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I actually like modular systems...

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  • #31
    Duh! I knew this was something people a lot smarter than myself had bound to have kicked already. (Like 9 years ago) I was talking about something very much like this:

    http://www.geofex.com/Article_Folders/FXbus/fxbus.htm

    I guess I never found that corner of geofex before.

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    • #32
      If the point hasn't been beaten to death with a stick already, the reason why modular systems died horrible deaths several times over during the 70s and 80s, and why they can thrive now, is because compatibility is a HUGE issue when modular=commercial, but much less of an issue when modular=DIY.

      Another nice thing about modular is that, if it's well-planned, you can start out simple, and VERY linear (i.e., compressor into fuzz into chorus into delay), but if you want you can start to get "all weird" without necessitating a complete shift in technology. A good modular setup can support either approach. That's one of the reasons why I'm glad I have my two-cabinet setup. One cab holds a dozen modules, which will permit any player to "git 'er dun" with all the basic linear-setup tonal flavours that one might aim for in an 80's-style analog multi-FX like a UE-400, but I can stack two cabs such that a 24-module "installation" can do an amazing amount of things.

      One of the things that I didn't implement, which some would find of considerable use, is a "normalized" patching scheme. By that, I mean a default set of series connections, such that if I didn't plug anything into Y, it would be automatically taking its feed from X and feeding its output to Z. That saves you the rat's nest of patch cables when they aren't needed. Take a gander at the front panel of the venerable Korg MS-20. Having played one on Saturday, I can vouch that you didn't need a single patch cord to play it or generate a broad range of sounds, but if you want to get all weird with it, the patch bay is your friend.

      Of course, any arrangement in which modules are hard-wired to a patch bay like that, with default connection, means one forfeits the capacity to yank modules out and replace them with others. On the other hand, there is no reason why a 2-box setup like my own could not combine the best of both worlds by having one set of you-know-you're-gonna-want-them-all-the-time modules in one package/rack, with a normalized patch bay that can accommodate inserting external stuff, and another package/rack with no particular normalized scheme, and easy module replacement capability.

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      • #33
        Wow, this thread is amazing! I've been thinking on this idea for some months, and while I knew about systems such as that Korg PME, in my arrogance I thought that I had probably invented the idea of the rackmount modular guitar effects system.

        I'd like to try my hand at the boutique audio electronics business after I get out of college, and this is something I really think can work.

        Mark, you've already illustrated the advantages of a normalized signal path, and I think there is no way such a system could ever get a foothold without that. What I've thought is that it would be smart to design a case that can house some standard modular format (frac-rack or whatever) but includes some special features, like switching, a generic normalized signal path interface (designed to series connect the audio patch from leftmost module sequentially through every module to the right), and guitar->line level and impedance matching (and vice-versa). That way it would be fairly simple to adapt standard modular components (LFOs, VCAs, etc.) to the system, and likewise "guitar" effects could be easily used by the modular synthesist, expanding the potential market.

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        • #34
          I LOVE THIS!!!

          I don't have time to read the whole thread right now but I love the idea! Especially the part about how effects can be smaller because they don't need jacks etc. I'll be back!

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