Modular synthesizers allow you to create your own custom synthesizer, piece by piece, then patch those elements together in different ways to create unique sounds. Compared to a typical keyboard synthesizer or synth module, which offers a fixed number of oscillators, filters, modulation sources, and other elements, a Eurorack modular synthesizer rig can be created using whatever synthesizer elements you want. Depending on which modules you choose, you can create sounds with a modular synthesizer that you can't create any other way.
So how do you enter the world of Eurorack modular synthesis? It all starts with a Eurorack case, which provides mounting and power for your modules. You'll notice that cases list their available space in "HP" (head pitch), and modules list their width in HP too. As long as your case has more HP than all your modules combined, everything will fit fine. Different Eurorack cases offer different power supplies, and you'll want to make sure the total mA available is greater than the mA draw of all your modules combined. Once you've decided which modules you want, and you've chosen an appropriate case for them, you'll just need some patch cables to begin creating sounds.
The joy of modular synthesis is in experimenting with different combinations of modules and the ability to re-patch your signal chain on the fly. If you aren't experienced with patching modules together to create sounds, consider a semi-modular synthesizer module that doesn't require patching to operate. This way, you can start creating sounds right away, and you'll also have the patch points needed to connect to a larger modular rig.
Not all modular synthesizers are Eurorack format - any synth module that offers patch points for CV and Gate signals can be integrated into a modular synth rig. For new synthesists that are just starting out, Sweetwater often recommends a modular synthesizer that you can not only play on its own, but can also use within a larger modular rig. That allows you to start on an instrument that's highly playable on its own and won't become obsolete as you start to grow your modular rig. We've helped countless musicians begin with modular synthesis, and a little forethought about the sounds you want to achieve will go a long way. If you're unsure whether you're headed in the right direction, give us a call anytime, and we'll be happy to talk modular synthesis with you.
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