7 Best Modular/Eurorack Emulator Plugins

Modular synths and eurorack systems are a nifty piece of hardware. They allow you to build a system, adding or taking out as many different modules as you want.

However, these aren’t accessible to everyone. They are expensive and require some technical skills.

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With that in mind, here are the best 3 software alternatives to these systems.

Softube Modular

Softube Modular is the only official software that emulate modules by Doepfer, Intellijel, Buchla, 4ms and Mutable Instuments.

I have compared several times Softube with tue real Eurorack modules and it is really hard to notice the difference.

Doepfer modules sound incredibly close to its hardware analogs. Buchla 291e oscillator is probably one of the best sounding software oscillators. 4ms SMR, Mutable Instruments Braids, Rings and Clouds – all those modules sound very similar even if you do audio rate emulations.

The only downside is the CPU load. Once you have added lots of modules and do complex modulations it becomes CPU heavy.

To get an idea of how the interface looks like, check out the video below:

It is by far the best sounding modular emulation.

Get Softube Modular

Voltage Modular

Voltage Modular is a pretty new fast growing platform. Even though analog emulation doesn’t sound as authentic as Softube Modular, the power of this platform is an open API for modules.

Other developers have the ability to develop their own modules and sell it via modules marketplace.

The most interesting thing here is a set of 30 PSPaudioware modules. PSP is a well known company in VST world.

And we already have seen them porting their plugins to rising platforms like Auria for iPad. This time they made a re-engineering their plugins and made their famous effects to be available as modules. And they’ve added some cool new modules to the collection.

Get Voltage Modular

Voltage modular vs Softube

After utilizing extensively both voltage and softube, it is my opinion that softube is the superior eurorack/modular emulator.

Voltage has the key advantage of having an api, thus offering a wide selection of modules, but in terms of sound quality and closeness to the original hardware versions, softube takes the prize.

Get Softube Modular

u-he Bazille

u-he has an amazing track record on recreating best analog synth in software.

U-he Bazille is not an attempt to emulate Eurorack but rather 5u modular systems that are famous for its fat analog sound. Want it in software? Give Bazille a try!

Get u-He Bazille

Other Options

While this article was focused on best-sounding emulations, it is hard to miss several other options.

VCVRack – became a huge platform where tens of developers are releasing their new modules weekly. Most of the modules are free.

Though there are several problems with VCV:

– it doesn’t sound as good as plugins mentioned before

– it is still unstable – you can have sudden CPU spikes and even crashes

– it is not a plugin but standalone software, that you can integrate in your DAW with a VST adaptor

NI Reaktor Blocks – another great platform with hundreds of free modules. Again, it doesn’t sound as authentic as Softube or u-He. But it has few modules that are getting pretty close. And of course, Reaktor is a must-have for any music producer.

Reason Complex-1. Propellerhead Reason by its nature is a modular environment and probably first software that brought an idea of CV modulations in software. Complex-1 is their recent synth designed around Buchla-style synthesis. It doesn’t sound like Buchla but it still sounds good and workflow is amazing – you can get cool sound pretty fast, modulate it with the sound from other Reason devices and combine with other Reason synths.

Arturia Buchla Easel – I had a chance to play with two different Easels but Arturia doesn’t sound close to that. Though its user interface and workflow is amazing. You can say same thing with their emulation of Moog modular system.

Native Instruments Kontakt 6 Review

On the surface it seems like the to Kontakt upgrade, Kontakt 6 isn’t much different from its predecessor, Kontakt 5. However, a closer look will reveal some very welcome additions for library builders/creators and users.

Here’s a summarised table of our findings:

Kontakt 6- New Features

– 3 New Instruments: Ethereal Earth (combines digital synthesis with traditional instruments), Analog Dreams (vintage, classic synth sounds), and Hybrid Keys (a new twist on classic keyboards)
6 New Effects: Replika Delay, Room Reverb: Hall Reverb, Plate Reverb, Cry Wah, Mod Pack.
New Standalone App: Creator Tools- For optimizing workflows and libraries using Kontakt scripts.
Over 40 wavetables that can be used in any other audio application plus the new wavetable module
New Drag and Drop UI– samples, MIDI files, and arrays can be dropped into an instrument’s user interface.


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And if you are interested in a music production laptop aswell, we have an updated comparison and review here

Kontakt 6 Upgrade: New Sounds

The most noticeable addition is the first 3 instrument libraries from the Kontakt Play Series:

  • Ethereal Earth (combines digital synthesis with traditional instruments)
  • Analog Dreams (vintage, classic synth sounds), and
  • Hybrid Keys (a new twist on classic keyboards) showcase Kontakt’s new effects, which we will go into more detail later, as well as the new wavetable module.

Each instrument has 8 easily accessible macro knobs right on the face of the GUI that correspond to the 8 hardware knobs on all Komplete Kontrol Series keyboards and Maschine hardware except for the Maschine Micro models. There are also 2 sound sources for each instrument, one of the macro knobs is used to blend these together to your particular taste. The other 7 macro knobs are tied to parameters and effects under the hood so even more dramatic changes can be made to any sound just by adjusting the other macro knobs.

Of course you can go beneath the surface and access the effects by clicking the wrench tool on the top left of the instrument panel if you wish to fine tune your sound.

You still get the 43GB Kontakt Factory Library and Retro Machines MK2 with the new Kontakt 6 upgrade.

But besides that there’s not much else for those of us that use Kontakt for triggering library sounds in our productions. With that being said, there are a myriad of presets in each new instrument to experiment with for a very long time.

Kontakt 6 Upgrade: New Effects

Kontakt 6 now includes Replika Delay which is based on the NI plug-in REPLIKA XT, 3 algorithmic reverbs (Room Reverb, Hall Reverb andPlate Reverb) and Cry Wah, a classic wah-wah effect normally used on guitars. You’ll have to go under the hood to access them, but it will be worth the time as these are really high quality effects.

In particular, Replika Delay has additional distortion, filters and chorus effects that can be applied to the delay’s feedback allowing you to create some very interesting textures.

The room and hall reverbs can also be modulated in real time.

Kontakt 6 upgrade: New Wavetable Module

Native Instruments have also included over 40 wavetables that can be used in any other audio application in addition to the new wavetable module. This allows you to combine wavetable synthesis with sampler parameters from within Kontakt 6.

Library builders might be pleased with the new UI windows for KSP that will enable them to get visual feedback from wavetables as they build instruments.

At present, these windows can only be seen on the 3 new instruments, but certainly will appear on new instruments by NI and 3 party developers in the future.

Kontakt 6 upgrade: New Creator Tools

This is actually a standalone application designed to help builders be more efficient during the building process. It has 2 elements: a Debugger and an Instrument Editor.

The Debugger is designed to find and fix any issues with builder’s code. It connects with all running instances of Kontakt in plug-in or standalone.

The Instrument Editor also connects with all running instances of Kontakt and automates repetitive tasks allowing the builder to focus on the more creative aspects of library building.

For example, the Instrument Editor takes information from the pitch and amplitude to automatically map them to the right key and velocity layer based only on audio information from the samples by the Instrument Editor.

With the new kontakt it’s much easier now to rearrange, add or remove groups and zones as well as edit some of their properties such as tune, volume and mapping.

Overall

As a long time user of Kontakt and other NI products, I think it’s more feasible to purchase one of the Komplete 13 Bundles that contain the full version of Kontakt 6 than it is to upgrade from the single Kontakt instrument from the user perspective.

Upgrading to a Komplete 13 bundle makes more sense in this case because you will get Kontakt 6 along with lots of other sounds and instruments. Maybe this is the way Native Instruments wanted it to be, who knows.

For sound developers and new users this is a solid purchase in my opinion as new and more interesting libraries will be created using the new features and new users won’t be overwhelmed with the vast selection of sounds that are included in Komplete Bundles.

Virus TI 3? No, it is Valkyrie

Last week Exodus Digital showed their Valkyrie synth that looks (and probably sounds) exactly how long-waited Virus TI 3 might sound.

Valkyrie has two groups of five 32x oversampled oscillators per voice (a total of 1280 actual oscillators) with hard sync, ring mod and FM, dual PCM wavetables with 4,096 (!) waves available, dual analog ladder modelling filters with 12 and 24dB/octave options, an advanced modulation matrix, a killer stereo hypersaw, an arpeggiator, 3 EGs and 3 stereo LFOs with 64 shapes and MIDI sync. It is 8 part multitimbral with a dedicated nine module FX unit per part including shelving EQ with sweepable mid and formant filter, dual (pre- and post-FX) tube response limiters, 5 algorithm distortion unit, chorus/flanger, DDL, a truly wonderful 6-stage phaser plus reverb. All of these run in stereo at 96kHz floating point. With the exception of dual filters/dual voice mode which uses two voices per note, Valkyrie ALWAYS delivers 128 notes of polyphony regardless of settings or effects. There are no compromises.

UPDATE: Exodus Digital partnered with Waldorf and Valkyrie will be released as Waldorf Kyra synth.

Using Wavetable With Ableton Push 2

Nice demo of how you can control Wavetable synth from Ableton Live 10 with Push 2.

Ableton team has done a great job on making tight integration of their new synth with Push 2 controller.

Looking to buy Ableton Push 2? Check best prices here

Additive vs Reductive EQ

Steven Slate has posted a nice explanation of when you should cut or boost EQ.

I would add here that having a proper mixing workflow is something that improves sound dramatically.
Right order of using reductive, additive EQ and other mixing processing (limiting, compressing, saturating) is equally important to understand.
The workflow I learned from professional mixing and mastering engineers is to start with filtering unnecessary frequencies (do you really need low end on your hi-hats?) then saturate, then reductive EQ, then compress, then do additive eq (otherwise it would fight with compressor). Make sense?

Now watch Slate’s new video:

Get FREE Buchla Emulation for Reaktor – Cloudlab 200t V2

Cloudlab 200t V2 is beautiful recreation of modular Buchla 200/200e synth. It is second version of Reaktor ensemble we were writing about one year ago – Buchla 200 system for NI Reaktor

Credits:
Original concept based on Donald Buchla’s 200 and 200e system.
Ensemble programming – Trevor Gavilan.
GUI – David Frappaz, check out his work here: https://davidf-3d.deviantart.com/gallery/
Technical advisor – Jesse Voccia.
Hardware notes – Jesse Voccia, Antonio Isaac and Leonardo Mendez.
Snapshots by Trevor Gavilan.

Get free Reaktor ensemble at Native Instruments Reaktor User Library: https://www.native-instruments.com/en/reaktor-community/reaktor-user-library/entry/show/11077/

 

Check also:
Softube Modular

Ableton Link and Turing Machine for VCV Rack – FREE New Modules

Stellare Modular released 2 super useful modules for the free modular synth – VCV Rack.

Music Thing Turing Machine

The Turing Machine module is based on the amazing Music Thing’s Turing Machine Eurorack module by Tom Whitwell. We recreated the modules based on the original schematics of the Mk2 version. Besides the main module we also created the two Mk2 expanders: Volts and Pulses.

 

Link

The link module is a very simple module which provides a ‘link’ connection with a link enabled application like Ableton Live. It will allow you also to connect two or more VCV rack instances on different computers together which are connected in the same WLAN or LAN. In order to sync perfectly we added a Offset control so you can compensate for any latency introduced in the Link connection.

Download modules from GitHub

See also: Softube Modular