Introducing Mela 4, unifying all 3 plug-in types into 1 modular design
Over the years Mela users have been asking for more flexibility in the Mela plug-ins. Things like adding new modules, supporting more types of synthesis, deeper modulation capabilities, visualisation and flexible routing. I always kept promising that I would like to get to all that, but first I had to rearchitect Mela internally and externally to make all these features possible. During the development of Mela 3, I used the Mela MIDI plug-in as an exploratory playground to develop new ideas. In Mela 4, I took these ideas further and unified all 3 plug-in types into one modular design. The new user interface and internal architecture allowed me to address a lot of user requests. It also makes it easier to expand Mela’s capabilities over time. Check out the intro video and changelog for the full details.
All prices mentioned here are in US dollars for simplicity. The full price of Mela 4 is $30. But you can get it for an intro price of $15 until May 19. There’s also the Crossgrade to Mela 4 app bundle priced at $30. This allows you to purchase both Mela 3 and Mela 4 for the full price of Mela 4. If you already own Mela 3 which you have bought at full price then you can use App Store’s complete-the-bundle feature and purchase Mela 4 for $10 (= $30 - $20). Note that, if you bought Mela 3 on sale it might be cheaper to purchase Mela 4 using the intro price rather than via the bundle. For example, if you bought Mela 3 during the Black Friday sale, you would have paid $10 for it. This means, using the bundle it will cost you [the bundle price] - [Mela 3 Black Friday price] = $30 - $10 = $20. I have no control over how the complete-the-bundle pricing is calculated, this is all done by the App Store.
Update: How the App Store app bundles work remains confusing and tripped up a few people. I ended up writing a long explanation on the Audiobus Forum about this issue. To give everyone enough time to figure out which pricing works for them the best, I’m extending the Mela 4 intro price offer until midnight of May 21. Let me know if you still have questions or concerns.
If you are a YouTube/Instagram artist/influencer and would like to showcase Mela in your videos get in touch. For those that genuinely can’t afford Mela for whatever reason I can provide you with a promo code as well.
Mela 3 vs Mela 4
I would like to bring your attention to 3 key differences between Mela 3 and Mela 4 that you may find important.
Polyphony: the very first version of Mela 4 won’t support true polyphony, while you can have multiple Instrument lanes all producing different pitched tones, each Instrument lane can only produce one note at a time. Polyphony will be added later. I’m certain, the Mela 4 instrument plug-in can be very useful even if it’s monophonic for now.
Phase Distortion: While Mela 4’s VA Oscillator module is a lot more capable than Mela 3’s oscillators I haven’t brought over the Phase Distortion algorithm just yet. Mainly because I’m still thinking about how I’m going to expand its capabilities, it will probably be a separate oscillator module with a few new features. There are many different ways to go about it. Mela 4’s VA Oscillator module offers a lot of new interesting morphable waveforms and supports ring modulation.
Mela 1-3 presets aren’t compatible with Mela 4. Mela 4 audio engine is quite different from the previous versions of Mela, many modules have different sets of parameters and updated internal DSP. While it’s possible to create a preset migrator that creates somewhat similar presets, the resulting sound will still be significantly different and I feel it’s a wasted effort. I should focus on many other feature requests I have from Mela users. Mela 3 plug-in presets use the following file extensions: .melainstrument for Mela, .melaeffect for Mela FX and .melamidi for Mela MIDI. Whereas Mela 4 plug-in presets all have the same file extension: .mela.
In summary, just because Mela 4 is out doesn’t mean it’s making Mela 3 obsolete, especially the Mela 3 synth plug-in (Mela FX and Mela MIDI plug-ins can be fully replaced by Mela 4 plug-in for all practical purposes). If you have Mela 3 presets that you like to use,
want to use the Phase Distortion oscillator or need Polyphony, use Mela 3. Mela 3 will remain in the App Store, and Mela 4 will continue to receive regular updates just as it did over the past 3 years.
Update: A new module, DS Oscillator, which sounds the same as the “Phase Dist” oscillator in Mela 2-3, will be part of the Mela 4.1 update.
There’s a dedicated Artist Presets page where I’ll post Mela 4 presets created by users. If you have created Mela 4 presets, whether paid or free, that you want to share with others let me know and I’ll happily link them there.
Mela 4 Changelog
- There are 3 types of signals that a module can process: Audio, MIDI and Pitch.
- Usually, a module processes one of the signal types and passes the others through without altering them.
- A Pitch signal is a frequency and the receiving oscillator module will lock its pitch to it.
- There are 3 types of lanes: Audio, Instrument and MIDI.
- A MIDI lane takes a MIDI signal as input and produces MIDI output. Modules on this type of lane can only process a MIDI signal.
- An Audio lane takes an Audio signal as input and produces Audio output. Modules on this type of lane can process Audio and Pitch signal types.
- An Instrument lane takes a MIDI signal as input and produces Audio output. Modules on this type of lane can process Audio, MIDI and Pitch signal types.
- An Instrument lane automatically generates the Pitch input signal by converting incoming MIDI note-on events.
Modules & Modulation:
- Modules are the fundamental building blocks. Not all modules work with all lanes, so you can only insert or drag-and-drop compatible modules.
- A modulator module, regardless of which lane it’s inserted in, can modulate any parameter of any module on any lane.
- Every module comes with a built-in help view describing its parameters and usage.
Routing & Buses:
- Signals flow from top to bottom, from left to right.
- Lanes can receive and send Audio and MIDI signals to and from the host.
- Note that not all hosts support multiple I/O cables.
- Signals can be routed between lanes using the internal Audio and MIDI buses.
- Mela 4 has a new unified preset format and is more text editor friendly.
- Since the features are identical in all 3 plug-in types, a preset created in one type can be opened by another.
- It’s now possible to open a preset file from Finder or Files directly. It will launch the Mela app, import the preset and load it.
- Mela 4 audio engine is quite different from the previous versions of Mela and hence Mela 1-3 presets aren’t compatible with Mela 4.
- The new preset file extension is “mela”.
- Recreated the best Mela MIDI presets in Mela 4 and improved them using the new features. They can be found under the MIDI FX factory group.
- Inspired by the Mela FX plug-in presets, created effect presets for Mela 4 which can be found in the Audio FX factory group.
- Created monosynth presets for Mela 4 which can be found in the Synth factory group.
- As with the previous Mela versions many more presets will be added with each update.
- The User Guide has been renamed to Getting Started with Mela.
- It’s now a much shorter document, designed to help a new Mela user quickly get started and not be overwhelmed by the size of the text.
- This has been made possible by each module having a built-in help view.
- As with all previous major version releases of Mela, Mela 4 ships with a new default colour theme with a matching icon.
- The existing colour themes have been refined.
Amp Envelope Module:
- Added a 4-slider amplitude envelope that supports AR, ADR and ADSR types.
- It processes incoming audio as well as works as a modulator.
- In the Legato mode, the envelope generator restarts only after all notes are released.
- Renamed the Bias parameter to Asymmetry and tweaked its behaviour.
- The LP Filter was removed, which was controlled by the Tone parameter to simplify the module.
- The XY pad has been replaced with the distortion transfer graph. It animates on parameter modulation.
- Dragging the graph horizontally adjusts Drive and vertically adjusts Asymmetry.
Envelope Follower Module:
- Simplified the module by removing features that could easily be added by simply inserting modules in front of it. e.g. Gain or Filter.
- Added an oscilloscope to visualise the modulator signal.
FM Operator Module:
- Added a simple FM operator module.
- The module generates a sine carrier and uses the audio input as a modulator.
- It also supports self-modulation.
Pitch Processor Modules:
- Mela 4 comes with 3 Pitch Processor modules: Relative Pitch, Fixed Pitch and Glide.
- Relative Pitch adjusts the incoming Pitch signal by a given semitones and cents.
- Fixed Pitch ignores the incoming signal and instead generates a new signal based on its parameters. Can be set by selecting the MIDI note or frequency in Hertz.
- The Glide module glides the Pitch signal to the new value on a note-on event. It has settable time and trigger modes.
- Added the Macro module which has a slider that can control up to 8 parameters at the same time.
- It’s a great tool to be able to morph the sound of a preset by adjusting a single parameter.
- As with all the other parameters the slider can be assigned to one of the slots in Perform View.
MIDI Source Module:
- The module generates a modulation signal that follows incoming MIDI events. It can modulate any parameter in Mela.
- The transfer function graph displays how the source event values are mapped to the generated modulation signal.
- The transfer function is highly flexible and follows the Gain and Bias parameters.
- Add a MIDI module that produces one held note at a time.
- This module is generally useful to control how MIDI note events are delivered to a synth to play monophonically.
- In the Stack mode, note events are output from the module in the First-In-Last-Out order.
- In the Queue mode, note events are output in the First-In-First-Out order.
VA Oscillator Module:
- VA Oscillator is a virtual analog oscillator module.
- It comes with a wide variety of waveforms, some of which can be further tweaked with the Shape parameter.
- The oscillator can ring modulate the input signal.
- The selected waveform is displayed and updated when the oscillator parameters change.
Stereo Delay Module:
- The delay effect module is now more sophisticated with flexible feedback options.
- Added the Sync parameter with similar behaviour to other modules. When it’s set to Free, the delay times are set in seconds. Otherwise, the delay times are defined as the product of the Offset and Sync parameters.
- The Feedback Modes parameter has been replaced with dials, enabling a fully custom mix of straight, inverted and cross-feedback signals.
- Added independent low and high cut filters to the left and right channel delayed signals.
- Added independent mix parameters for the left and right channels.
- The Rate parameter of the LFO and Random modules now span exactly 16 octaves, 0.01Hz to 655.36Hz. Since modulations in Mela happen at audio rates these modules can be used to create interesting effects.
- The other frequency and rate parameter ranges have been changed to fit exactly 10 octaves. This means, if you modulate these parameters by 10% their values will change by an octave.
- The Filter module types can now be set to low-pass, high-pass, band-pass or band-stop (new), replacing the Morph parameter. This approach seems more useful. The morph mode will be added later if there’s demand for it.
- The LFO and Random modules now have a legato mode. In this mode, they won’t retrigger during a legato.
- The Chorus, Flanger and Phaser module interfaces have been simplified.
- Tapping on the Compressor module’s displayed gain reduction value resets it.
- The Envelope Generator module now has a Legato mode.
- Added the Panner module.
- Added the Level module with a 0% to 100% range slider. The module is useful for modulating audio levels linearly.
- Added the Volume module for adjusting audio levels in decibels.
- Added the Meter module that displays level metering. Tapping on the displayed max peak value resets it.
- Added the Noise Oscillator module with noise types: White, Warm (same as Mela 3) and Pink.
- Added the Oscilloscope module which lets you visualise the audio waveform passing through it.
- Renamed the MIDI Processor modules, Pitch to Transposer and Pitch Range to Note Range, to prevent any confusion with the Pitch Processor modules.
To learn more check out the Getting Started with Mela or Mela FAQ. To report bugs or make feature requests visit the Mela Feedback site.
Grab Mela 4 from the App Store.