VCVRackTutorial: Using Multiple Waveshapers to Drone.

Making drones is fundamental to modular synthesis, as it removes pitch from the equation, and makes piece all about timbral texture. This started out as a simple test of various waveshaper modules.

The patch is here:

The core of this patch is using waveshapers to generate harmonically rich distortions of the original sine wave. Since the different waveshapers get mixed, and because they’re all processing a signal of exactly the same frequency, they interfere and reinforce each other. The sound changes restlessly and chaotically over the course of the recording, and you occasionally get ghost notes made when more than one overtone series collides.

The audio signal flows from left to right basically, feeding 4 waveshapers that get mixed and modulated by the keyframe mixer. This is a really good beginner’s patch.

I’ll describe the patch left to right. I liked that it fits mostly in one row.

LogInstruments Precise DC Gen

The DC Gen is used to choose a constant note to send to the fundamental oscillator.

Vult Caudal Mechanical Chaos Source x 2

This module is based on modelling a triple pendulum. Each output represents an arm in the pendulum’s position and velocity. Basically it sounds random but there are predicatable — if chaotic correlations between each output. These are hear to screw with the parameters on modules to the right.

4 x Different Waveshapers

I wanted to check out various waveshapers — the Lindenberg VC Waveshaper, The Vult Debriatus, Lindenberg West Coast VC Complex Shaper, HetricCV Waveshaper . They each have their controls modulated by the Caudals.

Audible Instruments Keyframer/Mixer

The Keyframer is being used a mixer, but it’s unique in that you can record a bunch of different frame volume combinations (as keyframes) and then morph between them, either manually (with the big knob) or by modulation, also coming from the Caudal.


This is a DC Offset remover, and it’s there because waveshaping can introduce a DC Bias that messes with a signals apparent volume (and also messes with speaker cones). This is used between each waveshaper and the keyframe mixer.

Southpole Balaclava Quad VCA

To introduce some variety in the patch, the VCAs are used to modify the level of the signal. This is tuned to be mostly a slow throbbing.

AS DelayPlus Stereo Fx

What’s a modular patch without some delay or reverb? This stereo delay is tuned to long delays (on the order of seconds) so that the live signal is combined with the delayed signal. This adds some fat to the signal, and also introduces stereo panning.

Southpole Balaclava Quad VCA + Vult Knobs

This is just a way to do a master volume knob.