practicing with VCV Rack

Hi I want to know how you all go about learning to Practice with VCV Rack, I know everyone has varying levels of knowledge but how do you go about patching and and learning a workflow that works for you?

I’ve always had this issue with making music in DAW’s, I would always start with a blank slate and it took me forever to make something I was happy with, I would always get stuck with “I wanna make this sound!” and it would take me hours just to get the sound right using various plugins and notes and all that.

I’m just curious how y’all practice with VCV Rack, I know there’s tutorials out there for all kinds of stuff but I wanna get to the level where I can just bang something out in a couple hours since I have limited time during the day because I work so much.

I hate getting stuck on something and not being able to move forward with what I hear in my head.

also shout out to Omri Cohen on Youtube his tutorials are golden


This might not be the best advice, but something that works for me is having limitations. In a physical modular system you are limited by the case, the modules you have, etc. Building a limited system may help you, they say “limitation breeds creativity”. I choose a few modules, one or two voices, one filter, some modulation, reverb or delay (somethimes both), and a mixer. And it also depends on what I have in mind; creating some new sound that can be used as part of something bigger, making a self contained patch that it’s its own track or just goofing around the patch with samples or my guitar. But having the limitations forces you to make use to the max of the system. Look up some modular systems people have already built like on ModularGrid or MuffWiggler, or VCV Rack patches available in sites like this forum or Patchstorage so you have an inspiration source when you are stuck.


What kind of genre do you wanna stick with? I have “Patch from scratch” playlist on my channel, it can be helpful to your workflow if you’re just gonna bang some sketch. Welcome -

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I like to jump genres way too much haha I’ll check out the video! :slight_smile:

but to be honest I like to stick with plucky ambient sounding music. I wanna make something similar to these 2 tracks in VCV Rack:

the fast synths that sound repetitive yet beautiful
slow evolving patterns like this are really pretty (side note i just found his own video of his modular playing this song link below)

I think you have a really good point about limitations, Because I get caught up in the complexity way too fast and what module to use when I should just stick with a couple and just go.

lot’s of filter choices, lots of oscillator choices, lots lots lots of modulations choices and having to read the manuals on every new module i use, still trying to learn befaco’s rampage, and then i hear there’s a module that emulates make Noises MATHS.

so many options!!! Maybe too many.

I hope this new browser will help with module overload from downloading so many modules. I have over 1000 in my Library…


Hi @Spiderman2001!

That’s a really good question… Of course, there’s no ‘right answer’ here, but you can try a few things. First of all, just like @Sum-Nihil, limitations are a blessing and not a curse so try limiting yourself in all sorts of ways if it’s concentrating on a certain sound, concentrating on a certain module, or even setting a time limit. Once you focus your attention on only a few things, you will have no choice but to achieve something. Never mind also if it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you will most likely always learn something from the process. A friend of mine learned to play the piano once and he always mentioned to me that his teacher told that it doesn’t matter if he only sits at the piano and plays with the sustain pedal, he will always learn something new so the more your ‘at the piano’ the better. Another thing you can try is to recreate the sounds you like from the videos you mentioned. It often happens to me that I hear something, never mind in which genre, and I wonder how to create it in VCV. 100% of the time, I end up with something totally different, but again, I always learn something in the process that I can use later when I sit down and make music. Another thing I like doing and this is again connected to limitations is to build sort of ‘presets’ so I will try to create a few different bass sounds for example, or create percussions, and pads, and so on. Not trying to build a whole patch, but rather building a sound, concentrating on sound design. That way, later, when I want to make music, I already have the idea of how to make a few different sounds. If you really want, you can also save those ‘presets’ with the Strip module from @stoermelder and just load them later on into your patch. The most important thing is though, to have fun. Even if you just sit down and make bleeps and bloops, as long as you’re having fun, it’s time well spent :slight_smile:



After hearing those three lovely pieces I would say your Rack will probably be heavy on Mutable Instruments. Try the attached patch as a starting point maybe and then add to taste. Of course there’s never any way around getting to know the modules, but experimenting is half the fun :slight_smile:

mutable-starting-point.vcv (31.0 KB)


When i just wanna play around with no specific sound in mind i use the WhatTheRack module.You’ll get some randomly selected modules and try to get something out of it. It’s also a good way to learn some modules you’ll never touched.

I’ve made a template specially for that where i try to fill my rack within the borders of the blank modules. if i want to add something i use the WhattheMod Module.

maybe that helps :slight_smile:


One thing I’ve been doing that works out for me is to make a clear separation between rack construction, jamming, and using VCV Rack as sound source for songs written in a DAW.

I keep a main “fixed system” emulating a hardware system: an always-evolving curation of modules that’s powerful enough to do a lot, but simple enough my CPU can keep up and I don’t find myself paralyzed with too many options I don’t know well.

Then, when playing, I don’t add or remove modules - I just patch things and figure out solutions with what I have available.

It changes all the time, but this is what my system looks like right now (MIDI and Audio I/O devices are shoved to the side, not depicted):

It has a deliberate focus on ephemeral, tonal, live, generative techno, hence the lack of sequencers that are difficult to tweak on the fly, and the abundance of aleatoric / unpredictable CV sources.

I’m trying to understand this system inside-out, and get its MIDI mappings to muscle memory, instead of doing jams by adding modules as-needed.

I’m using Submarine WM-101 to color the cables: the white ones are the hardwired parts of my system, the colored ones are parts of the jam. When I’m done playing, I do not reload the template - I manually unplug the colored cables, and do not reset the devices. I just pick my system up how I left it the last time. When a module gathers virtual dust for too long, I trash it and fill the space with something new.


This is awesome!

I’ve been looking for the motivation and inspiration to try to keep/build a fixed system for a while. I like the way you denote signal paths that don’t need to change by using white cables.

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thanks for sharing this. using the white cables for the hardwired parts is a good idea.


BTW sorry for not including a patch, but given that it depends on local samples, midi mappings, and paid modules, it’s not plug and play one bit! Still, if anyone’s curious: 2020-03-02-D.vcv (539.1 KB)

I also uploaded a live jam made with it today:

I want to stress this personal system is for jamming, not for learning, so it has 3x as much as what’s needed to make a full song, and lots of devices are sitting unused (don’t ever think of having this many modules on a laptop, lol). You could fit a more focused and very solid system in only two rows that size!


Very cool! I absolutely need to start doing that but using VCV like you’d use a hardware wall full of stuff is still so scary to me - how do you even figure out what you’d want to hook up to a MIDI controller?

I’ve found the “What the Rack” randomising modules to be quite inspirational if I’m staring into the abyss of a blank rack. Hit the button and see what noises you can make with what you’re given :smiley:


I wasn’t sure what you meant at first but my practice is mostly entering the VCP every couple of weeks. While I haven’t streamed yet this year I used to stream every day and make a new patch. I also tried to familiarise myself with every module that came out but that became impractical.

Thanks for sharing the patch :slight_smile:

Probably I won’t download it because, like you said, it’s very much your patch, and wouldn’t be terribly useful to me. But I absolutely appreciate you sharing your practices.

I may spawn a new thread off this discussion asking about fixed racks and if folks tend to use them and how they cultivate them.


The mixers and the filters for starters! Also the Turing Machine, since it’s often the backbone of my random process.

The rest… I adjust it all the time, haha. My display is a graphics tablet so I often edit things using a stylus rather than a mouse. I’m using a Panorama P4 master keybaord, is has 9 faders, 9 mute buttons, 2*8 infinite encoders, 12 pads, transport buttons, and 4 octaves - so I reproduce it in the rack by having 8 main mixer channels, 8 filters, etc. I’m using my own UnDuLaR module to scroll the rack from MIDI, so my rack is no wider than my 1080p display. It’s a very idiosyncratic setup tailored for my own use case.

You definitively should!!! Otherwise I’ll have to make one myself haha. It’s worth taking to craft your own instrument!


absolutely a discussion about fixed racks. I usually start off with the basic patch and an idea of where to go, but still end up with almost all the same modules anyway. should def make a template for myself, and start to dig deeper into what would / could be my “instrument”.

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