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The successor of the infamous digital oscillator Braids is finally available! – Plaits comes equipped with 16 synthesis algorithms, each of which can be edited in three parameters. CV inputs allow for a wide range of modulations. True to the Braids module, It is even possible to jump back and forth between synthesis algorithms. On top, a low-pass gate and a mod envelope are available. Therefore, wildly banging “Richard Devine drums” can be generated using this module only. Compared to the Braids, the sound of Plaits is much more crisp and detailed.
The synthesis algorithms of the Plaits module, so-called models, are divided into two banks with eight algorithms each:
- Bank 1: Models meant for tonally playable sounds.
- Bank 2: Models meant for noisy sounds and drums.
(A list of all synthesis algorithms can be found below.)
Tuning the Plaits is done via a coarse potentiometer. Its control range can be varied. Spans of 14 semitones to eight octaves are possible.
Each synthesis algorithm can be edited using the Timbre, Morph and Harmonics knobs. The functions of the parameters depend on the selected program. In simple terms, the functionalily can be described as follows:
- Timbre: Influences the spectral content of sounds. Should a sound be rather dark and thin or bright and dense?
- Morph: Varies the timbre of sounds.
- Harmonics: Controls frequency spreads or the balance of sound components.
In addition to the 1v / octave input, which can be used to play Plaits over a range of eight octaves, there is a trigger jack. Incoming signals trigger the integrated decay envelope, excite physical / percussive synthesis algorithms and activate the low-pass gate. Alternatively, the LPG can be controlled via a level CV input. Response and decay of the low-pass gate are editable.
Frequency, Timbre and Morph can be influenced via CV inputs with bipolar attenuators. As long as there’s no modulator connected, the internal decay envelope is used. Harmonics parameter and synthesis algorithm selection are voltage controllable as well, but don’t feature attenuators and normalizations to the envelope. If the trigger input is patched, Plaits switches between sound models only once per keystroke. – A very cool character trait for creating IDM drums.
In addition to a main output, there is also an auxiliary out. It emits, depending on the model selected, either a byproduct, a sidekick signal such as a sub-oscillator wave or a variation of the sound dialed in.
The synthesis algorithms at a glance:
- Pair of classic waveforms: Two classic VA waveforms with detuning options.
- Wave shaping oscillator: An asymmetric triangle is processed by a wave shaper and a wave folder.
- Two Operator FM: A pair of sine wave oscillators, wired as modulator and carrier plus feedback.
- Granular formant oscillator: Simulation of formants and filtered waveforms trough the multiplication, addition and synchronization of sine wave segments.
- Harmonic oscillator: An additive synthesis algorithm, based on harmonically related sine waves.
- Wavetable oscillator: Four banks of eight times eight waveforms, accessed by row and column, with or without interpolation.
- Chords: Generates four-note chords, played by VA or wavetable oscillators.
- Vowel and speech synthesis: A collection of speech synthesis algorithms.
- Granular cloud: A swarm of eight enveloped saw-tooth waves.
- Filtered noise: White noise with variable clock is processed by a resonant multimode filter.
- Particle noise: Digital noise is processed by networks consisting of all-pass or band-pass filters.
- Inharmonic string modeling
- Modal resonator bank: A resonator, excited by trigger input or particle noise. – It’s like a mini Rings.
- Analog bass drum model
- Analog snare drum model
- Analog hi-hat model
Due to Covid-19-related restrictions in production and international shipping processes, this article is currently experiencing supply bottlenecks.
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With a background as a software engineer at Google, Émilie Gillet began her journey on synthesizer design on 2010 offering DIY kits for the (now discontinued) Shruti, Ambika and Anushri hybrid digital-analog synths. Quite rapidly an enthusiastic community was formed via a very vibrant forum. By 2013, seeing the potential of the format, she moved completely to eurorack releasing the much acclaimed Braids macrooscillator and Clouds texture (granular) synthesizer, one of the most cloned modules so far. As with the previous desktop synths, all firmware and schematics are avaialble online under open-source license. Émilie continues to run Mutable Instruments single-handedly from a small apartment in Paris.