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Woven Spirits – Model 1210

Woven Spirits is our MU version of Mutable Instruments’ Plaits – the spiritual successor of their best-selling voltage-controlled sound source, Braids. Not just a mkII version: its hardware and software have been redesigned from scratch.

Just like its predecessor, it offers direct access to a large palette of easily tweakable raw sonic material, covering the whole gamut of synthesis techniques.

$395.00

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Product Description

Woven Spirits is our MU version of Mutable Instruments’ Plaits – the spiritual successor of their best-selling voltage-controlled sound source, Braids. Not just a mkII version: its hardware and software have been redesigned from scratch.

Just like its predecessor, it offers direct access to a large palette of easily tweakable raw sonic material, covering the whole gamut of synthesis techniques.

SIMPLICITY FIRST

Gone are the screen, menu system, hidden settings, and the long list of somewhat redundant synthesis models.

Thanks to additional CV inputs, and to the use of three timbre-shaping parameters per model, Woven Spirits is straightforward to use, and much closer to the ideal of one synthesis technique = one model. What were fragmented islands of sound in Braids are now part of a continuum of sounds.

READY FOR PERCUSSION

Patch a trigger generator or sequencer into Woven Spirits’ trigger input and instantly use the module as a percussive source thanks to its built-in virtual low-pass gate (LPG).

An internal D (decay) envelope generator is normalled to all unpatched CV inputs. Just turn the corresponding attenuverter to add pitch, timbre or morphing modulation. And if plucks and snappy hits are not your thing, patch your own envelope or CV source into the LPG CV input.

6 deep synthesis models

8 synthesis models for pitched sounds

  • Two detuned virtual analog oscillators with continuously variable waveforms.
  • Variable slope triangle oscillator processed by a waveshaper and wavefolder.
  • 2-operator FM with continuously variable feedback path.
  • Two independently controllable formants modulated by a variable shape window (VOSIM, Pulsar, Grainlet, Casio CZ-style resonant filter…).
  • 24-harmonic additive oscillator.
  • Wavetable oscillator with four banks of 8×8 waves, with or without interpolation.
  • Chord generator, with divide down string/organ emulation or wavetables.
  • A collection of speech synthesis algorithms (formant filter, SAM, LPC), with phoneme control and formant shifting. Several banks of phonemes or segments of words are available.

8 synthesis models for noise and percussions

  • Granular sawtooth or sine oscillator, with variable grain density, duration and frequency randomization.
  • Clocked noise processed by a variable shape resonant filter.
  • 8 layers of dust/particle noise processed by resonators or all-pass filters.
  • Extended Karplus-Strong (aka Rings’ red mode), excited by bursts of white noise or dust noise.
  • Modal resonator (aka Rings’ green mode), excited by a mallet or dust noise.
  • Analog kick drum emulation (two flavors).
  • Analog snare drum emulation (two flavors).
  • Analog high-hat emulation (two flavors).

Dual output

  • The AUX output carries a variant, sidekick or by-product of the main signal.
  • Patch both OUT and AUX to Warps for weird hybridization experiments!
  • Dedicated CV input for synthesis model selection. No need to activate a mysterious META mode!
  • An internal decay envelope is normalled to the TIMBREFM and MORPH CV inputs: the amount of internal modulation is directly adjusted with the attenuverters.

Internal low-pass gate (LPG)

  • Dedicated LEVEL CV input controlling the amplitude and brightness of the output signal.
  • The internal LPG can also be directly plucked by the trigger input.
  • Two parameters of the LPG can be adjusted: amount of low-pass filtering (VCFA to VCA), and response time of the virtual vactrol.

Specifications

Specifications 

- All inputs: 100k impedance, DC to 2kHz.
- FM, MORPH, TIMBRE input range: +/- 8V.
- HARMO and MODEL input range: +/- 5V.
- LEVEL and TRIG input range: 0 to +8V.
- V/OCT input range: -3 to +7V.
- 16-bit CV capture.
- Audio output: 48kHz, 16-bit, DC-coupled.
- Internal processing: 32-bit floating point.

Product Documentation

[Note: The instructions below are copied here from the Mutable Instruments site for your convenience.  Any references to “Plaits” should directly correspond to the “Woven Spirits”.  Some links will re-direct you to the Mutable web site.]

FRONT PANEL

Controls

A. Model selection buttons and LEDs displaying the active model. Each button cycles through a bank of 8 models. The second bank is focused on noisy and percussive sounds.

B. Coarse frequency control. By default, it covers a range of 8 octaves, but it can be narrowed down to 14 semitones (refer to the FREQUENCY knob range section).

C. D. E. Model-dependent tone controls. Their actual function varies from model to model. In general, TIMBRE sweeps the spectral content from dark/sparse to bright/dense, MORPH explores lateral timbral variations and HARMONICS controls the frequency spread or the balance between the various constituents of the tone.

F. Attenuverters for the TIMBREFM and MORPH CV inputs. When the corresponding CV input is left unpatched and the trigger input [3] is patched, the attenuverter adjusts the modulation amount from the internal decaying envelope generator. When unplugging a CV input, and if the trigger input is patched, remember to reset the attenuverter to 12 o’clock if you do not want the internal envelope to take over!

Inputs and outputs

1. Model selection CV input. When this CV input is modulated, two LEDs are lit: the steadily lit LED indicates the current model, and the slowly blinking LED indicates the central value, which would be obtained with a CV of 0V and which is still modifiable with the buttons [A].

Note that when the trigger input [3] is patched, model changes occur only whenever a trigger is received.

2. CV inputs for the timbre, frequency, morph and harmonics parameters.

3. Trigger input. Serves four percussive purposes:

  • Triggers the internal decaying envelope generator.
  • Excites the physical and percussive models.
  • Strikes the internal low-pass gate (unless the LEVEL CV input [4] is patched).
  • Samples and holds the value of the MODEL CV input.

4. Level CV input. Opens the internal low-pass gate, to simultaneously control the amplitude and brightness of the output signal. Also acts as an accent control when triggering the physical or percussive models.

5. V/Oct CV input. Controls the fundamental frequency of the sound, from -3 to +7 octaves relative to the root note set by the coarse frequency knob [B].

6. 7. Outputs. The AUX output carries a variant, sidekick, or by-product of the main signal produced on OUT.

SETTINGS

Adjusting the internal LPG and envelope

Hold the first button (A) and:

  • Turn the TIMBRE knob to adjust the response of the LPG, from VCFA to VCA.
  • Turn the MORPH knob to adjust the ringing time of the LPG and the decay time of the internal envelope.

The value of both settings are represented by 4 yellow LEDs.

Adjusting the FREQUENCY knob range

Hold the second button (A) and turn the HARMONICS knob to adjust the range of the FREQUENCY knob. The first 8 settings correspond to C0 +/- 7 semitones, C1 +/- 7 semitones, and so on. The last setting, with all LEDs lit, corresponds to the full 8-octave range from C0 to C8.

After having turned the HARMONICSTIMBRE or MORPH knob to adjust a setting, the position of the knob might no longer match the original value of the corresponding parameter. When this happens, the response curve of the knob is modified to account for this discrepancy, until the position of the knob and the parameter perfectly line up again!

SYNTHESIS MODELS

Pair of classic waveforms

Virtual-analog synthesis of classic waveforms.

HARMONICS: detuning between the two waves.

TIMBRE: variable square, from narrow pulse to full square to hardsync formants.

MORPH: variable saw, from triangle to saw with an increasingly wide notch (Braids’ CSAW).

AUX: sum of two hardsync’ed waveforms, the shape of which is controlled by MORPH and detuning by HARMONICS.

narrow pulse or wide notch results in silence! Use this trick if you want to silence one of the two oscillators, to get a variable square or variable saw.


Waveshaping oscillator

An asymmetric triangle processed by a waveshaper and a wavefolder. Sounds familiar? That’s the same signal processing chain as in Tides, when it runs at audio rate!

HARMONICS: waveshaper waveform.

TIMBRE: wavefolder amount.

MORPH: waveform asymmetry.

AUX: variant employing another wavefolder curve, as available in Warps.


Two operator FM

Two sine-wave oscillators modulating each other’s phase.

HARMONICS: frequency ratio.

TIMBRE: modulation index.

MORPH: feedback, in the form of operator 2 modulating its own phase (past 12 o’clock, rough!) or operator 1’s phase (before 12 o’clock, chaotic!).

AUX: sub-oscillator.

Note: turn MORPH fully CCW to get the same range of sounds as Braids’ WTFM. Turn MORPH fully CW to recreate the same sounds as Braids’ FBFM. A gentler palette equivalent to Braids’ FM is found with MORPH at 12 o’clock.


Granular formant oscillator

Simulation of formants and filtered waveforms through the multiplication, addition and synchronization of segments of sine waves.

HARMONICS: frequency ratio between formant 1 and 2.

TIMBRE: formant frequency.

MORPH: formant width and shape. This controls the shape of the window by which a sum of two synchronized sine oscillators is multiplied.

AUX: simulation of filtered waveforms by windowed sine waves – a recreation of Braids’ Z*** models. HARMONICS controls the filter type (peaking, LP, BP, HP), with smooth variation from one response to another.


Harmonic oscillator

An additive mixture of harmonically-related sine waves.

HARMONICS: number of bumps in the spectrum. Starts with one big bump, and progressively adds ripples around it.

TIMBRE: index of the most prominent harmonic. This control is somewhat similar to the cutoff frequency of a band-pass filter.

MORPH: bump shape – from flat and wide to peaked and narrow. This control is somewhat similar to the resonance of a band-pass filter.

AUX: variant including only the subset of harmonics present in the drawbars of a Hammond organ (frequency ratios of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12).


Wavetable oscillator

Four banks of 8×8 waveforms, accessed by row and column, with or without interpolation.

HARMONICS: bank selection. 4 interpolated banks followed by the same 4 banks, in reverse order, without interpolation.

  • Bank A: harmonically poor waveforms obtained by additive synthesis (sine harmonics, drawbar organ waveforms).
  • Bank B: harmonically rich waveforms obtained by formant synthesis or waveshaping.
  • Bank C: wavetables from the Shruthi-1 / Ambika, sampled from classic wavetable or ROM playback synths.
  • Bank D: a joyous semi-random permutation of waveforms from the other 3 banks.

TIMBRE: row index. Within a row, the waves are sorted by spectral brightness (except for bank D which is a mess!).

MORPH: column index.

AUX: low-fi (5-bit) output.


Chords

Four-note chords, played by virtual analogue or wavetable oscillators. The virtual analogue oscillators emulate the stack of harmonically-related square or sawtooth waveforms generated by vintage string&organ machines.

HARMONICS: chord type.

TIMBRE: chord inversion and transposition.

MORPH: waveform. The first half of the knob goes through a selection of string-machine like raw waveforms (different combinations of the organ and string “drawbars”), the second half of the knob scans a small wavetable containing 16 waveforms.

AUX: root note of the chord.


Vowel and speech synthesis

A collection of speech synthesis algorithms.

HARMONICS: crossfades between formant filtering, SAM, and LPC vowels, then goes through several banks of LPC words.

TIMBRE: species selection, from Daleks to chipmunks. How does it work? This parameter either shifts the formants up or down independently of the pitch; or underclocks/overclocks the emulated LPC chip (with appropriate compensation to keep the pitch unchanged).

MORPH: phoneme or word segment selection. When HARMONICS is past 11 o’clock, a list of words can be scanned through by turning the MORPH knob or by sending a CV to the corresponding input. One can also patch the trigger input [3] to trigger the utterance of a word, use the FM attenuverter to control the intonation and the MORPH attenuverter to control speed.

AUX: unfiltered vocal cords’ signal.


Granular cloud

A swarm of 8 enveloped sawtooth waves.

HARMONICS: amount of pitch randomization.

TIMBRE: grain density.

MORPH: grain duration and overlap. When this setting is fully CW, the grains merge into each other: the result is a stack of eight randomly frequency-modulated waveforms.

AUX: variant with sine wave oscillators.

To get a nice “supersaw” waveform, try a moderate amount of pitch randomization and grain density, with full grain overlap.


Filtered noise

Variable-clock white noise processed by a resonant filter. The cutoff frequency of the filter is controlled by the FREQUENCY knob and the V/OCT CV input. This allows proper tracking!

HARMONICS: filter response, from LP to BP to HP.

TIMBRE: clock frequency.

MORPH: filter resonance.

AUX: variant employing two band-pass filters, with their separation controlled by HARMONICS.


Particle noise

Dust noise processed by networks of all-pass or band-pass filters.

HARMONICS: amount of frequency randomization.

TIMBRE: particle density.

MORPH: filter type – reverberating all-pass network before 12 o’clock, then increasingly resonant band-pass filters.

AUX: raw dust noise.


Inharmonic string modeling

Modal resonator

For your own pleasure, a mini-Rings! Please refer to the Rings manual for more information about modulated/inharmonic string synthesis, and modal resonators.

When the TRIG input is not patched, the string/resonator is excited by dust (particle) noise. Otherwise, the string is excited by a short burst of filtered white noise, or by a low-pass filtered click.

HARMONICS: amount of inharmonicity, or material selection.

TIMBRE: excitation brightness and dust density.

MORPH: decay time (energy absorption).

AUX: raw exciter signal.

Note that Woven Spirits uses a less powerful processor than Rings, and is thus limited to 3 voices of polyphony in inharmonic string modeling mode, and 1 voice of polyphony with 24 partials in modal resonator mode. Woven Spirits does not allow you to control the position of the excitation, which is set to 25% of the length of the string/bar/tube.


Analog bass drum model

No fancy acronyms or patented technology here… Just behavioral simulation of circuits from classic drum machines! The drum machine emulated on OUT employs a bridged T-network excited by a nicely shaped pulse. As for the signal synthesized on AUX, it uses a frequency-modulated triangle VCO, turned into a sine with a pair of diodes, and shaped by a dirty VCA.

HARMONICS: attack sharpness and amount of overdrive.

TIMBRE: brightness.

MORPH: decay time.

Without any signal patched to the TRIG input, a continuous tone is produced. Not particularly useful, but its amplitude can still be modulated by the MORPH knob and CV input!


Analog snare drum model

The drum machine emulated on OUT employs a bunch of bridged T-networks, one for each mode of the shell, excited by a nicely shaped pulse; plus some band-pass filtered noise. As for the signal synthesized on AUX, it is based on a pair of frequency-modulated sine VCO, mixed with high-pass filtered noise.

HARMONICS: balance of the harmonic and noisy components.

TIMBRE: balance between the different modes of the drum.

MORPH: decay time.


Analog hi-hat model

The recipe is similar for both OUT and AUX: a bunch of square oscillators generate a harsh, metallic tone. The resulting signal is mixed with clocked noise, sent to a HPF, then to a VCA. While OUT uses 6 square oscillators and a dirty transistor VCA, AUX uses three pairs of square oscillators ring-modulating each other, and a clean, linear VCA.

HARMONICS: balance of the metallic and filtered noise.

TIMBRE: high-pass filter cutoff.

MORPH: decay time.


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The physical and drum models employ their own decay envelope and filter. The internal LPG is disabled for them:

  • The TRIG input triggers the synthesis of the signal, but doesn’t strike the LPG.
  • When the TRIG input is patched, the LEVEL input works as an accent control.

ADVANCED TOPICS

Calibration procedure

The module is factory-calibrated using precision voltage sources. Follow this procedure only if you want to compensate for inaccuracies in your CV sources.

To calibrate the unit:

  1. Disconnect all CV inputs.
  2. Connect the note CV output of a well-calibrated keyboard interface or MIDI-CV converter to the V/OCT input. Leave all the other CV inputs unpatched.
  3. Press both buttons (A). The first LED slowly blinks in green.
  4. Send a voltage of 1.000V to the V/OCT input.
  5. Press any button. The first LED now blinks in orange.
  6. Send a voltage of 3.000V to the V/OCT input.
  7. Press any button.

Firmware update procedure

If you think your module is behaving strangely, updating the firmware is certainly not the right thing to do. Contact us at Support instead!

Unplug all CV inputs/outputs from the module. Connect the output of your audio interface/sound card to the MODEL CV input. Set the FREQUENCY knob to 12 o’clock. Power on your modular system with the left model selection button (A) pressed.

Make sure that no additional sound (such as email notification sounds, background music etc.) from your computer will be played during the procedure. Make sure that your speakers/monitors are not connected to your audio interface – the noises emitted during the procedure are aggressive and can harm your hearing. On non-studio audio equipment (for example the line output from a desktop computer), you might have to turn up the gain to the maximum.

When you are all set, play the firmware update file into the module. While the module receives data, the first group of 4 LEDs will act as vu-meter (2 or 3 LEDs are lit when the signal level is optimal), while the remaining 4 LEDs represent which proportion of the current packet has been received. Try adjusting the FREQUENCY knob to adjust gain. When the end of the audio file is reached, the module automatically restarts – if it is not the case, please retry the procedure from the beginning.

In case the signal level is inadequate, all LEDs will blink in red. Press the button (A) and retry with a higher gain. If this does not help, please retry the procedure from another computer/audio interface, and make sure that no piece of equipment or software effect (equalizer, automatic gain control, FX processor) is inserted in the signal chain.