There’s a certain visceral thrill to plugging in patch cords and twiddling knobs on a modular synth, but it’s not always practical when even the more affordable synths can cost hundreds of dollars. Bright Light might have a simple solution: recreate the physical nature of a synth in VR. Its crowdfunded Synthspace project (via Synthtopia) puts you in front of a virtual Eurorack-sized modular synth with much of the physicality of a real device. If you want to produce an effect, you have to tweak things by hand (or rather, controller). There are some “magical bits” that take advantage of the computer platform, such as visualized output hovering in front of you, but it’s otherwise as close to analog as VR can get.
The effort is still in the early alpha stages and requires a tethered PC headset like an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive if you wan to experience VR, although there is a simpler desktop view if you’re content to produce sounds with a conventional monitor. Bright Light hopes to bring Synthspace to “as many platforms as possible,” though, including mobile and stand-alone VR setups like the Oculus Quest. If that happens, this might just be the ticket for hands-on musicians that want to adapt to a digital world.