When we’re connecting together other audio gear, we know we need to pay attention to whether a given signal is at microphone, line, or professional level – and even then, we may need to tweak the levels to get the signal in the sweet spot between noise and distortion. (Or maybe push it into the “sour”spot where we get noise or distortion on purpose.) 

I would bet that most modular users do not think of the same things when creating a patch – after all, isn’t everything already designed to be at the same level? 

That might be true in Buchla, Serge, Moog, or even Dotcom systems…but the Eurorack world is a bit more like the “wild west” with literally hundreds of manufacturers making their own decisions about what is the right way to do things. This is compounded by the Eurorack format having less headroom (distance between a typical signal and the power supply “rails”) than the other formats. Although few people talk about this issue, I’m convinced that signal level mismatches – not size, components, or even the power supply – is what’s really the problem when people complain Eurorack “doesn’t sound as good” as the other formats.

I’ve been spending some time tackling this issue over the past month, including in an interview for the new Rakt newsletter, and in posts for my Patreon subscribers. In the main article in this newsletter, I’m going to explain what the basic problems are, and how to set up your patch to work around them. Once you learn to manage the signal levels in your modular, you will be able to get a wider range of sounds out of it, and overall it will behave more like you expect.


  • featured articleHow to manage signal levels in your Eurorack modular system.
  • Alias Zone updatesI’ve updated We Only Came to Dream with a new track: Devotion. Here’s the details, as well as how the track was created, and a video of it being performed.
  • Learning Modular updatesI had a fun, wide-ranging interview with Arch Delaro of the new Rakt newsletter. It was mostly beginner-focused, but there were also good tips for intermediate-level users as well. Although originally intended for print, he recorded video of the interview as well…and that’s included below.
  • Patreon updatesHow much envelope does it take properly drive a VCA? How much signal does it take to properly drive a VCF? These are two topics I covered in detail in recent posts for my Patreon subscribers.
  • upcoming eventsI’m staging a mini-tour for April 2023, leading up to this year’s NAMM show. I’m also starting to think about the rest of the year…and you can be part of that.

Alias Zone Updates

I’ve updated my “comeback” album We Only Came to Dream, replacing the middle track (Ash Tree Window) with a previously unreleased one – Devotion – that both I and my mastering engineer/mentor Howard Givens feel greatly improves its overall flow. I’m also creating a limited edition physical CD of this version that also includes my own art; it is currently available for pre-sale on Bandcamp.

Learning Modular Eurorack Expansion Extended

Although Devotion had not appeared on an album before now, I did previously release a video of it (above), and also wrote a detailed “track breakdown” post for my Patreon subscribers which is publicly available for others to read.

Ash Tree Window – the track that got cut from the original version of the album – remains one of my favorite tracks overall; I just wanted to present it in a better context. A lightly updated version of it will be included in on a new album later this year.

By the way: Friday February 5 is “Bandcamp Friday” where they don’t take the normal commission, meaning more money for the artists. If you were thinking of buying some new music, that’s the best way to also support the artists. I’ve been building my own “wish list” of albums I’ll be buying then. 

Learning Modular Updates

Arch Delaro has started Rakt: a newsletter aimed in particular at those starting out in Eurorack. When I learned about Rakt, I agreed to be interviewed, and we arranged a Zoom session that Arch recorded for note-taking purposes as he asked questions. We ended up talking for twice as long as Arch had planned. Rather than edit the result down into a print interview, Arch decided it would be best to share the actual video, as we hit a wide range of topics. That’s what you see above.

Patreon Updates

The Learning Modular Patreon Channel is an archive of literally hundreds of articles and videos I’ve created for modular users trying to take their skills to the next level. I’m constantly adding to this archive with new posts based on what I’m working on currently. In January I wrote two technical posts related to the “managing levels” theme in the main article above:

  • Envelopes versus VCAs: Mismatched by Design where I explain the mismatch between most envelope levels and what most VCAs want, with examples from my own module collection, and suggestions on better ways to work with them.
  • Overdriving Filters where I go through 14 of the filter modules in my Monster studio system, detailing in video and sound when and how each of them enter an overdrive state. I was surprised myself by how some of the modules responded.

Both of those new posts are visible for +5v and above subscribers. (For those who are not already subscribers, the +5v level – $5/month – gets you immediate access to a library of literally hundreds of posts as well as new ones each month, while $12/month adds access to my Eurorack-focused online modular synthesis courses.)

Upcoming Events

As I’ve mentioned before, I have already booked a mini-tour in southern Arizona & California in the first half of April, leading up to the 2023 NAMM show. Stops will include:

April 4: I will be part of Steve Roach’s Ambient Lounge series at the Century Room in Tucson, Arizona.

April 8: Jill Fraser and I will be playing at the very funky FurstWurld in Joshua Tree, California.

April 12: I will be giving a performance plus talk/Q&A at 17th Street Recording Studio in Costa Mesa, California the evening before the NAMM show (the studio is only 15 minutes away from the convention center). Basek will also be there talking about some of the gear he uses, plus there is a promise of something special from the Vintage Synthesizer Museum to play with. Pizza and drinks will be available.

I have no solid plans after NAMM other than to drive back home. However, if someone wanted to put together an interesting gig (even a house concert) somewhere between Southern California and New Mexico early the week of April 17…let’s talk.

I’m also talking to the Moogseum about an event in Asheville, North Carolina some time later this year. If you know of something interesting going on in that part of the country later this year – or were interested in hosting a house concert or similar event – again, let’s talk, and I’ll see if I can string together another mini-tour out there.

January has been a month of re-grouping and finishing some long-delayed projects. February should see a return to music-making; stay tuned.

staring at too many oscilloscopes lately –