There is a member of the MusicTech team who studied granular synthesis at college, don’t you know, and is constantly name dropping Iannis Xenakis who came up with the concept. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be nearly as annoying as said staff member, because Quanta is designed to make granular synthesis easy, and by god it sounds good too.
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Quanta key features:
- Granular synth
- Up to 100 grains per voice up to one second long
- Over 350 Presets
- Noise oscillator and Sidecar oscillator
- Multi-format sample loader (takes pretty much any audio type)
- Full-loaded mod matrix
- Flexible Envelope Generators (FEG) x 4
- Dual multimode filters (2- and 4-pole)
- Resizable GUI
So what you have to start with is a dual oscillator synth: one a simple variable waveshape type with pulse width and tuning options; the other an even simpler noise oscillator. The real fun happens when you load in your own audio – not essential as there are stacks of presets which we’ll come to. This audio is broken down into grains which you then simply manipulate in various ways to synthesise.
Increasing the number of grains and their length has the most dramatic effect, as does bringing in several random options. What is so good about Quanta, though, is the whole thing just looks so slick so you’ll be experimenting in no time. (And, if we’re honest, a certain amount of trial and error will pay dividends too.)
Better still are those presets, programmed by Chris Carter, Joseph Fraioli, Marcus Fisher and MusicTech interviewee and sound designer extraordinaire Richard Devine. You might think that smashing up a sound into a gazillion grains will result in some kind of buzzing nonsense, but there is everything here from dreamy pads, to rhythmic textures, lush strings to indescribable atmosphere. Just check out the opening Carter preset for some extraordinary orchestral drama, or his Fox Math for some analogue action, or pretty much any of Fisher’s for some more off-world textures. Best of all, take one that you like and it’s easy to load your own audio in to make it your own – take that Devine!
Quanta updates and simplifies granular in an exciting way and offers some very different and incredible sounds. It’s a high scoring month of exciting reviews this month. Add this to the pile…