DSP & VCV a tool for course instruction

Continuing Conversation from https://community.vcvrack.com/t/vcv-drums/ with @gc3 and @Squinky.Labs

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I’m trying to push the relevant professors to check Rack out. Unfortunately, they don’t seem overly interested. The ‘normal’ DSP course, which I’m currently taking, uses only Matlab. The embedded DSP course, which I’d like to take my next (and final) semester I’d particularly like to convince the prof to use literally anything else, as it currently uses a dev board with TMS320C5535:


and because of its age it’s a real PITA to work with on modern platfroms and the documentation is sorta awful, espically for an into to embedded DSP course. I have a Daisy Pod that I showed him and also nudged him with VCV as I think VCV can act as an almost pseduo-embedded environment for doing that class. He didn’t seem interested though.

To be fair, my experience at uni has been mixed to put it charitably, as you can read here

Ironically, it’s actually my Signals professor, Dr. Sayood, from a few semesters ago that actually showed interest in Rack when I told him it had made the class easier for me to understand, and I was even able to work with him to get it installed on his computer and get an account setup so that he could at least get Bog Audio’s spectrum analyzer. I don’t know if he’s used it at all for anything, let alone teaching, since though.

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@Vortico I know you’ve mentioned previously that some universities are using VCV - is that just for making music, or do you know of curriculumus that have used it to teach DSP too?

@gc3 trying to answer your question from the CCRMA side of things… I know a few students and recent grads who are currently or were working on VCV modules as part of their DSP studies. Though I’m not sure if anyone else has officially released anything into the VCV library.

Julius’ physical modelling class has homework assignments that can be completed in either C/C++ or Faust, so there’s really a lot of freedom to package that code however you like. When I took those classes, I did my homework in C++ inside a little VST wrapper (I wasn’t familiar with VCV yet at the time), but I wouldn’t be surprised if some folks taking it last year or this year will be doing their assignments in more of a Rack environment (either from Faust or C++). I can ask Julius next time I talk to him.

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I had a similar experience in my undergraduate courses. Unfortunately, when working in embedded DSP in “industry” I’ve found the situation isn’t much better. Even DSPs that are sold as “state of the art” are often very difficult to compile for, difficult to find good documentation for, and so on. Even worse, a large part of the DSP industry still uses MATLAB regularly (I could go on about this…). So in a weird and messed up way, this frustrating experience was sort of a good “introduction to embedded dsp”. Hopefully this situation improves in the future (both in schools and in the industry).

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The prof for the embedded course actually has his own business, http://ne-esg.com , where I suspect he gained the experience with this family of chips and dosen’t want to learn something else. So, yeah, I guess that confirms what you were saying. I also think it’s a self fulfilling cycle of pain because students will use what they were taught, and if those students go on to open their own business or design a product, well, here we are - so I don’t think its use is really justified in that sense.

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Now me, slightly off-topic. But I think I read, that the Instruo-Collection was built by two students who were on an internship at Instruo. I think that’s why there was no update since release…

@Vega – thanks for the thread fork; good call :slight_smile: Hope your uni experience wraps up well and that you’re able to place Rack and your other interests in it to the full extent that you’d like; always a lot of BS to wade through.

@jatinchowdhury18 – interesting, thanks! So much cool stuff at (and out) of CCRMA (prominently including your work of course!) and it’s a neat thing to imagine more of that flowing back into Rack.

The starting points of Rack (/modular) design versus VST (do relatively few things, outsource rather than incorporate, assume audio rate signals unless impractical or unnecessary, consider specific needs in a whole ecosystem, etc.) seem so nicely packaged for coursework that leads to living and useful contributions. It just strikes me as a good fit!

I went ahead and moved around some pages on my site and made some new ones so Dsp | Opinionated Guides is now a thing. I’ll probably go forward with using VCV to teach DSP there. The site is open source and very much so open to contributions so if any of you want to help me with it in your free time that would be awesome. I already have pages that show pictures and gifs of VCV quite often to explain the basics of synthesis in the music chapters of my site, so that can reasonably be referenced back to and we can steal images from that section to talk about DSP concepts.

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I’ve seen everything: teaching modular synthesis, DSP programming, music production. Universities, colleges, high-schools, online schools.


Faust is supported in VCV Prototype and using the faust2vcvrack tool. See also 2020-11-21 Faust & VCV Rack - Faust Documentation

And it’s great! As an early advocate for it (VCV Prototype - #28 by gc3) who wasn’t able to follow up with any actual work–a chronic problem at the moment!–I was extremely happy to see it land. @letz, you did most (or all) of that integration, right? Nice job!

This would be a very interesting list to have somewhere on the website, although keeping it current and complete would be impossible. Universities in particular (at in my experience) can be pretty conservative, and a quick index of how widespread it already is in education could probably help it spread further.