Eurorack gateway device - DFAM?


#1

Morning all. Hope you’re all having a good Monday.

So my ongoing saga of what new gear to get continues. I’m leaning towards getting into eurorack and a lot of people seem to suggest that a semi-modular device is a great way to get started, not least because you get a lot for your money and it’s a good way to dip your toe in that water. I’ve had my Digitakt for about a month or so and although it’s a great device I’m already getting frustrated at having to import samples into it and trying to find sources of sounds. I have plenty of samples but I think another issue is that they inherently sound a bit static and not very organic. I’m also becoming frustrated with not having a knob-per-function interface. I think this is a big one for me because I’ve gone totally cold on using DAWs and software and what I really want is immediacy to jam and have fun. Actually creating finished tracks is very much secondary to me, and I may record my jamming but I have no interest in spending hours mixing and “producing” music with software for release. It’s a hobby for me, and that stuff just milks all the enjoyment out of it for me.

Anyway, I digress. I wanted to get some opinions about DFAM and perhaps getting a 2-tier case so I can have a DFAM and an additional 60hp that I can start with for eurorack modules. Maybe just some simple FX to start with and possibly something to expand the sequencing of the DFAM beyond the 8-step sequencer. I love the possibilities of polymetric stuff (if that’s the right word) and things like Euclidean sequencing so I can have endless non-repetitive modulations and beats.

The videos I have watched for the DFAM really make it look like a great and fun device for just making experimental beats and noisy rhythms that have a lot of life and a very organic sound. The stuff I’ve come up with using my Digitakt is OK but using one-shot drums does tend to make stuff a bit “flat” to my ears. Again, this is not a criticism of the box itself but perhaps just a mismatch of what I want to achieve (in terms of music and enjoyment) and what the strength of the device is. On a related note - I am VERY impressed with the hip-hop, ambient and downbeat music people are producing here with the DT. But I think it may not be the best choice for jamming and creating techno and “electronic” sounding music.

So - opinions on DFAM as a eurorack gateway? And perhaps then building on that with a few modules over time? A good way to get started?


#2

Tl;dr

Damf 19:15


#3

Have you tried asking this at Muffs or on the reddit modular sub?


#4

Thanks, I’m having a look now. There’s already a lot of opinions out there but the community here has been very welcoming and helpful so far so I’m inclined to stick around here :slight_smile:

One option is to try to come up with my own starter eurorack for this sort of thing (techno experimentation) but the point is that I’d probably have to spend 3 times the amount of money to get the same setup i.e. 2 oscillators plus noise, 3 envelopes, a multi-mode filter and some sequencing. I’d spend £200 just on a case and power before I even get to anything that makes a sound. I can get a brand new DFAM for less than £500 and optionally spend another £500 and have a case and a couple of supplementary FX modules or some modulation.

I guess that’s why DFAM, Mother 32, 0-Coast etc seem to be popular - it’s a cheaper entry point to this stuff. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s a bit nervous about spending a grand or two just to get started with eurorack. These semi-modulars seem like less risk and lower barrier to have a play and expand from there.


#5

The DFAM is a lot of fun, very hands on and with many happy accident potential.
Imo it could be a nice starting point for a modular rig as most semimodulars can be. There are semimodulars with more utitility functions and patchpoints included, e.g. the pittsburgh modular sv1. They might be a better starting point in general

With the DFAM I think it doesn’t make so much sense as the basis for other modules because you need most of its functions for the DFAM itself to get the most out of it, but you could use it as the center or the main voice and built a rig around it that supports the DFAM and expands its possibilities.
More modulation comes to mind, more clocking (clock divider) and trigger options, a quantiser to get the sequencer of the DFAM to play certain scales, since it’s hard to adjust its sequencer to specific notes, also more utilities like multiples e.g…

Also effect modules could be a cool option, or something like a morhpagene to sample sounds from the DFAM (which you could do with your DT of course).
You could also use your DT and a midi to cv module to send quantised notes and additional gates to the DFAM…

So there might be better semimodular options as a gateway device, but the DFAM is very special. The Mother 32, sv1 and the likes can’t do percussion stuff in the same way the DFAM can, and if you want specifically that, there are many cool options to expand its functions

I don’t think so. It can be everything. Put electronic sounding samples into it and it will sound electronic. It also has some pretty powerful synthesis options itself.
For jamming and creating techno I think elektron sequencers are one of the best hardware options


#6

If you want to dip your toe in I would advise the Neutron, doesn’t cost too much and gives you a broader feel for modular. The DFAM is a lot of fun but as a eurorack gateway the 0-Coast, Neutron or Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms are better places to start.


#7

If you not already have, check out the Behringer Neutron. IMO it’s a very interesting starting point for everybody wanting to try out patch-cable synthesis. It delivers much for little money and sounds great. This and an affordable sequencer like a Keystep could be a nice match.

The Dreadbox semi-modulars like the Nyx and the Erebus could also be a good starting point.


#8

As I already wrote, Neutron etc might be better starters, but they can’t compete with the DFAM regarding interesting percussion sequences with multiple percussion sounds at the same time. DFAM is something special in that regard.
So the question is if you’re after that or if you are “only” looking for a solid modular starting point


#9

I think that’s a fair point. Perhaps I didn’t explain myself well. With the DT I could have a workflow where I do sound design with some other synth or with DT (single-cycles etc) and then sample the result and slice/dice/filter etc. But there are limits to that workflow and it also means I need to stop what I am doing to sample sounds and then sequence them.

I suppose what I’m trying to say, in a long-winded way, is that perhaps a one-knob-per-function interface and the ability to just hit play and then tweak the sound may be better and more fun for me. My hobbyist usage really consists of me wanting to sit down occasionally and just jam for fun for an hour without any blockers between me and the jamming process. There is nothing wrong with sampling and the DT is a great tool for working with samples but maybe not the right tool for me, that’s all.

For interest, this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKH1gkNFir8 - makes me think that it would be a great box that would be fun without anything extra, but also the patch-bay would integrate well with extra eurorack.

@Wolfdesk and @SoundRider thanks for the suggestions. I have looked at these synths a bit already and they each have their strengths, although less self-contained without their own sequencing. I think if I was more interested in melodic sequences then these would be great, but for percussive-led sounds I think DFAM looks more immediate and easy to program.


#10

What makes you think modular is going to get you closer to that goal?

Cheers,
Hans


#11

sure, could be.

It certainly is, in my opinion

I’m not sure if modular expansion is the right way to go then. I always discovered some blockers. Semimodulars are easier in that regard, since they totally work without patching at all. It’s more like a nice bonus


#12

Well, with my DT I have to find/import/select samples to work with which is a process in itself. I also don’t have an immediate knob-per-function interface that you would get with typical eurorack modules or analog synth. I understand that (semi) modular comes with it’s own complexity but I feel like there is less “setup” needed than with something based on samples, uses presets that I have to browse etc or that has any kind of menu-diving etc.

I’m sure it goes without saying but it’s just about personal preference and I’m sure many of us have had to try a few things before we find out what fits. My feeling, right now, is that modular or semi-modular with one-knob-per-function will give me more enjoyment. To reiterate - I don’t much care about creating finished music as much as I care about having enjoyment with sound design in an immediate way.


#13

@Unifono thanks for the tips, appreciate it. I certainly wasn’t intending to dive head-first into full eurorack which is why the baby step of a semi-modular like DFAM. It might be the case that I end up trying some other way to add to the setup with small volcas or cheap FX pedals or who knows what. The point is this - I just don’t think that going “full modular” as a beginner is very sensible. You are supporting my idea that I could get a lot of mileage out of DFAM alone and then take it from there, in whatever direction I choose. I mean lets face, I could even just add a monotron delay or other dirt-cheap FX and that would still add an extra bit of flavour. This is about NOT diving in at the deep end financially or otherwise.


#14

I agree on that.
You could also add another semimodular later that could expand the DFAM nicely, and that at a price that the case/power or single modules might cost on their own.

Btw I can understand your wish for knob/function. Not everybody enjoys the elektron workflow. But you might give it some more time, maybe it suddenly clicks :slight_smile:


#15

Rather than framing the DFAM as a gateway device, just recognize that it’s a hands on, stand-alone instrument which sounds great and is fun to play that is also a 60HP Eurorack module. All you have to do is remove its case and mount it to a rack.

The DFAM’s 24 patch point patch bay has an ext input, and invites you to ‘think in modular terms’ by sending audio signals through its lovely filter before looking to buy other filter modules to add to it.

Also, since the Digitakt is such a great sequencer, you may wish to consider a MIDI to CV module in order to take advantage of all of that power (that you already have) instead of looking to fill up rack space with euro sequencers. By the way, you can also use the sequencer of the DFAM as an oscillator. Now that’s what I call modular!


#16

exactly!


#17

i recommend this video, if you haven’t watched it already


#18

I think the Elektron sequencer is great and I found it very easy to understand and use. I used mod trackers back in the 90s and it’s a very similar workflow so it made sense to me. I just think working with samples doesn’t fit with what I want to do right now.


#19

maybe swap it for an A4 or Digitone?


#20

A4 always sounds amazing in videos I see but still the same issue with paging through parameters etc. I think good old-fashioned rotary pots are more immediate than encoders. Just a matter of taste. I think I’m happy to sacrifice presets and project recall etc to have the fully “analogue” experience.