozone then (beginner advice, please nobody shoot me!) I daresay you need at least 84-104 HP case to put a rack together that’s fun and flexible and capable of producing more than one car alarm sound at a time. So maybe keep that in mind when you are doing your cost-benefit analysis on miniature/trial solutions.

But there are DIY options too. I’ve seen cardboard cases (really, google it), diy cases with wooden rails, modules nailed to blocks of scrap wood or just ‘floating’ on desktops. If you really do just want to try it out you can totally improvise a short term solution.

Re outputs: you may have come across conflicting advice on output modules. From my research I found…a) some people don’t care and just make sure they don’t gain the signal at all, keep mixer faders way down and claim to be fine b) some people use a VCA to attenuate the modular level signal before it hits an interface/speaker/mixer c) some people use dedicated output modules.

I went with option C and got an i/o listen from 4ms: My VCAs have other jobs to do, i really don’t want any chance of shredding any speakers or interface channels, it cuts ground loops, great sound quality, works in stereo (I have a stereo module)it has an input for bringing signals into my rack, i have the space, it has a dedicated knob for louder/quiter - keep it simple.

This is novice advice so I might get shot down by an expert but have been happily 'racking for a few months now, nothing has broken or exploded and the world hasn’t ended.

Oh wait. The world has ended.

Let us know how you proceed and stay well.



Id agree with everything @JimBrackpool said…

with Rample you wont need an output module, as it has a volume knob.
(instead id be tempted to consider a modulation source…)

be careful on case depth as Jim pointed out, particularly if there are other modules you are interested in.

the other thing to consider is why modular? what does it do that non-modular cant?
I think its useful to have a ‘plan’ with eurorack, even if (and it will) it changes.
theres so much choice, and temptation… its good to be clear on your ‘goals’

oh… and the oft repeated advice, and I think most of us don’t follow enough, go sloooowly…
I wish id bought blanking plates, so that the empty spaces didn’t cry out to be filled :wink:


Thanks, Jim

Great chatting with you again, also.
Hope you are doing well and staying safe and healthy.

Thank you for the info and insights. It will take me a bit to digest. I like the 4ms cases because they are inexpensive and i can dip my toe. Im a MIDI guy, tho, so it wouldnt be a drama if this was “it”.

I’ll digest more of your breakdown in a bit. We did our final stockup grocery runs today because our lockdown (Ontario, Canada) starts tonight.

And im all weirded out.
Moreso than normal.

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Thanks Mark!

Im not sure i want to get “into” eurorack, but i admit the bug should be as easy to catch as COVID19. (too soon?). I’ve made a few designs on ModularGrid, but not sure i want the cash suck yet. Id need to get back to selling music and performing to justify that.

Modulation source: im planning on controlling everything via MIDI. I also recognise that for awhile the OS will be buggy. But Im officially “over” OT and cant afford a Blackbox unless i sell the OT. So, most modulatuon would be MIDI from my control device, Bome scripts, and Pyramid.

But i think I like where theyre going with the Rample, and i ADORE the Pyramid. So it’s not so much eurorack as I want the Squarp sampler device.

Or…guess i should be able to do this with an Axoloti (when mine gets here. Woo!), but there will be a steeper learning curve on that for me. If i ever figure it out.

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what in particular? I’m intrigued what you think you can do with it… that you can’t do on the OT?
(we have so many samplers around, that might do what you want , even electron have alternatives in model:samples, digitakt - that might suit better, if its some specific limitation of the OT)

don’t get me wrong, Im a Squarp fan too (Pyramid and Hermod here!)
so, Im seriously considering the Rample (after we are through these times), its a nice small module - but I think for me its most useful thing, is being trig and modulate it through other modules.
the midi functionality is really useful too, as take pressure off my midi2cv module…and its neat that you can ‘chain’ Ramples via midi.

Im not a fan of elektron

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A volume knob!? Hahaha. Now there’s a thing!

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Some good info shared already.

One additional comment that I’d add if you don’t mind using a computer or iPad, you want to get your hands pretty wet and deep in eurorack at minimal cost then look towards VCV Rack (or other similar emulator). If you happen to have a DC coupled audio interface, (or dedicated es-3, es-8, etc.), then you that to pass CV between your external case and whole world of software VCV goodness. Most of the modules are free and others at low cost in comparison to physical modules.

Another nice feature of VCV is the ability to save projects and recall them at will, all patched and settings saved. Try to do that with an external kit :). Ployend offers a module that can save some of eurorack settings but they haven’t yet mastered the auto-wiring part.

And be sure to check out Omri Cohen’s youtube channel, that guy is a wizard.

Edit: and yes you can control VCV from Pyramid MIDI (or CV / Env via audio interface), and vice versa.

Thank you for your input.
Appreciate it.

It’s more about having a sample playback device than eurorack specifically. I’m debating if it’s feasible to go Rample given I fear the rabbit hole and money suck that is Eurorack.

Understood. Sorry, I got a little carried-away and neglected to write up my thoughts on how Rample can be leveraged via VCV.

Say for starters your eurorack kit consisted of 2 modules, Rample & es-9, plus case and PS. You could use the Pyramid as master clock and modulate all 4 Rample channels simultaneously via es-9 from a variety of VCV modules. And if you prefer to modulate the audio as well then simply patch them into the es-9 and run it thru the many effects modules that VCV offers. If 16 in/out ports (or its hefty price) is a bit overkill for starters then take a look at the smaller density es-8 or es-3 modules (or the many other dc-coupled audio interfaces being offered today), but note smaller density modules may restrict your creative pleasure.

Thanks for the input.
Appreciate it

More Stupid Eurorack Questioning on these lines:

When you start putting ideas together on Modular Grid or paper or imagination, etc, do you think in terms of what you normally do with digital synth patches and then think about what modules you’d need to make that happen? Like, visioning your patches while you’re still dragging/dropping on ModularGrid?

I try to avoid ‘planning’ in modular grid - it’s far too easy for me to get ‘carried away’.

also, no I don’t think of individual patches - rather I try to think about how modules might fit together in different ways, or work together.

also I try (not always successfully) to have a view of where my Eurorack fits into the rest of my stuff.
in my case… I focused on a kind of physical modelling/electro acoustic sound - partly because I also have an AE modular (recommended :wink: ) which i use for more conventional (analog) modular stuff.

but this brings me on to the final point (for not using modular grid)
Ive found my idea of what I want and need has really changed over time, each time I add a module it changes that direction/vision slightly - so a lot of pre-planning on what specific modules I might add really doesn’t work for me.

a good example of this, is as i built up the rack - I realised that whilst I wanted it to integrate with other non-modular stuff i have (e.g. use the pyramid as a sequencer).

I later realised I also wanted it to be a ‘complete instrument’ in itself - so also possible to use completely on its own. this was why I added a Hermod, rather than just a midi 2 cv module.
This is why the Rample is so cool - since whilst I have other drum machines (e.g. OT), its a small module that helps make the rack more ‘standalone’ e.g. I can have run driving it from Mutable Marbles.
BUT in the ‘integrated studio’ environment, I can drive it from my Pyramid.

but hey, eurorack is supposed to be a very personal experience - our opportunity to build something that we dream of - so everyone’s path and view is rightly different :slight_smile:

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Excellent insights.
Thank you for sharing this @thetechnobear

This process is exciting and cripplingly frightening for me. Exciting!

yeah… its wise to treat Eurorack/modular with some caution…
I think partly because you can always imagine ‘one more’ module being useful, that will make what you have so much more ‘powerful’

that said, a few years back, I was doing everything ‘in the box’ , and bought a ridiculous number of plugins (VST).
I also some friends, having been buying lots of desktop synths (because the price has dropped in recent years) , or buying lots of iOS apps for the iPads.

so its not really unique to Eurorack, its just the plethora of opportunities we have these days, that sparks our imagination and GAS :wink:

Well, I’m lucky because this bit is purpose oriented. I have more than enough gear to do what i want, but just want a couple modules to make some things happen that i cant with the current gear.

I do things backwards: i can hear the music in my head, i just grab the gear to make it happen.

Plus something something interface and gear that facilitates that even tho other gear might be “cooler”.

Thanks again for the insights.
I sincerely appreciate your input.

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I find Eurorack slightly less dangerous from a GAS POV, personally. When your rack is full, you really have to consider the purpose and utility of any new module versus what you’re losing. If you have practical reasons not to start buying tons of racks (e.g. space), it can lead to you refining and focusing your system pretty hard to do more of what you want.

Also, you can get a module to add the precise feature you want, while keeping stuff you already value. You don’t need to get a whole new instrument to just use feature Y, while missing feature X from another. With fixed-topology instruments, I’ve found myself massively frustrated by minor flaws like non-clockable LFOs or similar. Not a problem in modular land- get a better LFO, keep the rest of the instrument.

Polyphony is still a bit of a pain in Euroland, admittedly. Luckily, I prefer making mindless techno and drum and bass, and don’t suffer from this overmuch. However, when I do need some polyphony, I have my poly synth (an old Juno 106) and my DAW- both probably way better than I deserve.

I’ve found that I am a lot less GASsy about new synths these days. Something has to be really special to even move the needle.

I do own a lot of brightly-coloured patch cables though :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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Thanks for your input!
I appreciate the insight.

I like variety and options, really. I’m pretty much only doing this for a few specific modules, but ultimately I like a variety of gear. This first foray is a bit eye opening already in that it seems modules are also made by ‘guy in a garage’ type of businesses that have rather interesting communication standards during global pandemics.

[tongue firmly in cheek] :sunglasses:

Oh goodness yes- there are plenty of crazy “Fred in the shed” DIY module producers. Heck, even some of the most well-known names are one or two-person outfits. It really is a very different world- and you get a very strong sense of personalities sometimes when you contact people. Levels of professionalism and slickness vary wildly.

(There are some sleeper hits, like Ladik - who makes very plain, almost crude-looking modules that are tank-like and great value- sometimes you only find out by word of mouth.)

It’s not all bad- some of the modular guys are really good dudes, very friendly and helpful. Special shout outs to Matthew of ALM (of Pam’s fame) and Eloi of Winter Modular, who is a lovely and approachable person. My one experience of Squarp so far has been largely positive, too!

Yes, some of the more… “informal” builders aren’t handling the disruption to their supply chain as well as they might, nor are they keeping their customers in the loop as well as you’d like :slight_smile:

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