What do you find easier, this or a DAW?

What do you find easier DAW composition or composition in VCV rack? Like lets say you want to make dub techno, which method would you use? I think I prefer vcv rack due to the lack of menus and I can see exactly what effects I am using

they are different tools. i find a daw leans more toward a linear composition, while vcv rack is more about sculpting a sound and getting lost in time.


Agreed. When I first started using VCV I loved the non-linear approach, the fact it’s not the same every time you start playback. But it’s not the best tool for arranging/mixing finished music. If I want to finish a track (which rarely happens but that’s not the point!) I’ll use Pro with Reaper. Standalone rack is great for sound design, experimenting, discovering techniques and generating samples, but personally DAW is the way forward to finish anything. All depends what you want to do though, there are almost infinite workflows…


tl;dr - VCV is a cool thing, but I wouldn’t recommend it for songs (I do make songs there though, cause I am a maniac and I love same stuff repeating over and over)

I’d say composition is better to do with DAW. It’s just much more convenient. But you can make loops in VCV. Also I think it’s much simpler to work with samplers in DAW. There are cool samplers in VCV too, but it’s not as simple as working in DAWs. Also working with scenes or patterns is a bit of a problem. And maybe it’s just me, but long chord progressions just impossible to do in VCV in a simple way. Like you would do in DAW.


I think it’s quite a challenge to structure music in modular. It can be done (lots of switching, and sequencing of sequencers) but it is probably easier to write tracks in most genres in a DAW.

That said, despite dabbling with audio with nearly 2 decades I have never finished a track in a DAW once. I have ‘finished’ many things in VCV and Euro, but none of them are what most would consider finished music tracks :slight_smile:


I’ve had many failed attempts at making dub techno :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:. But generally I’d compose everything in Rack, and then load it up in a DAW to get some structure. Automating things and bringing elements in and out.

Effects in a DAW are also easier on the CPU. (This might be different depending on the DAW). But I would route each track out to a separate bus in the DAW, and apply effects there, rather than all in one instance of Rack pro.

It’s just so much more fun getting the initial idea together in Rack first, well for me at least.


Just want to chime in with a mention for the Entrian sequencers, I waited too long to use one in a project, but when I did I realized how cool they are and how they offer such a nice compromise, where more involved arangement is possible natively in Rack, all the while retaining the nonlinear patching and open wiring we like so much. So tip of the hat to @Richie for making these awesome sequencers!


Now that you mention it: my go-to choice for making a composition in VCV Rack would be Impromptu sequencers. Yes, yours, @marc_boule and you know it! :grin: I showed something off in VCP 57:


Nice! :slight_smile:


Another thumbs up for Entrian


Back in the early 1990s I got into Detroit Techno & Chicago house music, so much so that I traveled to Detroit & met producers I was a fan of. They made a lot of their music by getting synth with builtin sequencers & drum machines, combined with live keyboard playing. Often there’d be 2 or 3 people each either manipulating sequencers & using the mixer mutes to bring sounds in & out.

I found that inspiring. There was a live feel, & sense of improvisatory creation. If something went wrong, just do another take. So that’s how I do it now. The key is to put the time in making the patch, so it has enough “handles” to tweak so that you can shape the performance. It’s a way to play in all senses of the word.

It’s also a connection to the roots of Techno. Dub Techno just means doing the same thing with plenty of reverb & delay.


Wow, that’s terrific! Really nicely done! The VCV Rack title card made me laugh, I really love the whole thing. And honestly the music really hit me just like the original. Such a great piece of music, super cool to see it done so nicely in VCV.


I think that’s similar to how I work. I studied at Mills College and Maggi Payne made sure we all knew how to use the 24 track Studer tape machine, and one of the final projects in her recording class had a requirement to use some large number if not all of the channels. One of my favorite pieces of music from that time was a mixdown on the 24 track, you had to play it like an instrument (pulling tracks in and out and adjusting sends to the effects on the fly, you would practice it like a performance, so any mixdown essentially had a live quality to it just because of the way it worked).

I’ve never really felt at home in a compositional DAW, I keep trying because I want to get better at it, but it’s still a challenge for me. But finding VCV finally unlocked my ability to make music I felt like publishing. And a lot of the reason why is because I can play it like that Studer 24 track.

I load up the MindMeld Mixmaster with a bunch of interesting things going on, and then I use a Michigan Synth Works fader box to work the different channels, and more often than not I mix down into a stereo output. Then I use Adobe Audition to master that a little further (it’s based on the old Cool Edit Pro, which I used a pirated version of as a teenager, so it’s an old familiar environment), and then sometimes if I want to record an outro or something, I’ll use Ableton live for that, and then bounce it into Audition.

It’s a weird workflow! But that’s been letting me get some of my music to a publishable state in the past couple of years.

I keep trying to get to where I’ll work in a DAW like Ableton, because it is so well-suited to composition, but I seem to find myself most inspired when working in VCV, so that’s where my actual creative output seems to come from.

I’m super grateful to Andrew and all the others who have created and contributed to this platform, I’ve never had a musical tool that is better or more well suited to my creative mind than VCV Rack.


I often think of Omri Cohen’s comment, (paraphrasing from memory) that working in a regular DAW felt like staring at a blank sheet of paper, but working in a eurorack-type environment was more like working with other instrumentalists, and that broke the creative-block that a blank sheet often inspires. I think it’s similar for me, and I felt that captures a little bit about what is different for my own mind about composing in this kind of environment.