Reaktor Blocks vs VCV Rack (Differences & Which Is Better?)

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  • Understand the differences between Reaktor Blocks and VCV Rack 
  • Is one better than the other for music production? 
  • We compare each area to help you decide which is best for you
  • Looking to expand your studio? Check out our post on the weirdest MIDI controllers!

If you are new to music production, you may have heard about modular synthesis — a popular method of creating sound among producers and sound designers.

While there are more and more companies emerging with their own take on software modular synthesizers, the two you are most likely to have heard of are Reaktor Blocks and VCV Rack.

While analog modular synths are very expensive to build, Reaktor Blocks and VCV Rack allow users to design, patch and learn modular synthesis without the cost of analog gear.

In this article, we are going to compare the two so that you can decide which is best for your music process. 

Reaktor Blocks vs VCV Rack: Which is Best? 

Both pieces of software are fantastic emulations of modular synthesis, and both have their pros and cons.

Being a VST means Reaktor Blocks is a quick and easy solution for producers to get fast and effective results within your DAW.

At the same time, VCV Rack is a standalone software that offers a more comprehensive modular experience. The only downside being additional work or cost is required to record audio into your DAW. 

  Reaktor Blocks  VCV Rack 
Value for money    X
User friendly  X  
Sound design capability    X
Aesthetic    X
Paid version  X  
Support    X
Production practicality  X  

Reaktor Blocks vs VCV Rack: Head To Head

Value For Money

Both Reaktor Blocks and VCV Rack have free versions. Reaktor Blocks base comes with 24 modules, including LFOs, envelopes, step-sequencers, and all the basic utility modules you need to get started with modular.

However, as VCV Rack is open source, there is a rather expansive 2,338 free modules (at the time of publishing) that you can download for your library!

No comparison is needed to determine which software offers more options for the user. 

User Friendly 

As a VST, Reaktor Blocks is ready to use right out of the box in your DAW and is compatible with Windows and Mac OS.

Out of the two, it is the faster way to integrate some modular synthesis into your music. The free version of blocks also comes with 35 pre-programmed racks, ready for you to experiment with.

Additionally, it comes with five tutorial patches to aid you on your modular journey.

By comparison, the free version of VCV Rack is a stand-alone software, meaning additional routing is required to record audio into your DAW.

This requires you to download Soundflower, which allows you to route audio internally.

No presets or tutorial patches are preinstalled in VCV Rack like in Blocks. This may be a deterrent for beginners looking to dive right into modular. 

Aesthetic 

When comparing the 2, VCV Rack is defiantly the one that gives the truest representation of a modular rack. It is far more intuitive and easier to navigate than Reaktor Blocks.

I find Reaktor Blocks far more clunky in terms of navigating around your patch and when it comes to arranging your modules.

I find using VCV Rack in a separate window from your DAW a far nicer experience, especially when trying to view your whole patch to make changes. 

Sound Design Capability 

It goes without saying that the pure mass of modules you can experiment with in VCV Rack makes it incomparable in terms of its sound design capability.

The UI is far more intuitive and allows you to patch cables far easier as you can easily see your whole patch.

That’s not to say you can’t get excellent sound design results from Reaktor Blocks, but I find that VCV Rack is several steps ahead in this department. 

Support 

VCV Rack has had a growing community for years now, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. As an open-source piece of software, hundreds of engineers design modules and patches and share them with the community.

The majority of which are free. Many also share their patches for other users to experiment with and contribute. 

Reaktor Blocks has something called Partner Blocks, where they have outsourced the creation of patches to 3rd party developers.

They offer paid and free patches through TOYBOX, Euro Reakt, GENKI Instruments, Holon.ist, and ACL. 

Both have excellent options to download and explore patches; however, VCV Rack has an unrivaled sense of community.

This is a great way to learn and develop your knowledge within modular synthesis. 

Pricing

Reaktor Blocks Primes – $108 USD

The paid version of blocks includes some great additions. They have 26 new modules, some of which are elements taken from Native Instruments’ iconic line of synthesizers, such as MONARK and MASSIVE.

With Blocks Prime, you can also use the KOMPLETE KONTROL software or keyboards, which automatically load eight macros mapped to controls within the rack. 

VCV Rack – $150 USD

The only notable addition for the paid version of VCV Rack is the addition of VST2 and 3 capability. You are essentially paying to avoid the routing mentioned in the previous section of the article.

There are no additional patches or modules that come with this version. It does come with professional support, which may be useful for some users. 

If you are tempted to purchase one of these extended versions, I would recommend going for Reaktor Prime based on all the additional features that come with it.

If you are willing to spend an additional $100, why not consider Reaktor 6? A library of sounds that includes 70 ready-to-use instruments and effects.

That being said, you do not need any additional purchases to have an excellent modular experience with both pieces of software.

Production Practicality 

If you have the paid version of VCV Rack, the production practicality is very similar in both. However, based on the free versions of the software, Reaktor Blocks is far more helpful for producers.

Automation is a big part of electronic music production, and being able to stack automation with a modular rack is fantastic.

When recording VCV Rack into your DAW, it is far harder to yield the same results. In comparison, you can draw out the automation within your DAW using Reaktor Blocks.

This may contribute to encouraging you to purchase the paid version of VCV Rack. 

Verdict 

For beginners, I would suggest starting with Reaktor Blocks. This is an excellent way to learn the ins and outs of modular synthesis.

It’s a straightforward way of getting the modular sound into some of your tracks without any additional fuss or price.

However, there are also some fantastic additional features and modules that come with the paid version. 

That being said, once you’re comfortable with modular and are creating some of your own patches, I think moving onto VCV Rack is the next logical step.

Some fantastic programmers are working on VCV Rack and offering their work for free. The thousands of modules and patches are available for you to play with, making it a no-brainer. 

Before you go, check out our post on Softube Modular vs VCV Rack (Modular VST Shootout)!