First, connections between Instruments are monophonic. A traditional Reaktor synth has all its component parts living within an Instrument, with the component modules and macros and their interconnections able to operate as multiple parallel voices. The Blocks layer exists outside this polyphonic universe. So you can store different sounds that all share the same cabling, but to store a sound that employs different patching requires saving as a new Ensemble.
While Blocks appears to bias this Reaktor update towards the casual user, instrument builders have not been entirely left out.
Like the instrument library, the developer library of modules, macros and operations has undergone a thorough spring cleaning. Many Core macros have been optimised for better sound quality and performance. The collection of components known as Classic Modular, which was an earlier attempt to create a standardised group of building blocks for analog synth creation, has been dissolved into the main library.
There are also some new features and objects offering both efficiencies and fresh possibilities for developing in Reaktor. Table Reference is a new signal type that allows access and distribution of data from arrays to anywhere in a Structure.
Used in conjunction with updated sampler macros this paves the way for a new generation of samplers and sample manipulators in Reaktor. The new objects also provide for drag-and-drop import of samples. A Blocks patch with several downloaded User Blocks. Bundles are a new connection type that pack multiple signals into a single wire — virtual multicore cables. Scoped Buses allow point-to-point connections to be made between places on any layer of a Structure.
Finally, Core Cells are no longer categorised as Audio or Event processes. Names and basic values can now be edited directly in the Structure, and panel objects no longer have to be constrained to a grid, freeing you to make your creations look exactly as you imagined them.
In particular, integration of a scripting language would help serious developers who sometimes feel the restrictions of a purely visual-based approach. Blocks opens up a whole new way for the more casual user to create their own incredible-sounding synth creations. One of the most exciting parts of the Blocks concept is that it will keep growing with new modules, just like the Eurorack scene.
Some will be disappointed that Blocks are essentially monophonic, like the modular synths they emulate. In its early days Reaktor was the only synth environment that could run on off-the-shelf computers instead of custom DSP hardware. FL Flowstone formerly SynthMaker is interesting as a visual programming environment for creating synths and effects because it can compile out as stand-alone VST plug-ins.
But, really, Reaktor is unique in its scope as a multi-platform plug-in and stand-alone platform with an open and ever-growing ecosystem of available instruments and modules. One of the great strengths of Reaktor is its user community, which has generated thousands of instruments, utilities and modules over the years. Blocks has given the community a new lease of life, and there are already dozens of user-created Block modules free to download.
This is partly down to the clear framework, templates and components provided by NI from the outset, and also thanks to a handful of talented and prolific builders eg. I soon discovered that there is no factory module that can take the pitch data generated by Blocks like Seq 8 and pipe it out to the world. A very quick search of the user library found a Block created by Phil Durrant that did the job.
On the creative side examples include a fantastic Wave table oscillator, which is a Blocks treatment of the classic Reaktor OKI Computer oscillator, with more coming every day. Alternatives In its early days Reaktor was the only synth environment that could run on off-the-shelf computers instead of custom DSP hardware.
Community Spirit One of the great strengths of Reaktor is its user community, which has generated thousands of instruments, utilities and modules over the years.
Pros Blocks! Great interface improvements. Cons No Retina Display support. Blocks is an essentially monophonic environment. Create ethereal and spatial soundscapes with this hybrid synthesizer. With an impulse generator, and six individual resonators, Nebula can create otherworldly dub-like pad sounds, and abstract ambient textures that are rich enough for all your sound-design needs. Download Nebula — Clouds Synthesizer for free here. This experimental, chaotic synth and random noise-generator modulates atonal sounds.
Download to find out. Niji Solution 2 is the HAL of drum computers. This all-in-one drumbox comes replete with sound generators and is loaded with an additional mix and effects section. Download to create bass-heavy beats for retro-fitted, forward-thinking electro, techno, and anything else that requires some carefully crafted kicks.
Download Niji Solution 2 for free here. With three oscillators, an MSlike filter, various modulation sources and loads of effects, this ensemble is relatively easy to use, yielding dream-like, smooth, beautiful sounds.
With its LFO and filer envelope modulations, Illusions of Sound is perfect for spatial sound design and creating crisp, warped-effects. Download Illusions of Sound 2. Both extraterrestrial and experimental, it comes with multiple filters that will help you create randomized patterns of noise to endlessly beam into the cosmos.
Download Super Genius for free here. We enlist the help of London-based producer Eun to prove that soulful keys needn't come at a cost. Learn how our do-it-all synthesis platform has been powering the NI ecosystem since In part 2 of our series, we revisit the definitive sounds of the early aughts — and show how you….
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