Get rid of Eurorack Grid?

This is a ‘modest proposal’ in the Jonathan Swift sense, in that it undermines the idea of emulating Eurorack, but …

Having spent a little time recently mucking with Max for Live, how ugly would it be to… remove the rack rails, and let modules be freely placed on screan?

Is there some kind of deeply embedded assumptions in the code that would prevent that?

Is there anyone beside me who would like it?

What’s next you ask? Resizable modules? Modules larger than a single rack row? Overlapping modules?

Stipulated I don’t really have a lot invested in this idea, and I won’t be the one coding it. Just curious.

PS part of what makes working in Max MSP so fugly is that it isn’t on a grid. They’ve done what they can to make it usable, but they started from the assumption of free placement, and Rack started from the assumption of a fixed grid.


From a source perspective, this wouldn’t be a huge modification, but a lot of interface assumptions depend on fixed positions–I think working out how it should behave from a UI/UX standpoint would be a lot harder than simply coding up free placement…

PS. If you’re not aware of it already, the ironically-named-in-this-context Bitwig “Grid” might be a modular environment that scratches this itch for you; free 2D placement, modules of different shapes and sizes, etc. No replacement for Rack (for a bunch of reasons), although (like Bitwig in general) it’s a nice complement to it!


I imagine that is probably the nail in its coffin.

I’m pretty sure when I first started using Rack there was a module that stretched over 2 vertical rows… can’t remember what it was now though. It was something we briefly considered for MixMaster but iirc Andrew was not happy about modules stretching over multiple rows and stopped that working in an update. We then looked at the possibility of having an expander that worked across vertical rows but that can’t happen either - thus we ended up with MixMaster and AuxSpander side by side, which turned out OK in the end but I’ve sometimes wondered how a 2 row vertical version might have worked.

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Befaco hexa mixer series is another thing that would be cool across two rows.

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I like the order having the grid imposes and I can imagine both the stupidly small and stupidly oversized modules that would appear in the wake of abandoning it.


Frozen Wasteland portland weather


I agree, There are already plenty of softwares that let you string together arbitrary sized blocks into graphs of audio. Why throw away the golden goose by emulating all those other platforms?


It would be cool if modules could be resized to take a multiple rows. For modules with a lot of details, it would be handy without zooming in entire screen.

I like the arbitrary constraint on module size that exist in the real world today. PureData or Bitwig grid work the way you describe, but I prefer the skeuomorphism or whatever y’all call it.

Well may you ask. For one thing, I was curious how it would affect the renderer. It seems like the modules are constrained to a grid defined by the virtual 3U by X HP grid.

What that would mean is they get asked to draw at coordinates in the view computed by which row and which HP in a more or less infinite Eurorack plane.

But really you should be able to render a rack at any arbitrary viewport coordinates, because that is what already does. It would just mean modules could be put in arbitrary places, without doing anything to the rendering code.

TL;DR - the software is probably 95% of the way there but I doubt it’s anything @vortico wants to do.

How would expanders work in such an arrangement? You would have to have some sort of auto-dock/snap behavior to attach an expander to a module then I would think, which doesn’t seem trivial.

I do sometime wish I could space things out a bit tho… like maybe have a .5U row in between some of my rows, just to act as “whitespace” without having a gigantic 3U gap. But I don’t think arbitrary placement is the solution to that problem!

I’ve said this before but if love to see 1U modules supported, think this would produce some interesting variation (if even for the blank space you mention).


While I enjoy the semblance of order imposed in the current UI, I can see some interesting possibilities in making a few key modules in my patch large and shrinking the rest. Basically, the large ones become the intended “main control surface” and the rest are visible and findable, but not vying for attention. Analogous to the different sizes and prominence of controls in a car or airplane have.

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Yes! although I wonder how you would place such a 1U row. Would it run over the entire width of the rack canvas and move up/down together with the module?

Far beyond what you’re asking but take the skeuomorphism up a “meta notch” and instead of simulating a single (nearly) limitless rack, VCV renders cases matching more conventional physical dimensions. Modular 3U, 7U cases! If you want, you could keep the monolithic wall mount, but what if you could have pallet cases of modules strung together. :joy:

Something for a VR port of VCV someday. :wink:

VCV on a large monitor rocks. I would want multi-monitor support first before breaking the grid.


You can enlarge the rack window across multiple monitors. It’s cool to be able to see more than will fit on one monitor.

Yeah, true but I was thinking of multiple windows with teleport like feature between them. Tho, I guess that could be separate VST instances too lol.