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Acoustic & Electronic Instruments, Musicians, News, Tutorials, Videos & Interesting Finds

Manatee Multitimbral Spectral Synthesiser flies on Kickstarter

Manatee is another Kickstarter success, having raised nearly £70,000 and smashing the ~£50k goal for Fred’s Lab. This instrument is their most powerful instrument to date, sporting a four-part, 10 to 16 voice multitimbral spectral synthesiser module with full MPE (MDI polyphonic expression) support.

The spectral engine is a smart blend between additive and wavetable synthesis, offering a wide scope of sound sculpting and articulation for those happy to experiment.

Along with this is virtual analog, waveform and 2-operator FM synthesis algorithms which can be used together with the spectral oscillator, or solo.

Each voice holds 2x oscillators, an advanced noise & ring modulator, a multimode resonant filter (12, 24 dB / Octave) with extra RC section, a wild saturator module, 2x meta-envelopes + 1x custom-LFO and a classic modulation matrix. In addition to the hardwired routing, each modulation source can target many parameters and the intensity of the modulation be controlled by any available MIDI program controller such as MIDI CC or aftertouch. 

Each part carries the spectral maker, 2x custom-LFOs, a versatile stereo delay and finally 2x adjustable stereo equalisers.

A master quality reverberation module with several models including hall, plate and room is also included as an insert mixing effect.

Instruments will be hand assembled in Bonn, Germany, using premium components and materials.

The Kickstarter campaign closes at the end of August at which time production can ramp up with the increased funding available.

Sound Architecture Specs

Here are the sound architecture specs as currently expected, though they may change before the final version is released:

Per voice

Patch modes

Patches can be:
• monophonic, with optional legato & unisono modes 
• polyphonic, with optional unisono mode 

Unisono modes allocates two voices per note. 
Voices stereo spreading and detuning are configurable.

Sound sources

1x Spectral Generator with:
• reference spectrum selection
• choice of reconstruction waveform
• formant, rotation & inversion controls

1x Sub-oscillator with:
• sinus / 2-op FM engine 
• saw / super-saw engine 
• pulse / super-pulse engine 
• triangle / folder engine 
• waveform player 

Sub-oscillator and Spectral Generator can be mixed as needed.

Ring Modulator with:
• O1 x O2 operation 
• volume and noise controls 

Sound shapers

Multimode Filter with:
• 12 and 24dB / Octave attenuation 
• custom LowPass, BandPass & HighPass models 
• self-oscillating with built-in saturation 
• tracking control 

RC Filter with:
• 6 dB / Octave attenuation 
• custom LowPass & HighPass models 

Saturator module with:
• tube, fuzz, bit-crush models 
• drive + dry/wet controls 

Modulation Sources

2x Meta-envelope with:
• common attack, sustain and release controls 
• individual decay, aftertouch, velocity controls 
• masked modes including ADSR, -DSR, A-SR, AD-R, gate … 
• retriggering and cycling options 
• velocity influence on times adjustments 
• target and expressor choices 

1x Custom-LFO with:
• wide selection of algorithmic waveforms 
• waveforms chaining options 
• rate and start phase controls 
• MIDI synchronous modes 
• integrated AR envelope 
• target and expressor choices 

3x Modulation Matrix Slots:
• in addition to default routings 
• in addition to modulator targets 

Per part

Spectrum Maker:
• producing the timbre for the Spectrum Generators 

Noise Source with:
• sample rate control 
• built-in noise color filter 

2x Custom-LFO with:
• as the other ones 

Stereo Delay with:
• multiple algorithms (mono, stereo, ping-pong …)
• delay length from 1ms to 8s (model dependent) 
• MIDI synchronous modes 

2x Stereo Equalisers with:
• multiple shapes (low/high, cut, shelf, boost…)
• center frequency control 



Master Reverberation with:
• several algorithms (hall, plate, room …)

Technical Specifications


• 2x 200MHz 16bit dual-core DSPs 
• 4x 24bit Burr Brown DACs 
• 64 MBit of fast PSRAM 


• 250x preset storage locations
• 32x multi storage locations
• 1x system configuration


• 1x 2.1mm DC jack input 
• 1x DIN5 MIDI input
• 1x DIN5 MIDI through
• 1x DIN5 MIDI output
• 1x 3.5mm TRS jack clock + start/stop input 
• 1x 3.5mm TRS jack headphones output 
• 2x TRS 6.35mm jack input / output – aux left & right
• 2x TS 6.35mm jack output – main left & right

User Interface

• 23x quality metal potentiometers
• 18x illuminated switches
• 8x tactile switches
• 22x oldschool red LEDs
• 2×16 FSTN+ character LCD display
• bright & dimmable LED backlight


• powder coated steel chassis
• acrylic display window
• quality rubber feet
• 267 x 140 x 60 mm
• 1470 grams

Power Requirements

• DC 12V with center positive
• Max 350mA consumption