Silent Way is a suite of plug-ins designed for use as part of a modular analogue synthesiser system. The plug-ins produce no sound themselves, nor do they process sound - rather, they generate signals to be used as control voltages (CVs), which can be patched into the control inputs of oscillators, filters, VCAs, etc. of an analogue system. Also, with the addition of the CV Input plug-in, it is possible to bring CVs from the synth into the computer, for recording or processing.
There are currently eighteen plug-ins in the Silent Way suite - Silent Way AC Encoder, Silent Way CV Input, Silent Way CV To MIDI, Silent Way CV To OSC, Silent Way DC, Silent Way ES-4 Controller, Silent Way ES-5 Controller, Silent Way ESX-4CV Combiner, Silent Way Follower, Silent Way Learner, Silent Way LFO, Silent Way Quantizer, Silent Way SMUX, Silent Way Soundplane, Silent Way Step LFO, Silent Way Sync, Silent Way Trigger and Silent Way Voice Controller. These are described in more detail below. It is anticipated that more plug-ins will be added to the suite in the future - watch the website for product announcements.
Silent Way Voice Controller
Silent Way Voice Controller is a virtual instrument plug-in designed to directly control an analogue synthesiser by generating the appropriate CV and gate signals via an appropriate audio interface. By listening to the synthesiser's output signal, the plug-in is able to calibrate itself to generate the appropriate pitch CV for the incoming MIDI notes. As well as the basic pitch and gate signals, the plug-in can generate three multi-stage envelope CVs which you can feed to VCAs, VCFs etc. in your synth.
Silent Way LFO
Silent Way LFO, as its name suggests, is intended as a low frequency oscillator, performing the same functions as LFOs in any other synth e.g. vibrato, filter cut-off modulation, auto-pan effects, etc.
Silent Way DC
Silent Way DC is a simple plug-in that generates constant output signals. It is intended to be used in conjunction with parameter automation (via MIDI or directly by the host application) to generate varying signals. For example, you could use it as an LFO where you draw out the LFO waveform in your host's parameter automation GUI.
Silent Way Trigger is a simple plug-in for generating a gate or envelope in response to an incoming MIDI note. A typical application would be for triggering drum sounds, where you might have a number of different sounds mapped to different notes.
Expert Sleepers says that Silent Way CV Input is something of a breakthrough in audio interface-based computer/CV interaction, since it lets you get your CVs back into the computer (most other CV-generation software focuses entirely on generating CVs). Moreover this plug-in has no special requirements on the audio interface, and so is not just usable by those with DC-coupled interfaces.
Silent Way CV To OSC translates CV signals (such as those produced by Silent Way CV Input, for example) into OSC messages. These can in turn be used to control all sorts of software and hardware devices.
Silent Way Step LFO is a combination step sequencer and LFO generator. It shares many of the features of the LFO plug-in, but rather than generating waveforms based on simple sine, triangle, etc. waves it generates a waveform that the user draws in the GUI. When the waveform is interpreted as a series of discrete values, rather than as a continuous wave-form, then the output is that of a traditional analogue step sequencer.
Silent Way Quantizer is a CV processing plug-in that constrains the incoming (continuous) CVs to a number of discrete values. For example, it can constrain a pitch CV to exact semitone values. This is especially useful when combined with the Step LFO plug-in in order to accurately sequence musical notes, but it can also be used with e.g. the regular LFO plug-in, or with the Voice Controller plug-in to turn portamentos into discrete glissandos.
The Quantizer plug-in is capable of loading the calibration data from the Voice Controller plug-in, in order to output accurately calibrated pitches.
Silent Way CV To MIDI translates CV signals (such as those produced by Silent Way CV Input, for example) into MIDI messages. These can in turn be used to control all sorts of software and hardware devices. Used in conjunction with, say, Silent Way LFO, the CV To MIDI plug-in provides a standalone means of generating MIDI LFOs, giving Silent Way an application to musicians who have no analogue gear at all.
Silent Way AC Encoder removes the need for a DC-coupled audio interface (common to Silent Way and all other software that generates CVs) and lets you use Silent Way with almost any audio interface. The two requirements are.
- Your interface must have balanced outputs (almost all do).
- You need to make some special cables.
The cables are a very simple job, well within the scope of anyone with basic soldering skills. For more information, please see the dedicated AC Encoder page at the Expert Sleepers website.
Silent Way SMUX provides a hack to workaround the reduction in channel count over ADAT connections when running the audio system at 88.1/96kHz.
When using an audio interface to produce your CVs that is connected via ADAT (for example, the Expert Sleepers ES-3 Lightpipe/CV Interface), and when the audio system is being run at a 'double speed' rate (typically 96kHz), the number of audio channels that can be sent down the ADAT connection is reduced from the usual 8 down to 4. The 4 double-speed channels are multiplexed onto the 8 ADAT channels - this system is usually referred to as 'S/MUX', or sample multiplexing.
The Silent Way SMUX plug-in gets around this reduction in channel count by providing a complementary multiplexing scheme, which takes 4 channels of CVs and combines them onto 2 channels of the double-speed audio stream. When the ADAT output is then decoded by a normal-speed interface (such as the ES-3 mentioned above), the channels are demultiplexed, and so you get your 4 channels of CV back again.
Silent Way Sync takes the DIN sync generator from the ES-4 Controller plug-in and expands on it to become a general purpose clock/trigger/sync plug-in.