Given a choice between buying a new Elektron Rytm MK2 or the time and expense of buying a new case/power and drum modules plus sequencer for Eurorack, which would you pick and why? I priced out modular drum setup including a good Eurorack drum sequencer and it is 3-5x what a brand new Elektron Rytm MK2 would cost. But is it 5x better sounding and better?
What’s your personal opinion?
I dunno - eurorack modular for drums is fun but definitely not the cheapest option! Do you want to use quite a few modules for a single percussion sound? Do you want dedicated modules for each drum voice? How do you want to sequence it? Will you create sounds, sample them and use them elsewhere?
Modular drums are great fun but it’s expensive and takes a lot of modules. The sequencing inside the modular, along with modulation of the sounds is where the fun is… (I often get lazy and just do drums in an external drum machine though)
Why not have an elektron sequencer control some euro modules?
Personally, I think drums in eurorack is a terrible idea! It strikes me that it would be prohibitively expensive and would get messy to patch if you wanted to play to modular’s strengths and modulate a lot of them.
I would go with the AR Mk2 and maybe a smaller modular case with something like a Basimilas Iteritas Alter and a Pam’s New Workout for modulation… and sample the heck out of it into the AR.
To be perfectly honest, I would need time to sit down at a high end synth shop once this Covid lockdown crap ends and test modular drums back to back with a new Elektron Rytm MK2. I love the creative aspect of modular in terms of patch routing and sound design as it is without limits. But costwise, if I just want to knock out some beats quickly the Elektron wins hands down. If I was a paid performer and doing weekly club shows, I would use a smaller modular setup for flavor and my Elektron gear as it removes a lot of unknowns that can fail a modular setup. Heck from what I heard, even Richard Devine the famed modular performer uses backups. He uses Elektron style modules like 1010 Bitbox and things like that which are basically like modular Elektron stuff.
Many drum modules that exist within modular aren’t particularly flexible… I actually think that the A4 is probably one of the most flexible options when it comes to drum sound design… If I was using a modular to achieve similar results, I think I’d give up quickly due to the time taken to achieve them… It’s also very nice being able to save your patches and be able to recall them at any moment.
agree in fact cheapest modular drum rack including case/power and few modules like VPME voice drum and few WMD drum modules plus support modules would cost over 3k easy. That is what 2 new Elekton boxes cost that can do way more. Love modular but common sense has to apply. At a local jam before Covid, one guy was doing modular drums and he must have had a 20k rig with him. After the show, I asked for his candid opinion and he said just get an Elektron Digitakt for drums and be done with it. Sure enough he showed up with the Digitakt at next even without his 20k modular drum setup and had just a small modular system with him for leads/FX.
Using drum modules in modular (with rare exceptions) is not the most fun or interesting way to do drums in modular - it’s ok but imo a drum machine is better. The fun comes with building the sound from basic modules and especially the sequencing and modulation in-rack. To have a decent set of drum voices in modular takes a lot of modules - if I was doing four voices, I’d probably be using 6-12u for the drums…
this is really HAPPENING
True just for fun, I did a quick draft of what a modular drum bass setup would look like and cost:
over 4k easily!
Vlad’s VPME is really really nice - but it’s samples and digital synthesis… (great if you want to do it in the rack, but if you’re happy with a drum machine…) and even with that rack you’re missing most of the fun stuff eg dividers/sequential switches, multiple oscillators, noise sources, etc, etc, loads of VCAs and a lot more modulation sources… doing drums in the rack eats modules !!!
I dont want to put you off because it really can be great fun - but it takes so so many modules…
true and that is why I’d probably not get that module while it sounds lovely as the real fun of modular as you mentioned is routing with switches, logic and so forth. I can get by with my BIA module and Elektrons for percussion sounds without spending a fortune on modular drums. The ADDAC 104-105 modules sound great for percussion sounds and are not expensive but not sure how great they are. I’ve spent too much already on Eurorack stuff this year. So thinking next move is to complete my Elektron dark trilogy and get a new Rytm MK2. Hopefully the previous freeze issues have been worked out from a while back.
I think you could get the cost down if you were going for a more minimal drums type approach, something like some low pass gates, vactrol envelopes, some decent modulation sources, some complex oscillators and a noise source and then maybe a basic BBD to do some interesting rythm variations through delay modulation. I think with a minimal rythm rig it might be nice to sample chunks and almost treat it like break beats… if you work that way you dont even need to invest in a super expensive euro sequencer and can instead focus on stuff like clock dividers and maybe something that can get your some really interesting grooves like the 0ctrl. But yeah rytm would certainly just get you to results faster, but the inspiration from rhythmic drones and natural grooves from euro can be awesome.
One thing with modular is there’s no presets. So basically anything you do, you will have a hard time recreating if you don’t sample it.
Having tried both, I would recommend going the Rytm route. Eurorack for drums doesn’t give as much sound experimentation as you might think. The aspect I liked the most of modular drums was actually sequencing and creating patterns I would never otherwise make.
I had a Trigger Riot and a Ladik trig to MIDI module controlling my Rytm for while which was a lot of fun. In the end though, the time it took to get something interesting going and, more importantly, the inability to save what I took forever to make, led to to sell most of my modular drum gear. I actually ended up selling the Rytm too but I would much rather have that back then a modular setup.
Another possibility, is to get a Rytm and buildup a modular effects rack to route your individual channels through. I have been doing this with my Tanzbar 2 with good results. The Rytm also has a trig out option for every channel that should work for modular if you got one or two modules.
I like that route better. I have 2 Eurorack 6u cases and the second one is half full. I have only been into modular for a month and love it but it is not as great for creating tracks without lots of very expensive modular sequencers and even then creating presets is difficult. Yes, some modules have preset ability but you either have to leave the cables in place forever or make detailed schematics of the patch diagram to recreate them each time. For a live set, this spells disaster unless you are a very experienced modular synthesist like Richard Devine or Colin Benders and even they have backup systems and accidents happen. Don’t get me wrong, I am really loving the modular journey so far but from a practical perspective, having Elektron gear that can create tracks and save them is the best way to go. I have my BIA module that is fun for drum and bass in my modular setup but not as immediate as cranking out a full beat with a clap, kick, bass and snare drum on my A4 or OT and saving that as a song or chained sequence for immediate playback later.
What works well for me so far is to use my SQ-1 and 0-ctrl to sequence different beats and then add my A4/OT for drums, bass and pads. The modular adds spice and FX type drones which I love. I then route everything into my 8 channel external mixer. Works great.
To be honest, I think you need to slow down and learn that what you have already is more than enough to make some amazing drum sounds. You could sample so much raw stuff from the modular on the OT, save those recordings and use them as a basis for drum sounds created entirely with the OT, taking advantage of the effects to create pretty much any sound you want.
I know we’re all victims of GAS (especially given the current state of the world), but constantly chasing some ideal sound/setup without actually realising how powerful your existing setup is, starts to make it more about having a collection to brag about than actually sitting down and making some music. Trust me, I’ve been there and am trying to claw myself away from it!
Agree- well I do need more patch cables! I used most of mine today creating new patches on my two racks. I do need more support modules like a clock, switch, and attenuator/offset. Fortunately these are the least expensive modules and will always be needed into the future. I have enough voices to make fun tones. Made good drum, bass and pad today using my setup.