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Modular synthesizers have been popular for a few years now. This trend is not indifferent to the growing popularity of electronic music or electronic music.

Not so long ago, the word synthesizer evoked an image of a case with various rotary knobs assembled to a keyboard of the piano type. A small or medium sized instrument which was compact and portable.

Today, in a way a return to the source, it becomes necessary to specify whether the synthesizer is modular or not. The approach and the format are very different.

The advantage is in short, the infinite possibilities. The user chooses each of the modules, piece by piece, and puts them together. One builds one’s own synthesizer.

The disadvantage? If there is one, is the connectivity. That is, the user is forced to interconnect all these modules to get sound. It is less instinctive for some and for others more liberating. Ever time is becomes an exploration.

In the Eurorack format the modules are screwed one by one onto a rack and powered. The cables, whose connectors are 3.5 mm jacks, are then used to route the signal from one module to the other and thus create  sound texture.

Obviously, all this is an investment of your time and money and difficult to set up a versatile system for less than $1000. It takes a bit of reading and patience to comfortably operate a modular synthesizer.

Here is a way to see if you like it for free.

At the end of 2017, the developer Andrew Belt made the beta version of the open source VCV Rack software available. It is a full-fledged application for both Mac or PC, offering a true virtual modular environment. In the opening page of the software you will see an empty rack in which you can gather different modules classified into 2 categories: Core and Fundamental.

The Core category brings together the essential modules for audio and MIDI communication between your computer (or your external equipment) and the software.

The Fundamental category brings together the “sources” (VCO, LFO, EG, SEQ) and processors (VCF, VCA) type modules. Other modules can be added in addition, to the software. Some are free, like those based on the original products of Mutable Instruments (renamed Audible Instruments), others are paying but very affordable. The software is not available in VST or AU format but the development of a module named VCV Bridge will make communication possible between it and the DAW of your choice.

Watch this little tutorial to familiarize yourself with the software.

Grab it for free at https://vcvrack.com/.

Questions or comments : j.doyon@musitechnic.net