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Let's Play with Mela – Synth & FX

This week YouTuber me played with Nikolozi's recently updated Mela Synth. The update upgraded the sub and noise oscillators to being fully parameterized oscillators; making this a 4 oscillator synth with a modulation matrix and some unique routing options.

Out of all the apps I've used my oscilloscope on, Mela definitely benefits the most. It's also pretty to watch!

Video Description:

Mela Synth came out a while ago, but it just got an update that greatly expands its possibilities! In this video I use the modulation matrix to drastically morph the oscillators, and damn near everything else!

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Reader Comments 5

That was an interesting vid. I like hearing Tim's thought process.

It's a nice synth. Good that it has a pretty good mod matrix and lots of options. I wish more developers would add a curve option in the mod matrix-- that makes lots of interesting personalities possible.

One kind of "meta" question this video raised for me has to do with how the use of DRIVE in a synth is almost philosophically different than it is with guitar.

I'm more used to using drive/distortion/saturation with a guitar. I generally know I'm adding dirt and adding a harmonic dimension to its dynamic response. With a synth, I get that it adds edge, but it doesn't translate in the same way, sonically, and it doesn't behave the same way dynamically.

Any thoughts?
I'm afraid I have no idea how guitarists think about distortion to fully relate. I'm used to using it on synths and drum (synths). It is definitely still about adding extra harmonics, but "dirt" isn't necessarily part of the deal. I just think of drive as a saturator with truck nuts nailed on to it.

In case Truck Nuts is too American, and for the benefit of all who have been blissfully ignorant of this phenomenon: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/diJLWo6CKY0/hqdefault.jpg (possibly NSFW)
Yea. In synths, Drive seems to brighten (add upper harmonics). Whereas when I think of adding "warmth" I think of rolling off highs and bumping mids or low-mids. Some "amp sims" will shape the drive in a way to give a mids-forward warmth even will clipping.

In some effect processors (KDFX comes to mind) they will put LPF modules throughout the signal path-- at the beginning and end of the signal path, as well as after each tube sim module. The resulting sound is not nearly as dark as you would expect.
Hmmm, yeah, I see what you mean. There are a lot of instances where synthesists will use distortion on bass patches, but you're right. It is most often used to brighten leads. There are a couple of possible reasons for this that come to mind. Either are likely candidates; depending on the personal lineage of how the synthesist came up.

The first is Roland's legendary TB-303. While labeled as a "Bass Line" synthesizer, it came to prominence squelching with resonance as an Acid House lead. The high pitched squelch was often exaggerated with distortion.

The other would be for those with a more traditional keyboard background. The Fender Rhodes electric piano has a unique character that includes a gentle touch of distortion that brightens it up. I cannot overstate how insanely popular that sound is, nor its influence on many synthesists.

In my mind adding distortion to the low-mids sounds like a recipe for mud. It is occasionally appropriate, but you know you're going to be in for a headache trying to EQ that in a mix. I almost exclusively use it in the mid, mid-high, and highs.
On June 27, 2020 - @Tim Webb said:
In my mind adding distortion to the low-mids sounds like a recipe for mud. It is occasionally appropriate, but you know you're going to be in for a headache trying to EQ that in a mix. I almost exclusively use it in the mid, mid-high, and highs.
I prefer clean bass tones (both synth and bass guitar). But distortion doesn't necessarily make lows or low-mids muddy. It all depends on the quality of the distortion. It does make things messier, but it does that no matter what frequency range you're adding it to.

The other thing is that distortion can also add a kind of high-end "fizziness" to everything. So otherwise pleasant tones have a fizz that doesn't add much to the sound. I noticed that with Doug's demo of that bass amp sim.

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