VCV Rack Gets VST Plugin Host

Creators of the open source, cross-platform software modular synthesizer platform VCV Rack have introduced Host, a premium module that lets you use your VST plugins within your modular patches.

The VCV Host plugin includes two modules, one for instruments and one for effects. Both modules include stereo audio outputs and 16 parameter inputs.

  • Host (VST instrument host) – For hosting VST instruments, synthesizers, samplers, and sound generators,. Host includes 1V/oct pitch CV and gate inputs. When the gate voltages rises, a MIDI note is triggered according to the current 1V/oct signal, rounded to the nearest note. This note is held until the gate falls to 0V. Only monophonic playing is supported at this time. Polyphony may be achieved by “strumming” a polyphonic VST instrument by quickly playing multiple notes with a long release time.
  • Host-FX (VST effect host) – For hosting VST effects, processors, and pedals. Host-FX includes stereo audio inputs. The right input is normalized to the left input, so mono audio can be mapped to both stereo channels.

Example Patches:

Pricing and Availability

Host is available now for US $30.

10 thoughts on “VCV Rack Gets VST Plugin Host

  1. What an amazing piece of software VCV Rack is. Now with vst. It is very generous of the author to create his software and give it away……
    This is a very exciting edition………the possibilities are endless

      1. Yes, these modules, but the core software including a selection of basic modules and a generous selection of Mutable Instruments modules are entirely free…

  2. Amazing using hardware like the UNO with its VST editor- software modular control of hardware analogue, best of both worlds without having to buy all those pesky utilities, analogue sequencers and function generators

  3. Is it still a resource hog? Can’t run it on my 2014 MacBook pro, fan goes nuts and battery start going down points in minutes.

    1. I had similar issues especially during summer. I’m sure you did, but check that your MacBook is blown out with compressed air and get something like “clean my mac” from MacPaw software. I do IT for a living an am always hesitant to buy some “speed up” software crap. But I was at my wits end with my Mac, and this actually helped with the CPU going bonkers. Especially in summer when it was worse off.

      1. Also, don’t run off battery when doing anything needing heavy CPU usage, you’ll always have issues on any mobile computer (at some point) especially when battery gets low and it needs that juice to power and cool the CPU

    2. The latest update fixed a rendering issue which had big performance impacts. Worth checking it out again if you were running an earlier version. I’m going to upgrade my (Windows) laptop anyway, VCV is a top bit of development and can only get better. Well worth investing the $.

  4. As with other modular platforms with a strong community, it’s been an interesting project to follow. The recent additions do a lot to connect Rack with the DAW world (through the bridge and plugin host). It might eventually lead to broader appeal. Especially if Andrew and the gang find a way to optimize everything.

    Rack advocates are very enthusiastic and they’ve been able to very quickly produce a huge number of things around the platform. This includes many different modules (both Open Source and commercial) along with countless patches. The connections to the Eurorack world are very strong and those who like one ‘rack are likely to enjoy the other. So, loads of videos showcasing people’s patching prowess, lots of generative musicking, plenty of evocative pieces, something of a gamer’s desire to push a system to its limits… It’s like the mechanic’s side of the electronic music scene.

    The overall design philosophy is about displaying all the modules in a dizzying array, with all those patch cables running everywhere. You can now control a VST using virtual CV running from an internal sequencer and a Turing machine? Cool! With blinking lights aplenty? Awesome!
    Makes sense in that crowd. It also makes it harder for people with simple needs to appropriate the platform, making it their own. Not that Rack is that hard to learn. But the resources aren’t mostly about learning things together. They’re about doing unusual things with unusual means.

    It also sounds like this design philosophy is also part of the reason for the performance issues. Instead of optimizing the whole system, it’s more about throwing additional resources at every “problem”. Pretty much the opposite of systems design.
    People may dream of running this on a Single Board Computer like the Raspberry Pi (and some people have attempted to do just that). But the platform is closer to an engineer’s dream of controlling everything than an educator’s idea about ways to enhance anyone’s approach to technology. The Pi3 is perfectly capable of doing really cool stuff with audio, for instance through the Blokas Pisound (and particularly MODEP, the MOD Emulation for Pisound). But Rack fans sound like they’re more interested in pushing things in crazy directions than running efficiently on a low-cost machine.

    Reaktor and Max have very different approaches to Rack’s. Both allow for encapsulation and layers of abstraction. Granted, they also hog resources. Yet an effect of their own design philosophies is that it’s reasonably easy to prototype interesting musical systems through either of them.
    Not that they’re better than the VCV approach to Rack, of course. It’s just that they cater to different crowds, in practice. Max has been integrated in all sorts of interactive and/or multimedia projects which go well with kind of an “Art School” mentality. Reaktor users may be more interested in building performance environments for live contexts, closer to controllerism. Max for Live probably constitutes “the best of both worlds” for those who can afford it. (it might be useful to note that standalone Max can host VST, AU, and M4L plugins, even in polyphony including MPE. So Max can help someone go DAWfree while maintaining a full set of instruments and effects.)

    Pure Data has also been going in its own direction. It’s actually not that resource-hungry, partly because it doesn’t provide much in terms of GUI. It runs quite well on an older Pi and some simple patches go a long way. Not sure it ever fully found its niche but the fact that the same patch can run on a small keyboard (Organelle), a smartphone (through PdParty or MobMuPlat), a Raspberry Pi, or a PC/Mac is a huge benefit.

    It’ll be very interesting to observe whether or not the VCV mentality will shift into the domain of the other modular systems, current or dearly missed (Softube Modular, Zynthian, Eurorack, Moog Model 15, Critter & Guitari Organelle, Jasuto, VCV Rack, Nord Modular, Native Instruments Reaktor, Audulus, Cycling ‘74 Max, Blokas MODEP, zMors Modular, Pure Data, Rebel Technology OWL…).

    In the end, it’s not about which platform is the best. It’s about expanding people’s capacity to create music.

    1. different strokes, dude.

      in terms of optimization, Rack is pretty poor. but in my experience, apart from the weird GPU constraints (it’s beta), not a great deal worse than Reaktor. what Rack offers is good sound, and immediate usability (like Reaktor). the lack of (official) ability to run multiple instances of Rack is a problem though. . .

      computers are cheap. yah you can run your media art installation on a pi, but for not a lot of money you can also run it on a blazing fast six core mac mini. so i’m not so concerned with throwing more power at a thing if it get’s me where i want faster. this is music software not a national security database.

      Supercollider & Csound & the rest are the alternatives, and either will run on your toaster. they’re infinitely more flexible than Rack, but that also comes with many caveats. personally i’m working a lot these days with Max & Rack (also Reaktor) & Reaper all linked together via OSC & midi-clock and having a grand old time.

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