Fred’s Lab Manatee multi-timbral MPE spectral Synthesizer First Look (Production Unit) – SynthFest France 2024 Superbooth 22: Fred’s Lab Manatee , a multi-timbral spectral Synthesizer

SYNTH ANATOMY uses affiliation & partner programs (big red buttons) to finance a part of the activity. If you use these, you support the website. Thanks! 

SynthFest France 2024: Fred’s Lab showcased the final production unit of the Manatee multi-timbral spectral Synthesizer that is sonically between wavetable and additive synthesis.

Not only the Kiviak Instruments Wofi keyboard sampler is about to be released, but also the Manatee synthesizer by Frédéric Meslin aka Fred’s Lab. Side note: Fred is also the main developer of Wofi.

At SynthFest France 2024, Fred showcased for the first time the production/final version of the Manatee Synthesizer. The hardware is finished; only the factory sound design and final bug fixes are still pending. Shipping to the Kickstarter backers will start in a few weeks. 

Since the announcement and the Kickstarter/release, the engine has undergone a lot of change. A big highlight is the extended polyphony. Now, it offers 4-part multitimbrality with up to 16 voices.

The user interface has also been fine-tuned so that most features are hands-on and one-per-function. 

Fred’s Lab will ship Manatee to Kickstarter backers in a few weeks. Retailers will follow after. The official retail price will be 799€. You can pre-order it now from the official website for 664€ (incl. VAT) instead of 799€ from the official website.


Article From August 9th, 2023

Since Superbooth 22, things have gone quiet around French developer Fred’s Lab. That’s because he’s working on his new multi-timbral Synthesizer Manatee.

It has now made an important leap forward, and the synth is now available for support on Kickstarter, which also counts as a pre-order. The features are now also official.

Fred's Lab Manatee

Fred’s Lab Manatee

What we saw at  Superbooth 2022 and what the Manatee is now is day and night. At that time, it was still an early prototype, now it’s in the home stretch. With a new, more beautiful interface that looks clearer and more elegant. Regarding the features, the engine is also now final.

The engine relies on an innovative MPE spectral engine Fred describes as a cool blend between additive and wavetable synthesis. Besides this more wild spectral engine, it also hosts more traditional virtual analog, 2-operator FM, and other basic waveform playback algorithms.

Each voice consists of two oscillators (generator + sub-oscillator), an advanced noise & ring modulator, a multimode resonant filter (12/24dB/oct) with extra RC section, a saturation module, two meta envelopes, a custom LFO, and a 3-slot modulation matrix.

There is also a spectral maker, two custom LFOs, a versatile stereo delay, and two stereo EQs per part. Manatee has a limited amount of hardware controls, however, it boosts more than 130 parameters inside the engine.

According to Fred’s Lab, it is built around two dual-core 200MHz 16-bit DSPs giving Manatee a minimum of 10 voices of routable over 4 independent MIDI parts.  Connection side, you have on/off switch, a power supply input, full MIDI interface (in, thru, out), clock input, a headphone socket, stereo AUX, and stereo output on L and R.

First Impression

More sound demos can be found on the Kickstarter page. An exciting desktop Synthesizer with both classic but also crazy spectral synthesis. I think what the demos show so far is just a drop of what Manatee can do.

Fred’s Lab Manatee is available now for pre-order on Kickstarter. It starts at an early bird price of 544€ + shipping for the first 120 units. The next step is 635€ with shipping in February 2024.



Article September 5th, 2022

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.

Fred's Lab The Manatee

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.

Freds Lab The Manatee

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.

Fred's Lab Manatee

Synth Features

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.

Freds Lab Manatee


First Impression

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 

Superbooth 22 News

Hardware Synthesizer News


  1. Töörö sounds amazing and it’s made in Germany ❤️. If Fréd keeps the tradition going I’ll buy a Manatee too 🍺.

  2. My GAS is triggered and I will definitely order a Manatee as soon as possible. It is important to support such brilliant small companies. Frédéric of Freds Lab is an absolutely ingenious and creative nice guy which is worth to support.

  3. been following this one for a while. Man, with a colored OLED a la Elektron, it would be a Day 1 for me. Maybe I should check this out! I’ve been thinking of adding another synth to my setup for my Roland MC-101 to control.

  4. The synth is amazing however Frederic could certainly benefit from a little assistance from a industrial designer. Wonder if he is colour blind too, and I’m not being facetious.

  5. I wish synth companies would stop using these shitty 1980s displays. Its really cheap nowadays for something far nicer and less generic looking. The screen is a huge part of the visual character of a synth.

    • Yes, there are some serious design deficiencies and omissions that simply do not make sense in this day and age. At this price point, high resolution display modules are anywhere from €1.30 to €11 depending on size and resolution. This a current pricing.

      • @Sarah, they are are cheap but you also need to implement the code to output table graphics to it. Screen with digits/letters are simply easier to implement, specially if it’s a small team.

        Looks interesting, But I do wonder how flexible the MPE routing will be as the Kickstarter mentions it’s not finished. It’s price is on par with the Dreadbox Nymphes and that one also has a somewhat deep modulation engine for MPE. For now I’ll sit it out, specially since it’s already fully funded.

        • Dear Gustavo,

          I have just finished doing the MPE implementation on the Töörö and it will be identical: full 2 zones support (so 2 presets simultaneously) with a default mode (1 zone, 15 members channels, channel 1 being master) and proper implementation of all the required MIDI and NRPN messages to allow a MPE controller to automatically configure the machine. This already done for Töörö so no issues to bring this to Manatee.

          Best greetings,

      • Hi Sarah, Frédéric from Fred’s Lab.
        Adding a graphical display to this design is way more involved than paying two extra euros on the material costs. You have to know that I am mostly doing everything here. From researching the concepts, doing electronics & mechanical design, algorithms development, software programming, sourcing, industrialisation organisation, factory tests, certifications, accounting, customer support, marketing, orders fulfilment and cleaning the office… At some point you need to decide where you need to invest your time and resources. A Graphical interface here would need a third microprocessor, a 4th software, plastic or metal mounting brackets for the display, a proper UI concept, graphic routines and the list continues.
        Frédéric from Fred’s Lab

        • Frederic,
          Thanks for the reply, well aware of the minor complexities that a more ‘detailed’ and simply better display would have been more than involved than simply the price difference. I certainly appreciate the immense work you have undertaken to bring this to life and eventually the market.

          Perhaps you could have reached out (entirely your choice to do so) and I could have helped. Still a fascinating synth. Personally, I love a synth that provides a rich and detailed graphical representation of what is happening and what it is I’m doing.

          Thanks for being a gentleman and replying. I hope this is a massive success for you!

        • Yes please! You’re also right but.. I rather see companies take more time to make that happen than stick to old tech because it’s easier.

          800,- for this device insn’t cheap but if you add 200,- more and make it more premium that also benefits workflow and therefor ( I think) end up selling a lot more units than what more bottlenecks are you worried about?

          It sounds great though and glad you’re producing it.

          • All of this more, more, more… has a real R&D cost, several k€. Fred’s Lab is still self financing the projects so I can do so much…

          • I am not certain @Fifine understands how entitlement works. Offering engineering assistance is hardly an act of entitlement and Frederic is entitled to reject and remain true to this vision.

  6. I love the final design of the Manatee. Looks absolutely brilliant. But in the end this does not matter very much. Also I love the simple display. A good device should explain it self.

  7. Great video Tom and Fred!

    Sounds and looks great. The interface seems logical from what i understand so far. I think the decision to not use crappy parts is a great one. The synth is multi timbral too. It will be hard to resist.

    I think we should have more Tom and Fred videos too.

  8. This LFO sequences seems to be a killer feature. Also the whole quick access to all functions looks ingenious. The sounds of the Manatee and the performance by Frédéric blew me away. Can’t wait to get mine.

  9. I love the space age font I hope the clip at the top of the page is the final design it looks sic as fuk either way great innovation spectral stuff in hardware at this price no brainer great work Fred and co

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.