Grain Delay Introduction


Personally I feel that one of the most interesting effects nowadays is Grain delay. Let me explain why. It is based on Granular synthesis which is a unique sound synthesis that operates on the micro-sound time scale, enabling you to produce truly amazing results. Moreover, Grain delay works on the same principle as sampling. However, the samples are not played back conventionally, but are instead split into small pieces of around 1 to 50 miliseconds. Consequently, these small pieces are called grains. You can layer these multiple grains on top of each other, and play them at different speeds, phases, volume, and frequencies.

As a result of the aforementioned, grain delay is really good for creating completely unique sweeps, swooshes, and builds. Furthermore, it’s also perfect for adding interest to glitched out sounds. Therefore, it is definitely an effect for those that want to create those crazy robotic sounds!

These days, there are many different Grain Delay VST plugins available with various different controllable parameters. In addition, by varying the waveform, envelope, duration, spatial position, and density of the grains, one can produce many diverse  sounds. In the next tutorial I will try to demonstrate what one of these plugins is capable of. I find the Grain Delay component within Guitar Rig 5 by Native Instruments a perfect match since it’s simple and has a user friendly interface.

On a newly created midi channel in Lumit I will first load an instance of Spire by Reveal Sound and make a somewhat simple pad sound based on a saw-tooth waveform. Firstly, I will just automate its cutoff frequency parameter of the filter section. Let us hear how its sounds:


grain delay


~Pad Sound with Automated Cutoff Frequency


Dive into the Granular World


Moving forward, I will load Guitar Rig 5 in the same midi channel where I have placed Spire.  Among various Guitar Rig 5 components I will choose the Grain Delay. This effect, with its innovative granular approach, will allow you to refine the spatial aspects of your tones and build massive walls of echoing energy. Its interdependent controls are an invitation to experiment and will help you achieve truly unique effects.

In the process of setting the remaining parameters the way I like, I will automate the dry/wet knob to smooth out the changes I’ve made. Afterwards, I will also automate the space parameter, which determines the duration of the grains. I will also insert a Reverb effect at the end of the chain to counteract dryness.  Let’s hear it now.






~Pad Sound with Automated Cutoff Frequency and Grain Delay parameters


In the end, it is clear that the original sound has been significantly altered by automating of the space knob. This introduces a sort of speeding-up effect and enhances the sense of movement – much like an up-lifter. Try it for yourself, and have fun!


Download the patch here.