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FACTORSYNTH 2 by JJ BURRED
Factorsynth is a Max For Live device created by J.J. Burred that uses a data analysis algorithm called matrix factorization to decompose any audio clip into a set of temporal and spectral elements. By rearranging and modifying these components you can do powerful transformations to your clips, such as removing notes or motifs, creating new ones, randomizing melodies or timbres, changing rhythmic patterns, remixing loops in real time, applying effects selectively only to certain elements of the sound, creating complex sound textures…
After 2 years of the initial release comes Factorsynth 2, the first major update. Following many user suggestions and requests, version 2 is an even more versatile yet easier to use device, with a simplified workflow and numerous new features. It is now possible to individually pan the components, allowing to do things such as upmixing a mono clip to stereo. Another powerful new feature is the quantized shifting of the components, which allows changing the rhythmic structure of riffs and drum loops. A second, alternative decomposition algorithm is available, as well as a more detailed control of the playback region.
A restricted Demo version of Factorsynth is available here – FACTORSYNTH 2 DEMO
How does Factorsynth work?
Factorsynth is based on a modified version of an algorithm called Non-Negative Matrix Factorization (NMF). Simply put, NMF can automatically extract interesting patterns from data. It has been used in fields such as computer vision and movie recommendations. I had to heavily adapt and tweak it in order to meet the real-time needs of music production.
Can Factorsynth remove a full voice/instrument from a mix?
That’s unlikely, unless your voice or instrument plays only a few sustained notes, with no effects and no vibrato. Factorsynth can extract interesting sound events, such as individual notes, attack noises, impulses or rhythmical structures (watch the demo video to get an idea), but it’s not aimed at separating full instruments. That’s the job of source separation, which is a harder thing to do! On the other hand, you can often nicely separate drum sets and individual drum instruments (kick drums, hi-hats, snares…). For more details about this, check out this blog post.
Can Factorsynth’s parameters be controlled by Live’s automation envelopes or MIDI mappings?
Most of them can (factorization buttons, matrix operation buttons, solo buttons, number of components, all levels and pan sliders, shifting buttons, transport controls and quantization). Also, the first 8×8 buttons on the switchboards are MIDI-assignable. The ones that cannot be controlled by Live are: analysis parameters, clear panel, export panel, “snap” and “all” buttons on the output waveform display, reset and threshold buttons and individual buttons on the switchboards corresponding to component numbers higher than 8.
Can Factorsynth be used with standalone Max?
Yes, starting from version 1.5 it is possible to use them with the standalone Max application, without Ableton Live. There is a bit of patching needed to set it up. For details, you can take a look at the “Usage from Max” section in the manuals.
Jamie (verified owner) –
A super Max tool that is different and spectacular. You can break a sound loop into multiple granular parts and rearrange it in almost infinite combinations. You could get lost for days. Top notch work. I highly recommend it for music and sound design. It’s a secret weapon for creativity!
Amazing device. Looking very much forward to it’s future. Would love it if extracted elements could be made to have their own individual mixer channels, so they could be processed independently.
Kieron Johnson (verified owner) –
Factorsynth is absolutely essential. There is NOTHING else like this out there, and for that it’s worth its weight in gold to anyone looking for unheard sounds. It’s still surprising me after a month of heavy use. I can’t think of the last time a piece of software had me this excited.
Salvador España Ramirez (verified owner) –
Top M4Live device. Worth every euro spent. Thanks to J.J. Burred an Isotonik Studios for this jewel.
moritz meschonat (verified owner) –
I bought Factorsynth and Iota today, explored them both playfully and wow… these are creativity tools like I was looking for without even suspecting it.
Conclusion: unimagined possibilities for little money. buy.
in my first (simple!) test i had “factorized” a 4 bar tape recording in Factorsynth. i faded out rhythmic elements, bass and piano. what was left were parts of the solo instrument with an interesting sound aesthetics. exported and with a portion of valhalla a really good start. i imported the new file into iota and created a rhythmic ambient chord accompaniment with three zones.
both tracks together a great foundation. let’s see where i end up with it…
David Rowe (verified owner) –
Factorsynth is really intuitive. An outside the box idea and I’m loven’ it! Thank you JJ for such a cool tool! 5 STARS!
Factorsynth is the rumbling underpinning loop for this piece. I bounced a 2 bar loop, brought it into LIVE on two separate tracks and attached an Auto Filter and a Filter Delay and drove their parameters with an LFO. Each slightly different.
I called it Shufflin Wub because of the sound created.