Maybe this is the wrong place for this post but I did not find a better one.
Getting in touch with VCV Rack a few weeks ago was a great experience and opened a complete new world for me.
I’m working in the IT business and spend a lot of time in front of computers.
Years ago I started to make some music using FL Studio but I did not stick on this hobby since I didn’t want to spend more time on my computer.
Realizing there is a big DAWless movement right now, I reached out for a Elektron Digitakt last Xmas and have a lot of fun making music without a computer and I enjoy the haptic feeling of touching real knobs and buttons.
For me, a lot of drag to the modular world is based on this haptic patching and tweaking but to be honest, real modular I just can’t afford.
Now VCV Rack makes all that patching and tweaking affordable.
I spend money on paid modules though and pricing is quite acceptable for me.
Still trying to avoid computer interaction with shoving a mouse and typing on a keyboard, I decided to go for a touch screen system.
I bought a HP Pavilion All-in-One 24-f0059ng with a 60,5cm multi touch display and I’m really happy with this setup regarding performance.
Building patches did not bring the machine to it’s limits yet and I hope future multi threading support in VCV Rack 1.0 will make this even better.
Having a lot of fun for a few weeks with my system now, I encountered a lot of ‘light’ but also some ‘shadow’, which motivated me to write this post.
VCV Rack does a really good job virtually presenting the ‘functionality’ of the modular world but does a bad job on transporting the haptic feeling of patching and tweaking.
No multi touch support at all. Fiddling around with a virtual touch pad and a virtual keyboard is a pain. Some functions like fine tuning knobs and sliders is only possible with pressing additional keys on a real keyboard.
Without a keyboard and all the keyboard shortcuts, working with VCV Rack is a sometimes very tedious.
I use Hi!Computers very nice Chameleon software to setup a performance multi touch ‘shell’ above VCV Rack to control VCV Rack knobs and sliders via MIDI CC for my patches but that does not help when building patches.
Also looking forward to Rack 1.0 because I will be able to tweak even controls using MIDI CC, which do not have modulation ports.
Maybe Hi!Computers announced Armadillo software for touch screen support may help but it’s not available yet and it does not solve the root problem.
Using VCV Rack as VST plugin in a DAW is a direction I personally don’t want to take.
Since more and more plugins delivering DAW functionality in VCV Rack modules like really heavy sequencers seem to come up, I believe that I’m not the only one who prefers to be DAWless.
As a result I’m curious on the direction VCV Rack development is moving and try to start discussion on this topic with a few questions.
To the VCV Rack developers:
Is there a plan to transport the haptic feeling of patching and tweaking over to the virtual world?
To do this, a profound support of multi touch displays is a must have from my point of view.
All interactions with the Rack would have to be possible in a intuitive way without touching a mouse or keyboard .
Will the modular idea being pushed forward ?
Having multiple ‘pages’ for modules in VCV Rack to switch between for example would be great.
Virtual patch modules which can be created, saved, loaded, expanded or collapsed, could hide a complete patch under a small module presenting the needed ports and knobs when collapsed.
This way, patch hierarchies could be built to save a lot of space and time and whole patches could be used like simple modules.
Maybe loading and saving sub patches in rack lines which can be collapsed and expanded would be a possible first step in this direction.
To the plugin developers:
Sophisticated plugin functionality should not be paid by forcing ‘Rackers’ to keep their mouse and keyboard around.
Let’s take the Piano Roll plugin for example. A really fancy tool but with bad usability without mouse and keyboard. Entering sequence steps using a touch screen is arduous.
I don’t say that such plugins should not be developed at all because there are a lot of users without any dislike of mouse and keyboard for sure.
Plugin developers should make up their mind to which type of user a module is targeted to and there are some of them like DAW users running VCV Rack as a VST plugin, DA less users looking for plugins delivering DAW functionality in VCV Rack, performers requiring rock solid control in live situations, touch screen users trying to get away from mouse and keyboard and others.
Maybe a ‘touch enabled’ label for plugins would be a good idea to support module selection for people like me.
To build ‘touch enabled’ plugins, the VCV Rack team has to deliver a profound multi touch support the first place however.
That’s for my thoughts right now.
Sorry for the long post but I’m really curious on other VCV Rack users views on this topic and where VCV Rack is moving to.Regards