Mutable Instruments captured the Clouds soul, expanded it, and turn it into a new powerful, hands-on granular processor module named Beads
The longest-kept secret of the Eurorack business seems to have been revealed. The successor to the legendary Clouds granular processor from Mutable Instruments is called Beads Texture Synthesizer.
Beads (another word for pearls) is a real-time granular processor with built-in CV-controlled random modulations. Emilie describes it as a reinvention of Mutable Instruments Clouds, with hardware and software redesigned from the group up, free of modes and bloat. At only 14HP is very slim.
Mutable Instruments Beads
The concept and the module layout remain the same. The module is designed to live granulize incoming audio on the fly. Everything else is new and improved. Emilie says she had different goals in mind: a crisper and broader sound palette, more control, better playability, and direct access to big new features.
It starts with vastly improved hardware that ensures higher audio quality, a longer buffer, better interpolation, anti-aliasing algorithms, and the DSP runs at a faster rate. Emilie promises that Beats allows you to go behind the possibilities of Clouds including formants, wavetables, hard-sync or crispy noise.
Like Clouds, Beads is a stereo granular effect. So it has two inputs and outputs (L/R). It now comes with four different quality modes with different tone and reverb characters. From clean 48kHz 16-bit, a 32kHz 12-bit clouds emulation, 24kHz 12-bit with a hi-fi dry signal path, up to 24kHz µ-law with cassette emulation for more gritty, characterful. sound. Without any audio input, it is a standalone texture Synthesizer and will granularize 8 internal banks of wavetables.
Expanded Granular Synthesis
From there it goes into the granular engine where you can freeze the stereo signal in the internal buffer with the help of the freeze button. The latter has an auto-saving functionality. Beads has three grain modes including latched (continuous), gated & clocked. You can control each mode with four different parameters: time, size, shape, and pitch.
The grain duration goes up to 4 seconds with forward/backward playback and with the shape control you morph between four shapes of the grain envelope. Then, with the density, time, and seed knobs, you can access features like tap-tempo, beat-slicing, time-stretching or comb-filtering that expands once more the sonic range of this engine.
Further, it also has an internal delay that can be controlled with the density, time, seed, shape, and pitch controls. You can operate it as a delay without switching to a different mode what is very handy.
Something that was missing from the predecessor were the attenuators for the parameters. That was added later in the numerous Clouds clones. In Beads, Mutable Instruments added attenurandomizers, a new way to control parameters. They give you direct CV control but also full CV control of the amount of gaussian randomization. That means you can not only attenuate the signals with the same but also randomize it. For this, it comes with an internal random source.
Beads comes with an expanded control section to trigger or schedule grains. It provides new features to divide or randomize an external clock or trigger stream, spray bursts of grains in response to a gate, or get the grain rate to track a V/O CV or the frequency of an external oscillator.
On the control side, it has independent knobs for feedback, dry/wet amount and reverb amount. These give you full control over the global effect as well as the reverb. Perfect if you want to explore granular synthesis without large layers of reverb. There is also a CV input that is assignable to each of these three parameters, or to variable combinations of them.
Mutable Instruments Beads aka Clouds 2 is finally here. The features are exciting, and the new additions make complete sense. Beads still has the iconic Clouds soul but built in a new module that can do more than the original. I am happy that it is now official and that we have the successor.
Mutable Instruments Beads is available now for 299€.
More information here: Mutable Instruments
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