Madrona Labs Sumu, novel synth plugin explores spatialized additive resynthesis with FM

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Madrona Labs Sumu Synthesizer plugin breaks new ground by exploring additive resynthesis with FM with vector field spatialization.

The Superbooth 24 brought us many new hardware synthesizers. In the whole flood of new synths there was also a new software synth release that we have been looking forward to for a long time.

Madrona Labs has released its long-teased Sumu Synthesizer plugin in early access. An innovative softsynth that breaks new ground.

Madrona Labs Sumu

Madrona Labs Sumu

We often see the same concepts in software synthesizers—always better analog modeling, FM, wavetable, or the currently trendy granular synthesis. Sumu is, however, going in new ways, although it uses well-known synthesis.

The synth combines additive resynthesis with FM with vector field spatialization. Instead of classic oscillators, Sumu uses sampled sounds represented as collections of up to 64 bandwidth-enhanced partials. With the free companion app Vutu, you can create partial files from your own sounds, giving you endless sound sources.

Each of these partials in Madrona Labs Sumu is fully customizable, with dedicated frequency, volume, and noiseiness parameters that can change over time. Madrona Labs promises that this makes all kinds of creative changes possible. You can achieve natural-sounding time stretching to exotic timbral manipulations.

Sumu Engine

Sumu’s core has an input interface, a partials playback section with loop functionality, an FM section with mod and carrier oscillators, envelopes, and a customizable pulse generator with shapes and probability. Then, you can find a scope, gates, a 4-pole ladder filter, a spatialization engine, and an output.

A highlight of Sumu is the ability to distribute the partials in space with the precise location of each. All this spatialization magic works in real-time, and is updated up to 60 times a second.

Users of the stellar Aalto, Kaivo… synthesizers will feel at home in the vector-based scalable interface. The modules are at the top and bottom, and the middle section hosts the virtual cables for modular patching, so there are no cables covering your patch.

It’s great that many modules have real-time visualization, so you know exactly what’s happening. The tonal spectrum is wide. Sumu is a synth for experimental musicians who like to explore new sounds—a kind of resynthesis sound lab.

First Impression

I have been a big fan of Madrona Labs plugins for many years. My journey started with the Aalto, a Buchla-like synth. Because of the SB work, I haven’t had a chance to try Madrona Labs Sumu yet. In the previous and new demos, it sounds very organic, natural, fragial, and even strange in places. Very fascinating and novel. 

Madrona Labs Sumu is available now for an early access introductory price of $129 instead of $179. It runs as a VST3, and AU plugin on macOS (native Apple Silicon + Intel) and Windows. Mac versions of Sumu require OS X 10.14 (Mojave) or higher, and the Windows version requires Windows 10 or higher.

More information here: Madrona Labs 

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