On The Level

Posted by nstevens 14/04/2023 0 Comment(s)


Like many others, my pre-Eurorack days (PE for the observant) were steeped in heavy riffage and doom filled basements. As a guitar player, I entered the Euro world with the assumption that all levels were equal and I could plug my guitar into a Euro mixer and power chord my way into oblivion. I was very wrong. Come learn with me.


There a few different levels you will encounter in electronic musical instruments. The most common is professional line level. This is what you will find in most synthesizers, drum machines, mixers and is generally 1.75v peak to peak. Consumer line level is what you find with most home entertainment and is a step quieter, existing between .5v -1v peak to peak. Lastly, instruments with passive pickups come in even quieter – often in millivolts. This includes most guitars and basses. Eurorack signal levels typically put out sound at 10v peak to peak. Here is a quick rundown on the definition of peak to peak for the curious. So how on earth do we get our guitars or synths up to euro level? MORE GAIN!


Some modules, the Mutable Beads and WMD Performance Mixer come to mind, have built-in gain compensation methods but more often than not, one will need a dedicated module to get your non-Euro instruments up to Eurorack levels. Many Euro manufacturers make input or pre-amp modules. We like Befaco’s Inamp for its simplicity, and it has more than enough gain to get your monosynths sounding wonderful in your rack.


In addition to interfacing instruments with the Euro world, there are also dedicated modules for bringing guitar pedals into your rack. ADDAC makes a very simple unit that both drops Euro level exiting your system so to not damage the pedal and then boosts the wet signal back up to Euro to reintroduce to your system at the proper volume. Eurorack can be confusing at first, but rest assured — someone smarter than me has most likely figured out a solution!


written by Richard Tarantino