Is This The Future Of Eurorack Modules?

VCV Rack creator Andrew Belt (who was featured in a recent interview) today announced a new collaboration with Mutable Instruments creator Émilie Gillet on a project that promises to let you preview new hardware synth modules as software.

Mutable Instruments’ Plaits hardware module

Here’s how it works:

  • Mutable Instruments creates a new module design, like its recently introduced Plaits Macro Oscillator. MI keeps the source code closed for the first run of the module, to help ensure a successful initial run and to protect dealers from cancelled orders.
  • VCV and Mutable Instruments create a VCV Rack version of the new module and make it available via the Audible Instruments Preview plugin. This allows users to try it out in software form, within the free modular platform VCV Rack.
  • After several months, the source code is released. This allows derivative works to be created of the new module design, including hardware clones and free software versions.

The collaboration means that:

  • Hardware modular owners get an inexpensive way to test-drive a new hardware module; and
  • Software modular users can get early access to new hardware module designs.

Pricing and Availability

The Audible Instruments Preview plugin is available now for US $20 and includes the VCV Rack version of the Plaits module.

Belt says that they don’t intend to profit from the fee, but they’re charging to limit widespread distribution until each module is mature enough to be merged into the standard ‘Audible Instruments’ line of free Mutable Instruments clones. 80% of sales are donated to the Direct Relief Humanitarian Medical Aid charity organization.

What do you think of this new collaboration? Would you like to see more developers of digital modules make their new designs available to preview in VCV Rack?

25 thoughts on “Is This The Future Of Eurorack Modules?

  1. VCV Rack is amazing and keeps getting better.

    I prefer using hardware, but VCV is a great way to try out new modules for free, and to test out your plans for building out your modular synth.

  2. I love this. I haven’t taken the plunge into Eurorack yet, but I can properly explore it with VCV before I start dropping any kind of substantial cash. I own loads of synths but modular is such a daunting thing to get in to. I’m a huge fan of what they’re doing 🙂

  3. Strange idea… you pay twice, once for plug, then for module.
    Generaly you can find the video demos to appreciate the modules.
    And what about the analogs modules?…

    1. If cost is an issue you can wait a couple months for the module to migrate to the open-source “Audible Instruments” plugin.

  4. I think this is a dangerous move for the hardware developers.
    With a software modular you can save a patch and revisit it later way more easier than with a hardware modular.

    Once more people get to realize that and except the software into there workflow less hardware units will be sold.
    One might never have ventured in the modular software land if stuff like this was less advertised.

    But it might be the other way a round, people might be more tempted to buy a hardware module if the use the software version instead of watching a youtube demo. I guess this is the effect they are hoping for.

    1. No offense, but you talk like we (people that have a hardware modular system) don’t already KNOW that you can save and recall presets in software. We do.

      In fact, it’s been known for years, and this “golden era” of Eurorack that we are currently living has been possible despite of the theoretically superior workflow of software. I have VCV Rack, I use it a lot, and it’s an awesome tool, maybe enough for some people to get the sounds that they’re looking for without the inconvenience and high cost of a real system.

      But for some others, nothing matches the joy of patching with real cables, touching real potentiometers, and wiggling for hours without any need of being “productive”.

    2. well when vcv rack first released, i thought i will never need to buy real hardware eurorack modules….well that somehow ended up being the opposite, i saw that i actually want the same great, modular experience, but in a physical world, so i have started building a small case and will be soldering my first modules in the next few days, a slow and humble start but i’m very happy about it. Of course there are stories that are the opposite of mine probably tho.

    3. No I don’t think so. Everybody who has a Eurorack knows that software is easier to handle and you can save stuff, but they want hardware with real cables and knobs.

    4. Yeah, no. I have zero interest in Eurorack on my computer. This is all awesome for people that are into it, but I doubt it is going to change things for those of us who are into hardware

    5. Well, you could ask the big music companies about fighting against new paradigms opposed to be part of it. The most clever move they could do is to be the first developing this modular software.
      Or somebody else would do it.

  5. This is a great idea!

    VCV Rack is great, but somehow selecting modules from text-menu isn’t ideal. Somehow I’d like to select modules by looks – at least I tend to work more visually.

  6. A Software replica of some hardware module is a difficult thing to deal with. IMHO you can get an idea how the modules handling is and how it and behaves in generell – but not how it really sounds. It requires a mathematical “correct sounding” abstraction model, which is a complex really thing.The only one I know who came that effort close is VULT. I think digital modular synthesis should be seen as it’s own discrete world and better make use of the digital pros instead of trying to copy hardware.

    1. The openness of previous Mutable Instruments modules has given the company much more success than taken it.

      1. Yeah, I think it’s just the opposite. People will try out the modular synthesis in software, and then want to get the real thing.

        I’m interested in where this will lead – let’s see more software/hardware crossovers!

    2. It’s amazing that people are ok to say that MI and VCV CEOs are true genious and then give them advice on how their business decision is a wrong one…

  7. I disagree that this’ll depreciate the value of Plaits or any other MI hardware, simply because there will always be those who hate software, and prefer hardware and vice versa. What will happen though I think is that more people may buy software instead of hardware, and then hardware will become very collectable again. Classic case point here is the Korg MS20 or the TB303. The originals still sell to collectors for silly money, yet there are so many software and cheaper hardware ‘clones’. I think the same will even happen with the Behringer Model D, which is just a crazy bargain, for what it is, yet an original Model D, especially if it’s a E.A. Moog version, will again still sell for silly money. Hardware of course will (or at least, should) last a lot longer than software.

  8. I am not worried about this hurting the hardware market. This was what we could do with NI Reaktor 15 years ago and yet the hardware market has grown exponentially since then. There is something very different about putting a case together, touching the instrument and patching them by hand. I have used both and though VCV is an awesome platform, it doesn’t FEEL right to me for making music. It is amazing to live in a day and age where we have the option to create in the way that fits our flow, budget and idea like never before. I think tools like VCV will just open more people up to this world and actually bring more creators into the modular synth world which is great for the hardware makers bottom line.

  9. For guys like me who cannot afford hardware modules, VCV Rack is a real godsend. Plus, there is the convenience with software as well.

  10. I am currently using VCV Rack to explore the world of modular synthesis and to figure out if I am going to like it. This saves me from spending tons of money on something which might not even be my thing. I’d love to see hardware company’s offering VCV versions to play around before buying. In my opinion some knobs, cables and the touch and feel can’t be replaced with a screen and a mouse, I am already craving for my first hardware modular system but still trying to find out what modules I want and need.

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