I'm very interested in trying modular synths and build my first rack, but everything is so crazy expensive! So for now I'm choosing between AE Rack 2 vs Behringer System 100 bundle (www.thomann.de/gb/behringer_system_100_bundle.htm) vs VCV Rack to make my first steps and I have very little understanding of pros and cons for any of these 3 options. The main purpose of the potential rack will be sound design for games, so I don't need it to be self-sufficient musical instrument.
VCV Rack is obviously free and AE Rack 2 is cheaper than Behringer System 100 bundle, but as I understand I will need quite a few additional modules for AE system in the future to get something serious in the end, so it will be more expensive anyway. Maybe I'm wrong and Rack 2 starter kit is already quite powerful as it is for sound design, I don't know. So I have a lot of questions and doubts and not so many answers
Any comments, thoughts on this matter are much appreciated.
Welcome. Of the bat; the behringer rack you show in your post does not even come close the a AE starter rack 2 in functionalities. The only module I would add to begin with is a multi fx module. You will have a happy little rack with plenty of patching possibilities and exploration and you will be able to make some big sounds. VCV rack is indeed cheaper if you don't count in the price of the computer but for me it never had the same appeal to build a patch on a gui. My two euro cents.
Oh yes, I just had a look at that Behringer system and it’s pretty “boring”. The AE Rack 2 not only offers more - e.g. you get two different filters, logic, sequencing, MIDI-CV and the nice delay effect module - but it’s also 75€ cheaper (which mean you could even get two more AE modules) and leaves more room to expand. It is designed as a complete system though, so you don’t even need to expand it. So, obviously, I would recommend the AE Rack 2, not just because of the price, but because it offers more sound design possibilities than the Behringer system too.
VCV rack is quiet fun and free, and it helps you to understand how modular works, but you'll use your computer, meaning you don't have your hands directely on the instrument, and for me the big part of the fun come from twisting and turning knobs as I go.
The Behringer system 100 is a recreation of the system 100 by Roland, so you'll have "old modular way" nothing recent in term of desing or sound. It is relatively cheap for eurorak and you'll be able to add crazy euroracks modules in the future and it will surely cost alot.
On the other hand you have the AEM Modular, it's the cheaper you can find on the market at the moment, you have a great community here to help you answer your question and with whom you can share your creativity. The AEM sound is really really great and if you go on the AE music and performences you will find quiet a lot of really good showcase on what the system can do. Robert is desinging new modules almost every month and we have third party modules such as Wonkystuff and Kurslager Keurt who add a lot to the AEM world.
In all fairness I cannot talk much about the Behringer as I don't own it, and for VCV rack, I've tried too little to give much advice. For me the AEM is the best option here if you want to put your hands on it, it's cheap, powerful, and the great community behind it comes for free
Edit: as pt3r says, the MULTIFX would be a great addition to the starter Rack 2. Great great module. Or maybe the CIRUS when we'll have some demo of it
I would say it’s probably worth spending some time with VCV rack first, to get a sense of what you want to achieve and what modules you’d need to do that. Stick to the basic stuff like the plain VCOs, VCAs, S&H etc (vcv rack has lots of interpretations of complex eurorack stuff which is always very tempting but totally different to using the basic ‘building block’ modules)
Theres also a clone of VCV for ipad called miRack which is nice if you want something not tied to a proper computer. It’s not free but only a few £.
But i’d agree with the general consensus that the Behringer offering isn’t especially tempting. You definitely get a lot more functionality for less money from the SR2, plus if you want to expand you’d be stuck with buying eurorack size modules (££££) or whatever Behringer offers in euro standard, and i’m not sure how committed they are to modular generally.
I'm very interested in trying modular synths and build my first rack, but everything is so crazy expensive!
I was interested in modular synths for many years, and even started a system by a defunct manufacturer. The Eurorack standard has made the whole modular thing explode over the last few years & was getting ready to start my journey (again) when I saw the AE. I could buy a whole system for the price I was going to pay for a case and power supply... AE is not crazy expensive for what you get, but it still mounts up as you expand your system, mine is now my most expensive piece of gear in my studio but, of course, did not have to be paid for all in one go.
If money is a concern, I would forget Eurorack; this is not a cheap way to synthesise.....
The big question becomes why do you want a modular synth. If your main aim is sound design, then many synths can fit your need and, depending on the model, would have the advantage of patch memories rather than just being able to work on one sound at a time. If you are after more control over how your synthesiser works/is connected then yes, go modular! If you are not needing it to be a self contained instrument I would suggest you could even go for a AE rack 1 but maybe get a 2 row case ready to expand (you are very likely to want to....). The obviously reduces the initial cost and, even better, you can see what modules you will need for what you are trying to do.
I don't know VCV rack as I don't have a computer is my studio but if you are unsure whether to take the modular plunge it would make sense to try with it first; if you are happy having computer plug-ins etc. then you may even find this is enough for you.
It all depends on how you understand sound design. You can do the most awesome sound design using puredata or supercollider which are both free software languages or max/msp, but if you don't have an understanding on how synthesis works then it won't get you far. Any (semi)(modular) synth will only make the sounds that it has the hardware for. If your synth has only one filter then you will only be able to use that one filter and it characteristics to sculpt your sound, whereas open environments likes puredata or supercollider give you a unlimitied access to all possible synthesis possibilities like filters, oscillators, audio logic etc, but you need to learn the specifics of the programming languages/environments to control those. I don't know how knowledgeable you are on the subject but perhaps it can be a good idea to read up a bit on synthesis and sound design before spending cash on a hardware synth.
I learned most of the basic concepts of subtractive synthesis by experimenting in puredata. Got my first semi modular (behringer neutron), noticed that implementation of semi-modular is everything but modular and bought a AE starterrack2, have not regretted it one second; I have meanwhile ordered already a second rack to house a bunch of modules from AE, wonkystuff (namke) and @keurslager Kurt, and I designed and built one module myself. So this is likely to eat up some money but it has also provided me with a learning experience, and best of all this community which is very helpful and welcoming and supportive.
The community here is nowadays my main selling point for the AE format.
A few thoughts Vcv rack is cool to learn basics while mostly free and as long as stick to the basic modules. Omri Cohen on YouTube has some great tutorials. I found that I became easily confused with a load of modules that don't come with clear instructions or labels. Also the feel of a software synth just doesn't feel like an instrument to me.
Semi modular like the Behringer neutron or crave are great to a point but again as others have said you are limited and when you find you need more the cost of adding to that semi modular for probably another semi modular synth will add up way more than buying another Ae envelope or FX or cvtool etc.
I recommend Ae because you can do just that, add one piece of sound design when needed for not too much money compared. Also compared to Eurorack or vcv, while expanding a few modules a month there are only a certain amount of modules to choose from all in the same design manner with a wealth of knowledge and tutorials for each piece in the community. As Pt3r just said he and a few others are also designing modules which means that the Diy cababilities for Ae are endless to adapt to your own sound design preference.
Once you get your hands on a starter rack you can do a lot already and your knowledge will grow quite quickly.
I could definetly recommend trying out MiRack. It is the IOS version of VCV rack and its 10euros last time i checked.
It's not as expansive in modules, but that might be a good thing when you start off. And i find that the Ipad feels more "interactive" than playing on a PC, but that's just my personal preferrence.
Before taking the plunge at getting a Starter Rack 2, i tried making a version of it on MiRack, just to try out what i could do with 3 oscilators, an 8-step sequencer, 2 LFOs etc. I personally experienced that i could do quite a lot actually, and having had the starter rack 2 for a month now, i'm still just scratching the surface.
I could definetly recommend having a try at VCV-rack or MiRack before taking the plunge. It's a good apetizer for the real thing
Any (semi)(modular) synth will only make the sounds that it has the hardware for.
Hey pt3r, exactly, that's the main reason I'm interested in modular synths. For example I love sounds of JP8000, Minimoog, Juno-60, but even so they provide nice palette of great musical sounds, they'll never come close to the variety of sounds you can get by using fully modular synths and I'm also very interested in creating SFX sounds like explosions, sci-fi guns, drones, impacts, aliens, creatures for using on their own or layering with real-world recordings and I see a lot of sound designers in games/films use modular synthesis, I guess it's not happy coincidence. As to my knowledge I'm not very experienced with sound design, SFX's and electronic music creation, still quite new territory for me. I come from more traditional music composition/recording/production background, have general understanding of how sound works, know how all base effects function and how to use them (in music production mainly), play piano/keys and bass/electric/acoustic guitar, know how to tune pianos (that's where I first became aware of strings inharmonicity and partials , I also already know what basic modules do in synths like VCO, VCA, VCF, noise etc., but still noob/beginner level I think I was looking at Neutron as a starting point as well, but I suspect I'll want something more sophisticated soon after getting some experience, so why not to start with modular initially. The price is quite comparable to Rack 2 and it provides much more space for exploration, that's my thoughts at the moment.
Pure Data is on my to-do list. I know Python, so shouldn't be too difficult to deal with other language I guess.
Could you recommend any good sources for starting with sound design and modular? For now I've found some cool YouTube channels and creators on Patreon, also reading Patch & Tweak book right now.
I'm also very interested in creating SFX sounds like explosions, sci-fi guns, drones, impacts, aliens, creatures for using on their own or layering with real-world recordings and I see a lot of sound designers in games/films use modular synthesis, I guess it's not happy coincidence. As to my knowledge I'm not very experienced with sound design, SFX's and electronic music creation, still quite new territory for me.
You might want to check out this book "Designing Sound" by Andy Farnell. It teaches a software synthesis program called Pure Data and how to use it to create all kinds of sounds: Sirens, Explosions, Wind, Footsteps, Alien Spaceships, you name it.
A great way to learn synthesis and sound design ... and Pure Data is FREE!
I have still not finished my copy of Designing Sound (The MIT Press) but there are also a lot of free pdf online on this subject along with some really good youtube series/channels some of them hosted by members of this forum.
A thing not to forget is that there is in the AE format a case to slot your AE modules to an Eurorack case that way you can have best of both world. There is also the 4 I/O module that permite to connect eurotrack or semi modular system to the AE and vice versa.
Which not modular (semi-modular?) synths you can recommend for sound design?
Hiya, for the sort of work you have described in other posts, most monosynths can do it; I would have a look at the Minibrute 2, very versatile and has a patchbay you can use with the AE etc. later. I personally love the Bass Station 2 which is way more versatile than it name suggests (and has patch memories); they have very different character to each other so one may suit you.
I like the Neutron, preferred it to the more expensive Moog offering! I don't feel its as versatile as the two mentioned above. If rack mounting/no keyboard appeals to you then I would suggest looking at the Behringer WASP - better at noises than music! The CAT may be worth a look too but I haven't fiddled with that one. The Korg Monologue is quite interesting also, especially if you want rhythmic/arpegiator type sounds.