Elements bow exciter too soft?

Hello to you all, as a long time lurker and someone very interested in Mutable Instruments modules, this will be my first post!

I’ve finally bought my first module, Elements, looking to expand a bit more in the near future. I’m controlling it with my Analog Keys and I’m enjoying it very much. But… the bow exciter section seems to me to be very soft. When Timbre is low, it’s hardly perceivable, even with the bow knob turned fully clockwise. Especially with the contour knob CCW. I can crank up the input in my Analog Keys, but the blow and strike exciters are so loud in comparison, that I just barely have them open.

Is this normal or is something off?

My experience is that the output from the bow exciter can get pretty loud, but it very much depends on the settings in the resonator section.
The bow exciter mainly excites around the lower frequencies. With very little damping, the resonator can produce nice “feedback-guitar-amp” tones.

But yes, in most cases thebow section seems very quiet.

Consider longer gates for the Bow exciter.

Think about it…bowing isn’t really a fast attack sort of excitation like “blowing” or “striking”.

As an experiment, turn down every exciter except for Bow. Set Contour to ~3 o’clock. Set Bow timbre fully CW.

Now hold down the PLAY button. You’ll hear the Bow excitation much better this way. You can balance the Blow/Strike exciters from there.

Again, long gates…

(Oh yeah, and as mentioned above, make sure Brightness is set above ~10 o’clock or so)

Yes, the bowing sound is achieved through feedback, so it needs a bit of time to “grow” to full amplitude.

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Okay, thanks very much for the quick response! I’ll experiment a bit further with the different settings tonight!

I don’t have my synth in front of me so I can’t test it, but I imagine passing a high voltage into the strength will also have an effect on the quality of the Bow excitation.

I’m pretty new to elements and this was my first reaction to it as well. With the exciter knobs at 12 o’clock I find it impossible to go over the threshold for the LED to light up. The other exciters (blow and strike) is considerable stronger at the corresponding settings (knobs at 12).
Is there some kind of feedback from the resonator part that is required to archive more amplitude?

After consulting the manual page again I think I misunderstood the contour knob.

Bow/Blow envelope CONTOUR . A simple envelope is applied to the sound generated by the BOW and BLOW exciters. This knob interpolates between several preset shapes for this envelope: short AD envelopes getting longer and slower, morphing into slower ADSR envelopes, fading into faster AR envelopes.

I think I need to experiment more with that.

One of my favourite uses of Elements with the bow exciter is to set the contour to around 1 o clock (which means that it’s an ASR envelope) and send a constant voltage into the gate input which means it’ll happily feedback and resonate away in a lovely cv able drone. That’s also quite a nice spot for me when using Arches or Pressure Points instead of a constant gate for quite expressive playing of Elements from a control surface.


Keep contour around noonish (w constant gate) and timbre more CW than not. Once the resignation builds up you can then move contour more ccw to get a more intense/harsh sound.

I figured out that patching a constant saw to the ext1 input and set the space control to fully ccw helped. That way it was easier to get the hang of the contour knob.
That experiment ended with some duo-phonic experiments: Elements sounds wonderful with one one saw-sequence to ext input and another v/oct sequence to the resonator section.