Get with the programmers
The CTO of the company behind Voltage Modular tells the tale of their amazing open-ended environment
Where did the idea for Voltage Modular come from?
DG “In 2004, I had the idea of building a software modular synthesiser that lets people add as many modules, cables, and cabinets as their CPU could handle, in any configuration they could dream up. I built a prototype, and it worked great, but I felt there was something missing. A few years ago, I realised that the best part of modern modular synthesis is the ability to mix and match modules from different manufacturers to create your own personalised system. The ideal software modular couldn’t just come from my ideas and tastes – it had to be an open platform that any programmer could develop modules for.”
What sets Voltage Modular apart?
DG “Cherry Audio’s team has decades of experience building software with a fantastic workflow and an intuitive interface. We put a great deal of effort into making modular synthesis on a computer screen just as fun as modular synthesis with hardware. Working with Voltage Modular is fast, easy, and intuitive. We’re all vintage synthesiser enthusiasts, collectors, and techs, and we know what makes a synthesiser sound truly great. Second, the Voltage Module Designer is a truly remarkable tool. Modules can be programmed in a matter of minutes, and programmers can focus on crafting phenomenal DSP algorithms instead of wasting hours trying to learn some archaic API. All module code is written in Java, and all modules are automatically crossplatform. Voltage Modular converts the Java bytecode into machine language on your computer, so it runs lightning-fast. Building a module is as simple as laying out your controls, adding background art, and writing simple code to tie it all together. Every control is fully skinnable, and there are virtually no limits to what a module can do.”
“We know what makes a synthesiser sound truly great”
PSP Audioware are making modules for Voltage Modular. Are any more big names involved? DG “There are a lot of great new modules coming soon to Voltage Modular, both from third parties and from Cherry Audio. Our third-party developers are constantly building new modules, and we have quite a few of our own in the works as well. That’s about all I can say at this point…”
What’s your favourite Voltage Modular module, and why? DG “We have a module called Formula. It contains three inputs (X, Y, and Z) and an output. You can write just about any formula and it sends the real-time result to the output jack. The waveshaping and distortion capabilities are astonishing, and the results from typing in random formulas can be surprising. It shows how powerful the Voltage Modular system is. The idea was thrown out in passing during a conversation about modules. Within two hours, we’d built a fully working prototype.”
What does the future hold for Cherry Audio? DG “We’re only beginning to see what Voltage Modular is capable of. We have third-party developers building suites of awesome-sounding filters. We’re working on modules that model the sound of classic vintage synthesiser filters and oscillators, and the results are really thrilling. As for Cherry Audio, we’re thinking big – the sky’s the limit.”