Mutable Instruments, R.I.P.

Mutable Instruments has updated their site with an announcement that “The production of all modules has halted and Mutable Instruments will permanently shut down in December 2022.”

The announcement marks the end of one of the most influential electronic music technology companies of the last decade, not just in Eurorack, but in synthesis in general. Founder Émilie Gillet announced plans earlier in the year to shut down the company and retire from the area of music technology.

The Mutable Instruments site has been updated so that information on their designs is now in a Module Archive. Support for modules will be available through the site until June 2023.

Mutable Instruments created several standalone synths and DIY projects before moving into Eurorack, including the Shruti-1, aka ‘The Simplest Synth That Could Possibly Rock’, Anushri, Ambika & MIDIpal. Gillet phased these out in 2014 to focus on the company’s Eurorack designs.

With good reason.

In the last 10 years, Mutable released a steady string of successful Eurorack designs, including the Braids macro oscillator, Clouds texture synthesizer, Grids topographic drum sequencer, Marbles random sampler, Rings resonator, Tides ‘tidal modulator’ and more.

These designs brought new options and new ideas to modular synthesizer, ranging from the polymorphic possibilities of Braids, the granular washes of Clouds and the AI-driven generative drum sequencing of Grids. As a result, it’s now rare to find a modular that doesn’t include some Mutable Instrument modules, and some combinations (ie, Rings into Clouds) have helped define modern styles of modular synthesis.

Mutable’s designs are so well-loved, in fact, that they’ve made the jump from Eurorack to other formats. Gillet used open soure licensing for Mutable’s designs, and they’ve been cloned in Eurorack, translated to software like VCV Rack, and incorporated into hardware synths, like Arturia’s MicroFreak and MiniFreak.

As a result, Mutable Instruments’ designs will be influencing hardware and software synthesis for decades to come.

31 thoughts on “Mutable Instruments, R.I.P.

  1. I’m sad to see the shutdown but grateful for all the fantastic designs we’ve received from Mutable! In my humble opinion the quality of the designs and hardware are in the top tier of the best of the best and I know I will enjoy them the rest of my life, as will generations to come! I have several original eurorack modules (Rings, Clouds, Yarns, Ears, PLaits), a couple eurorack clones (two Tall Dog uBraids), and several 5U clones (a Chrutil Plaits, a Martin Jan Koehler Plaits and Tides, and a FreeState FX Rings and Peaks) and all are fantastic! (also Synthetic Sound Labs makes a beautiful Plaits clone but I haven’t tried that one).

    Thank you Émilie for everything and I wish you the best in all you do in life!

  2. I always wondered, if the designs weren’t open sourced, would Mutable be as popular and well-known as they currently are? Don’t get me wrong, the eurorack modules are all great (except for grids, never liked that one) but Beads, Plaits, Stages, Marbles, Warps and Tides were all in my case at one point aaaaan Shelves for a very short stint. I’ve had the Poly Beebo, Microfreak and Minifreak as well as the modules in VCV rack but I wonder….. if make noise or instruo were open sourced, would they be even more popular than they are? Instruo and Befaco is in VCV now so…. its happening in smaller instances and this isnt to take anything away from Mutable, but that level of generosity isnt that widespread and maybe we all love the designs as well as the contribution to the world of synthesis beyond a single developer.

    1. it’s a good question: does open source drive market acceptance or is it just a noisy subject folks are interested in. I came to Mutable because it was open sourced, and ported to Prologue. I don’t care for the alternative firmwares. Mutable is just good kit that works well together, and provides a consistent control paradigm and look and feel across their products. and it looks good too! my only single gripe is the tri-color LED’s against a silver panel. they’re unreadable for color blind folks. I have to count button pushes to know where I am. the black magpie panels assist by providing some background contrast.

      I have three Rings, Tides, and Marbles, plus two Elements; most awesome modules!

    2. Mutable was popular when a lot of the big names now were starting off.

      On the other hand, if Mutable’s designs weren’t open sourced I’ll bet several of the companies out there now wouldn’t even exist. Even if it’s not as blatant as copy/pasting the Plaits code like Behringer and Arturia did, a lot of code running in digital modules in your rack now is inspired/influenced by Mutable’s open source code.

      I think Mutable provided a lot of people with an approachable first foray into DIY electronics, and even more so provided quite a few people who already had some electronics knowledge with great examples and starting points in audio circuits, interfacing with microprocessors, and audio software.

  3. Émilie has left a legacy for folks that appreciate her talent and generosity for as long as software lasts. I love the sounds of Plaits on my Prologue, and will spend time porting more of her work to it. love her work in my modulars too. one of only two brands I built the majority of my racks from. (also AMsynths, doepfer, and AION).

    my all time favorites have been: Plaits, Tides 2, Marbles, Elements, and Rings. I have 2-3 or all of these. honorable mentions to Shelves!

    Waveterraine port here I come! what an innovative synthesis idea – she had an eye for original ideas. will be sadly missed.

  4. I love my Ambika. It still compares favourably with the poly hybrid synths on the market today. I wish that sometime someone comes along, who designs a successor with updated technology (e.g. Cortex-M microprocessors for the voice/filter cards).

    1. don’t think they went bust. check the original article on ModWiggler from months ago. Also there was some early hints on the MI forum.

    2. Addendum after the comments below: If you run a good buisness and want to quit, wouldn’t it be normal to find a buyer? (oh and thanks for clearing up)

  5. Very sad news; but we know it’s been coming for months.

    happy to have Elements & Beads in my system. Hoping to pick up a Ripples soon.

    Well done Émilie; thanks for the massive input to the synth world.

  6. Don’t own any Mutable stuff. I have very specific goals in modular and the Mutable stuff is so much it’s own thing, that I never found a module that fit for what I am doing.
    But I always wish that I could. They are lovely designs, and I have heard excellent results from other artists.
    Perhaps a DIY Braids or Clouds will wind up in my rack someday.
    At least they didnt get bought by Gibson or Behringer.

  7. apparently the legacy of mutable is extensive

    i had an ambika, it was awesome

    now i have a dirtywave M8, its also awesome

    RIP mutable

  8. I was never a big fan of their modules, which mostly sounded alike and had the same digital sheen, but the company certainly made waves with their opensource business model.

    This biz model is probably what killed the brand and ironically this is the thing most people loved the most, since it led to low-cost clones that could fill Euroracks on the cheap.

    1. “This biz model is probably what killed the brand”

      I think Mutable is closing because they made an assload of money and Emilie can retire in style. Her management approach was as brilliant as her designs.

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