Mutable Instruments – Elements
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Elements is a full-blown synthesis voice based on modal synthesis – an under-appreciated flavour of physical modelling synthesis with a strange and abstract feel.
Elements combines an exciter synthesis section generating raw, noisy sounds characteristic of bowing (filtered friction noise), blowing (pitch-controlled granular noise), or striking (stick, mallet, hammer or brush sample playback… or bursts of synthetic impulsions). These sources, or external audio signals, are processed by a modal filter bank – an ensemble of 64 tuned band-pass filters simulating the response of various resonant structures (plates, strings, tubes…) with adjustable brightness and damping. A stereo ambience reverberator adds depth and presence to the sound.
All parameters have a very meaningful and well-delimited impact on the sound. When designing Elements, great care has been taken in selecting parameter ranges and control curves, producing a large palette of sounds – often beyond physical realism – but always well controlled and stable. The “dark spots” of noise and feedback are reached gradually, and they do still react to controls. The module is deliberately menu- and switch-free – what you dial/patch is what you hear!
Excitation signal generator
- Three generators with mixer: bowing noise, blowing noise, percussive impulses.
- Envelope contour for bowing and blowing.
- Bowing noise generator: particle-like scratching noise with 2-pole low-pass filter.
- Blowing noise generator: granular pitched noise with wavetable-like scanning between various tone colors.
- Percussive impulse generator: interpolates through a collection of impulsive excitations – including sampled sticks, brushes and hammers, and models of damped mallets, plectrums, or bouncy particles. 2-pole low-pass filter and pitch control.
- Internally uses 64 zero-delay feedback state variable filters.
- Coarse, fine and FM frequency controls.
- Geometry: Interpolates through a collection of structures, including plates, strings, tubes, bowls.
- Brightness. Specifies the character of the material the resonating structure is made of – from wood to glass, from nylon to steel.
- Damping. Adds damping to the sound – simulates a “wet” material or the muting of the vibrations.
- Position. Specifies at which point the structure is excited.
- Space. Creates an increasingly rich stereo output by capturing the sound at two different points of the structure, and then adds more space through algorithmic reverberation.
Inputs & Outputs
- All exciter and resonator parameters have a dedicated CV input with attenuverter.
- 1V/Oct input for controlling main resonator frequency.
- FM input.
- Gate input.
- Strength input, for amplitude control of the exciter section.
- Pre- and post- exciter envelope external audio inputs.
- Stereo audio output, with adjustable width/reverberation. It is also possible to output the raw exciter signal on one channel, and the raw resonator signal on the other.
- Input impedances: 100k.
- CV range: +/- 8V. CVs outside of this range are simply clipped.
- Audio acquisition and restitution: 16-bit, 32kHz (Kindly note that Elements’ synthesis method is inherently band-limited; and that the module synthesizes “full-bodied” sounds – the choice of 32kHz is deliberate and should not be seen as a limitation).
- Internal computations on 32-bit floating point numbers.
- Open-source hardware and firmware.
- Easy firmware updates through an audio interface.
- Cortex-M4 ARM processor.
- Current consumption: +12V: 130mA ; -12V: 10mA