Native Instruments Reaktor review

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circuit bent software synthesizer using Reaktor

A circuit bent soft synth? Hell yes! I (ab)used Reaktor and created a circuit bent software synthesizer. I've been working on this off and on for over a year. Now, after many refinements, it's ready for the world.

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Michael Oster

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Disclaimer. The opinions expressed are those of Michael Oster and may not reflect that of other audio and music professionals. Your mileage may vary. Just because I like one piece of equipment does not guarantee a thing. F7 Sound and Vision and Michael Oster are not liable for any damage caused by your agreement or disagreement with the following:

Native Instruments Reaktor 5. $559 list - a modular software synthesizer that fries my brain. (from a sound design tweakhead's point of view)

UPDATE: I've been using Reaktor 5 for a long time now!!!! There is more of what I love about Reaktor! Still, I think I only know about 3.5% of what there is to know about this program and yet I have a blast creating synths and weird noise makers - see my Difficult Listening Channel podcast for recent examples.

I LOVE this program
Mindbending possibilites overload my brain cells
Very steep learing curve - be prepared to dedicate plenty of time to Reaktor
A synthesis tweakhead's wet dream come true - and my first gig using Reaktor paid for it!

Older Stuff about Reaktor:
Imagine a synth. Re-imagine a synth. Create it. Recreate it. Reroute it. Experiment on it. Destroy it. Spank it. Humiliate it. Reanimate it. Reaktor gives you the tools to make just about any synthesizer (noisemaker) that you can dream of. It can even help inspire you to create something you've never considered before - plus, you might learn something. Reaktor's options are just about overwhelming to me, and I've got over a decade of experience messing with synths.

Reaktor is deep and you'll need to invest some time into reading the manual and experimenting with the program (this will pay off down the road). After 2 months of pretty hardcore use, I feel like I'm about 5% of the way to a decent level of mastery of this program. Reaktor 4 gives you the standard synthesis tools like oscillators, filters, envelopes, mixers, and lots more, plus the ability to connect and route those things in just about any imaginable way. You can use these tools to create anything from common synthesizers all the way to the outrageous and bizarre noisemaker (my faves).

Reaktor gets much deeper offering the ability to process incoming audio and resynthesize samples using a number of means. Also, it can operate in stand alone mode or as a plug in (which I have yet to try). Reaktor is it's own "animal" if you will, with a unique style and system about it. Native Instruments provides an online tutorial which I highly recommend - even if you're just looking into Reaktor. There's also a feature limited and time limited demo available on NI's site that's a must download!

I lose time in Reaktor and that's a good thing. I open Reaktor, start working, and before I know it, hours have gone by. Not only that, but I've got something to show for it in the way of a bouncing baby synth (or 2). Reaktor easily travels with me on my MacBook Air 2GHz, and, with a trusty set of headphones, I'm in business anywhere.

"But, I'm not a tweakhead!" (and I'm still reading this) You don't have to be a "synth geek" like me to benefit from Reaktor. There's a free Reaktor player that allows you to open synths and use them, but not modify them. It's available from Native Instruments.

Sound samples from my Reaktor creations (recorded with no effects)

1) rekcbent01.mp3 from my "modeled" circuit bent synth
2) rekbuz01.mp3 a randomly modulated buzzer
3) reklofi01.mp3 "lo-fi" properties affect the oscillators by "molding" themselves to the sound - an alternative to layering noise over an "eq'd" sound
4) reklofi02.mp3 same as example 3 with different modulation properties
5) rekscifi01.mp3 strange sound bed generated from one of my Reaktor creations

Here's a quick video on my Reaktor creation circuit bent Sputnik.

If extremely powerful, modular synthesis with virtually unlimited tweakability fits your style, you owe it to yourself to visit the Native Instruments website -

*** Reaktor 5 is now shipping!
Remember to download the demo AND take the online tutorial!

Here's a sample audio clip from one of my more recent Reaktor 5 creations.

This is a simulated circuit bent instrument. At times, it sounds like a bent Speak and Spell, but that's by chance. I didn't use any samples in this instrument. It's all generated "real time" with Reaktor's oscillators and processors.


(Recorded without edits/effects) small banner
Reaktor has been a big part of my noise making experience. Check out my sister site where I create noise on my... laptop.
Circuit Bent Sputnik!
What went in to the creation of this bleepy, glitchy, soft-synth? Get the details, AND the Reaktor ensemble, free.... more

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Circuit Bent Sputnik!
Can a computer simulation really make a dead President SOIL HIMSELF? Get this Reaktor ensemble FREE. more
Michael Oster's Discography Here's a list of the CDs and CD-ROMs that I've made since 1997. This does not include releases by other artists that I've worked on. more
podcast "the Difficult Listening Channel"

Hear what I'm currently doing with Reaktor

My podcast "the Difficult Listening Channel" where the sounds in my head become the sounds in yours. more

Made in Reaktor:

...Aliens Invade!
An experiment in human artificial intelligence sends an errant signal into space and aliens are inadvertently contacted. Then it gets weird. more
...Aliens Invade!