VCV Rack is the ultimate way to learn about and experiment with modular gear without buying expensive modules. This well-loved virtual modular classic will be overhauled in VCV Rack 2, expected for release in November 2021.

Developer Andrew Belt put together something special with VCV Rack that pleased both soft synth and Eurorack enthusiasts. It’s not the only virtual modular platform around, there are others like Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular, but most lack the almost cult status of VCV Rack.

Scheduled for November 2021, VCV Rack 2 is set to bring a much-needed refresh to reignite excitement and showcase new features.

We don’t have all the details about the forthcoming release, but the recently published teaser video reveals more than enough new features to be excited about.

The first and perhaps most significant change is that VCV Rack 2 can function as a plugin.

There will be two editions of VCV Rack 2; Community Edition and Studio Edition.

The great news is that the Community Edition remains freeware. However, it still functions only as a standalone platform.

Studio Edition will cost $149 ($99 intro/launch price) and function in both standalone and VST plugin modes.

I know that as soon as a price is attached to something, it changes how people view it. But, on balance, if VCV Rack 2 were a brand new product with thousands of modules available, the price wouldn’t seem too unreasonable.

A VST/AU/AAX plugin format was on top of many user’s wishlists for a long time. In plugin form, VCV Rack is more flexible and convenient than ever.

The GUI has had a modern overhaul, too. Where once everything was flat, now sits an array of 3D knobs and buttons.

On the practical side, it does improve visibility; patching can get messy. As pure aesthetics go, what I’ve seen so far looks great.

Another new visual feature is Dark Room Mode. VCV Rack already offered Dark Mode, but it wasn’t exactly the most subtle or flattering lighting change.

The new Dark Room Mode mimics the dark rooms that synth nuts like to work in at times. I know working in a dark room has its genuine ambiance/benefits at times, but I wanted to point out the obvious; we are a crazy (but lovable) bunch.

With Dark Room Mode on, it’s like the studio lights are dimmed, and the glow from the modules LEDs faintly illuminates the surface around them.

There will be a few workflow improvements, too. You will be able to import/export modules that you’ve patched from one rack to another. You’ll also have a much easier time browsing modules with new dropdown menus that sort by brand, most used, last used, and random.

When you end up with far more modules than planned (and you will), the new GUI allows you to zoom on on a specific module or group.

Some of my favorite hardware modules come from Instruō, and the entire range is available on VCV Rack – worth checking out.

More info: VCV Rack (project website)

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