Brand new to hardware modular. Intellijel case arriving soon. I have newbie questions

My very first modular case, an Intellijel 104 HP 7U performance case, is shipping to me right now. I am also getting a handful of modules that should be enough to get started. And I bought cables of course.

I saw in documentation somewhere that modules (should) come with the power cable you need to connect to the power bus. That makes me think all I need to get started is the Intellijel case, some modules, a screwdriver for installation, and cables to connect that modules. Is that it? I feel like I’m missing something.

The other questions I have are about connecting the case to external hardware:

I am only getting the Headphones 1U module right now because I can’t find the Stereo Line Out 1U module in stock anywhere right now. That’s fine because I want to use headphones, but I will also want to use speakers at some point. It says the Headphones 1U “doubles as a TRS stereo line level output”. I have a MOTU M2 audio interface, so I think I need something like a 1/4" TRS male to dual XLR cable, like this. Is that correct?

Finally, I want to connect a MIDI controller to this case. The USB connection on the case looks like a USB type B plug. A lot of my MIDI controllers have a type B plug and, in my experience, you plug these into a USB type A plug on a computer. I want to connect my MIDI controller directly, but I don’t see a type B to type B USB cable anywhere. I’m not sure if USB type B to MIDI 5-pin cable exists either. To connect a MIDI controller to my case, do I need to use a MIDI 5-pin cable? I think many of my devices only have USB jacks. Maybe I need to use a computer or get some sort of standalone MIDI hub. Suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any help,

USB-b to b (male to male) cables are available. I use one myself. You can save a lot of money just grabbing one of those off of Amazon instead. However, if you want to use the DIN ports on your case, I believe Perfect Circuit has some usb-b to MIDI cables.

As for the audio interface, a simple Y-cable will work; the audio jacks are combination so they can accept TS or XLR. XLR is often preferred for stage applications, as it can lock in so it doesn’t come loose. You’ll want that if you’re traveling. But a 1/4 TRS to dual TS y-cable will be perfectly fine too.

As far as connecting modules go, yeah, that’s pretty much it. Make sure you have enough headers on your power board (the 104hp7u cases have plenty unless you want to cram in an absolute ton of tiny modules. Not recommended for average size hands). Other than that, check that they’re lined up and not plugged in backwards and you’re good to go.

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This is generally true, but used module sellers don’t always include the cable, or might include an extra-short one that doesn’t reach your case’s sockets in the position you want. So, if you’re buying used modules, it’s good to have spares ready to go so you’re not disappointed that you can’t use your new module.

(Tip: If you want, it’s not hard to make your own: all you need are the connectors, ribbon cable, scissors to cut, and a vise or something else to squeeze them closed with even pressure. But, it’s also not hard to make a cable that’ll destroy your equipment by being misconnected, so maybe don’t if you don’t already know how to check that with a multimeter.)

Mistakes beyond that point will be like “oops, I don’t have a clock / sequencer / VCA / some other module to make a complete patch with" or “oops, I don’t have the right adapter to hook up my other gear”, and it sounds like you’ve got that sorted.

I’m not familiar with the input options of the MOTU M2 exactly, but often, line-level connections are made with TS/TRS cables instead of XLR. Look for an “insert cable” — they’re sold to hook up effects units, but they have exactly the wiring you need to plug into your interface’s combo input jacks (one TRS split out to two TS). Some interfaces always expect the XLR to be a microphone-like level and impedance, whereas some have them wired equivalently, but in any case, it’s probably cheaper to get a dual-TS splitter cable than a dual-XLR.

The problem here is that you need something willing to act as a USB “host”. Traditional (pre-USB-C) USB works by putting A ports on “host” equipment, and B ports (or permanently attached cables) on “device” equipment, and a “device” is expected to wait for the “host” to talk to it. So, if you were to get a B-to-B cable, unless one of the devices is non-standard-compliant, the results will be “nothing happens”.

You can buy a dedicated USB MIDI host box that will give you an A port and a 5-pin-DIN port, but for Eurorack the least total cost option might be to go with the Expert Sleepers FH-2, which supports USB in both host and device modes. Or If your MIDI controller has a 5-pin port then you don’t need anything else. (Or you can plug both devices into a computer and have it do the MIDI routing.)

Also recognize that if you do go for a MIDI module with a USB A port to plug in a controller, that means you’re using your case’s power supply to power the controller — make sure there’s current to spare for it.

Thank you both! That is super helpful info.

I know you didn’t say how many, but you will need more. The curse of modular :stuck_out_tongue:


Boy if that ain’t the truth. Seeing as you always need more cables, I’m going to put in a shameless plug for Tendrils ( They can really help clean up spaghetti, and they’re especially useful if you have parts of your patch that you pretty much always keep the same.

Since no one said anything about the cable you picked out specifically, yeah that should work, assuming you have a gain adjustment or mic/instrument/line selector on the XLR inputs of the MOTU.

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I got my case and first round of modules and all is well. Everything is installed and working great!

Yes, I need more patch cables. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:
I was purposefully holding back on buying a lot of cables because I am trying to get a sense of what lengths I want to use and if I want other types like right angle cables. I got too many long cables. And now that I’m actually patching I’m starting to think about color coding schemes…

I have another question:

My case is less than half full so big sections of the power bus are exposed. The connection points on the power bus have 16 metal pins facing upwards. If I have a patch cable plugged into a module and I drop the other end into the case, and the cable’s plug makes contact with those metal pins on the power bus, is that bad? Could it fry the circuits of a module? If so, I guess I should get blank panels to cover things up, or how do people deal with this?

These look great. I think I will be ordering a bunch of these. I am trying to pack probably too much into this case and have opted for some modules like the Doepfer Quad VCA with a ton of jacks in a tight space: Doepfer A-135-2 Quad VCA / VC Mixer - Eurorack Module on ModularGrid
It is clear I am going to have to get organized with my cabling for this to not be a tangled mess all the time.

Yes, this is potentially very bad. The likely outcome if something happens at all is that the plug lands on and shorts the power supply rails briefly — the result will either a power interruption and perhaps a burnt spot on your plug, or destruction of modules if you have any 5V-using modules and the +5V gets shorted to +12V. It could also damage a module that assumes the other end of the cable won’t be connected to a low-impedance source like a power supply.

Or, the plug could also land on the side of a module’s PCB and connect a signal to a totally random spot on its circuit. I had this happen to a 2hp module once — it cut out but luckily was not permanently damaged.

Ever since that early incident I have used blank panels in all my cases, especially ones that lie flat. Doepfer makes a series of 8, 4, 2, and 1 HP blanks which you can use in combination to cover up any size gap in your case (and Intellijel has blanks for 1U).

Oh yes.

It’s not likely to do anything, but do be careful. I had a cable plugged into the gate out on my Planar2, accidentally tapped it against one of the power rails, and it fried that output. It was only one component, super easy fix, but I had to wait for like almost a whole week (oh, the horror!) to get it back from Intellijel support. Most modules, most outputs, will be fine, but you’ll occasionally get lucky like I did.

Now, it’s completely fine to have your case the way you do—I was just being stupid to leave my cable plugged in at one end and dangling at the other—as long as you’re careful. But if it does make contact, you’ll know immediately. When I did it, all my modules rebooted like there was a power flicker. So long as you’re careful with cable dressing, it’s fine to leave spaces open. I personally don’t advocate lots of blanks unless you mean for it to be permanent. To me, it’s just a waste of money when the classic Mylarmelodies cardboard trick works perfectly (I believe he demonstrates it in this video. The basic idea is that cardboard makes for just as functional a blank panel as a piece of pcb or aluminum.). That said, backlit blanks like the ones from Audio Parasites are really cool if you need more blinky lights

:+1: For the moment I laid down some plastic over the exposed metal pins and I think that will be fine until I get more modules. Maybe I’ll get a blank panel or two and/or cut up some cardboard to be 3U-sized, because it’s probably going to be at least a few months before I fill in some of the gaps.

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You didn’t mention this, but MOTU interfaces (including the M2) are fantastic choices for interfacing Eurorack synthesizers with computers since they have DC-coupled outputs and can thus send control voltages (and not just audio) to your modules. Software like Silent Way, Ableton CV Tools, Reaktor, and VCV Rack can turn analog outputs into LFOs, envelopes, v/oct signals, gates, etc. (The down side to using the M2 this way is that you only have two outputs and thus may want to monitor on another interface or on the headphones 1u.)


Good to know @willb! My initial goal with my modular system is to go DAW-less and get away from computer screens and the overwhelmingly infinite possibilities of software. But one day I bet I will want more out of my modular system, and combining it with Ableton or whatever will be amazing I’m sure. I’m glad my audio interface will be up to the task.

We’re getting a bit off topic now, but I’ve been thinking of supplementing my rack with something like a Arturia KeyStep Pro to enhance my modular system while staying DAW-less. I originally expected to get a MIDI 1U module, but like many Intellijel products, it is very hard to find right now. I’d doing fine using just the sequencers in my rack (although I wish I could find Scales in stock somewhere), but I’ll want to supplement it with an external controller/sequencer at some point. If I get something with CV outputs, I might not even need MIDI inputs, and direct CV is probably more flexible anyway. Analogue Solutions Generator looks pretty interesting too, but it has less functionality for twice the price so I’m a bit hesitant.

First off, there’s no such thing as “off-topic”, only learning about a different thing. Not in a newbie questions thread. If you don’t ask, how will you learn?

But the Arturia is an amazing keyboard. Definitely worth it, if you can find it in stock. I personally use the cv/gate outputs and also have it hooked up to the MIDI 1u. With some clever config settings you can squeeze out an extra couple of notes of polyphony