Q. How do I get started in modular?
This is a difficult question to answer and my advice is to think carefully what you want your modular setup to do and the style of music you want to create! You can plan your modular setup on Modular Grid or stefanbreitenfeld.com modular planner. All synthesizers follow a basic layout, Oscillator, Filter, VCA, Envelope, and LFO so you probably want to start with some of these modules. If you don't want to buy a full modular system from the start you could buy something like the semi-modular Moog Mother 32 as you can be racked up at a later stage or even the make noise 0 coast. If you decide to set up a modular system the first main consideration is going to be your case and power supply (See FAQ below). Will you buy a commercial case or build one yourself.
Q. Can I build my own case and power rail?
The short answer is yes! There are two types of power supplies: Option 1, uses an external transformer to supply the voltage to the case. Your case could be made out of wood or any other suitable material. With this type of power supply you will only be working with voltages around 12v and is fairly safe to build your own power rail.
Some modular power supplies only provide +12v-12v but to cover yourself you should think about building a power supply that provides +12v-12v and 5v. You must also consider how much amperage your power supply will be able to deliver as this will limit the amount of modules you will be able to connect before you start experiencing power problems. TipTop Zeus Studio Bus is a popular power system and their website gives a lot of useful information on building your own power rail.
Option 2 uses mains power to get 'clean' power to the modules but is more dangerous to build as you will be working with 240v mains voltage. I would certainly say if you are not comfortable working with high voltages then Option 1 is a better solution or buying your case with power supply already provided. There are many suppliers of the components you will need to build you own case and power rail. A search on google will provide you with most of your answers.
Q. If I don't want to build my own case what Modular Case should I buy?
Again there are many suppliers of modular cases. Some will just provide the case and you have to fit the power rails while others will provide the case and fit the power rails to your specification. My advice is to buy good quality with the most 'U' you can afford. Remember the case and power supply are the heart of any Eurorack system. In the long term a poor quality case and power supply is not a good investment and you should buy the best quality you can afford even if this means foregoing a certain module at the start.
Dieter Döpfer of Doepfer Musikelektronik GmbH is credited in bringing Eurorack to the masses and their products are still very popular. Doepfer manufacturer a variety of cases called the A100. The smallest A100 with built-in A-100PSU3 since early 2016 includes a power rail with +12V/2000 mA, -12V/1200mA, +5V/4000mA however check the spec as some Doepfer cases lack the +5v rail. Cost of a Deopfer case ranges from around £300 to over £1,600 depending on size.
Pittsburgh Modular Structure cases are good quality made from Hardwood and Aluminum Construction. Their EP-208 Enclosure should be future proof as it provides two 104hp rows and:
4 Amps (4000mA) of Clean, Filtered +12v Power
3 Amps (3000mA) of Clean, Filtered -12v Power
2 Amps (2000mA) of Clean, Filtered +5v Power
2 EMI Filters Protect All 3 Power Rails (+12v, +5v, -12v)
Low Output Ripple & Noise
UL & CE Approved, ROHS Compliant
Over Load and Short Circuit Protection
Prices for a Pittsburgh Modular Structure 208 are around £680 but expect to pay around this for any good quality case.
Q. What module should I buy next?
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