VCV Rack Instruments & Effects

VCV Rack Instruments & Effects Title Screen

Let’s Make some Instruments, Sound Types, and Effects with the free Eurorack Modeling Software VCV Rack

This is a series dedicated to learning how to design different virtual instruments, sounds, sound types, and effects using the free virtual Eurorack modeling software, VCV Rack. This series will primarily use those modules that are free modules from VCV as well as the wider community of developers. We will look at how to make the common sound types that are used frequently as virtual instruments. We will also look at how to make some common effects. This series will grow indefinitely so people can learn how to make important kinds of sounds and effects. The knowledge learned can then be applied to other software in designing sounds.

Episode 009 – Distorted Drone & Lead Using Sync, Filtering, AM, and FM

This episode demonstrates a number of ways that one can use distortion techniques to create rich and dynamic sounds. The sound that is created in this video is a lead that has a drone supporting it. It has a complex tone due tot he distortion techniques used. The color of the distortion changes continuously, providing more interest. The sound utilizes two oscillators, one is connected tot he other via the sync input. The synced oscillators are then go through a number of changes to their frequency settings, wave shapes, and ultimately a number of flavors are explored. Once the parameters are selected, an LFO is used to modulate the filter cut off frequency in a way that brings more distortion to the sound and provides a drone frequency that supports the lead sound. The same LFO is also used for amplitude modulation. Finally, the sync oscillator also provides frequency modulation tot he carrier oscillator. The resulting timbre is rich with harmonics. Some compression and equalization are applied to finalize the sound.

This episode uses the following module brands:

Episode 08 – Using Synthesis to Make Ambient Cricket Sounds

Cricket sounds are very helpful for relaxation and can be a soothing element in ambient music. In this episode, we see how to use the free and open source software VCV Rack to synthesize cricket sounds. All of the modules used in this episode are free modules, so anyone can download the free version of VCV Rack and these modules from the community library to make these cricket sounds as well as much much more. In this lesson, it is described how to make variations on the sound so that you can customize your own cricket sounds. these sounds will be used in the Sound for Relaxation, Meditation, and Sleep series in an upcoming piece.

This episode uses the following module brands:

Episode 007 – Making Synthesized Ocean Wave Sounds with Noise

If you ever need to make ocean wave sounds for your music or as an audio effect for some multimedia project, VCV Rack is the perfect software for doing this with the VCV noise generator and a number of other free modules. In this episode, we look at how to do this step-by-step, showing different options for customizing your own wave sounds. We look at how to make the synthesized wave sounds realistic and natural, so that they do not sound exactly on time with the rise and fall. this way, they sound more natural. since this approach was used int he first three pieces for the Sound for Relaxation, Meditation, and Sleep playlist, the three different patches for these pieces are also shown for some insight into making ambient music or sound experiences for relaxation.

This episode uses the following module brands:

Episode 06 – Some Approaches to Ambient Music Composition

This episode looks at some approaches to composing ambient music with VCV Rack that employs gradual transformation with patterns that relate, but do not get too repetitive. This episode employs a few modules that hav ebeen found to be useful toward this end and we explore how they can be used in ways that give a composition a unified development of ideas without getting too repetitive. This means that approaches to gradual transformation must be utilized. This allows a piece to flow for ambient music listening that has more organic growth as opposed to repeated patterns.

This episode uses the following module brands:

Episode 005 – Ambient Rhythms: Sequencer, Percussion, and Delay from mscHack

There are a few modules int he mscHack brand within the overall VCV Rack community library that are great for making ambient rhythms. In this episode we see how to use the 32 Step accent sequencer that has 16 program slots with the clock generator from mscHack. We use this sequencer to drive the percussion module that has tones and noise that can be sculpted into ambient percussion sounds. Additionally, we look at the Windz and Dronez modules that create wind sounds and intriguing drone timbres respectively. We look at various configurations using the mixers and the delay modules from this library as well. These are great free tools for making ambient rhythms and patterns.

This episode uses the following module brands:

Episode 004 – Making a 90s Trance Drum and Bass Pattern Player Groove Machine

We are going to continue along the path of working with patterns and sequences in VCV Rack. In this episode, we look at how to make a 90s trance style pattern player or groove machine that utilizes drums and bass. The patch that we make in this episode allows one to play a drum sequence by holding down a key on the keyboard while playing a bass note at the same time. One can play different notes on the keyboard and have the sequence reset and the bass play the note being held. Likewise, the overall sound can be affected by the modulation wheel. The patch that we make in this episode allows one to use the modulation wheel to affect the filter’s cut off frequency, the envelope’s release time, and the sound’s timbre and color settings. We are getting closer to achieving the functionality of the Rebirth RB-338 that was requested by one of our viewers.

This episode uses the following module brands:

Episode 003 – Making Bass Patterns with a Sample and Hold or an Arpeggiator

Sometimes its nice to just play some keys on the keyboard and have a cool bass pattern come out. In this episode, we look at how that can be done with a Sample and Hold. We utilize the sample and hold from the VCV library along with the step sequencer in order to make a pattern that is locked into pitch with the quantize from VCV. We can then set the filtering settings in the sequencer so that there is a pattern to the changes in cut off frequency reminiscent of the Rebirth RB-338. Additionally, we lok at a simpler approach that utilizes an arpeggiator. We try out both the Hampton Harmonics arpeggiator and the one from Sha#Bang!

Episode 002 – 3 Fat Square Bass Sounds – VCV, Befaco, and Audible Instruments

In this episode we learn how to make a square base sound using the free virtual Eurorack modeling software, VCV Rack. We cover the principles in making a square bass sound with a sine sub bass and two chorused square oscillator. We then look at applying effects to the sound using the modulation wheel to control both a low pass filter, resonance of that filter, and the pulse width modulation of the square oscillators. Finally, we compare 3 different patches that use different brands of modules. We compare the sound using the VCV brand, the Befaco brand (with a Sickvell filter), and the audible instruments brand. Which one do you prefer? Leave a comment and let us know.

This episode uses the following module brands:

  • Befaco
  • RPJ (Accidentally referred to as Sickozell in episode)

Episode 001 – Random Number Sci Fi Computer Beep Sound

In this first episode of VCV Rack Instruments & Effects, we look at how to make the random computer beep sound from many older Sci Fi movies and TV shows. We look at how to generate random frequency values in VCV Rack and then how to shape the range of frequencies to customize the sound. We try different techniques and modules to hear different flavors of the sound. Some of the sounds come from the 60s, some from the 70s, and some from the 90s. We listen tot he VCV VCO for a more classic sound. We then listen to the KautenjaDSP Mega Tone for the Sega Genesis type of sound. Finally we utilize the Audible Instruments Macro Oscillator and find a really nice vintage Sci Fi film sound. Along the way, we look at how to focus the range of frequencies, envelope them, and slew them for different kinds of effects on the sound.

This episode uses the following module brands: