Suggestions for first modular


Hey All. I’ve had in my mind for a long time now that I’m interested in building a modular and wanted to get people’s advice/experiences as some input.

I have a very small rack (60hp) that bought kind of on impulse a while ago and have been putting off filling it up because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. Considering the small space available, do people have any recommendations for useful modules? I am thinking maybe a good place to start would be with things I could use with my limited hard synths (hydrasynth, microbrute).

I’m thinking of things like Maths or maybe Clouds that I could use to maybe get some interesting sequences and patterns, or sounds out of existing gear, with the intention to upgrade to a bigger rack and introduce something like a Lifeforms or another semi-modular. IDK. Maybe I need to test some builds in VCV first to get an idea of what I’m looking for and what kinds of modules I could use.

Any recommendations would be appreciated, even if your suggestion is that I’m way off base and you would recommend going a completely different direction, or even general advice to help me avoid pitfalls. Advice on getting modules that won’t be useful to me or modules that are important that i might overlook would be great as well.

If it’s helpful to know, my usual workflow includes logic, vst’s (AU’S), my microbrute, and hydrasynth receiving midi from my computer and sending audio back through my interface. I like weird stuff, almost on the verge of bleep bloops and really fucking sounds up and making weird shit.

Thanks in advance if you managed to trudge through this message and feel like responding.


Not recommending VCV over hardware, but –

A lot of people like to construct their rig virtually, spend a decent amount of time with it and then eventually purchase the next-best-module on a rack, rinse and repeat. I’d recommend doing something like this if you really don’t want to regret your decision in the long run, because you can sort of figure out exactly what you’re into before you spend a dime. If that workflow is right for you, you’ll know.

Also, take my advice with a grain of salt because I own zero hardware and all the software. YMMV


I also feel inclined to say that no matter what your workflow is, and provided you have the basics covered already (FM and sync-capable oscillators, various filters, amps, EGs, LFOs, FGs, EFs, S&Hs, sequencers, FX, etc), you can’t go wrong with a decent amount of logic modules, or interfaces that help bridge the gap between your setups – and from what I understand, there are quite a lot of options. MIDI interfaces would probably be a pretty huge one for me, personally, because being able to control other devices is part of the fun.

The problem for me is that since I’m also a fan of complex routing, I’m not sure if I’d have an easy time integrating into a hardware setup at all. Because trying to figure out the pipeline from Sonic Pi, Tidal Cycles or DIY microcontroller instruments back into a modular rig might not be anymore difficult, but I could see the price tag shooting way up as I add things to the metaphorical shopping basket.

I’d also have way too many of these, which would really break the bank. Good thing I’m poor as shit :smiley:

(there are also software workarounds for the daisy seed module, lol)

But of course, the good news for people like me (I’ll never own real hardware, probably) is that there’s kind of a PC-based alternative for everything, too. So even in a hypothetical / test-it-out sense, you can probably get some kind of weird modular pipeline going as is and then recreate the magic with IRL modules when you’re ready. I just figured I’d point this out because there’s quite a lot of potential in-the-box, too!


Thanks for all of this. I know it can be hard answering a vague, broad question like this and I’m grateful for the thoughtful responses.


OK, well… I did it. I’ll post some pics when it all gets here and is assembled.

fingers crossed I didn’t make several expensive as fuck mistakes. lol


Ok, time for a roast of a noob’s first modular build.

Here’s what I went with for the first setup. I’m sure I made some uninformed decisions here, and I’m ok with that.

I was going to either get caught up in option paralysis or jump in head first and hope for moderate success. Some of the modules I knew I wanted (braids, atom{which is a build of mutable elements}, clouds, maths), and some I grabbed because there were good used deals and they seemed to fill a gap I figured would need filling for functionality and quality of life (the midi2cv, seq, filter, buffered mult, quad VCA, etc)

My case is as big as the one I have in Modular Grid (104hp), and the power supply only has 10 outs, so I maxed the case out right away, but the goal is to start here and then see what I fucked up/missed/want to add, and buy a bigger case in the future if I want more modules.

So feel free to roast away, or, if you prefer, tell me one thing (or more if you like) you would add to this setup to make it more useful. Also, did I make any large mistakes from a usability standpoint? Also, any tips on arranging what I have in the case?

I’m not going to have the parts for probably another week, but when I get them I’ll post pics of the actual unit.

Here’s the build in Modular Grid, as well as a list of modules in order from left to right.


Nice setup. Are you basically using Maths as your general purpose EG / FG? The only thing I’d really be missing for starters would be a proper LFO and EG (unless I’m missing those, I know next to nothing about the hardware so I need to reference these), but obviously there are some technical workarounds anyway if you’ve got a second oscillator. Also, do any of these slew? I need to do some research on hardware apparently :smiley:

Depending on your style, I feel like this rig is begging for a few drum modules and a gate sequencer below, but obviously hardware isn’t free. If I had the ability to feel gear lust, I’d probably have that now!

Also, now that I think about it, Maths might even loop like a lot of those FGs which probably takes care of the LFO


Yeah, so for now, maths is my main way of generating envelopes, and acting as an LFO (you can cycle the module and make it essentially act as an LFO) and a million other things. Maths can slew, apply lag, and portamento. It’s a swiss army knife, that’s why I got it before getting anything dedicated, like envelopes or lfos.

That being said, I’m already planning the next part of my rack, including things like env gens and other modulators that are more purpose-built. I have 60hp of 3u and 60hp of 1u Intellejel format waiting to be filled up. Already ordered a clock modulator/master clock, and have a few other things that are just waiting for me to pull the trigger including evn gen, quantizer, oscilloscope/tuner, another sound source (a plaits build), another mult, and a few other things that I decided would (hopefully) improve my workflow and give me more options.

I’d love to get a big sampler for drums and such, but those are some of the more expensive modules (at least the ones I’ve identified that I would want.) so for now, having my DAW act as a clock and letting it take care of drum programming as well as sequencing when needed is sufficient for me.

It’s quite a rabbit hole. haha, and I’m learning quite a bit, as this is all still quite fresh for me.