How do you use VCV with a DAW? (Techniques, Ideas)


I like using VCV as a standalone software, but I’m sure there’s tons of creative and fun ways of using it inside a DAW. What are your favorite techniques and methods? What is some cool stuff you can only do with Pro?


The closest thing to a DAW that I play with is GarageBand, just for some of its instruments. I send MIDI from Rack sequencers to GarageBand, and then send the GarageBand audio back to Rack via BlackHole for processing and mixing with Rack audio.

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Before Rack v2 I thought having the Rack as a VST would make a big difference in my DAW workflow and I also thought it would give me more freedom in mixing VCV and VST.

But then I found it more confusing when using the Rack VST (or even more than one instance) in a DAW than doing it the other way round by using the Host modules to include VSTs into the Rack standalone.


I’m using Bitwig and VCV standalone with internal audio routing via Jack’audio to redirect audio outputs to my DAW & getting audio sync from it (MIDI is too jittery for me for that). I tried the VST version of rack, but it’s a real ressource hog in the DAW when used the same way as standalone so i prefer rack VST only with some FX or sequencers for specific needs.

I’m using the Rack vst in my DAW to

(a) pass sequencing/generative notes and modulated CV through to hardware (modular racks and synths) or DAW based soft synths

(b) as a very complex multi-effect

(c) record short sections like 4/8/16 bars over multiple tracks which can be used to build out a longer composition in the DAW

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So, what you’re doing is, for example, sequencing and modulating vst’s with VCV modules, while using VCV has a VST would be more useful to do the opposite, sequencing VCV with signals from the DAW, which would probably be more limited unless you wan’t to do a track with a fixed structure with VCV modules as instruments.

I haven’t used Pro that much to be honest, I mainly bought it to support the project and continue to make weird guitar effects with standalone version most of the time. I did buy a license for Reaper recently though, and one thing I like to do is use 16-out version so I can get generative bits or loops going in VCV, and use the track volume envelope to arrange it so I have precise control of when things fade in and out. Then you can add pads/basslines etc, either with another instance of VCV or other VSTi’s in the usual way. It’s kind of nice to have randomness and a traditional timeline in one project.


Using both softwares separately is lighter on the CPU than using VCV Rack as a VST?

No, you’ve got the same CPU usage of VCV plus the overhead of the DAW. However, if you run out of oomph you can always freeze tracks or bounce them down, and free up some headroom for more parts. I sometimes sample patches into Pigments, that makes some great textures.

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For linear sequencing/composing I would not use VCV in the first place. For me, using VCV as a VST instrument is not an option. Maybe using VCV as a VST effect would be more interesting.

Well, if I try using VCV as a VST instrument I probably would create a semi-modular synth and then control it via the DAW. That could be fun. I like using Aalto for example and would like to see more VST’s like that one, so with VCV i could create a lot of stuff with similar modulation capabilities.

What’s the issue with sending MIDI from VCV to the DAW?

I use Bitwig with hardware synths and modular, with software modular as a supplement. I rarely do any MIDI sequencing – everything is drones, parts I play myself on controllers, and looped or generative modular sequences.

My #1 use of VCV is drones, with effects secondary. Honestly I rarely have any pitch control going into VCV, aside from maybe a MIDI footswitch to transpose a drone. But now that I have a Seaboard Block I might have to start playing with MPE patches :slight_smile:

I use Bitwig Grid for routing, sampled loops and drones, and less often for sequencing stuff for the hardware modular (or generating clocks from the LFO that is driving the sampler position).

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I make my patches (evolving drones) in the standalone version. then I open a Reaper project, load many instances of Rack, load a video on a track and get lost with automations, sidechains, effects and so on :broccoli:


Using Rack standalone is beautiful in many ways, but after some time disadvantages might be noticed more frequently, depending on what you want to do and how often - and most of the time you are doing things in Rack that can be done more efficiently in the DAW, leaving only one or two voices in your patches that really require a modular workflow.

For me getting away from the DAW with Rack was really beautiful, and now coming back to the DAW with the Rack VST is equally beautiful, because I was missing out on some things that are complicated in Rack, but really easy in a DAW, and can still do everything where it’s the other way around.

For me the combination of both is really where it’s at, for example have some random elements or free running sequences with unconventional numbers of steps, but play a steady chord progression and bassline to it to keep it together.


On my own computer yes. I tried to reproduce the composing system i built in VCV standalone and the cpu was quickly hitting the max after adding a few more modules, no matter how CPU cores i’m using in Bitwig. It’s more efficient for me using VCV standalone on 8 cores of CPU and Bitwig on the other half (easy to setup with Process lasso).

The only issue with MIDI is coming from the clock regularity. It’s far more steady to use an audio pulse via an internal audio channel. Nevertheless i use MIDI sent from Btiwig to drive some modules (presets, mixer console, CC) in VCV.

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If this is what you want to do with VCV, then keep on doing :+1:

Actually never tried it, I’ve never even used my keyboard connected to VCV. My favourite thing to do is creating full ambient tracks with multiple parameters I can control through PatchMaster.