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Creative Intent Remnant

Granular Effects Plug-in By Paul White
Published July 2020

Remnant comprises two delay lines, from which a granular engine takes segments and processes them in various ways to create a range of textural sounds that run from smooth and etherial to rhythmically glitchy. The plug-in, which has a completely resizeable window, supports Windows and Mac OS platforms and VST 2 and 3, AU and AAX plug-in formats. A brief manual describing the function of all the controls is built into the plug-in.

The delay lines are modelled after analogue tape, and a Warp knob adjusts the amount of pitch modulation. The signal path feeds some of the output back to the input via the Feedback control, but there’s also a Crosstalk knob that feeds back some of the grain delay signal into the opposite delay line, for added complexity. An M‑S button changes the signal routing so that instead of having one delay line working on the left channel and one on the right, one works on the Mid signal and one on the Sides, making it possible to have different effects applied at the extreme edges of your stereo sound stage. A Delay knob sets the delay time in milliseconds, but at the time of writing doesn’t have a sync-to-tempo option — there are plans to add this. To the right is the filter cutoff control and Mix handles wet/dry balance.

Along the bottom are buttons for M‑S mode, high/low-pass switching, Freeze and auto-ducking. The last allows the initial sound to remain clean, with the granular delay then fading in. There’s also an Envelope threshold amount knob for use with freeze and ducking. With Freeze enabled, Remnant freezes the signal in the delay line and then continues to derive grains from that sound. However, if your input signal exceeds the envelope threshold, Remnant allows the new signal to feed into the delay line and the process starts again. This works well with widely spaced sounds, as the space between them is filled with a sustaining granular effect relating to the previous note or chord.

The six upper and lower blocks, which are populated by patterns that shift when moved, are in fact parameter sliders that relate to the two channels, and their function is shown in small grey text at the bottom of the screen. These control the grain Frequency, Spray, Spread, Pitch-shift, Reverse and Feedback. Spray and Spread interact with the grains, such that Spray introduces some randomness into how the grains are derived and Spread applies stereo-panning to individual grains to create a wide stereo image. Reverse sets the probability of grains being reversed. The longer you set the delay time, the longer the grains can be.

There are over 50 presets, which cover a useful range and show you what this plug-in can do. With tools such as pitch-shifting, reversing and filtering, Remnant has some overlap with other granular effects (Output’s Portal, for example) though some have modulation controls that Remnant lacks. You can get interesting results with just about any sound source, though, and the forthcoming tempo-sync delay option will make life easier when creating rhythmic effects. Using the filter to roll off some top end can help produce smooth, textural effects while keeping things bright, and adding some pitch-shift gives you the familiar crystal delay kind of effect. If you’re after something really silky and textural, then putting a reverb after Remnant really helps. Given the low cost of this plug-in, it could prove very tempting for anyone into ambient or cinematic music composition.