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:
- VCV Rack website: https://vcvrack.com/
- Rack manual: https://vcvrack.com/manual/
- VCV Library, to install lots of plugins: https://library.vcvrack.com/
- Communities: https://vcvrack.com/manual/Communities
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:
- Go to https://vcvrack.com and register an account. This allows you to install all the wonderful plugins.
- Download Rack and install it.
- Start up Rack, enter your account details at the top and login. Then click the “Manage plugins” button.
- 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 next to those plugins, and then click “Update plugins” in Rack.
- Anytime there’s a red dot on the “Library” menu in Rack, click “Update all”, then restart Rack
- The process is the same for paid and free modules, except for the checkout
- 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!
Written resources specific to VCV Rack
All issues of News of the Rack, a weekly newsflash for Rack (available in English and German): https://github.com/the1andonlydrno/News-of-the-Rack
Guide by Jim Aitkin: https://www.musicwords.net/vcv/How_to_Rack.pdf
Rack patches for beginners: Patches for beginners
Thousands of other Rack patches: https://patchstorage.com/platform/vcv-rack/
Andrew Mercer’s Rack tutorials page on steemit: https://steemit.com/music/@buckydurddle/vcv-rack-video-tutorials-beginner-s-guide (it’s an index page, but many URLs linked there are currently broken. Workaround: replace “https://utopian.io/utopian-io/…” with “https://steemit.com/utopian-io/…”
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): https://gitlab.com/studio-regen/regen-modular/-/wikis/Absolute-Beginners-Guide-to-Modular-Synthesis-with-VCV-Rack-(Part-1)
Beginners VCV Rack materials from EMF Camp 2018 with a cheat sheet, introductory slides and example patches about VCV Rack: http://lushprojects.com/blog/2018/08/vcv/
The Book of Bad Ideas: https://www.tips.modularparts.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/The-book-of-bad-ideas-V2.pdf
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: https://sonicbloom.net/en/63-in-depth-synthesis-tutorials-by-sound-on-sound - PDF mirror: https://www.mediafire.com/file/7w2dcsqmkbeduea/Synth_Secrets_Complete.pdf/file 36
Learning Modular synth glossary of terms, always relevant: https://learningmodular.com/glossary/
Some classic synth books: https://archive.org/details/synthmanual_Learning_Music_With_Synthesizers/page/n19 - https://archive.org/details/synth_Practical_Synthesis_for_Electronic_Music_volume_1 - https://archive.org/details/synth_Practical_Synthesis_for_Electronic_Music_volume_2
Fundamentals of Music Technology. Volume one: The ARP 2600 https://blog.wavosaur.com/download/arp2600fundamentalsofmusictechnology.pdf
Collection of module manuals: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1wRvu6Au6QwiroDpzMFfsCk50r6ixgPJO