Live Playing with VCV

I use VCV a lot as a general purpose studio tool and find it totally fab and groovy in every way. I’ve been wanting to use it in a live setting for a while and here it is amongst other instruments.

Practical details include:

  • Using a Akai Midimix controller with LOTS of knobs to twiddle in the moment
  • Laying a card template over the midimix with knob labels
  • Creating a simple one-screens-worth-of-patch that won’t go AWOL during the set
  • Ways of switching between tracks within the set without having a full stop
  • Practice! Especially with the kit removed from the normal environment and setup up as if on stage - that uncovers all kinds of surprising things.

I have to say it’s a slightly tense experience, as there is a lot that can go wrong. Computers, cables, trying to debug some fault on the fly, you know how it is.

If you’ve had experience playing VCV live, I’d love to hear about it. Any hacks and top tips warmly received :slight_smile:


As far as switching between patches, there is no practical solution without stopping. But I have some patches that have several songs laid out within the one patch. I use the Stoermelder Strip modules to bypass certain modules and unbypass others as I go song to song and use a looper or delays to carry over sounds as I make the changes. Often I use the rack delays and samplers as this transition effect, Prince of Perception is super for this as it has long delay lengths and 100% feedback available so it can basically loop.


Just wondering about how running two outputs at different sample rates behaves. So keeping some modules generating at a much lower sample rate (for when multiple patches are stored in the one patch but many mutes …), …

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My ultimate goal too, but I would have to go through a process of many band practices - taking the laptop out into the practice room, setting it up, trying to play along with other musicians, before I felt confident enough to go live. I’m not there yet. Did you spend a lot of time in preparation?

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Thinking about midi control, there is a fun workaround to get a prepatched mock-up of your personal midi device in the rack, which could make setting up midi control per patch slightly more quick and leaves a thing with labels to look at whenever you load the patch. MindMeld PatchMaster can have any number of knobs, buttons and faders you need and you can even lay them out to resemble your midi device. Once you midi map this to your device, save the midi map utility and the PatchMaster as a Strip/Strip++ preset and it can be loaded with the midi mapping saved into any patch.


So the output device needs “active patch” enables, and some kind of low pass on cables as they juncture between required sample rates? I guess it’s so it gives a mixin’ bass.

Ooh that sounds interesting, I will investigate!

Yes, a fair bit of prep and practice sessions. On stage, time runs at a different rate so having everything down and ‘automatic’ makes for a more pleasant experience I find :slight_smile:

As well as practising the music itself, I practiced the setup/teardown process.

I know some people like to wing it, and get something from things that happen unscripted. I’m not so comfortable with that myself.


Thanks again for this suggestion @cubistguitar I’ve tried this out and it is very helpful. I tried mapping all controls and that works, but I felt a bit disconnected from the workings of the synth itself. I’m now trying a hybrid of a few choice controls mapped, and using the mouse for others - particularly ones where I need to see some visual feedback from the module.

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