Another Eurorack advice thread

So I’ve finally decided to get a real rack and I’m looking for advice on a couple of areas. I will be making drone/dark ambient and I already have a digitakt, 0-Coast and NTS-1. I want the rack to create slowly evolving drones and textures which I can layer with the 0-Coast for fx/bass and the digitakt to play more textures, glitchy fx, or whatever sounds right. I also plan to use VCV for CV modulation and sent to midi which seems to be nice and easy with the Nifty case.

So far I have decided to get the Nifty case and Morphagene, along with FX Aid XL for big reverbs and probably Befaco Out v3. The areas I am undecided about are modulation, distortion, and perhaps utilities.

For modulation, I would like a few different LFOs that I can use with both the rack and with the 0-Coast. I’ve been thinking about Ochd + some kind of mixer because I love it in VCV and it seems hard to beat in terms of separate LFOs and footprint. But then, perhaps Maths might be better? I would get less choice of outputs from it vs Ochd but I could potentially do more with it?

For distortion, I really have no idea. I want it to be stereo in/out as I plan to use it before or after FX Aid but I don’t know what kind of distortion I need for creating filthy distorted pads/drones. I quite like Debriatus’ saturate and fold sections in VCV. I’ve been looking at Erica Synths Pico DSP since it is small, stereo and could be useful to have other fx when I don’t want distortion. I think I also want it to have some kind of tone/filter to tame it and make it dark.

For utilities, I don’t think I need a great deal, at least for this iteration of the rack. It looks like I can attenuate the inputs on Morphagene and I don’t really need to create envelopes for now, nor do I need sample and hold (although this might be handy later on).

So any advice on modules? I’m also thinking that a stereo mixer with a few different inputs might be useful so that I can route the digitakt (which will have the 0-Coast running through it) because I only really have a stereo output to my speakers/computer.

1 Like

Have a look at Zadar for modulation, especially for its self patching. If you need an oscillator look at Ensemble Oscillator. You WILL need attenuation and offset, get a 3xMIA. Oh, and the FX-AID does distortion too.

1 Like

EDIT: Sorry Lars. I meant to reply to the thread.

The drive on your filter(s) will give you saturation. A matrix mixer will give you feedback. Rectifiers will give you distortion. Noisy VCAs will give you general analog goodness. My favourite module is the Serge Resonant EQ I built. That goes from gently saturating your signal through to extreme distortion.

If you can get your hands on a Freak then you’ve got its drive circuits, which can generate a pretty hot signal (which you have the option within Freak to attenuate), and the great Debriatus of course. The Versios can deal with pretty hot signals. Beads can too. They are better choices as Eurorack reverbs than FX Aid if you are going to use analog modules in your case. All that analog saturation and distortion will clip the Spin chip in the FX Aid, so you will need to attenuate everything again, losing some of what you’ve gained, to use that spacey reverb.

If you want a reverb in Eurorack I would get a spring reverb (stick some distortion through its send) (and use an external reverb) or Desmodus Versio (which you can reflash very easily with Ruina for digital distortion). Hardware end-of-chain reverb is better handled by pedals IMO but that brings the need for a lot of extra interfacing. If you are going to be connecting up to VCV though you’ve got Plateau or Valhalla etc. Don’t let me dissuade you :slight_smile: - if you’ve got your heart set on an FX AID - I’ll sell you my XL if you like as I don’t use it (for the reason stated).

If you want some really lively analog saturation in 4HP and some really easy soldering then Tom Whitwell’s little Moog and VCS3 inspired drive modules are excellent. I have a pair of Mini Drives (the twin came out much later, but I would choose that now), and will probably pick up the London Drive at some point too. I use the Mini Drives in most patches. I think Ochd is a must. Given your style of music, I wouldn’t get another LFO though, I’d be looking at random and/or chaos modules. My most used modulators apart from Ochd are a Zlob Diode Chaos I built and the Joranalogue Orbit. Something good may be coming from Leonardo in the future too. TipTop’s Buchla 266T is a versatile module too.

W.R.T. function generators, Maths is an incredible module, justly popular. So is Rampage. If I could only choose one function generator, I would go for Stages though. Stick the Qiemem firmware on it transforms the module completely (and turns it bipolar). After Later now have a very nice clone out.

Pams Pro Workout finally bestows it with a usable screen and even more power. It is a great modulation source as well as a clock. It’s unipolar though so you may want something like Joranalogue’s new Bias module (fancy one myself) or an attenuverter. Frap Tools 321 is a good choice here. Cheap, no issues with finding the zero point, and will double as a utility mixer. You’ll get shapeable random out of either Stages or Pams.

You’ll be frustrated without utilities. If you get something like a Joranalogue Add you’ve got both a precision adder and a unity mixer. For really compact utility mixers then Happy Nerding is the place to go (several variations).

[For final mixers, the Cosmotronic and the Toppobrillo Minimix are highly rated. If I didn’t use an external mixer I would definitely pick up a Cosmix Pro. If you’re using VCV, you can get everything out and mix there.]

You will want some ability to attenuate signals in the rack - some combination of VCAs/attenuverters/polarisers. A Veils (clone) or an Intellijel Quad VCA find their way into most people’s racks. If you want to try your hand at soldering then Black Noise Modular have an excellent range of very affordable compact utility modules. Soldering stuff is a really good way of acquiring utilities. Check out Thonk.

Get some TipTop stackables rather than mults. Use Knurlies.

1 Like

Like a VCV one is a “fake” rack?

1 Like

A simple and effective modulation solution would be Ochd (which you should get anyway, since it fits your needs of “slowly evolving drones” perfectly) a shift register and a slew limiter. You should already have a slew limiter on your 0-Coast (“Contour” section). With that combo, you can…

  • modulate Ochd’s internal clock to get more variation (self-patching works great for that);

  • use the shift register for stepped voltages. (Tip: try sending it the fastest LFO from Ochd for more “random” values.) The first output works the same as a sample & hold, the others will give you a delayed copy of the sampled voltage (so you get 3+ sources of modulation which are out of phase by one pulse);

  • create sequences by patching one of the outputs of the shift register to its input. The number of possible steps in the sequence equals the number of outputs on the shift register. That can be a very nice way to add some rhythm to your drones;

  • smooth out any signal with the slew limiter. Feed it the output of the shift register and voilà: smooth voltages! (Note that I’ve written “any signal”. Yes, you can process audio with it too! It sounds an awful lot like a low pass filter — you mentioned wanting one, right?)

You should definitely consider this, since you already have one of the modules. You would only need to add a shift register, really. Here are a few options: Intellijel Shifty, Vaemi Shift Register, Non Linear Circuits Squid Axon (available in VCV Rack), Synthesis Technology E102 Quad Temporal Shifter.

I would also recommend a simple wavefolder (which, like the slew limiter, can be used to shape both CV and audio rate signals, providing more complex modulation and some nice distortion, respectively). And you will definitely need something to attenuate/offset CV.


As it’s starting on rack I’d suggest you look at multi-function digital units like Ornament and Crime or ES Disting that can give you some missing functionality while you build out your system. O_c’s hemispheres alt firmware is ideal as you can cover two areas at on e.g. Turing machines and envelopes.

As and when you get other modules to cover the gaps there’s a healthy module resale market on Reverb, eBay etc.

My pick for complex LFOs is the Westlicht Performer sequencer. It has a mode where you can graphically build each stage of an LFO and then set loop points and sync to a click or use the sequencer’s inbuilt tempo. You may have to build one though or buy one from someone who built from a kit as I did mine.

I started my hardware journey at the start of lockdown here in the UK, my main advice would be to go slow, get the minimum you need to make sounds and use it a lot before you make any high monetary value decisions. The things I thought I would need/like/find useful turned out to be very different in reality.

Maths has always seemed like a very expensive module to me, so although it might be an unpopular opinion, i’d be tempted by the Behringer Abacus

For me, the main limitation with Ochd is lack of attenuation, because it is so easy to do in VCV, in hardware I often find I need it.

Alternatives I would recommend for modulation (and utilities) would be multi-use modules (if you can stomach the menu navigation)

The distortion on the Noise Engineering Viol Ruina is quite fun

I don’t have one, but I like the look of the Schlappi Engineering - 100 Grit

Of the hardware I own, I would most highly recommend:

The saying goes, you can never have enough VCAs, which is semi-true, but for me the saying goes, you can never have enough patch cables (and you will never find a good way to store them)

1 Like

One thing I wish I had been far more organised about is patch cables. I have plenty but discovered far too late that I really hate ones with fat plugs (said items now languishing in a box under the table). I wish I had had a better plan about colours at the beginning (I would have tried to stick to a colour per length).

If you like slim plugs then Doepfer, After Late Skinnys and, of course, Tendrils are all good choices. Synth Cables LEDs are good slim LED cables (for indicating modulation strenth and polarity).

Organisationally, long ones are on a short towel rack screwed to the table, medium ones on a hexagonal rack, and short ones in a tray on the table.

The saying goes, you can never have enough VCAs, which is semi-true, but for me the saying goes, you can never have enough patch cables (and you will never find a good way to store them)

So who sells cables with in line pots for attenuation? :wink:


They’re a bit hard to dial in precisely.

1 Like

Forgot to actually reply this thread after reading all the comments. Thanks so much for all the detailed replies, so much food for thought.

I’ve become addicted already and am having a hard time restraining myself! I bought Morphagene, Desmodus Versio and Pamela’s New Workout and I’ve been having lots of fun with it.

I’m currently trying to decide about distortion and filtering. I want stereo so I’ve been thinking about either Bastl Ikarie or Noise Engineering Roucha Legio. The Legio looks like it gets far filthier which I would appreciate but the Ikarie looks like a lot of fun with being able to play with the stereo image. Very hard to decide which way to go.