Copies of hardware modules

I know a lot of users want these. “looking for a VCV module of module XYZ from Acme Co”. And why not? There are some module that some creative people have put a ton of time into coming up with, and the market has said “this is good”.

As a (former) developer of free modules, speaking just for myself, I would say “I would rather not do this”. It’s just no fun! I don’t want to spend a ton of my hobby time to make a copy of what someone else did, it just doesn’t interest me. No matter how good what they came up with is.

That said, I’m sure there are plenty who feel otherwise, and will enjoy doing this.

There, I said it. My work for today is done.

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I complete understand this, as visual artist I hate to copy, I find more interesting create (or at least try) my own art style, Sometimes it is quite tempting to recreate the work of others, but in the end it is not something that you would feel as “yours”

on the other hand, it is not bad to take from other processes, ideas, techniques etc to include in your work

of, for sure.

Interesting topic! From a personal (development) point a view, I have treated porting hardware modules as a learning exercise - for the Befaco stuff for example it’s forced me to learn to understand the basics about modular, circuit diagrams, oscillators, DC coupling all sorts. There are design decisions made that you might not consider in software about density of components, playability (patch cables don’t get in the way of fingers, clever normalling) etc. I think of it like recreating famous paintings in art school as part of the learning process before I make my own modules, something I want to do more of both in hardware and software.

I think that part of the appeal of modular is the constraints it puts the music making process, and in VCV I personally gravitate towards modules (regardless if they have hardware equivalents or not) that stick to skeumorphic principles, and say needing a menu to use a module breaks immersion for me. Hardware ports naturally provide that skeumorphism which may be why some people appear to be particularly interested in them, but many many others (squinky labs included) also do achieve this. Rack would be a very boring place if it only consisted of hardware ports!

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Well for sure if you are actually modeling some analog thing that’s it’s own art form, and quite fun.

You almost seem to be saying that to make a good vcv module you need to make it in hardware first. Of curse that is silly, I’m sure you are not saying that.

For sure if you want to make a module that is super refined and good it’s easier to take a design someone sweated and over for a year and copy it rather than do it yourself.

Anyway, I think your modules are cool, so no disrespect intended.

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virtual is not real

nysthi

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I’m not sure what I’m saying :joy: but it’s not this. I think I’m saying that if I’m scrolling through the module browser, I am subconsciously drawn to modules that could theoretically be made in hardware. I don’t know why that is, and I don’t think this is even the prevailing opinion, just a personal observation. The skeuomorphism debate has been done before on this forum and I don’t want to re-hash it, people have very different takes on that.

I too have seen an increase in interest/request for hardware modules and wanted to understand why as well, this is my theory as to why.

Where it gets interesting is in the other direction. Befaco are interested in using VCV as a platform for iterative hardware development, i.e. try out beta designs in VCV Rack, see how they work then build the hardware equivalent, which is something we’re discussing. Other notable examples include Vult (I think).

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As I said in another thread many of the most famous and sought after hardware modules are digital and have a significant learning curve and most users need to regularly consult manuals and crib sheets (I have them stuck to the wall) to remember obscure combinations of button presses. Screens are the alternative, but they are hard on ageing eyes.

We put up with it in hardware because rack space is ever the issue and, as @gc3 replied to me there, it is great to be able to test these modules out in software. It would be no more fun to use them in software than it is in hardware though.

Befaco is a good example of a company that avoids hiding functionality. I particularly like @trickyflemming’s NLC ports - fascinating analog circuits in modules that are hard to come by unless you don’t mind ordering from the other side of the world and/or getting skilled in SMD soldering. With unlimited space I would far rather have more analog modules and less digital in my rack just for the immediacy of the interaction.

I love to see these analog models in Rack and whilst I appreciate that doing that sort of work is not every dev’s cup of tea (or skillset) I am endlessly grateful to those devs who have brought us such modules.

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As they say “horses for courses”.

I personally love any time a new module drops.

If it’s a hardware clone, great another part of the physical Eurorack world I get to taste without a huge expense.

If it’s some wild, whacky, not possible in hardware or at least unlikely, great too, our imagination gets pushed beyond only what can be made in hardware.

If you’re on either side of that equation and don’t like the other side that much, then on either side you’re still spoiled for choices and that is only getting better by the day at the moment.

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Depends where you are :wink: Easier for us aussies to get than, let’s say, ladik modules :smiley:

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Indeed! I can’t remember the last time Thonk had a delivery of PCBs in the UK.

I guess you suffer from far more problems with things that come from the other side of the world than us though.

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Ideally, the virtual clones are done by the people responsible for the original hardware. Considering they probably don’t read this community forum … I don’t see the point either - unless to gather momentum behind a group request to the manufacturer of the original module - or to find a similar module allready in VCV.

My suggestion:

  • Send them an email, tell them about the successfull virtual clones allready in VCV.
  • Tell them about the library.
  • Tell them how to contact VCV, if they have any questions about licensing etc.

I know this may not really be a relevant thought exercise but nonetheless it came to mind.

What about the potential for people to find your other modules through finding a hardware clone?

From my own experience, when I’ve sought out a specific module and found an equivalent that works for me, I find myself inclined towards the modules of that developer. For example, if I find a module that feels intuitive and functional (in terms my brain understands) then I trust myself to get to grips with the dev’s other modules.

As for demand for them, my desire to find hardware clones stems entirely from wanting to get a hands on go with specific hardware, whilst I save (and dream) of getting a physical rack. There’s plenty to be learned from videos, but you just don’t get the same effect without turning the knobs, and whilst you can use non-copy equivalents there will be nuances in design that you won’t get without a clone. Learning the theory of modules is one thing, understanding the range of uses of a specific is another.

At the end of the day I am but a noob, and wish to learn. :slight_smile:

Lots of interesting replies here. Thank you.

Just wanted to mention, I wasn’t thinking of the case where original hardware manufacturer also makes VCV versions. That is indeed an interesting thing, and in that case is perhaps more of a module marketing technique than “hobby programming”.

And, full disclosure, as a (former) maker of free modules that are (imao) quite good, with very good audio quality, CPU usage, usability, control response, etc. it’s discouraging sometimes to see people come into this community either because they want to kick the tires on a free virtual module before spending money on a hardware module, of who are only interested in someone making clones of their 10 favorite hardware modules.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with people wanting these things. But they may not get them, and are most likely missing out on some excellent things.

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I heard back from Make Noise in an email from Walker Farrell that they “may” consider VCV, but they wont port existing modules, rather they would consider making something totally new for VCV. I think more people need to be open to letting developers do whatever they want.

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What level of copy are we talking about here? Just shooting the sh*t here but there’s probably different aspects of what users are asking for when they inquire about a copy of a hardware module. Part of the challenge is honing in on exactly what they’re looking for. Some examples I can think:

  1. "Is there a Rack module that has similar features to this hardware module?" That’s probably more of a “I want to be able to do what the module does in a reasonably similar method” type of question. May or may not be looking for an exact port. Just looking to do something similar.

  2. "Is there a Rack module that SOUNDS like this hardware module?" That’s more of an analog modeling, or “I heard an artist I admire uses this filter or wavefolder and I want that too” type of thing. Probably looking for the exact sound.

  3. "Is there a Rack module that is an exact port of this hardware module?" This is probably the most straightforward of the questions. They’re probably looking for an exact port to totally replicate the Eurorack experience, warts and all! The answers may be “yes, in VCV Rack that module can be found here” or “no, not an exact port, but these VCV modules do something similar.”

There are probably some permutations on those questions I missed.

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Also, I think some users may not even realize lots of modules already do what they want, they just havnt discovered it yet in the library

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For me there are two sides to this coin.

I both really like the idea of being able to “prototype” a patch in Rack before I commit to something in my physical system. Or for instance to document all the interesting ways modules can be used (I’m looking at you Rampage!). Trying out a eurorack module before buying the real deal etc.

However the fact that in software we can lift all these limitations of hardware and create unique modules not possible otherwise is of course the most exciting part!

I think both possibilities are very valuable approach to what Rack has to offer, but I would agree that not every hardware module needs to have a Rack equivalent per se. It’s up to developers to choose to create those “clones” of course.

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The last point shouldn’t bother us. I know a lot of people don’t want to spend time in front of a computer, but what vcv rack has to offer is just imaginable when you start doing music with modular or you commit to only hardware/analog or whatever. I’m sure a lot of people will discover vcv rack at some point and unleash its full potential whether with or without hardware modules.

Me personally I like to get fast to my goals and therefore using a module I already know from hardware is pretty comfortable and maked sende to me cause I want to make music and not having to start always from zero is a bless…

I get both sides of this…

on one hand,

why create virtual replicas that have limitations imposed by a physical or economic form? (e.g. memory constraints imposed by an MCU)

on the other…

eurorack modules cost $ , so have a lot of design thought and prototyping behind them… and some are classics… so why not reuse that effort !?

familiarity and love for a module… In vcv rack, I often grab the mutable instrument modules, simply because I have them in hardware form, so I know (and love) them well… so they are easier than grabbing a module im unfamiliar with.

purchasing, yup… I like trying vcvrack versions of modules Im considering buying…see how it works in various scenarios.

I don’t think the answer is yes or no… rather the current idea of having both is great.

we see the same with VSTs , a lot of complete original vsts … and some that are clones of hardware we know and love… having both is excellent.

I get that… but its kind of the nature of the beast… one of the reasons VCV rack has been so popular is because its a virtual clone of eurorack… there have been a ton of modular environments before vcv , things like pure data/reaktor… and many more… but the skeuomorphic design of vcv was much more appealing to many !

so not entirely surprising they many want to continuing that ‘emulating’ experience.

Im sure as they continue their journey they will branch out into non-clones, as they see what’s available.

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