I am getting dangerously close to going modular. Help!

I was in the same headspace about 10 months ago, and thought I’d try an ARMKii to see if that “fixed” it - it didn’t. Since then I’ve acquired a case and some modules so it is less of a leap this time.

I’ve had my hands on a few drum machine/groove boxes recently, and sound design on all of them is just tedious. I know I can make great sounds on most of these machines but I don’t enjoy doing it. In particular, whenever I spend time with the AR MKii I end up using samples once I am fed up with the analog machines and it annoys the hell out of me - why do I have this device if I’m just going to work with samples? I know that’s not the case for everyone, but the pages and encoders are just not working well for me and I feel like I’m programming a tracker more than I want to be. I want some more immediate results and I tend to want things to go nasty and aggressive more quickly than most Elektrons will do (The LXR does this, at least, but I could take or leave the sequencer - I could see replacing this with a module version down the road).

In particular, I want more envelope types and shapes, I want chainable LFOs, and I don’t know why but I feel like I get better kick results cv controlling the A-121-2 at high resonance than I can doing the same thing on the A4, the ST, or the AR:

I am this close to abandoning the lot in a closet (save perhaps the Digitakt and possibly one other elektron) and going Euro. As a note: I already have a 104hp 7u case and a smattering of modules (MCO, Doepfer 2 pole SVF, A145-1 LFO, Studio Electronics Levels mixer, Intellijel dual ADSR, some utility 1u modules), so some of the initial expense is already sunk. And, really, this is more about time than money.

Probably thinking something like a DFAM (or DFAM+M32), an ASQ-1, and the newest iteration of a Noise Engineering BIA, maybe a Batumi, and then adjusting from there. I’ve touched a DFAM briefly and didn’t entirely hate it; I know the internal sequencer is limiting but I plan to add external sequencing when I need it and to just use what’s there when I don’t. I like that it just goes Unn Tcha when I want it to do that with pretty minimal work.

This all seems like utter madness, but so is buying yet another drum machine and expecting different results, right?

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This is reminiscent of that thread from a while ago where @pmags was having a modular moment. See if there’s any helpful answers in here, as I recall it was a rather split opinion.


I saw very skeptical about modular, the price is pretty high and initially confusing with so much module and possibility but last year I started with a little skiff to expand the AK, sold the elektron to buy more modules because I felt in love with the possibilities.
Now I have a 114 x 3 skiff going into octatrack and a tanzbar.
This configuration is not the best, but it helped me find the style of music I want to make and the form factor I enjoy use.
I think I’m going to sell the MFB and change the modular case, I’m going all modular and OT, maybe I take out of the closet my Vermona DRM1 because drums are not easy for me.
In the modular I enjoy making sound that evolves in time, lots of modulation and sequencing.

The only bad point is that I spend a lot of time thinking and tweaking and in the end nothing is done in therms of songs :joy:.
It’s about the journey

Oh, nice, I’ll dive in.

I’m clearly in whatever the opposite of the honeymoon period is for a lot of gear. Couples therapy or family court.

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I may not be helpful here – I succumbed to temptation and have thoroughly slipped into the Eurorack black hole. I’m having a ton of fun though and learning lots of new things about synthesis that I wasn’t even aware I didn’t know!

However, there’s no denying that the modular road is an expensive one to pursue. Lot’s of temptation and the cost of individual modules doesn’t seem that much until you start adding it all up…


Ive made a modular groovebox myself and on a whole om very pleased with it!

For me i had to come to the realization that I won’t be able to everything in it if I want the size to be manageable. So I removed sequencing almost completely out of the equation, I firmly detest the big euro sequencers.

My mantra has been UI first. If I’m not having fun patching then I might as well sell the modules.

My personal belief is that one device won’t solve all of your creative output. So if you have that in mind and embrace the modular experience, then I think you can really enjoy it.



I can see this, lots of them look fiddly, given the number of features for the space. I can make do with my keystep for a long time, and look into midi to CV later if that’s what I want to do. The same goes for clock modules - I’ve got more clock sources than any reasonable person might use already.

family feud :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:




«That which is ready to fall, shall ye also push!»

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There’s also an active thread on ModWiggler (as in started four days ago) and any number of them in the archives.


Consensus is that drums in Eurorack is an expensive pursuit even by Eurorack standards. That doesn’t stop some people from going that route, of course.

I resisted in-rack drums and FX for the most part. Now I have a modest amount of each (5% of my hp). But I still think that what I have outside the rack is superior; the ones in the rack are for convenience or for unique qualities (e.g. Plonk for physical modelling). For drums, for me, that’s A4, TR-6S, and DT. But I confess that I haven’t tried designing my own drums on A4.

You should probably spend more time with DFAM before committing to a course of action. I have the feeling you might find it limiting.

Even Perkons would be cheaper than going the Eurorack route, probably.


You say “I want some more immediate results” Well in my experience modular is the opposite of that. I feel like there is always a tradeoff for capability and productivity. With modular you have to design the voice you want, and I find myself constantly tearing them down and rebuilding them slightly differently. That process is much slower than building a sound on something like an Elektron device. On the other hand you have much more freedom over what you want to build, so if there is some aspect of the sound you don’t like, you have endless possibility to change it. But that is a double edged sword.

Personally I got started with hardware with a eurorack system. I was watching mylar melodies and wanted to make a modular groovebox where I could do everything (drum, voices, effects, modulation, etc) in the one box. I did that for a while, but eventually got a little tired of building literally every element of my music from scratch. So I got a model cycles, then a digitakt, then digitone, and on and on.

My feeling is that modular excels at diving really deep on like 2 or 3 different aspects of music making. But there is so much to music that you don’t necessarily want to design from scratch every time. For me that is drums. I like to use modular for one or two voices and some effects, then use the Syntakt for drums and sequencing.



Quite possible, I’ve only spent an hour or so with it.

Ouch, but possibly true.

That’s a pretty good point. One thing I haven’t done yet that I keep telling myself I will is spend a day or an evening making drummy sounds on flexible synths I’ve got and sampling them into a DT or AR. That feels a bit like going in reverse, but maybe I’ll like the results enough it will make things speedy later.

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What kind of music are you trying to make?

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If you have a lot of cash to blow and like to fiddle around, modular is kind of cool I guess .

I built a small setup and it still cost over 2 grand and ended up mainly being fx sounds on recordings.

I much prefer semi modular gear like the 0 coast but I make sample based house so it’s just overkill to buy modular gear for me. A better hardware option for my music, especially for sound fx, ended up being the Lyra 8 which was less than $600.

If I was into generative music where I wanted to patch something up and then sit back and listen to it for an hour while recording it, I’d probably be super into modular because I think its cool for stuff like that. But to me it was a lot of money for not much in return for sounds that I can cook up in Bitwig anyway. I sold all my modules and went on a long vacation with the money.

A lot of people get into music for different reasons and out put is not their goal. They do it to wind down and relax. If that is you and you have a lot of money to sink in, then modular is a cool hobby. Its like an aquarium for the ears.


Mood dependent, I guess, but anything from chiptunes (and the A4 is pretty good at that, really) to aggressive industrial techno to melodic ambient type stuff, I enjoy darkwave and vapor wave but the stuff I make doesn’t sound much like that. I’ve always liked glitch, too. More than one type of noise burst at a time is a common thing.

Electronic music, sometimes dancy, more often not. Typically melodic in some form or other.

Maybe obvious, but there’s no need for drum modules if you have a Digitakt or OT With the right envelope (I got a Contour 1 as a second envelope and it’s great for percussion envelopes - and much more), filter and sound sources. it’s possible and, I think fun and satisfying, to roll your own, make them into sample chains then load into OT. On the flip side, I got a DFAM and use it mostly for melody and or sequenced modulation than drums. (advancing steps with notes from OT makes the DFAM sequencer quite interesting).

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Everything about modular looks so cool. I just can’t stop looking at those panels, knobs, cables etc.

It’s just the prices that I can’t justify. For price of a basic LFO panel, I can get a desktop sampler/ableton live that can produce whole songs. I even thought maybe I could put up a small tiny modular just for effects but even the cases costs too much. I don’t want to pay 200 quids for electric cable, wooden case and a small piece of pcb that’s screwed in. I’m not that rich :confused:


What I lack in wealth, I make up for in stupidity and impulsivity.


For rhythmic sound design, you also might have a look at the Lorre-Mill DoubleKnot.