So, along with my newfound interest in granular synthesis, I've also been getting really into glitch-beats and IDM. My new thought is to find a way to convolve the two.

I'm currently working on assembling a collection of granular friendly sound samples, so that's all good. What I'm now trying to figure out are a few fun/innovative ways of making the samples for a fairly large glitch-kit. Half-chopped square waves, digital distortion, etc.

I've read accounts of people burning sounds to CDs, scratching them all to hell on gravel, then re-importing the tracks and chopping out the juicier glitches. I've done a bit of digital distortion stuff internally with pro-tools. But I'm coming up empty handed as far as ideas for generating crazy sounds.

Anybody got suggestions for making some ugly-ass pops and clicks and crackles?

8 Answers 8


SoundHack on Mac and SoundForge on the PC can open ANY file as an audio file... try opening your Word Documents, your pdf's etc... all sorts of interesting glitches there!

  • Very cool, thanks for that trick, I got it to work on Audacity by importing "Raw Data". May 17, 2011 at 15:02
  • Huzzah, @Sonsey! Good response. May 17, 2011 at 23:50

Lots of custom recordings (I'm especially fond of not just using standard mics, but contact mics at the same time as regular mics). I'm very big into custom recordings and found sounds. I'm also big on very heavy FX chains. That's where I'd start if you want unique and interesting results. You might want to avoid common plug-ins like Stutteredit, Glitch, Etc. They've become so over abused that they sound a bit cliche and predictable to me (and a lot of other well respected IDM producers I know). If you put in the time to go the extra mile and not use the quick and easy route the hard work pays off. Anyone can slap an autoslice/fx and call it glitch (and it usually shows).

Some of my FX chains get 10-15 plug-ins deep. I basicaly made a modular environment out of my plug-ins (and outboard gear as well). I stay away from presets and pretty much custom design everything in my music 90% of the time. I'll make 10+ variations of a percussion pattern and then chop and slice those into new patterns as well. I'm really big into Delays, reverbs, bitcrushers, distortions, and filters. Tons of multi-routed FX auxes, shit tons of automation, mutes and fx punches. Some of this requires splitting busses out to other FX chains at different stages in the signal flow. Sometimes they're split with multiband filters sending different portions of the signal to different effects for some twisted layering. Needless to say, these are also some of my favorite effects for sound design for picture as well. Most of these would go in my "secret weapons" list for that other thread on here.

Some of my favorites have already been mentioned here like: the Soundhack bundles (I Beta test for them and the new PVOC bundle out soon is insane) and Buffer Override (amongst other sick stuff from Destroy FX). Although you could consider it synthesis with the level I take it all to, I'm not even going to get into actual synthesis with this list. I'm just going to keep it as strictly DSP FX. Some of these are freeware, some are paid. You'll have to do all that research on your own.

Others I love are:

  • Favorites of specific categories denoted with a *

Spectral/Morph/Esoteric/Granular: (can't pick a fave in this category since most are very different and strange)

  • Little Endian "SpectrumWorx" (you can find an audio demo of some of the preset bundle I'm doing for them on my soundcloud page)

  • GRM Tools (both bundles)

  • Michael Norris FX

  • Audio Damage: "Automaton"

  • Audio Ease "Nautilus Bundle" (mainly for RiverRun)

  • Paulstretch

  • Metasynth

  • Twisted Tools "Scapes" and "Buffeater" (commercial ensembles for Reaktor)

  • Tim Exiles "TheFinger" (commercial ensemble for Reaktor)

  • Reaktor Ensembles: "LazerVerb", "GrainCube", "Frame 2" & "Gods Beatbox"

Distortions/Decimators/Bit Reduction:

  • *Audio Damage "Kombinat"

  • D16 "Redoptor", "Decimort" and "Devistor"

  • OhmForce "Ohmicide"

  • Camel "Phat3" and "Camel Crusher"


  • *FabFilter "Volcano2"

  • SugarBytes "WOW"


  • *u-He "MFM2"

  • FabFilter "Timeless"

  • Camel "Space"

  • OhmForce "Ohmboys"

  • *Valhalla "FreqEcho"

  • Native Instruments "Spektral Delay"

  • *Smartelectronix "Analog Delay"


  • *AudioEase "Altiverb" (This is a must have. Mostly for realistic, as well as strange convolution verb fx)

  • *2C Audio "Aetherverb" Strange/grainy/Self Modulating Algorhythmic verb

  • D16 "Toraverb"

  • Valhalla "Shimmer"

Multi-FX Bundles:

  • *Soundtoys Bundle

  • u-He "uHbik"

  • Waves - These sort of go without saying. Waves isn't as extreme as the other two, but helps when you need something not so extreme.


  • Reaper DAW: This is a highly recommended mention from me. It has some cool effects bundled in with it, but I'm mentioning it because it's more like a modular audio environment instead of a typical DAW. With Assignable Parameter LFO's, Extremely flexible Routing, Timestretch, Tempo and Playback tricks you can turn anything into a modular beast in this thing. I love it.

  • Adobe Soundbooth: I mention this because it has some really wicked Spectral Editing capabilities (which is really awesome) and Timestretch functions (that are not the smoothest, but very interesting and unique).

Some of those are the same type of effects, but sometimes I prefer one over the other due to slight character differences or differences in features. I try to stay away from Autocut/Slice or Step Based FX since they're way overused & easy to spot/gimmicky/cliche to me now, like I said before, it's better to do the work yourself. The Finger, Scapes & Buffeater work on a bit of that glitch principle, but if worked right can give you some really wicked results since they're all about real time modification and morphing instead of simply triggering step based effects and slices. There are a ton of other weird home made effects and plug-ins I could mention but this list is pretty extensive (as well as expensive if you were to try to acquire it all at once). So I'll leave it at that.

I'll modify this post again when I have a bit more time later tonight to give you some solid music references.

  • 1
    Hook a brother up. I'd like to hear some of your tuneage too.
    – g.a.harry
    May 17, 2011 at 4:31
  • 1
    @g.a.harry - It's 5am here. I've been designing presets for a company for the past 8 hours and I need to get away from my computer for a bit. I'll get back to this with a list of stuff later today. In the meantime, you can find some of my music here: soundcloud.com/syndicate-synthetique It's not strictly IDM, more like 20 genres all crammed into one in my own way, but decidedly very "sound design-ey" and experimental with enough bass and rhythm to shake your ass or nod your head to I suppose. May 17, 2011 at 11:06
  • Indeed, I likey. Got any artists to recommend along with the plugs? I'm pretty new to it, so all I've got is Autechre, Aphex Twin, Brothemstates, ISAN, and Amon Tobin.
    – g.a.harry
    May 17, 2011 at 12:31
  • @g.a.harry - I amended my original post with the info. I'll get to the music later. May 18, 2011 at 0:42


  • huge +1! Sweet… May 17, 2011 at 4:06
  • Oh, and it's cheap too. You are such a darling!
    – g.a.harry
    May 17, 2011 at 4:32

A loose cable connection would give you some cool spikes and cracks.


Destroy FX, especially Buffer Override, has always been a classic. VST and Audio Units, and they're free.... Destroy FX

  • Oh MAN, I love their stuff to death. Great suggestion, @Morten. May 17, 2011 at 23:48

I've had hard drives go pear-shaped on me, and corrupt a bunch of sound files. Hasn't happened in a while, thank goodness, but when it does I try to record the corrupt sounds onto another recorder really quickly before I go into repair mode. Good source of trashy, glitchy, noisy sounds. Just used a bunch of them for a theatre design last month in fact.


You are getting into the realms of sound art and noise music. There are a lot of artists, and if anything it is worth researching them.

I had the pleasure to meet and hear this great man perform in a tiny room at my university, it's a starting point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmdCmoaQTJY

I recommend getting off your computer, and just playing with electronics and destroying instruments, recording sounds in the street, doing everything electronically can only get you so far.

There is a great CD (I can't remember the artist) who mangled, scratched and destroyed Michael Jacksons beat it record, and it was brilliant... if I can find out I'll let you know.


Just one random little trick I've got, maybe it's a bit obvious to some, but if you use Ableton, try playing a sound file and messing with the transpose knob. Route the output of your audio track to another audio track and record the performance.

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