There are grain effects aplenty, but AVAL’s latest hits on a uniquely satisfying sound processor in Ableton Live, as input signals unfold into layered, pitched, organic textures.

The formula here is straightforward: combine randomized grain sizes with adjustable delay, add four pitch shifters, a graphical envelope editor for grains, plus a rich shimmer reverb, and some artistic evolving graphics to boot. But in contrast to many other grain delays that tend to get lost in a sea of parameters, GrainDelay is both simple and mutable.

Easily accessible controls transform it from rhythmic to textured — and let you tune how much pitch shift effect you want, from big shimmers to subtler time-smearing effects. That immediacy is important because it’s also pre-mapped to Ableton Push and works nicely as an effect. (I tested both in controller mode, which works on any generation Push hardware, and with Push 3 standalone mode – it’s flawless in each.)

Onboard options:

  • Sync individual grain timing to clock or free.
  • “Much”: a combined control for delay time and random spray around it (which, let’s be honest, you’re just going to mess with – which is fine).
  • Sync/Sfased: this is critical because you can either make a more continuous flux of sound, or pulsing patterned effects with “sync” – that’s phase alignment, independent from the grain timing control above.
  • Pitch shifters and send: the four branching options give you four independent pitch shifters you can tune in semitones.
  • Envelope shape editor for single grains (also a stand-out feature for this one).
  • Integrated reverb.

The combination of Sync/Free timing modes and Sync/Sfased give you a range of more rhythmic and more textural effects, rather than making you choose.

I do like that you can ignore what these do and experiment for results, too – though there is some useful documentation. But it’s playful either way.

And yes, just when you thought you didn’t need a new grain delay, along come Edoardo Staffa and Francesco Paradisi (AVAL) with this. It’s simply beautiful.

The demo video gives you some nice sonic examples:

But I got lost last night just jamming with it using Arturia’s Piano V (with Universal Audio’s 1176LN rev E from Spark swapped out for Arturia’s own internal compressor/limiter). And you get some predictably lovely results:

Look, how playful is this? It’s enough so that while I was making the screenshots for this article in a few seconds, absolutely not looking at or listening to what I was doing, I accidentally came up with this sketch. (Iftah’s/Skinnerbox’s STING!64 freebie just gets rinsed around here.)

(PS, if you like the Ableton Live Theme here, it’s again INFRA|Light Studio as I wrote up earlier.)

GrainDay is available from Isotonik Studios.

If you buy something from a CDM link, we may earn a commission.