hardware and software for electronic music 


Try Aalto

Aalto is a semi-modular software synthesizer with an innovative, patchable UI, distinctive sounds, and a charming personality. Click to download the demo:

Mac OS

Aalto Demo 1.7 [VST/AU for OS X]

Aalto Patches Installer for OS X


Aalto Demo 1.7 [VST for Win 7/8] with patches

All platforms

Read Me First!

Manual PDF

Both Mac and Windows versions are fully 32- and 64-bit compatible. The demo version is identical to the full version, except that a gentle reminder sound plays every 60 seconds or so, and saving of patches is disabled.

Aalto's manual has over 50 pages full of Aalto lore, tips and tricks, and a complete introduction to patching synthesis! Click the cover to download.

Buy Aalto

US $99.00

Your download will be available immediately and include:

  • 32 and 64-bit AU and VST plugins for OSX
  • 32 and 64-bit VST plugins for Windows

The purchase price includes a license for Aalto on both Mac and Windows, and all future formats and platforms as they are released. The full version removes the demo reminder sound and allows you to save your patches.

Please Note:

To download your software, you will need to make an account on our website. If the email you use for your account is the same one you use with Paypal, the licensing and download should proceed automatically. If the emails are different, we humans will step in to complete the process. Your account lets you download your software any time you like, and post to the Madrona Labs forums.

System requirements

Mac versions requires OS 10.7 or higher. Windows versions require Windows 7 or higher. Windows XP and Vista may work but are not officially supported. All versions require a 1.6GHz Intel Core Duo processor or better.

Aalto is fairly heavy on the CPU. On a mid-range notebook from 2010, a dual core 2.4 GHz Core i5, four voices of a complex patch use around 30 percent of the CPU time. Results vary between hosts and operating systems—the best thing to do is try the demo before purchase.


Aalto's sound engine lets you create sounds that have been difficult or impossible to make with softsynths before now. The heart of Aalto is a Buchla-inspired complex oscillator, with FM, timbre and waveshape controls that enable a wide range of expressive sounds. These sounds are uniquely malleable and alive, in part because they are made with dynamic calculation, not static wavetables.

Aalto is designed as much for sequencing patterns as for playing individual notes. Each voice has a separate, built-in sequencer with a patchable, independently controllable rate and offset that make it easy to achieve evolving, chaotic textures.

Each voice also includes a lowpass gate module with a vactrol emulation in the control path. The vactrol equation slows down the response to incoming control signals through a complex nonlinear filter. You can turn the vactrol response down to instantaneous, or up to a pronounced ring.

Following the lowpass gate is a patchable waveguide / delay module with a waveshaper and a peaking EQ built into the feedback loop. Because it has such short and controllable delay times, unlike a typical analog delay, it can be used as an additional oscillator or waveguide.

Aalto's filter is a state-variable topology with mixable simultaneous outputs, tuned to have a similar range to an Oberheim SEM filter. (Though I couldn't resist turning up the resonance just a little more.)

Subjectively speaking, Aalto can make a wide range of sounds, from lush to edgy, including some very complicated ones, without sounding too thick in a mix. Aalto's sounds are not hyped or confined, they are wide-range, open and natural. We hope our approach will appeal to experienced sound designers who have their own favorite EQs and limiters. And for those just getting into synthesis, Aalto is an accurate and honest tool for learning. We have tried to make Aalto a deep instrument that will reward lasting engagement.

License terms

By purchasing Aalto you agree to run your personalized copy of the software on only one computer at a time. You can make any number of copies of the software for your own backup, and install the copies on as many computers as you like. If you want to run the software on more than one computer at a time, we ask that you buy a licensed copy for each computer.

This license approach is designed to let legitimate owners get work done, whenever and wherever they need to, without worrying that a license file, a challenge and response, or worse yet, a hardware dongle will stop the music.

After you purchase a license, you cannot transfer it to someone else.

We have no fixed return policy. We encourage you to try before you buy, so that you won't want to return the full version. But if you find unexpected problems within a reasonable amount of time, talk to us---we want you to be happy with your purchase.

Aalto full version license.

Aalto demo version license.

Copy Protection

Aalto doesn't have it. Copy protection always creates hassles for legitimate users, and is by definition a hassle. Our approach is different.

What we do is watermark each copy of Aalto securely with your name and a unique ID. While it is running, Aalto may unobtrusively check to ensure that the terms of the license are being respected. Since you are only licensed to run Aalto on one computer at a time, and we're all so connected these days, we assume you will be careful about where your watermarked copies go.




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