These Voltage Modular demo patches use the Adroit Custom bundle (Custom Panel, Custom Look and Custom IO) along with various Cherry Audio modules that are included in their Core + Electro Drums bundle.

Information on downloading presets

Note that in these presets the Custom Look EDIT LABELS and EDIT ELEMENTS buttons are engaged so that you can modify anything you like but if you want to use these demos in a more practical sense then you should probably disengaged these buttons.

Editing buttons on Custom Look

In particular, if you disengage the EDIT LABELS button then you’ll no longer see the label editor popping up all the time when you happen to click on a label.

Simple Mixer

This preset demonstrates a four-channel mixer. It’s rather basic but it illustrates the first steps involved in constructing modular mixers in Adroit Custom. You can use additional modules to add more channels and things like EQ, effect sends and groups but it’s essential to understand how this simple mixer works first before adding such extra functionality.

The Simple Mixer interface

The complete patch is shown below.

The complete Simple Mixer patch

The top cabinet contains the six Custom Panel modules used to create the interface. The second cabinet contains a Custom IO module and a stock reverb module. The third cabinet contains a little drum machine and a generative bass voice just so that we have some sound sources to play with. The bottom cabinet contains a Custom Look module.

The main components we are interested in are the five Custom Panel modules that have faders and LED meters and the Custom IO module as it is these that form the mixer.

The Custom Panel modules with faders etc are pretty simple as each has just one element – a mixer strip. Mixer strip elements save you having to build everything out of individual sliders, buttons and so on, plus there is only one thing to map per channel – that is which VCA pair it uses.

The mixer strips for the kick, snare, high-hats and bass channels have their mixer VCA pairs set to A1, A2, A3 and A4 respectively.

Mixer VCA Pair A1 selected for channel 1’s mixer strip

So the Custom IO VCA pairs 1 through 4 are controlled by the four input channel mixer strips. The user-editable labels have been changed to reflect which VCA pair does what…

The Custom IO module wired as a four-channel mixer

The mixer strip on the Custom Panel for the Master channel needs a bit more configuration than the others. Its VCA pair is set to A8 (we could have used A5, but it’s nice to have a bit of space on the Custom IO module). Its mixer group is set to Master. This is required because we don’t need or want a SOLO button on the master strip. Finally the hue of the various controls has been changed so that they use red instead of the theme default.

Configuration for Master channel

Returning to the wiring on the Custom IO module…

VCA pairs A1 through A4

In the image above the sockets on the left are the inputs of the left-hand VCA of each of the four VCA pairs A1 through A4. These are connected to the four audio sources in the cabinet below. Note that the inputs for the right-hand VCA of these pairs are not connected to anything. This is because they are normalled to the left input of the pair. The labelling IN(M) at the bottom of the left column of inputs is a reminder of this. The M stands for Mono.

Now as the mixer strips and VCA pairs look after all the details of volume control, muting, soloing, panning and metering all we have left to do is sum the outputs of the first four VCA pairs to the inputs of the VCA pair used by the Master channel. This is what the cyan-colored cables are for.

So the left outputs from VCA pair A1 through A4 are connected to the left input of A8 and the right outputs from VCA pair A1 through A4 are connected to the right input of A8. Finally the main stereo output of the mixer is taken from the outputs of VCA pair A8 and sent to the reverb module for final processing.

We might return to mixing at a later time to look at adding things like sends, returns and groups. Although this mostly involves extending the principles already discussed so you may have already figured it out.

Vocoder

This preset demonstrates a 10-channel vocoder. A vocoder takes a modulator signal (typically a human voice) and imposes it’s frequency spectrum onto a carrier signal (typically a fairly bright synthesizer sound).

In this patch the modulator comes from Voltage Modular’s AUDIO SOURCE 1L socket. The carrier is generated by a Poly Octave Oscillator and an optional noise source. You can of course replace this divider organ type oscillator with something more sophisticated but it’s polyphonic, fine for producing the classic vocoder sound and doesn’t use a great deal of CPU.

The Vocoder interface

To hear anything you need to simultaneously feed an audio signal into Voltage Modular and have some MIDI notes playing. If you are using a laptop you could experiment just by talking into your laptop’s microphone while playing something using Voltage Modular’s QWERTY musical keyboard.

You can mix between the carrier, modulator and vocoder signals using the faders. Usually you would have just the vocoder signal as output but it can be handy to listen to the inputs while setting up. And sometimes you may want a little bit of the other signals in the mix too.

The bandwidth sliders have something of a sweetspot at about 30% so the sliders have this set as their default position. But you may find if useful to tweak them depending on the source material.

The complete patch is shown below.

The complete Vocoder patch

The vocoder uses the Spectrum Analyser module that’s included in the Core bundle. This module doesn’t seem to get much attention (possibly because Cherry Audio haven’t documented it) but it’s a very useful bank of bandpass filters and envelope followers.

One spectrum analyzer is used to split the modulator signal up into 10 bands an octave apart and convert the amplitude of each band’s signal to a control voltage using the built-in envelope followers.

Another spectrum analyzer splits the carrier signal into 10 bandpass filtered audio signals which are passed to 10 VCAs. The gain of each of these VCAs is controlled by the corresponding envelope signal from the first spectrum analyzer.

The outputs of the VCAs are all summed to one signal but you could be a bit more creative if you want to modify this simple demo. You could pan the signals to diiferent stereo positions for instance.

The VCAs are mapped as you’d expect so that each band in the modulator controls the volume of the matching band in the carrier but you could experiment with rearranging things.

Meta 56 Sequencer

This preset demonstrates a fun sequencer that coordinates multiple instances of Cherry Audio’s Eight-Step Sequencer to produce an 8-step sequencer with seven channels that can simultaneously remotely control knobs, sliders and buttons on Voltage Modular modules, output CV, output MIDI CC and control VCAs . It’s called Meta 56 because 7 times 8 is 56 and it uses a sort of meta programming technique whereby Adroit Custom controls something that controls Adroit Custom in order to control something else. A Custom IO module is part of the “interface” rather than hidden as you need it to access the CV and MIDI outputs and the VCA pairs.

The Meta 56 Sequencer interface

Note that this patch on its own doesn’t do anything useful. You need to add something that requires sequencing.

The strange thing about this sequencer is that the outputs are mapped via the knobs in the -PROXY- column. This is the “meta” aspect. The interface controls the settings of the external sequencers and these sequencers control the settings of the proxy knobs and as these knobs are regular Custom Panel knobs they can be mapped to remotely control knobs, sliders and buttons in your patch, output CV, output MIDI CC and control the gain of VCA pairs.

It might take a moment to get your head around the fact that control flows out of Adroit Custom then back in and then back out again, but it all makes sense once you realize that you can leverage the mapping ability of Custom Panel knobs to get easy access to some neat features.

To get you started the proxy knobs are mapped to the CV OUT sockets on Custom IO Bank B that are labelled A OUT through G OUT. By default these deliver 0 V to 5 V control voltages that you can use to drive any modules you like.

So, if all you need is 0 V to 5 V CV for sequencing then you can ignore the -PROXY- knobs altogether and just use the signals provided by the sockets labelled A OUT through G OUT.

The VCA pairs labelled A through G are also mapped. By default as linear attenuators. You might want to use some of them to control modulation depth perhaps.

You can change any aspect of the mapping by right clicking on the proxy knobs. As each knob can have four independent mappings there are two spare mappings available on top of the default CV and VCA mappings.

The complete patch is shown below.

The complete Meta 56 patch

For reference, on its own this sequencer produces a CPU load of about 8 or 9 % on my laptop and it took me about six or seven hours to build. The main task was carefully mapping the 56 main knobs on the interface to the 56 sliders on the 7 8-step sequencers and setting groups so that the reset and nudge buttons only targeted specific rows.

The Drum Trigger Sequencer is used to drive the LEDs on the interface. It’s a bit clunky but this was the easiset way I could think of to implement this feature. The LEDs stay on for the duration of the GATE LENGTH parameters set for the Drum Trigger Sequencer channel outputs. These are set to 250 ms so that the LEDs don’t flicker on and off too much but this also means it’s possible to see either no LEDs illuminated or two or more at once depending on how fast the rate is. This isn’t a malfunction.

Having said that the use of the Drum Trigger Sequencer is a bit clunky, it does actually have the advantage that you can use its 8 GATE outputs as per-step trigger outputs to drive things in your patch.

As already mentioned, the Meta 56 patch doesn’t do anything on its own so here’s a test patch that demonstrates a very simple application using an oscillator and a filter (plus a reverb module just to make it sound a little less sterile).

The implementation part of the patch is shown below. I class this as an “implementation” because (apart from the red cables) the inner workings of Meta 56 aren’t shown.

The Meta 56 Test patch

The cyan-colored cables are audio, the pale yellow ones CV.

Channel A of the sequencer controls the oscillator’s pitch. Channel B controls volume. Channel C controls pan. Channel D controls the filter’s cutoff frequency and Channel E controls its resonance. The various user-editable labels have been set to reflect these functions.

Try clicking on Meta 56’s reset and nudge buttons to see what’s going on.

You might notice that the pitch is quantized and covers a small range yet when you look at the 8-step sequencer that’s used to implement Channel A, its output is not quantized and it’s ranging from 0 V to 5 V. Also there is no Quantizer module. How can this be?

Well if you right click on the -PROXY- knob for Channel A you’ll see that the knob is set to have 13 stops. This means it serves as a 13-position rotary switch rather than a continuously variable knob. Why 13 rather than 12? Because the range of the mapping to CV output B1 is set to be 0 V to 1 V and this includes the first note of the octave above. C2 to C3 when C2 = 0 V. So it’s 12 notes of an octave plus the first note of the octave above. If you set it to 12 stops instead the tuning is all wrong.

Settings for Channel A’s PROXY knob

The eagle-eyed amongst you may also notice that the group setting is 8 rather than the default 1. This is because groups 1 through 7 are used by the application to make the reset and nudge buttons target specific rows of the main 56 knobs.

Rather than using CV, we could have mapped the proxy knobs to the filter’s CUTOFF and RESONANCE knobs and saved a couple of cables but using CV means you can tweak the knobs on the filter to fine-tune things.

To make the volume control more natural the VCA type for VCA pair B2 is set to Exponential attenuators rather than the default Linear attenuators.

Settings for VCA pair used to control volume

As you have probably guessed the VCA pair type for the B3 VCA pair is set to Panner.

By the way Meta 56’s transport doesn’t sync to a DAW but it shouldn’t be too difficult to rewire things so that it does, providing you’ve done that kind of thing previously.

Mono Synth

This preset demonstrates a three VCO monophonic synthesizer with a tuning setup designed to make it easy to create three note chords, It also provides useful visual feedback on envelope and LFO behaviour.

It’s unlikely that you’ll be building something on this scale while getting to known Adroit Custom but it shows the kind of thing that is possible.

Custom IO modules use more resources when their LEDs are switched on so always have the LEDS button disengaged if you don’t need the LEDs for troubleshooting.

The Mono Synth interface

The complete patch is shown below.

The complete Mono Synth patch

The top cabinet contains the Custom Panel modules used to create the interface.

The second cabinet is empty. You’ll often want to add an empty cabinet to separate the interface from the implementation part of a patch as it looks nice and neat when you use zoom and scroll so that only the interface is visible. You’ll also want to hide the cables too. It is actually possible to drag Voltage Modular’s I/O Panel down so that it’s out of the way but unfortunately this change isn’t remembered so it will be back at the top the next time you run Voltage Modular.

The bottom cabinet contains a Custom Look module but the third and fourth cabinets are where most of the work is done. If you are familiar with Voltage Modular then you’ll probably recognize all the modules on the right. In general those in the third cabinet form a fairly standard subtractive synth chain with audio signals moving left to right while those in the cabinet beneath are looking after modulation.

The core Cherry Audio modules that are doing most of the work in the Mono Synth patch

Mostly what makes the full patch image shown earlier look so complicated is all the wiring from the two Custom IO modules on the left. All of the Custom IO connections are labelled so it’s not a complete mess, but it is non-trivial. It took me about 15 hours to build this patch but I (supposedly) know what I’m doing. Don’t attempt to build something like this until you have a good understanding of how Adroit Custom works.

The Custom IO modules

If you really do want to pick this patch apart then you might want to add color coding to the cables using whatever scheme you normally use.

But it’s perhaps best just to play with the interface as if it was a ready-built synthesizer and learn how some of the less obvious elements work. It’s not a carefully designed masterpiece (and there are one or two loose ends like oscillator sync not being finished) but it can actually produce some nice noises. Then if you are curious about how a particular feature works then right-click on the relevant controls, check the settings and trace the mapping. Eventually you should be able to modify and extend it. One obvious modification might be to make it polyphonic but that would not be straightforward. It would be easier to build a polyphonic synth from the ground-up. Something we will look at next.

Planet Z Polysynth

This preset demonstrates a two VCO polyphonic synthesizer. It uses Custom Panel’s built-in randomization and grouping facilities to help you discover strange sounds literally at the push of a button.

Planet Z Polysynth

It doesn’t use any Custom IO modules, doesn’t provide any visual feedback, only has two VCOs and has simple modulation so although it’s polyphonic it might actually be a little easier on your computer than the Mono Synth.

The complete patch is shown below. Because it’s a wide interface there are two blank cabinets between the interface and implementation just so that you can zoom out enough to see the entire interface without the implementation becoming visible.

The complete Planet Z patch

The interface is divided into sections and each section has a number of special buttons that allow you to reset, randomize, nudge or invert the settings of the controls in that section. So for instance the FILTER section has the following column of buttons that affect the filter controls.

Buttons for randomization etc

Each of these buttons has its group set to match the group setting of the controls it affects. In this case group 2.

Reset button set to group 2

So the filter controls that are affected by these special buttons also have their group set to 2. As shown with the joystick below.

Joystick set to group 2

On the far-left we have a column of special buttons that provide global functions for reseting, randomizing etc all of the sections at once.

Global Reset button’s group set to 1-8

However, we don’t want the VOLUME control in the bottom-right corner of the interface to be affected by these buttons so this has its group set to 16 and we use 1-8 rather than All as the group setting for the buttons. 1-8 means the buttons affect any control that is in group 1 through 8 and the various sections use groups 1 through 6.

Something you might have noticed in the image above showing the joystick’s menu is that its x axis has two mappings – one to Resonance and another to Master Output Level. The first controls the filter’s resonance and the other the master volume of the Poly 6-Input Mixer.

Second X mapping to adjust volume

The purpose of the second mapping is to adjust for the reduction in volume as resonance is increased. Limit 1 amd limit 2 are set so that the mixer’s output level varies from 30% when resonance is at minimum up to 70% when the resonance is at maximum. Some modern resonant filters do this compensation internally but not the stock VCF in Voltage Modular but as we can have up to four mappings per control it’s easy to add this feature. You could tweak these numbers to adjust the ratio and also determine how hard the filter can be driven.

Another mapping detail worth mentioning is that behind the OCTAVE knobs. These control the RANGE controls on the Poly Vintage Oscillators.

Mapping details of OCTAVE knob

Limit 1 is set to 20% as we don’t want to include the sub-audio LO setting of the oscillator’s RANGE control (10% works too as the RANGE knob rounds the numbers to its nearest stop). The OCTAVE knob’s number of stops is set to 6 as we have six different octaves available from 64′ to 2′.

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