Mutable Instruments Intros Plaits Macro Oscillator

Mutable Instruments has introduced Plaits – a new ‘macro oscillator’ module that improves on the classic Braids design, offering improved usability and audio quality.

Mutable says that “Plaits is the spiritual successor of Mutable Instruments’ best-selling voltage-controlled sound source, Braids. Not just a mkII version: its hardware and software have been redesigned from scratch.”

Like Braids, Plaits, offers a large palette of synthesis techniques. But Plaits eliminates the screen, menu system, hidden settings, and the long list of somewhat redundant synthesis models.

Plaits is much closer to the ideal of one synthesis technique = one model.

Here are some key differences between Plaits & Braids:

  • Plaits shares no hardware or software with Braids!
  • Floating-point DSP code written from scratch or inherited from Elements, Warps and Rings.
  • Band-limited synthesis used almost everywhere, producing aliasing-free results at the base sample rate of 48kHz (Braids ran at 96kHz and used naive oversampling).
  • High-quality Sigma-Delta ADC for CV acquisition, approaching a resolution of 16-bit (12-bit for Braids).
  • ADC reads are interpolated in software to eliminate zipper noise.
  • DC-coupled audio output, extending the range of the module to very low frequencies (Braids could not reach LFO ranges).
  • Lean hardware design: less HP, mA and €.

Features:

Plaits offers 16 synthesis models:

  • 8 synthesis models for pitched sounds
    • Two detuned virtual analog oscillators with continuously variable waveforms.
    • Variable slope triangle oscillator processed by a waveshaper and wavefolder.
    • 2-operator FM with continuously variable feedback path.
    • Two independently controllable formants modulated by a variable shape window (VOSIM, Pulsar, Grainlet, Casio CZ-style resonant filter…).
    • 24-harmonic additive oscillator.
    • Wavetable oscillator with four banks of 8×8 waves, with or without interpolation.
    • Chord generator, with divide down string/organ emulation or wavetables.
    • A collection of speech synthesis algorithms (formant filter, SAM, LPC), with phoneme control and formant shifting.
    • Several banks of phonemes or segments of words are available.
  • 8 synthesis models for noise and percussion
    • Granular sawtooth or sine oscillator, with variable grain density, duration and frequency randomization.
    • Clocked noise processed by a variable shape resonant filter.
    • 8 layers of dust/particle noise processed by resonators or all-pass filters.
    • Extended Karplus-Strong (aka Rings’ red mode), excited by bursts of white noise or dust noise.
    • Modal resonator (aka Rings’ green mode), excited by a mallet or dust noise.
    • Analog kick drum emulation (two flavors).
    • Analog snare drum emulation (two flavors).
    • Analog high-hat emulation (two flavors).

Other key features:

  • Dual output
    • The AUX output carries a variant, sidekick or by-product of the main signal.
      Patch both OUT and AUX to Warps for weird hybridization experiments!
  • Internal or external modulations
    • Dedicated CV input for synthesis model selection. No need to activate a mysterious META mode!
      An internal decay envelope is normalled to the TIMBRE, FM and MORPH CV inputs: the amount of internal modulation is directly adjusted with the attenuverters.
  • Internal low-pass gate (LPG)
    • Dedicated LEVEL CV input controlling the amplitude and brightness of the output signal.
      The internal LPG can also be directly plucked by the trigger input.
      Two parameters of the LPG can be adjusted: amount of low-pass filtering (VCFA to VCA), and response time of the virtual vactrol.

Here’s a video demo, via David Fyans:

This second video takes a look at the speech synthesis capabilities:

Here’s an additional set of demo videos, via DavidH:

Pricing and Availability

Plaits is expected to be available next week, priced at 229€ / USD 259. For more information, see the MI site.

22 thoughts on “Mutable Instruments Intros Plaits Macro Oscillator

    1. I just bought a Novation Bass Station II from Sweetwater for $350. The idea that a $259 eurorack oscillator module is a bargain is crazy. And, yes, as I write this I am extremely aware that it *is* a good deal for a very nifty module. It’s just that Euro systems are *so* extremely expensive for what we get.

      1. Why would you compare this to a Bass Station?

        The Bass Station is a great piece of gear – but it’s a mass market synth based on ideas and technologies from 50 years ago. When monosynths were actually new and made by small companies, they cost as much as a car.

        Euro modules are esoteric and lower volume, but that doesn’t make them expensive for what you get.

        You could turn the comparison around the other way, too.

        The Plaits runs circles around the Bass Station in terms of synthesis capabilities, offer 16 times as many types of synthesis. But it costs a lot less. Why does the Bass Station cost so much more?

        Comparisons like that don’t make much sense.

        People buy the Bass Station II because they want to wank away on MInimoog bass and leads, but they’re too cheap to save up for the real thing.

        People buy Euro modules because they want actually do creative synthesis (aka, they want to wank away making funny noises.)

        Very different things!

        1. While I disagree with the other posters comparison between Bass Station and an oscillator module, your “reverse comparison” is just as ridiculous. An oscillator, no matter how fully-featured, cannot “run circles” around a synth with multiple oscillators, filter, LFOs, envelopes, sequencer, Keys, etc.

          1. @IHANW: Apparently you are also not fully aware of what the Plait actually offers. It’s not ‘just’ an oscillator. It has two oscillators allowing all types of inter-oscillator modulation. The sounds made by each individual oscillator are not just “look ma, square, pwm, sawtooth”, Their harmonics can be much more complex than that. The module contains various modulation sources, envelopes and VCA’s. It’s a very versatile and complex standalone synth by itself.
            Only thing lacking, as in general on individual modules and modular systems, is programmability.

      2. you are right. expensive like hell. when you compare a full featured synth with a module. but the individual combination of different modules would probably also require a set of synths…

        the good thing nowadays is that you have such a wide range of musicmaking, noiseproducing, melodygenerating, etc. stuff available, either digital or analog for thousands of dollares or for free…so just go wild!

      3. Anything that’s mass produced in China with borderline slave labor is of course going to be cheaper. The only reason you have cheap products at all is because of this. People scoff at botique prices but are perpetuating this dystopia of cheap, disposable and unrepairable products that destroy our environment and hurt the ability for people to make thier own products in their own country. We are paying a much higher price overall for this “affordability” of products made like garbage. Support your local makers! Not corporations!

          1. I mean duh, at a certain point literally everything is, But full product manufacturing is still separate from parts manufacturing and that can still happen on a local level, where there just aren’t plants to make the silicone for parts in the US or Europe. I don’t think you don’t understand global economics, but I do think your are purposely missing the point to perpetuate an online argument. Don’t play dumb.

  1. Awesome! A sound designer’s dream, and all in one module. What about a 8 or 16 voice (Waldorf) quantum with one of these per voice!
    Once programmability comes to modules and patching I might definetly switch to modular.

  2. Impressive piece! Lots of possibilities for a little amount of money. Excellent companion for those new Minibrutes of Arturia!

  3. This would be a great companion to some of the semi-modular monos out there. I’m looking at you, single OSC M-32. If only the cost-of-entry for eurorack didn’t double the price of this OSC.

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