To understand NI Reaktor, you must first know about modular synthesis. The idea here is to have different functions be chained together elaborately. We call these functions Modules that are linked together to create a Patch. The user gets complete control over the layout and signal path for both audio and modulation.
The roots of modular synthesizers go back to 1963, with Don Buchla and Bob Moog getting separate credits for their creation of it. Who made it first is a widely debated topic to this date. Regardless, new modular synths like Eurorack started gaining widespread acceptance.
With the current technological advances, modules have become more versatile, and patching tons of modules together doesn’t take much space and is feasible. Moreover, modular synths are ideal for making your own instruments ( Physical modeling even mimics real-world instruments ).
Now, to answer the main question, NI Reaktor is a DSP environment where you can build your patches using blocks ( modules ). It allows for almost unrestrained deep sonic exploration. This article has rounded 11 Reaktor instruments and 11 ensemble effects for you. Read on to find out more.
Top 11 Reaktor 6 Instruments 2023 (Synths, Modular Synths, Sequencers)
1. NI Monark
A MiniMoog impersonator, which is an analog-modeled monophonic subtractive synthesizer.
With striking visual similarities to the King of monophonic analog synths, this relatively new soft synth is said to produce a lively, fat, and warm sound that one cannot believe its software – at least according to Native Instruments.
Monark not only tries to get the sound right, but the hardware nature of the units is a primary focus too. So let us take a closer look at this.
The Monark is a subtractive synth that has three oscillators, with each oscillator having six waveforms. One can choose from Triangle/Sawtooth, Square, Narrow Pulse, Very narrow Pulse, or Sawtooth as preferred. Tuning OSC 2 and 3 would help create a more analog-sounding output to match its Original Analog counterpart. While OSC 2 and 3 can also be used as a type of LFO, OSC 3 can be a mod source with controls at the Mod wheel on a Midi device.
Each oscillator is meticulously designed to mimic its hardware counterpart with maximum perfection. To achieve this strenuous mission, Native Instruments has carefully tuned each oscillator in the Monark to be slightly different from each other, with the waveform having a marginally varied harmonic content. In addition, the drift control and oscillator spillage control on the B Side make it a truer rendition of an analog synth.
The mixer section in the Monark brings in some exciting feature sets. From mixing the oscillator signals with white or pink noise to bringing feedback to the sound, it has all the essential functions one would expect from a product of this stature. Although the feedback can turn sharp and aggressive, it can sound natural and complete with the right balance. Although the feedback can be two types, one of them is an almost similar benchmarking from the MiniMoog, where an external signal is plugged into the MiniMoog’s filter.
Another intuitive feature on the Monark is the Load Control, which drives the oscillators’ gains before they enter the filter, delivering a crisp overdrive.
With over 380 onboard presets assorted into six categories of Bass, Lead, Classic, Perc/Seq, FX, and User Bank, the Monark is packed with everything to start with. Tweaking and saving any individual preset is also integrated into the plugin.
The input signal can be modulated in OSC 3 and noise oscillator, which can be used to produce effects similar to LFO and control the behavior of the Input signal when a parallel input is given from an external MIDI device.
- Filter & Envelopes
The Monark has four handy filter options. The classic MiniMoog filter with a warm and fuller sound, an LP2, LP1, and a Band Pass filter. These filters can self-oscillate with resonance at peak, similar to the MiniMoog, while also receiving key tracking input from an external midi device.
A successful benchmarking of a classic analog synthesizer has resulted in an envelope that does not jump to initial values but progresses smoothly from its present form which gives the Monark a unique character that would otherwise be only possible with a rather expensive piece of hardware.
- B Side
The B Side also provides extra controls to add to its analog character. The Oscillator tuning, filter leakage, and drift controls, when combined with the legato controls, ramp, pitch bend, and mod wheel controls, can make the Monark an almost perfect software recreation of the legendary MiniMoog.
Monark is an ideal expression of the Legendary MiniMood Synthesiser, and it has succeeded in delivering the quality of its analog counterpart. The option of modifying the unit using the B side successfully mimics the instabilities of analog nature. Monark is also a very intuitive plugin to play with and create amazing sounds and fx.
2. NI Block Primes
Get exceptional and deep Modular synthesis sound with NI Block Prime
With 23 advanced blocks, you get a broad spectrum of Modular methods. You get experimental noise generators, sequencers, evolving filters, and more. The best thing about Blocks Prime is that it is fully compatible with the Reaktor Blocks ecosystem. We will tell you about some of the blocks and features below.
- Kodiak Blocks :
Duality OSC is a dual oscillator module offering controls over phase, amplitude, and timbre modulations. Shift Sequencer gives you great freedom over polyrhythmic sequencing, which is rarely found in a sequencer. Curve Sequencer delivers a sophisticated step modulation. Morph Filter is a resonant filter bank used to make bizarre notched sounds. Finally, flip Gen is a tone generator ideal for FM-based sounds.
- West Coast Blocks :
West Coast DWG combines two oscillators and offers possibilities to shape the timbre. West Coast LPG is a combination of a low-pass filter and a VCA. West Coast CFG is the modulation hub; you get modulation signals which can be triggered individually or relative to another. Finally, West Coast XYS generates complex modulation or gate signals.
- Boutique Blocks :
The boutique Blocks is heavily inspired by the vintage synthesizers and their sections. OSC Bank is a module with five oscillators at different octaves and intervals. You can use this to create organic-like sounds. Multiwave OSC lets you blend four waveforms in unison; you get control over the individual levels of the waveforms and a global pulse width knob. Dual TSK Filter has a 6dB/oct High pass filter and 12dB/oct Low pass filter, and you get control over the resonance of both the filters and an overall FM amount.
- Modern :
These blocks have been designed to meet modern sound needs and are based on recent developments in the world of synthesis. Modern Comb, as the name suggests, offers you a riveting Comb filtering effect. Additionally, you also get a smooth Low-pass filter with Modern Paul.
Many tasks can be done using Prime Blocks, from complex soundscapes to the physical modelling of an instrument. I find Duality OSC to be ideal for vibrant sounds and rich basses. And with West Coast DWG, you get a lot of modulation possibilities with which you can create complex timbres.
3. NI Form
The Form is a transformative sample-tracking Realtor 6 synth ensemble capable of creating anything from unfolding soundscapes and textured pads to eventful basses and sizzling digital sound signals.
The Form comes with many highly usable preset patches used in production. Starting with Form couldn’t be simpler with a ‘drag & drop’ system. After loading a sample, You can dial the playback speed with Sample Length. Adding unique motion curves can shape the sound to new exciting levels.
There are motion slots to the left and right of the motion curve, named ‘Insert L’ and Insert R,’ which can be filled with additional curves to create complex soundscapes.
- Sculpt & Perform :
Using the perform function in the Form, multiple variations and modulations of the selected input signal can be saved and assigned to any key on a MIDI keyboard. The sound tab is the ultimate tweaking tool to control, modulate and design an input signal to its finest Form. Individual settings for Oscillators, Filters, Modulations, and FX also come in handy.
- Oscillator controls :
The Form OSC has pitch controls to help the user play in the song key by matching the input signal to the corresponding input from the MIDI device. Formant controls are also present to achieve deeper voices. You can use the Additive OSC to add a layer of Sin wave, a saw wave, or a square wave on top of the input signal. This OSC can also be used as a modulator signal for FM Modulation. OSC FX tab can take any input signal and make it unrecognizable with its inbuilt FX options. You can use Shaper to change the input signal to a more harsh version.
- Modulators and other controls :
The multiply tab can create a multiplier effect on the input signal by introducing richer harmonic content. Along with two envelopes, two LFOs, and an SC, the Form contains three filters; a High pass, Notch Filter, and a Low pass filter. In addition, frequency shaping involves a multi-band filter that can modulate volume, width, and placement for subtle changes like vibrato.
Native Instruments Form is an intuitive synthesizer with a wide range of applications from a genre standpoint. The effect tab comes with frequency shaping, warmth, dynamics, delay, and reverb to add interesting dimensions to the input signal. There is an endless possibility of creative potential in this plugin, which makes it a must-have synthesizer from Native Instruments.
4. NI Razor
This additive synthesis is accessible to massive while providing many options and features.
The fundamental idea of additive synthesis is combining partials to form a complex sound, and Razor comes with up to 320 individual sine waves. In addition, it hosts user-friendly controls and has two oscillators, filters, and three FX sections: Let us tell you more about it.
- Oscillators and filters:
This section has two oscillators and offers 14 unique oscillator types. In addition, there is the presence of two rare and exotic waveform types apart from the usual sawtooth and pulse, Sync Classic and Hoover. The filter section is a key area to produce exciting sound signatures with uncommon filters like the comb, vowel, and formant filters, among others. These can be intended to create sounds to cater to the needs of genres like Modern Dubstep. The filter section also features a 34-band vocoder which can modulate any audio input signal.
The Razor comes with twin FX Sections, one that you can use to create non-harmonic soundscapes and another that is more generic, like reverb, chorus, delay, etc. In addition, it has a very interesting and innovative FX feature called the dissonance effects, which is based on changing the partials and resulting in very unusual timbers. There are six available dissonance effects; all of those, when used in the right way, can create some out-of-the-world soundscapes.
The included 350 presets have some astonishing sounds, and the modulation gives more and more flexibility to tweak them and create jaw-dropping audio outputs. In addition, most parameters in each section of the Razor can be linked to a huge array of modulation sources, thus enabling the user to create desired modulation effects.
Free REAKTOR 6 PLAYER or REAKTOR 6
The Razor is a great-sounding additive synthesizer, especially for genres like DnB, Dubstep, and Grime. Another interesting feature about the reverb in the Razor is that the tails are pitched to the note being played and are cleaner sounding than some usual software reverbs.
The Graphical User Interface of the Razor is another spectacular feature developed by Native Instruments. Watching the sound evolve in the Spectrum Display of the Razor is astonishing and captivating.
The Razor also boasts some user-friendly features, like the Safe Bass Generator, which can add more harmonic content to the fundamental frequency. The Razor also features a Spectral Clip Unit which works In the lines of an LPF and a saturation mode.
It combines dirty and aggressive and ambient and deep-sounding audio signals. Tweak it the way required, and it will be a great addition to anyone’s collection.
5. NI Rounds
A genuinely complex Reaktor-based four-voice synthesizer gets easier as one rows through its functions and features.
However, if creating complex synth sequences is what you live for, then Rounds is definitely for you. The Rounds come with a two-oscillator subtractive analog engine and a three-oscillator FM digital synth engine, both of which can design up to eight sounds per engine with individual parameter controls and then sequence them with the Voice Programmer. But, first, let us take a deeper dive into the features.
Both engines boast a multimode filter, a single LFO, an AD filter envelope, and an ADSR amp envelope. They also have Sends to universal effects like Delay and Reverb, which can be configured to either grain or classic algorithms, and reverb uses some latest DSP exclusive to Rounds.
- Voice Programmer:
The Round’s innovative sequencer, the Voice Programmer, is a prominent feature with eight segmented circles called Sound Blocks and four individual segments called Sound Cells. The ultimate purpose is to let the users bring out the full potential of their creation using the two engines by allowing them to sequence and morph the input audio signals. Sound Cells can host up to 16 such sounds simultaneously for the user to play with.
You get two modes to determine what sound to play at what time: the Voice Mode & Progress Mode. The Voice Mode sits at the top and provides a menu with five icons that decide how input notes are channeled inside a single Sound Block. Below the Voice Mode icon is the menu for Progress Mode that lets the user choose which Sound Block can be active at any time.
Rounds is a well-advanced synthesizer that packs a ton of quality presets, which should make most of its users happy and good to get started, but if one invests quality time to learn the software, then Rounds can do things that others can’t.
If the user prefers a more intuitive and controlled experience with the Rounds, they can always enable or disable Sound Blocks via a specific octave on a MIDI keyboard.
6. NI Kontour
Arguably the most experimental tool in the NI line-up with two sine oscillators at its core with powerful capabilities of phase modulation, in-depth wave shaping options, and ring modulation.
This bizarre plugin is a modulation-focused tool with an organic, textured, metallic character to its sound patches. So let us break down its important features.
- Oscillator section:
Oscillators A and B, a comb filter, and a state variable filter form the four key areas around which the Kontour is built. Right under the Tuning Section are the Self Modulation (PM Self) controls which you can use to change a sine wave to a sawtooth as it is dialed in, and the PM from the other oscillator and shaper(PM B). Below the PM controls lie the two Shaper settings.
The Comb Filter has a slider that controls the level of feeds from the two oscillators and shapers. The pitch setting adjacent to the Comb Filter can adjust the filter’s delay, like in semitones and fractions of semitones. The Decay control can control the internal feedback. The State Variable filter, like the comb filter, has a slider to set the input signal level from the two oscillators and shapers. The SVF is four pole filter that can crossfade between LPF, BPF, and HPF settings. You can use the spread control feature to separate the two resonant peaks from the four-pole slope. Parallel control is provided to the user to control the signal between parallel and serial modes effortlessly.
The modulations selections provided in the Kontour are Velocity, Pitch Bend, Key tracking, Mod Wheel, and Aftertouch. These Modulation Assignment buttons and envelopes lie on the left side of the Kontour. Envelopes A and B control the two oscillators and shapers, while the third envelope modulates specific targets within the two filters.
- Motion Recorder and Macros:
Four macros are available, the Kontour of which each has a Motion Recorder function built in. If the user prefers not to create their own option recording patterns, there are more generic waveforms like pulse, saw, triangle, sine, etc.
Reaktor 6+ or the free Reaktor Player.
Despite having a non-resizeable display window, the Kontour is a mildly complex synth that can develop fascinating audio signals when a pinch of creativity is put in.
7. NI Skanner XT
Update to the Skanner Synth from Native Instruments, which was more of a sampler, a wave scanning synth, or maybe an effects device.
Nonetheless, the new version of this synth deserves a closer look.
The synth aggregate the samples fed into it, and the oscillators scan to create desired output signals. The new XT version adds new sample patches, which are divided into two categories; Chiptune and Motion.
Oscillators and Architrcture :
Skanner XT has a unique synth architecture that creates broad variations of exciting and futuristic sounds for music production and sound design. The two oscillators in the synth scan any input sample and give outputs ranging from heavy and dirty bass to organic pads and soundscapes.
Skanner XT is a no-brainer, especially for the price it is offered in. You will love this latest version if you’re familiar with its predecessor.
8. NI Blocks Base
Blocks Base is a free module-based Reaktor plugin and its Native Instruments’ take on modular synthesis.
It has 24 basic modules and, in addition, includes a collection of Rack file presets to aid fresh users. The plugin also has a modular synthesizer’s basic generic building blocks like filters, amplifiers, envelopes, oscillators, modulators, mixers, etc. Let us take a detailed look at some of its blocks.
- UTIL modules :
The first category of modules, known as UTIL MODULES ( short for Utility ), contains 13 blocks. UTIL CV MIXER 4 is a special mixer for balancing the modulation signals, and you also get access to the standard 4-channel mixer with UTIL MIX 4. In addition, you get a single-channel mixer with UTIL MONO LEVEL and a Two-channel mixer with UTIL STEREO LEVEL with built-in metering. UTIL CLOCK generates a basic clock signal used in conjunction with sequencer modules. Additionally, you get various output and macro modules.
- BENTO BOX modules :
This pack of blocks has all the essential parts required in a modern modular synthesis setup. As the name suggests, BENTO BOX OSC is the oscillator module; you get options to choose from in the waveform and control over Pulse Width, Phase, Sync, and FM. BENTO BOX LFO and BENTO BOX ENV are the key options for modulating, and you also get modules for processing the modulation signal, such as BENTO BOX CVP. Sample & Hold, Sequencer, and filters are also available.
32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows & MacOS
If you want to start with modular synthesis, Block Base is the best tool for you; it is like a creative playground. Tools like BENTO BOX 4 MODS have endless possibilities, but it is easy to understand. Plus, it’s a free tool.
9. NI Spark
Spark is a new Reaktor ensemble, a two-oscillator subtractive synthesizer developed with three main factors in mind; character, playability, and expressiveness.
The NI Spark packs 200 Kore sounds and 1400 sound variations. In addition, you get control over four parameters which we will tell you below.
- Parameter controls
In the synth essentials, you get access to the most important variables of the plugin. You will find that essential effects and mix controls are hosted in Mix and Effects. Users can fine-tune the synth to the desired output using the Synth control panel. Macro and LFO controls page – More tweaking of the input audio signal is done here while controlling two parameters simultaneously.
- Filters and other effects
You get a wide range of tweaking controls to gain more control over the synth, like ring mod/filter, cabinet saturator, 8-pole filter, waveshaper, and modulation effects.
The Spark has a highly versatile feature set to attract Kore 2 and Kore Player users. With its four pages of controls and parameters, the bank of 200 presets can transform into almost anything the user intends.
This synth has a certain unpredictability and chaotic nature to it. Therefore, I find it a little underwhelming compared to other plugins and Reaktor ensembles in this list since the sonic feel is like any other Subtractive synth. However, I feel like adding a little bit of character and some freshness in sound possibilities can elevate this plugin.
10. NI PRISM
The Reaktor Prism is a polyphonic synthesizer and effects processor whose modal synthesis is ideal for creating percussive or strung instrument tones.
The Prism FX bundled with the synth opens the door to captivating sculpting possibilities, from something simple to something filled with Partials and Harmonics. Let us tell you about the features which allow you to add unique Spectral textures.
This is used to generate a looping impulse or noise. The exciter provides two resonant filters, an external control adding the effect signal, and feedback control. Below that is the impulse plus cabinet and 8-pole filter.
- Modal Bank:
Modal Bank receives input signals from the exciter and creates harmonics, and the multiple resonating filters refract the spectrum creating a unique sound. In addition, the ratio bend and multi-dials will give the audio signal an organic timbre, and tweaking the parameters with extensive modulation possibilities will decide the nature of the output tone.
Prism’s experimental nature with harmonics and the ensemble effects can create results varying from subtle to extreme coloring. The additional five included audio effects; amp simulation, 8-pole filter, a flanger, stereo delay, and reverb to complete the tonal spectrum on the output audio signal.
I find that it is not a tool for creating rich pads, brasses, or percussive basses; rather, it is much suited for producing bright, percussive, and metallic sounds.
11. NI Flesh
The Flesh is a Reaktor synth developed to focus on Live performances.
Flesh inputs the user sample and, with their transients and frequency content, activate other synths and FX, creating a harmonic output that keeps in sync with the initial input sample.
You get the Sample page section which acts as the loading bay for the samples. It can support up to 12 simultaneous samples, each with individual controls for Brass, steps, offset, threshold and gain, providing much room to play with.
- The Sub Engine Page:
This engine provides clean lower ends from harmonizing a monosynth or polysynth setting. In addition, the Sub Engine has a few controls to tweak the input audio signal to the users’ desire. Spectrum, Character, length, and level controls are great controls that can bring out cleaner lower bass tones while preserving ample headroom for other synth instruments.
- The Monosynth:
The wavetable of the sample input from the user is transformed into a monophonic synth lead or sequence. The mono synth can play in higher and lower octaves depending on the setting set by the user. The Monosynth also has 16 presets to begin with.
- The Sample Player:
Like the Monosynth, the sample player also comes with 16 presets, which can be tweaked to change its timbre and character using the Mix Control, which crossfades between the Low and High-frequency content of the initial input signal.
- The Polysynth:
It is a Resonating Granular Synthesiser that can alter the signal and create harmonic chords.
- The FX Page:
Except for the Sub-engine, every other synth can be channeled through the FX engine, which has a full-fledged Dub Delay with two synced delay lines, limiting and filtering.
- The Harmonization Page:
This is where the user can predetermine the notes that’ll be played by the Sub, Monosynth, or Polysynth. While users can build their sequences and chords, the plugin comes with eight chord presets.
The Flesh is a powerful synth machine and a live performance synth packed into a Reaktor ensemble. It is as easy as picking a random sample from an old sample library and giving it new life with Flesh.
Features like harmonization make it an ideal synth for use in live music. Still, it is like a chamber where you can modify your sound to get enrapturing results.
Top 11 Reaktor Ensembles 2023 (Synths, Sequencers, Arpeggiators)
1. Blocks – Euro Reakt 4.3
Euro Reakt blocks are collections of decades worth of innovations in modular synthesis.
The extensible and flexible nature of modular synthesis is the primary focus of these blocks.
Amongst this rich library of modules, you will find a Low-Pass Gate, a Wavefolder, a Probability Router, a complex AD Envelope, a Frequency Shifter, a Quadrature LFO, Wavetable Distortion, and Boolean Logic calculators. So let us take a closer look.
- New and unique Blocks
‘Bping’ is one of the new additions; it is a simple percussion block built with a resonant BandPass filter. Similarly, we have ‘decaying sine,’ a sine wave-based percussion module. Additionally, in the new version, NI has introduced two kinds of subharmonic generators one that is aptly named ‘Subharmonic generator’ that adds various amounts of square waves to an input signal and the other named and modeled after the famous ‘Divine CMOS.’ Finally, they have also introduced Oscialltors with Pulse Width controls.
- Flexibility and presets
Native Instruments has given dedicated care to get the modular aspect right. You can connect any 140+ blocks and save them as a snapshot. In addition, 100+ presets with full NKS mapping, which even covers the generative composition, and algorithmic drum sequencing comes bundled with it.
Requires Reaktor 6.3+
In terms of modules available, the euro rack is loaded. You can get a great variety of sounds built using these blocks. NI successfully brought the creativity of modular synthesis without the messy real-life cable patching. NKS integration makes it responsive to the producer’s touches.
If you are looking for a Weird and industrial soundscape at a reasonable price, read on.
Kursk is a three-channel Post-industrial sound design tool that is tempo-synced. Engine 1 has smooth drone and pads sound, Engine 2 delivers heavily distorted & complex evolving tones, and Engine 3 for rhythmic/arp-driven sequences.
The cumulative effect is a full-bodied and bizarre soundscape. A cherry on top is the FX unit, which can be used to create more complex derivatives. Let’s dive deeper.
- The Three Engines :
All the engines give you the features of the oscillator, Octave, fine-tune, Width, Pulse width, Rate, and FM amount. In addition, engine 1 has a chorus and phaser built-in, Engine 2 has Different distortion options, and Engine 3 has a sequencer, expanded FM options, and an FX section.
- Presets and UI :
You will find a very user-friendly interface, a short description of all the buttons and sections is provided in the info section, and you also get 200+ presets offering dense and massive soundscape that you can play around with.
Requires Reaktor 6.3+
In conclusion, I believe that Kursk is an excellent platform for Industrial drones and aural exploration. It can be easily operated, and heavy use of its randomize button is encouraged.
Moreover, all the presets evolve, often giving unpredictable and surprising results.
3. Monark MINI
Based on the famous Minimoog, this synth by native instruments captures the organic essence of its hardware counterpart.
Many have made emulations of Mini Moog before, then what makes Monark unique? Read on to find out.
- Classic Minimoog controls
Visually, Monark’s UI is somewhat different from the hardware unit of Minimoog. The layout corresponds to its hardware relative, but the ocular style of Minimoog is not copied. Although a bit odd, the changes are a welcome addition with options to do A/B tests.
- Classic Minimoog sound
Unlike the interface, this emulation of Minimoog has been modeled with great attention to the nuances of the original sound. It has rich and vigorous oscillators. You will find that Monark slightly detunes the sound over time which is one of the special characteristics of Minimoog; that is, the oscillators don’t fully sync with each other.
- Back Panel
The Back Panel of this emulation offers a very rare degree of customization. You can modify Oscilattor leakage, intonation, pitch drift, and other inconsistencies here. In this section, you can also change the Mod wheel and Pitch Bend’s response. You also get three pre-made settings ranging from sturdy to messy.
Reaktor Player or Reaktor is required.
Monark captures the inspiring essence of the king of monophonic synths. The control over analog instabilities allows you to make your very own unique Minimoog unit sound. The only downside I can think of is the lack of external inputs that the original offers.
Juno-106 by Roland is not a name that is unheard of, and NI takes us back to the revered nostalgic flavor.
It is a powerful polyphonic synth, and the original Juno-106 is one of the first synths to incorporate MIDI standards. In addition, it has a simple synthesis architecture, which made it a staple of the 80s.
Similar to the original unit, you can toggle between 2 polyphonic modes using the Poly 1 and Poly 2 button. When both are pressed together, you get Solo unison mode which toggles the synth to monophonic. Reaktor block has 28 presets from the old NI ensemble and some from the Reaktor 5 libraries. Let us tell you more about it.
- Oscillator page:
The DCO section is where you will find controls over oscillators. You can get up to 6 oscillators at a time, producing sawtooth, pulse, and sub-octave square waveforms. You also get controls over pulse width when the switch is flicked to MAN, and when it is set to LFO, it is controlled by the Low-Frequency Oscillator in the synth. The pitch of the oscillators can be set using the range option to 4′, 8′, and 16′.
- Modulators and Filters:
You can also set the rate and delay time of LFO, VCF, VCA, and the classic analog ADSR envelope. According to the original unit’s manual, the VCF has a self-oscillating capability, making the sound’s resonances more colorful. The VCA can be triggered by the envelope or note gating.
Just like in the original, NI has incorporated the famous Chorus effect. In addition, this two-way analog chorus circuit adds thickness and beautiful spatial detailing to the dry sound.
Requires Reaktor 5+
You don’t need a lot of experience to understand this synth. The easy-to-use nature and its characteristic sound make it popular among musicians. Native instruments have recreated the original visually and sonically, a more modern take could have been taken with dry/wet knob in the chorus, but there are no complaints.
I find this useful with Synthwave tracks, especially the chorus FX built-in on the synthesizer. Getting full-bodied funky bases and lead sounds is easier than ever.
A CPU-friendly and easy-to-use Polyphonic Subtractive synth.
The UI looks very enthralling but simple. The fonts they used and the placement of the sections make it easy for people to try it out for the first time. Let us take a deeper look at the synth.
It supports up to 8 voices, and you can access three variable synths with the following possible waveforms – Sine, Tri, Saw, Pulse, and BiSaw. You get the HQ switch between high and low-quality oscillators; saving yourself from CPU hogging is very useful. OSC 3 has additional FM options and can be key-traced or fixed frequency.
- Filters and modulators:
You get the following filters – Primary Ladder, Primary LP2+LP4, Pro52, Core Ladder LP2+LP4, Core SVF NL LP2, Core TSK NLB LP2, Core Ladder NLB LP4, Core Ladder NLA LP4, Core TSK NLA LP2, Core Butterworth LP2+LP4, Core Ladder Diode NLA LP, Butterworth non-resonant high-pass filter. You also get three ADSR envelopes which are made velocity-sensitive, and you get 2 LFOS.
- FX section:
It has a built-in tape emulation with controls over wow and flutter. Most tape emulations are CPU heavy, but this synth won’t cause a crash even in most extreme productions. You get two main distortion options – A bit crusher and Clipper and a saturation option. There is a built-in chorus section too.
Requires Reaktor 6+
If the Juno emulates the 80s, Bluewave emulates the 90s when used for that. Synthesizing patches in it is very easy, the controls are intuitive, and added FX options and vibrato controls give broad opportunities.
The snapshots have a lot of quirky sounds. There are a few bugs since this Reaktor library is still a work in progress, but nothing that can ruin the experience for you.
6. Juice 3
A derivative of Analog legacy technology, Juice 3 captures the feel of Minimoog with some welcomed twists.
The creator approached the emulation with the philosophy that basic and poor design of the inner components is the primary driving force behind power and organic feel, which can be seen if we drive the input up, giving lots of character to the sound. The detuning and pitch drifting happens microscopically but still contribute enough to make it understandable in this emulation. Let us take a closer look.
- Analog Legacy:
The theory of modulating all of the functions in a synth, Juice 3, is one of the first to be used. Mathematically the oscillators are imperfect, which mimics the real nature of analog circuitry.
As a bonus, Juice 3 comes with three FXs – phaser, Mechanic lover flanger, and emulation of Roland base echo RE-012 and sonically open the window to more possibilities.
Requires Reaktor 5 or Lower
Juice 3 successfully emulates the classic Minimoog sound along with its analog feel. It is, however, different from its cousin – Monark, but an old NI Minimoog emulation is used as a starting point.
Customisability wise, Monark offers better options with its B View, but Juice 3 sounds more wonky and unclear, which might not be considered bad by some.
7. RBG Blocks
It offers a set of effects modules ranging from simple filters to modulation effects.
This free Blocks collection has front panel patching and is regularly updated. Let us take a look at some of them.
One of the blocks, known as Stereo Delay, has a selectable delay interpolation. You can set the Delay time separately for left and right to be either synced ( dotted, straight, Triplet ) or in milliseconds. The main difference between this andDual Delay is that the latter doesn’t have a separate time control for left and right. You can also freeze the module for ambient processing. The Diffusion module is based on fusion reflections from the factory library. There is also a variation known as ZDF Diffusion Delay, which is the same but uses ZDF allpass filters.
The highlight here is the saturation block in which you get the following modes: Hyperbolic Tangent, Hyperbolic Tangent Anti, Aliased, Hyperbolic, Inverse Parabolic, Inverse Hyperbolic Sine, Parabolic. There is also a Saturation+ module where the only difference is that you can toggle the signal flow of the filters between in series or parallel.
There is a traditional three-band EQ with selectable saturation mode, a 3-band Satx2 which has 2x oversampling, and also these modules without the saturation options are present.
- Filters :
A ZDF Lowpass filter with saturation called Ladder D Filter NLA is available. In addition, ladder Filter 8P NL, a ZDF 8 Pole Ladder filter, has different modes with varying poles and slope values.
- Modulation and Modulators:
You will also find that Autopan, different flanger, and phaser units are included in this collection. Four LFO blocks are also available with single, dual, triple, and Quad phase locked unipolar/bipolar waves.
These can be a great addition to your collection. Most module functions are commonly found in Eurorack and NI Base Blocks, but the advantage of front panel patching and Nuansed options with different filters is a welcome treat.
8. Beselbiger 12
Get quirky and experimental with the Beselbiger ensemble.
This weird synth consists mainly of two modules – Uhrmarcher and Frau Tonium. Let us take a closer look at it.
In its most basic form, Uhrmacher is a sequencer. You can control the number of beats and beat subdivisions of 4 voices individually, which makes doing polyrhythmic synthesis a piece of cake. You also get control of the swing and length of each voice. Additionally, you have control over Scale, the Pitch of each voice, and a Randomize function.
- Frau Tonium:
Similar to Uhrmacher, there are four voices available here. You can set the Root note and the scale in Voice 1, with knobs to control AM and FM intensity and controls to set the detune/pitch drift. Voices 2 & 3 have similar layouts, the difference being the formant filter type. Both the voices have a high shelf boost knob and a modulation option. In the 4th voice, the formant filter is replaced by a Low-cut filter.
The most eye-catching feature of Beselbiger is the Uhrmacher. If you want, creating a 7:11:9:4 polyrhythm pattern is easier than ever. It is also bundled with some weird but inspiring snapshots you can experiment with. There is an in-built FXs section and a basic mixer section where you can control the sends to the delay and reverb engine.
For some reason, the sounds made using Beselbiger reminds me of old Atari games but not as bitcrushed, more detailed and wide.
9. pandoro 27.5
A sequencer designed to create Chaos!
Pandoro also acts as a formant filter and offers the possibility of making polyrhythms for your enjoyment. Let us show you a little bit more about this.
Activate the Clock by pressing the play button. This action makes the Clock send a sequence of Pulses from its Gates output. Additionally, the Clock can send a Gate from its reset output every time it is activated, ensuring that they start from the correct step.
This feature is used to toggle between the internal and external clocks. In the Internal mode, the start-stop and the tempo can be set with the controls on the panel, whereas, in the External Mode, these are controlled by the host sequencer.
- Delay Time:
You can use this to set the size of a delay buffer. The delay time can be adjusted in milliseconds or in note divisions depending on the settings of the MS/TS switch.
- Crossfade & Formant:
You can crossfade between 4 simultaneous sources in a random or manual mode. There are two formant modes in parallel; A and B. You can also mix these two and create the desired output.
With around 127 preset options, users can explore several ways to use Pandoro to create unheard soundscapes and patterns.
10. Knockers 3.5
An experimental rhythm sequencer for Reaktor Ensemble.
- The instruments :
There are seven instruments you get control over. You can modify the envelope of the kick and set basic compression/saturation. For snare and Toms, you get Attack and Decay parameters, with the difference being that the former has a specialized compression( snap )
The Clock sends a sequence of Gates from its Gates output. Additionally, the Clock can send a Gate from its reset output every time it is activated, ensuring that they start from the correct step.
Works almost like Pandoro but in a more rhythm-focused manner.
11. Tape Machine
Get a vintage tape machine feel in your modular chain.
It is used to bring tape-like saturation to an audio input and mimic the frequency characteristics of analog tape recording devices.
- Processing :
The tape machine has a wide range of stereo processors that You can use for EQ, compressor, saturation, exciters, and limiter. The processing engines are arranged efficiently to maximize utility between individual effects.
- Metering :
The final output level is shown in a numerical display, and with the help of clip indicators, users can keep an eye on the gains throughout the single path.
Requires Reaktor 5 or Lower
Although the Tape machine doesn’t claim to perfectly emulate an analog Tape Machine, it helps create an approximate replication of the artifacts associated with the Tape Machine technology.
A Polyphonic Subtractive Reaktor Synth is highly capable of creating analog-style sounds genuinely.
There are three VCOs; One and two have an LFO, PWN, and FM each, and the third VCO has PWN and FM. All of these controllers have Octave and Pitch modulators.
The mixer tab has mix controls for the VCOs and Oscillators. There is also an additional noise mixing option knob.
The filter tab has 4 Pole and 2 Pole style filter options with five knobs for Low Pass freq; Cutoff, Resonance, Envelope, LFO 1 & 2, and Drive.
The scope is a display for displaying the waveform generated from the oscillator.
Antsynth claims to be close to what an analog synth would produce regarding tonal characteristics. With the right amount of fine-tuning, users can develop interesting sound outputs.
Modular synthesis offers a plethora of opportunities and is a playground for sound designers, and Native Instruments has hit the mark with Reaktor and its blocks. However, in my humble opinion, the best and the worst thing about modular synthesis is that you don’t get anything handed to you on a platter; you have meticulously chain the modules even to get a sound sometimes. This can seem frustrating for anyone new to it, but Reaktor tackles this easily with presets and snapshots.
Even the relatively expensive ensembles seem to be bang on the buck, and you also get access to the user library, which has a lot of great free blocks, some of which have been covered in this article.
I have found myself spending hours and hours making vast soundscapes. And modular synthesis and, by extension, Reaktor is such a vast concept that we cannot even cover 1% of the info out there. So I hope you found some inspiration and knowledge to get into it, and if you are already experienced, I hope you gained some new information from this.