Eurorack - how you use it?

Moved from Jamuary 2021 topic…
which evolved into a discussioin about eurorack…

Ive been meaning to do Jamuary but usually not possible as I have friends/family over for the new year - but this year of course that didnt happen :frowning: … oh well good excuse for Jamming…

Frap Tools Usta.
I was craving a hands-on sequencer, rather than a grid/programming type (like the Hermod), I have to say it fills that role really well… things I love about it

  • very quick to use, intuitive once you know it, great ui
  • tracks are fully independent (scale, tempo, clock div, length)
  • stages are a fantastic way to deal with time/rythm
  • variation/probability are very integrated into the workflow… so pull you into using them
  • ratchets and glide are also very integrated, Ive never used as much in modular before!

a few oddities/limitations
(this reflect perhaps something about what Ive done with hermod or was thinking about with Rene)

  • when you select a scale - the encoders selection of notes is still chromatic, this can feel a bit off BUT it kind of makes sense since you might change scale.
  • scale is per track global, not ‘per pattern’ , so for example you cannot program in song mode a change in scale. (you can of course, change scale on the fly thru the menu, very quickly)
  • external clock/reset - can take a second to adapt to big tempo changes.
  • compose mode , sets gate high… rather than trig when you change (small FR)
    I guess they assume your using an ADSR env, but often I use AD envs so this doesnt work for me.
    Ive sent a FR about this…


  • Id love to have the ability to have variation on stage length. (feature request?)
  • more (hardware) cv input, though that said Im not really using this much at the moment anyway.

that said, none of these is really an issue for me.

fyi… I was also considering the MN Rene 2 (you have Rene?)
What I like about the Rene is the concept of selecting a set of notes, and then Rene is skipping around this set…I also liked the idea of it being step based rather than clock based - it has no concept of a (tempo) clock.
Usta is different in this sense, as ultimately its tempo based, also we vary sequences by probability on stages rather then altering sequence order… I think you can get similar effects, but a different way.

The reason I went with Usta was more outputs, and I liked the way it does stages and variations.
thats said, Rene 1 can be picked up a reasonable prices, so might pick one up one day…

Overall, Im very happy with it…
perhaps the biggest issue is, now I’m getting serious GAS for some other Frap Tools modules…
(Brenso, Sapel and Falstri really are calling my name :wink: )

Interesting. Sounds like a degree of overlap with what I’d get from Ansible/Kria. Not being able to change the scale per pattern seems like a bit of a limitation (not a major one though). Clock/tempo changes are always tricky, I’m not sure I know many that handle this well.

Yes, I have Rene mk1, and love it for the hands on aspect of settinh up N-steps, and then locking the sequence down to a subset. From what I’ve heard, the mk2 isn’t quite as hands on (but adds a bunch of other features). It’s sufficiently close, that I’ve not really considered switching.

Frap Tools GAS, oh hell yes. I think if I were start fresh, I’d have most of their modules by now. Fumana has been on my wish for a while (next batch due in March), and Brenso looks and sounds great.

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its interesting, I think sequencers UI/workflow/approach are often what differentiate them… I mean, I could likely program the same (or similar) ‘sequence’ on Hermod and Usta… but in practice I don’t… so I think different sequences take you in different directions…
or perhaps this is just my way of justifying yet another sequencer … and still lusting after a rene 1 :wink:

Fumana … Im scare to even look at it again! …
I love filter banks, and that one is absolutely beautiful, that said, I think Id need even more modulators to make really good use of it.
(actually its Fumana and thier mixer that scary me about dreaming about a frap tools case)

Yes, definitely agree with the comment about the impact the sequencer workflow has on the creative process. I’m sure picking up a second hand Rene 1 for a decent price shouldn’t be difficult.

Perhaps we should move this discussion to its own thread, rather than cluttering up the Jamuary one?

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OK, so while the Frap Tools mixer modules look great, it’s probably the most expensive way of building a mixer. I think the WMD Perf mixer, or the Befaco Hexmix make far more sense if you want to mix in the rack. And even then you have to accept some limitations. I’ve been thinking about adding an external mixer for some time; maybe the 1010 Bluebox given I don’t have a ton of space to put it.

I’ve recently added the Monome/Mannequins Crow to my rack, which allows me another 4 channels of CV, and the ability to tie the Norns into the system.

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I think the Frap Tools Mixer is a great idea… and I think for professional musicians (?) a missing element of Eurorack… so has a need, but for mere mortals, its way too expensive :slight_smile:

Ive never really sorted out my mixing solution… I looked at perf mixer and hex mix, but a bit big for my needs and also I didnt like that the send were all mono.

like you Ive considered an external mixer, Ive been close to ordering a Behringer XR18 multiple times… but really its another complication, and again more space. also considered the KMcMillan Kmix.

indeed the 1010 Bluebox has also sparked my interest (apparently available in next 1-2 weeks!)
its just a pity its not also a usb audio interface… that would have sealed the deal for me.

Crow , yeah … if I was invested in Monome eco-system, I can definitely see why Norns/Crow are a great combo. I think it makes so much sense with the grid and arc - a really inspired move by Brian.

but honestly for me the norns (actually fates) lost its appeal pretty fast… I think grid is an essential part of the interface really, and felt incomplete without… so I basically switched back to the Organelle… which I could just turn on and play :slight_smile:
then came the Percussa SSP… and I just came to really enjoying having a bigger screen and having the CV/Audio already there, and being a DC audio interface (24/24 ch) just makes it perfect for interfacing to my mac… even better with the new Mac Mini M1, which makes VCVRack purrr !

unfortunately, Ive had a bit of an ‘accident’ with my SSP, so its had to go back to USA to be fixed :sob:

but going back to crow… I do like the interfacing of eurorack with external things, be it other synths or computers… I guess I also hope it helps keep in check some of my desires for what has to be in the Rack and so keep the cost/gas manageable… (not working too well, but I can hope :wink: )

IMHO, the modular mixer concept is better expressed in the Schertler idea, where you can mix and match strips. Agree, if the Bluebox was also an audio interface it would be a no-brainer! I’ve also looked at the XR18 (though mainly the Midas equivalent), and the similar product from Soundcraft (after seeing it used in Palmela).

I got the Crow 2nd hand, but agree, a lot of the Monome tools only make sense once you have a grid. For me the SSP made less sense. The cost is a big hurdle, and it feels a bit like the sort of UI I’m trying to avoid (cf the ER-301).

modular mixer … I think the key about the Frap Tools CGM is its a CV controllable mixer, hence the ‘creative’ … I think they’d agree if you just want levels… why do it in eurorack? its only if you want modulation that it makes sense to take up precious HP.
ok, thats not quite true… convenience is also a damn fine reason!
… and I think CV control is an element that frap tools are good at.

but all out fo my league… so will ponder the bluebox.

yeah. ER301 and SSP are tricky to say where they fit,

I’ve said on the SSP forum its a bit of a enigma…
it ‘does everything’, so it’s a great standalone instrument. yet its usp is really its connectivity (to eurorack and a computer) - its got a lovely big screen, with lots of buttons and encoders - so its flexible YET… its only got 4 encoders… so it can be great to use an additional controller with it (like the Electra One :wink: )

Its taken me a while to really decide where to place it.
Ive now moved it into a pod64x case, that seems to suit its duality well.
its easy to bring it close to me to work on standalone patches, then I use some longer patch cables to patch back to the eurorack.
Im also getting into the idea of having smaller focused eurorack cases, like mini instruments… a way to focus the mind.

I was looking at Usta, but decided to get an used OD ER-101 locally in the end - already have some experience with it from half a decade ago and it’s the one module I really regret getting rid of (admittedly together with the whole rest of my Eurorack system back then).

In a way they’re both intriguing and have a similar set of features in principle (especially when you combine the 101 with the 102 and compare that combo to the Usta). While the Usta feels somewhat akin to Buchla 250e, the 101 is sort of a light / alternate version of 251e.

The “not a grid or a row of steps, just a list of events” type paradigm just makes a lot of sense when working with more complex interlocking, polyrhythmic or phasing sequences, which is something I’m very interested in doing in the modular context. In Usta I suppose that’s implemented by having varying length stages, independently clocked tracks and fancy loop system, explicitly in the panel. The ER-101 kind of approaches the same idea from another direction: you just scroll through a list of events per track one by one, insert/edit them, and the interface doesn’t really guide you much on how many events there could or should be per sequence.

The common comment seems to be that the latter type of interface feels difficult, like a calculator, or somehow technical / computer-like (I suppose referring to more primitive home computers of '70s rather than modern mousy ones), but in my mind it just forces you to think in a way that encourages eg. odd time divisors, polyrhythms and experimentation. Nothing in the interface really tries to lead you to the kind of thought that there should be a certain number of steps per sequence or that the interplay of the different tracks should be “traditional”. I suppose the Usta has sort of a similar idea behind it, but in a more structured and “immediately visible” way.