Nikolozi — Artist & Engineer

Getting Started with Mela

  1. Welcome
  2. Overview
  3. Buses, Lanes, Modulation, Modules, Routing, Signals
  4. Preset Management
  5. Perform View
  6. Mela 3 vs Mela 4


Hi, I’m Nikolozi and I’m the creator of Mela. I’m developing it as my primary tool for music-making and live performance. I hope Mela can play a part in your music creation process too. Tag your Mela creations with #MelaSession on social media, so I can discover them easily.

I ship updates every 4 to 8 weeks. Each release focuses on addressing user feedback as well as the features that contribute to the long-term vision of Mela. Other than this guide, you may want to check out Changelog, Mela FAQ and What’s New in Mela? YouTube playlist. To report bugs or make feature requests visit Mela Feedback. For other support queries directly get in touch.

Thank you for using Mela.


Mela is a modular music-making tool that scales with your needs. With its intuitive interface, you can seamlessly build fully custom monophonic synthesisers, unique audio effects, and complex MIDI processors. Mela can run as a standalone app on iOS and macOS or as an AUv3 plug-in inside your favourite DAW such as AUM, Drambo, Logic Pro and many more.

Inside a host, Mela can be loaded as one of the following plug-in types: Instrument, Audio Effect or MIDI Processor. The only difference between them is the number of audio and MIDI inputs and outputs. Otherwise, the features are identical and a preset created in one type can be opened by another.

Buses, Lanes, Modulation, Modules, Routing, Signals


In Mela, 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. While Audio and MIDI signal types are obvious as to what they are, the Pitch is a new concept in Mela. It’s simply a frequency and the receiving oscillator module will lock its pitch to it.


In Mela, 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. One special feature of an Instrument lane is that it automatically generates the Pitch input signal, for the lane, by converting incoming MIDI note-on events.

Modules & Modulation

Modules are the fundamental building blocks of a Mela preset. 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

In Mela, signals flow from top to bottom, from left to right.

Lanes can receive and send Audio and MIDI signals to and from the host. You simply need to set its Input and Output fields to desired values. For example, an Instrument lane receiving MIDI from the host via virtual cable 2 and sending its audio to the main output will have the Input field set to MIDI In 2 and the Output field to Output 1. Note that not all hosts support multiple I/O cables.

Additionally, signals can be routed between lanes using the internal Audio and MIDI buses. You can not send a signal from a lane that’s below another. But you can rearrange lanes by moving them up or down.

Preset Management

Preset Selector

Preset Selector displays the title of the currently selected preset. Tap on the left or right arrow button to jump to the previous or next preset respectively.

Actions Menu

Next to the preset selector, there is a button with an ellipsis symbol. Tap it to access the actions menu:

Preset Browser

The preset browser interface consists of a grid of buttons. The top row represents preset groups. The rows below display the selected group presets. Tapping on a group loads containing presets, while tapping on a preset, loads it. Preset and group buttons are horizontally scrollable.

There are 3 types of preset groups: User group, custom and factory groups. You can create as many custom groups as you like, to manage your own and other artists’ presets. You can save or import presets directly into either the User or a custom group.

The custom group buttons are double in length when compared to the User or factory preset groups. Hence, they can have longer names. And unlike the User and factory preset groups, custom groups aren’t visible to the host.

Long press a group to access its context menu:

Long press a preset to access its context menu:

Long press a group to access its context menu:

Perform View

The Perform View is a great way to cherry-pick the AU parameters you care about most and access them all from one place. This is especially useful when you want to make Mela’s plug-in window small inside the host and still be able to tweak the parameters. You can assign up to 8 parameters to it. When there are no parameters assigned, the Perform View is hidden.

Tap on a dial or slider’s title/value text area to bring up the context menu. Via the menu, you can assign, reassign or unassign the parameter to one of the 8 slots of the Perform View.

After a parameter is assigned to a perform view it automatically gets a sensible shortened title. However, you can rename it to anything you like. Simply tap on the perform view dial’s title/value text area and from the context menu select Rename. You can also select Unassign to remove the dial from the Perform View.

Mela 3 vs Mela 4

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 and sound processing algorithms, deeper modulation capabilities, visualisation of what’s happening in the audio engine 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 Mela 3 development, 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.

Going from Mela 3 to Mela 4 is a big jump. It feels like a whole new environment, yet if you are a Mela user, you will feel at home with the familiar interface. You have new dimensions of possibilities for creating music and sculpting sounds. The new user interface and internal architecture of Mela 4 allowed me to address a lot of user requests. But the work is not done yet, its capabilities will continue to expand with regular updates just as it did over the past 3 years. I would like to bring your attention to 3 key differences between Mela 3 and Mela 4 that you may find important.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 existing users will be able to purchase Mela 4 at a discount using the App Store bundle.