‘SynthVR’ Lets You Build a Massive Modular Synthesizer in VR

Open alpha available on PC VR and Quest

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Getting into modular synthesizers can require a real investment in time, patience, and not to mention money. Although if you’re interested in messing around with synths and teaching yourself the basics, SynthVR is a tool currently in open alpha that’s so far an awesome way to dip your toe into an otherwise expensive but ultimately really cool way of making music.

Created by indie developer 42tones, SynthVR is an early prerelease music-making tool packed with a basic kit of synth equipment, including speakers, mixer modules, output boards,  oscillators, and more. It seems to be shaping up to be a bit like VCV Rack for VR, albeit a much more limited version at this time.

Being in VR means you don’t have to just install all of these standard modules in your trusty rack though, as you can also leave modules in mid-air so you can surround yourself with a plethora of various knobs, volume faders, and even VR-native things like a nifty little velocity tracker that lets you switch between sources by flicking a little pink ball that’s tracked in 3D space.

Granted, just because you’re given free reign with a bunch of useful kit doesn’t mean you’ll be able to make interesting or novel sounds right away; you’ll need to either know what you’re doing from the get-go, or learn a bit about synths from trial and error as you progress. In short, it can get complicated pretty quickly.

The open alpha of SynthVR is free, and currently supports SteamVR headsets through a direct download on itch.io, and Oculus Quest via SideQuest. To get started playing on Quest, check out how (and why) to use SideQuest, the unofficial sideload app store.

If you’re looking for a community of other likeminded VR synth nerds, pop on over to the official SynthVR Discord channel to leave feedback, and help shape this interesting and so far very well-realized project.

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  • Dan Lokemoen

    VCV rack gives you plenty for free, but charges for most of their modules. If this thing works as a .vst, it could be incredibly IRL useful.

    • Charles

      Hmm, I don’t see how a VR simulation could operate as a VST plugin in an external program such as FL Studio. But that would be great if you could use VST plugins in this simulation.

  • Rosko

    I find these things tend to be quite gimmicky. It’s a shame as the possibilities for audio production, sound design & vr could be quite interesting. But the majority of theses things always seem to try to mimicking the real world. Why restrict ourselves to virtual drums or virtual gear when we could be looking a fresh ideas for input & expression?

    • DanDei

      This!
      The visual design branch seems to be way ahead in making good use of VR interface capabilities. There are already a bunch of design and modelling tools out there (like Gravity Sketch) that really think in new ways.