The thought process that went into building a compact yet comprehensive starting modular synth system for my Learn Modular Synthesis course that covered a wide range of both East and West Coast techniques.
Different oscillators and MIDI to CV converters may have varying ideas of what voltage a given note produces, and what pitch should you hear as a result. If there is a difference, in most cases it can be dialed out with a pitch knob or transpose switch. However, there are occasions when you need the assistance of an additional module to settle these disagreements.
Sometimes, you need to send a signal to more than one place. With Eurorack in particular being a small format to begin with, it’s not common for a module to have multiple outputs to cover you, so you need to find a way to split the signal yourself. There a few ways to do it, some with disadvantages you may not have been aware of.
When you’re configuring your modular synthesizer, it’s easy to leave out the all-important utility modules that will help glue together a patch as well as open up creative options. In this note, we’re going to talk about what I call “utility mixers” – not the final mixer with optional effects sends and the such, but tools to combine signals in the middle of a patch.
One of the primary reasons to make the move from pre-configured synthesizers to patchable modular synthesis is the ability to create your own instrument – be it to pick and choose your favorite flavors of synth building blocks, to expand it in ways you prefer, or to explore new signal paths and configurations. A common question is: Where do you start? Keeping in mind there’s no single right answer (and very few wrong ones), here are a few different approaches and their potential trade-offs.