May 122012
New VSTi Announcement


The Microtonal Virtual Analog Synthesizer
by Xen-Arts
IVOR is a two-oscillator subtractive synthesizer that features full-controller MIDI Pitch Microtuning using MTS (MIDI Tuning Standard), where any MIDI Note Number can be freely microtuned to any desired pitch across the MIDI range, thereby enabling musicians and composers to explore the vast expressive possibilities of composing music with alternative intonation systems.
IVOR is a microtonal sound-designer’s virtual analog synthesizer with a carefully designed ergonomic workflow for quickly creating powerful sounding and musical useful timbres.
IVOR excels at making categories of timbres that include bass, distortion, keys, pads, broken, weird, leads and other analog synthesis types of sounds.
IVOR is an educational tool for learning about subtractive sound synthesis and musical instrument intonation (aka microtuning and xenharmonics).
IVOR embodies a design philosophy of simplicity for microtonal music sound-design…
  • A ‘knob-less’ design featuring slider controls only, which enables intuitive direct control with a computer mouse.
  •  A dedicated control signal system mapped to the most important synthesis functions.
  • Settings are made by typing values into fields, dropdown lists, left-and-right arrows, switches and sliders.
  • Enables musicians to specify precise microtonal pitch-bend settings.
  • Features arbitrary microtonal oscillator transposition settings.
  • Velocity modulation of harmonics enables dynamically playing harmonics of the fundamental pitch.
Oscillator Section
  • Two Oscillators with 22 Waveforms
  • Microtonal, Harmonic Series and Subharmonic Series Oscillator Transposition
  • LFO (with Rate Sequencer) and Envelope Generator for Phase, Pulse-Width and Pitch Modulation
  • LFO and Envelope Generator features both Unidirectional and Bidirectional Modulation
  • Analog Pitch Drift Emulator with both Unidirectional and Bidirectional Modulation
  • Velocity-to-Harmonics Modulation enables oscillators to dynamically sound harmonics of the fundamental pitch
  • Ring Modulation with 23 RM Types
  • Oscillator and Ring Modulator Mixer
Filter Section
  • Pre-Filter Saturation Stage with 20 Saturation Types
  • Two Independent Filters with Six Filter Types: LP4, LP2, HPF, BPF, BRF, APF
  • One and Two Stage Filter Cascade
  • LFO (with Rate Sequencer) and Envelope Generator for Filter Cutoff Frequency Modulation
  • LFO and Envelope Generator enables both Unidirectional and Bidirectional Filter Modulation
VCA Section
  • Dedicated Envelope Generator
  • Switchable Velocity Sensitivity and Fixed Volume Control
Performance Control
  • MIDI Pitch Microtuning with MTS (MIDI Tuning Standard)
  • MTS Support for both Single Note and Bulk Dump
  • Loads MTS Microtuning Format Files Internally and Receives MTS Externally
  • Local (Per-Patch) and Global Microtuning (Static Microtuning for All Patches)
  • Microtunings can be loaded from any directory on hard drives or storage devices connected to the computer
  • Ten Note Polyphonic
  • Monophonic Legato Mode
  • Polyphonic Portamento with Three Glide Modes
  • Microtonal Pitch Bend
  • Vibrato
  • Effects include Warm Filter and Stereo Ensemble 

IVOR is a freeware 32-bit VSTi for Windows XP or higher and includes a detailed instruction manual, 98 factory patches and 54 microtonal tunings.

Download from Xen-Arts 4shared premium account:

Download  |  Ivor – Piano’s Ghost:

[43 mg]

[11 mg]
 Posted by at 12:57 pm

  37 Responses to “IVOR | Microtonal Virtual Analog Synthesizer”

  1. Impressive this new free synth.
    Super fat, moving sequences and low on CPU yet.
    Nice and intuitive GUI.
    It takes time to handle completelly and listen amazing results, but it worth it.

    Thanks for the freebie and keep up the good work.

  2. thanks so much for this.
    very good and unique idea! fun to play with with so much parameters to manage.
    compliments and cudos 🙂

  3. thanks for the new tools 😉

    only feedback immediately (running windows 7 vst) is that clicking on dropdown lists doesn’t take effect when you click on the choice, but requires
    a second click on the vst’s window to take effect. this is inside ableton live.


  4. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback and thanks Bob for sharing your track. I like this quite a lot actually and it’s sort of stylistically coming from Oophoi-like spaces; one of my favorite composers of this type of music. I’d like to encourage you to continue to make music of this nature and refine this style. Sounds great.

  5. Thank you, awesome synth.

  6. Hi Bob,

    In the host I use – Reaper – there is a similar behavior and one must right-click on the plugin (within the Track FX dialog) and check “Send all keyboard input to plug-in”. Once configured for a particular instance of a plug-in, then it becomes far easier to use.

    Ableton is kind of a world unto itself, but one of our beta-testers uses it frequently. I’ll try to ask them if there is a way to configure better keyboard and mouse behavior.

  7. Thank you so much!! I really appreciate your willingness to support the microtonal community like this by sharign such excellent tools!

  8. Hi Andrew and Chris,

    Thanks for dropping by and for the positive feedback. You’re most certainly welcome.

    Please feel free to make me aware if you create music with this new VSTi. I’d love to check it out.


  9. Hi thomekk,

    I was excited to see that you posted some music, but when I tried to download the file, it didn’t work for me. Please feel free to reupload your piece, or just email it to me if you prefer. I’d love to hear what you’ve done.



  10. Hi Jacky,

    and sorry for the wrong link.
    The corrected one is:

  11. Hi thomekk,

    This sounds great and reminds me a bit of the spaces that Steve Roach explored on his album The Magnificent Void (1996), except, significantly, your sound is clearly xenharmonic in nature.

    You should consider putting together an album or EP in the future. I’d enjoy the opportunity to hear more of your work.

    • Hi Jacky,
      I’ve heard of Steve Roach, but did not know the music of him, googled, heard some snippets and wow – great stuff worth to dive into.
      Love your synth and will use it more, lots of stuff to try and learn from it. Thanks again.

      My works is very diverging – I’m synapsed by sound synthesis since my Korg MS-10, besides I’m a guitarist, so all is mixed up.
      My site with actual stuff is this: (Pop, Improvised Music, Collabs = a lifelong work in progress)


    • Thank you, awesome synth. Is it possible to have the same VSTI divited in pieces? I need only the first part(Perfomance Control ) of IVOR! I would like a VSTI that use MIDI Pitch Microtuning with MTS (MIDI Tuning Standard) and is very flexible i.e. could be used as a Midi in for ALL Vsti plugins! In other words I would like for a vsti microtuner that replace some hardware microtuners(like H-Pi Instruments Tuning Box TBX1)



  12. I’m loving this thing! Thanks so much for making it! I’m gonna have a lot of fun with it. ^_^

  13. Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for dropping by and for the positive feedback.

    I’d been wanting to design a synth that featured a pre-filter saturation stage and this is the end result.

    Ivor can do heavy fairly well. 🙂

    Best wishes.

  14. Just learning about microtonal music….recommendations for an appropriate controller? I am OS agnostic…whatever works. Thanks.

  15. Hi Tom,

    In the sidebar to the right there is a Controller section you can explore, if you like, which takes one to the sites of a lot of different inventors.

    One’s budget and the type of controller one prefers are factors in making a recommendation. Check out Starr Labs if you are looking for a guitar-style controller, although they also sell many kinds of keyboards as well.

    Quite some time ago I bought an Axis-64 from C-Thru Music, which I like a lot, although the inventor of the Axis-64 has his own site, The Shape of Music, and makes what I’ve come to believe are fine instruments with perhaps superior key action and velocity response. One of my colleagues, Carlo Serafini (blog also in sidebar at top right), bought a really nice custom controller from The Shape of Music and actively uses this in his exploration of alternative intonations, which includes working with the family of non-octave CET microtunings discovered long ago by the venerable Wendy Carlos.

    Elaine Walker’s company, Vertical Keyboards, adapts Halberstadt keyboards to custom key layouts, in order to accommodate various equal temperaments, and these are some very innovative ideas as well.

    If you are a wind player, there is also the Akai EWI USB. I’ve been pretty keen to pick up one of these, as I’ve played a MIDI wind controller quite a lot during the years I was involved more in improvisational music.

    I’m also still using a Halberstadt style MIDI keyboard controller, with a standard key layout.

    These are just a few ideas, and it seems there’s almost constant innovation happening in this area. Another such instrument, which to my knowledge has never been mass produced beyond a few prototypes, is the Terpstra Keyboard from Cortex Design Inc. These are very interesting instruments, although information about the MIDI implementation is sketchy, and very importantly, these boards to not appear to feature a pitch wheel or mod-wheel controller. Personally speaking, that is a bit of a deal killer and I’m not as excited about buying one of these without this important expressive feature. But the key action, velocity response and the fact that it features polyphonic aftertouch, is extremely compelling all the same. If it had pitch/mod wheel controllers, I’d have already made an effort to get one, but I’m certain this is something that would required for my performance style. Hard to believe they left that off, but one can only assume they are catering to musicians and composers who are more into piano-style musical gesture.

    Thanks for dropping by and good luck with you music.

  16. Jacky,
    How would I visualize a key layout for microtonal scales when using a Halberstat MIDI keyboard with Ivor? I have some that I would be willing to modify, like the Vertical keyboards. I was also thinking of doing something like this :

    For a class project, I was thinking of using algorithmic composition techniques with Puredata that would output microtonal MIDI information to Ivor. Thoughts?…thanks…tom

  17. Hi Tom,

    Obviously if the number of tones in the microtuning is greater or less than 12, then the repeat interval (typically an octave of a 2/1 ratio), will be displaced, requiring one to master performing on the instrument by taking this offset physically into account.

    In the past, as one possible solution, I have created paper or fabric strip overlays that can be affixed to the area above the entire length of the keyboard, where I make written notations for navigating complex tunings; typically in the form of note names and accidentals; cents and or ratios, for instance.

    I’m aware that other musicians and composers have their own methods, such as using stickers on the keys and such like; to each their own, and whatever works for the musical task at hand.

    I’ll be very curious to hear what you produce with PD/Ivor; sounds like a fascinating project. Please feel free to make me aware of your compositions as they take final form, as I’m alway eager to check out new works, especially when created with these VSTi tools.

  18. Hi, Jacky, thank you for this synth.
    I’m here to report that I can’t get IVOR to render in Zynewave Podium. It plays ok, though…

  19. Hi Anonymous,

    Very sorry for the hassles. While our beta crew deep tested in Reaper (a core DAW for me personally), FL Studio, Cubase (on XP Pro) and Ableton Live (two of us use Live and I bought a Suite license – in all its 12-locked glory – earlier this year), Zynewave Podium is not a host we’ve worked with.

    So, when you try to render your MIDI to audio, it doesn’t produce a usable audio file? Are you bridging 32-bit to 64-bit? If you want to discuss it more, post about what happens here in the comments, including more info on system specs and circumstances, or otherwise write through the contact email; will be happy to chat with you about it. I would be curious if – in advance of our conversation – you could do a brief test with the newest instrument, Xen-Font, to see if any of the other instruments will render with your host.

    FYI and FWIW – I’ve made significant progress on the next Ivor update, which is going to take the instrument to a completely new level when finished, but I’ve had to focus on another update to one of the existing instruments that has taken priority over this for the time being, as well as myriad new music projects, both finished and in progress. Can’t say more lest I spoil the surprise. 🙂

    • Hy, Jacky, I’m the Anon up there 🙂
      My OS is Windows 7 64 bit. I guess both Podium Free(because it isn’t stated) and your synth are 32 bit, so that may be a factor… I’m not vst-bridging.
      As I said, IVOR works fine in it, so it was only after a couple of hours experimenting with it, that I tried to render the sound, and only silence was printed. I’m now dabbling with Xenharmonic FMTS which does render the sound. What luck that I get how FM works, right? 🙂
      By the way, this is a bit off topic, but could you make a brief tutorial about how to make MTS tunings with Scala? I’m specifically interested in baroque keyboard temperaments, for whatever reason…

  20. Hi DramaNoMore,

    Good to hear from you and Merry Holiday!

    Something about what you’ve described here makes me wonder if it might be related to Windows User Account Control, at least it’s a good place to start.

    Here are a couple of things that would be good to try:

    1. Click on the Start Menu and in All Programs find Podium Free. Right-Click on its icon and choose “Run as administrator.” This will give Xen-Arts plugins permissions to work properly and this is something I’ve had to do with some programs, such as Ableton Live. Usually one gets harassed by UAC when their plugins are installed in either Program Files of otherwise Program Files (x86), which brings us to the next suggestion…

    2. In the root of your C drive, create a VST plugin directory and try using your plugins within your DAW(s) from there. You may have to point the application to this new directory by pasting in the path. On my system I have my plugins set up in:

    C:VST (x86)

    The point of this is to not install your plugins in Program Files or Program Files (x86), which removes the possibility of UAC interfering with the operation of the plugins. Lots of plugins, including the Xen-Arts ones – and especially the first time they are launched within a DAW – actually write some files in their directory.

    Try these things and lets see if they fix the rendering problem. I’ve got some more ideas, but my guess is that one of these two will work.

    RE: MTS tutorial. Yes – it would be my pleasure. I’m working towards consolidating and indexing the microtuning tutorials on this site which will probably happen within the next few days. In the meanwhile, please reference this article about creating TUN files:

    The only difference is to choose the Tuning Model (under Synthesizer Tuning Options) “107: MIDI Tuning Standard bulk tuning dump, 3 byte” – everything else is the same.

    Please note though, that when I wrote that article, Scala was undergoing radical revision to its UI and the way the Options functions were laid out evolved a lot since that time. This was one of the reasons my series on Microtuning Virtual Instruments slowed down, because I felt it was important for the evolution of the Scala UI to be finalized before I continue. Also this was important because it has long been my intention to write an updated Introduction to Scala.



  21. While I’m typing, I thought I would point out that there is a short tutorial about creating MTS files on page 30 of the Ivor manual.

    At some point in the future I’ll try to write one on the blog though that is better illustrated.

  22. The “Run Podium as administrator” option definitely worked. Thank you for all the help. I’ll try to repay by giving the absolutely off-topic advice of being very conscious about what you eat on these upcoming celebratory days(my yesterday was not fun at all…).

    • Also, success on the tuning edit. I was almost there, but kept using the wrong midi format…
      RTFM is definitely a good advice for everything…

  23. Hi DramaNoMore,

    That’s great news that it’s working now; had a feeling that was it.

    Please feel free to make me aware of your music and I would like to hear anything you’ve done with these instruments.

    Stay (micro)tuned for some really exciting surprises coming up in the not too distant future. 🙂

  24. Thank you for this wonderful VSTi Jackie. You have opened up a whole new world of music and has truly enabled musicians to try diverse tuning scale to be played with ease.

    I wish to know a few things please.

    1. is it possible to re-tune each channel separately and differently ?
    2. Does the ‘device id’ in the MIDI MTS specs refer to a channel number in Ivor ?
    3. Are the cents values in MTS relative to the standard MIDI note frequencies or absolute ?
    4. Does Ivor service all the MTS sys-ex commands ?

    Again thank you for Ivor

  25. Hi Anonymous,

    Thank you for your generous comments and getting feedback from practicing musicians is among the central motivations for working on these projects.

    1. Ivor – and the other Xen-Arts instruments – are not multi-timbral. In other words a single instance of any of them will only work with a single MIDI channel at once, although, and as we know, it is entirely possible to load as many instances as one desires on different tracks and configure/microtune them all on different channels.

    2. The MIDI Channel assignment in these VSTi is entirely handled by the setting made on the Performance Control MIDI page.

    3. The way MTS works with mapping pitches to MIDI note numbers is relative to the standard MIDI note frequencies:

    4. MTS support for both Single Note and Bulk Dump. Loads MTS microtuning format Files internally and receives MTS externally.

    As mentioned in recent posts, I’ve got an update to this instrument mostly completed, which will offer many new features when finished, but our group has been focused on another development project at the moment, which should become visible in the not too distant future.

  26. Thank you for this wonderful VSTi Jackie. You have opened up a whole new world of music and has truly enabled musicians to try diverse tuning scale to be played with ease.

    Is this the ‘Perfect Chromatic Scale’ ?


    by Khalfan Aziz

    Microtonalists throughout this universe should check out this book
    The Maqam Book – A Doorway to Arab Scales and Modes.

  27. Can I then send an MTS sys-ex message to Ivor where the ‘Device ID tag imply the channel I wish to address ?

  28. Hi Anonymous,

    For what it may be worth, I refrain from the use of the word perfect with regard to particular microtunings, as the true meaning of the word within the framework of alternative intonation systems, is how a given tuning serves the musical context at hand.

    Having said that, I can see that the construction of this tuning which you have listed above in frequencies features two subharmonic series fragments: 20:19:18:17:16.

    Thanks for the book recommendation.

  29. Can someone please show me a sys-ex example message of detuning a single note by, say 20 cents ?

    The message in hex format such as: F0 7F 00 08 07 00 00 45 60 00 00 F7

    Help appreciated.

  30. this is really interesting and i am hopeful about using it, however i find the interface to be well esoteric and will take quite a bit of time in order to understand. this is the case with previous xen-arts synths, they sound great and I would love to use them but i am held back by the learning curve. it could be the gui control/layout, i am not sure. i am an experienced sub/add/fm synthesizer user.

  31. Welcome reklamchef,

    I would suggest giving the newest iteration a try:

    This is a much more refined version. I’ve been planning to make some sound-design videos using IVOR2, which should help to get a good grasp of the potential.

    I’m also happy to help. Write in the comments with questions, or otherwise get in touch through the Contact form to establish behind-the-scenes communications if you prefer.

    Admittedly, designing these instruments specifically for making xenharmonic and microtonal music, adds quite a number of features that one might not typically see in other VSTi, but these are actually the things that make them fun to explore.

  32. cool stuff!!

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