Not so secret if you share!

And how do you use it?


I LOVE Paul's Extreme Sound Stretch. I used to run it in my Windows XP days, but when I switched to an Intel Mac, there wasn't a working binary. Until recently! This UB isn't quite as stable as the Windows version, but it still works.

Paul's Stretch is old school. You set the settings, and then hit render, and wait for it to chug out your sound. Not good for short stretches, such as you might warp in Ableton. This is for creating surreal, extreme stretches. Take a 10 second clip and make it 20 minutes, 20 hours, 20 days. Etc.

I love to use this as a starting point, and then hack up the stretch with tremolo or gating effects in a DAW.

Paul's extreme sound stretch

  • Your question caused me to check out Paul's Stretch for the first time. WOW. That is some insanity, right there. Thanks for the recommendatiob! Commented Mar 9, 2010 at 22:25
  • Thanks for that, NoiseJockey. I'm glad you liked it. Granular synthesis at its easiest. And very useful for churning out long, subtly evolving soundscapes. (I once had to atmospherically "score" a very, very, long play. This saved my ass.)
    – MtL
    Commented Mar 11, 2010 at 22:37
  • Big cheers for this post. Going to try it out after the weekend. Missed the Mac version when I first read the post. Going to have some fun now methinks!
    – ianjpalmer
    Commented Jun 6, 2010 at 19:24
  • Whoa! Thanks for the img, Ian. I appreciate your work around here to spiffy things up.
    – MtL
    Commented Jun 10, 2010 at 3:22
  • wow! real gem for me - thanx a lot! Commented Jun 17, 2010 at 19:39

41 Answers 41


My favorite software is called "an open mind" — I have it installed in my brain...

But you can't just buy it, it must come to you.

Combined with a recorder an mic, it is capable of anything!

  • very clever! very clever indeed! Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 7:27
  • 13
    Mine keeps crashing Commented Sep 10, 2010 at 22:49
  • I like Tim's answer! Cheers! Commented May 12, 2011 at 2:05

I shall nevah divulge zee sekrets! :-) Actually, I will, it's just that there are too many!

  • Sculpture physical modeler in Apple Logic Pro: Harmonically-rich source tones that stand up to massive filtering.
  • The Random button in Logic's ES2 synth: Great for getting unstuck creatively.
  • Thonk for MacOS9: Sounds like how you use Paul's Stretch. Why do you think this G4 tower is sitting under my desk?
  • SoundHack: Great for convolving and cross-processing two sounds at massively high sample rates.
  • Michael Norris' realtime spectral effects plugins: Spooky, flowy magic.
  • GleetchLab: A nightmare to use but some great digital mayhem.

+1 on MetaSynth. EPIC.


Izotope RX.

This software does miracles. It has a fairly large learning curve for the more advanced features, but it's a very powerful software suite, especially for the price.

I use it mostly for getting rid of my noise floor in recordings, but I have also used it for removing audience coughing in live music performances, clipping noise, etc... Works as RTAS, AU, VST, Audio Suite, and Stand Alone. Freaking awesome!

  • Mostly I agree with tim prebble, but this tool is amazing... Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 12:25

Audiosculpt is a brilliant program, the only problem being you cant buy it, you must license it by the year from ircam in France.... Like Kyma it can do spectral processing eg i time stretched a bell sound 1000% and it did it beautifully! Its also great for drawing pitch bends & curves on the waveform and rendering them in very high quality... it does cross-synthesis too



  • Izotope RX do the same, isn't it?
    – Alvar
    Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 14:16
  • I don't think RX can do the same. @Tim Prebble, I've long been looking into Kyma - if you have both audiosculpt and kyma do you mind DMing me, would love to ask some questions. Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 18:18

Audiomulch - due to its nonlinear way of processing/composition. plus insane possibilities of audio creation & sound abuse. Able to create intricate sound sculptures and complex textures yet it's all very clear and straightforward. Excellent both for studio and live purposes. I even mix with it. My software of choice, way above the others. http://www.audiomulch.com/

Ixi software - particular applications are rather limited, yet capable of putting together some serious textures and unpredictable sounds. More a toy than but fun to play with. Yet still solid players in my setup when used combined. ixiQuarks highly recommended. Able to pull off real sound stunts. http://www.ixi-software.net/content/software.html

The list of my audio toys, found here and there, is long. Maybe one more I've been using lately. Forester. Simple and fun. Ver.2 coming someday soon. http://leafcutterjohn.com/?page_id=14


I like this question! I'm curious to hear what people use.

Off the top of my head, I'd have to choose SoundHack as well. The quality is very high, and the interface is so raw that it actually does make me feel like I'm hacking. How do I use it? Randomly most of the time. It can get pretty wild. It's non real-time, so no previews but that's what makes it fun. Just as in Paul's Extreme Time Stretch, you can turn your tiny sound into loooong sounds. But you can do much much more then just stretch.

Also +1 on MetaSynth. It's got a great sound and interface. It's a bit pricey, so I don't yet have a copy.

I really enjoy Absynth. I just love working with the envelopes, although the effects it has can make it sound very generic.

I'm sure there are a lot more that I'm not thinking about.

  • Re: Metasynth, I know quite a few folk who use the demo version and then hijack the output. I have yet to try it myself, but perhaps the time is now!
    – MtL
    Commented Mar 2, 2010 at 19:56
  • sneaky... A while back they had it on sale for $200, I really should have bought it then. Hopefully they'll offer a nice discount again. Commented Mar 2, 2010 at 21:02
  • I'm glad Absynth is getting love here. It really is a great program! Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 1:25

well my secret weapon is a old cassette tape recorder it captures sound great yet gives it that old rough recorded sound i use it all the time for field recording..


Without talking of plugins, I think MetaSynth would be my special weapon. The way you tweak the sounds there is simply amazing!

Take a look: http://www.uisoftware.com/MetaSynth/index.php


Notam Mammut.

it's quite cryptic, maybe buggy and unreliable, but once you get your hands dirty, it's back to childhood and mud really ;)

  • Wow! Super, clean sounding stretch...
    – Kurt Human
    Commented Jun 17, 2010 at 14:06

I'm with Colin. iZotope RX, all day, everyday. My little Pro Tools LE rig only supports 48kHz max, and RX affords me spectacular cleanup at 96kHz. This way I can keep my personal library at the resolution I recorded at instead of Pro Tools cutting it down for me.


For me it's Max/MSP. I work with it almost everyday and do everything with it. It's great for sample manipulation but it's also really great for synthesis. Since Ableton has adopted it as a plugin it's awesome. Now Max has the timeline it never had.

I also enjoy working with CamelAudio Alchemy. Has a very nice granular engine which you can control in real-time.

  1. GRM Tools
  2. Sound Toys
  3. IR Reverb with random impulses from my sound library
  4. Flex/elastic time (in different modes)
  5. And the most powerful of all: EQ!

All in combination or separately = processing bliss!

Oh and Omnisphere too if I'm looking for textural beds.


NI's absynth, psp nitro, ohmforce quadfrohmage, u-he zebra, camel-audio's alchemy, oligarc, izotope's trash/spectron to name a few.

for wav editing - wavelab

daw - cubase

  • I love Absynth. I just bought it this year and it's like a whole new world of sound for me. I have yet to realize its full potential as a synthesizer but I'm having a blast discovering it. Commented Aug 4, 2010 at 1:24

I find Cecilia great for accidentally creating amazing sounds...

• e a r b e n d i n g s o n i c s •

The legendary front-end and sound production platform for the Csound language is back in an fresh new set of duds. Cecilia was first launched in 1996 to take advantage of the then emerging real-time audio capabilities of Csound. It has seen a number of iterations since then, because, well, nothing quite does what it does as well as it does. Cecilia is a complete sound production environment for the adventurous audio designer. It proposes dozens of complex and troubling sound-processing modules that invite the composer to revisit the notion of what constitutes spirited sonic matter.

Beyond these highly desirable qualities, Cecilia is also known to cause mild skin rashes and turn small dogs into pickles.

Cecilia is free. Thus you cant complain if it hurts your feelings. But, with due diligence, Cecilia will bring smiles and good cheer to the most jaded musical mind.

Download here: http://code.google.com/p/cecilia4/downloads/list


Using noise removal plugs such as RX or XNoise as sound design tools rather than for noise removal.

For example, take a longish, constant waveform that has some variation in it dynamically like a backhoe digging a ditch. By either using extreme settings or swapping over to difference monitoring you can create some very unique source material with a little experimentation. Great for making ambiences.

When I'm out field recording I will often just leave the Sound Devices rolling in between real takes to capture the random sounds of the next setup just for the purposes of having lots of unique source to use this technique with.

  • @Seph Lawrence, +1 to that approach. I've found that long stretches of dialog run thru z-noise and outputting the difference can yield some great glitchy material to use for radio interference, garbled transmissions, etc. Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 6:53

Soundsoap by Bias

brilliant at noise reduction for audio sweetening

  • I've never had much luck with it...too many artifacts if pushed even a little...maybe I need to talk you about what you're doing that works.
    – Matt Tibbs
    Commented Aug 28, 2010 at 22:03

Gotta be absynth for me, the options for the 'oscillators' and those envelopes..... so many possibilities!


If my boss could convince the powers to fork out the 3 grand, my weapon of choice would be Cedar's DNSOne. I tried it a couple of months ago for a couple of weeks. A truly great plugin. Now, I've never used the hardware versions but by all accounts it's just as good. Walks all over the Waves WNS too as I tried that at the same time.

Did a review on my blog... http://postproductionsound.blogspot.com/2010/04/noise-reduction.html



  • can u show an example what u did in this program? Commented Jun 17, 2010 at 20:56
  • created all the samples for this tune: soundcloud.com/kurt_human/gospel-for-brian using Spear (not a hit by any means :), but I got a bit carried away with Spear when I played a Beach Boys tune through it) I used scrubbing/pitch shifting and varispeed control to create the musical source material, which I then sampled
    – Kurt Human
    Commented Jun 17, 2010 at 21:53

Pro Tools 8 LE RTAS has AIR Reverb and I particularly like Preset 17 - Infinite with some tweaking for crazy ambiences and tones. It's a cumulative effect, so the source material is pretty quickly unrecognizable and it'll have a really long tail.


Logic Pro as DAW and Waves as plug-ins


Thanks for all the linking & sharing! ixi & audiomunch is the bomb my secret weapon would be NI REAKTOR, cause it's such a wide impulsive environment


Air/Digi's "Harmonic Enhancer" has been getting placed in a lot of my FX chains lately.

It really depends on what I'm working on though. I would say good source is the best asset and then EQing it from there to get it to where it needs to be.


As a ADR editor, i love to do everything just by editing (only cut), without using any plugin, (well, sometimes just an hi-pass filter). The results are pretty good, and i appreciate the lo-tech charm of doing everything with almost nothing, besides, i like purepitch from soundtoys and sounshifter from Waves.


ReaFIR which comes with Reaper. This "infinite-band" EQ is so flexible that it also works an analysis tool noise profile-based noise filter. I once recorded vocals on a AKG D112 kick drum mic and EQ'd it to sound about %95 similar to the same vocals recorded simultaneously on a shure SM81. Didn't need an anechoic chamber or super flat frequency response speakers, just my yamaha monitors playing a sine sweep + reaFIR + MSpaint (to invert a screenshot of reaFIR and manually trace it back into semi-transparent window of reaFIR), but this method only works within the same acoustic setup, such as the same voiceover booth. This means you can rent your dream mic for a day, capture a profile of its frequency response in your studio, and make your cheap mics sound like it for as long as the studio doesn't change.


+1 for Izotope RX

Only recently got the chance to use it properly, its a game changer!

Im going out of my way to record badly just for the satisfaction of using RX to perform miracles ;]



I get all kinds of ideas from sites like this, youtube, blogs, etc. Mash 'em all up and use the tools I have available to me.


KR-Reverb FS (Yeah, it's free)... Incredibly versatile reverb with a GUI that makes sense. I use it for everything, but what makes it my secret is how nicely I can take ANY sound and turn it into ambiance with this. It might not have the longest reverb trail of all reverbs out there, but it's the best one I've found for free.


Just used the Digi's AIR Ensemble on a voice and got some sort of alien robot-ish effect, some compression for added distortion. I wouldn't say it's the perfect trick but it works for me!


REASON It's a good tool for basic sound design!

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