10 tips for modular startups



Buy a case that has sufficient power for your modules, and space enough for future expansions. Because you will most probably want to expand sooner or later. On ModularGrid you can put together the system and make sure it has sufficient power for your needs before shelling out


A live performance setup must be compact, so the size of your modules matters. Manufacturers like “2HE” and “Erica Synths” and their Pico series of modules packs a lot of functionality in a very compact space.

For a pure studio system it can be desirable to have a little more space for your fingers, and more distance between the cables. So in that case you should preferably choose larger modules. On the other hand they require more real estate in your case. If you case does not need to be transported you can save money – not least if you are the DIY type. Then you can construct spectacular custom cases in your own designs.If you go down this path however, you must pay close attention to power requirements and safety.


You can save money by buying second hand modules. Several Facebook groups have good and trustworthy forums for this, and there is vivid trade activity. If you plan to sell some modules yourself it pays to take care that the modules appear as mint as possible. Especially “rack rash” – obvious marks from mounting screws – has a negative impact. You should also inspect the module for this before you buy yourself. Ask the seller for closeups from a few different angles.


If your hands and patience are up to the task, you can build your own modules from the many DIY kits available. Some popular modules are available both pre-assembled, and as DIY kits. And some modules are in fact only available for home assembly. That has the added advantage of you being able to modify the modules during assembly to better suit your own needs – or to make modules that nobody else has, which gives you a higher status within the sometimes rather snobbish modular community.


A modular system is not only made from ultra sexy, ridiculously deep, LED-flashing photo-friendly headliner modules. Take care to leave enough space for the perhaps less flashy, but nonetheless indispensable utility modules, like multiple jacks, attenuators, clock processors, cv/audio mixers, headphone/line outputs, MIDI/USB interfaces, tuners etc. If you can live with perhaps less eye-grabbing designs you can get excellent modules with similar functionality for less money.


It is advisable to buy only a few modules at a time, since each module often greatly expands the possibilities of the system, which takes time to explore. So you may wind up with modules that you don’t use, or functionalities that you already have if you don’t take the proper time.


Use an app like the excellent ModularGrid to plan and assemble your system virtually before you buy. This way you can discover which modules you would miss, and doubled roles before you throw money after the real thing.


On internet forums like  the mighty MuffWiggler, Synthopia and several others you can get answers to alomost any question related to modulars. Listen in on the discussions before posting anything yourself, to get acquainted with the particular tone of the forum. This way you will avoid upsetting anyone, or get labelled as a lazy ultra-rookie.


Make sure to explain to your spouse that you have now found a new love of your life, which is very time-consuming and wallet-draining. Then you have the possibility to stop before you get divorced – or to get divorced fast so you can continue without interruptions and sarcastic remarks. Many forums require you to create a profile before you participate actively in the discussions.