VCV Rack is a Great Platform

I must have been busy coding but a quick glance at the forums here give me a sense that people are anxious and there is a general weird vibe in the air. I just thought since spring has sprung (at least in my neighbourhood) it might be a good time to start a thread talking about all the good things we like about VCV Rack and tell our story about how we stumbled upon this as developers. Okay I’ll go first:

As primarily a hardware and embedded guy I have barely ever made any “apps” and although I studied a few plugin platforms, I never really felt like I could get excited about making non-hardware stuff. But I’ve always used simulations to explore ideas, whether it be doing DSP development, circuit simulations or whatever. Normally I end up making a lot of throw-away code to “try out” stuff that might become part of a hardware project later.

About a year ago my friend told me about VCV Rack… I’d heard about it before, but he said he wanted to learn how to make his own modules. I trust his opinion on music tools so I figured maybe I could help him out if I knew how to use it. Within a weekend I think I made about 6-8 modules! The platform was really easy to learn and the fact that I could use my normal design approach to making hardware: lay out a panel, decide on I/O signals, functions, etc. and then just sort of hook up my own code to the virtual hardware was very fun! Plus having built-in tools like oscilloscopes, access to the sound card, etc. made it very immediate. I’ve since released 28 modules publicly and have a bunch more that I’ve been playing around with.

Recently I started doing my first actual hardware product design to be completely developed and tested inside VCV Rack! The code is made to be portable to an embedded processor. Almost all of the fiddly stuff like the LCD screen, DSP algorithms, GUI, etc. are all working and I expect them to work exactly the same once the code lands on the hardware.

As for the community, I’m not really super active other than browsing for answers to some questions, but so far everyone seems helpful. Whenever there has been any kind of questions I have found Andrew Belt to be quite pleasant both on and off the list. I know some folks don’t really get how open source works, but as projects go, this seems a pretty good model for how to have openness while still maintaining control of a personal labour of love project. Had the source been closed or only available on Windows and Mac I would not have tried getting into it. A peek behind the scenes has many times helped me fix problems or make my code work better knowing how the core system is designed.

Anyway, I wish everyone well in their music and code explorations and hope that the future of VCV Rack is bright. Things take time and I’m completely confident that 2.0 will be awesome when it’s ready!

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Great first post and welcome Andrew.

Which are your modules?

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Hello Andrew and Steve, I was going ask the same question, which modules do we have to thank you for making?!

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I just read the announcement and blog post about VCVRack 2.0 on gearnews.com. I have been collecting free modules for some time, and am amazed at what I have. I am grateful to all the developers, whether experienced or beginner. Beyond the core modules and framework, the major efforts that I can’t quite believe are Audible Instruments, Frequency Domain, Frozen Wasteland, and Vult.

I have been a synthesizer hobbyist and a DSP researcher and developer for decades, specializing in multimedia codecs and content analysis. While I have written a lot of very fast real-time code, it’s been for multimedia playback, video-conferencing and TV broadcast monitoring, not for synthesizers, so the timing and latency constraints have been lax by comparison. Also, I have been part of a team of six to 12 people.

I have been reading and learning to do my own plugin development. I expect I could do a simple synth in JUCE or a single insanely mathematical module for VCVRack, but I would not think of developing an entire modular synth with developer’s kit by myself. I’d need a team to help me. So, kudos to Andrew Belt and all the other developers for VCVRack 1.x and for the anticipated version 2.0. And Andrew’s announcements about version 2.0 confirm my suspicions about planning, managing, and estimating the effort required.

Thank you, all.

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Hi folks! My “learning” modules were the Dintree series of utility stuff. These are simple hardware modules that you can learn from if you like synth DIY… I figured it would be handy to have VCV versions of them and actually I end up using them all the time. If you like hardware you can learn about the circuitry here: dintree.com The VCV versions are either code ports or functionally equivalent versions of the hardware.

My commercial modules include the K4815 Pattern Generator and the Virtue series which works with hardware USB controllers I just started making. My creations can be found here: kilpatrickaudio.com (this is not meant to sound like an ad)

I like how VCV Rack makes it easy to spin up something that looks like a real thing. I’ve already got tons more ideas in my todo list than I have time to implement them, but so far it’s become my go-to place to try out new DSP techniques or musical things I’m learning. Also, coming from an embedded world, I keep being reminded just how fast PCs are!

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And us old timers, too, who are used to slow PCs. “you can run all this code every sample and it actually works???”

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I know right?! I’m very much used to statically defined loop sizes and using loop unrolling in embedded code to get things going fast. I’m still afraid to run all my code every sample and actually use a more embedded “timer task” approach for stuff that doesn’t need to go at audio rates. Better not get too spoiled for when it’s time to go back to the $2 chips. :slight_smile:

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Also if you don’t think like that you will end up with a piggie module that uses way too much CPU and makes people’s racks click and pop. sounds like you don’t need this long in the tooth doc, but here goes: SquinkyVCV/efficient-plugins.md at main · squinkylabs/SquinkyVCV · GitHub

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btw, I totally agree with the main post. VCV is so easy to develop in! I’ve done DSP as a hobby quite a bit, and done audio in stand alone apps, DX, VST, RTAS, etc… But VCV is by far “best” from that point of view. And the ecosystem for distributing your work so that people can actually use it is pretty unique. I think before VCV my biggest “user success” was getting one person to use one of my plugins to treat the snare on a Korn album :wink:

I’ve always been amazed how @Vortico has pulled this off. There are so many ways for a project like this to fail. imao it really takes a laser focus to pull something like this off - and of course a bunch of talent. In any case, I’ve never seen such a successful project. Amazed.

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I dipped my toe in other modular synth waters before I came to VCV Rack. I had been looking for polyphonic modules for a different system and I kept finding VCV Rack modules and they were free. I thought ‘where’s the catch?’ but I made the jump and 14 months later, still no catch. VCV Rack is awesome anyway, but being open source is a real strength and if you’re on a budget like me the free modules offer endless hours of great quality sound adventures.

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Wow, thanks!!

Sorry to be a pain but would this wonder be able to be made for VCV Rack:

Kilpatrick Audio - REDOX Stereo Reverb

It looks rather beautiful and the audio testifies to this!

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I have been porting some of the algorithms from REDOX to C++ for another project, and the thought occurred to me as well. I’ll see what I can do!

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Thank you very much, it would be a great addition to an already expanding Rack universe! Can’t say fairer than that. Cheers! :partying_face:

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If you don’t mind sharing, I would love to know more about that plug-in of yours that was used on the Korn album. I am a huge Korn fan and actually struggle with a snare drum sound on a production as I am typing this. DM is fine, don’t wanna be the guy to go full off topic xD

Yes, it is a great platform. I’m so far from even coming close to exhausting the possibilities of v1.x that I have little time to give much thought to what 2.x will be like or when it arrives. I don’t rely on VST or other plugins so I’m not concerned at all about the VST version for DAWs. I know those are great matters for other users, but they can (and probably will) speak for themselves.

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Hello again, any joy porting the REDOX to VCV Rack? I keep looking for new modules to mess with! Been a bit quiet of late in that respect in Rack.

New modules seem to be coming out as fast as ever, if not faster. Is your internet broken? Oh, I see, you are wondering about a specific module.

Found a nice article and I guess it fits well in this thread, the author is Montreal-based musician/engineer Jean-Patrice Remillard, also artistically known as Pheek:

Instant and instinctively loved it.

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A nice article. I know nothing of the man or his music but this statement regarding Ableton’s influence is odd:

…the sound we hear is becoming more and more homogenized, and less innovation is seeping through the cracks. This is despite an exponential increase in the number of musicians.

I would rather suggest that the homogenization he mentions is precisely because of that increase. It’s a restatement that more means better. I would also suggest that “the sound we hear” is assumptive - the statement may well be true for what he hears but has little bearing on what I’m hearing these days.

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