Here’s a great attempt at getting modular synthesis happening in the world of virtual reality and this prerelease alpha of SynthVR looks interesting, usable and engaging. Could be a good way into modular synthesis but does virtual reality synth-ing add anything to software synth-ing?
In this virtual reality space you are faced with an empty Eurorack case of what looks like 4 rows of 104HP – but there’s no reason why they have to stick to any conventions. Manipulating the hand controllers gives you access to a whole bunch of modules which you can drop into the case. Nothing is being automated here so in order to make music you need to build your modular instrument including adding an audio output module and patching it all together.
Patching appears to be relatively straightforward using the right-hand controller and you simply drag cables from socket to socket. The modules all work as you’d expect them to. They have a bunch of modules already like Clock, Envelopes, Mults, Sequencers and so on. It looks like they’ve based the look or at least the knobs on Make Noise modules.
SynthVR is currently in public alpha and you can go and download it and try it out for yourself. It has a limited module set in order to properly test out the functionality without getting sidetracked into the more esoteric side of modular.
There have been a few forrays into virtual reality modular with projects like SynthSpace and Synthmulator and then there’s the Ableton style Tranzient. All of them offer enormous potential for interactive virtual music-making. Unless you’re familiar with VR it’s difficult to judge how usable and satisfying it is and whether it’s a place you can spend a long and creative amount of time. I’m impressed by the speed with which he was able to throw up modules and get patching and it will be great to see where this goes.
SynthVR is available via SideQuest for Oculus Quest. Check out the video below for a good introduction to what it’s all about.
- SynthVR webpage on SideQuest.