Appearing in the 60s, the earliest voltage-controlled analog synthesizers were modular synthesizers. Unlike common “all-in-one” instruments, all sound sources and modifiers contained in modular synth are separate building blocks, aka "modules," that can be patched together in an infinite variety of configurations for unparalleled flexibility. Typical basic modules include oscillators, filters, and amplifiers. By themselves these modules might not do anything interesting, but together they form the voice of a musical instrument.
Modular synthesizers have no rules. Modules can be patched in virtually any configuration inspiring all sorts of creative sound experimentation. Eventually, large modular systems were replaced with smaller, pre-wired portable instruments. These were convenient and musical, but their fixed signal routing greatly diminished the experimental nature inherent to modular synthesis.
In recent years, people have rediscovered the sonic possibilities of modular synthesis, resulting in a tremendous resurgence. With hundreds of different companies building hardware modules, systems can be built and customized in an infinite variety of ways.
Voltage Modular is a virtual modular synthesizer that delivers the sound quality and “hands-on” experience of modular synthesis for a tiny fraction of the cost of equivalent hardware systems. Patches ranging from simple tones to wildly elaborate evolving soundscapes are easily created with surprisingly light processor overhead requirements.
Voltage Modular is much more than just a musical instrument; it’s a complete and infinitely expandable modular platform. That’s not just marketing double talk - our Module Designer application can be used by software developers to design and program custom modules, with no functionality limitations. Modules can be written to perform nearly any function - stream Internet radio, display video files, or play Pac-Man. If you’ve got a clever idea and a some programming chops, you can build a module for Voltage Modular. Completed modules can be submitted to our Module Store*, allowing programmers to directly sell new modules to Voltage users directly from the standalone or plug-in versions of Voltage Modular!
Voltage Modular is cross-platform, supporting AU and Pro Tools AAX on the OS X side, and VST, VST3, and Pro Tools AAX on Windows platforms. It also runs as a standalone application on both OS X and Windows. Sound patches are freely exchangeable between all OS X and Windows formats.
All audio processing in Voltage Modular uses high-quality 64-bit double precision math. Modules operate with an internal sample rate of 48kHz. All module processes are zero-latency and operate on individual samples; the only way to achieve true modular performance. In this way, Voltage feels and reacts just like working with a hardware modular.
Voltage Modular’s analog oscillators are built using our advanced, proprietary alias-free analog modeling algorithm. Our Cherry Audio analog filters are 2x oversampled, and carefully model the minor distortions and character of the best analog filters. The idiosyncratic curves of analog envelope generators have been carefully modeled. In short, Voltage Modular isn’t just a cool synthesis platform - it truly sounds fantastic. And it should, because Voltage Modular has been designed and built by vintage analog synthesizer fanatics.
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Polyphony - Voltage Modular’s unique virtual MIDI cabling makes routing polyphonic control signals a snap.The included quad Poly CV Converter module and “all-in-one” polyphonic oscillator modules allow fast and easy creation of polyphonic patches. Other poly modules include an arpeggiator as well as innovative poly I/O modules for routing control signals to and from external MIDI hardware synths and modules. No other virtual modular makes polyphony so fast and easy.
No separate “edit” or “play” modes - Cables can be moved and routed at all times, just like a hardware modular system.
Fast and intuitive repositioning of modules - Modules or groups of modules can instantly be dragged and dropped to any position with neighboring modules gracefully scooting aside to make room. Once you experience Voltage Modular’s super-smart module moving, you’ll never want to use another software modular again!
No teeny-tiny onscreen cables or “behind the panel” routing - All CV, audio, and MIDI cables are visible and moveable at all times, just like a hardware modular synthesizer.
Modules, modules, modules! - With over 65 modules in the included Core Package, and an additional 15 in the Electro Drums Package (sold separately), Voltage Modular currently has close to 100 modules. We’re constantly developing and releasing new modules, AND third-party developers are also working innovative new modules.
Hardware and software modular instruments both have their place, and one isn't necessarily "better" than the other. Perhaps the best aspect of a hardware modular synth is the tactile experience of moving real knobs, sliders, and switches, as well as patching and routing actual patch cords. This is certainly different experience than working with onscreen controls and cables.
But the flip side is that Voltage Modular is often far easier to use because of its built in six-way mults on all input and output jacks, easy saving and loading of patches and cabinets, and easy-to-move around modules. More importantly, there are no limits on the number of available modules in Voltage Modular. For example, a typical hardware modular system might have one or two oscillators (they ain't cheap!), whereas Voltage Modular allows as many instances of a given module as needed. Want to create a patch with 34 oscillators, and 26 filters, 20 envelope generators, and 20 amplifiers? No problem. A patch like this on a hardware modular would entail thousands upons thousands of dollars in modules (and a huge cabinet, with a huge power supply, etc.).
And while we're discussing price, the Voltage Modular core package, which currently includes over 80 modules, costs a fraction of an equivalent hardware system - likely about the price of a single hardware oscillator or filter module!
Want more? Module controls can be automated via MIDI or with a DAW, and module controls can be mapped to Voltage’s Performance Panel controls, allowing a single knob to radically alter multiple patch parameters. Patches can be saved and recalled in the blink of an eye, modules can be freely and easily repositioned at will, and pre-wired cabinets can be stored in the Cabinet Library and added to projects with a single click. Presets can be easily be shared with friends and collaborators directly from the Preset Manager. The list of fast, fun, and innovative features goes on and on!
Cherry Audio is a new company formed by a small group of industry veterans from Sonic Foundry, Cakewalk, Bias, Acoustica, and Keyboard Magazine. Voltage is backed by a real company, built by programmers with decades of experience creating audio and DSP software.
No. The Voltage Modular plug-in and standalone versions are an ultra-high performance C++ application. This includes Voltage Modular’s GUI and core audio processing code.
However, Voltage Modular’s individual modules are written using the Java programming language. This includes the logic to connect and control buttons, knobs, switches, and other controls, as well as the module’s DSP code, allowing rapid module development. Each module’s Java code is compiled into highly-optimized Java bytecode; when a module is loaded, its Java bytecode is converted into native machine language using our custom Hotspot virtual machine. This converted machine-language is capable of being faster than compiled C++ code, because it can be optimized for the capabilities of your specific processor on-the-fly. Contrary to some forum chatter we’ve seen questioning the efficiency of the Java code used for modules, we’ve found Voltage Modular significantly outperforms competing virtual modular synthesizer software instruments (including a certain popular open-source instrument).