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


Was a big fan of the original Tides, and the new design seems perfect on the face of it. Very consistent with Marbles/Plaits/Stages in terms of design, impeccable work there. Can’t wait to try it.

I’ll definitely keep my original Tides though!

Do we have a sense of what to expect next from MI, besides the hyped Clouds successor?


Just pre-ordered the new Tides at Cymru Beats. I promised myslef no more modules this year, but this looks like another MI home run!

The Just Friends method of related envelopes/oscillators from a shared set of controls is ingenious, so I’m so glad to see this has worked it’s way into the new tides :+1:


I’ve had a similar experience, trying to gel with Tides v1 forever and just not loving it.

FYI there’s an 8hp off-brand version of Frames called Plancks!


Planks is tempting. I’m building a Yaksha’s Fate (ST Modular’s 8hp Rings) soon.
Just got my PCB’s for it today. :sparkles:

If you end up with a Tides v2, I’d be curious to get your take. :raised_hand:


I thoroughly clicked with Tides (custom knobs helps) and use it exclusively as an envelope/LFO.
The only challenge I’ve experienced was making use of the the high and low outputs. Perhaps it’s a calibration issue, but on my unit, high tides is always high.

Although I’ve been underwhelmed by other 2018 MI releases, I am excited for this one (pre-ordered).


Are there any examples you would recommend that show deeper explorations of Rings?


Sure! Many of them are also users here on the forums.
I think Billy Gomberg (@baleen) is a great example:
Then of course R Beny:
I think @jlmitch5 also does an excellent job with Elements
These are just the two names I can think of from the top of my head, because I have interviewed them for Horizontalpitch, but there’s of course more.


Thanks! I’m a big fan of @baleen’s work. Didn’t realise he used Rings.


I used Wogglebug’s audio outputs as an exciter into Rings on this track (I did this a while ago but hadn’t posted it before as there is a little bit clipping towards the end).

Rings is the ‘flute’ type sound that comes in at around 1:05:

Rings when excited by audio signals sounds really cool and can make some really organic sounding tones/textures. Hours of fun!


Some time time ago, I made a series of somehow focused experiments on how to use Rings in various configurations. I’m leaving some links below. Not sure they are musically very relevant, since they are mostly intended to be just experiments, but maybe they can be interesting in the context of this discussion.



The way I use Rings, it’s often difficult to point out a sound and say “there it is” – it’s often in a feedback loop with a bunch of other stuff, or is providing some background to another voice, or Plaits and Rings are working side by side. But here are a couple of examples.

Plaits into Rings, through Red Panda Tensor and Tyme Sefari and fed back into Rings. (Other voices are Double Helix and Microbrute)

I have very incomplete patch notes about this one, but the core of it is Rings, Warps and a PT2399 delay in a tangled feedback loop; it was recorded mid/side with Warps’ main output vs. Rings odd out through Red Panda Tensor

The drone that opens this one is Plaits/Rings mixed (Plaits is in modal resonator mode and the aux output feeds Rings). (Rhythmic part is Double Helix, melody is Hertz Donut.)

I’m tempted now to make my next album a Rings study. I had been planning to experiment a bit with more electroacoustic bits and field recordings, and that fits really well into that concept :thinking:


That’s how I’m planning on using it. thanks for the links, sounds ace :slight_smile:
Cheers @papernoise too.


how can I best provide some light on this for you? almost all of my work post-Slight At That Contact has a significant contribution from Rings & Elements (deep combination that seems like overkill when paired with 2 oscillators as exciters, but it’s what I got).

I think understanding Rings maybe too basically as a pingable filter (just a really really complex and sensitive filter) instead of infinite source of gentle plucks and chimes is a good way to see how it might fit into a workflow or be better articulated in your understanding of how you like your instruments to come together.

right now I’m really into source(s)->LxD->Rings and/or Elements as a way to shape and play these modules.


my DSP “light reading” last weekend contained the phrase, “when you think about it, everything is a filter”, which seems like a fun perspective to take with respect to modules and audio-rate modulation.


exactly. i built the shruti bc it was a pretty trad synth in some ways but had an input, same reason i got an mfb microzwerg, same thing that popped into my head when Elements showed up, and the first thing i explored with Rings. i love modules and other electronic instruments with that kind of responsiveness (as opposed to a kind of stasis i guess?). i think Marbles and Stages do well at exploring this in generating control signals as well.


Building off of that…

  1. Everything physical is a “filter” in the sense that it will affect a wave in some way or another. Air is a filter, your ears are filters, etc. Our company’s name (“Unfiltered Audio”) is kind of a pun on that.

  2. In DSP, nearly every effect is a delay, even filters. Almost every type of DSP effect algorithm is based on delaying a signal in some way. Major exceptions are most waveshaping algorithms (except for something like Logic’s Phase Distortion, which is–you guessed it–a modulated delay) and spectral effects, although spectral effects are borderline since you have to create a history buffer anyway…


That’s how I think of it too, as a specific kind of bandpass filter. Except I like it more than I usually like filters :grin:


Someone has already shrunk Plaits into an unplayable 6hp mess.


that’s more or less what I’ve been thinking. I’ve been playing around with the VCVRack version of it and liking it so far. Not 100% if it fits into what I want for now, but having the free software version is great for testing :slight_smile:


Can we unpack this hatred a bit? Antumbra’s redesigns are gorgeous but obviously not made for playability. So what has you judging his designs to the same standards as the originals?