randy's Recent Posts

(This already went out via the mailing list. I'm posting here for people who are just joining us.)

Sumu update.

Hi folks, thanks all of you who have purchased the Early Access release of Sumu or the Studio Bundle! Though I’m still deep in Sumu work, I’m also looking ahead to the updates of the other instruments, and to future projects I want to get started on. I couldn’t even imagine doing some of these future projects without full time to devote to Madrona Labs work. Based on the success of the Sumu launch so far, it looks like I’ll be able to have that time. This is huge for me.

So, the release got out, but not without hiccups. There are a few bugs that I created in my last week of work and as such, evaded beta testing:

  • crashes on load on Windows, in DAWs including FL Studio and Cubase
  • window too big on launch, preventing easy resize
  • distorted sound coming from oscillators mod osc output

I am going to get a release out ASAP to address these—but also take the time to beta test everything properly. I have already fixed two out of three of these issues here, so I think June 3 is a realistic date for the next update. Other fixes will be in it also.

Sumu FAQ.
The scales menu is grayed out. Is it unimplemented?
Yes, everything grayed out is that way on purpose because it is not implemented yet.

I'm not finding the popup menus for patches and partials.
These need a right-click (Windows) or ctrl+click or two-finger click (Mac). This is confusing a lot of folks so I'm going to change it in a future release.

When will the 1.0 release come out?
Given a reasonable pace of three or four betas, I’m shooting for 8–10 weeks from now.

I’m trying to import my own partials but it’s not working.
The documentation is not complete but please look at this topic on our forums: https://madronalabs.com/topics/9253-sumo-preset-and-partials-maps-menu-selection
See also this Vutu quickstart, which is a little behind the current Vutu but a good intro:

I can’t find the global settings […] menu described in the manual.
The manual has it wrong—I removed that one after telling George it would be there, because it wasn’t done yet. Please look forward to more menus in the future.

Feature X is not working, is this a demo restriction?
The only demo restrictions are as follows:

  • saving patches is not allowed
  • a soft “demo wave” sound plays every two minutes

Anything else that seems wrong is either a bug, or a weird synthesizer working properly.

The window size is too big, how can I change it?
To change the window size, you need to drag the triangle in the lower right corner. But this is impossible if it's offscreen! You can work around this in the meantime by setting your display resolution high enough to see the resizer in the lower right, resizing Sumu to a reasonable size, and saving that state in your DAW. On opening the saved patch Sumu should start with the saved size.

No, for real. Enjoy. Feel free to post your getting started questions here, or as always email us at support@madronalabs.com. And thanks in advance for your patience while we handle a larger than usual volume of support emails.

If I can be of any help resolving that, would be happy to. Can't wait for an update...

Hang in there, I'm working to get an update out ASAP.

Where are the Sumu partials stored?

~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials.

Vienna Ensemble can't load the interface and the plugin has induced kernel panics in my machine.

I will try Vienna Ensemble, hopefully this is fixed already.

I haven't seen any kernel panics here. If you are able to get a crash report of any kind, please send it to me via support@madronalabs.com .

This is proving to be frustrating. A document with an instance of Sumu that is generating sound is saved and closed. On reopening the document, Sumu no longer generates sound.

Sorry to hear. This is my first report of this. I test in Live Suite 12 all the time.

When Sumu is triggered with midi no sound comes out.

What if you switch to a patch that generates sound on its own? (Sumu machines / autoroute)

Do the red lights in the input module flash when there's MIDI input?

Does the sound cut off for the entire Live project, or just Sumu?

I'm trying to understand at what point the system is failing.

Resize on Macbook M2 laptop in Logic isn't working here and it's larger than my screen.

Fixed for the next update.

Re Vutu integration:

Thanks for the feedback. The more tightly I integrate Vutu with Sumu, the closer I'm afraid I get to violating the spirit of the GPL that Loris was offered under. So this is a direction I will probably want to avoid.

Amazing work.

Thank you so much!

One thing I get sometimes is the modulator oscillator seems to return back to or get stuck on a default pitch.

Fixed for the next release.

*** updated with latest Mac and Windows links ***

I've just posted a public beta of Vutu for MacOS (edit: and now for WIndows!). Vutu is the sound analysis program for the upcoming Sumu synthesizer.


Mac: http://madronalabs.com/media/vutu/Vutu%200.9.9.dmg
Windows: http://madronalabs.com/media/vutu/VutuWin0.9.10.zip

A Vutu quickstart video is also online now. I haven't had a chance to write any better documentation yet, and I"m not sure I will before I get the Sumu beta out. However, Vutu in its current form is pretty simple anyway, and most of what you need to know you can find out by fooling around with the dials and listening and looking.

Vutu analyzes sounds using Loris, developed by Kelly Fitz and Lippold Haken at the CERL Sound Group. A detailed intro to Loris is available on Hakenaudio.com: Current Research in Real-time Sound Morphing More publications are also linked from the CERL Sound Group Loris page. Loris is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and thus, Vutu is also. Vutu's source is available on Github.

Vutu is built on a cross-platform GUI framework I developed called mlvg. Compiling it for Windows and Linux should therefore be a reasonably easy task, but I know there will be a bunch of details to iron out, so I'm not taking that on until after I can make a Sumu beta.

That was a lot of info and links. Why would you want to play with Vutu right now? Some reasons might be:

  • You want to get started making your own sound bank for Sumu.
  • You have to try out the newest audio software, whatever it is, and this was just released today.
  • You enjoy looking at bandwidth-enhanced partials and hearing odd noises.

Each voice of Sumu will be able to play back 64 bandwidth-enhanced partials simultaneously. A bandwidth-enhanced partial is basically a single sine wave, modulated with noise. So at any given instant of time, in addition to frequency, amplitude and phase, it also has a bandwidth, or noisiness. Making sounds out of such partials is a very powerful technique, and I think it's pretty easy to grasp. What's been difficult about additive synthesis is the large amount of control data that's needed. How do you generate it all? My answer in Sumu is to use the familiar patchable interface, but extended so that each patch cord carries separate signals for each partial. This allows sound design in a playful, exploratory way that should be familiar to any modular user. Honestly I think it will be fun as hell.

Thanks to Kelly Fitz and Lippold Haken for creating and sharing Loris. Thanks also to Greg Wuller for helping me get going with the Loris source code, and for utu, which became Vutu. Utu is a Finnish word for "mist" or "fog", like Sumu. Vutu is short for visual utu.

Vutu requirements

A Metal-capable Mac running MacOS 10.14 (Mojave) or greater.
Vutu is native for Intel and Apple Silicon.
Since it's an analyzer and not a real-time program (except for playing the results), CPU doesn't really matter.

The update release is coming along well. I can hold off on shipping a thing for years while I design it, but if people have bought it and it's not working for them that's very motivating for me!

Bought the bundle yesterday and have been playing with Sumu since.

Thank you for the detailed feedback! I'm very glad you are enjoying it.

Each of Sumu's 64 playback oscillators is a 2-op FM (or AM) pair with noise. A single sine + noise goes (or can go) toward reproducing the sound as analyzed. Then the pair can do a lot more, with the partials file as a jumping off point for new sounds.

Any chance of you adding paypal as a payment method?

please write us at support@madronalabs.com and one of us will take care of it.

Unfortunately a display-related bug snuck into the Early Access 1 release that is crashing a bunch of DAWs on Windows.

I figured out where this problem lies and it will be fixed for the next update. We are aiming for Jun 3 for the next release.

Hello! I´m loving Sumu! So inspiring instrument!

Thank you very much!

But I can not find my custom folder in the drop down menu in Sumu. Am I doing something wrong?

Sorry it's not well documented yet. For now, I have this explanation:

When you import a partials folder, it imports the whole directory tree underneath the one you pick, including any folders that contain .utu files.

So if I have on my disk

and then bring up the import dialog (partials/...) and select the folder ~/VutuFiles to import,

the files
~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials/Strings/cello.sumu
~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials/Strings/cello.sumu
~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials/Noises/tinkle.sumu
~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials/Noises/harsh/blender.sumu

will be created, along with the directories on the way.

Importing again will (for now) overwrite these files.

The intention is to "sync" your entire partials development folder at once.

I have two non-working features. [...]

All the grayed out controls are not yet implemented.

The info about the settings menu was not correct in the manual, apologies.

Thank you Randy, I did note that this issue was resolved with Sumu.

Glad to hear!

I think it's okay to have the two finger gesture, but I'd really like it if there was an arrow or something that let you see the list just by clicking regularly.

Heard! Thanks for the feedback.

And a random recommendation - set the polyphony to 4 for all presets, and let the user add as needed.

Thanks, that's the idea. I just missed a few when I was getting Early Access out.

So where is the '...' in the tuning module? The one for settings like midi channels?

The manual has this wrong, sorry. It didn't get implemented for the first release.

I haven't updated Aalto or Kaivo to fix this issue. Now that Sumu is released I will devote some attention to the other instruments again.

Hi Simon did you not get my reply to your support email? I replied a few days ago. I'll copy it here:

The drop down menus for presets and partials maps are not available to me. I have to control click (Mac) to see the menus.

This is what's intended: that you have to control-click, (or two-finger click on your trackpad) and then they appear. Does that not seem right?

(Since my original reply, other people have been confused also, so I'm pretty certain I will change the menus to come up with a single click in the future)

I cannot find any reference to how presets / waveforms are selected in the manual. Am I missing something obvious?
The manual needs some work, but we thought some manual at this point was better than none.

When you import a partials folder, it imports the whole directory tree underneath the one you pick, including any folders that contain .utu files.

So if I have on my disk

and then bring up the import dialog (partials/...) and select the folder ~/VutuFiles to import,

the files
~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials/Strings/cello.sumu
~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials/Strings/cello.sumu
~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials/Noises/tinkle.sumu
~/Music/Madrona Labs/Sumu/Partials/Noises/harsh/blender.sumu

will be created, along with the directories on the way.

Importing again will (for now) overwrite these files.

The intention is to "sync" your entire partials development folder at once.


Trying to import partials, and the mythical "..." in the "upper right corner" of the VST is missing on the windows version.

In this case it's in the upper right corner of the partials module you need. There's a [...] there that brings up a popup menu with one choice in it: "import folder..."

Sorry if the manual had it wrong.

Is Sumu feature-complete at this point?

Almost - anything you see grayed out will get completed. I might sneak in something else but not a big change like another envelope.

Note that with the "hi scale" and lo / all / hi outputs on the envelope, you effectivaly get two different envelopes, the same shape but at different time scales, and then the blend of 64 envelopes in between.

I hope you publish some videos at some point as a complement to the manual.

There will be videos!

Thanks for the feedback.

it seem that there is a lot of bug in your work, before buy Sumu i thought it was demo restrictions, but it's not.
Allow me to say that I'm a little disappointed.

Sorry to disappoint, we have said this is an Early Access release and some things are not implemented until 1.0.

You are mentioning the following issues:

  • global "..." not implemented as in the Draft manual
  • tuning table unimplemented
  • unison unimplemented
  • "..." in input module unimplemented

These are all things planned for 1.0 and not implemented in Early Access.

What I'm learning from your feedback is that we should have had a list of these things, possibly on the Sumu Early Access page. Sorry these things were surprising! We said there were features unimplemented but did not say exactly what.

It seems to skip around everytime i try to make adjustments, and i dont think ill get used to it :)

You can click on places outside the "track" area, like directly on the number, this will start dragging at the current location.

All in all seems to be very badly optimized for this setup :D

Yes, it's very badly optimized, thanks for your patience, this is Early Access software.

A few patches probably blow up because they are trying to run 16 voices. You can turn the number of voices down to 1 on any patch to minimize CPU use then turn it up to however many you can run or want.

I didn't think I'd see something greedier than the NI granular VSTs like Straylight, but kudos ;). One voice clocks in at about 21% CPU, one voice sounds . . . like many other VSTs I have, even with the baked-in Ableton engines like Collision, I can reproduce something close to your output. Mind you, it's not as fun to use.

I think once you dive in you'll find sounds you can make with Sumu that would not be accessible with other tools.

And certainly I'm going to optimize CPU a lot.

Thanks for your feedback and support! I don't spend as much time with other VSTs as I should, so I appreciate the perspective.

Sorry for the dodgy report and good luck with the bug squishing!

No worries, this is also feedback that probably my UI can be improved. Enjoy the sounds...

I have to Ctrl-click on the currently selected patch name to see any preset menus... is that how it's supposed to be?

I thought so, but I'm hearing a lot of feedback that people aren't loving this, so there may be a change.

Yes, tunings besides 12-equal will come with the 1.0 version, as will a lack of glitches.

Actually I'm not hearing other reports of it freezing (no sound)—maybe this is an Intel thing that not many people are running into because most Intel machines can't handle it yet. Please stay tuned as I work this out, your testing will be really helpful.

yes absolutely to CLAP! no port to VCV Rack but we will fix the bugs with hosting the VST3.