Cherry Audio Intros Novachord + Solovox Virtual Instruments

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Cherry Audio has introduced Novachord + Solovox, a collection of virtual instruments that emulate two early electronic instrument.

Novachord is based on the revolutionary polyphonic instrument from 1939, while Solovox replicates a related monophonic keyboard instrument that was intended to provide organ-style leads.

Here’s what they shared about Novachord + Solovox:

Manufactured by the Hammond company from 1939 to 1942 and debuting at the World’s Fair, the Novachord contained 163 vacuum tubes and over 1,000 custom capacitors. Its divide-down oscillator architecture combined full 72-key polyphony with an early version of analog subtractive synthesis. The Novachord’s architecture predicted the ADSR envelope, utilized a resonant band-pass filter, and included a vibrato unit.

Despite its historical importance, the Novachord did not enjoy commercial success. Although it resembled a standard organ at a glance, the front panel controls were not well-suited to the performance techniques of organists or pianists of the period. Production stopped in 1942, with Hammond only manufacturing around 1,000 Novachords.

Nevertheless, the instrument was used for decades on many notable era recordings, such as We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn and Brother Bones’s Sweet Georgia Brown. It was also prominently featured in film soundtracks including the intermission for “Gone With the Wind” and in the scores of “Rebecca,” “The Maltese Falcon,” and “The Ten Commandments.” It is best remembered for its otherworldly sound as heard in horror and sci-fi genre productions such as “Cat People,” “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,” “20 Million Miles to Earth,” and “The Gorgon.”

On television, the Novachord remained a favorite of composers including Jerry Goldsmith and Harry Lubin in their work for The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, respectively. Today, fewer than 200 Novachords exist, and it is said that only five remain in operation.

The Solovox, manufactured by Hammond between 1940 and 1950, was another classic instrument of the era. Based on the Novachord’s oscillator and divider circuits, the Solovox with its 18 vacuum tubes was a small monophonic keyboard instrument attached beneath a piano keyboard and intended to augment it with organ-type lead voices.

It consisted of two units: the three-octave mini keyboard, and a tone cabinet for the electronic sound generator, amplifier, and loudspeaker. Like the Clavioline and Ondioline, the Solovox produced a range of string, woodwind, and organ sounds and was widely used in light music from the 1940s and into the 1960s. Unfortunately, the introduction of compact transistor organs released in the 60s marked the end of the Solovox’s popularity.

Features:

  • Novachord
    • 32 polyphonic voices, synthesized not sampled
    • Three Resonators: a resonant bandpass filter network operating consecutively in low (400 Hz), mid (800 Hz), high (2000 Hz) frequency ranges
    • Deep Tone setting for the tone generator signal, with a one-pole (6dB per-octave slope) lowpass filter with a fixed frequency of 160 Hz
    • Brilliant Tone setting for the tone generator signal, with a one-pole (6dB per-octave slope) highpass filter with a fixed frequency of 2000 Hz
    • Full Tone setting controls the amplitude of the dry (no filters applied) tone generator signal
    • Tones routed in parallel to all of the filters, processed and then summed together to create a composite tone
    • Attack knob with seven Attack/Decay/Sustain envelope options, from Slow to Fast, with sustain-pedal controlled release (approximately3.5 seconds)
    • Adjustable depth vibrato with two options: Vibrato I as used in the earliest Novachord models, and Vibrato II as used in later Novachords
    • Integrated reverb effect with Room and Hall algorithms plus speaker emulation to replicate the Novachord’s built-in amp and speakers in an acoustic space
    • 56 presets covering Basses, Keys, Pads, and Strings
  • Solovox
    • Faithful virtual analog emulation of the monophonic ‘keyboard attachment’ instrument
    • Combinable Bass/Tenor/Contralto/Soprano switches to set note range in octaves, like modern synthesizer footage settings
    • First Voice and Second Voice two-pole bandpass filters with level controls and variable center frequencies of 400 Hz and 800 Hz, respectively
    • Deep Tone setting for the tone generator signal, with a one-pole (6dB per-octave slope) lowpass filter with a fixed frequency of 200 Hz
    • Brilliant Tone setting for the tone generator signal, with a one-pole (6dB per-octave slope) highpass filter with a fixed frequency of 2000 Hz
    • Full Tone setting controls the amplitude of the dry (no filters applied) tone generator signal
    • Adjustable Glide and fixed-rate Vibrato
    • Mute control to filter harmonics from the oscillator voice
    • Reverb effect with Room algorithm to replicate the standard Solovox amp and speaker combo
    • “Glowing vacuum tubes” respond to the volume setting of each filter
    • 50 presets covering Basses, Strings, Leads, and Woodwinds

Pricing and Availability:

Novachord + Solovox is available now with an intro price of $39 USD (normally $59).

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