So you're wondering which Eurorack modules, cases and power supplies you should buy, rent or otherwise try out. In this comprehensive buyer's guide, we'll go through everything worth considering before you make any decisions about Eurorack equipment.
If you've found yourself asking, “which Eurorack gear should I buy?” this extensive resource is for you.
Please feel free to jump around this article and to read all additional resources I have provided links to.
With that, let's get into this comprehensive Eurorack buyer's guide to help you in your next Eurorack module purchase!
• Top 11 Best Eurorack Module Synth Brands In The World
• Synth Modules Brands Database
Table Of Contents
- What Is Your Eurorack Budget?
- Consider Virtual Eurorack Software
- Consider Starting With A Semi-Modular Synth
- The Bare Minimum Eurorack Setup
- Pre-Built Or DIY Modules
- Choosing Eurorack Cases & Rails
- Choosing Eurorack Power Supplies, Bus Boards & Distribution Cables
- Types Of Eurorack Modules
- Planning The Eurorack System
- Know The Additional Costs Of Eurorack Accessories
What Is Your Eurorack Budget?
The first thing to consider when making any purchase is your budget. Money can be a touchy subject for some, and so I'll keep this section brief.
I would never advise anyone to overspend on any audio equipment. Know what you can realistically afford, and do your best to stay within those limitations, whatever they may be.
Eurorack gear, like many musical instruments, ranges significantly in price. The market is rather large, and so there should be a good selection for any budget.
A benefit of Eurorack's modular nature is that users can slowly build up their synth setup over time. The downside, of course, is that modular synths have the tendency never to be “complete”, so additional gear will cost more money.
Note that some retailers offer payment plans, which could be an option.
Consider the cost to benefit ratio of the purchase of the Eurorack system/synthesizer. For example, if the Eurorack system is needed for business, perhaps stretching the budget is more appropriate. On the other hand, if you don't plan on making money with Eurorack, perhaps a more conservative budget is appropriate.
Also, consider any additional accessories or upkeep that may be required for your Eurorack system/synthesizer.
Only you can determine your budget. All I'm here to say is that you should consider it.
Consider Virtual Eurorack Software
If you're new to Eurorack and put off by the complexities and price tags of the hardware involved, perhaps it's best to start with virtual Eurorack software to develop an understanding of the modular format.
VCV Rack is a superb virtual Eurorack simulator. This open-source software gives users free access to the wonderful world of modular synthesis. However, it does sell commercial plugins in addition to the freebies to help fundraise for future developments.
So if you're on the fence about getting into Eurorack, my suggestion would be to give VCV Rack a shot. You'll learn the basics of module types and the patching of such modules. Developing a foundation of knowledge will help tremendously when it comes time to invest in real hardware!
Consider Starting With A Semi-Modular Synth
Getting into Eurorack can be a bit daunting. What are the bare minimum requirements to get started? How do I connect it all together and make sound? These are surely questions worth asking.
By starting with a semi-modular synth, we can get going right away and slowly integrate Eurorack modules into our synth. Eventually, we can even replace the semi-modular synth with individual modules.
A semi-modular synth is a self-contained synthesizer ‘voice' (mono, poly or paraphonic) composed of a collection of prewired modules that can be patched differently if we so choose. These synths often come with keyboard controllers and are ready to play right out of the box.
- Click the link to check out semi-modular synthesizers at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out semi-modular synthesizers at Sweetwater
The Bare Minimum Eurorack Setup
If you're interested in Eurorack, you've likely seen the giant setups that span entire tables or walls. These massive investments are not only overwhelming to think of in terms of routing but also in terms of budget.
So, if you're a beginner, you may be asking, “what's the absolute minimum requirement for a Eurorack modular synthesizer?”
Well, before we even think of modules, we need a power supply to power them. Additionally, it helps tremendously if we have a case to hold them safely in place—more on both these pieces later.
However, to get started making sound with a Eurorack synth, you only need one module: an oscillator. An oscillator produces a continuous, repeating variation (an oscillation) in voltage that can be outputted to produce sound. Oscillators are often defined by their waveform (sine, square, triangle, sawtooth, etc.) and their frequency (the audible range of frequencies is between 20 and 20,000 Hertz (cycles or repetitions per second).
From there, adding an envelope and a VCA (voltage-controlled amplifier) can allow us to control the level of the oscillator. Adding filters, effects, control voltages, gates, triggers, and more will allow further control over the oscillator and what is ultimately heard from the Eurorack synth.
Additionally, we could invest in a synth voice module, which effectively has everything a simple monophonic synth would have. This way, we can get started making sounds with our synths without needing to spend too much money or understand too much about routing/patching.
Pre-Built Or DIY Modules
Another way to save money is to opt for do-it-yourself modules rather than pre-built options. These kits come with the basic building blocks of the design, and it's up to you to put them all together. Not only will you save some cash, but putting together your modules yields a more intimate experience when building your modular synth.
DIY modules are a great way to learn and hone your soldering skills. In addition to a soldering iron and solder, you'll also want a small pair of wire cutters and 8mm and 10mm hex nut drivers.
Other tools worth considering are a multimeter and a component tester.
Choosing Eurorack Cases & Rails
A Eurorack case will effectively house and power your Eurorack modules. A case is typically made of the housing, the rails (which mount the modules), the bus boards (which send power to the modules), and the power supply, though external power supplies are also available.
To push modularity even further, Eurorack cases can be purchased pre-built with power, or we can build them ourselves with separate parts. When it comes to the physical design and mounting, we can choose cases with or without rails as well.
Sets of rails can be purchased to incorporate into dedicated Eurorack cases but can also be used with Eurorack ears in standard 19″ racks or even in desktop setups.
Note that we can build our own cases as well, so long as we can securely mount the modules and power them properly!
Case dimensions will largely be defined by the Horizontal Pitch (HP) units. The vertical (height) dimension of Eurorack modules is standardized to 3U (5.25″ or 133.4mm). However, the horizontal (width) dimension is variable.
The width of a Eurorack module is defined by its HP value. 1 HP is equal to 0.2″ or 5.08mm. Eurorack cases have HP specifications that state the maximum width they can hold in terms of modules (and blank panels).
Cases can also be defined by their rows. For example, a Eurorack case could have 3 rows of 140 HP (28″ or 711.2mm), allowing for a total space of 420 HP (84″ or 2,133.6mm) to fit modules within.
In addition to the HP specs, it's also worth considering the depth of the case, ensuring that it's deep enough to fit the deepest module in your setup.
If you opt for a rails-and-19″-rackmount setup, you'll have a maximum of 95 HP within the 19″ rack. Many of these setups are smaller, with ears and/or power supplies taking up some space within the rack.
When choosing a case, it's typically best to go for something a bit bigger than you initially need. Maxing out the space in the case will mean investing in a second case when it comes time to expand. That being said, when buying a larger case, it's best to also invest in blank panels to fill the space to keep dust and debris from the inside of the system.
Eurorack cases can be portable or stationary. Though stationary cases can certainly be moved if necessary, portable cases are designed to make moving easy. If you plan on performing in venues or otherwise travelling with your Eurorack synth, opt for a portable case.
Lunchbox-style and suitcase cases are great options for portability. Skiff and desktop cases are great for stationary Eurorack systems.
Multiple Eurorack cases can be combined side-by-side or vertically to create even more modularity in the synth. Research your specific cases to see how well they will fit together. Look for the appropriate ears, brackets or rails that will allow you to build upon your current case.
Eurorack cases can also be powered or unpowered, which brings us to the next section of this buyer's guide.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack cases at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack cases at Sweetwater
- Click the link to check out Eurorack rails at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack rails at Sweetwater
Choosing Eurorack Power Supplies, Bus Boards & Distribution Cables
Eurorack modules are active units, meaning they require power to function. Therefore, we need a power supply capable of running the modules and bus boards or power distribution cables to carry power from the supply to the modules.
The total current drawn by the modules (add up each module's current draw) must not exceed the maximum current available in the power supply.
Like buying a case that's larger than you initially need, it's also best practice to buy a power supply with a higher maximum current than your first set of modules will require. As you build up your modular synth, you'll want to fill in the case and power supply rather than having to purchase more.
Typically, if the case you're purchasing has a built-in power supply, the PSU should be powerful enough for the task of powering the case's inserted modules. These powered cases will also have built-in bus boards.
However, if you're going with the do-it-yourself approach, getting yourself a PSU capable of powering the intended modules is important.
Moving onto bus boards, these electrical components contain 16-pin headers that your Eurorack modules connect to. So the bus board(s) connects to the power supply. The modules connect to the bus board with a 10 to 16-pin ribbon distribution cable.
When purchasing a powered case or a power supply and bus board, opt for a bus board with keyed or shrouded headers. This will practically eliminate the chance of incorrectly connecting the ribbon distribution cables. Otherwise, pay close attention when plugging the cables into the board to avoid improper connectivity. The pins are aligned to transfer specific voltages, and it's essential that the pins of the bus board connect to the appropriate pins in the modules.
It's also worth noting the differences between linear and switching Eurorack power supplies to help you make a more informed decision.
Linear power supplies are generally quieter and deliver DC passing the primary AC voltages through transformers and filtering out the AC component.
Switching power supplies generally offer a higher wattage-to-price ratio but can be prone to electromagnetic interference, aliasing and other noise.
That all being said, both PSU types are great options for Eurorack. Eurorack typically passes signal level above line level, so EMI and noise generally won't cause noticeable noise in the audio signal.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack power supplies at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack power supplies at Sweetwater
- Click the link to check out Eurorack power distribution cables at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack power distribution cables at Sweetwater
Types Of Eurorack Modules
The variety of Eurorack modules is a large part of its allure. However, the number of different module types can be overwhelming. This section will go through the most important Eurorack module types to improve our understanding of what we want and need in our modular synth.
The types of Eurorack modules are:
- Clock Generator
- Clock Multiplier/Divider
- Control Voltage
- Distortion-Type Effects
- Envelope Follower
- Envelope Generator
- External I/O
- Frequency Divider
- Function Generator
- Low-Pass Gate
- Modulation Effects
- Sample & Hold
- Slew Limiter
- Synth Voice
- Time-Based Effects
Let's get into each in more detail.
What is a Eurorack attenuator module? An attenuator is a module that reduces or “attenuates” the level of a signal. Attenuators can bring down the level of audio signals and control voltages. They're useful for adjusting the depth of modulation between modules and the overall signal levels within the system.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack attenuator modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack attenuator modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack attenuverter module? An attenuverter module is a special type of attenuator that also inverts the polarity of the signal or control voltage going through it. They typically send no signal at centre/12-o'clock position; send increasing in-phase signal as they're turned clockwise, and send increasing inverted signal as they're turned counterclockwise.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack attenuverter modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack attenuverter modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack clock generator module? A clock generator is a module that produces a master clock within the Eurorack system for some or all clock-dependent modules to sync to. The clock is the main rhythmic pulse of the system and is commonly set to a rate of 24 ppqn (pulses per quarter note), as is the case with MIDI.
Note that trigger modules may also be called “clocks.”
- Click the link to check out Eurorack clock generator modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack clock generator modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack clock multiplier module? As the name suggests, a clock multiplier multiplies an incoming clock signal into several higher resolutions such as 2x, 4x, 8x 16x, etc. These multiplied clocks are outputted and used to trigger other modules, such as envelopes or drums. Some multipliers offer swing, shuffle and offset.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack clock multiplier modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack clock multiplier modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack clock divider? As the name suggests, a clock divider divides an incoming clock signal into several subordinate resolutions such as 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, etc. These divided clocks are outputted and used to trigger other modules, such as envelopes or drums. Some dividers offer swing, shuffle and offset.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack clock divider modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack clock divider modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack comparator module? A comparator compares the voltage levels of two signals, either between two inputs, or an input and an internal set reference voltage. These modules will output a gate signal that is high/on when signal A is greater than B, and a gate signal that is low/off when B is greater than A, or vice versa. With audio, it can convert an input waveform into a pulse wave.
What is a Eurorack controller module? The term controller applies to a wide variety of Eurorack modules that control other modules. The controls range from keys, touchpads, joysticks, pressure controllers, knobs, and more.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack controller modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack controller modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack control voltage module? Control voltage (CV) modules make up a large portion of module types, including envelopes, LFOs, gates, and more. The CV outputs of these modules use voltages to control parameters/functions of other modules, such as pitch, volume, filter cutoff frequency, filter resonance, modulation depth/rate, etc.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack control voltage modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack control voltage modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack distortion module? Audio distortion, technically speaking, is any change/deformation in a Eurorack audio output waveform relative to its audio input caused by any non-linear behaviour of the signal path. Distortion can cause everything from subtle saturation to complete destruction of the waveform.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack distortion modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack distortion modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack fuzz module? The fuzz effect is caused by hard-clipping a Eurorack audio signal so much that it nearly turns into a square wave. It's perhaps the most extreme example of distortion as an audio effect and completely changes the sound of the audio signal.
What is a Eurorack overdrive module? Overdrive is a distortion effect that is caused by (or aims to emulate) pushing a tube amplifier just past its amplitude limits. The Eurorack audio signal is compressed and “soft-clipped,” resulting in warm saturation in the signal. Overdrive plugins emulate this effect.
What is a Eurorack drum module? A drum module is a module that, when triggered, produces percussion sounds. These sounds can be sampled, produced by noise or otherwise synthesizers. Drum modules can produce a single sound or can be as expansive as a full-out sequencer.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack drum modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack drum modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack compressor module? Dynamic range compression is the process of reducing the dynamic range of a Eurorack audio signal by attenuating the amplitude of the signal above a set threshold by a set ratio/amount. Compressor modules typically have attack and release time controls as well.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack compressor modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack compressor modules at Sweetwater
Related My New Microphone article:
• The Complete Guide To Audio Compression & Compressors
What is a Eurorack limiter module? A limiter is a hard compressor that keeps a Eurorack audio signal below a set threshold. These modules are useful for protecting the outputs of the Eurorack synth and whatever devices are inline beyond the Eurorack synth (headphones, speakers, amplifiers, audio interfaces, etc.).
Related My New Microphone article:
• What Is The Difference Between Audio Compression & Limiting?
What is a Eurorack noise gate module? Noise gating is an effect that kills the Eurorack audio output signal if the audio input signal drops below a set threshold. This helps to gate or remove noise from the signal when the audio is not supposed to be playing or present.
What is a Eurorack envelope follower module? Envelope followers follow the dynamic/loudness contour of a signal and output a CV that corresponds to the loudness change over time. The resulting envelope can be used to control gates, or the loudness/dynamics over time when connected to a VCA, or the frequency/timbre over time when connected to a VCF.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack envelope follower modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack envelope follower modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack envelope generator module? Envelope generators produce a triggered CV envelope (a voltage the rises from 0 volts to a maximum and back down again according to attack, decay, sustain and release parameters). EGs will shape the loudness/dynamics over time when connected to a VCA or the frequency/timbre over time when connected to a VCF.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack envelope generator modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack envelope generator modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack equalizer module? EQ is the process of adjusting the balance between frequencies within a Eurorack audio signal. This process increases or decreases the relative amplitudes of some frequency bands compared to other bands using filters, boosts and cuts.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack equalizer modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack equalizer modules at Sweetwater
Related My New Microphone article:
• Complete Guide To Audio Equalization & EQ Hardware/Software
What is a Eurorack expander module? An expander module is a module that expands the functionality of another specific module. Some manufacturers produce modules with great functionality and decide to produce them in two parts: the main module covers all the essential functions, while the expander module(s) offers additional features.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack expander modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack expander modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack expression module? A Eurorack expression module is any module that allows for manual control over a control voltage. This could be a joystick, touchpad, treadle, or otherwise.
What is a Eurorack external I/O module? External input/output modules effectively adapt the Eurorack system to allow different input and output control voltages and audio signals. These I/O can adapt Eurorack to MIDI controllers, effects pedals, 500 Series and rack-mounted gear, headphone and power amps, audio interfaces, and more.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack external I/O modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack external I/O modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack filter module? A filter module reduces or eliminates certain audio frequencies below, above, between or outside defined cutoff frequencies. Low-pass filters filter out frequency above the cutoff. High-pass filters filter frequency below the cutoff. Bandpass filters filter frequencies above a high cutoff and below and low cutoff. Bandstop filters filter frequencies above a low cutoff and below a high cutoff. Filter cutoff frequencies, resonances and other parameters can be modulated.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack filter modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack filter modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack frequency divider module? Frequency divider modules read the frequency of an input signal and output signals with frequencies at a fraction of the input (1/2, 1/4, 1/8, etc.), thereby adding bass and sub-bass to a signal.
What is a Eurorack frequency shifter module? Frequency shifting is an amplitude modulation effect where two signals (an input/modulator signal and a carrier signal) are summed together to create a brand new frequency that is either the sum or the difference of the input and carrier signal. The carrier is typically a simple wave selected by the effects unit, while the modulator signal is the input signal.
What is a Eurorack function generator module? Function generator modules execute equations to create waveforms or control voltages (typically envelopes) in response to gates/triggers.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack function generator modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack function generator modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack LFO module? Low-frequency oscillators (LFOs) are repetitive, cycling waves in the range just below the audible threshold of 20 Hz all the way down to minutes per cycle. These CVs are used to modulate other modules, particularly modulation effects, filters and oscillator waveshapes.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack LFO modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack LFO modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack logic module? Logic modules combine two or more gate signals to create new outputs according to the combination of the “on” or “off” state of each gate.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack logic modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack logic modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack low-pass gate module? Low-pass gate modules are special types of low-pass filters with cutoff frequencies that extend into the subsonic frequency range as the CV falls toward 0 volts.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack low-pass gate modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack low-pass gate modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack MIDI module? A MIDI Eurorack module is any module that interprets Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) data. Since most of Eurorack is analog, most “MIDI modules” are actually MIDI-to-CV/Gate converters that effectively convert the digital MIDI information into analog information for the Eurorack system to use.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack MIDI modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack MIDI modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack mixer module? A mixer module combines different Eurorack signals together. Mixers can mix audio signals or control voltages with varying relative levels and output completely new signals.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack mixer modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack mixer modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack chorus module? Chorus is an effect that produces copies of a Eurorack audio signal (the original signal and each of its copies has its own “voice”) and detunes each voice to produce a widening and thickening of the sound. Each voice interacts with the other voices to produce slight modulation and an overall larger-than-life sound.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack chorus modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack chorus modules at Sweetwater
Related My New Microphone article:
• Complete Guide To The Chorus Audio Modulation Effect
What is a Eurorack flanger module? Flanger is a modulation audio effect whereby the Eurorack audio signal is duplicated, and the phase of one copy is continuously being shifted. This changing phase causes a sweeping comb filter effect where peaks and notches are produced in the frequency spectrum or the signal's EQ.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack flanger modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack flanger modules at Sweetwater
Related My New Microphone article:
• Complete Guide The Flanger Audio Modulation Effect
What is a Eurorack phaser module? Phaser/phase-shifting is a modulation audio effect whereby a series of peaks and troughs are produced across the frequency spectrum of the Eurorack audio signal's EQ. These peaks and troughs vary over time, typically controlled by an LFO (low-frequency oscillator), to create a sweeping effect known as phaser.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack phaser modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack phaser modules at Sweetwater
Related My New Microphone article:
• Complete Guide To The Phaser Audio Modulation Effect
What is a Eurorack ring modulator module? Ring modulation is an amplitude modulation effect where two signals (an input/modulator signal and a carrier signal) are summed together to create two brand new frequencies, which are the sum and difference of the input and carrier signals. The carrier is typically a simple wave selected by the effects unit, while the modulator signal is the input signal.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack ring modulator modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack ring modulator modules at Sweetwater
Related My New Microphone article:
• Complete Guide To The Ring Modulation Audio Effect
What is a Eurorack tremolo module? Tremolo is a fast variation in the amplitude of the Eurorack audio signal. Tremolo is similar to vibrato, except that it acts on amplitude/level rather than pitch.
Related My New Microphone article:
• Complete Guide The Tremolo Audio Modulation Effect
What is a Eurorack vibrato module? Vibrato is a fast but slight up-and-down pitch variation in the Eurorack audio signal. Vibrato is used in signing and in instruments to add character and improve tone.
Related My New Microphone article:
• Complete Guide The Vibrato Audio Modulation Effect
What is a Eurorack multiple module? A multiple is a Eurorack module that effectively duplicates the input signal to two or more identical outputs.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack multiple modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack multiple modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack noise module? Noise modules produce random audio or control voltage signals with no distinct note value or pitch. Noise audio signals are largely defined by colour and their amplitude per octave frequency response. Noise CV voltages offer randomized modulation and are used in the same way as LFOs.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack noise modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack noise modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack oscillator module? Oscillator Eurorack modules produce oscillating signals (outputs the very between two voltages in a repeating pattern). Oscillators are often defined by their waveshape, and the rate at which these waveforms oscillate is defined by frequency. Audio signals oscillate in the range of 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz, while LFOs oscillate below 20 Hz.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack oscillator modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack oscillator modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack panning module? Panning modules pan Eurorack audio signals right or left in the stereo field. Since Eurorack is largely monophonic, panning modules tend to have left and right channel outputs.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack panner modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack panner modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack polarizer module? A polarizer Eurorack module inverts the input signal, reversing the gate signal's high/on and low/off states. In the cases where negative voltages aren't useful, a polarizer will bias the signal to keep the voltage positive while still flipping the “phase” of the CV gate or envelope.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack polarizer modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack polarizer modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack preamplifier module? A preamp is a type of amplifier with the purpose of bringing mic level (or instrument level) signals up to levels appropriate for the Eurorack format (above line level). Microphones and many instruments output low-level signals that require amplification to be used effectively within Eurorack systems.
What is a Eurorack quantizer module? A quantizer module will auto-adjust/correct the input voltage to the nearest desired value. In doing so, the voltage can trigger a specific note or sample in another module.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack quantizer modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack quantizer modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack randomizer module? Randomizer modules create random voltages and triggers for unpredictable control over other modules.
Sample & Hold
What is a Eurorack sample & hold module? Sample & hold modules have two inputs: an input where the signal is being sampled and an input that triggers when the first input should be sampled. As the trigger is received, the first input is sampled and held until the next trigger happens. This creates stepped voltages at the output.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack sample & hold modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack sample & hold modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack sampler module? Sample modules record audio signals and play them back continuously, or when triggered manually or by a control voltage. Many samplers offer various functions to manipulate the audio signal (pitch, time, start/endpoint, and more).
- Click the link to check out Eurorack sampler modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack sampler modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack sequencer module? A sequencer is a module that goes through steps/stages one at a time. Each step can be set to output a different voltage. A clock or gate/trigger can control the rate at which the sequencer moves through its steps can be controlled by a clock or gate/trigger.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack sequencer modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack sequencer modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack slew limiter module? A slew limiter module smooths the input signal and limits the maximum voltage change per second of the signal.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack slew limiter modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack slew limiter modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack switch/multiplexer module? Switch/multiplexer modules offer variable numbers of inputs and outputs that can be connected together. The switch that will route an input to a specific output or outputs can be toggled manually or via a control voltage.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack switch/multiplexer modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack switch/multiplexer modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack synth voice module? A Eurorack synth voice module is a module complete with all the elements necessary for a monophonic synthesizer.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack synth voice modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack synth voice modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack delay module? Delay is a time-based effect where the Eurorack audio input signal is recorded for a relatively short amount of time and is played back after a set period of time after the initial recording. There are many ways to achieve delay and different styles/types of the effect.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack delay modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack delay modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack reverb module? The reverb effect recreates the natural effect of reverberation, which happens when a sound wave hits a surface (or multiple surfaces). It reflects back to the listener at varying times and amplitudes. This creates a complex echo that holds information about the physical space.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack reverb modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack reverb modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack tuner module? A tuner module is a module that can adjust the pitch of a synthesizer's oscillator to match another oscillator, instrument, or reference pitch.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack tuner modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack tuner modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack utility module? The term “utility module” applies to a wide variety of Eurorack modules that offer utilitarian and/or miscellaneous control over control voltages and audio signals or adaptation between different formats. Utility modules include mixers, switches, gates, triggers, multiple, interfaces, extensions, meters, and more.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack utility modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack utility modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack VCA module? A voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA) Eurorack module controls the amplitude of an input signal by increasing or decreasing it in response to a control voltage input.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack VCA modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack VCA modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack video module? A video module is any Eurorack module that takes in voltage and outputs visual content.
What is a Eurorack waveshaper module? As the name suggests, a waveshaper module changes the shape of the input waveform. Various harmonic profiles and noise can be added to the signal by shaping the waveform in different ways.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack waveshaper modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack waveshaper modules at Sweetwater
What is a Eurorack wavefolder module? Wavefolding is a special type of waveshaping that utilizes a comparator to reflect or “fold” the waveform back toward itself rather than clipping it when the waveform would otherwise clip. This process also produces interesting harmonic profiles in the output signal.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack wavefolder modules at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack wavefolder modules at Sweetwater
Planning The Eurorack System
Now that we know the various pieces that go into building a modular Eurorack synth, it's time to consider the immediate and long-term plans for the synth.
The possibilities of the Eurorack System are practically unlimited. It is, therefore, important to contemplate the intended use of the system. Here are a few potential options:
Design the perfect synthesizer with all the functionality you want. This Eurorack synth can be parked in the studio or taken on tour. It can have as few or as many modules as you want. It can be controlled by a computer, a MIDI keyboard, individual control voltage modules, or completely self-propelled.
If your dream synthesizer is no longer in production, you can plan to recreate its design with modular units.
Perhaps you want a physical bank of effects and processes that can be easily patched into. Eurorack can oblige in the studio and live environments.
Whatever you choose as the primary focus of the Eurorack system, it's worth spending time planning out the modules you'll need.
Start with the key modules, such as oscillators, sequencers, control voltages, multiples, and effects. Write out a list of these most important and preliminary modules.
Next, find a case that will effectively house these modules and any future modules you plan on acquiring. Calculate the HP of all the modules and ensure the case can hold all of them (now and in the future). If you're planning on purchasing more modules in the future, I strongly suggest investing in blank panels to cover up the empty spaces in the Eurorack case.
Know The Additional Costs Of Eurorack Accessories
Eurorack Patch Cables
Eurorack patch cables are required to connect modules together and to connect the Eurorack synth to other gear.
Eurorack patch cables are 3.5 (1/8″) TS (tip-sleeve) male-to-male cables. Note that when connecting to external equipment, adapters may be required.
Read up on the inputs/outputs of the modules for a better idea of the type and number of cables you'll need for your setup.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack patch cables at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack patch cables at Sweetwater
A Eurorack stand will hold the modular system in place, often at more ergonomic angles, heights and positions. Putting the Eurorack case on a proper stand will make the entire process more enjoyable.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack stands at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack stands at Sweetwater
Eurorack modules are powered via ribbon cables and interconnected with patch cables. Physically, they are connected to the rails of the modular unit with screws through their front plates. These screws are a necessary part of a Eurorack system.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack screws at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack screws at Sweetwater
Eurorack Blank Panels
Blank panels screw into empty Eurorack rack slots, thereby keeping dust and other particles from entering the unit.
- Click the link to check out Eurorack blank panels at Perfect Circuit
- Click the link to check out Eurorack blank panels at Sweetwater
This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.