MATRIXSYNTH: Madrona Labs Sumu Preview & Aaltoverb Public Beta

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Madrona Labs Sumu Preview & Aaltoverb Public Beta

You might remember the development of Sumu announced back in 2018. The preview is now available.

via Madrona Labs:

"In the same way that Kaivo brought two different and compatible kinds of synthesis together, combining granular synthesis with physical modeling, Sumu combines advanced additive synthesis with FM. Since it's been in the works for a long time, and is now nearing completion, I broke with my normal way of doing things and put out a detailed preview on the web site."

Sumu is an additive instrument that I've had in the works for a long time. Now that it's nearing completion and heading towards a public beta soon I'm going to break with the way I normally do things and put some detailed info out ahead of its release.

Sumu is another semi-modular instrument. It shares the general appearance of its patcher-in-the-center design with Aalto, Kaivo and Virta. As you can see, it's on the more complex end of the spectrum like Kaivo. Everything is visible at once and there are no tabs or menu pages to navigate, which suits the way I like to program a synthesizer tweaking a little something here, a little something there.

In the same way that Kaivo brought two different and compatible kinds of synthesis together, combining granular synthesis with physical modeling, Sumu combines advanced additive synthesis with FM synthesis.

What's most different about Sumu compared to my other synths is that the signals in the patcher are not just one channel of data, but 64—one for each partial in a sound! By keeping all these channels of data independent and still using the same patching interface, Sumu offers a very usable entry point into additive synthesis, and a range of musical possibilities that have only been approachable with high-end or academic tools or just coding everything yourself... until now.

Each of Sumu's oscillators is the simplest possible kind of FM:a single carrier+modulator pair. And the modulator can produce a variable amount of noise, which like the modulation ratio and depth can be controlled individually per oscillator. In a single voice there are 64 such pairs. Obviously a lot of sounds are possible with this setup—in fact, with the right parameters varying appropriately we can reproduce any musical sound very faithfully with this kind of oscillator bank..."

See Madrona Labs for additional details.

Aaltoverb public beta
Sumu's design combines a lot of animated displays, as well as a new popup menu system that I had wanted to add for a long time. The graphics / UI framework that I was previously using was a big help in getting Aalto and friends written but didn't have the speed to support the new designs, so I dove in and wrote one from scratch. This new UI kit runs entirely on the GPU using OpenGL and Apple's Metal framework. It's exciting to see it bringing the new designs to life. You can see a movie of some of the new menus here [], that I now have running in Aaltoverb.

Another big improvement to the plugins going forward is that they will all run natively on Apple Silicon. I have one of the M1 Macbook Airs and it's a great machine for music, with impressive power for DSP, and no fan! I feel like we skipped forward a few years into the future with these machines.

This all brings us to the Aaltoverb beta. I've got these big enhancements—new graphics and Apple Silicon compatibility—to a beta state, but there's more work on Sumu to do before they could be tested there. So I'm rolling them out in a new version of Aaltoverb for Mac and Windows, released as a public beta. This way adventurous users can try the new features while I'm still finishing up Sumu.

Version 2 of Aaltoverb will be a free update."

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