How does everyone typically integrate VCV Rack with another DAW?

I’ve been browsing the forum for a little while, and I’m actually a bit surprised by how many people use VCV as as DAW, and not in conjunction with one. I see that there is some excitement about technologies coming (soon?) that’ll make it easier to integrate a traditional DAW with VCV (such as VST plugins), but it seems like a lot of people don’t use one with their VCV patches.

I do, and I guess that’s why I find it a bit surprising. With my workflow I’ll do what I like to call “sketches” – quick, DAW-less VCV patches, (aspirationally the kind of thing that one could whip out in a day) – but when I come up with something that I want to explore further I bring the DAW into it. I’ll use VCV to generate the sounds, but all the mixing/mastering kinds of things (which as compression, equalization, mixing, etc.) I do in the DAW because I find it easier. I will also structure the song at that point; I tend to work in generative ways, so that’s when I tend the garden to see what’s grown and give things a little TLC.

I guess me question is: is this perception right? Do many of you use a traditional DAW with VCV, and if so, what kinds of things do you offload to it?

(If you’re interested: I use Ardour (6.3) and route with Jack. There are quirks, but it works. Being on Linux I’m a bit skeptical that a VST plugin would work well for me. I’ve had better luck with LV2.)

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I agree with you, @markcwirt. I have made longer pieces in VCV, but it is much easier to sequence and arrange things in a DAW. It can be done in VCV, but it is less painful in the DAW. I have Native Instruments Complete, Spitfire Audio and other VSTs which I can use in VCV Host or in the DAW – but I’m beginning to prefer using them in the DAW. I would love to use VCV in the DAW like any other virtual instrument sending MIDI notes directly to VCV. I know there are workarounds, but I just see having VCV as a VST to be a workflow improvement.

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For me, I create my music in two steps, creative and technical. I do all the creative work in vcv, then assign anything I want to automate to midi controllers, including mutes on sequencers. I then perform the track in vcv, probably a few times maybe over a few days recording the tracks to stems. Then I leave the track for at least a few days as this seems to clear my mind. I then do the mixing and very minimal arranging in a daw. I like the separation and it also forces me to commit to my creative decisions, else I have a bad habit of tweaking and never finishing.

This process of bouncing to audio and separating the processes is not too different to how I used to work before I found VCV, but I do find VCV far more inspiring on the creative front, but this could be the idea of modular is still relatively new to me compared with traditional DAW workflows.

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I’m actually using the same setup, Ardour to mix and arrange the snippets and sounds I made with VCV and I’m quite happy with it, although there are some downsides. Ardour is ok with audio and external gear, but having recently left FL Studio’s very convenient MIDI workflow and comparing that to Ardour’s, well, it’s… um… kind of hard for me to get used to that. There’s Reaper as an alternative, I have to try that out.

Although there are some DAW-like sequencers in VCV, I still find it very hard to create a song structure without a “traditional” DAW, so I use VCV and Ardour to complement each other.

Using VCV inside Ardour as a VST would make some things easier (e.g. syncing, automation), but I think my system wouldn’t be able to handle multiple instances of VCV, so there would be more new difficulties to overcome (freezing), but that’s always part of the game :slight_smile:

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totally makes sense. If you wanted to try a compromise, our rarely used 4X4 sequencer is organized as four sections of four tracks each, and you can use our Seq++ for “daw like” midi editing.

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I don’t find it surprising that many users like to use VCV as a standalone DAW (eventually bouncing to audio for post-processing), because I find it very akin to the hardware modular movement of DAW-less modular-centric music. Which is extremely intriguing. Total respect for that.

Problems arise (clock-sync, latency, automation, daw integration goodness…) when you’re not making a VCV-centric piece, but you’re using/tweaking it contextually to every other element in the arrangement.

Which is why many people (including myself) can’t find much practical use for it at the moment, but acknowledge the huge potential and keep a very close eye, since the VST plugin was announced.

It’s going to be pretty great, I think.

I use the vcv rack beside renoise on linux, many times I start a song only in rack but as well the song take a shape it force me to move the sequences to renoise, the CPU consumption of a single vcv rack sequencer is too hi compared to the the use of the entire renoise (which in my default, is 8 sequencers, 8 samplers , channel 8 inputs with mixer, and 8 vst host plus a long list of native and really light pluggins ) also is more easy arrange a song there.

I love the vcv rack, specially the oscillators and some really greats modules,but in sequencer matters renoise (and perhaps other DAWs) are better

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I definitely use VCV besides my DAW (Ableton). VCV is also the bridge to my (small) euro system. I use LoopMidi to send midi from Ableton to VCV, I use my ES-8 to send CV to my Euro, Audio from my Euro into VCV and the processed audio goes back out of the ES-8 into my DAW audio interface. That last step could be replaced by Jack, but I’ve been having enough issues already (stability, latency) so I’ve not integrated Jack yet (also because it will become superfluous once Rack for DAW is out).

I also use Endlesss sometimes as a sort of DAW, but actually I’m seeing it, much like VCV in a way, as another non-traditional way to streamline the process of spontaneous music making and inspiration. As this will also become available as a VST, I still see Ableton as the main brain (recording, arranging, mixing, mastering).

The final step is to also integrate my DJ setup more closely (right now it integrates via Ableton Link and just sending audio out an interface into my DAW interface). I’d love a Traktor Deck as VST in either Ableton or VCV-rack for scratching and synthablism, but so far only Cross-DJ has a vst and I haven’t gotten round to give it a try.

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I use VCV as a welcome escape from a linear DAW, Logic X in my case. I do a bit of compression and EQ in Logic after my VCV recordings, other than that it’s all Rack. In the future I will use them together but for now the stand-alone modular workflow is too exciting to taint with my tired Logic habits. Good topic and questions :slightly_smiling_face:

Hi I’m new here… and fairly new to VCV. Lovin it so far, and haven’t really explored beyond the wonderful Mutable modules, which frankly I still cannot believe are offered free! Likewise Rack itself, amazing! Big thanks to the developers for such a great gift to us music makers. I was using Voltage Modular prior to that, and bought a few bundles there so felt “invested”. Advantage/possible disadvantage with VM is that it does sit easily within a DAW, Logic for me. Advantage is sync and recording all v easy, can sit and mix alongside other soft synths/drums without any technical hang ups… VM seemed pretty CPU intensive, as a side note. Then the Mac died and thru a long story re replacement SSDs I was without a computer for almost 3 months so took the opportunity to invest in a bit of old skool analog hardware :wink:, on the cheap, mind… 3 Behringer synths and various bits of Arturia gear later, which has been massive fun, the computer’s back in the land of the digital living and VCV was the first thing I installed. So now it’s an analog/virtual modular digital hybrid system, which opens up tons of new potential over the purely analog system. Primarily, the additional sound potential - pads, polyphony, virtual modular madness (all the analog gear is monophonic), but also ease of recording, and this is back to the advantage or disadvantage question, because what I realised I was really enjoying without a computer was the freedom from any (self imposed) pressure to record stuff with a view to completing projects. I’m a hobbyist, I don’t make a living from music, I make it purely for the joy and love of it, and being computer and DAW-less allowed me to just jam the funk out of the gear, simply for the sheer fun and joy of it… So yeah DAW integration is great but maybe there’s something to be said for the spontaneity and creativity that possibly is easier to roll with when the DAW is out of the picture?

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I just bounce craploads of audio and bring it into Cubase as soon as I can. I’m gonna be the biggest ambassador for the VST version when it eventually arrives. I have done full songs with horribly complex switching in Rack alone, but I don’t bother anymore. It’s mostly for fun, and for doing generative stuff and a lot of sound design that would be near impossible without the modular tricks, often using midi parts I have recorded already. I’m dropping an EP tomorrow that I’ve made this way btw, it’s really Rack heavy.

Rack is definitely not the tool for throwing down some chords, that’s just about the most awkward tool available, and really inefficient. 23 years of keyboard shredding are actually useful for some things other than patching things together. :laughing:

My biggest problem is lack of latency compensation, which means that a lot of parallel processing is out of the question, and you can’t really use VSTs with accuracy a lot, they always have some latency and lookahead stuff that Rack doesn’t take into consideration. I’d fight a lot more for this, but I just use the proper mixing software instead. Life is short, and I’m not a loyalist to any tool. They are just that. Appropriate in certain situations.

A lot of the sample chopping and audio rate stuff would take weeks to do in the DAW, in Rack I can have countless iterations in realtime, randomized or sequenced however I want. But, try to quickly rearrange arrange your song structure in Rack, or add a new written part. It’s slooooooooww, and even the best sequencers are really awkward compared to a fully featured midi sequencer and piano roll.

Love Rack, but honestly I’ve been waiting for the VST. Gotta bring it into the composer’s environment.

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Just an idea. As long as the modular doesn’t work as VST in the DAW, why not host the DAW as VST inside the modular? E.g. FLStudio is actually a nice DAW (with still the imho best piano roll out there) that smoothly runs as VST and supports multiple inputs and outputs. Might be worth a try.

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Good topic. There’s lots of overlap between all these tools, and sure it’s easier to do some things in one than another. But in my book it’s not just about efficiency, it’s about what you enjoy doing and the creative process.

I’d say Rack is better for the loopy/sequency things and a DAW is better for the linear things. But there’s creativity in working within constraints. Choosing to sequence a linear piece in Rack is a creative exercise that is satisfying in itself. Rack is just lovely to work with. Whereas I find my DAW to be great and I like the end result, but not so much fun.

Like everyone else I expect I’ve got some very nice VST synths that really could make most of the sounds I get from Rack. But it’s not the same is it?

For live work, I’ve switched from the DAW in ‘session mode’ to Sonic Pi which is hugely more flexible. But most important, it’s more enjoyable.

For recording melodic lines I write in midi on the DAW and drive Rack through midi/rtpMidi on another PC. The DAW handles the latency fine, no problem. For sequence/arpeggio elements I just record into the DAW and sync up afterwards. I’ll buy the VST thing when it arrives but it’s not going to open up new vistas.

FL Studio and VCV work great together. I’ve actually got a setup running FL Studio in VCV Host. You can create a two triggers in VCV to control the FL Studio transport and to start and stop your clock so everything runs together. FL Studio supports drag and drop of audio so if you record in VCV you can drag the audio clips into the FL Studio timeline. Using loopMidi you can use the FL Studio sequencer to drive VCV voices.

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Sounds good! A midi input and output port might actually be a nice feature for the VCV VST host, so we can host sequencers and midi effects without external midi loopback solutions.

Edit: Perhaps it might be an idea to make the part that actually communicates with the external midi devices a separate module and add midi cable ports also to the other midi modules (like midi-cv etc.)? Then MIDI-CV and CV-MIDI conversion wouldn’t have to be done by each module separately. If e.g. a VST sequencer or external MIDI device outputs MIDI and the input of a VST hosted in VCV Host is also MIDI, why not just use a MIDI cable instead of artificially transforming it to CV in any case? And the transformation modules could separately and generically be available when CV is needed. MIDI cables are also a reality in real Eurorack modulars today.

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Aye, there’s work-arounds…

But I’m still hoping we’ll see v2 & Rack for DAW in 2020 still… but seeing Andrew’s week estimates for alpha/beta/release roadmap for v2 & Rack For DAW from a few months ago, this is now starting to feel ever more unlikely unfortunately.

So by Novemver, I’ll start to cross my fingers for early 2021…

c.

Bitwig is my main DAW, and I’m using JACK (in Windows) as my audio subsystem.

Bitwig is a native JACK client, and I use instances of JACKRouter (a virtual ASIO soundcard) to connect ASIO-only applications (including Rack) to JACK.

I’m using Carla as my routing manager, as seen in the attachment.

So for me, Rack just appears as I/O in Bitwig, as if it were soundcard channels! I can set up dedicated channels for all my applications and soundcard I/O however I want, and they’re persistent too! They just connect up when I open Rack or any other program!

MIDI is handled by loopMIDI using dedicated loopbacks for Rack.

I think this is about as close to complete DAW integration as you can get until Rack for DAWs is released.

Carla is also a VST host - so I have plugins running in the background that handle system-wide monitor equalisation (separately for speakers and headphones!), completely independent of the DAW and everything else. This was amazing to set up, and saved me thousands in investment in new monitors, which became unnecessary!

I’m sure the Linux guys take all this stuff for granted, but it’s possible in good 'ole windows too. It was complex to set up, and might not be for everyone, but it works wonderfully for me!

edit: I’m aware of the JACK I/O modules in Rack, and I tried them, but found them to behave a little idiosyncratically - I got better results using ASIO / JACKRouter. It would be wonderful if Rack directly supported JACK, of course…

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Omri released a tutorial of a technique which makes recording in VCV very easy, it’s now not necessary anymore for me to run VCV and ardour at the same time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooHrPBdA6sg

very nice :slight_smile:

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I also run VCV audio into a DAW (Ableton). I use the ES-9, which is great at allowing complex internal routings between computer programs as well as external audio. Unfortunately the VST version of VCV won’t be much use for me, not because there’s anything wrong with VCV but because Ableton’s VST hosting is subpar. I really like being able to freely route MIDI and audio in VCV, and you can’t do that kind of thing with a VST in Ableton. (My understanding is that this kind of thing is easier in other daws like Bitwig.) Although I like Ableton a lot, this is my biggest issue with Live.

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Nice! That would also solve the problem that Max cannot create VSTs anymore and that the Grid only works inside Bitwig! Didn’t have on the radar that Jack is a stable and viable option on Windows now. Can you save these Jack setups so applications are automatically started and autowired for a play and forget experience? Optimally like presets, so you could use applications like plugins that are automatically loaded and unloaded when the preset changes?