The sounds are alien and twisted. The user interface looks like engineers from Boeing and the Klingon homeworld got together to collaborate on a new spaceship cockpit. It can only mean one thing: GrainCube is here.

Built on sound designs and conception by sonic renegades Richard Devine and Josh Kay (Devinesound), with development by Rick Scott (Rachmiel), Igor Shilov (Twisted Tools), and a Lemur control-surface and additional input by Antonion Blanca (, this is a dream tool from a dream team.

The tool is free, a gift to people in the Reaktor and Lemur communities. (A Lemur isn’t necessary, though it is fun; Reaktor 5.x is required.)

I’m not just hyping this up for the sake of it, either. Seeing work like this is inspirational to me as a sound designer and sometimes-developer. I love the sounds they’re coaxing out of Reaktor and the insane mad-science of it all. At its heart, it’s a sample map of 400 mb of sample material, the sonic raw material for the work. An all-stops-pulled array of randomization and modulation then warps and melts and smelts that into audio ore.

For a sense of the tool in action, see the video at top, which Richard shot exclusively for CDM. If you’re a Reaktor user, you can then go grab it at the site below. If you use another tool or want to make some of your own samples, well, you’d better get patching and recording. That is all.

Lemur template @ Jazz Mutant

Obligatory monster screenshot:

Click for full-sized version.

  • Sounds lovely! Is there any similar tool in VSTI or VST-format?

  • JavaJ

    wow- what a freebiew- I can't wait to try it out.
    Great stuff!

  • @suecae
    if you have reaktor, it pulls up as an ensemble.

    i pulled this thing up in ableton and my cpu went through the roof on a 2.4ghz unibody mbPro w/ 4gb ram.

    so far, there are so many knobs and twisty thingies…you would hope that the mapping templates are friendly to your controller.

    so far…things happen so fast that a mouse can't keep track let alone dictate the mayhem!

    although…thankful for devine and team's effort to keep music tools circulating under the premise of creative currency vs. $ base models.


  • Orubasarot

    I guess if you add your own sample map you could use it for whenever you need crazyivan.dll yet want to pretend to be sophisticated. But what's with grandma's screensaver? Didn't we learn anything from Crusher-X?

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  • yeah a good .ens to download 😀

  • What suecae said…anyone know anything like this as a VST?

  • this is almost like a very cluttered borborygmus…with reverb options…:D
    not bad

  • dyscode

    Finally it´s good for something to have Mr. Devine all over the internet. I wonder where Jordan Russ will pop up in the train of it.
    /end sarcasm

    no really, totally nice! Thanks to everyone involed in this, esp. Twisted Tools! Their Reaktor skills are galactic.

  • Orubasarot

    Suecae, Will Copps, if you're craving another obscenely elaborate granular trainwreck capable of nothing but bloopy warbly pads, try CrusherX studio

    less knobs but an even more demented GUI

  • Orubasarot

    p.s. Fruity Granulizer 4 Lyfe, keep your filter sweeps to yourself

  • Tim Hanlon

    This thing sounds amazing. Hopefully someone with more skills than I can hook it up to touchOSC on the iPad.

  • DS1

    Agreed this ensemble is totally amazing. Wicked detail.

  • sixnon

    first time i have ever seen the word borborygmus used on a music forum!

    is there any explanatory document about, or does one take it as it comes?

  • nue

    antonio blanca coraborate on the lemur proyect i will test it right now

  • Polite

    wow. that's beautiful.

  • This is incredibly cool.

  • Thank you DEVSND! Another great toy to play with in Reaktor! Can't wait to try this out.


  • amazing!

  • Thanks a lot, will check it right now!

  • Didn't see the point in it and threw it away.

  • Orubasarot

    Ronald it's a screensaver with knobs that sounds like the 90s.

    Think of it as an interactive museum exhibit on the dot-com bubble and the IDM mailing list.

  • Orubasarot

    Woops I meant Roland.

    It's 5 in the morning and I'm still talking shit on CDM, goodnight everybody.

  • adam

    sounds great. but i really can't hear what i see. i guess the sounds are not just random, but to me the video doesn't reveal how changing parameters in the lemur interface affects the sound…

  • genjutsushi

    Graincube – a piece of software to admire rather than enjoy.

  • Joost

    I'm sure Native Instruments makes a lot of money by having people who develop for them for free. My impression is the Reaktor stuff gets repackaged in other plug-ins as well. If you publish something made in Reaktor you basically agree that NI can use it in other products? Does anybody know how that works? Something I've always wondered..

  • @ Orubasarot: Really? Whatever …

  • lu db

    orrible..caos..only caos…

  • Jim Aikin

    GrainCube is endless fun to listen to, even though the output bears no resemblance to actual music. My theory is that this ensemble is a wicked satire of improvised, aleatoric academic music. It's Cage-in-a-Box. The good news is, now that we have GrainCube, there's no need for anyone to do free improv soundscapes, ever again. (And thank God for that.) Just plug it in and go home.

  • Wondering

    What's with with all the snark, folks?

  • p8guitar

    I agree to Jim Aikin – with the exception that I don't think it is much fun listening to graincube.
    By the way – why do software programmers refuse to write manuals how to use their software? Maybe this ensemble is useful for making music, but we will never know. Sad.

  • Testing for a few minutes now. Seems brilliant. Will definitely return to it. I've seen other ens by Rick Scott and every last one of them reveals thinking way outside the box. I'm guessing the snarkers, @Wondering, don't spend much time in the electroacoustic world.

  • I'm on it! I have an iPad app that's basically the same instrument, but designed for metal guitarists (reverb/distortion). I'm waiting for the approval of the gods at Apple.

  • man..
    you gotta replace the samples with your own, it's quite incredible!!
    it totally captures that 4th dimension essence!!!
    over 9000….
    richard devine and rachmiel 4 life, bitches

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't rachmiel been doing granular systems in Reaktor for several years now? They all sound a lot like this, if you ask me…

    Now the Lemur interface… THAT is a work of art… I wish I could hear more of an effect when parameters were being tweaked, because I'm sure the underlying structures are quite wonderful! Great work, Antonio!

    This leads me to think about the limits of our perception with regards to complexity and control – if a RingArea on the Lemur changes a ton of parameters yet we have trouble perceiving what is going on, then for me the interface would be tangential to an extremely elaborate (and cool, mind you!) random generator.

  • well, on a single intel P4 2.0ghz Gateway laptop about a 1 gig of ram…it's a CPU hog. it will only run with 2 of the grains at 44.1khz.
    It runs all 4 grains at 22khz and 11khz ok but i'm going to load up my own samples and see what noise it makes.

  • DIY

    @ Andreas 'This leads me to think about the limits of our perception with regards to complexity and control'

    That's why I prefer to create my own complex sound generators!

  • I let GrainCube run for a few minutes, just on its built-in randomization, into my visualizer program. I like some of the resultant animations. I've found that the most interesting sound designs usually result in the most interesting Lissamations (sorry: Lissajous animations). I made no attempt to musically shape the output, so long-term consumption is not advised 🙂

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