I was home barely two weeks after my most recent tour plus the NAMM show, and then I was on a plane to spend two weeks overseas ending at Superbooth in Berlin. The main article below contains my favorites from that show.

But that’s not the only thing going on! Patreon has started allowing me to give you seven day free trials. I have a simple request from modular manufacturers to make our lives easier. Plus, I have an upcoming gig, and I’ve started mixing my next album. On to the details:


  • featured article: I visited several dozen modular manufacturers at Superbooth, and came away with a shopping list to update my studio modular.
  • Alias Zone updates: I’ve started editing and mixing my next album – and have added some new toys to the studio to help.
  • Learning Modular updates: Modular manufacturers could add a few lines to their manuals and online specs to make the lives of users much easier.
  • Patreon updates: I can now offer free trial subscriptions to my Patreon page – which I humbly think you should take advantage of it you’re not already a subscriber. I also wrote a bunch of new posts in May, including the start of my in-depth Superbooth reports.
  • upcoming events: I’ve put together an afternoon of electronic instrumental music in Santa Fe on June 18. I am also planning to return to Knobcon in September, and to play a series of dates in North Carolina in October.

Alias Zone Updates

Learning Modular Eurorack Expansion Extended

I have started editing and mixing my next album, tentatively titled Eastern Front. Like many, I do a lot of my audio work inside a computer. However, a few friends and mentors have suggested I try integrating an analog mixing board into my workflow to add some of that undefinable yet desirable “analog warmth” to my normally clean, precise sound. To that end, I have started using a Solid State Logic BiG SiX mixer during these finishing stages. It’s subtle, but I can definitely hear a difference. 

The album after that may be a collaboration I’ve been working on. I created a series of beat-less environments as part of an art gallery ambient music project last year, and a friend who I have know for ages (who many of you know as well) has been crafting some really cool overdubs for these environments. The result sounds quite unlike any of my previous albums, but I think it’s just as compelling if not more  so. 

Learning Modular Updates

This page from the manual for Schlappi Engineering’s Three Body is an example that all other modular manufacturers should strive to match.

A reality in the Eurorack world of having so many modules produced by so many different manufacturers is that they often make their own decisions about critical issues such as control voltage ranges – decisions that might not be compatible with other modules and manufacturers. For example, look at this article I wrote years ago about mismatches in what voltages different oscillators expect to play the same pitch. (You can just jump to the tables.)

That often leaves modular users scratching their heads when they patch together two modules, and they don’t react the way they expected. This is particularly challenging for modular beginners. More advanced users have learned they may have to use a utility mixer between two modules (often with the help of an oscilloscope to figure out what’s actually going on) to get modules to see eye to eye – but that’s still a lot of lost time and creative momentum. This frustration is part of the reason some leave modular, or use their systems less than they otherwise might.

I know better than to expect all manufacturers to agree on a common set of control voltage ranges; even if they did, there’s already thousands of modules out there which might not comply. 

However, if users knew up front what each module is sending on its outputs, and what range of CVs it expects on its inputs, this would greatly shorten our learning curve while also reducing our confusion and frustration. 

Therefore, I was thrilled to see the page above from the manual for Schlappi’s Three Body module. It tells me that a VCO or LFO with ±5v output is not going to modulate its phase or frequency to its limits, while a ±10v output is going to overdrive it and create clipped “flat spots” in its response where it’s not changing. Same goes for envelope levels and the Index CV input. Especially nice touches are letting me know the voltage range where its pitch tracking will be the best, and that the module needs more than twice its ModularGrid rated power when it starts up – meaning I might need a bigger power supply than I expected using the old “10-20% headroom” rule. 

If manufacturers would fill in that table from the first half of Schlappi’s Technical Information page (the left side of the image above) for their own modules – detailing its output levels, and what it expects or where it works best for each input – we would be soooooo happy. It wouldn’t cost them anything beyond a small amount of time; they should already know all of this information from when they designed the module. If they also wanted to also share the second half of the example above (understanding that inrush current in particular may not be “free” to measure), it would help advanced users make additional decisions that would save them grief down the road.

Not every manufacturers reads this newsletter, so let’s help each other out: Ask the companies who design the modules you use to start providing this information. If enough of us ask, they will do it, and we will all benefit. Maybe we can even make it part of what is simply expected, like the width, depth, and steady-state current draw already available on ModularGrid et cetera.

Patreon Updates

I share everything I know and learn about modulars – from patching techniques, to sources for inspiration, to what I’ve learned about composing, recording, and performing with these beasts, to their history – on my Patreon page. I find it’s better suited for sharing in-depth information than social media platforms – especially since I have an index of all the posts. In exchange, I ask $5/month ($12 if you also want access to my Eurorack online courses) to help defray my costs in learning all of this information.

However, I understand a lot of you are cautious about committing to another expense. So, I am very happy to announce that Patreon has started allowing us to offer 7-day free trials. Sign up, poke around (you get access to the entire archive from just the $5 level), read a few posts, and see if you learned anything useful. Over on Facebook where I first announced this, a couple of subscribers volunteered “learnt so so so much from you in my journey” and “it really is one of the best reference and mentoring resources out there.” But if it doesn’t help you, cancel within a week, and it didn’t cost you anything to find out. So please – give it a try.

In the meantime, I created several new posts during May for my subscribers, including:

I suspect a lot of June will be spent writing up additional in-depth Superbooth reports (they have a lot more detail than the buying list above). But I’ll also be busy editing an album and performing live, so something undoubtedly will shake out of that as well. 

Upcoming Events

I have several performances currently in the planning stages for later this year. I will definitely be performing in Santa Fe in June, while the other dates have verbal commitments but are not yet set in stone.

Learning Modular Eurorack Expansion Extended

June 18: Currents New Media Festival, Santa Fe, New Mexico. After I was asked to perform, I moved to make an afternoon event out of it, and invited  John Lyell and Craig Anthony Perkins. to also play. Performances will start at 3; I should go on just before 5. Everyone will have music and even art to sell – plus the Currents show itself is a stimulating way for artists to spend a few hours.

September 9: Knobcon Chillout Room, Schaumburg, Illinois. This year I will be playing Saturday afternoon as part of the “afternoon ambience” program.

October 4, 7, and 11: gigs in Asheville, Durham, and Charolette, North Carolina – maybe all of them in quad!

In addition to all of the above, I’m starting to look at what would be involved in building a new studio. I’m already a bit short on space in my current room, and I see Dolby Atmos immersive audio as being both an opportunity and eventually a requirement for electronic musicians like ourselves – and that’s going to require a lot more space. If it happens, that’s another thing I’ll be sure to share with you.

back to the music –