Midi controller for VCV?

I’m new to VCV Rack, new to MIDI, new to everything basically. I enjoy playing about but it isn’t a big part of my life but I really fancy a controller/keyboard just to give a little bit of extra flexibility and usability. I’ve been looking at a controller and had looked at M-Audio Oxygene Pro Mini, the Akai Pro MPK mini MkIII, and even the Arturia Keystep 37. I don’t mind a learning curve but I don’t want a world of pain so I’d like a controller that I plug in and it works with VCV plus I will probably run Reaper as a DAW as no way would I get the value from the big money DAWs. With this in mind I’m open to recommendations - basically easy to use and cost effective are what I’m after. So, I’d be very grateful indeed for any suggestions from those of you with way more expertise in this area than me.

Hey welcome to VCV and Midi Philip!

The thing about midi is and always has been two main drawbacks: latency and compatibility or ease of usage. but in the world of synthesizers it’s not unique. But what VCV really benefits from is a controller that allows the user to define it’s properties from within in midi interfaces firmware. Basically, odds are you’re going to want a custom layout to suit your control method and you’re going to want an easy to navigate workflow for the set up.

once you have your gear programmed to send and receive the kinds of signals you want you really don’t have to touch the settings much as they’re held within the midi controllers software.

For example: Say you have a button on your keyboard controller that toggles between the off position and the on position but you need a momentary button press. well you would open up your software and make the changes in your controller to change the button style to what you want.

This means you rely on the software that comes with your unit to edit those parameters. Nowadays most midi controllers are going to be capable of sending the correct signals and it’s not as much of a pain to get going.

but it may be hard for a new user of midi to understand the kinds of signals that need to be sent to and from the virtual instrument if they don’t know what to look out for. it’s not as immediately obvious as some other things so it pays off to learn as much as you can about Midi. Fortunately it’s a real interesting topic ^.^

I’ve had good luck with the Arturia Mini Lab. It’s got 2 rows of knobs for somthin’ like a 16 step sequencer or what ever and a row of 8 pads that I mainly use as gates and toggles or to play drums.

with the software you obtain from registering the unit with them with their unnecessarily complex registration system it’s easy enough to edit the buttons and knobs in such a way as to get every single control surface working as you want.

for a small desk top unit in the same price range, I’d recommend it for sure. But there’s lots of interesting options nowadays.


Thank you, that’s most useful and Arturia seems to keep coming up in conjunction with VCV rack so it is looking like a very sensible option and starting to edge ahead of the competition.

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Thanks. I’m also looking into the minilab. I was wondering about its compatability with rack, but this clears it.

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you’re welcome guys.

here’s some interesting videos to getcha going: