I have seen this question pop up quite a few times lately;
I am a beginner what should I get?
Should I get these or these modules? etc...
NightMachines pointed it already out in the FAQ but it is still solid advice for the absolute beginner; get a starter rack 2 if you have the budget.
If you really want to add modules from the start then add a MULTI-FX and another 2ENV and a VCA module, and get an extra set of patch cables.
This setup can produce so many different sounds that you are simply not aware of. Heck, it will even let you create complete tracks, not only bleeps or bloops.
Each module in a starter rack looks probably limited to you but it's the combination of all these modules that makes the magic happen.
Learn to work these module and develop your voice on the modular, this will also eventually guide you better in your decision of what module(s) to buy next.
IMHO the biggest mistake you can make as an absolute beginner is to shell out a whole wad of cash on a gargantuan modular and all the super fancy modules because they all sound so sexy, without having the faintest idea on what it does or on how to use it. This will give more frustration and financial heart ache. We're not in eurorack or buchla territory but an AE modular is still a lot of money.
Modular synths have a certain learning curve; try to take baby steps and walk before you attempt to sprint, it gives you less chances of face planting .
These are my two cents, some people may have different ideas so please comment react.
+1 This is the exact advice I always give when people ask me!
The SR2 + env + vca + multifx is honestly the best system. Just today I thought about going back to the basics and building this exact rack. For me, getting a bunch of modules, I've found my creativity has actually gone down! Time to go back to the basics
+1 to all the advice above. Came here to say that I started with the SR2 system and since expanding to another 2x16 case I've had the following thoughts:
1. This is as big as my system my main system is going to get. ( maybe might add a small travelin' 16 spot skiff for development and playing out). Any bigger and I think it would be distracting / overwhelming / unnecessary for what I do. I have been able to find and generate a crazy amount of different sounds and melodies with just three rows of modules and deeply enjoy the discoveries made under creative limitations.
2. I am very wary of getting anything too complex, as part of the joy has been discovering how to combine and recombine simple elements to discover complex sounds. Taking this approach I have really started to understand the possibilities of modular (which I never really understood when playing pre-patched or digital synths).
I have been considering the multi-fx for a long time but have avoided it mainly because the lofi delay works and i didn't want to over complicate things (although it seems to be a favorite and I may of had my fears calmed with this post). I did bite on wavetables (which i love and offers a pretty unique voice and i'll never part with it) and cirrus (which I'm still figuring out but is turning out to have more limited use for me than I anticipated) but I have avoided the topograph and drum modules because I felt I would quickly get into a rut with those and wanted to take the winding route to rhythm and percussion sounds. I think if I would have bought a cirrus with the beginning system my head may have exploded.
3. Most of the systems I see up for sale look like they were bought with the "I'll take one of everything" mindset, which I suspect contributes to the urge to sell and doesn't work terribly well in ones favor when starting out / developing a voice/ figuring it all out. I think starting with the recommendations above and then figuring out what you like and supplementing your system accordingly is a better way to go . I have felt that taking this approach has helped me to learn what I like and has developed my understanding of how I interact with the system, which might of otherwise been overwhelmed by complex modules (which I see in a lot of the setups at the local modular meet-up which is mainly eurorack focused).
Now I'm off to order the multifx because i am no longer afraid! (But on the other hand that spring reverb may be the way for me to go…..)
edit: I am not parting with my cirrus just yet… I’m sure I’ll come to love it and still lots to explore! Sorry everyone .
I think a few things I can say: It is necessary to understand how synthesis works. Not every form of synthesis (though all that is fun) but at least something like a Blofeld let's say. But that's not all. You then have to understand that modular is different, not entirely different but different enough that you need to think differently. This is where the fun is. With Blofeld you are flying or maybe underneath the ocean, with modular you are in outer space with the ship you built. Modular is the PhD of synthesis. No one has a modular like yours, that is built like yours let alone patched like yours. It is a wonder. If u are on the fence, ask yourself this question: do u love synthesis and synths/machines? If the answer is yes then get on board.
And modular fundamentally works differently from a traditional midi synth. With something like the Blofeld, it receives the midi and generates the sound. But modular is always on and the signal is always there, u are grabbing it and molding it, capturing and molding the current. So there is no delay at all, let alone anything like latency in the software world. I still love hardwired synths though and hey a snappy envelope is good everywhere.
Sure, get a 2-unit starter, and fill it with couple extra vco, filters, vca, etc. And some extra patch cables. And then open your mind. I went hog wild and did a standard 6-tier with all the everything, sequencers, cv stuff, turing machine from wonkystuff, the mixer, etc. I was smart about it, every module has a plan, but I have big plans. It is 2 fully functional and independent rigs (1 2-tier and 1 4-tier) that can be synched. I wanted to always have two separate full patches going. It has all been ordered but a lot of it is direct and I hear it takes time to build which I respect. I will definitely fill my 2-tier starter from noisebug asap though.