Cherry Audio's Voltage Modular
The early days of synthesizers were magical. Modular systems made by Moog, Buchla, Oberheim, ARP, Doepfer Musikelektronik, and others, were huge behemoths connected together with a massive network of cables. Early adopters including Wendy Carlos, Keith Emerson, and Suzanne Ciani, changed music forever with these instruments. But these modular systems were expensive and out-of-reach for the vast majority of musicians. As synthesizers became smaller and utilized digital technology, prices came down. But the flexibilty, power, and sound of those orginal modular synthesisers were still not possible affordably. Until now.
Voltage Modular by Cherry Audio is a virtual software instrument environment that provides access to a nearly uncountable number of separate modules - which one can then wire up with virtual cables in any way imagination allows. One of the best features is its ability to connect several cables to a module's inputs or outputs! Voltage modular can be used as a stand-alone app (Mac or PC) or as a plugin inside a DAW (how I use it). Cherry Audio wasn't the first to offer this kind of functionality, but in my opinion, they are the only company to get it right. Voltage Modular recreates the sound I'm looking for, it's rock-solid stable, and it's processor efficient. It is featured prominently throughout "Electronica Volume 1: All Circuits Are Busy." For more information about Voltage Modular and Cherry Audio, visit them at cherryaudio.com.
DOD Looking Glass Overdrive
The Looking Glass Overdrive is a joint venture between Christopher Venter of SHOE Pedals and DOD. It's a Class-A discrete FET design with two gain modes, one delivering a more transparent low-gain overdrive, and the other pushing the pedal into more compressed drive bordering on distortion. There is an input filter that can tame some of the brightness of single-coil pickups - very useful when you want to leave your amplifier's controls set for the bypassed tone. The EQ controls are different from most other overdrives in that the bass control is pre-overdrive and the treble appears after the overdriven signal. This is significant because reducing bass frequencies before an overdrive circuit creates a more focused and tighter sound, without reducing the overdrive effect of the higher frequencies. To learn more about overdrive and low frequencies, read my article Overdrive – The Low-down on Low-end.
The DOD Looking Glass sounds fantastic and rewards you if you take the time to understand how the controls work and how they impact the end result. It's very amp-like and versatile - going from clean tones to distortion via picking dynamics or the guitar's volume knob. It's a welcomed member my overdrive arsenal and was a wonderful birthday gift (thank you, Lyn!)
It's likely you haven't heard of Hatch Pickups yet - they're a new company and currently refining their pickup designs. I'm working with Cal Hatch on voicing my signature T-style bridge pickup. I have one in my top-loader right now and it has transformed that guitar. Definitely a vintage wind, measuring 6.85 k ohms, ALNICO 5 magnets, and brass bridgeplate - it has that present 3 dimensional brightness that can be both subtly expressive AND slice through a mix. Stay tuned for more on Hatch Pickups.