Mutable Instruments Beads

https://mutable-instruments.net/modules/beads/

I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on one and would like to discuss with other Lines members their findings (without clogging up the Pre-Release thread).

Ive never used a Clouds so coming in fresh. I’m still coming to grips with the controls and behavior between them but I’m finding it to be an absolute joy to work with: sounds great, playable and versatile to the point of inspirational and all in 14HP (I have and want to keep my rack small).

I am stuck in in the “if Xenakis did chamber concerts” place (did he do chamber pieces?)

The auto-level feature is very handy for bringing in files on my phone.

14 Likes

A few first thoughts:

-The automatic after 10-second mode (wavetable) gave me some sudden unpleasant loud sounds on my headphones. Could be a disaster in a live situation / big PA)

-Delay mode: I am always concerned when turning the grain size to max size to not enter delay mode accidentally. It would be nice to have an option to turn this off.

-Save buffer: At that time of saving the buffer, which is quite often and takes a few seconds, I don’t see if I am in freeze mode or not. Enter/exit freeze mode is definitely for me a performance parameter. For me this should run in the background without visual feedback.

-Pressing Freeze mode produces clicks. I hope this bug gets sorted out.

-I wish there were no mini pots. I use them the same amount than the “main” pots.

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I agree on the first point. I’ve had to reach quickly for the mixer volume a couple of times.

Yeah I also agree on the auto wavetable. I think something like 30 seconds would be better / button combo to activate. Scared the living daylights out of me the first time it happend and I thought I’d broken something!

Apart from that and some clicks i’m really really enjoying the module, especially the sunny cassette and scorched tape modes, they have an amazing warmth to them and don’t feel to much like digital emulations. Really beautiful warmth and warbling/lo-fi-ness to them. Reversed grains are also amazing, everything sounds better in reverse :wink:

Beautiful module, can’t wait to continue to explore it further and further

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definitely enjoy the module. Having Supercell (which still sounds gorgeous) and Arbhar, Breads needs to find its strengths and place. I would love to have even longer grains in Beads
It may sound silly, but the pushbuttons on the MI modules are awesome as they are dead silent. That’s one of the main issues i have with Arbhar and the looper as Instruo uses those loud click buttons. (I work mostly with microphones and acoustic sound sources)
I guess I will use Beads as it is intended to : ) Realtime granularization.

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I think it would be interesting if as opposed to only random (which is amazing, let’s be clear) there was an option to make one side of the attenuaters produce a regular waveform, maybe even synced to clock.

Breads are pretty versatile in my experience. If you haven’t had a sandwich before, I recommend giving it a try.

As far as longer grains, maybe try a nice rye?

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Well there is, an LFO :slight_smile:
I guess a year from now Emilie might dislike attenurandomizers as everyone might use Beads with just internal modulation. Same as built in trigger of Rings.

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Yeah, I meant built in.

The internally generated signals of Plaits, Rings and Beads have been carefully chosen. They are there, they are meant to be used!

The extra button combos to select frequency and waveform for each attenurandomizer would make it complicated. Clock sync would do nothing: the modulation is sampled only at the beginning of the grain, so you would effectively always sample at the reset point of the waveform. Stick a Batumi or Stages next to that thing :smiley:

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How does Beads compare to the expanded Clouds like Monsoon?

I haven’t had the opportunity to use Beads yet, but as someone who got into modular specifically so I could use Monsoon, I’d say that the two are very different. First of all, Emilie’s work on improving audio quality was apparently quite successful, and this is not something that any Clouds clone I know of even attempted to do. Longer grains, automatic gain control, etc are all impossible on those designs.

I expect to see some tiny clones of Beads, if/when possible; while I aesthetically dislike them, I understand their popularity and utility. Because of the assignable CV input, I do also expect to see some larger clones with per-parameter inputs, and perhaps per-parameter controls.

One of the few positive differences between, say, the Warped Circuits clones of Mutable modules and the originals is the use of half-minipots - metal-shaft potentiometers with metal caps for trimming, but smaller than a full-sized PT-PS Rogan knob and thus without a huge increase in HP cost. I expect to see clones which swap the trimmer attenurandomizers for these more durable pots.

Emilie mentioned on her forum that she considered a fader-based interface, but rejected it. I agree with that decision, but I still expect to see Monsoon or Typhoon-like clones which make the 5 main parameters available on faders.

So, in other words: they’re not really comparable, and if there’s the opportunity, I’m sure someone will come up with a module that is to Beads what Monsoon is to Clouds.

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I have enjoyed Beads in my first 30 minutes with it more than I did with my microburst clouds I had for months. The main reason being the audio quality coming out of Beads. I love the attenurandomizers and more.

I do seem to have quite a bit of noise coming from my module if the the audio jacks have patch cords but there is no audio. I also get scratchy sound on top of my processed audio from time to time

Other odd issues I have found that might be part of the design and not a fault of the module; I sometimes just fall out of seed mode for seemingly no reason. Becomes hard to re-engage. And last, I occasionally some beads come through HOTTER than others. Might just be the audio source I’m generating have a lot of dynamics (Lekko by Felt Instruments), so maybe one or two beads are audio leveling to the low level tail of a piano sound right when a new attack phase happens.

Either way, these are to be potentially expected faults of a new module like this that I’m sure will get ironed out. Otherwise, this is what I wanted clouds to actually be in terms usability and sound quality!

I’ll have to think of a relevant button combo for that, since most of them are now used.

To me, it’s no different than a resonance knob that causes something interesting but dramatic past a certain threshold.

Note that the transition is not instantaneous: the knob needs to stay at this stable position for 1.5s before activating the delay. Maybe I can increase that time.

If the module is powered off during saving, you’ll end up with a half-saved buffer, so I think this visual feedback is important. What I have done, however, is adding a button combo to disable auto save.

Yes, fixed. Clouds used a 10ms xfade, I found that number surprisingly high when I read the code and settled for something shorter (1ms) – which was a bad choice in hindsight. I’m back to something longer (5ms), with code that handles the case when FREEZE is modulated faster than 200 Hz.

Auto-gain trying to apply a very high gain to the faint noise this generates.

This is the CPU overrun bug mentioned above (in stereo, high-quality mode).

Not sure I understand that issue.

Grain amplitude is a function of the number of active grains.

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Ah, so! Lowering the grains on certain sounds will limit that fluctuating audio issue! Good to know! I also go in to a DAW, so a limiter could/would be a good call as well. I don’t mind heat, just was wondering what was going off kilter there. Often (literally almost always) these kinds of things are user error on my part. Hah!

The CPU overload makes sense. I’ll play with the other modes and see if I can find a good middle ground. Truth is, once I get confident with a module like this and what it does, I begin to strip away how much I use and tax it, eventually finding a way to make it play well with its friends. So, again, not a bad deal.

As for falling out of seed mode, can’t say I know why or when this happens. But I see in the instructions that holding it for 4 seconds re-engages it. My lack of understanding there is why it seemed hard to do so.

I’ll see what I can do today to create some generative patterns to run through it while I work and kinda just tweak as the day goes on. Hopefully I’ll not encounter any oddities. If I do, I should be able to pinpoint if any of it is my fault.

On a side note; this is my first MI module and it’s so well made. My goodness, even the soldering on the pot anchors is like 🤌

Now I’m mad at myself for missing them blades few weeks back!!

Excellent news regarding the freeze clicks! :heart:
About entering the delay mode: I like the basic idea a lot of entering another mode. My issue is the transition. I am wondering if it could be done with a crossfade to maintain a musical flow ? (not sure if this makes sense yet.)

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The code looks like this:

  • Schedule grains
  • Schedule delay taps/loops
  • For each grain, buffer += grain.Render()
  • For each delay tap, buffer += tap.Render()

I haven’t looked at it closely, but it should be possible, at the very least, to get the tail of the grains to continue playing and finish naturally before the delay taps are faded in. Currently I clear the grain list immediately when we get in the delay zone, but it can clear itself naturally.

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I like this idea. Kind of reminds me of how Arbhar lets the grains from one buffer fade out when switching to a new buffer.

Liked for a bakers dozen

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Since the feedback control selects the wavetables, why not have wiggling the knob as a prerequisite to engaging the wavetable “mode” on top of the 10 sec of no-input connectivity? At least that way it’s actionable from the side of the user.

You could also have the wavetables fade in to action.

The downside is that this opens up the scenario of users questioning why the module makes no sound when there should be wavetables, but that is also true if the wavetables are disengaged via a button combo and that setting is retained after power down.

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