Cherry Audio Novachord + Solovox: What is it?
If you thought Hammond was all about organs, you’d be very wrong. It was also one of the first companies to produce early forms of synthesizer, in an era long before micro-chips and transistors.
The Novachord was quite an astonishing machine; utilising 163 vacuum tubes and well over 1,000 capacitors, it’s gone down in history as one of the first fully polyphonic electronic instruments, packed full of vintage electronics which would give your central heating a good run for its money.
Weighing in at 500lbs, you’ll not be taking one on a pub gig anytime soon, but thankfully, Cherry Audio has lovingly crafted the Novachord into a virtual form.
Cherry Audio Novachord + Solovox: Performance and verdict
Despite its limited architecture, the charm of the instrument lay in its purity of tone. The beautifully designed interface provides a tonal construct section to the left of the instrument, with basic modulation controls to the right.
• Soniccouture Novachord
This Kontakt version of the Novachord provides an authentic recreation of the polyphonic beast.
• Hollow Sun Novachord
This alternative is also a Kontakt instrument, requiring the full version to get the best out of it.
Tones are created in an additive sense, by increasing the volume of three individual resonant tones, which sum to an overall wave and timbre. Within this section, there is the capacity to deepen or brighten the tone, meaning that it’s possible to create impressive pad and string textures, not dissimilar to the string machines that followed many years later.
To the right of the control console, there is a basic attack control. This instrument appeared long before the concept of amplitude contouring via ADSR envelopes, so we make do with a simple Attack fader, coupled with an overall volume control. The results are simple but impressive, with slow pad-like fades feeling natural, while perky and punctuated fast attacks sound highly usable.
Also included are two styles of vibrato, with pitch depth scalable between small, normal and large. Cherry Audio has also equipped the instrument with room or hall reverb, and a limiter, along with a beautiful set of preset examples.
Also included with the Novachord is a second instrument; the Solovox used similar vintage technology, but in a monophonic form, and was shrunk in size to fit perfectly under a piano. It was the fashion of the day to play a piano accompaniment with the left hand while reaching down to play a solo line using an instrument such as the Solovox.
It too adopts a purity of tone, but through the application of 4-tone buttons, labelled Bass, Tenor, Alto and Soprano. With all four activated, it’s a weighty tonal construct, which may be simply sculpted using tone controls, to vary deepness and fullness of tone. Apart from two very simplistic tone controls, two further tone controls provide variable band-pass filtering, centred around 400Hz and 800Hz respectively.
With a really neat touch, the virtual valves glow, to demonstrate activity. It can sound surprisingly reminiscent of the oft-used ‘perky’ synth patches which have become common-place-pop fodder, adding plenty of weight in the lower frequency echelons.
Much like the Novachord, Solovox also adopts a simple one-size vibrato, but being monophonic, is perfectly suited to the included Glide, equipped with a pot to alter glide speed. The envelope also moves on a stage, providing both Attack and Release phases.
There is no doubt a heavy degree of simplicity with these two instruments, but it would be foolhardy to view this as a negative point. You can do an awful lot with these basic forms, and it’s the simplicity that will keep you coming back for more.
There is more than enough diversity in both instruments to add vintage charm or retro-character to your track, and with both instruments included in the suite, it’s another extraordinarily cool recreation at a really sensible price point.
MusicRadar verdict: These two instruments are full of great charm and character. Despite their vintage roots, they have an enormous amount to offer, across many production domains.
Cherry Audio Novachord + Solovox: The web says
"Even if you’re not looking for period-specific sounds, these are a unique pair of instruments that can bring something new and different to your projects, particularly if you happen to be working with scoring or sound design."
Cherry Audio Novachord + Solovox: Hands-on demos
Nu-Trix The Synth Guy
Cherry Audio Novachord + Solovox: Specifications
- macOS 10.13 or above. macOS 13 Ventura supported. 64-bit required. Native Apple M1 or greater processor support, including Ultra. 3.4 GHz Quad-Core or M1 CPU with 8GB of RAM is recommended.
- Windows 7 or above (including Windows 11), 64-bit required. Quad-core computer with 8GB of RAM is recommended.
- Available in AU, VST, VST3, AAX, and standalone formats (individual for each instrument), and a free 30-day demo is available.
- CONTACT: Cherry Audio