How to use physical modelling in Native Instruments Prism

A unique and characterful synth housed in Native Instruments’ Reaktor modular construction environment or the free Reaktor Player, Prism’s modal synthesis is great for reproducing the tone of physical percussive or strung instruments. In this walkthrough, we'll use it to create a metallic, bell-like sound.

For more Reaktor synthesis techniques and tips, pick up the September edition of Computer Music.

Step 1: Set your project tempo to 122bpm and import Backing.wav, then add Reaktor 6 on a MIDI channel. Launch Prism, then load PrismInit.nrkt to reset Prism’s controls. Use Bell.mid to trigger Prism.

Step 2: Prism generates sound using two components: the Exciter generates the initial sound impulse before sending it to the Modal Bank, which creates harmonics. Tweak the Exciter by pushing the Feedback amount to 0.03. This sends a little of Prism’s output back into the Exciter for an edgier tone. Increase Max P to 100 to dial in some harmonics.

Step 3: Let’s turn our attention to the Modal Bank. First, turn the HP filter down to 1 so we can effect the lower harmonics. The Ratio Bend and Multi dials will add a natural timbre - set Bend to -0.9 and Multi to 0.8. Setting the Decay Time to 60 and Release to 50 enhances the metallic tone we’re after.

Step 4: We can add attack back into our overall sound by adjusting the Voice Processing module’s Exciter dial to 0.6. This mixes the original Exciter signal in, so we’re not just hearing the Modal Bank. To finish, dial in some Voice Delay to enhance the metallic nature of the sound even further by setting Time at 0.16 and Phase at 0.2.

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