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An analog
V8 front1(1)

polyphonic synth produced by Octave-Plateau in the early 1980s, and based on integrated circuits from SSM.  Its packaging was revolutionary at the time, and anticipated the coming of keyboardless synths that would be controlled by external controllers.  The Voyetra was a huge step up from Octave's previous products, consisting of the Cat monophonic synth and its variants, and it took several years for Octave to develop a market-ready version.  First demonstrated in 1981, it finally reached the market in 1983.  It was Octave-Plateau's last hardware synth; after this, the company transformed into being a software house.

ArchitectureEdit

The most notable feature of the Voyetra 8 was its packaging.  It was one of the first synths to be produced in a rackmount configuration.  Originally, to control it, one had to purchase the VPK-5 master keyboard, which use a proprietary protocol to communicate with the synth.  The VPK-5 had multi-channel and split capabilities and could control several Voyetra-8s.  

Under the hood, each voice consisted of two VCOs, one low pass VCF, one VCA, two LFOs, and two envelope generators.  A small matrix routing capability provided four possible routes for control signals, and VCO1 could be synced to VCO2.  Each voice was physically contained on a card inside the box, so repairing a faulty voice was an easy process of swapping the card.  (It also led, later on, to collectors raiding non-working units for their voice cards to repair other units.)  Patch memory consisted of 100 patches and 100 "units", which were split-layer combinations.  The unit allowed the user to choose from among several voice allocation algorithms, and envelope modes in which the envelope generators behaved differently in relation to when keys were struck or released.

Editing was a rather cumbersome process through the front panel.  The controls used a "paged" concept, in which they controlled different parameters depending on which of 14 pages was selected.  Visibility was via three two-digit LED displays, and some parameters had to entered as hexadecimal values.  Experienced performers kept a printed page and parameter map to guide them through the process. 

RevisionsEdit

Four basic revisions were produced.  The first batch of units are designated Rev1; these were hand-assembled and had significant reliability problems.  Likely few if any remain in service.  The first production units are designated Rev2.  Rev3 were the first units to have MIDI  capability and have a different back panel from the earlier units.  Oddly, Octave used a non-standard connector, the 3-pin "Cannon" microphone plug, for the MIDI interface.  Rev4 have the most complete MIDI implementation; only Rev4 units can respond to MIDI pitch wheel, mod wheel, and aftertouch messages, and most software patch editors will only work with Rev4 systems.

During the production run, Octave upgraded many Rev1 and Rev2 units to later specs at the factory.  Further, after the production run ended, a cottage industry arose of techs doing upgrades of earlier revision units to Rev3 and Rev4 specs using spare parts.  There were a lot of "hybrid" units created that have mixes of earlier and later revision hardware.  One thing to watch out for is Rev3 units that have had Rev4 operating system ROMs installed.  These will identify as Rev4 systems, but without a Rev4 digital logic board they cannot route MIDI pitch/mod and aftertouch messages. 

Production Run and StatusEdit

It is unclear how many Voyetra 8's were produced; probably not a lot, as it was not a highly popular model and it was expensive when new.  The last ones were produced in 1986 or 1987.  Remaining examples are quite valuable in the collector market, although it takes a dedicated owner to keep one running, and most parts are no longer available. 

At the same time that the Voyetra 8 was being designed, Octave prototyped a companion monophonic model, the Voyetra One.  This was also a rackmount synth playable via the VPK-5 keyboard, and apparently it was also intended that it serve as a programmer for the Voyetra 8.  For reasons unclear, this never went into production.  Two prototypes are known to survive.

The Voyetra name did survive in an unusual way.  In 1985, Octave-Plateau adopted "Voyetra" as its company name.  It survived under this name until merging with Turtle Beach.

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