Thursday, December 06, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

As I mentioned somewhere in the past, I want to build a larger case for my modular but keep one of my A-100P cases as a "portable" system. I'm having a really hard time deciding either a) What exactly would go in this "portable" system or b) just not have a "portable" system and only have one larger case, which wouldn't be that much more less-portable.

The B case is very tempting. The case size I'm thinking of is ~28-32" wide and ~15" tall so it's still pretty portable as far as cases go. It wouldn't necessarily fit in the overhead compartment of a plane like the A-100P, but the likelihood of me traveling by plane and taking a modular with me *anytime* in the near future is pretty small. Plus, when I would take the modular somewhere (friend's studios, AH meetups, etc) I would have everything with me...I wouldn't be saying "if only I had x from my main system with me". The final benefit is that selling both A-100P cases would net more cash than just selling one...which means more money for modules.

The A case is tempting because I like "portable" gear in that kind of form-factor. I've always though the Buchla Music Easel was one of the coolest things ever. I would really enjoy having something like that. The reality is, I don't take stuff from my studio that often, and when I do, it's usually for doing audio processing over at a friend's studio...and typically that means filters, ring mods, etc and not oscillators or other "synth" components. The other crux with the A case is that I can't decide what to actually put in the system since it is a small amount of space and the modules that I really would want to have all the time are fairly large. Examples.

1) Livewire AFG - 28HP
I know it's not out yet, but I know I will want this osc all the time.

2) Livewire Vulcan Modulator - 14HP
After using this so much, I don't think I could substitute a pair of normal LFOs and not miss it. Sub-ing 2 LFOs might actually take up even more space. Add an extra 8HP for the Selector Expansion module when it's released.

3) Livewire Dalek Modulator - 14HP
Not only does it provide the ring mod functionality, but it's my main source for audio rate modulation. I couldn't imagine using the AFG without this. Sub-ing 2 oscs, even without ring mod would take up even more space.

4) Plan B Model 10 Poly EG - 12HP
Again, here's a module I couldn't see not having all the time, I would miss it's functionality if I subed in a standard Doepfer EG, which would only gain me 4HP anyway.

5) Plan B Model 13 Dual Timbral Gate - 12HP This one I might be able to live without all the time, BUT, it could also double as the main VCA (so long as I have some overall output atten somewhere) so that could actually save space.

6) Livewire FrequenSteiner filter - 16HP
This I've thought about over and over. The multi-mode is a basic requirement, the HP sounds really good and I would miss that. Also, self-oscillation is a requirement, so that would put out the Plan B M12 as a possible replacement (which would only save 2HP anyway). It also has a sound that's not too gritty, but not to's rather perfect in the "character" range as far as filters go. It also has two CV ins, each with attenuators. These latter two qualities put it a bit ahead of the Polivoks as a substitute, that and the HP mode, which I would miss.

7) Some kind of mixer/attenuator - 8HP minimum
The Plan B Model 9 would be perfect here as it's both a mixer and attenuator simultaneously. It is 14HP, however. At a minimum, I'd need my Doepfer A-138c, 8HP.

So that brings us to 104HP, which leaves 60HP free. Despite my earlier statements on sequencers I actually do think I want one now and having it in here would be great...or at least, I would imagine I would want it once I got used to having it. That scratches off 50HP right that at a minimum. The other side of having a sequencer is that when I did take this system over to my buddies place for processing/sound design, I know he's gonna want to sync it to MIDI so that would take us into negative space with the MIDI-CV and clock divider. Plus, I didn't even count utility modules like VCAs and mults.

I guess I could go without the sequencer, toss in the Dual Cyclotron (28HP) or the Chaos Computer (28HP) whenever that actually gets released. The Chaos Computer might actually make an ok "sequencer" of sorts. You wouldn't necessarily be able to directly program the sequence, but you could influence it.

The final problem is that while I might have 60HP free, it's not 60HP in a might 10 on top and 50 on bottom or 22/38, or something else. This can also restrict which modules I can actually choose.

I'm starting to loose track of thought now... Having one single case seems to be the simplest, sanest, least complicated way to go...but I've still got a soft spot for that "Portable" system. :/

What do you guys think?


brandon daniel said...

I just wish I could find half-depth 6u SKB cases, or cut mine down to half-depth. For larger systems, this is definitely the way to go to keep them halfway portable (outside of the super cases), but a normal SKB case is left with half it's back-end empty with the normal doepfer/asys racks inside.

felix said...

I actually remember seeing a couple 6U (or maybe they were 8U) Pearson cases at Showcase that were half-depth and had lids! The only downside to those is they'll be heavier than SKB cases because of the wood.

ross said...

you wont be able to stop believe me

sandy said...

have you thought about an MFB SEQ01 for a sequencer? i guess it depends what you want from one but if you're interested in event/trigger type sequencing rather than a "traditional" step/note sequencer this might do the job. it seems to pack in quite a lot of functionality and is only 20hp (iirc) as well. i haven't used one yet but have one due to arrive when AH eventually ship my system!

kakihara said...

I'd go definitely go for B choice actually! Because building yourself your own case means you can make it slimmer and "made to be portable" while it's bigger than the original 19 inches doepfer case version.
I've mentionned you once about the case I'm starting to build (very slowly, i'm still ordering parts actually).
SO it's 15 rack units high and 150 HP wide. Ideally I would have clips where I can hook a handle rail and small wheels, like on a travel suitcase, so at home it's solid on the table and when moving around, I can roll it and not tear off my arms. And yes, it's cool to have all your modules wherever you are heheheh

felix said...

@sandy - Yeah I did see the MFB, a video on youTube actually, and was excited about it until I saw that it was only event sequencing. I'm definitely looking for traditional CV+Gate/Trigger sequencer. I've pretty much decided on the Doepfer...I'd like to have 4 rows of 8 like the Milton, but the S+H and Glide options on the Doepfer make it very interesting.

@kakihara - I've pretty much decided on B at this point. Worse case scenario if for some reason I suddenly need a small portable case, I could probably build it...or just spend some effort sampling the patches that I need and just take my laptop...not as cool, but would suffice.