Just like Ableton’s native Looper device, GrainLoop is a Max for Live audio effect is designed to overdub and accumulate an unlimited number of sound layers as the recording process is repeated, but applying a variable degree of unpredictability to its playback phase, derived from the granular synthesis unique and characteristic nature.
Mostly inclined to work as a live performance tool, GrainLoop adapts its behaviour according to the current state of its most important parameters:
- Point: Each grain default starting position.
- Speed: Grain triggering rate or frequency.
- Density: Number of simultaneous grains (up to four).
- Detune: Grains global pitch correction.
- Panning: Their default location in the stereo field.
- Level: Grains global amplitude.
All these parameters could also be individually affected by two different modulation sources that enable even more interesting and unpredictable actions:
- Randomize: Grains can randomly (and individually) add or subtract a certain value to their dials current position.
- LFO: Individual amount controls define how much each parameter could be affected by GrainLoop’s integrated LFO signal. The latter offers both Free and Sync rate styles and a selection of seven different waveforms (Sine, Triangle, Up Saw, Down Saw, Square, Smooth and Random).
How does recording work? GrainLoop doesn’t play its recordings in a linear or traditional manner, since it continuously shuffles these audio particles, applying a variable degree of unpredictability to its behaviour. That’s basically granular!
As a consequence of this particular nature, the recording/overdub process doesn’t occur on the same buffer that is also being used for playback. GrainLoop jumps between two complementary buffers, following a very simple principle: one records while the other plays back. This avoids all sort of clicks and unwanted noises that will otherwise result from the process of reading before the recording’s finished.
Only three simple steps you need to follow!
1. Rec button On: GrainLoop starts recording the incoming audio signal.
2. Rec button Off: Once recording stops, the new layer is ready for playback.
3. Play/Freeze buttons On: GrainLoop starts playing a continuous stream of grains.
One of the most common worries that users share when it comes to Max for Live devices that implement granular synthesis in some way or another, is how much CPU power is involved while they’re being used. This should not be a worry in this case, since GrainLoop is really optimised for the task and has very low CPU consumption (Between 5% and 7% at 44.1KHz 2048 samples on a MacBook Pro Early 2015 Intel Core i5 8GB; macOS 11.1; Ableton Live 11.1.6; Focusrite Scarlett 4i4), way below average compared to other devices found in the same family.