Dave Venom Music - Latest: My belated first foray into Orca's Heart

Here is my first completed patch using VCV Rack - a Moog Subharmonicon emulator. I was inspired by Omri’s emulator, but decided to create my own from scratch that more closely matches the design and capabilities of the real thing.

Note: version 2 is available at Dave Venom Music - Latest: My belated first foray into Orca's Heart - #7 by DaveVenom

version 4 is avaliable at Dave Venom Music - Latest: My belated first foray into Orca's Heart - #26 by DaveVenom

version 5 VCV Rack 2 is available at Dave Venom Music - Latest: My belated first foray into Orca's Heart - #52 by DaveVenom. Prior versions only worked in VCV Rack 1

Subharmonicon.vcv (294.6 KB)

And here are some closeups of the documentation:

I restricted myself to using only free plugins. Here is the list:

  • JW-Modules
  • Count Modula
  • Vult Modules Free
  • Bogaudio
  • Submarine
  • manikk Free Modules
  • AS
  • Aria Salvatrice
  • dBiz
  • Frozen Wasteland
  • 23volts
  • Alikins
  • VCV Core
  • PackOne (Stoermelder)
  • Frank Buss

And here is a sample ambient patch using the emulator that adds Modular Fungi for the dimmed lights effect:Subharmonicon ambient.vcv (345.6 KB) The patch really needs expansive delay/reverb. I used the free Valhalla Supermassive VST plugin running in Reaper, so it is not included in my patch.

The ambient patch doesn’t use any sound features that aren’t in the emulator itself, other than some modules that pseudo randomly manipulate various controls within the emulator when triggered by certain polyrhythm events.

Here is a 30 minute demo of the ambient patch:

And here is the same patch where I performed live with some Native American flutes as part of a Virtual Open Mic:

Notes on emulator usage:

Be sure to read the documentation in the bottom row. It lists all the features that are missing or altered when compared to the Subharmonicon, as well as all the enhancements, and describes all the inputs and outputs in the patch bay. Also read the Subharmonicon manual - it can really help. Lastly, read the Probably Not(e) quantizer documentation from Frozen Wasteland. It is very powerful, and there were too many controls to label and document, or include in the patch bay.

Notes on the design of the patch:

I arranged the emulator to have all the user controls in the top two rows, labeled in yellow. They are all visible on my screen when zoomed at 100%. The rest is arranged so as to leave the patch bay completely unobstructed. I opted for a patch bay because I wanted to minimize the possibility of accidently removing a cable that was integral to the emulator. Any cables within the patch bay can safely be removed without fear of harming the integrity of the emulator.

I almost used the Teleport module to minimize cable clutter, but I was worried about the extra CPU burden it might impose.

I opted not to use the Squinky Labs Substitute module because it requires two instances to get the true capabilities of the Subharmonicon, and I did not want to be tempted to use 12 oscillators instead of the 6 that actually exist in the Subharmonicon. The Substitute module applies the same V/Oct signal to both voices, whereas the Subharmonicon allows independent control over the two voices.

My choice for the module to control enabling/disabling the PWM was strategic - I wanted buttons that could be controlled by the Stoermelder TRANSIT module, which means the button control value must reflect the toggle state. I was disappointed that most latching buttons do not do that. I originally used Instruo Tain - it looked better and was more space efficient since it had the switch built in. But I couldn’t remotely control the button, so I replaced it with Bogaudio SWITCH18 paired with SWITCH.

As I am new to this whole endeavor, I struggled a bit to understand how the sub-oscillators were controlled. It all clicked when I realized the voltage offset is simply the log base 2 of the integral division value. Originally I programmed all 16 offset voltages into the NYSTHI Fixed Voltage Source, and used the 23volts SwitchN1 to select the correct voltage. But it was much simpler and space saving to simply enter the formula into the Frank Buss Formula module.

I was surprised how much effort it took to emulate the AD envelope generators. I had nearly given up hope on finding a free module that forced the attack phase to go to completion, but then allowed immediate retriggering during the decay phase. I had created a convoluted circuit that held the gate high on an ADSR module until the attack phase was complete. It worked, but there was a timing issue that made a reset operation unreliable. Thank goodness I finally read the Submarine EN-104 ADSR/VCA documentation more carefully and realized it could properly emulate the behavior by applying a trigger to the gate, locking the sustain and total at 100%, and disabling the VCA by applying 10 volts constant CV to the input. I did not look forward to debugging the timing issue of my original design.

I’m really happy with the addition of the sine wave to the VCOs. I think Moog made a mistake not including that feature. It’s not demonstrated in the patches or videos I shared, but the sine wave works much better to my ears when the sub divisions are between 9 and 15. Saw and square have too many of their own overtones that obscure the odd relationship of those extreme values to the root note. It is fun playing around with the interference patterns when using sine waves.


Here is a live cover I did of “Georgetown”, by Rob Hinkal of the band ilyAIMY. Rob has been hosting the Virtual Open Mic (VOM) every Monday night since the pandemic started - a vital sanity savor for an entire community of musicians that now spans the country. A group of us surprised Rob in honor of one year of VOMs by covering some of his many wonderful songs. This rendition is a reprise of my performance 5 weeks later, on my 1 year anniversary of participating in the VOM.

You can hear the original at Georgetown | ilyAIMY

I’m playing a large homemade overtone flute made of 2" PVC, and am backed by a very simple patch in VCV Rack consisting of a drone plus an 8 step sequence.

I’m particularly happy with how effective the drone is for such a simple construct. It is a Submarine SN-101 Smooth Noise Oscillator coupled with a Lateralus 24db low pass filter with the cutoff modulated by a pair of Bogaudio LFOs. The first LFO modulates the frequency of the second. Behind the scenes I have various reverb and delay effects running in Reaper for each of the song’s tracks.



That’s a beautiful piece Dave, with the flutes!

So here is another example using the Subharmonicon emulator. Not only does it use the exact same patch as the ambient piece in my first post, but it uses the exact same polymeter intervals, sub frequency intervals, sequencer settings, quantizer root note (D) and scale (minor pentatonic), FM and sync, and pseudo random parameter changes. The only thing that changed was bumping the clock from 25 BPM up to 100 BPM, shortening the EG attack and decay values, and changing the Valhalla Supermassive preset to “It’s Full of Stars”, which uses lots of widely spaced repeats. I changed the repeat delay to 1000ms instead of the default 1500. So now, instead of an ambient piece, it has a wonky, energetic rhythm which I have fun with while jamming with my Native American flute in Gm.

Rhythmic fun with VCV Rack and a Native American flute


Another Subharmonicon Emulator example. This is actually the first setup that later spawned my previous emulator posts. This original patch has a cool bass line with a timbre that I really like. The night I created it I was having fun jamming along with my flutes, thinking it sounded really good. But days later when I was prepping for a live performance on the Virtual Open Mic (VOM), I couldn’t recapture the moment and moved on to the ambient piece instead.

So now I decided to script different scenes for the original patch and finally post a synth demo without flutes.

Subharmonicon jam.vcv (322.6 KB)

This patch uses the exact same rhythm settings, VCO and Sub frequency/division settings, sequencer settings, and patch bay patches as my prior two emulator posts. But now the tempo is 393 BPM instead of 25 or 100. Obviously the envelope generator settings needed to change, and the Valhalla Supermassive is now in VCV Host so I can easily modulate various delay/reverb parameters with CV. It should be possible to accomplish the same thing using free modules while keeping Supermassive in my DAW (Reaper), but this was easier.

The patch bay has the following patches:

  • VCA envelope out is patched to the filter drive
  • Sub 2A V/Oct out is patched to VCO1 FM
  • Sub 2B V/Oct out is patched to VCO1 Sync (both the base oscillator as well as the square/PWM oscillator)
  • All rhythm trigger outs are XORed to detect when the rhythm sequence cycles back to the origin, and is used to trigger the next scene selection.
  • The clock is used to sync the Valhalla Supermassive delay/reverb plugin

The FM and Sync modulation can be switched on and off. When on it gives the bass line that I like so much.

The rhythm pattern cycles back to the origin every 360 clock ticks, at which point a new scene is activated by the Stoermelder TRANSIT module. The sequencer takes 720 clock ticks to cycle back to the origin in relation to the rhythm generator.

Each scene specifies a particular combination of waveform and PWM selection, assignment of sequences to sub oscillator division selection, enable or disable the FM and hard sync, volume (distortion) levels, and delay/reverb parameters.

Scene 4 is pretty wild!

For those that don’t have the VCV Host, Supermassive is set to the Default preset with mode=Hydra. Low (HPF)=320Hz and High (LPF)=7250 Hz, Mod rate = 0.5 Hz, Depth=50%, Feedback=39%, Density 50%, Width=100%. For most of the scenes the Mix=30%, Delay=1/4 Note, Warp=15%. For scene 4 the Mix=50%, Delay=1/32 Note, Warp=0%. For scene 5 the Delay=1/8 Note and the Mix and Warp revert to 30% and 15%.

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I’ve posted version 2 of the Subharmonicon emulator:

The main difference is I shrank the footprint a tad, and I added a post quantizer V/Oct send/return in the patch bay to allow for staged quantization. My intent is to let the “built in” quantizer set notes in equal temperament to whatever scale and key you want. Then a second quantizer hooked up through the patch bay converts the notes to just intonation based on the root note of the current chord, rather than the key of the scale. I hope to post a patch and video about this soon.

I also posted a composition patch using this version, and created a song with Native American style flute, using the patch as accompaniment.


In unrelated news - I posted an entry for VCV-65 - my very first VCV Rack challenge entry.

I also performed a Native American style flute composition using my entry as accompaniment.

I’ve released a new VCV/Native American flute performance, this time using a patch that is derived from Dave Phillips’ “A Machine Dream” A Machine Dream Reprise | Patchstorage. I’m really happy with this one. My wife and I have been listening to it every night when we go to bed for the past few weeks.

Dave’s original patch can be found at A Machine Dream | Patchstorage


Thanks for making this available, Dave. I was lucky enough to catch this performance “live” & enjoyed it as much re-listening just now as I did then.

I would love an album of music like this for exactly this purpose. Seriously soothing sounds,

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Thanks - glad you enjoy it. I’ve been talking/thinking about producing an album for years. Over the past year+ I finally got the equipment needed to do it, and now I’ve got more than enough material to produce something. It’s time to shit or get off the pot! (Trying to psych myself up to actually do something about it)

Do it, Dave! You’ve sold (at least) one copy already. :wink:

lots of good stuff in this thread. I don’t know if you are still interesting in sub-harmonics after this time, but a) you could ask for a second v/oct input on Substitute if you want. and b) a lot of sub-octave dividers (actually all of them?) have a lot of digital grunge down there. Often it doesn’t matter much if you use them for bass notes, but they can sound pretty bad if you play them up high. It took me forever to get Substitute to not do that. Anyway - enough about me. Good music in here.

Thanks. My VCV journey has just begun. I hadn’t been able to do much for ~3 months due to a crazy project at work. But that is finally over and I’m getting back at it.

I’m definitely still interested in the subharmonics, but I’m pretty happy with my emulator. I too was worried about aliasing. Also the wave sub-dividers all yield square waves, and I wanted other waveforms supported, as in the original. So I compute the required offset CV and sum with the master CV and feed that into the V/Oct input of actual subharmonic VCOs. I don’t do any waveform frequency division in my emulator.

Oh, nice! Good stuff.

After working with my own Subharmonicon emulator, I finally broke down and purchased Slime Child’s Substation. There are some aspects of my emulator that I miss (especially the sine wave option for the subs, as well as FM and Sync modulation). But I do like the Substation sequencer, the Saturating Mixer, and the LP4 Filter. I also like how the Quantizer adapts the just intonation based on the root note.

Here is my first patch - an epic 9 1/2 minute automated jam that I intended to use as a backing track for Native American flute improvisation. I haven’t succeeded with the flute yet, the chord modulations are difficult to keep track of. But I think it stands up well on its own.


Hey Dave, I reposted your video in KVR’s music cafe, got some very nice replies. You can check 'em out at A Machine Dream (Reprise) - Music Cafe Forum - KVR Audio.

Best regards,


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Wow, Very cool. Thanks for reposting and sending the lovely feedback.

I made a few tweaks to Dave Phillips’ original patch “Woven” and performed it live with my Native American flutes and voice. I called my performance “Woven Air”

Dave Phillips’ original patch is at Woven | Patchstorage

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Here is a small patch that drives the SubStation Polyrhythm Sequencer at audio rates. So the sequencer plays the role of the sub-oscillator, with 3 subs, and the root VCO (the clock) is never heard directly. Full patch notes on PatchStorage.

The demo video is from a live Virtual Open Mic (VOM) performance where I add Native American flute improvisations. I think it is cool how the Valhalla SuperMassive delay/reverb instantly turns a distinctly rhythmic patch into a lush pad at the end - where I finish off with a full throated vocal improv.

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Wow. This is really great. I’ve been struggling to build a Subharmonicon Emulater for the past couple of days, but after seeing yours, I’m going to give up now. Still a great learning experience though. I also originally wanted to use Squinky labs Substitute, but was disappointed that you cant control each voice separately. And you cant use Sub1 to PWM the VCO like in the Subharmonicon. The nice thing about it though, is that the sub frequencies are in phase with the VCO. So I went the same route as you, and divided the Hz to get the voltage needed for the sub oscillators, but hit a brick wall when I needed to round the Volts to the nearest integer, to get exact divisions. Anyway, Well done. I’m definitely going to enjoy playing with this.