This week's post is a little different: we're taking a deep dive into Manis Iteritas, our upcoming oscillator.
For a chance for a hands-on demo, stop in to the RobotSpeak Synth Meet this Saturday, October 28, from 2-6 PM!
Manis is a dark, gritty, industrial oscillator that is about as gnarly as it can get. Manis was born when NE friends Anthony Baldino and Matt Lange came to us and said that they wanted an “unapologetically aggressive” version of the BIA. Challenge accepted.
We started by rethinking the functions and controls on BIA. The first step was the waveform: on BIA, the morph knob allows the user to seamlessly blend between sine, triangle, saw, and square waves. For the Manis, we decided to only keep the most harmonically rich waveform (sawtooth) and replace the morph control with a different waveform modification (Saw Mod). SawMod is a simple modulation of a sawtooth that is similar in sound to PWM and sync modulation.
Because MI is based on the same basic architecture as BIA, there would still be six oscillators, but we took this opportunity to rethink how they worked and interacted. In a nutshell, BIA uses six tonal and one noise oscillator to generate sound. There are three mode settings: skin, liquid, and metal, that change how the oscillators interact, which is how we get such cool and different sounds out of the module (for more detailed discussion, see the BIA manual).
In MI, we kept the same three modes. In Skin and Liquid modes, as in the BIA, there are six additive oscillator/envelope pairs. Metal mode differs in Manis Iteritas by having two sets of three sequentially modulated oscillators rather that one set of six. The post-oscillator processing for all three modes differs from BIA by adding low-pass filters both before and after folding.
In addition to standard NE oscillator features (everything fully CV-able, range switch, wave folder), MI also has some other new features.
MI adds a low-pass filter and an AD envelope that is routable to various controls. When turned fully CW, the decay becomes infinite and the envelope no longer affects amplitude. In other words, the note will continue indefinitely, or until the module is again triggered (huge thanks to user Patrik Andersson for the suggestion!).
We also made the pitch knob an encoder: MI defaults to fine tune and each step is sub-perceptible, making it hard to knock out of tune. For coarse tuning, depress and turn the encoder.
Finally, as Profundity knob is turned CW, MI does two things. First, it adds additional, out-of-phase oscillators, giving the sound a chorus effect. It also detunes the voice by randomly modulating the sample rate, which results in the perceived pitch becoming blurry.
The result of all of these tweaks is a crazy, detuned sound that is hard to achieve elsewhere. Of course, MI is 1v/8va tunable, so you can sequence it too.
Modules for Conservation
Stephen is in charge of naming modules, but Kris’ background in conservation biology meant she recognized pretty quickly that Manis is also part of the scientific name for a critically endangered mammal from Asia called the pangolin.
The main threat to pangolins is illegal trafficking and poaching, and a big part of the problem is that so few people have ever heard of them. Noise Engineering is proud to be a founding business partner with the conservation organization Save Pangolins. We've committed to donate a portion of the proceeds from every MI sold to pangolin conservation. That means when you buy a Manis Iteritas, you can help pangolins too.
MSRP US $365