Silent Way

Silent Way is a suite of plug-ins designed for use with analogue synthesisers, and especially 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.

Please download the demo and test Silent Way with your hardware before purchasing.

Silent Way Voice Controller is now a Rack Extension! Available now from the Propellerheads Shop.

Reviews

Silent Way v2 was awarded a 'Platinum Award' (their top honour) by Future Music Magazine, Issue 264 (April 2013) .
If you're looking to control CV-equipped analogue hardware from the comfort of your DAW, we can't recommend it highly enough.

Silent Way received a very thorough review in Sound On Sound magazine, in the January 2013 issue.

“The control voltages generated by the software are, however, sample-accurate, and I found the sense of ‘connection’ with my old synths tangibly better when playing them in real time using Silent Way, as opposed to through my MIDI interface and a MIDI-to-CV converter. A few recordings proved that the synths were much quicker to respond and more consistent in timing. I typically have to audio-quantise analogue bass sequences to get them as tight as I like, but those generated by Silent Way needed no quantisation to feel solidly nailed to the beat.”
You can read the full review here.

Silent Way scored 5/5 in issue 186 of Computer Music magazine:

“If you own a modular hardware synth and you don't have Silent Way, you simply aren't getting the most out of your hardware. It's one of the most spectacularly useful pieces of music software ever made.”
You can read the full review here.
Silent Way and the ES-3 module were reviewed by Sonic State - read the full review and watch the video here.
“I rarely get to review stuff which I feel is almost flawless, but I think this is one of those occasions”
Silent Way and the ES-3 module got a great review in Future Music Magazine, Issue 239 (May 2011) - read it here.
“Incredible options for controlling modular synths”
“Silent Way is a no-brainer”
“Silent Way opens up sound design options that'd be expensive, difficult or impossible any other way. It's a fantastic new approach to controlling analogue Control Voltage hardware.”
Silent Way received a very positive review in Tape Op magazine, issue #81.
“... the potential world of sound that Silent Way opens up is amazing.”
“The toolkit Silent Way offers is vast”
You can read the full review here.

Silent Way has received a glowing review from Sound On Sound magazine, in the May 2010 issue.

“If you dream of controlling your analogue synths from within your DAW software, it may be that your audio interface will let you do just that — with a little help from this plug-in suite.”
“My time with Silent Way was quite a liberating experience.”
“Voice Controller is the star of the show for me. Slick and self-contained, this has the effect of pulling a much-loved analogue synth into the heart of your DAW, with a level of control that is usually the reserve of a virtual instrument.”
“Silent Way is a genuine alternative to a MIDI-to-CV interface, and capable of a greater level of sophistication.”
You can read the full review here.

Silent Way scored 10/10 in issue 147 (January 2010) of Computer Music magazine:

“It works beautifully. We tried it with a Minimoog, Synthesizers.com modular, Odyssey, Roland SH-101 and even the notoriously cantankerous EMS VCS3. Silent Way was able to get each one to play nicely for at least three octaves.”
“For us, Silent Way is a no-brainer. It’s considerably cheaper than the competition and Expert Sleepers are constantly updating it. It’s a truly brilliant solution to an age old problem and one that might make you reevaluate the practicalities of owning a vintage synth.”

For user opinions, please see the Silent Way forum.

“It's prompted me to reconfigure my whole approach to electronic music making and I must say I'm extremely happy with the results!”
“this is the greatest thing ever - its rock solid - its tighter than a mobius”

Demo

This video shows how easy it is to get up and running with Silent Way in Ableton Live. For tutorials for other host DAWs, please see the tutorials page.


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 CV Input

Silent Way CV Input provides a means of getting control voltages from an analogue synth into the computer, which is not normally possible since the DC voltages of CVs are blocked by the inputs of all current audio interfaces. Once inside the computer, CVs can be recorded, or processed as any other signal before being output back to the 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 Step LFO

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

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 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

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.

Silent Way CV To OSC

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. See the Expert Sleepers YouTube channel for some ideas.

Silent Way CV To MIDI

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.

Device Compatibility

Silent Way provides a way of working with all audio interfaces.

To work "out of the box", the audio interface between the computer and the synth needs to be "DC coupled" i.e. capable of maintaining a DC voltage at its outputs. Many interfaces include high-pass filters on the outputs which makes this impossible. Refer to the device compatibility page for up-to-date information. The exception is Silent Way CV Input, which will work with any interface, since it is specifically designed to overcome the lack of DC-coupling on audio interface inputs.

However, please see this page for information on using Silent Way with AC-coupled audio interfaces.

Silent Way should work with pretty much any modular synth modules. Because the Voice Controller can calibrate itself by listening to the output of the synth, it is not limited to standard 1V/octave standards. Indeed, it can drive modules not originally intended as oscillators (e.g. LFOs) and still correctly track pitch. Again, refer to the device compatibility page for information on which modules are known to work.

Tutorials

Various videos and instructions for using Silent Way with particular hosts or modules are collected on the tutorials page.

System Requirements

  • Mac
    • Mac OS X 10.6.8 or higher
    • Intel CPU
    • Audio Unit or VST host application, or ProTools 10 or above for the AAX version
  • Windows
    • Windows XP SP2 or Windows 7
    • VST 2.4 host application, or ProTools 10 or above for the AAX version
Silent Way v2 supports 32 or 64 bit operation on Mac and Windows.

PPC Mac? - Silent Way v1.7 is still available for purchase, which runs on PPC Macs.

Purchasing

Please download the demo and test Silent Way with your hardware before purchasing.
Initially the plug-in runs in demo mode, in which it is fully functional, except that it will time-out after 15 minutes of use. Simply reloading the plug-in resets the time-out.

To remove the time-out, you can purchase a registration. The price is $59 (US dollars, plus VAT if applicable).

A registration allows you to install the plug-in on up to three computers at once.

Upgrading from v1.x

Use the Expert Sleepers Licence Manager application v1.0.18 or higher to purchase an upgrade.

An upgrade from v1.x is $20. Users who bought v1 in 2012 are entitled to a discounted upgrade price of $10 - contact Expert Sleepers with your serial number for a discount coupon.