Since the publishing of the MIDI standard in 1983, usage of CV/Gate to control synths has decreased dramatically. The most criticized aspect of the CV/gate interface is the allowance of only a single note to sound at a single moment of time.
However, the 1990s saw renewed interest in analog synthesizers and various other equipment, notably the Roland TB-303. In order to facilitate synchronization between these older instruments and newer MIDI-enabled equipment, some companies produced several models of CV/Gate-MIDI interfaces. Some models target controlling a single type of synthesizer and have fixed CV and Gate implementation, while some models are more customizable and include methods to switch used implementation.
CV/Gate is also very easy to implement and it remains an easier alternative for homemade/modern modular synthesizers. Also, various equipment, such as stage lighting sometimes uses CV/Gate interface. For example, a strobe light can be controlled using CV to set light intensity or color and Gate to turn an effect on and off. With the advent of non-modular analog synths, the exposure of synth parameters via CV/Gate provided a way to achieve some of the flexibility of modular synths. Some synths also could generate CV/Gate signals and be used to control other synths.
One of the main advantages of CV/Gate over MIDI is in the resolution. Most MIDI control messages use 7 bits or 128 possible steps for resolution. Control Voltage is analogue and by extension infinitely variable. There is less likelihood of hearing the zipper effect or noticeable steps in resolution over large parameter sweeps. For this reason MIDI Pitch Bend uses 14 bits or 16,384 possible steps. There are ways to send higher MIDI resolution through the use of RPN's and NRPN's however in practice this is often difficult.
A major difference between CV/Gate and MIDI is that in many analogue synthesizers no distinction is made between voltages that represent control and voltages that represent audio. This means audio signals can be used to modify control voltages and vice versa. In MIDI they are separate worlds and there is no easy way to have audio signals modify control parameters.
Some software synthesizers emulate control voltages to allow their virtual modules to be controlled as early analog synths were. For example, Propellerheads Reason allows a myriad of connection possibilities with CV, and allows Gate signals to have a "level" rather than a simple on/off (for example, to trigger not just a note, but the velocity of that note)...
In 2009, Mark of the Unicorn released a virtual instrument plug-in, Volta, allowing Mac-based audio workstations with Audio Units support to control some hardware devices. CV control is based on the audio interface line level outputs, and as such only supports a limited number of synths.
In recent years, many guitar effects processors have been designed with CV input. Implementations vary widely and are NOT compatible with one another so it's critical to understand how a manufacturer is producing the CV before attempting to use multiple processors in a system. Moog has facilitated this by producing two interfaces designed to receive and transmit CV in a system, the MP-201 (which includes MIDI) and the CP-251. Examples of effects allowing the use of CV include delays (Electroharmonix DMB and DMTT, Toneczar Echoczar, Line6, Strymon and many others), tremolo (Goatkeeper), Flange (Foxrox Paradox), envelope generators/lowpass filters/ring modulators (Big Briar, WMD) and even distortion (WMD).
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