Granular synthesis, hardware or software, what do you use?

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The German Synthesizer videocast SequencerTalk 99 deals with granular synthesis in hardware and highlights two stars: the Tasty Chips GR-1, and the Waldorf Iridium.

I have been running the Synth Anatomy website for over 6 years. Interestingly, my beginning in synthesis did not shape the classic analog school but rather the experimental such as granular synthesis. This fascinates me to this day as it can produce sounds in new novel ways. Also that I can realize many of my sound ideas with these instruments.

I took my first granular steps with software synthesizers like the granulator M4L device by Robert Henke, Alchemy, and others. I’ve spent hours creating rich atmospheric textures like clouds, drones… But I’m also very happy to see that there are more and more hardware devices offering granular synthesis including Eurorack modules.

SequencerTalk 99

My colleagues from the German videocast SequencerTalk had the topic “granular synthesis in hardware” this week. They focused mainly on two recent devices: the Tasty Chips Electronics GR-1 granular sampler/synth, and the Waldorf Iridium. The latter has granular as a part of its massive multi-engine including VA, granular, kernel (FM), wavetable, and resonator.

But, it struck me how strongly my granular work is still based on software. I still use my favorite granulator device for Ableton Live, but also many excellent very affordable iOS apps such as Borderlands, iDensity, or SpaceCraft. Here musicians can enjoy very high-quality granular processors even with a small budget. My interest, however, in buying a fully loaded hardware granular synth is very high. The GR-1 is very tempting with its feature set and design.

What is your hardware granular favorite? Which do you use or are you still as rooted in the software domain as I am. Let me know. And if you understand German, I can only recommend the new SequencerTalk 99 episode, here both the GR-1 and Waldorf Iridium are presented in more detail.

More information here: SequencerTalk 

Synth Radar


  1. Borderlands, Tardigrain, Quanta and Spacecraft on IOS are all great for different reasons. Granular is the only reason I bought an iPad and I’m glad I did. If you want videos of what they can do Jakob Haq on YouTube has loads…

  2. Yes, Borderlands rocks. Also check out Open Granular from those old codgers, The Strange Agency. It’s open source! And the classic Soup, grains with liquid physics.

  3. My go-to for granular these days is the ER-301. You have a few different granular options with a lot of flexibility for triggering and modulation (both internal and external).

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