Infinite possibilities with VCV Rack

So what is VCV Rack? VCV Rack is an open source, and therefore free, modular synthesizer program for Windows, Mac & Linux. Instead of a “pre-cabled” synth you have to decide what your synth should be able to do. In order therefore to make it work, you need a lot of knowledge.

There used to be a time when I didn’t know what VCV Rack was and for what I could use it for. I highly regret this time.

The most powerful learning tool, is a tool that you can also use for your work and recommend without a single doubt to other friends. VCV Rack falls into that category. It comes down to watching a lot of tutorials, reading the manual, asking around on the official program forums and just a lot of trial and error. Constant training is therefore needed in order to have success. It’s easy to download it and start it up. But will you know what you’re doing? Maybe if you’re from the 70s era where modular synthesizers boomed in sales or maybe because you had some half modular systems, but in general everything looks confusing in the beginning. I would be lying if I told you that I knew how to get the full potential out of this program,

The limitation of this program is only your knowledge.

At the unbeatable price of… its for free!!!

Every big rock star or EDM producer / DJ or bedroom promotes his favorite gear. Maybe you watched some of your favorite artists. Software for music production is expensive, hardware even more expensive, when it comes to digital synth and when you then even invest into analog synthesizers and modular racket panels, everyone might be lookin’ at you like you robbed a bank or they start thinking you robbed a bank. Maybe you sold your soul, some organs or the black market or you became a drug dealer. It has been 50 years now. 50 years since civilians as ordinary as you and me can start purchasing their own digital, computerized or analog instruments. In those 50 years those prices dropped somewhat radically. But define ‘dropped prices’. Back then you could buy eight apartment buildings with one good synthesizer. Nowadays you get 50 good instruments for the price of a property flat. Money is always lurking over your shoulder. So why not treat it with the proper respect and grab yourself therefore a free VCV Rack copy. Most of the additional plugins in there are free but some of them cost around 20 – 50$. With that kind of money you can support the developers. Emphasis on the word ‘CAN’ not ‘must’.

Great community

I lurked around at the Steinberg forums, I lurked around at the NATIVE INSTRUMENTS forums. Sometimes people

ask stuff, sometimes people answer, but with the VCV Rack forum, you got another thing coming. I mean that in a positive kind of context though. I asked a question in March 2019 and I got over 60 answers in the first 3 days not to mention all the stuff I answered and questioned in the same thread as well, which made around 15 answers after that. Even 7 months after I asked my question. So don’t go in there and ask stupid stuff. Inform your self, read the manuals, watch the videos as before mentioned and then… when you really can’t progress, then you should ask. You will get a pile of answers in few hours. So really take your time with it. You should take your time for all the answers you will get. Plan half an hour maybe into your schedule when you enter the forum.

Addable as a casual VST in your preferred DAW:

I experience it all the time. I use a program or VST or whatever and I use it in stand-alone mode or in a DAW.

After some fumbling around I say:”Yeah, nice to play with it in stand-alone, but I’d rather use it in my DAW.”

That’s it most of the time. I don’t use it anymore as its own. With VCV you can choose as well. Integrate it

into your DAW of choice or use it all alone. As a first time user you will be overwhelmed with VCV itself, so

why bother even integrating it into your DAW in the beginning therefore?

I also could imagine that you’re able to load your DAW into VCV Rack.

This would be kind of a funny thing when you think about it.

Integrate VCV Rack into Cubase and Cubase into VCV Rack. Layer it all up until either

your PC is begging you to stop or until it all crashes. Since this kinda stuff takes

up way too much unnecessary CPU, RAM & HDD power.

Not to mention the MIDI and CV support. Inside the program is a “host” program that’ll allow

you to connect it with your hardware synth or MIDI controller / keyboard.

I also read about some people that they use it just as effect pedals, in a technical sense of matter,

therefor you have access to the cheapest and most intricate guitar pedal on planet earth, by definition!

Everything you need:

Yes, it is hardcore to build a full track with it. Yes there are unhandy aspects that throttle you down, when you get hand of that workflow though… when your brain is on autopilot and you see how you put together whole songs more than thinking about it. This is the catharsis level you try to reach and a different approach to conventional music programs that try to nudge you into 4/4 grooves and simplistic schematics for simple Pop music. It is an instruction on how you will fall in love with chaos and mayhem and how you want to organize and rationalize everything by this approach.

Closing of a letter

I wanted to cover this program for a longer period and I’m glad I finally did. There are currently still a lot of updates coming up and I’ve never ever seen such piece of good software easily updating its plugins. I didn’t delve too much into the VCOs and Filters and VCAs, LFOs and all that mumbo-jumbo, because I think it is up to you to discover the full potential.

I highly recommend that you create yourself an account for it and log-in into your account. You will see on the upper bar a red dot, this will mean that there are updates. You click on “update all” and all the plug-ins get updated and VCV Rack restarted. As always, I hope this program will help you out a lot and I’ll see you next time.

Omri Cohen is a very active dude in the community. His tips are very helpful for beginners. He is very active

in the VCV Rack community and he also responds super fast on his YouTube comment section. He has a patreon

page if you feel like helping him out and in general a cool guy.

I’ll leave you 2 links therefore if you want an introduction with visual appeal:

URL #1

URL #2

Please let me know if I got something wrong or what your opinion is about VCV Rack. It is definitely worth the hype.

Write some comments to me and I’ll get right back at ya with answers.

Cheerio!




The h-bomb of synthsizers: The Virus TI 2 Desktop

Instead of bloviating which artists so far have used the Access Virus synthesizer series,

I just give you folks a link to check out who’s been working with it..

Not to mention the unnamed list of artists and songs that got inspired by this series.

The specs:

So what is actually under the hood of this powerful machine? I won’t go too much into details, but rather highlight data that emphasizes what makes this bad boy compete with the brutal competition out there. So let us start. You’ve got your two digital sound processors, most of the synths out there have only one, you know? You can have up to 90 voices running. Let me tell ya: That is very fat sound! Most synths out there reach around 16 – 32 voices or might be even monophone. Enough space for patches, high quality 192 kHz digital to analog converters. Though I feel obliged to tell you that everything beyond 48 kHz seems to be acoustically not very important, as you won’t even hear the difference. You can play and input any kinda sound in an unknown rhythm and the Virus TI will estimate it’s tempo in a very short amount of time.

It comes packed with a very special VST that was especially designed and optimized for the most common DAWs and to get a solid connection from the hardware to your production tool of choice. Various inputs and outputs as well as. Has an own interface but also allows you to use your usual interface in cooperation. And a handy backup function.

Nice side trivia: When it comes to wavetables, a lot of synths tend to steal or to tamper the original Oberheim or PPG series. In a way even, that it’s noticeable. With the Virus Access TI 2 Desktop you know, that you got 100% originalitly from the creator. You can even read or watch interviews of Christoph Kemper (the creator of it all).

oberheim oder ppg als alternative

Usage:

The Virus-series is known for it’s crystal clear digital emulation of analog sounds. Though it is possible to recreate natural sounds, where would be the fun in that? It’s more about discovering new and unknown territory. With plenty of voices and 3 LFOs, as well as wavetable and filter forms, the sky is, as in most cases, the limit. The main focus include electronic dance music, breakbeats and film scores. But that is just, because coincidentally the most famous guys established their names in those scenes. Some might even try circuit bending, which would be ridiculous, since we’re talking about a synthesizer that has the value of a good and used car. So you better get that idea out of your mind. No company allows circuit bending.

Either, and that is quite an important aspect for me, you use it for creating sound and recording that aforementioned sound, or you use it as a veeeery expensive “effect pedal”. Let’s take this case: You treat yourself nicely by buying one of the first sampled based synthesizers, the Casio SK-1. You sample something for the Casio and you sent the output of the Casio into the input of the Virus Access TI, which processes the signals it receives and gives it out into your DAW of choice. From here on you might even add post-production effects. This is for me personally THE definition of a powerful device. It can create sound from itself, but it is also capable of receiving audio and manipulatiing it.

Who needs it?:

I’d say everyone could use one. Electronic music has grown quite a lot since the 2010’s. Sooner or later you should know your basics about sound modulation and connections. The longer you wait, the more you become like me. It get’s harder and harder to acquire the complete understanding of each synth. Your brain is like a sponge in those young years. Give it some proper use by learning as much as possible. The harder the synth, the earlier the learning curve should begin. That’s why a Casio SK-1 is better “to be” learned on when you grow older and you’re never too young for basically any Virus Access product. The desktop version has no MIDI keyboard, but I’d say that is mainly a good thing. You can get solid MIDI keyboards for around 25$. Connect your cheap MIDI keyboard decision with your enourmusly expensive Virus Access TI 2 Desktop and you will get the same results. You will have more cables lying around, yes and you will need more space than purchasing a TI Polar, but those keys are just unnecessary gimmicks, considering the fact that you’re also capable of sequencing and therefore saving and loading and switching patterns.

 

Alternatives… maybe?

There is always a free alternative, but that requires work-around solutions. Like you could get a circuit diagram of the virus models and rebuild it on your VCV Rack for yourself for free, but this requires a lot of time and knowledge. At this point you’d be better off to put your ingenuity into developing your own synth and brand and selling those ONLY so you can afford one of the virus models. You are definitly paying less for the brand and more for the functions and connections this little monster has under the hood. Don’t get tricked by it’s size, since a lot of technology is “shrinking” year by year. A real alternative for me would be a cheaper 100% VST version of the Access Virus. Somehow this doesn’t fit into the company’s philosophy and nobody even considered thinking about a clone from another company. Reasons for this, might be, because it’s “just” a digital synthesizer and therefore doesn’t deserve the honor to be fully digitalized in todays era. Or maybe it’s like with old cars. Where you need a market that demands the Virus for 25 years in order to become an old-timer and at this time everyones throwing away clones and clones after clones.

Let us recap:

While beeing one of the most powerful synthesizers out there, it’s not all that you need or ever want to be satisfied.

You can build your studio with a lot of free stuff and it doesn’t always have to be hardware-based. Not to mention what’s the use of a Virus, when you don’t have anything to record the instrument? A lot of DAWs nowadays come pre-packed with some solid VSTs. So it cuts down to this: Either you have the money or you have to accept that you might reach somewhat lower qualities but also while saving a lot of money. Out of all the synths out there, this is in a rich-peoples-prize range no doubt about it. If I ever see one at a humane price though, I will immediately purchase it though hahaha. That is for sure.

See you next time folks.

Don’t forget to write me your experience or your thoughts in regards to this synth. Bye. =)