Superbooth 22: Fred’s Lab Manatee is a new multi-timbral spectral Synthesizer that sonically balances between wavetable and additive synthesis
Frédéric Meslin is a perfect example of a fascinating one-man garage synth company. The developer has recently released exciting, hybrid synthesizers that explore new sound ideas in many areas. Last year he premiered ZeKit, an affordable 4-voice paraphonic hybrid Synthesizer.
For this Superbooth Fred goes into the experimental world. No virtual analog, no wavetable, and also no FM. He is currently working on a desktop spectral Synthesizer with a unique engine developed from scratch.
Superbooth 22: Fred’s Lab Manatee
Before we dive into the depths, it must be mentioned that the product is still in full development. It’s currently a prototype and not a finished product. Frédéric Meslin, the developer says that the form factor, audio engine feature list, or the enclosure design style may change in the future.
So there is still a lot of work ahead of him but he has already formulated the description of his Manatee Synthesizer.
The Manatee is an ode to the golden era of digital machines with personality, together with modern twists and a crystal clear sound quality. With reminiscences of electric organ tones and out-of-this-world but beautifully contained harshness, the Manatee unveils new sound exploration paths.
Manatee is a 3-part 9-voice multi-timbral spectral Synthesizer that is powered by a dual-core 16-bit fixed-point DSP. It uses a newly developed engine that is loosely inspired by digital classics. The engine fuses a complex procedural spectral source with a top-notch real-time re-sampler. It is capable of generating sounds that make the balancing act between popular wavetable and unusual, bizarre additive synthesis.
Besides the spectral generator, you can activate a versatile sub-oscillator with FM options and a filtered noise sources with variable sample rate. The sound is then routed into a high-quality self-resonant filter, and followed by an extra tuned resonator and an overdrive module. Further, you have a pre-part stereo delay and an audio buses mixer with a main, aux, and reverb section.
Modulation side, you get dedicated loopable envelopes (ENV. F & ENV. A), an LFO for the filter, and two spectral modulators for the body and formant. According to the developer it excels at producing dark & moody pads, snappy or round bell-like tones and behaves very well in known VA (virtual analog) territory.
Further, he says that Manatee is built like a tank using only industrial-grade pots, switches, and connectors. In the case the unit need a repair, he ships it with a service instruction including complete schematics. New firmware updates can be downloaded from Fred’s Lab website.
On the backside, it has an on/off switch, DC input, DIN MIDI in/out with a smart thru, clock input, Aux left/right inputs, and stereo outputs where the left also acts as a headphone socket.
Looking at the sheet with the features makes me curious about how the new Fred’s Lab Synthesizer sounds. You don’t definitely get a classic “more of the same” Synthesizer here. Manatee is a per example of an innovative, unique concept with features that the big ones might never dare to try.
Fred’s Lab Manatee is currently full in development. Although product research and development is self-founded, there will probably be a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to produce a limited first run of 150 machines. The two machines presented at Superbooth 2022 aka Superbooth Edition will be available via auction on June 14, 2022, on eBay.
Fred will use the funds from the auction to finance a part of the project development. The price will be around 600€ including VAT and availability TBA.
More information here: Fred’s Lab