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 5


Hi, I’m Nikolozi, 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. Feel free to tag me on social media when you post your Mela creations, so I can discover them easily.

I ship updates every few 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 submit bug reports and feature requests visit Mela Feedback. And feel free to directly get in touch for any reason.

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 polyphonic 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.

Mela can be loaded inside a host 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


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. Every module comes with a built-in help view describing its parameters and usage.


In Mela, there are 3 primary 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 a 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.

Instrument Lane & Polyphony

An Instrument lane takes a MIDI signal as input and converts it to a polyphonic signal which is simply a set of independent voices. A voice consists of note-on/off information as well as Pitch and Audio signals. At the end of the lane, the audio signals are summed and sent to the output.

Modules on an Instrument lane can process and modify each voice’s Audio and Pitch signal. Whereas the MIDI signal flows unaltered and some modules might make use of it.

Pitch Signal

On an Instrument lane Pitch signals are created by converting note-on event note numbers to their corresponding frequencies. The Pitch Processor modules then can further modify the signals. On an Audio lane, the Fixed Pitch module can be used to generate a Pitch signal.


A modulator module, regardless of which lane it’s inserted in, can modulate any parameter of any module on any lane. Modulators on either Audio or MIDI lanes act like monophonic sources whereas modulators on Instrument lanes generate polyphonic modulation signals. Depending on what type of lane the target modules are on we get 3 possible configurations: poly-to-poly (this includes mono-to-mono), mono-to-poly and poly-to-mono. With the mono-to-poly configuration, the same modulation signal will be applied to all voices that the target module is processing. With the poly-to-poly configuration, there will be 1-to-1 mapping with the modulation source and target voice. Finally, with the poly-to-mono configuration, the last triggered voice’s modulation signal will be used as the source.

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 the 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.

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 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 5

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 or later 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 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 4 years. Mela 5 can do everything Mela 3 can and much more.

I would like to bring your attention to a key difference between Mela 3 and Mela 5 that you may find important. Mela 1-3 presets aren’t compatible with Mela 4-5 as they have completely different audio engines. 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 or later plug-in presets all have the same file extension: .mela.

In summary, functionally Mela 5 fully replaces Mela 3. For new projects, it is recommended to use Mela 5. However, if you have Mela 3 presets that you would like to use, for those cases, it makes sense to use the older version. Mela 3 will remain in the App Store for the foreseeable future.