Why VCV Rack is a Great and Inexpensive Way to Step Into the World of Modular Synthesizers

The Fundamental collection included in VCV Rack's free download © VCV Rack

Released back in October of 2017, VCV Rack, which is an open-source virtual modular system, was warmly welcomed by the synthesizer enthusiast community and for a number of reasons. Just in time to weave itself into the momentum being gained by the rising popularity of modular synthesizers, VCV Rack offered users a completely free way to get into modular systems, and with plenty to offer from the start. But this was by no means just a tool for modular beginners, the reality is that this high-quality and great sounding program was designed as either a continuation of an existing hardware modular set up, or the beginning of it.

With continuously developed and released modules; some free, some for purchase, like Hora Music's Analog Drums, Scalar quantizer and scale tuner, or the Befaco and Audible Instruments collection for example (both authorized ports of actual Befaco and Mutable software), you can come up with some very powerful racks that can be routed into any DAW, using the recently added Rack Bridge plug in. A couple of very straightforward audio and MIDI modules within VCV Rack, make sending multiple channels of audio and MIDI between the program and your DAW a total breeze.

Even more interesting than that, with the latest release of VCV Host, you can now even load your favorite VST instruments and effects straight into your VCV Rack environment for even more power harnessed between your DAW and VCV Rack.

VCV Racks's Befaco collection © VCV Rack

Perhaps one of the most obvious and practical aspects of VCV Rack, aside from being the perfect stepping stone into the world of modular synthesis due to its low to no cost, is that it is also way more portable that even your most travel friendly systems. While it may present a challenge from the perspective of taking your laptop on the go once a sound has incorporated your hardware modulars, it can be a great way to begin ideas, that can then be expanded even further with your existing hardware set up.

Which brings me to perhaps the most powerful aspect of this program: VCV Rack features great connectivity in studio and even on stage with hardware modular systems! With an audio interface that can handle CV voltages, or a MIDI to CV converter for example, you can easily incorporate VCV Rack with the rest of your existing gear, giving you even more possibilities and flexibility than you had before.

Over the past year since the release of VCV Rack, the community around it has grown to become very solid, with people every day either creating new modules to expand the possibilities of the system, or creating some truly fantastic music with unique rack set ups as featured in this amazing album called "Switched on Rack Vol. 2". And much more can be expected from this enthusiastic and innovative community that has given the world the gift of a truly inexpensive, portable, and high quality modular system that will continue to see itself improved every single day, by people all over the world who can be part of the evolution of this fantastic program.

Visit VCV Rack's Github for more info on how you can get started developing your own modules. To download VCV Rack for yourself free, check out their website. VCV Rack is compatible with 64-bit environments of Windows, Mac OS, or even Linux.

If you have time, please watch this intro to VCV Rack thanks to the guys over at The Reaper Blog: