We’ve seen virtual Eurorack modular on our desktops before with Softube Modular. VCV Rack offers one important difference – it’s completely free. It models very familiar Eurorack hardware and gives all wannabe wigglers the opportunity to explore the potential of proper modular modules.
Run the software and it throws a rack of unlimited rows upon your screen. Right-click in space and select a module to place anywhere you like. Patch them together with virtual cables and you are generating modular noises. The starter or “Fundamental” module pack comes with 8 solid modules. There’s a VCO, VCF, VCA, ADSR, Delay, Mixer, Sequencer and Scope. Weirdly there’s no LFO in this group which strikes me as very odd.
In addition to the Fundamental pack there are three other packs that are also free. These are presented as add-ons to the VCV Rack and you get the sense that they really should be charging for them as in-app purchases – but they’re not. So get them while they remain this way. The first pack are spookily familiar versions of the Mutable Instruments modules. They are called “Audible Instruments” although they freely admit that there are based upon the MI modules and they look exactly the same. MI provide access to the source code for their modules and so these are based upon that actual code making them “faithful to the hardware”. It’s certainly very cool that we get to play on all these MI modules, for free. How MI feel about it is perhaps another question, but let’s hope they approve.
Then there’s the E-Series which is a single module based upon the Synthesis Technology’s E340 Cloud Generator. It’s a swarming VCO that I’ve always wanted to play with – now I can. And pack number 3 is a selection of Befaco modules for which they are not even coming up with a vaguely alternative name.
A modular playground
All in all, you get 27 modules to play with – for free. That’s extremely awesome. They all look great, all the buttons and lights work as they should, the patch cables hang nicely and there’s even a tensioning control. This is only version 0.3.0 and already it’s a phenomenal piece of programming. I can’t quite wrap my head around how they can be modelling existing modules in such an overt way. They must have some kind of permission and endorsement surely? Well, they are showing it at Knobcon along side these hardware manufacturers so it much be legit.
This is a fantastic resource for any electronic musician. Perfect for trying out modular, excellent at expanding your sound palette and a superb educational tool. It’s currently only running stand-alone with audio and MIDI connections to the rest of your system, A plug-in version is on the way. No doubt more modules will be along. Apparently, the official version 1.0 commercial release will arrive before Christmas and will feature packs of modules you’ll have to pay for. It could do with some presets to get newbies started and a some more obvious modulation modules but you should really go and get your copy.
More information on the VCV rack website.