I need a new beginning in life - hardware?

I’ve literally just been dumped by a mentally and emotionally abusive partner. I need something to focus on, to absorb all the time I now have and I think I might get a physical rack. I have nothing to save for now, no holidays to look forward to, so why not.

What should I get? I know it’s a ridiculously open question, just looking for ideas really. In VCV I always seem to use Plaits in the string mode, I just love the sound of it. I watched a MylarMelodies video recently where he had a small rack with Rings and Clouds basically, I recreated it in VCV and loved it although I think that would get boring fairly quick.

It’s hard to say what music I make, previously I liked making dub/dubstep/future garage/psybient kind of stuff but in Rack for the last year or two I’ve been making anything revolving around the Plaits string mode, some sort of downtempo beats stuff, that kind of thing.


Can’t advise on harware modular since I’m software only, but just wanted to say sorry to hear about your situation. If the ex-partner was abusive, I’m tempted to say congratulations for the separation, but it must still be hard nonetheless. Take care and good luck with the new beginning!


if you really want eurorack hardware, I would sign up to modulargrid and check out what setups other people have.

I just started in Eurorack and found this thread and community very helpful: Eurorack: discussion, advice, learning, questions - Equipment - lines. Happy to talk about what I’ve learnt so far. Take care.

Little update: Maybe have a look at the monome norns shield. I’ve just got one. An amazing little sound computer (you plug in into a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+) that can do a lot on its own (there’s a lot of scripts for it) regardless of other gear, but it complements my little Eurorack system perfectly.

If you have no experience in hardware whatsoever, I really recommend starting with something semi-modular. The neutron, albeit made by a company of evil, is a really good place to start to see what you like and dislike. You also may want to consider starting with a groove box or drum machine instead of jumping directly into modular, as pairing something like the Digitakt, Model:cycles, or newer TR drum machines with a rack can be a really nice combination and is generally cheaper than getting a ton of percussion modules.

Also, maybe a bit too obvious, but if you like Plait’s string mode, why not try out… strings? Guitar is actually pretty easy to learn and by stacking effects you can get to some really neat places.


Sorry to hear about your relationship. Making music was always the best way for me to get out of hard life situations, so good to hear that you want to invest in that.

I myself had a bit of money to spend this year because nothing else was necessary in this covid times… I was tempted to go for pure modular, but that was out of reach. Not to advertise my purchases, but a little bit about my thoughts and why I bought what is standing in front of me right now:

Elektron Digitone: I love FM and a lot of my patches contained FM-OPs or kitchens sinks and I wanted to have something to build a loop without using my PC. 4 Tracks / 8 Voices + 4 Midi-Tracks. I synced VCV to the digitone and often used sequencers in VCV and recorded them into the digitone, which works really well. Bought it as B-Stock for 100,-€ off with full warranty.

Makenoise 0-Coast: I just love that little beast, it is a perfect addition to the digitone and it was my first semimodular synth. Real Patching - Yeah :slight_smile: It has two midichannels, where the first is hardwired to one envelope and pitch and the second has a CV and Gate output which can be used however you like or switched to an LFO. I got it second hand for a very good price and it was maybe used twice…

Behringer Neutron: I wanted to extend the possibilities of the 0-Coast, so it was either buying eurorack modules or another semimodular synth and the Neutron modules have individual in- and outputs, so I got a filter, noise, two envelopes, LFO, overdrive, delay, S&H with slew and two attenuators for 250,- €, oh and it sounds ok if used as a synth :wink:

My last piece of gear was a hard decision. I wanted a sampler and an arranger. I don’t like being limited to chaining patterns in the digitone and 64 steps is often not enough. So, something like a deluge or an octatrack or a squarp pyramid with a 1010 bluebox. On reddit someone was pointing out that the new Akai MPCs are everything I need for a lot less money. The MPCs were always some kind of HipHop-Thing for me, but after watching a few videos I was absolutely sure that an MPC-One was all I wished for. It has everything, even 4 CV/Gate Pairs… It arrived yesterday morning, and I am having a lot of fun with it so far. Midi-Setup including VCV was funky, but now it works flawlessly.

I wish you a happy shopping experience and a lot of fun using your new gear!

  • mo

I don’t know what your budget is like, but I’d recommend the Synthstrom Deluge. It can be a standalone synth + sampler, as well as used as a midi sequencer for other stuff. It is also good at recording external audio and internal loops. Its just really flexible. The best part for me is that it has a good internal battery, so you can take and use it anywhere; I have quite a few other synths and I love VCV Rack but I end up using the Deluge the most because of the portability.


Here’s an idea out of left field: buy a lap steel. Vintage models are surprisingly cheap and achingly retro.


If you can get a chance to go to a store and try several pieces of hardware in real physically, as the choices are so different to what every person likes best or will recommend to you.

Sorry to hear about the situation ! Hope you’ll soon feel better :slight_smile: Some of the only hardware i have are a digitone and a Mother 32 from Moog. They go really well together, and it’s such a fun self contained setup ^^, especially when patching on the M32. I also have a microfreak that can take place of the Mother 32 :slight_smile: .

I also have a bunch of acoustic instruments ^^ An harmonica or a Ukulele are quite cheap and can be super fun and rewarding to learn. Best of luck to you in your recovery !

May be get a MN - 0-coast, it is an excellent module that will bridge you to Eurorack. It have a lot of inputs and outputs that is commonly used in Eurorack, but not usually found in semi-moular synths like M32. I learn a lot from it.

Otherwise, I think you can try layout a 6U 84hp / 104hp rack in modulargrid and ask for comment in Modulargrid / Modwiggler. My rack is mostly analog sound generation and modulation sources, which compliments nicely with ES-8 and VCV rack.

I used to have a fairly epic Eurorack rig. It took me ages to finally sell it all off, piece by piece. I’ve built both hardware and software modules as well. My personal suggestion would be to steer clear of modular hardware, at least for a while. You said …

I have nothing to save for now, no holidays to look forward to, so why not.

You will though, in the future!

Eurorack is pretty addictive, and you’ll find yourself drooling over all the newest modules. I had to ban myself from matrixsynth. :grinning: I would humbly recommend that you save your money and not go eurorack, at least until you’ve exhausted other options. It’s just too costly.

There are so many great music tools to explore that won’t break the bank. I like @Vega 's suggestion of supplementing VCV rack with a groove box or drum machine. Electron gear, such as the Octatrack, would be great for beat oriented music. Another option might be to check out Reaktor, which would keep you plenty busy.


I hope making music brings you peace of mind. I have no gear advice, other than that a lot of reverb usually helps me think.

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Consider getting a hardware controller with knobs you can map to VCV Rack to get a more hands-on feel without dropping a huge amount of money.


That abusive relationship stuff gets me in the feels. I naïvely think life should just let us bebop from one amusement park ride to the next. Never happens :slightly_frowning_face: You deserve some good times.

Ok, modular. So if I were doing it with hardware, I’d be old-skool and dribble all over the Doepfer A-100 collection and a 88HP single-row case or something like that. This way you can buy the mainstay stuff, swapping things in and out as you like and have some fun. If you want more you can just get a bigger case and keep adding.

This is exactly my setup. VCV Rack and an inexpensive Akai MPK Mini. I have the Stoermelder MIDI-CAT, click on the mod dials and buttons I want to play with and just run the stock program from the MPK.

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I’ve been trying to get my hands on an LPD-8 but I wonder if the MPK mini would be better.

Of course these things aren’t bad in themselves, but you must never let yourself idolise a partner, money or gear or even music itself.

My situation right now is similar to yours and I have been meaning to learn to sing recently, maybe you could consider that alongside the other gear suggestions. I wish you peace and thank you for a thought provoking thread.

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Your question is a bit open-ended, which makes it hard to answer. On Plaits/Rings - I’ve managed to resist buying either thus far (never say never); however, I’ve been super happy with the diminutive 2HP Pluck for my strings needs. For downtempo type stuff - if going Euro - maybe you need a sampler (?) in your rack - I have none yet myself but have my eyes on a 1010 Bitbox. There are several other worthy contenders here and many go outside their rack for sampling. Spend time on Modwiggler, the Euro FB group, exploring stuff on Modular Grid and watching YT videos - Divkid, Mylarmelodies, Loopop etc. Warnings about how addictive Euro is, and its ability to empty your bank account, are serious and worth heeding :slight_smile: Don’t disregard the fact that you need physical space for it. Note that some things are not as easy as VCV - particularly with regard to voltage ranges. Be aware also that there is a worldwide semiconductor shortage and you may have to wait months to get a particular module you want. I also embarked on Euro due to challenging personal circumstances; I don’t regret it.

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If you like everything you can do with VCV Rack then, IMHO, the main reason to get into hardware is for the tactility/physicality. For that reason I echo some of the others here - dip your toe in by getting a/some good MIDI controllers for Rack.

Check out the MidiLar stuff. Nice knobs between your fingers controlling Rack. Or an Arturia Keystep Pro og Beatstep Pro. In that way you get to find out whether the physicality really makes the difference for you that you hope, for a fraction of the price of Eurorack.

If you do plunge into Eurorack you’re welcome to check out the system that I built for myself. It’s a fairly well-rounded system, capable of being a hybrid system with Rack and also a stand-alone system. But look at the pricetag…

If you do it, I can only echo the sentiment of virtually everyone else: Start small! Because you will become wiser about your actual needs and desires as you go along. About what really matters to you. Force yourself to start with a small case, with an ES-8 or ES-9 in it, and then one or two voices that you can bring back into Rack and sequence from Rack or an outboard sequencer.

If I was starting today I’d get something like: A small 3u (1 row) case, an ES-8, an Ensemble Oscillator, a Ripples, a Plaits, a 3x MIA, and a Beads or an Fx-Aid XL. Gates, LFO’s and envelopes from Rack. This would be enough for gorgeous sounds and for getting a really good idea of your preferences in Eurorack without wasting a lot of money and breaking the bank.