Superbooth 22: Fred’s Lab Manatee is a new multi-timbral spectral Synthesizer that sonically balances between wavetable and additive synthesis
At Superbooth 22, Frédéric Meslin, aka Fred’s Lab, presented The Manatee, a unique hybrid Synthesizer that fuses concepts of wavetable and additive synthesis together. A project that Fred is currently working on. Last May, so for Superbooth 22, he showed visitors the first prototype with some early sounds.
There were some criticisms of the interface at the time, which was a bit uninspiring. Fred has now completely revised this in the last few months. On Instagram, he now showed the first pictures of the newly designed interface.
In my opinion, the new design looks much more mature and beautiful. You can clearly see the individual sections of the engine, etc.
Article May 14th, 2022
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
Important to know is that the product is a prototype and not a ready-to-produce 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 filtered noise sources with variable sample rate. The sound flows then into a high-quality self-resonant filter with an additional extra-tuned resonator and an overdrive module. Further, you have a pre-part stereo delay and an audio bus mixer with a main, aux, and reverb section.
Modulation side, you get 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 needs 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