Andrew Belt, founder of VCV announced a collaboration with Mutable Instruments creator Olivier Gillet to let you preview new hardware synth modules as software within the VCV rack software platform. For the ones that are new to VCV, it’s a free, multi-platform software modular. It’s available for Linux, Mac & Windows and offers a powerful Eurorack-style virtual modular synthesizer platform.
Mutable Instruments is unique among modular makers partly in that its modules are open source – and partly in that they’re really exceptionally creative and sound amazing.
Mutable’s Olivier Gillet was an early adopter of the open source model for music hardware, (along with CDM and our 2010 MeeBlip), starting with the classic Shruthi-1 desktop module (2012). But it’s really been in modular that Mutable has taken off. Even as Eurorack has seen a glut of modules, Olivier’s creations – like Braids, the Macro Oscillator, Clouds, and others – have stood out. And the open source side of this has allowed creative mods, like the Commodore 64 speech synthesis firmware we saw recently.
Whats in store for us ?
- Hardware user get an inexpensive way to test-drive a new hardware module
- Software users can get early access to new hardware module designs.
This is a great move for users looking to purchase new hardware, whilst using it comprehensively in a software domain.
Mutable’s Plaits, a successor to the original multi-functional Braids oscillator, is out but won’t be open sourced until June. But for twenty bucks, you get both Plaits (dubbed Macro Oscillator 2 inside VCV) ahead of that release, opening up a wonderful new source for pitched and percussion sounds. Most of your money even goes to charity. (Actually, I’m happy to support these developers, too, but sure!) These are two of the more versatile sound sources anywhere.
Leipzig-based artist Synthicat, showing off Plaits / Macro Oscillator 2 in this above video.
Here’s how it works:
- Mutable Instruments creates a new module design, like its recently introduced Plaits Macro Oscillator. MI keeps the source code closed for the first run of the module, to help ensure a successful initial run and to protect dealers from cancelled orders.
- VCV and Mutable Instruments create a VCV Rack versionof the new module and make it available via the Audible Instruments Preview plugin. This allows users to try it out in software form, within the free modular platform VCV Rack.
- After several months, the source code is released. This allows derivative works to be created of the new module design, including hardware clones and free software versions.
- Hardware modular owners get an inexpensive way to test-drive a new hardware module
- Software modular users can get early access to new hardware module designs.
From more traditional FM and analog oscillations to granular to percussive to, indeed, some of that weird speech synthesis business we mentioned. You also get a new interface with more flexible control and CV modulation, unifying what are in fact many different models of sound production into a single, unified, musical interface.
Pricing and Availability
The Audible Instruments Preview plugin is available now for US $20 and includes the VCV Rack version of the Plaits module.
Belt says that they don’t intend to profit from the fee, but they’re charging to limit widespread distribution until each module is mature enough to be merged into the standard ‘Audible Instruments’ line of free Mutable Instruments clones. 80% of sales are donated to the Direct Relief Humanitarian Medical Aid charity organization.
What do you think of this new collaboration? Would you like to see more developers of digital modules make their new designs available to preview in VCV Rack?
When Mutable Instruments releases a new Eurorack module, its source code is kept closed to limit the proliferation of opportunistic “DIY” clones at a time when there is a lot of demand for the module and to avoid exposing dealers to canceled pre-orders. After several months, a second production run is finished and the source code is released.
In a collaboration between VCV and Mutable Instruments, we allow you to test these new modules before their source code is publicly available with the “Audible Instruments Preview” plugin.
We don’t intend to profit from this collaboration. Instead, 80% of sales are donated to the Direct Relief (https://www.directrelief.org/) Humanitarian Medical Aid charity organization. The price exists to limit widespread distribution until each module is mature enough to be merged into Audible Instruments.
I have no doubt this will get hardware people hooked on the software, software people hooked on the hardware, and everybody synth-y and happy.