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MARS is a very powerful hardware-based modular synth developed by IRIS (Istituto di Ricerca per l'Industria dello Spettacolo). IRIS has the aim of developing applied research and technological innovations in the field of electronic music, mainly for the Bontempi-Farfisa Group (!!). It consists of two halves - ARES (Audio Resource Editing System) which is the software package used to work with it, and MARS itself (Musical Audio Research Station). ARES consists of a lot of editors, used to edit different parts of the synthesizer (e.g. tone editor, LFO editor, etc) which are all integrated into one environment. Its origins are reflected in the interface, which represents everything quite technically. However once you have learned to use it this should make no difference. MARS consists of an ISA sound generation board and an external audio interface. It has memory into which samples can be loaded.

The software currently contains the following modules:

  • Standard arithmetic operators (e.g. adder, multiplier)
  • Arithmetic operators with "overflow protect" and/or "zero protect"
  • Table accesses (to read/write wavetable memory)
  • Oscillators
  • Randon generators
  • Undersampled oscillators (e.g. envelope, LFO)
  • Modulators & distorters (e.g. FM, waveshaping)
  • Complex generators (e.g. impulse generator, additive generator)
  • Logical operators and transformers (e.g. inverter, clipper, max, min, noise gate, trigger)
  • Time transformers (e.g. delay, echo)
  • Spectral transformers/filters
  • Pitch transformers (e.g. harmonizer, doppler)
  • Amplitude transformers (e.g. pan, mixer)
  • Mechanical operators such as mass and spring for physical modeling
  • Effects (e.g. reverb, chorus)

Go to the IRIS homepage

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back to reviews (c) Mark White 1997