PolyChain DIY is a stunning new app from Tim Shoebridge that allows you to poly-chain up to 8 different hardware or software synths and play them from a single MIDI controller.
Tim Shoebridge is on fire with his little unassuming software apps that enable extraordinary things. We recently saw him design an app that lets you generate polyphonic aftertouch from a regular MIDI keyboard with the Polyphonic Pressure Generator. PolyChain DIY looks like it’s just as phenomenal.
Poly-chaining is a technology that a number of synthesizers support that allows you to hook up more than one and play them together from a single MIDI controller. Subsequently, you can take a monophonic synth and turn it into a polyphonic synth by chaining several of them together. The key is that they play together, allocate notes appropriately, and you can control them together. Behringer synths all have this feature, making buying multiples of the Model D, Neutron, or Pro-1 very interesting.
However, poly-chaining has only been available between multiples of the same synthesizer. Tim Shoebridge poses the question, “why?” Why can’t we poly-chain different synths together and use our synth collection as one big synthesizer? Well, Tim decided that he’s not going to stand for those kinds of limitations and has developed an app to solve the problem.
PolyChain DIY lets you poly-chain any synthesizer you like, provided it can be connected via MIDI to your computer for up to 8 in total. The computer is needed to run the PolyChain DIY software. I wonder if someone could design a MIDI interface or hub with this ability built in? Anyway, I need to stress that PolyChain DIY can do this is ANY MIDI-capable synthesizer. It can be a monosynth, polysynth, software or VST plugin synth. You can combine a Crave with a Nymphes, a Korg Volca, a Jupiter-X, and a bunch of Cherry Audio software emulations. So, if you can reach them with your computer then they can be poly-chained. That’s amazing!
You can then play them together, control them together, create poly-chain zones across your keyboard and all sorts of wonderfulness.
PolyChain DIY runs within Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular environment, which is free. It consists of three modules; the main PolyChain DIY module, a MIDI Map editor and a software controller that lets you map controls into all the synths.
It will probably take some work to set it up, but Tim has produced a detailed walkthrough (below) to get you there. Undoubtedly his “Get more out of the gear you own” tagline is brilliant and worthy of applause. It’s available now from within Voltage Modular for $39.
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