Thursday, November 25, 2010

Volts per Octave

The Volts-per-Octave standard luckily turned out to be a quite good one.
A lot of (early) synthesizers manufacturers adapted this standard, 'invented' and popularized by Bob Moog.

Best known manufacturers of early products using the 1V/Oct standard are Roland, Moog, Sequential Circuits, Oberheim and ARP. The big benefit of standards like these is inter-compatibility between products of different manufacturers. It allowes them to communicate better.

The V/Oct standard was wider adapted as other standards, like for example Yamaha and Korg's Hertz-per-Volt standard, that  represented an octave of pitch by doubling the voltage. 
A few synths that use the Hz/V standard are:
Korg: 770, 900-PS Preset, M-500 Micro Preset, M-500SP Micro Preset, Mini Korg, MS-10, MS-20, MS-50, Synthe-Bass, X-911
Yamaha: CS5, CS10, CS15, CS15D, CS20M, CS30
Moog: Taurus I Bass Pedals
Paia: 2720, 4700 Series


The Hz/V standard was used before the log converter was used in VCO's and is essentially linear control as can be found on various signal generators and function generators like those used by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop before they got a VCS3*. There are/were solutions available that convert from  Hz/Volt to V/Oct and vice-versa.  ( like the Korg MS-02 ).

No wonder that the A-100 system uses the V/Oct. standard. You can easily synchronize your system with almost any (old) machine that you have lying around, and most MIDI-to-CV converters use the same standard too.

For example i love using the CV (and Gate) output of my Roland TB-303 to control my A-100 system. The signal arrives at my system via a  A-180 2x4 multiple, so i have 3 copies of both signals available at any time.
Sometimes i use the CV slightly detuned for an interesting effect, sometimes i put it through a voltage inverter first, something that doesn't work out with all your 303-lines because of tuning.

The Gate output (trigger) of the TB-303 can be sent through a delay for some more interesting echo-like effects.
There are so many possibilities for your other gear to communicate with your A-100 with the 1 V/Oct standard... just go ahead and try... and amaze yourself.

*thanks to Tony Steventon for additional info