Ubuntu Studio hits 19.10, gives you an ultra easy, config-free Linux for music and media

The volunteer-run Ubuntu Studio isn’t just a great Linux distribution for beginners wanting to make music, visuals, and media. It’s a solid alternative to Mac and Windows you can easily dual boot.

Ubuntu Studio for a while had gone semi-dormant for a while; open source projects need that volunteer support to thrive. But starting around 2018, it saw renewed interest. (Uh, maybe frustrations with certain mainstream OSes even helped.)

And that’s important for the Linux ecosystem at large. Ubuntu remains the OS distribution most targeted by mainstream developers and most focused on easy end user operation. That’s not to say it’s the best distro for you – part of the beauty of Linux is the endless choice it affords, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. But because some package management focuses on Ubuntu (and Debian), because it’s the platform where a lot of the action is as far as consumer desktop OS features, and just because so many beginners are on the platform, it matters. Heck, you can usually get more novice-friendly advice just by Googling a problem and adding the word “Ubuntu” on the end.

But that’s all what you’d hope Ubuntu Studio would be. Let’s talk about what it is – because the latest distro release looks really terrific.

Ubuntu Studio 19.10 dropped last month. For those unOS familiar with Ubuntu – look closely at those numbers – that’s October 2019. Ubuntu alternates between long-term support (LTS) releases and more frequent releases with newer features. Crucially, the Ubuntu Studio team now add “backports” though so that you can use the newer packages on the LTS release – so you don’t have to constantly upgrade your OS just to get the latest features.

If you don’t mind doing the distro update, though, 19.10 has some really terrific features. I also have to say, as a musician the other appeal to me of Linux is, I can still use my main OS as the day-to-day OS, loaded down with lots of software and focusing on things like battery life, while maintaining a dual boot Linux OS both as a backup OS for live use and one I can optimize for low-latency performance. Now that Bitwig Studio, Renoise, VCV Rack, Pure Data, SuperCollider, and lots of other cool software to play live all run on Linux, that’s no small matter. (For visuals, think Blender, game engines, and custom code.)

New in this version:

OBS Studio is pre-configured right out of the box, for live streaming and screencasting.

There are tons of plug-ins ready-to use. 100 plug-ins were added to this release, on top of the ones already available. There are LADSPA, LV2, and VST plug-ins, and extensive support even for Window VSTs. For now, you even get 32-bit plug-in support, so using one of the LTS releases for backwards compatibility on a studio machine is a good idea.

Oh yeah, and while you should definitely move to 64-bit, plug-in developers – targeting Linux now makes sense, without question. And Ubuntu Studio would be a logical distro against which to test or even provide support.

RaySession now makes handling audio sessions for apps easier.

Ubuntu Studio Controls is improved. This won’t make sense to Linux newcomers, but especially for those of you who tried Ubuntu in the past and maybe even got frustrated – Ubuntu Studio has done a lot of work here. Ubuntu Studio Controls and the pre-configured OS now make things work sensibly out of the box, with powerful controls for tweaking things as you need. And yeah, this was indeed sometimes not the case in the past. The trick with Linux – ironically just as on Windows and sometimes even macOS – is that different applications have competing needs for what audio has to do. Ubuntu Studio does a good job of juggling the consumer audio needs with high-performance inter-app audio and multichannel audio we need for our music stuff.

Anyway, new in this build:

  • Now includes an indicator to show whether or not Jack is running
  • Added Jack backend selections: Firewire, ALSA, or Dummy (used for testing configurations)
  • Added multiple PulseAudio bridges
  • Added convenient buttons for starting other configuration tools

That’s just a quick look; you can read the release notes:

I’m installing 19.10 (rather than LTS and backports, though I might do that on an extra machine), as I’m in a little lull between touring. VCV Rack is part of my live rig, as is SuperCollider or Pd for more experimental gigs, so you can bet I’m interested here. I’ll be sure to share how this works and provide a beginner-friendly guide.

For more on how this works:

The post Ubuntu Studio hits 19.10, gives you an ultra easy, config-free Linux for music and media appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Mutable Instruments’ Braids

This series of videos takes an exhaustive look at the various oscillator options that Braids offers.… Read More Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Mutable Instruments’ Braids

‘VCV Rack For iPad’ Coming With miRack

“A touch screen is much better suited for dragging virtual cables between modules and for using knobs and other controls than a mouse…”… Read More ‘VCV Rack For iPad’ Coming With miRack

iPad Eurorack: An unofficial port is bringing VCV Rack to iOS

Get ready for some tablet patching. A developer has revealed a port of popular open source modular environment VCV Rack to the iPad.

Synth Anatomy gets the scoop on this one. New Zealand-based developer Vitaly Pronkin has been working on a project that promises to put the free rack synthesizer platform on the iOS app store soon.

The most encouraging thing here is probably seeing an easy interface for adding modules from VCV and third parties. That would open up an additional platform for developers’ modules.

Don’t get too excited too fast – this is best seen as a proof of concept, especially since it forks an earlier version (0.x rather than 1.0). But it could be a good indication of performance on Apple’s tablets, and might well be the basis for a more polished, finished project.

VCV Rack 1.0 is licensed under the GPLv3, which generally is not allowed on Apple’s App Store. (There are some loopholes, as we discovered when licensing the iOS port of Pure Data, libpd – but that has to do with the fact that Pd itself is under a more permissive license, and patches, for instance, are not compiled.)

Another way to go if this is what you want – try running Rack on a Surface or similar Windows tablet. That also allows greater compatibility with your usual audio tools than you get from iOS, and without Apple’s App Store restrictions.

I’m still happy with Rack on a PC, where it can take advantage of some unique performance enhancements, and instead externalizing control. (Playing live, I don’t really want to be re-patching at all, but that’s me…)

Check out the full blog post – there is also an interesting note on an abortive port to the Web and JavaScript and some embedded hardware:

miRack is coming to iOS

The other ports: https://github.com/mi-rack/Rack

The post iPad Eurorack: An unofficial port is bringing VCV Rack to iOS appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Erica Synths Releases Cowbell and Black Multi Eurorack Modules, VCV Rack Modules

European synth-makers Erica Synths have unveiled several new products. There are two hardware modules: the Black Multi Eurorack module, and Cowbell module (“Because who doesn’t need more cowbell?”), and several free Erica Synth modules for VCV Rack.… Read More Erica Synths Releases Cowbell and Black Multi Eurorack Modules, VCV Rack Modules

Erica Synths releases Cowbell and Black Multi Eurorack modules + FREE modules for VCV Rack

Erica Synths Cowbell

Erica Synths has announced availability of two new Eurorack modules and several free Erica Synth modules for VCV Rack, enabling customers to patch and tweak in the virtual domain. The new Cowbell Eurorack module is an extended, modular version of the Yocto (808) cowbell. For increased sonic versatility, Erica Synths has added Tune and Decay […]

The post Erica Synths releases Cowbell and Black Multi Eurorack modules + FREE modules for VCV Rack appeared first on rekkerd.org.

Crossover VCV Rack modular: Vult goes hardware, as Erica adds free software

Hardware or software? Yes. Modular synthesizers, of all things, are blurring the line between the two. The popular Vult line of software modules for VCV Rack is going hardware, just as Erica Synths offers its popular hardware in a free software form on the same platform.

VCV Rack has rapidly established itself as a platform for other modules in a way that nothing else has. The software modular is free, with a rich free ecosystem, with only useful add-ons (from the developer and third parties) costing money. It’s also strikingly approachable for developers as well as users.

But that’s in turn leading to some fascinating crossovers.

This week, developer Leonardo Laguna Ruiz announced that his Vult module, which existed only in VCV Rack virtually, is now up for preorders as actual hardware.

Vult Freak incorporates a bunch of different modules in one (thanks, code modeling):

  • Tangents – Steiner-Parker filter containing three different variations.
  • Lateralus – Ladder filter.
  • Nurage – Low pass gate / Borg filter.
  • Ferox – CMOS filter.
  • Vortex – Russian fitler.
  • Unstabile – Circuit bent State Variable filter.
  • Stabile – State Variable filter.
  • Rescomb – Resonant Comb filter.
  • Vorg – MS-20 style filter

Demos:

I’ve used a lot of these in my own musical experiments in Rack, and do they sound good? Yes, they do. (Unstabile and Vortex are particularly delicious for those of us who enjoy rich, manic distortion.)

€225 buys you this stuff as physical device – and frees you from having to mouse around and worry about crashes or running out of CPU, natch.

A community of followers built on the VCV Rack ecosystem now are likely to follow Vult on into hardware. Preorder-ready hardware, seen here.

Maybe it’s the story behind the device that’s just as compelling – a few years developing a language, a couple of years experimenting in VCV Rack, then making the leap into hardware. There’s a bug that bites people who get into buying Eurorack, but there’s one for development, too.

I don’t doubt that some of the loyal users of the software will splurge for the hardware, too. And rather than blowing cash on something, then bolting it into a rack and hoping you can figure it out, the software-first model means many people who do buy Vult Freak will already know how to use it.

With that in mind, it’s also worth mention that Latvian titan of modular Erica Synths, with their expansive catalog, have made their first steps into providing software editions. Head to the Library on the VCV site, and you can grab a collection of Erica modules:

The new Erica offers, in software form – Wavetable VCO and Octasource from the Black series, and DRUMS from the Pico series.

https://vcvrack.com/plugins.html

They’re free of charge; just click ‘+ Free’ and update Rack and you’ll get them. Erica are a long way from porting everything they make in hardware – this is a tiny fraction of the full lineup. But they’re a decent taste of what Erica hardware can do. The Black Wavetable VCO is a uniquely capable oscillator with bitcrush and tons of wave modulation options. Octasource is a unique modulation oscillator, and its interface works differently from others, meaning having it in software form is really fantastic. DRUMS is ridiculously compact as is everything in the fascinating Pico series, but it’s a natural for cramming into virtual rigs.

https://www.ericasynths.lv/

I’ll be curious to see if this attracts some new Erica customers. Erica aren’t the first to do this, either – Befaco, Mutable Instruments (as Audible Instruments), and Music Thing (as Stellare) all offer software renditions of their hardware. It’s not hard to imagine at some point that VCV Rack will have a “buy hardware” button on the software. Softube Modular has software ports, too, of some big brands – Mutable Instruments again, the mighty Doepfer, Buchla, 4ms, and Intellijel all have software modules available.

The big difference is business model: VCV Rack is tending more toward either inexpensive paid modules as software, or free software that serves as a demo/preview of hardware.

A minority of electronic musicians live in a place where they can easily just run to a shop and try gear out. But more than that, software promises to create a new communications link between musicians and creators, year-round. We’ll see if that gives Vult a boost in the crowded modular world.

Check out VCV Rack on all platforms:

https://vcvrack.com/

And if you want a hand getting started, the legendary Jim Aikin has written a free e-book that explains what Rack is and how to use it, plus (the bit I liked most) gives a guide to the jungle of modules out there:

The post Crossover VCV Rack modular: Vult goes hardware, as Erica adds free software appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Learn how to arrange your modular tracks with VCV Rack, Ableton Live

It’s one of the first challenges with any modular – you get a wild banging groove, but then… you’re stuck with it. One new video tutorial suggests a way to arrange your modular with Ableton Live and free VCV Rack software.

Live’s real-time arrangement and triggering features have always been part of its appeal – something exploited by everyone from live electronic musicians to those triggering sounds for radio and theater. Here, it’s a great way to take your cabled modular concoctions and actually turn them into a song structure or live performance. But it may not be immediately obvious to beginners how to go about it.

The inspiring VCV Rack ideas comes to the rescue here. It’s been updated for the just-release VCV Rack 1.0.

Now the audio advice here is actually soon to become outdated – Bridge will go away later this year, and you’ll be able to run Rack as a plug-in. But you can actually skip that part if you want to go another route, and just let Rack control your audio interface and send MIDI from Ableton Live.

(You could also apply this on Linux easily, with Bitwig Studio in place of Live – think I’ll try that myself, in fact.)

But the basic idea here is, run MIDI from Live to Rack, and use clips and scenes to trigger changes. There are some clever ideas about how to map control via CV and MIDI, and then the really important step is adding a physical controller, so you can get your hands on the live performance and improvise.

Note that while this example uses VCV Rack, you could apply the same ideas to any modular with MIDI input – or even mix in a partial or complete hardware set with the same rig. And watching this I also imagine some other ideas for where to go; this is by definition an open-ended process. Have a look:

Have you got another way of working? We’d love to hear about it in comments.

By the way, if you’re at SONAR this week, I’ll be giving a workshop with VCV Rack on Friday. (You need a delegate pass / pre-registration. But of course I’ll share some of how it goes here on CDM soon.)

https://sonarplusd.com/en/programs/barcelona-2019/areas/workshops/the-no-money-modular-synth-for-beginners-with-peter-kirn

Previously:

The post Learn how to arrange your modular tracks with VCV Rack, Ableton Live appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

MIDI Mapping In VCV Rack 1.0

In his latest video, synthesist Omri Cohen explores the possibilities of MIDI mapping in VCV Rack – the free, open source modular synthesizer platform.… Read More MIDI Mapping In VCV Rack 1.0