Should I start out with Visual Cortex, Vidiot or the DIY Cadet modules?

@reverselandfill @joem Thank you both.

Am I correct in understanding that the cadet series modules come with a blank pcb/schematic (and panel) that I need to layout and route myself? Or is the PCB routed and the schematic provided just as a reference/learning tool. I’m pretty sold already, I just want to be sure about what I’m getting into :slight_smile:

The Cadet modules come with blank PCBs and frontpanels. You need to buy all the parts yourself. The schematic is provided for learning/reference, but you can also just install the parts according to the BOM without ever looking at the schematic. If you haven’t done electronics DIY kits before, I’d recommend you get a kit that comes along with step-by-step instructions on how to solder, source parts, etc before diving into these, which are intended more as intermediate/advanced level projects for the electronics hobbyist.

It takes 11 Cadet modules to begin to approach what Visual Cortex can do (probably around the same for Vidiot), so Visual Cortex and Vidiot are definitely the better “bang for your buck and time” purchases, unless DIY is just something you’re excited and passionate about. With video synthesis there’s an up front kind of buy-in cost of all the host I/O circuitry, and you have to pay that no matter which approach you’re going. Think of it like buying the DAW/Mixer combo for an audio rig – those items are necessary in order to start recording and mixing tracks.

In my personal opinion, the best approaches for people on a limited budget who aren’t too scared of Synth DIY, would be Visual Cortex plus a few of the Cadets that expand it well (C9, C6, C7, C8 especially) or if you want more of an encapsulated instrument, Vidiot plus a couple LZX Expedition modules in a small Euro case (Passage, Staircase, Pendulum are all good for this.)

Vidiot goes a long way, but if using it without other modules, prepare to invest in a nice camera/feedback setup, as that’s where it really shines and you get the most out of it. If you’ve already got some video mixers and cameras, then it’s a great way to step in and incorporate this stuff in your rig without feeling like you have to keep buying modules if it’s not something you want to pursue further.

If you’re on a very extreme budget or just love DIY stuff, Cadet only can work… it’s just going to be a lot of modules before you feel like you’ve got a complex system. I just want to make clear that it’s tempting to consider Cadet to be the cheapest route – but if overall budget is the concern, and a complex system (rather than just a starting point) is the goal, most of these options tend to even themselves out at the end of the day.


@alargeformat “blank pcb’s” / The pcb’s are not blank as in perfboard :slight_smile: They are routed and printed.
The schematic is for reference.

The Cadet route is very ‘open’, in a way that everything is patchable, and must be patched to get things going.
This means that you will need to understand every module very good and use several modules for basic synthesis.

The Cortex & Expedition modules have a lot of handy routings and features build in.
These functions can also be patched with the Cadet modules, but this will take more effort.
(input and output attenuverters, waveform options etc)

I have a panel that combines the sync generator, the video input and the output encoder.
Most of my other panels are dual or triple (like dual VCO’s, dual Processors, triple function generators)

You can combine several Cadet modules in one custom panel to save some patch cables ,
for example: a VCO and a Processor & Multiplier in one package. That’s one option I’m considering now :slight_smile:

Maybe that route is for the more experienced builders. Start with a few Cadets and work from there!


Hi, as a complete beginner I really appreciate all the info thus far.

Ultimately my main interest is effects processing. Sending external video (and maybe audio) in, manipulating it, and then recording the output (not for live performance).

How much of a stand alone unit will Memory Palace be?

If it is, can anyone recommend a basic 2-4 module set-up for that? Would you need Visual Cortex at all?

Of course, I’d love to start big with the modules above, but I’m still unsure if the Vidiot can do a fair amount of effects processing as well? Most of the examples I see are more colored shape and pattern generation stuff. (I guess you could just add a video source and it might be more of what I’m looking for???)

Can anyone help me better wrap my head around the possibilities?

Thanks much.

@vacuum Memory Palace is not meant to be used as a standalone unit – generally when we do EuroRack modules, the design decisions relate to the context of a larger system (we have a pretty expansive vision of how it all fits together.) That said, you could do an effects processing system with just the TBC2 + Memory Palace that would be awesome and do a wide range of effects, especially if you have lots of external modulation options. This may be the best approach if processing and a small initial system is your goal. You will need TBC2 to get external video into the system’s patchable workflow, and then Memory Palace provides all the effects and dedicated video outs.

If you’re into the more analog processing techniques like colorization, solarization, RGB and wipe offsets, etc Visual Cortex by itself goes a long way as a processor as well. Vidiot can process external stuff but you can’t get full color video through it from in-to-out, and it’s best in a feedback loop environment with external cameras and video mixers.


Great question, and people have given very thoughtful objective insights. When I think about this question of how to enter the world of video synthesis… I find myself thinking about what I would have done different if I knew what I know now, or in light of the latest gear that is available. My take on it is predictably very personal, but… If I were starting fresh now. I’d start with a Vidiot, hands down! … except that the waiting list is a major stall out if you want to get going ASAP.

My start was with a 3TrinsRGB+1c… on a whim… half purchased with a tax return. I was very aware of LZX equipment at that point, but I didn’t know what I was doing and couldn’t justify the entry point cost. I explored the 3Trins for a short while before I hit a creative wall. I then started tinkering with DIY circuits that I could power from the 3Trins and interface on the header pins… in order to expand on the 3Trins and also utilize it as an RGB encoder for video circuit experiments. It was exactly the slippery slope I feared it might be (hoped for?).
Eventually I purchased a Visual Cortex, originally to have a more flexible platform for encoding and experimenting… one that was much more advanced and robust than the 3Trins. After that I saved up for a Staircase, Bridge, and Video Logic. Those are my only LZX modules so far, but I love them. I am waiting on a Vidiot, and I look forward to the day I can play with it!
All that said… if I were starting over… I would dive in at the Vidiot point for the following main reasons: [1] it is a “ready to play” system (similar to how 3Trins was for me), and that is a great way to have fun right off the bat; [2] it effectively represents (to me) a best blend of benefits between something like a 3Trins and a visual Cortex starting point… it has oscillators, colorizing, keying, and can act as an encoder for further DIY experimentation… and it is more robust than 3Trins regarding external inputs (3Trins should only really be interfaces with signals that are powered from its own headers, which is kind of limiting); [3] it has an envelope follow for smooth out-of-the-box audio-visualization; [4] clean power… although I owned some audio Eurorack equipment prior to video modules, I find that my power supplies are quite noisy (which is fun sometimes, but not always), and not greatly suited for video… but everything I’ve seen from Vidiot so far looks wonderfully clean.



Probably another thing to point out in this thread. We know this stuff is very expensive for most of you. Just know that you are getting what you pay for with LZX stuff. Everything is priced on direct multiples of component cost and assembly complexity (that is, we don’t upcharge anything just because it took longer to think of or design.) Just compare the price tag of Memory Palace + TBC2 to the Roland V4EX or other broadcast equipment with similar specs – and realize they are producing it at a much larger scale, with much more vast resources – if you want a basis for comparison. We don’t intend for anyone to be able to drop several grand on modules on the first day. We encourage you start small, add modules 1-2 at a time as you can, and learn the new possibilities of each addition exhaustively before continuing to grow. It’s meant to be a long and satisfying journey. :slight_smile:


I also have some lzx-cadet based designs that built for my self… maybe you want to trade pcbs with me?

@creatorlars @reverselandfill @drumasaurusrex

Thank you for your insightful comments. I’m at the stage where I still feel like a beginner DIYer but have built a considerable amount of kits/opensource modules and so I’m up for the challenge. I also want to continue improving my soldering/troubleshooting skills, etc. I have fabbed my own boards recently which is what confused me about the ‘blank’ pcb term :blush:

While budget is always a concern, it’s not my main one. I am more looking at Cadet as a way of learning/understanding the fundamentals and hopefully not hurdling over them and getting ahead of myself.

Thank you all for the help before I dive in!

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Thanks for the reply - been thinking about it some more - especially with regard to workflow and expandability

I think that the vidiot path is out - I’m coming out of the computer in colour so I’d like to retain that through the workflow and vidiot doesn’t do colour video in does it?

I have a 2000€ budget now and am likely to go to midiamsterdam to order next saturday

currently my thinking is this:

Visual Cortex, Prismatic Ray, Bridge, Color Chords and Staircase (I take it I will also need a synch cable between VC and PR, and a few of the rgb snakes look like a good idea)

Maybe swap Arch for Bridge, I already have 8 attenuators in the rack

I’ll also need a vga or HDMI -> component converter of some sort

This will fit in my eurorack cases for now

Then Arch, Pendulum, Passage - for which I will need another case!!

And sometime in the future Memory Palace, TBC2. The TBC2 adds an extra 2 video channels in doesn’t it? so for example if I get either the VC or the Memory Palace, then I would have 3 video channel inputs - ie 2 laptops and a camera (and if I had all 3 then there would be 4 input channels)

Quick question about Sensory Translator and Diver - they appear to have signifcant overlap - what are the pros/cons of each?


Exciting! That sounds like a fun rig!

Sensory Translator vs. Diver: They are both tools that are great for audiovisualization, but are entirely different functionally.

Diver is more like a sampler/buffer that can transpose audio waveforms across the dimensions (horizontal and vertical) of the video image. Think of it like a 1D to 2D converter, or a video oscillator that can capture the waveform of an audio input. So this would be used to actually take the shape of an audio waveform and make it visually viewable, freezable, and 2-dimensional. In context of the whole system, that’s quite powerful because all the analog shape modules (Staircase, Navigator, etc) work as video rate waveshaping processors for horizontal and vertical waveforms, meaning Diver can feed audio into a patch in such a way that all your resulting pattern generation is based on the original audio itself. Say you were using this with a track, it would work best if sent something simple – like a bassline or the kick track, or whatever you want to add specific visual emphasis to.

Sensory Translator is an analog FFT decoder and envelope follower, essentially. This splits audio into 5 different frequency bands and then applies low frequency amplitude following to each. So the results could be patched to different destinations that will then animate in time with the presence of each frequency component. So this is good for sending in a full mix or track, and splitting it up so that you can have different frequencies effect parts of your video patch differently.

The two would play well together because you could use the envelope band outputs from Sensory Translator to do things like modulate the phase inputs on Diver. Audiovisualization works best in my opinion, when you are doing at least 2 different things that interact, so these two modules are a powerful combination.


@creatorlars I think you just sold me a Diver…

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I think Lars just sold me (nearly) everything

I definitely want TBC2, Diver and Memory Palace

but those will have to be for next year!!!

as for this year (@creatorlars) if I order the modules I mentioned above from MidiAmsterdam tomorrow (Saturday) any vague idea when I can expect to see them? - & yes I’ve seen the production schedule thread!!!

modules were Visual Cortex, Prismatic Ray, Bridge, Color Chords, Staircase and Arch… seriously considering adding a Sensory Translator to the order too

@Agawell I’m not sure what MidiAmsterdam have in stock currently, but our production status updates are all here: LZX Production Status 2018, Updated August 8th

We expect to have restocked everything before the end of the year. Visual Cortex and Prismatic ray are some of the next ones up in September. The others should be available.

@creatorlars thanks

doesn’t look like they have any stock, everything is “will be ordered on request”

but that timescale looks good to me…

and they’re ordered!!!

the wait begins…

@creatorlars I was looking for the knowledge base article about what peripherals I need/might want now I have a visual cortex (on order) - iirc converters, cameras, black magic intensity shuttle etc

could you please re-share this or create a new one

found the links and added it here:

getting started with euro rack

Just circling back:

I ended up going with a visual cortex and am currently pacing by the mailbox; Will soon be following @creatorlars suggestion and expand with some cadet modules. Very excited to embark on this journey and be a part of such a welcoming community.


Getting ready to take the plunge and I can’t wait!

I’m currently borrowing a friend’s Vidiot and having a blast. I already have a full Eurorack system, and am plenty comfortable doing DIY. Since I want to ventually expand to a system like this, I’m leaning towards a Visual Cortex over vidiot. I think I will start with a system like this (maybe with a doorway, shapechanger or navigator in the unfilled area)

Since I’m really loving the Vidiot though, I was curious about getting some more feedback on where to start, as there are some things it immediately gives you which you don’t get with a Visual Cortex…

I love the immediacy of the Vidiot’s two oscillators, but I think getting a prismatic ray, staircase (or 2?), and building a Cadet scaler to go with the Visual Cortex would probably be enough to have the oscillator/pattern generation aspects mostly covered. Would love to get the cadet VCO but it would be too big for my current skiff (only 50mm/61.3mm). Creating the default patterns from Vidiot seems relatively straightforward w/ the right utilities and two oscillators. Maybe lose some potential by only having one oscillator that is capable of being FM’ed at video-rate, but that doesn’t seem like a terrible thing!

One thing I love about Vidiot so far is patching the RGB outputs back to various inputs - but I believe this could be achieved with VC by patching the YPbPr outputs to the YPbPr inputs (though this prevents camera usage… unfortunately). Can someone verify that this would be what I expect?

Another thing I love about the Vidiot is CV over colorization (e.g. using LFOs from modular to control colorization). I believe with clever patching of the compositor section this would be easily achievable: For instance, in multiply mode, you could patch your pattern into colorize, turn MIX for channel A on, and then use channel B for your slow color modulations. (maybe dummy-cable composite to keep the composite VC at 0). Alternatively using 3x Cadet Multipliers could do the same thing.

I also really like the Gate/key inputs for solarize/negative/color+rgb negative on Vidiot, but I think you could also get lots of related results by creative patching of the compositor and/or Cadet/utility modules. It seems like you could really get some unique things by how you decide to patch signals to colourize and/or composite, how you set the mix+composite mode switches, etc. Getting color chords now (instead of e.g. shapeshifter or navigator) seems like it would make a lot more crazy stuff possible with the compositor on VC

Obviously with Vidiot you get 2 keys, but with the Cortex you can automate threshold changes which seems incredibly useful to me based off of how much fun I’m having playing with the Vidiot thresholds.

VC also doesn’t have all the useful attenuators/inverter switches, but that doesn’t seem like a huge deal.

Anyways I know this is a lot, but if anyone has any more thoughts on this, I would certainly appreciate hearing them!

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