VCV Rack modular synth gets improved MIDI support in v0.6.1

VCV Rack 061 Gamepad MIDIVCV has released version 0.6.1. of the Rack open source virtual modular synthesizer for Windows, Mac and Linux. The update including gamepad and computer keyboard MIDI support, JACK support on Linux, power meters, and Bridge VST/AU instrument plugins with MIDI, DAW transport, and clock. Changes in Rack v0.6.1 Added gamepad MIDI driver. Added computer keyboard […]

Tesselode releases Cocoa Delay (alpha) free delay VST plugin

Tesselode Cacoa DelayTesselode has announced the release of a first alpha version of Cocoa Delay, a free, open-source delay plugin in VST format. Cocoa Delay aims to bring a clean design, easy operation, and a warm, lively sound. Cocoa Delay features Delay time drift, for giving the wet signal a slight wow/flutter effect. Adjustable wet level ducking […]

Patchstorage is a friendly site packed with free visual and music patches

Patching music and visuals is fun, but it helps to learn from other people. With everything from apps (Audulus) to modulars (Softube, VCV Rack) to code and free software (Pd, SuperCollider, Bela), patchstorage is like a free social network for actually making stuff.

It’s funny that we needed international scandal, political catastrophe, numerous academic studies of depression, and everyone’s data getting given away before figuring it out – Facebook isn’t really solving all our problems. But that opens up a chance for new places to find community, learn from each other, and focus on the things we love, like making live music and visuals.

Enter Patchstorage. Choose a platform you’re using – or maybe discover one you aren’t. (Cabbage, for instance, is a free platform for making music software based on Csound.

Then, browse through the tools. There’s an entire VJ engine for Pd extended, a Gregorian guitar synth for the Audulus app, some crazy stuff for the monome aleph hardware, and an entire emulation of a Yamaha DX-7 for SuperCollider, the free code-based environment.

If you’re a newcomer, you can attempt to just load this up and make sound. And a lot of these patches are made for free environments, meaning you don’t have to spend money to check them out. If you’re a more advanced user, of course, poking through someone else’s work can help you get outside your own process. And there are those moments of – “oh, I didn’t know this did that,” or “huh, that’s how that works.”

Pure Data and Critter & Guitari’s Pd-based Organelle hardware are nicely represented.

There are also, naturally, a ton of creations for VCV Rack, the free and open source Eurorack modular emulation we’ve been going on about so much lately.

Oh, yeah, and — another thing. This doesn’t use Facebook as its social network. Instead, chats are powered by gamer-friendly, Slack-like chat client Discord. That means a new tool to contend with when you want to talk about patches, but it does mean you get a focused environment for doing so. So you won’t be juggling your ex, your boss, some spammers, and propaganda bots in the middle of an environment that’s constantly sucking up data about you.

More (project in beta):

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Open Source Shrolca Synth The Love Child Of A Korg Volca & A Mutable Instruments Shruthi

The Shrolca synthesizer is a new design that’s based on the Mutable Instruments Shruthi synthesizer, but in a format closer to that of the Korg Volca line. … Read More Open Source Shrolca Synth The Love Child Of A Korg Volca & A Mutable Instruments Shruthi

Miclop Ctrl X Synthesizer Combines Hardware Control With The Power Of Software

Miclop has launched a Kickstarter project to fund production of the Ctrl X – a new synthesis system that’s designed to combine the immediacy of hardware control with the power and flexibility of software.… Read More Miclop Ctrl X Synthesizer Combines Hardware Control With The Power Of Software

Free Spatial Audio Tools For Ableton Live

Envelop for Live is a free collection of open-source spatial audio production tools that work with Ableton Live Suite.… Read More Free Spatial Audio Tools For Ableton Live

A life cycle for open modules, as Mutable Instruments joins VCV Rack

The free and open VCV Rack software modular platform already is full of a rich selection of open source modules. Now, Rack users get first access to the newest Mutable Instruments modules – and your $20 even goes to charity.

Mutable Instruments is unique among modular makers partly in that its modules are open source – and partly in that they’re really exceptionally creative and sound amazing.

Mutable’s Olivier Gillet was an early adopter of the open source model for music hardware, (along with CDM and our 2010 MeeBlip), starting with the classic Shruthi-1 desktop module (2012). But it’s really been in modular that Mutable has taken off. Even as Eurorack has seen a glut of modules, Olivier’s creations – like Braids, the Macro Oscillator, Clouds, and others – have stood out. And the open source side of this has allowed creative mods, like the Commodore 64 speech synthesis firmware we saw recently.

But Rack, by providing an open software foundation to run modules on, has opened a new frontier for those same modules, even after they’re discontinued. Rack’s ecosystem is a mix of free and open modules and proprietary paid modules. Here, you get a combination of those two ideas.

The hardware.

The software. (Macro Oscillator 2, “Audible Instruments,” in VCV Rack.)

Mutable’s Plaits, a successor to the original multi-functional Braids oscillator, isn’t out yet. And its source will be delayed a bit after that. But for twenty bucks, you get both Plaits (dubbed Macro Oscillator 2 inside VCV) ahead of release, opening up a wonderful new source for pitched and percussion sounds. Most of your money even goes to charity. (Actually, I’m happy to support these developers, too, but sure!) These are two of the more versatile sound sources anywhere.

The idea is, would-be hardware purchasers get an advance test. And everyone gets a version they can run in software for convenience. Either way, all synth lovers win, pretty much. Synthtopia has a similar take:

Is This The Future Of Eurorack Modules?

Maybe, maybe not but — on another level, even if this is just the model for Mutable’s stuff, it’s already good news modular fans and VCV Rack users.

And let’s not forget what it all sounds like. Here’s a mesmerizing, tranquil sound creation by Leipzig-based artist Synthicat, showing off Plaits / Macro Oscillator 2:

Another bonus of VCV Rack support for studio work – you get multiple instances easily, without buying multiple modules. So I can imagine a lot of people using elaborate modular setups they could never afford in the studio, then buying a smaller Eurorack rig for live performance use, for example. Check out Synthicat’s music at his Bandcamp site:

You’ll find a bunch of sound models available, from more traditional FM and analog oscillations to granular to percussive to, indeed, some of that weird speech synthesis business we mentioned. You also get a new interface with more flexible control and CV modulation, unifying what are in fact many different models of sound production into a single, unified, musical interface.

Loads and loads of models. Pop them up by right-clicking, or check the different icons on the center of the module panel.

As for Plaits hardware, here’s some more beautiful music:

The official announcement:

When Mutable Instruments releases a new Eurorack module, its source code is kept closed to limit the proliferation of opportunistic “DIY” clones at a time when there is a lot of demand for the module and to avoid exposing dealers to canceled pre-orders. After several months, a second production run is finished and the source code is released.

In a collaboration between VCV and Mutable Instruments, we allow you to test these new modules before their source code is publicly available with the “Audible Instruments Preview” plugin.

We don’t intend to profit from this collaboration. Instead, 80% of sales are donated to the Direct Relief ( Humanitarian Medical Aid charity organization. The price exists to limit widespread distribution until each module is mature enough to be merged into Audible Instruments.

I have no doubt this will get hardware people hooked on the software, software people hooked on the hardware, and everybody synth-y and happy.

Note from VCV deveoper Andrew Belt [Facebook VCV Rack Group]

It seems more ports/previews may be coming, too, even just in the Audible Instruments preview purchase.

That’s not the only Rack news, either. VCV also have a powerful patchable parametric EQ called Parametra:

It’s $30 – so another proprietary offering that then supports development of the Rack platform.

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Cram Commodore 64 speech synthesis into your rack with this firmware

The open hardware Braids macro oscillator gets an alternative firmware that brings new features – including a speech engine known from the Commodore 64 days. Speech synth means modular synthesis:

Mutable Instruments’ open, digital modules have been one of the best things about the modern modular revolution. And this alternative firmware is a great example of that. Without removing any of the existing Braids 1.9 features, you get new oscillator powers.

The banner feature here is the robotic text-to-speech engine SAM (Software Automated Mouth), known from the Commodore 64. Here’s that engine in action – glitchy and distinctive:

Naturally, that opens up some wild possibilities once you patch into it in a modular environment. Listen to this firmware demo for an idea:

It’s also very fun how this works:

There are three SAM entries in the oscillator model list, named SAM1 to SAM3. Each of these SAM models contain 16 different words.

SAM is configured to work similarly to a granular sampler. By changing Timbre, you “scrub” through the word selected by Color. With Timbre at 0 position, SAM is playing the first grain of the current word. With Timbre fully clockwise, SAM is playing the last grain of the current word. The speed of an envelope can control how fast SAM says the word, independent of the pitch.

If you send SAM a trigger it will automatically play the word, starting from the current grain, at the “natural” speed of the word. In this situation, the pitch input controls both the speed and pitch of the output.

It’s not all that’s on offer, though. You also get six oscillators, evenly spaced:

6xsaw, 6xsquare, 6xtriangle, 6xsine. 6 oscillators starting at the 1v/oct input, spaced evenly across the currently selected quantize scale. Color controls the number of scale steps between oscillators, and Timbre scans through various amplitude settings for the 6 oscillators. When the Braids quantizer is turned off, the oscillators are evenly spaced by semitones (controlled by Color)

There’s already a model of this on VCV Rack, so even if you don’t have the discontinued Braids hardware, it should be possible to use in software. I’ll see about forking it and report back. The Macro Oscillator under Audible Instruments would be the obvious starting place. (Any other Braids fans, other stuff you’d want to see in an ideal fork of the module? Maybe we can make a wishlist. Macro Macro?)

Via Richard Devine.

Here’s the firmware:

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VCV Rack modular is about to get gamepad support

Computer or Eurorack, you still want to get those grubby hands on your sounds. So the latest update to the free and open modular platform Rack makes that cheap and easy, with gamepad support.

Developer Andrew Belt is clearly a busy man. His latest update maps from gamepads to virtual voltage inside the software modular environment. Watch via this — uh gentle ambient demo?

Anrew explains on Facebook:

Just added gamepad and computer keyboard support to VCV Rack, soon to be released in Rack 0.6.1.

Joysticks are mapped to voltages -10 to 10V for each axis using the MIDI-CC module from Core with the new “Gamepad” MIDI driver. Buttons can be converted to 10V gates using MIDI-Trig. Similarly to actual MIDI controllers, click the CC or note name display to learn/assign a gamepad joystick/button.

“But I don’t have a USB gamepad controller!”

They’re super cheap on eBay or Amazon by searching “usb gamepad” for around $10. Compare that with $300 MIDI controllers, and this is more fun per dollar if you’re on a budget (so you can save your money for the next upcoming VCV module!)

The “Computer Keyboard” driver supports the QWERTY US layout and spans two octaves with octave up/down buttons.

This update also adds the ability to use the same MIDI device on Windows with multiple virtual MIDI modules. Previously this was caused by the Windows MIDI API requiring exclusive access to each MIDI device, so having multiple instances would crash. I have written a MIDI “multiplexer” that solves this.

Good stuff. I can also imagine an ultra-portable sound rig with a compact PC and a gamepad and keyboard attached – running Linux, of course.


Speaking of Linux, until there’s native support in JACK at some point, hopefully, there’s already a hack for the best audio system on Linux (and the best way of piping sound between software):

Oh yeah, and while VCV Rack is free (with inexpensive software add-ons for high-quality modules), there is this problem – it could make you buy hardware.

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8BitMixtapeNEO is a glitchy hackable synth the size of a cassette tape

It’s the size of a cassette tape, has buttons and pots so you can play it as a handheld instrument, it’s open and hackable – and it sounds like 8-bit mayhem.

8BitMixtapeNEO is very, very lo-fi synth built around the Arduino-compatible ATTINY85 chip. But what’s interesting about it is that all that hackable, programmable mayhem is accessible to anyone curious, not just coders.

It sounds mental:

And it’s got some weird and clever features:

Pocket mods: Just like the KORG volca sample, an audio protocol works for upload. So you can send firmware code just by playing a sound file from an audio playback device. Flash with your phone on the fly. (They also suggest a SONY Cassette WALKMAN, of course.)

Lite-Brite: Eight RGB LEDs work as a sort of 8-pixel screen / feedback / Knight Rider display.

Upcycle: Since the PCB is the shape and size of a cassette tape, a re-purposed cassette shape shell works as a case.

Arduino-compatible chip.

Visual programming. There’s a visual, drag-and-drop programming interface you can use as an alternative to uploading code. Have a look:

User mixtapes. They’ve built their own custom community for user-generated tools, including visual effects, sequencers, sounds, and other hacks. It’s here – – and since audio playback upload is easy, you can just flash from any computer or phone or tablet with speakers!

Pricing stars at 65EUR (with that beautiful, artsy PCB). There are various ways to buy, including getting it in person in Berlin – and workshops from Hong Kong to Zagreb to Taoyuan. Check it out:

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