VCVRack virtual modular synthesizer

Hey, hope this is the right place to post this.
I have an ES-9 and use iOS as my preferred virtual platform (MiRack / Drambo / AUM). However, when I connect the ES-9 to my MacBook Pro, I’ve never been able to talk to VCV (1 or 2) properly. VCV can send signals to the module outputs, but I’ve been unable to send from the inputs into VCV.
I am able to send Audio back and forth via Ableton as normal (can’t test the anything else because I don’t have cv tools etc), so I think it might be more a VCV issue.
As mentioned, iOS is my preferred platform, and I use it there with absolutely no I/O problems at all since day 1. Here’s a screenshot of my “Hosted” configuration if it helps…

And here’s me testing on VCV 1 + 2

Any ideas?

There is Cardinal, which is, and I’ll just paste bits from the README here, a "free and open-source virtual modular synthesizer plugin, available as JACK standalone and LV2, VST2 and VST3 audio plugin for FreeBSD, Linux, macOS and Windows.

"More specifically, this is a DPF-based plugin wrapper around VCV Rack, using its code directly instead of forking the project, with the target of having a proper, self-contained, fully free and open-source plugin version of Rack. See the why section below for the reasons Cardinal exists, also for frequently asked questions check this FAQ document.

"Cardinal contains Rack, some 3rd-party modules and a few internal utilities all in a single binary. All “Core” modules from Rack have been replaced by Cardinal equivalents, simplified to better work for an audio plugin. Cardinal does not load external modules and does not connect to the official Rack library/store. All VCV branding has been removed (to the best of our knowledge) in order to avoid any trademark issues.

“All included modules are open-source and have a GPLv3+ compatible license. (GPLv3-only modules are not allowed). It is a requirement that the final Cardinal binary is GPLv3+ licensed. … An overview of the included code and linked submodules can be seen here. … An overview of the included artwork licenses can be seen here.”

VCV forum thread. Chat is fairly active, and the first beta release is coming very soon.

Edit: that’s the first release out now.

@DMR There is an open inter host/app CV system; JACK/LV2 CV ports


Just got back into vcv (got a new computer that can handle it!) Wanted to give a shout-out to @Allieway_Audio ’s wonderful Series 1 collection. I’ve barely scratched the surface and am having so much fun exploring their behaviors. (AlliewayAudio_Series_I/manuals at main · AlliewayAudio/AlliewayAudio_Series_I · GitHub) They are each unique and imaginative, but also very intuitive to use. They don’t behave like anything I’ve used before, but the parameters have so many sweet spots that they can be approached with a patch, listen & tweak mindset.

Koan is a mu-law compander with tons of tricks up it sleeves. In practice it feels like a delightful distortion playground. It sounds amazing on its own. Throwing filters/effects in between the stages opens all sorts of mesmerizing doors.

I won’t try to explain bumper and cartoon running. But I will say, they can also be approached very intuitively, with a tweak and listen mindset. Cartoon running is a weird chaos source. But the fact that at it’s core it wants to party with either or both a cv/audio source and a trigger source makes it very approachable. (Ok it’s also very weird, in a good way.)

Bumper generates stepped cvs and gates. I love how many interesting behaviors I can get by simple patch programming (including self patching.) I’ve even had good results inserting it in a benjolin-esque patch (instead of a Rungler.)

Here are 3 different recordings of the BenjoBump patch. Modulation from the NLC 8 bit cipher (currently my preferred rungler alternative) is (mostly) off on these recordings. We’re listening to OSC 1’s triangle output fed through koan > vult unstabile. The delay/verb is from supermassive. (Apologies, I haven’t trimmed the audio in post, so the start and end are a bit off.)

Screenshot of the patch


Oh no my secret is out! Koan is dope. Bumper is dope but feels like I could do it with TT if I had the gumption, but it wouldn’t have a nice interface if I did. Cartoon Running has been harder to get my head around, but I have gotten strong results patching it with Chilly Cheese.

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@OhWell @misuba Thanks so much for the kind words both of you, it really means a lot to me, and it makes me so happy to hear sounds made with my modules - please send me any cool tracks you make, it makes my day :smiley:

Am in the middle of a busy internship right now, but module #4 is almost finished! It’s name is ZigZag and it’ll be a best friend of bumper (or any receiver of gates/clocks really) - Here’s a clip of an early version being used as a polyrhythmic clock generator with the VCV Drums module, no sequencer in sight!

And yeah, “Cartoon Running!” is definitely the oddest of the odd ducks - I think you can get a feel for how it works by sending the Excite input a slow clock and watching the outputs as you turn knobs, but it’s really meant to introduce some circuit-bent weirdness and chaos where it’s required hehe :stuck_out_tongue:

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions or feedback here, or on my Discord :slight_smile:


i don’t suppose anyone has implemented a way of sending cv from vcvrack to hardware and back via crow?

it would be excellent if i could accomplish this with modules i already know and love, after all!

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Hi everybody

I wanted to share this little experiment :
I was watching videos about the Xaoc Sofia oscillator and I would really like to be able to try one, so I thought I’d try to recreate its basic principle in VCV in the meantime.
It is only based on the idea of adding two “ripple components” tuned differently (but synced) and controlling their amplitudes with very short enveloppes, one ripple component for each half of the main oscillator cycle.

It is really basic but I like the simple tones I get from it !

Here is the patch :
POC Xaoc Sofia.vcv (7.2 KB)

And a screenshot :


I use my ES-9 to do this, but the ES-8 should be able to handle it too. There’s a thread of other suggestions on the VCV board here.

If you wanted to do it through Crow, it would mean creating a VCV Rack module that can somehow talk to Crow. I feel like it’s likely to be possible (especially as there are already VCV versions of earthsea, meadowphysics, teletype, and white whale), but my C++ skills are very definitely insufficient for the task!


Song sketch featuring KOAN. Had fun with this on the plane today. All the sounds made with a chaotic patch with plaits as the sound source and KOAN in the audio chain. I recorded a bunch of samples then (crudely) arranged in Bitwig. I like this audio color palette.


This is a short exemple of a feedback patch I do a lot of variations of when trying to make sounds for later use (through recording improvisations and editing), the main idea is to have various feedback paths with a matrix mixer, and then use Transit to control all that goes in and out of the mixer, plus the mixer’s pots, then use a big knob to play the preset variations on Transit. (@OhWell )

Here is an exemple with two MI Elements :


Has anyone done 1:1 tests of any VCV modules that also exist in hardware? When I had the Plaits, I tested it against the VCV version and was surprised to hear that it sounded a lot different in tone, even though it uses the same source code. I was about to purchase a hardware Instruo TS-L but noticed VCV had it for free, and it sounds pretty damn good. I even tested it against an analog oscillator and it held up in tone. I’m wondering if I’d be missing anything by just using the digital version. (I’m aware this is nearing analog vs. digital debate territory ;)) Also, curious to hear any others experiences with this.

Loopop did an interesting video comparing the hard- and software versions of a few Mutable Instruments modules (but not Plaits specifically).

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Oh nice, thanks for the link. Will check it out for sure.

I know that Instruo in particular put a lot of effort into ensuring that their VCV modules had “analogue” character. But I have no Instruo modules to compare with VCV, so I don’t know how successful they were.


I can confirm that the Cs-L at least is very, very close. The way modulation is handled is pretty much dead-on. Any tonal differences I found were because of how I was monitoring/tracking different sources.


I thought Rings sounded close but different – like in a blind test I couldn’t say which was which, just that they aren’t identical. Although if I recall, you can’t get the VCV one to drop really low in frequency and act as a weird reverb?

The Doepfer Wasp filter in VCV is an amazingly good emulation, though.


I don’t own any of their hardware either, but yeah the VCV modules are very good.