Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics released GranularEncoder, a free and open-source ambisonic granular effect plugin for Windows and macOS.
GranularEncoder is a granular effect that encodes a mono or stereo audio input into the Ambisonic domain. The plugin offers two different grain distribution modes: 2D and 3D.
As with any other granular effect, GranularEncoder works like a “cheese grater for audio.” It will dissolve the processed audio signal into tiny pieces and then reassemble it to create something new. The latter part of the process is where Granular Encoder slightly differs from similar plugins.
The 2D mode is based on a “circular distribution” of the audio grains. The user can adjust the grain spread in a two-dimensional space. Depending on the Mix parameter value, the output can sound either as an Ambisonic granulator (when set to 100% wet) or an Ambisonic grain delay (when the Mix is set to 50% or below).
This mode is easier to operate and works great as a creative effect that you can blend in with the original audio. It sounds amazing on guitars, arpeggios, and cinematic pads. It can also work as a special effect on drum loops. Use the built-in modulators to add even more interest to the processed signal.
The 3D mode is more advanced. It is based on a spherical distribution of audio grains, allowing more complexity. The user can fine-tune the Azimuth, Elevation, Size, and Shape of the grains.
Things can get quite hectic in the granular domain, so the developer recommends using the EnergyVisualizer plugin to get a visual preview of the grain distribution.
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to understand what’s happening with your audio to get a great sound. Sometimes, it’s fun to simply pick up a plugin like GranularEncoder and experiment until you get a cool-sounding result.
So, don’t be discouraged by GranularEncoder’s deep feature set. For all its clever granular processing and fine-tuning capabilities, the plugin is surprisingly easy to use. Download it for free, add it to your DAW, and start discovering the beauty of granular audio processing.
Be sure to read the quick guide linked below, and feel free to take some time to experiment with GranularEncoder’s features. After all, granular synthesis is the audio equivalent of a sandcastle – it takes a lot of grains to build something beautiful!
GranularEncoder is part of IEM’s free and open-source plugin bundle. The included software is available for Windows and macOS in VST, AU, and LV2 plugin formats.
Please note that GranularEncoder is only available for download as part of IEM’s plugin bundle. However, it’s a relatively small download at 75.5 MB (zipped), and it contains 21 individual plugins. You’ll find useful tools in the package, including a free multiband compressor, a few EQs, a reverb, and more.