Building 104hp

There is some general discussion about “fixed racks”, but my case is a little more specific. Question to the most nerdy / advanced users / experts, such as the holy Omri… If you had a really shabby computer and were forced to obtain maximum versatility / performance (not live performance) in very little space, which modules would you use? One of the most basic physical cases I found online, measures 104hp, my idea is to pretend to physically buy that case and have to fill it with a very limited but super efficient set of modules, taking into account that I want to have the freedom to write at least a stable sequence of 8 steps, but also to add randomness and probability to combine hypnotic loops and continuously varying generative sequences, this is essential. On a sound level I’m interested in having at least a couple of melodic voices and two or three percussive sounds, which can be kick/hi-hat - kick/hi-hat/snare, or three tom tones that create a sort of bongo etc… but perhaps I expect too much in too little space, I have this doubt, so I’m open to alternative suggestions as long as they remain functional. I’m really starting to learn how to build patches, but when designing a complete system “with my ears closed” I still panic, add unnecessary modules, forget essential modules…I’m still not able to build an efficient rack.

System information: Intel Celeron N3050 1.60GHz, 2GB RAM. Examples of resource consumption: only the VCV Audio2 module with the Asio4all driver consumes 0.9% / 1.3% of the total CPU (0.4 - 0.5% is the specific consumption of the module), the disconnected VCV oscillator consumes 1.6% - 2%, the Squinky Labs’ Basic VCO consumes 0.7%, the Bogaudio VCO consumes 0.2%, Vult’s Incubus without emitting any output consumes 16%)

I know that answering me is not easy and you have to take your time to do some experiments for me, but if anyone would like to do it, I would be infinitely grateful.

This is my current rack project in a rather confusing and haphazard manner, clearly not satisfying me.

If I were to do something like this I’d build it around Mindmeld ShapeMaster, it’s just so versatile. You can use it as a clock, envelope / vca, LFO, sequencer, even an oscillator etc, and it can do all of this simultaneously on different channels and also has very nice randomisation options.


My problem with patchmaster is that in any case I have to connect it to the necessary modules, thus spending too much CPU, I think… or maybe there are solutions that my mind doesn’t see… in any case now I’m trying to play with patchmaster a bit too because I’ve never used it and I’m curious, but from what I’ve seen in the videos, at this moment I’m not convinced that it can become my definitive solution.

I would need something Tinypatches style, but slightly enlarged. :thinking:

ShapeMaster, patchmaster would indeed be absurd for such a tiny rack.

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btw, I have a paper with way too much detail on using CPU meters. As it happens it compares BasicVCO, Bogaudio and Fundamental. Well, uses them as examples of more accurate. Note: oops, I read it, and in fact I did not put basic vco in there - wanted to appear unbiased. You may find it interesting anyway.


I own Shapemaster Pro… Maybe I’ve never played with it enough… D:

It is pretty deep but well worth the effort to master it, it’s probably my all time favourite module, certainly one of my most used.


Check out shapemaster vertical randomisation for this.

The documentation hasn’t been updated to describe this but it’s pretty self explanatory.

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Here’s SM playing itself:

Channel 1 is a pulse LFO used as a clock, but could be a gate sequencer.

Channel 2 is an audio rate oscillator.

Channel 3 is an env / VCA clocked by channel 1 and fed by channel 2.

Channel 4 is an eight step quantized sequencer that modulates the cycle length (and hence frequency) of channel 2, slightly vertically randomised at the end of each cycle.

All that from one module and you’ve still got four channels left over.


Thanks for opening even more doors!

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Gates! :wink:

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Well, the project has become this…Now I’m taking some time to study it a bit.

Vraids is perhaps my favorite oscillator so I wanted to keep it, Pico offers nice drums in very few hp, noise cannot be missing, uMeld I’m not sure I need it, I almost never use polyphony but for now I’ll leave it there, SM with the its expander which acts as a sequencer, envelope, lfo, random… Patchmaster, which I still have no idea how I could use but I’ll find out soon, a mixer with 8 channels… I can adjust the volume directly in SM, and Chronoblob seems to me the best delay of the entire browser considering the features / cpu consumption ratio.

You can use a SM channel to generate any flavour of noise you fancy.

Edit: Ignore that, just tried it :smiley:

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Does he make me coffee too? :open_mouth: in this case I will replace that Nois with another Pico or whatever else may be more useful to me.

Keep the noise - that’s one thing SM doesn’t really do.

You’ll need the uMeld (and perhaps more of them) to modulate the polyphonic inputs on the SM-CV. You can get away without one if you are just modulating channel 1 on SM.


I just discovered Repeats :open_mouth: maybe with a well thought out connection it’s even possible to create a kind of song/timeline structure? I noticed that the control is individual for each channel, so one can only be the intro, the second an infinite loop, the third four repetitions that are triggered occasionally etc… :exploding_head: SM for some reason reminds me a lot of the Digitakt.

However, I encountered a couple of problems: the first, is there a way to attach the nodes to the grid? I saw that with randomization I can activate Stepped and Lock to Grid-X, when I draw the curves manually instead? This is the minor problem, after all imprecision makes everything more human. The most important problem at the moment is that the SM trig outputs only hit at the start of the cycle, so I was able to build a hi-hat with noise, being a constant enveloped sound, but I can’t generate a rhythmic pattern of kick and snare , do I need a dedicated sequencer for this?

So I’ll just come right out and say it from the beginning:

Intel Celeron N3050 1.60GHz, 2GB RAM

This computer is too weak for VCV Rack and you will not be happy. There.

Having said that… the requirements you list I think will put you over both 1 and 2 rows of 104 HP, unless you use really slim modules, like e.g. docB.

You obviously want to use quite CPU efficient modules, so have a look at the modules from VCV, docB, Squinky Labs, Audible Instruments, Bogaudio and some of the SurgeXT modules. Especially the docB modules are very efficient with much functionality in very little space, but you’ll also be on a learning curve.

And keep your expectations down a bit, I think you’re flirting with the unrealistic.

Have fun!

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That thing about flirting with the unrealistic, I imagined… I know the computer sucks but unfortunately I end up with this until at least next year. You’re right, the computer can handle about 2 files with zoom around 84% but without patching anything I already have the CPU at around 50% and after I have two small ugly and static sequences, I’ve already run out of CPU, just the music it starts to get a little more interesting, processor glitches arrive and ruin everything. Precisely for this reason I wanted to eliminate a row, but choose the top of the top of the modules to fill one. With the hope of being able to do something more in a smart way while consuming fewer resources. I’m probably dreaming and should just hold off and buy another computer. Thanks for the tips

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