Concept: Drum synth based on porting Mutable Instruments' Plaits

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fieldframe
Posts: 870
Joined: 19 Apr 2016

Post 02 Dec 2020

A few months back, I was somewhat obsessed with Mutable Instruments' excellent Eurorack oscillator Plaits, and designed a concept for how it could be ported into a standalone synthesizer. Plaits, like other Mutable products, is DSP-based, and that DSP code is open-source. The most popular implementation of Plaits' source code is probably the Macro Oscillator 2 in VCV Rack, which also has a UI based on Plaits, but that code has a lot of potential for use in other projects that don't necessarily replicate exactly what Plaits does.

Plaits has two categories of oscillator model, one that is more intended for melodic content, and one for percussive. I thought the latter of these two would be a fantastic starting point for a standalone drum synth, something the Reason rack could really use more of!

I originally considered an eight-channel or six-channel version, but decided four channels was the best for keeping the controls at the right scale and density for the Reason rack while not requiring undue Combinator work. I went through half a dozen iterations of the panel layout to expose Plaits' macro controls in a way that would clarify what they do for each oscillator model, while offering the workflow and features we tend to expect from a Reason drum machine. One of the big advantages to porting Plaits to something not limited to a Eurorack panel is that you can visually explain things that are otherwise locked away in Plaits' manual.

Here's the front panel:

Image

In Kong/Thor style, each of the four sections has a drop-down in the top left to select from one of Plaits' eight percussive oscillator models. Each of the four channels can have a different oscillator, so you could have a kick, snare, hi-hat, and clap, a kick and three toms, or anything else. You can adjust the pitch, plus each of the three model-specific macros whose labels change based on the model. Plaits has an aux out which outputs an alternate version of the current oscillator model, which can be toggled here as an alternate version of each drum.

The bottom section for each channel holds that drum's common settings, including volume, velocity sensitivity, panning, and Plaits' built-in lowpass gate.

The back:

Image

A full set of CV jacks allows some same-device modulation, especially of velocity, which can be routed to any of the macro parameters. That switch in the lower right selects the root note that the device will receive on: It starts on the standard C1, but you can set it to start four, eight, or twelve steps above, allowing for easy chaining of multiple devices within a Combinator.

I'm a UX designer and sound designer, not a DSP developer, so this is just a concept and nothing more. But if anyone happens to be looking for a new project and agrees it's time for a new drum synth in Reason, this might be just the thing!
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Loque
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Joined: 28 Dec 2015

Post 02 Dec 2020

I like your ideas, but personally i am not a fan of limitations and a dedicated drum synth is a limitation. Normally drum synths play one instrument per note and there is no different notes for a drum sound. This is something i dislike on Kongs modules and wish they were separate little synths.

And otger things with classic drum computers are, i have modules i don't use or want and how do i route them to my mixer? I prefere single units, route each to a mixer and if i need them in one track, i put them in a Combibator. Just the "rebuilding" of a classic drum computer in a Combinator is a mess, but personally i nearly never need it.

Tldr, i prefere little dedicated synths and appreciate new and unique stuff in the rack.
:reason: 11, Win10 64Bit.

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