Getting started with VCV Rack

If you’re just getting started with Rack, this post is for you! It aims to be a quality list of links to articles, that will help you get Rack installed, make some sound, introduce you to the basic modules and get you through your first couple of patches, until you can start the exploration for yourself. I will aim to curate it on a semi-regular basis.

The basic links:

Some basic terminology:

  • “Rack” (as in VCV Rack) = the software application itself
  • plugin = one or more modules created by the same developer and available as a bundle
  • module = any single “box” available to use with Rack
  • patch = a setup defined by multiple modules, their settings (knobs, faders, buttons positions) and all their cable connections

I recommend these first steps as the start of your journey:

  1. Go to and register an account. This allows you to install all the wonderful plugins.
  2. Download Rack and install it.
  3. Start up Rack, enter your account details at the top and login. Then click the “Manage plugins” button.
  4. Use the VCV Library to install additional plugins (some examples: Befaco, JW-modules, ML_modules, Bogaudio, Vult modules (free)). You do so by clicking the blue button (Add button) next to those plugins, and then click “Update plugins” in Rack.
  5. Anytime there’s a red dot on the “Library” menu in Rack, click “Update all”, then restart Rack
  6. The process is the same for paid and free modules, except for the checkout
  7. Read the guides listed below or watch these video tutorials and then start playing,

You will find that this community is full of helpful and fun people, so don’t hesitate to make posts and ask questions. First though, search before you ask - a lot of questions have already been answered. Rack is about exploring and having fun - join the party! :slight_smile:

Written resources specific to VCV Rack

All issues of News of the Rack, a weekly newsflash for Rack (available in English and German): GitHub - the1andonlydrno/News-of-the-Rack: all issues of the Newspaper version of News of the Rack, a weekly newsflash for VCV-Rack

Guide by Jim Aitkin:

Rack patches for beginners: Patches for beginners

Thousands of other Rack patches: VCV Rack Archives | Patchstorage

Andrew Mercer’s Rack tutorials page on steemit: VCV Rack Video Tutorials - Beginner's Guide — Steemit (it’s an index page, but many URLs linked there are currently broken. Workaround: replace “…” with “…”

Absolute Beginners Guide to Modular Synthesis with VCV Rack, by Emmet O’Neill (as of 2020, October 5 it only covers oscillators, VCAs and filters): Absolute Beginners Guide to Modular Synthesis with VCV Rack (Part 1) · Wiki · Studio Regen / Regen Modular · GitLab

Beginners VCV Rack materials from EMF Camp 2018 with a cheat sheet, introductory slides and example patches about VCV Rack: VCV Rack for EMF Camp 2018 @ Lushprojects Blog

Commercial books

Developing Virtual Synthesizers with VCV Rack: Leonardo Gabrielli

General resources

The Book of Bad Ideas:

Introduction to Audio Synthesis - A great little guide to the basics of synthesis, written by Michael G. Maxwell in this forum, using examples from VCV Rack. The nuts and bolts you’ll be playing around with in Rack. IntroAudioSynthesis.pdf (2.2 MB)

In-depth synth tutorials from Sound On Sound: 63 In-Depth Synthesis Tutorials by Sound on Sound | Sonic Bloom - PDF mirror: Synth Secrets Complete 36

Learning Modular synth glossary of terms, always relevant: Modular Synthesizer Glossary of Terms | Learning Modular

Some classic synth books: Learning Music With Synthesizers : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive - Practical Synthesis for Electronic Music volume 1 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive - Practical Synthesis for Electronic Music volume 2 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Fundamentals of Music Technology. Volume one: The ARP 2600

Collection of module manuals: PDF manuals and modular synthesis - Google Drive


I’m working with a group of 6 students and some of them are unable to find the ‘register’ (Sign Up) button on the VCV Rack website. I’ve noticed that others commented that they are experiencing this issue, but we’ve been unable to resolve it with the suggestions found here: Reddit forum

Do you know about this issue or how I can resolve it?
thank you.

@paul.schonfeld you should see it as I marked it on the picture of the website:

just hit this button [Register / Login]

1 Like

Smart post, thank you! Btw, it made me think of many other recurrent and effective threads that get lost or constantly exhumed in the FB Group. It would be worth progressively replanting some of them as topics in this forum, where they can stay more organized, grouped and searchable. Although this is already partially happening, and we can rely on the trend that recurrent topics will likely reimplant by themselves here in a spontaneous way.

1 Like

another interesting book/website is here;

the site:

the book:


A new FREE! VCV Rack book:

“VCV Rack - How It Works” a Graphically Enhanced Manual by Edgar Rothermich

  • plus the Signal Flow Diagrams of some Synthesizers (in the same page)

Thanks a lot! useful


Yup, that’s great! Added.

1 Like

I think this should also be here, since it is a GREEEAAAT source of information for both beginners and others not so beginners :wink:)


These are also great (all with a subtractive synthesis bias but phase distortion and FM are in the mix too):

The teaching is based around the semi-modular ARP 2600 but it’s simple to build module networks that realize the concepts that are discussed.

The original patch book is a fantastic learning resource too:

Finally a good old fashioned book! And it’s the one that taught me the most about the nuts and bolts of synthesis techniques when I was an over-excited teen back in the 80’s:

A synthesist’s guide to acoustic instruments by Howard Massey


A pdf from Beginners VCV Rack from EMF Camp 2018 I found very useful. It has explainations and graphics of how the basic modules work. I particularly like the instructions to create various effects using various CV sources and inputs.


Perhaps a lesser known feature added in v1 was opening the manual in a browser when you press F1 :wink:


14 posts were split to a new topic: Understanding CPU usage

Thank you

1 Like

Although not vcv rack related( written well before vcv rack was even developed). the following series or SOS articles,(all in one pdf here), is a mine of information.


Excellent guide from Jim Aikin:


Hey guys, I decided to take a crack at writing my own “Absolute Beginners Guide to Modular Synthesis with VCV Rack”. As the name implies this is geared towards people with zero synthesis experience. This is the first part, but I plan on writing more next weekend if I have the time.

Feedback and constructive criticism are absolutely welcome. =]


That’s great Emmet, thanks! I’ve added the link to this guide. You might consider having the guide as a topic here in the community forum instead, unless of course it will be a multi-chapter thing.

1 Like