Which module do I want: BIA vs Manis
Basimilus and Manis have some similarities in features, size, and price, which leads many people ask which one is best for me? Obviously, we love all our children equally so we think the answer is both, but let’s compare!
The similarities between BIA and Manis
There are quite a few things that are the same between the BIA and the Manis. They both have 9 CV-controlled parameters, they’re both 10 HP, they’re both US $360, and they’re both a lot of fun! They hey both use additive and FM synthesis to create their sounds. Both can be percussive, and both can take on duties as basslines or leads too. They are also both complete voices, meaning that they have an envelope and VCA built-in. All you need is a sequencer (or some other type of controller) and you’re off!
Key DIFFERENCES between BIA and Manis
BIA was initially designed with percussion in mind. It has features that make it great for classic electronic percussion like kicks, snares, toms, hats, and more, but we wanted it to be able to do a lot of things so we gave it a lot of controls. The Morph knob shifts the waveforms continuously through sine, triangle, saw and square, and there is also a pretty gnarly wavefolder so it’s easy to create some distorted tones at the twist of a knob. The Harm and Spread parameters give you control over the spacing of the additive or FM operators, and finally, the Attack and Decay parameters give you control over noise as well as harmonic attack and decay times.
Manis, on the other hand, was designed to be more industrial. It makes saw waves that can be mangled, pummeled and bashed into submission. Since we’re working only with saw waves, we replaced the Morph parameter with a lowpass filter. We combined attack and decay to a single knob, and if you turn the knob fully Clockwise, you can bypass the VCA entirely. This is useful if you want to make, for instance, drones, or use it as a more traditional VCO. Both modules will respond to audio-rate triggers so you can use them as funky hard-synced oscillators, but the BIA doesn’t have the drone feature built in. Important? Maybe! Maybe not.
The Saw Mod parameter adds PWM-style effects, and Profundity creates some detuned chorusing. Smash adds some crazy, foldy distortion, and Bash routes the envelope to Saw Mod, Profundity AND Smash for some modulated distorty-ness. Manis is based on similar additive and FM modes as the BIA, but they sound very, very different, because saws.
The other functional difference is that the Manis uses an encoder for tuning and the BIA uses a normal potentiometer. Some people prefer one or the other, so if that makes a difference to you, now you know!
What do they sound like?
Good question! We’ve already listened to a few different clips of the Manis and the BIA doing their thing, but we thought it would be fun to compare them by playing the same sequence through each voice. This is a fun IDM/glitch style pattern with lots of ratchets and CV, so you can really hear how they each respond to complex signals. First, let’s start with the BIA:
Now, let’s hear how the Manis sounds playing that exact same sequence:
Which one should I get?
As you can see, it mostly comes down to personal preference. They also complement each other very nicely, since they’re both at home in a wide range of uses and sounds, so if you have the space, both is a great solution to indecision!