Karlheinz Essl

REplay PLAYer

generative sound file shredder


Sound generators for video soundtracks (Rudolf Boogerman)
Miracle Tutorials, 22 Mar 2017

REplay PLAyer sound generator is more powerful than fLOW with respect to the control you have over the generated composition. You can load a sound and control a whole range of effects, including a wonderful feature called Scratch. The software is shareware and it is possible to record the sound and save it on your computer. It has no restriction on usage, therefore there is no problem using a composition in your projects, whatever they may be.

Scratch let’s you move back and forth in the timeline of the audio by dragging the mouse left and right. This gives you the possibility to stay in a particular part of the sound, combined with random effects. You can control mode, crossfade, grains, pitch, volume, equalizer, panning, spread and load 3 VST plugins (if you happen to have those).

I actually found this sound generator the most convenient for my purpose, namely creating sound effects for my videos. Thanks to the Scratch feature, you can put accents in real time while watching your video next to the sound generator. This requires quite some RAM and CPU, though. If you don’t have that, you can always edit the saved composition in a sound editor or a video editor like Adobe AfterEffects or others to move certain accents where you want them.

The output depends largely on the sound file you import. You can either use a long or a short sound file for Replay PLAYer. Using a short sound file keeps the resulting composition more easier within a certain range, whereas longer sound files will generate more variation.

sample manipulation 3 (Andy Murkin)
Music Electronics, 10 Feb 2016

In an earlier post in this series I passed comment on the program ‘REplay PLAYer’, mentioning its creator, Karlheinz Essl, and describing it as ‘a multi-featured program for manipulating a single sound sample’.

I was talking in that post about programs suitable for manipulating a group of four short samples, so I didn’t go into ‘REplay PLAYer’ in more detail. However, I thought it would be worth adding a post on programs for manipulating a single longer sample.

‘REplay PLAYer’ is my favourite of these – it costs a bit to buy it, but I’ve found it very useful in the past, and it has a couple of features which make it particularly versatile in use.

It’s described on its webpage as a ‘generative sound file shredder . . . based on the paradigms of granular synthesis. The program de-constructs a given sound file and re-composes it by using realtime composition algorithms [and] can be used as a tool to generate an infinite and every-changing sonic stream from a single sound file for artistical, compositional or mere recreational purposes. It can also be regarded as a computer based instrument for live performances, as an interactive sound installation or a generator for ambient music.’

First of all, the sound file of your choice can be imported into the program, via the ‘Shredder’ menu, and settings can be adjusted affecting changes to the samples’ volume, pitch, EQ, panning and stereo spread which are automatically made, tailoring the way in which the file is ‘shredded’.

Better still, three of your favourite VST or Audio Unit plug-ins can be imported and used alongside the built-in effects – the picture shows two that I often use, brainworx bs_solo (Stereo imaging) and GSi TimeVerb (Reverb).

In this way you can allow your sample to run while small or large changes are made to it. At any time you can change, for example, the range of pitch, volume or panning variations, turn them off or set them to move randomly from one value to another.

In addition to this, what makes ‘REplay PLAYer’ – as described – a ‘computer based instrument for live performances’ is the ability to control a number of the parameters in real time via MIDI.

I didn’t feel I needed to control all the possible features, but programmed my trusty Korg NanoKontrol to alter Volume, EQ, crossfade, glissando (i.e. pitch) and the amount of signal sent to the three plug-ins. All knobs and sliders had to be set to CC#7; the following parameters could be set by assigning the knobs and sliders to the following MIDI channels (...)

As the Menu suggests, ‘REplay PLAYer’ will also record the results of its work to a file (aiff, ulaw, wav or raw data) on your hard drive. It’s important to note that the program is set to start or stop working in the ‘Shredder’ menu, and recording is set to start or stop separately in the ‘Record’ menu; audio is turned on or off in the ‘Audio Status’ window.

Going with the Grain (Dennis Miller)
Granular Synthesis - Ten granular synthesis programs to slice and dice your sounds
in: Electronic Musician, Oct 2008

(...) Karlheinz Essl has been quietly producing creative music tools for years, and REplay PLAYer is just one of his many offerings. The program’s interface is divided into four main areas: Mode, Grains, Pitch, and Scratch, with additional functions provided via pull-down menus (see Fig. 4). After loading a sample and turning on the audio engine, REplay will begin to generate grains from the source based on its default settings. You can use the Mode menu to choose how the sample will be scanned; options include scrubbing manually, Jump, which skips around in the file using distances you specify, and Loop, which has an adjustable speed setting (from 10 to 100% of the original speed).

Move to the Grain menu and you’ll find a 2D grid for adjusting granularity (grain size) on the x axis and Density on the y. Mouse movements you make update parameters quickly and feel fluid with nary a glitch, but you can select from one of several presets if you prefer to leave control to the program. Pick the Random preset, for example, and you’ll get a constantly changing grain cloud.

The Pitch area provides four ways to control grain pitch, which again include using presets and using sliders for adjusting pitch manually. There’s also a virtual keyboard for specifying a transposition up or down two octaves and the ability to set a minimum and maximum range from which the program will pick randomly.

REplay PLAYer has a feature that lets you crossfade between the original sound and the granulated version (with a random crossing amount, of course), the ability to host up to three VST plug-ins, EQ (also with a random option), and a random panning feature. All in all, a hefty tool kit for producing a wide variety of granular sounds. (...)

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Updated: 22 Mar 2017