Free Software Modular Synthesizer, VCV Rack, Updated To v0.5

Developers of VCV Rack, a free, cross-platform, open-source software modular synthesizer, have released version 0.5.0, for Windows, Mac and Linux.

The update features zooming and automatic scrolling, for improved usability and a variety of new modules.

Here’s what’s new in VCV Rack 0.5.0:

  • Added zoom scaling from 25% to 200%
    • Automatically scroll when dragging cables to the edge of the screen
  • Added Quad MIDI-to-CV Interface, CC-to-CV, Clock-to-CV, and Trigger-to-CV MIDI interfaces
  • Improved support for ASIO, WASAPI, DirectSound, Core Audio, and ALSA audio driver
  • New module browser with search and tags
  • Enhanced LED emulation in graphics engine
  • File > New attempts to load “template.vcv” in the “Documents/Rack” folder if it exists
  • New Grayscale plugin with Algorhythm, Binary, and Binary² module
  • Audible Instruments
    • Added Low CPU mode to Braids for draft-quality rendering
    • Added extra blend mode functions, alternative modes, and quality settings to Texture Synthesizer
    • Added bonus modes and “Disastrous Peace” mode to Resonator
    • Added Low CPU mode to Macro Oscillator
    • Merged Tidal Modulator and Wavetable Oscillator into a single module
    • Fixed Keyframer/Mixer keyframes and channel settings saving
  • Fundamental
    • Added 8vert, 8-channel attenuverter
    • Added Unity, 2-channel mixe
    • Changed LED functions in ADSR

Pricing and Availability

VCV Rack is available as a free download. It’s currently in beta, so users should expect to encounter some bugginess and are encouraged to contribute to the application’s development.

11 thoughts on “Free Software Modular Synthesizer, VCV Rack, Updated To v0.5

  1. vcv rack is a lot of fun. the improvements are pretty nice.

    can’t wait for vst/au support. I’m not sure how to record without having to install something else to route internal audio sources into a DAW or something. anyone know any other ways to record vcv rack (other than externally recording and transferring back to the computer)?

  2. Found a bug. I can no longer select an output of my RME Fireface which is shown as a 20IO device. I just can select 1 to 8 but by spdif that goes to monitors is 11 to 12. That io thing is getting even worse as i previously had to deselect all my built in audio devices just to see my Fireface outputs. Please make the output selectable again.

  3. Look out world, VCV Rack is about to take over.

    It might be tempting to think of it as a curious little toy. But that would be a mistake. RACK is a highly capable modular system. And its capabilities are expanding rapidly. There are already 33 developers and something over 100 modules available, including an entire set of polyphonic MIDI-to-CV controllers.

    The foundational system (VCV Rack proper) is emerging quickly. Every week there are new modules showing up from third party developers. Many of them are highly creative tools. The sound quality of the audio sources varies from one developer to another. None of them are actually bad but many provide EXCELLENT audio qualities. The sample rate goes from 44100 to 96000. So you can expect great sound, and it will only get better as newer coding techniques continue to evolve among the developers.

    Unlike a hardware synthesizer you can easily store and recall your patches. Patches load VERY quickly. VCV Rack also reduces what would be a VERY large modular system to something you can carry in one hand – your laptop.

    The only bad things are one, the potential for dithering at extremely high frequencies, which is a common problem with all software oscillators. Secondly while you don’t have to be a total geek to download and install the system and its various modules, you do have to have a basic understanding of how to manage your downloading processes. Its not just point and click. Things have to be stored in specific locations to be functional. But it is FAR from complicated. Finally, you will likely have to endure a lot of scorn from any friends who recently dropped $20,000 dollars or so on a hardware Eurorack system. That is because, best of all, VCV Rack is totally FREE. Some modules are beginning to appear with a price tag and there will likely be more in the future. But even without buying any of those, you can have a MASSIVE Eurorack-style system for literally NOTHING.

    1. What you wanted to say was aliasing, not dithering. That being said, I don’t think that anyone who’s invested in a hardware modular system is going to scorn anything like this, specially when there’s the potential for systems like these to communicate with the hardware through different methods and interfaces. So it’s really complementary. I don’t think you can properly replace an entire hardware kit with software, due to the differences inherent with all this. One of them, that many seem to overlook, and is valid even for completely digital modules, is that any of the module’s calculations isn’t depending on a sequence of calculations that involves the other modules, it’s just happening in real time – apart from the latency that’s expected to happen with any chain. It’s great that there’s a chance to experiment with such things within the digital realm, like you say, and it’s extraordinary that it actually sounds quite convincing.

      1. I have loaded up some pretty hefty patches involving dozens of modules and not notice any lag at all. And in fact the only aliasing I have noted (and you are correct, I meant “aliasing” though “dithering” is the same phenomenon in visual media that “aliasing” is to audio signals) was in very complex sounds with very high overtone content. I have run sine waves up into the supersonic range and not heard any aliasing. You can easily find any number of vids on line in which others have posted examples of patches and entire compositions running and hear the audio quality for yourself –subject, of course, to the limits of the hardware you are using to view and hear the videos.
        My comment pertaining to the scorn of hardware junkies (something I was for 30+ years) was in relation to the price. The simple fact is, compared to a hardware synthesizer of any size or cost, VCV Rack is, quite literally, INFINITELY less expensive. Throw in the ability to memorize even the most complex patch and recall them with absolute perfection, and the fact that I don’t have to spend the better part of a day hauling and setting up gear for a gig and …well, what can I say? I’m sold.

        1. I’ve been using this from the time it was made public and I do agree that it’s one of the best modular environments in a self contained digital format to date. The fact that it’s free makes it even more extraordinary, even as a showcase of the potential of taking the modular avenue. I think the Mutable Instruments modules alone made this one of the best packages one can get in software, let alone for free. But the fact remains that the complexity of your patches is always connected to the power of the system you’re running this with, whereas with an hardware system, there’s no such limitation – only your wallet. The kind of latency I mentioned, has to do with sequential processing. Given the nature of a digital system, it’s paramount that some calculations are resolved before you can take the next step – i.e. calculations are made in a given order or sequence to arrive at the desired results. Whereas with an hardware system, not necessarily analogue, with each module doing its own processing independently, this whole logic of “I need those results to process this calculations on top, so that the other parts of the chain will know what to do next” isn’t a limitation.

    1. Re:>>Is there a way to run this and not have laptop fan spin up to full after 5mins?<<

      You're right. This is a draw back of the program. It is a high consumer of processing time . It does run HOT. And it runs your battery down right now. This bothers me too. I wouldn't want to be on a stage with big lights and this running on my laptop. Overheating to the point of failure might be a serious risk under those circumstances. But at room temperature, I have run it for HOURS (and it IS addictive) with nothing more challengeing than my laptop fan running hard. Also, it helps to set your laptop up so that it is not sitting with the bottom flush to a table or other flat, unventilated surface.

      As far as I know the ONLY way to mitigate this threat is to run VCV Rack on the most powerful computer you can manage to get your hands on. That would reduce the CPU load because the CPU is simply more powerful to begin with. Maybe running it with your computer in a bucket of ice would ….no, wait. Never mind that part.

Leave a Reply