Grain Science is a new granular synthesizer from Wooji Juice. If you are not familiar with granular synthesis, it differs from traditional additive or subtractive synthesis, instead of playing a typical waveform, with granular synthesis that waveform is broken up into tiny little pieces of audio called grains. Parameters of the grains are manipulated to alter the sound, letting you create vast intricate soundscapes or pinpoint laser strike leads from the same sound just by adjusting the speed and size of the grains.
Grain Science brings these concepts to iOS with a very intuitive, beautiful, and fluid interface. Making it easy to load in new waveforms or samples, easily adjust the parameters, apply effects, shape the waveforms, arpeggiate the sounds, record them, and manipulate a wide array of performance parameters.
Grain Units and Envelope
You are greeted by an initial screen with a Default Instrument selected (init sound), and some parameters for voice control, glide, and a keyboard. swiping left reveals that the controls are a large string of different screens that are well laid out. Next between the Grain Units (2 of them) is an Envelope control page, which lets you set the envelope ADSR controls plus a preamp gain control give you control of the sound mixed in different ways with a blend setting, setting the amount of the blend and the mode affects how the 2 grain units are mixed. I love this sort of concept, and the layout feels very natural.
The arpeggiator has 2 modes, chord and step. Chord functions like your typical arpeggiators on most synths, with different directions of the arps and octave and retrigger options to change the arps a bit. The step mode acts as a full 32 step sequencer, with a slick UI. There is a button to allow you to go full screen and create sequences, not only can you control the pitch but also the velocity, 2 custom controls. My only complaint was that I didn’t see a way to save the sequences independently of the presets.
Grain Science comes with a good amount of effects ranging from 6 different types of distortion, from bit crusher to waveshaper, 5 types of frequency effects including Low Pass / High Pass Filters, Chorus, Flange, Phaser, and some digital echo, and a tube resonance effect. The effects can be configured to sit in a chain of 4 slots, so 4 running at once. What I found great about them was tucked away beneath most of the effects controls are modulation options, for LFO sync, with tons of options to change the duration, and what it does over the duration of the LFO, and in each modulation panel, a visual representation of that LFO is shown. I can’t stress enough the wild modulation, you can do with this to make living breathing sounds. My favorite effect has to be the new G-1000 Shapeinator, coupled with the modulated LFO’s and you can really change the sound of your sounds over time.
The reverb unit which is a separate effect page is stunning. It has to be played with to believe the quality of reverb that Wooji Juice is achieving, it is hard to believe it is coming from an iOS app. Also the controls on this unit offer the same LFO, and modulation options, which makes the entire environment very customize-able.
This section gives you a nice overview of what you have connected to various performance controls, and also what you have LFO’s applied to. I would love to see this as a graphical representation, but maybe I am asking too much, with the stunning UI in the rest of the app, I can envision a diagram with showing parameters, and the different units full screen, to get a really good visualization of the modulation matrix.
Grain Science has a wealth of performance controls 4 different sections that are customize-able as 4 wheels per section, or XY pads in any combination that you would like, so if you really wanted to jam on 16 mod wheels you can. or 4 XY Pads, or 8 wheels and 2 pads etc.
Overall the sound that you can achieve with Grain Science is incredible and rivals any soft synth or hardware out there. It is definitely a fantastic addition to your electronic music tool box, and with the vast amount of customization with such a great intuitive interface, a purchase is a no-brainer. If you don’t already own a copy, go get one now! And since it is now universal on both iPad and iPhone, you have no excuse.