ER-301 use cases

I’d be interested in hearing about use cases for the module in a bit more detail. Have you set it up as a sampler/looper, a synth, drum machine + fx send? Always patching from scratch? If so, what are the constants that you go back to?

If you’re successful with a sampler patch recording an external sound, slicing and addressing slices in a compact workflow, how did you do that?

I’ve struggled with loopers trying to organise a signal path that always allows monitoring but doesnt play 2 instances of the same sound when recording for example.

I’ve had my unit set up as a mixer with 2 stereo outputs for a while now. 1 stereo for synths (2 voices at the moment), 1 for drums. I have the 16n as a control surface, so loads of inputs available. I’ve set both up with a bandpass filter with variable bandwidth + overall freq controls and a reverb with level + size controls. 8 faders to control those aspects for both stereo outputs total. I’ve had a sampler type setup before on a mixer to the drums and that was fun although the latencies got to me a bit.

Now am trying to lean into the Sloop unit and loop synths and vocals, since I’ve 8 faders, plenty inputs free and CPU is in the 40-50 range. And I’m kicking myself for not getting to be more creative with the potential uses.

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I also primarily use mine as two stereo channels. Mine spends most of its time as a glorified mixer. I use it to take line level in from my Elektron gear (Digitone, Digitakt, and Model:Cycles) and the various sound sources in the rack. I use the first two channels as an effect send to my reverb / effect loop. I love the ability to make a feedback patch out and back into the ER-301. Doing stereo delay with different rates on the two sides with a stereo feedback path through analog stuff is very fun. I then use the last two channels as a final mix for the drum machines, external synths, dry eurorack voices, and effects.

This is my basic starting structure, and I can build up in global chains or mixer units. Sometimes I will make my effects send mono so I can use one of the channels like an oscillator or to control something (I love audio rate modulation). I love how many inputs the ER-301 has, and I find the only thing I need to use the dedicated IN jacks rather than the ACBD ones for is mixing effects with their dry sounds. When my effects were coming in on the ACBD jacks I noticed a bit of odd noise at the tail of notes. I often plug in line level signals to the ABCD jacks and just amplify with a VCA unit.

I know what you mean about feeling like wasted potential. My rack is completely built around everything going into the ER-301 at the end, but I usually don’t use it for super unique purposes. The possibility space for making music is so incredibly immense, even just with the hardware I have. I have to channel my effort to some part of the music and it often isn’t the part the ER-301 is playing, which I suppose could be taken as a compliment.

Before I had any drum machines I was using the ER-301 for drums. I was pretty much using just one shot samples, nothing too fancy, not chopping up breaks or anything. It worked well, but I have completely gotten away from drums in modular.

In the past i used to have four things going, one on each channel, recorded multitracked along with the rest of the system.

Recently I’ve used it more extensively, with more than four things happening in global chains, then using the build-recorder to get multi tracks that go with what I track on the rest of the system.

Currently I’m working on a live set, here the 301 is mixing all audio from the rest of the case, out 1/2 is master out, 3 + 4 is used as fx send to fxaid and monsoon respectively. Internally generated audio (synthesis and sample playback) is happening in global chains, one chain per “thing”, some internal fx is on global chains as well along with inputs from around the system and stereo return from fxaid and monsoon. Chained ch 1/2 contains mixers that basically grab output from global chains. Works well, very flexible.

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I sometimes feel a bit annoyed that mine is also just a really expensive mixer. I do add some filters on some of the channels and every so often a granular sample player.

It used to do filtered delays and granular FX, but for what I wanted, it was not powerful enough. Now, I have a ZOIA in the FX loop, which has much better reverb and takes the filtered delays too. I thought I would now use the freed-up CPU on the ER for more interesting things, but I find myself not doing/needing it. The sonic possibilities of this small rack are already so big that I don’t feel compelled to do more on the ER.

I even thought of selling it a couple of times and replace it by a real mixer, but I don’t have the heart to do it…

I also noticed some lo-fi strangeness with longer delays, and i wasn’t able to dial in exact enough amounts of delay time etc somehow, gave up on those eventually. Better reverb would really be nice, but i guess the algorithms are really cpu-hungry when they get better. Although pretty often I’m also happy with the freeverb’s stereo sound…

For the flexibility and control though, i have to say i don’t feel like it’s overly expensive even if only used as a mixer… But i have the 16n as a control surface for mine which opens things up a bit…

Sorry to post again, but i have to say this: it is possible to synthesize and use fx from the 301. Even a great deal at the same time. You have to patch wisely, be creative with how sound is generated and processed and watch the CPU meter. Oh, and being a little handy in the middle layer helps as well.

@warpigs330: i havent noticed any ill effects from using the ABCD for audio. mostly modular signals tho so no extreme amplification has been necessary. totally forgotten about global chains also. prob have a couple hanging around unused in my current patch :upside_down_face:

@a773: that kinda utilisation takes some hard looks at CPU usage i guess? i re-did my patch to a large extent recently, and yesterday i added a quantiser bit reduction path and a sloop to one of my existing 2 stereo reverbs with some VCA / filtering, and judging by the delays in editing settings there’s not much i can add… 80ish in the CPU load though, the latest 0.5 fw should be able to run smoothly up towards 90?

i’ve been on and off the fence on getting a second ER-301 because i’m so familiar with the workflow, and it would be so nice to have a whole unit for beats and one for the synth stuff as well.

i tried the grid quantiser yesterday for dirty > gritty > gnarly beats - holy smokes my rytm sounds good thru that! really subtle to really gnarly, and dialing in the pre and post really helps with keeping things usable on the lower levels side. for some reason i had to add a couple of VCA’s with 5x gain to the modulation to get into a plausible ballpark with a 16n fader, but set and forget there in the end.

I set it up so that dialing in the grid quantiser output from the mixer fades out the dry signal, 50/50 @ middle of fader, achieved a pretty even level through the travel. also negative gain on the fader to levels of grid quantiser, so the more it gets mixed in, the choppier the signal gets.

Perfect example of something that I think alot of us are doing in a much too expensive way!

First: you don’t need more than one VCA to go beyond 5x, go to edit controls, click level, and set the Bias Max to something higher…

If you look at my humble attempt to estimate the CPU usage of units, you’ll see VCA listed as 0.34%. In some cases it’s worse than that, since (for reasons I don’t understand) a unit making the CPU go from the 3% idle to say 4% (so should be 1%) will bump a stuggling 301 from 70% to maybe 73% (just a guess, in any case the usage is not linear).

Most of the build-in units have parameters open for modulation, but this alone comes at a cost. Obviously very, very, very nice to have, but in some cases (like in this case set-and-forget gain staging) a cheaper alternative would be great. I’ve butchered some of the build-ins, although I’ve only shared a few, the ones I felt had the most common interest. So in this case you could try my gain unit, which is about 1/10th of the CPU cost of a VCA. Doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up!

And I should add, that I never use the 301 for lush reverbs. If I’m in the mood for something experimental, something fake on the 301 can be very rewarding, but for lush I look elsewhere (fxaid at the moment).

Will slim the patch down to minimum to maybe squeeze in a second Sloop… Perfect with the gain unit! Thanks! Probably all those i2c integrating ‘CV’ inputs (and my habit of attaching a slew after those to not get sharp edges > pops and crackles) add up to the double digits…

Yeah, I’m not saying the reverbs are lush by any means, the 16n just makes them very playable. They can work well in certain situations, recording a quiet background ambience type of track to a project (squeeze it with a sidechain comp then in the daw etc), or on synths especially i just like to dial in a bit of space when noodling around sketching new things. I may leave that space in slightly, and then lay some convolution reverb on top in ableton for example, or dial the 301 reverb out when i record.

I had an EOS on module form from audio damage, and i really loved the sound of that (apart from the glitches). But how they left their customers hanging they’ll never again get my money. And my main case has no space for a reverb at the moment anyway…

In my experience CV over i2c is the cheapest you can get (obviously besides analog input, that would be 0%). If you’re on teletype, you could try adding slew on the from there (“CV.SLEW 1 1000” adds 1000ms of slew to CV 1).