Review of Reaktor Session
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Review of
Reaktor Session

A thousand soft synths for the price of one.

By Tweak

 

You've probably heard the buzz about Reaktor.  Wha? You haven't?  Dude, it's a "build your own" softsynth application that lets you go into the uncharted lands of synthesis and sampling.  Reaktor was introduced several years ago and is now in it's 4th incarnation.  Back when it first came out, I heralded it as "the holy grail of synthesis", replacing hardware synthesis as a platform of choice for sound designers, tweakers, and those who care about sonic possibility.  Nothing has changed to take away this status.  It still is the holy grail.  And here is why.

Reaktor not only has the concept of building your own synth, but has a public user library.  That is, those that build Reaktor synths can upload them to the native instruments' site for every other registered user to download.  It's like tapping into the universal mind of synthesis.  In the old days, one might find some patches online for their hardware synth and load them in with sysex.  Nowadays, with Reaktor, you download whole synths, beat boxes, FX, sequencers.  Awesome concept.  It's like having access to a giant brain-trust of tweakmeisters.

So, what's the difference between Reaktor4 and Reaktor Session?  You just don't get the Construction tools to make your own, and a few other minor niceties.  Naturally, you can't upload new modules (as Session does not let you create them) but you do have access to the whole user library of Reaktor synths made by others.  As of this writing there are 1,261 Reaktor ensembles for you to download. Whew!  Go look. There's synths, sequencers, effects, samplers and more.  See? By creating an outlet for user's creativity, Native Instrument's has amassed a collection no other manufacturer can replicate.  The kicker is its about sharing.  Manufacturers, take note.  The more you give, the more you get.  I've said it before, there are visionary thinkers at NI.
 

Positives

Why get Session?  Well, many of us are not going to find the time to construct our own synths.  With so many ensembles available, why not just use the ones others have made?  Can you do better than theirs? Well maybe, if you invest an incredible amount of time to it.  For those of us that who merely want to exploit the sonic wealth, Reaktor Session was made just for you.

Reaktor Session come bundled with the same softsynths as Reaktor 4.  There's Samplers and Transformers, such as the Beat Slicer, GrainstatesSPs, Memory Drum, a vocoder like ensemble called Travelizer.  In the Sequenced Synth department is an awesome BlueMatrix See the pic below:  And this is just one of the library that comes in the box with Reaktor session.  There is also the DSQ 32, kind of a cross between a FruityLoops like editor and a Re-drum-like interface, the ultra-chic ensemble called Vierring, which DJ's will love and the Wave Weaver for all you hard core trancemasters.  Reaktor Session has plenty of non-sequenced Synths too, like Carbon, the Green Matrix, Junatik and more.  Some of these take me back down the years to the very first Reaktor, but they have all had a facelift and improvements under the hood.

 

 

And there's more.  Like the Live Machines.  Want to make some truly original sounding loops?  This is the ticket.  There's also plenty of Effects you can use.  If your sequencer supports it, and it should, you can run these effects as inserts on your audio channels.  Some of these effects are huge sounding and definitely different, like the Banaan Electrique, Space Master 5.1 Surround reverb, Fusion Reflections (my favorite) and the unusual Grainstates FX.  There's more too.
 

What does Reaktor sound like? 

Well, the ensembles all point you to the extreme edges of sound creation, where sound morphs and tranforms, folds back and feeds back, filters, re-synthesizes, granualizes, texturizes and rythmatizes.  Yes, that is a mouthful, and an earful.  You might wonder why I am so positive about Reaktor Session.  As a sound designer, I know that being able to get "out there" is absolutely critical for developing great new samples.  Reaktor session is like the express bus to the 4th dimension where you can explore the uncharted audio universe. Reason, comparatively, which is more of a song construction interface, cannot take you this far.  Nor can your hardware synths.  Reaktor, rather than being a song construction interface,  is a sound and beat construction maker.  You can use it stand-alone when exploring, or as VSTi plugin synth.  It also works in DXi mode for Sonar.
 

Extra instruments available for Reaktor and Reaktor Session

 

Drawbacks

The drawbacks of Reaktor modules are they are CPU intensive.  A single ensemble may take 10-30% of your available CPU resources.  When working in a sequencer, this requires you to work with one or two modules at a time, converting to audio when you get a result you like.  That way you can build massive songs with Reaktor.  Other things that might be considered a drawback is that the results are often wild and unpredictable.  Some of the sounds will feedback, delays will runaway into self-oscillation and sometimes the ensembles will crash.  There are no rules or law and order keeping you in safe sonic territory.  I advise not tweaking with the cans on your head (headphones) as you ears might not appreciate some of the alleys Reaktor takes you down. 
 

Sum

By the way, if you had been a registered user of Dynamo, which was to Reaktor I what Reaktor session is to Reaktor4, then note there is an inexpensive upgrade waiting for you at the NI Site.  If not, don't fret.  Reaktor Session is about half the price of Reaktor4.  It is worth every penny, and if you are a sound developer, you know it is worth even more.
 

Enjoy this one, OK?

Rich the TweakMeister

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Intakt
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StormDrum Review
Reaktor
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FM7 and FM8
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