Barriers to Plugin Adoption

I imagine that they are not in wide day-to-day use.

I use them occasionally but i know Dronehands (a Twitch streamer) uses one of them all the time. They probably get more use than you think.

why? if it’s free i’ll try it. well, i may check the description, and if it is something i likely won’t use (interfacing with hardware, or drums), then i don’t bother.

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why? if it’s free i’ll try it. well, i may check the description, and if it is something i likely won’t use (interfacing with hardware, or drums), then i don’t bother.

I’m putting myself in the position of a new user. Even if you download every module you still have to decide what to try. Remember that many people have no idea what modular synthesis is when they start (VCV was certainly my introduction to all this). It’s quite a bit easier to download one or two packs and get used to them rather than be overwhelmed by the number of choices, particularly when there are so many unfamiliar ideas to learn. So, a lot of people will just use what looks cool and ignore what doesn’t. I think that’s fine. Also remember that we’re working in a form where arbitrary limitations are routinely used to provoke creativity, why not just download the “coolest” looking modules and use those?



I have a bit of the OCD when it comes to this too. I still use what is available, but I would really prefer to have a uniform looking system, I LOVE the way the core modules and mutable modules look, so clean and silver lol. Truly thankful for those that include a “light mode.”

I did the same thing with eurorack hardware, all matching panel colors, grayscale if needed, sometimes even with brands, it was fun to me and made some interesting patches.

I do this with VCV too. I created an Airtable that lists, categorizes, and visualizes the modules in all the plugins I’ve downloaded (nerd). I rate each plugin in terms of aesthetics. Some plugins are really hard to look at, and when I’m patching I want it to be a fun, good experience. I don’t want to have to squint at illegible text, shield my eyes against color combinations that vibrate, or try to manipulate too-small/obscure controls.

Of course, I’ll still install a plugin that I rate low aesthetically if there is something unique or uniquely useful about it.

Modular isn’t just about the sound, it’s also about the experience of making the sound.


That’s why in Beginners guide to VCV Rack I say:

  1. Install the following plugins to start with: Audible Instruments, Befaco, JW-modules, ML_modules, Bogaudio, Vult modules (free).

People will always argue about which plugins it should be, but that’s my suggestion, and I think there’s some reason behind that.

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Not to mention “is this VCA any better or worse from that VCA? Is this ADSR good? Oh hey I have five different kinds of mixing board!”

I do not consider this a real problem at all, @Skrylar … After almost four months in the Modular Synthesis realm, i will say that it’s really good to have more than one “any same kind of module” at hand … Why? … Because after having understood and learned the basics, it is wonderful to substitute any of the modules used in the patch by any of the available equivalents and see how the patch sounds with it, or what new posibilities the new one offers than the original one had not … Real fun, enjoyment, experimentation, and further learning about the possibilities of Modular Synthesis, you know? :drooling_face: :heart_eyes:

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As a relatively new user let me say that i never have had any problem myself to decide “what module i’m gonna to try to do this or that?” … On the contrary, my only concern has always been to learn the basics and understand how a simple voltage was able to generate sound on its own …

So once one learns the basics one knows that one needs at least one VCO, some VCFs/Envelopes, some LFOs, some Sequencer/s, and some Tools … After that, you have a bunch of modules of the same kind to try, so you only need to read the manual (or watch a video tutorial) of this or that module and aply your basic knowledge to it.

So, at least to me, there’s a great fun and enjoyment to be able to have a bunch of modules of the same kind at hand to experiment with and discover that although they all are VCOs, or VCFs, or LFOs, or anything else, all of them are different somehow, which brings a lot of different posibilities on their own to experiment with.

So to me there are two kind of painters … those who look for security, so that they use always the same colours, always fearful to have to brake out their paintings and start anew … AND those who use any colour available (even if they are the same with a slight hue difference), no matter how many times they have to break out their paintings and start anew … And this makes the difference between true Artist, and those who only move within the known, always fearful of the unknown.

So all what i see in this discussion here is some fearful people trying to transmit their fear to those who can come here as newbies … Because even if one would have thowsand types of wood at hand the result will be always a chair, or a table, or a bookshelf … So the real problem Is not if i have thousand types of wood, BUT if i have really understood how to make a chair, a table, or a bookshelf … Once i have really learned and understood that, there’s a great fun in discovering what are the characteristics of each different wood i can have for my project … and who knows, maybe even go beyond the basics dicovering new ways of doing things non-existent before.

My two cents :wink:


Personally, I’ve ignored a lot of plugins because of their design. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have a hard time using plugins that visually look bad, regardless of how good they might sound or work.

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I don’t doubt that experienced users don’t care; they probably already know what everything does and have memorized the weird names (“oh, detroy is a sequencer”) and have their favorite stars/pins set on stuff.

I ran across this thread when trying to search for a plugin. It is quite difficult to know which plugin to install and which modules are in that plugin.

I have a suggestion. On the plugin page, can a new field be added with a long description of what’s in the plugin?

I also notice that there seem to be tags on individual modules, perhaps those tags could be brought out into this table searchable?

The popularity isn’t a great indicator if the module is good or not. But better than nothing. It would be great to have a star rating and maybe a link to a forum thread of comments for each plugin.

I have definitely resorted to searching in google for things like “vcvrack module band pass filter” to try and find what I was looking for. Very hit and miss. Would be better to get the plugin list more usable in my opinion.

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We already have a plan for this, and feature requests belong on GitHub, not here. Read the rules.

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Absolutely looks are important. There are some beautiful 3rd party modules. But there are many that are not great looking. And of course, design is very subjective, but I’ll go so far as to say the some stuff, categorically, looks better than other stuff.

You can call it silly and trivial if you want, but no, I don’t use ugly modules — even if they sound great.

Conversely: The new Erica modules look fantastic, but I can’t use them until the non-smooth changing bitcrush knob is fixed.

Fascinating stats. Two things come to my mind as an author of two plugin sets

  1. My baconmusic modules are pretty craptastic but have a popularity above 26,000; I don’t think that amounts to much usage since it has resulted in about 3 feature requests to my github. I chalk this “popularity” up to the fact that they are old (I wrote em to figure out rack 0.5 and stuff) and have the word bacon in their name which is both alphabetically and culinarily appealing. (The 1.0.1 release is less craptastic with new uis and polyphony but they still aren’t worthy of much attention if they were judged more fairly). So clearly age and hysteresis matters a lot as does free; and download count may be a poor proxy for quality.

  2. On the other hand the rather powerful surge module hit the download manager on Friday for the first time ever. Only works with rack 1. And current has 1400 downloads. I don’t know another free music software distribution platform that can put up stats quite like that so quickly. So clearly the system is powerful and users are curious about quality modules. And we didn’t really do any marketing per se. I mentioned it here some and oddy mentioned it in the Facebook thread.

And that makes me conclude “plug-in manager” is a super valuable asset (thanks @vortico and the community team!) and popularity is a somewhat wonky metric.

Now I’m left wondering what a mechanism is for folks to review and share feedback on modules and what mechanics the community has to advertise good (or bad) modules constructively to each other and to the authors. I don’t know if that belongs in the plugin manager but if I want to “upvote” some module I don’t know where I would do that. And I’m not sure if or how I would get feedback on modules I write. Interesting.

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In case you didn’t know, “popularity” means “number of VCV accounts that ‘own’ your plugin”.

Some observations about the VCV Library and VCV accounts.

  • Over half of all users just add all plugins to their account shortly after signing up. This means that although your 1400 users have your plugin installed, they probably haven’t tried it yet or ever.
  • And half of the above half only click “add” on everything once in their life. This means that assuming a uniform number of people downloading Rack since last year, the “popularity” of your plugin is roughly proportional to its age. The reason this isn’t exactly true is because the other half of users choose plugins more carefully.
  • An hour after Rack 1.0.0 released, I was getting 20 plugin downloads/second.
  • Even now a week after release, I still get 0.1-1 plugin downloads/second.
  • Roughly same stats for plugin adds/second, since the plugins have averaged 1-2 versions since the Rack v1 release.

Yeah I figured popularity was add count which is why I assume the 26k bacon popularity is appropriately bogus (like it is a real stat but doesn’t account for any serious measure of popularity). But for surge I still think it is impressive that 1400 people clicked in 4 days on anything.

Have you considered making more stats available to plugin developers (like os of downloaders; how many new vs existing users added a plugin; that sort of thing) or would that be too close to stats you use to run your business? I’m just doing this dev work for fun and to see if anyone makes music I like with software I help with but I could imagine there’s some interesting data you may have.

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One other metric you could obtain (if you could be bothered) would be if you scraped the patches from patchstorage and searched them.

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This is the kind of thing that people usually use per-session analytics for :wink:

ET phone home :wink: