Mutable Instruments modules: design, usability, theory, philosophy, etc


Well played, lines, well played. Polls are now closed.


beer and plaits, seems like an ideal day.


I spent 30 minutes with it in the shop. At one point I fed an LFO to Morph while in speech synthesis. It sounded exactly like a drunk person slurring their words.

:bulb: :bulb: :bulb: :bulb:


My experience with Mutable goes back a long way. I built first run kits of the shruthi and the ambika, both of which I still have. They both strike me more as tools than instruments, if that makes any sense - useful, flexible, but not particularly inspiring. The modules I’ve had (Plaits in particular) gave me a similar impression - great on paper, flexible, innovative even, but… meh. The sounds don’t jump out at me as something I want to have play the starring role, or even the grizzled Walter Brennan character actor role (to continue this silly metaphor). They’re more like backup cast, bit players, chorus members. Why that is so, I couldn’t say, but I trust my ears and instincts.

All that said, I can’t really criticize Mutable at all. They make very well thought out stuff. But if it doesn’t grab you, it doesn’t grab you. For the record, I’m not particularly enamored with the Moog lowpass sound either.


I seem to recall Olivier saying something about Braids frequently being used as a backup voice, so one of the goals for Plaits was to make a better backup voice.

There’s a mindset where people set up the most basic patch and rely just on the VCO’s character and versatility for the voice’s character and versatility. Mutable modules seem particularly good at that, but they can definitely be taken beyond. For instance, Plaits has all kinds of ways to generate noise for other modules to use.

I think my challenge for people bored by the “preset-like” sounds is to treat the modules as if they were basic Doepfer VCOs, patch something cool with them, and then explore variations. But inspiration is personal, I can’t argue with that. :slight_smile:


I can’t speak for everyone, but I do know how to go beyond basic patching, and having done that with Mutable stuff, I didn’t find it inspiring. Please don’t assume that people who are not impressed by things you are impressed by are inexperienced or have a “mindset” that you can overgeneralize about.


It was more the hype way i ignored Mutable stuff for some time. Working with modulars (serge + doepfer) more then 20 years i found it inspiring using modules like Stages, Paits or Marbles. Interesting enough Mutable goes direction serge like “Patch programming” (Stages)


Woooooah there. They were trying to be helpful to you and anyone else who might read this thread with some things you may or may not have considered. They’re not calling you out or insulting your intelligence.


As grey said, I didn’t mean to imply you can’t patch. I probably could have worded my thoughts better but I was rushing to leave work.


Sure. With Elements my hesitation is the broad range of timbres. Obviously that’s it’s USP but I personally prefer a far.more restricted palette.


Sorry, I overreacted.

A pet peeve of mine is the “if you don’t like it, you didn’t understand it” argument. Used to hear this a lot when discussing DSI synths. “Oh, you need to tweak it, you can’t rely on presets”. Somehow, the idea that someone could know what they are doing, make an effort to learn the synth, and still not like the sound, seems impossible for some to understand. Talk about “mindsets” and “the most basic patch” seems in that vein. I accept Starthief’s statement that the intent was not personal. But also, please understand my intent - I was saying for the benefit of anyone else who might read this thread that disliking the sound of something does not necessarily mean that one has a mindset of setting up the most basic patch - i.e. is inexperienced, lazy, or dumb.


20 characters of fair enough :+1:


I think I actually overreacted a bit too. I have this tendency to want to defend Mutable, which is pretty unnecessary (and probably because I like most of their stuff and it feels like I’m defending myself, which is again, unnecessary).

A lot of that tendency probably comes from many months of hearing the complaint that “Rings always sounds the same”, which with any minimal effort, it does not. Rings was one of my first modules and it blew me away and got me far deeper into modular than I ever expected I’d go.


6 posts were merged into an existing topic: Mutable Instruments Stages


mod info: I’ve all the latest posts to the Stages thread, since they were only about that specific module


@Starthief mentioned this in the ‘pictures’ thread, but this is an appealing (to me) variation on the miniaturized Frames called Plancks:

I didn’t dig into whatever Reddit thread discusses this, but I’ll probably build one when the files are available. I really like Frames as a centerpiece “master” patch controller in theory, but I found myself not wanting to devote so much space to it for how I often patched with it and so I swapped mine out for a Maths as my main modulation hub (very happy with the swap, FWIW).

I had considered the prior version of Plancks but it looked too cramped for me with the knobs between patch cables, so I think this one looks much better.


I saw these posted up on some Facebook groups and they made me cringe:


From a purely aesthetic point of view (not considering the more functional aspects) the graphic design of the first one actually really looks nice… but yeah, why anybody would be happy with a module made of only knobless trimmer pots is beyond me. It’s really sacrificing too much of the usability and enjoyment of a module.


The only redeeming quality, for sure. Elements in 18hp seems unnecessary and unusable without a pair of tweezers and a set-and-forget approach to modular, which is beyond boring outside of a self-playing / generative context.


plus one.
Eurorack for me is a performance tool. With tiny elements and low light it is quite impossible. But even for Stages I prefer to have it in wider format but with bigger shape/time controls. Sometimes in playing with Stages I feel myself as a bear who is playing with a mouse.