For long-time Native Instruments fans, Reaktor is the product to be cherished above all others. This "modular DSP environment" started life as Generator way back in 1996 and, just shy of two decades later, version 6 has arrived.
Promising major innovations for instrument builders and said to be more approachable than any previous version, the headline news is that Reaktor 6 introduces Blocks, a diverse range of modules that enable you to create custom synths as if you were working with a hardware modular synth setup. 30 are supplied (these come in several categories and each has a specific purpose) and you can expect the Reaktor community to create many more.
In terms of categories, we have the following:
- Bento Box Blocks represent the core components of a modular synth setup.
- Boutique Blocks are inspired by custom hardware and designed for advanced sound shaping. Digilog Blocks can be used to create complex rhythms, process notes and provide structure in patches.
- There are also the enticingly-named All-Star Blocks - single rack-style components of Native Instruments synths such as Rounds and Monark.
While Blocks will undoubtedly make Reaktor more appealing to those who've never used it before, NI has also added features for experienced and advanced builders. Specifically, there are three key additions that extend workflow efficiency and sampling power at the Core level:
- Bundled wires are said to be like multicore cables, making intra-level patching cleaner and more elegant.
- Scoped buses allow 'wireless' connectivity across multiple structure levels.
- The Table Framework feature allows flexible and efficient data sharing throughout Reaktor, including from Primary to Core levels.
If none of that makes any sense to you, just read the bit about Blocks again and get excited about that.
The good news is that, as well as being potentially more accessible than its predecessors, Reaktor 6 is also more affordable, retailing for £169/$199/€199. Owners of previous versions can upgrade for $99/€99. Find out more on the Native Instruments website.
In related news, online education provider Kadenze has announced that it's developed a university-level course for the Reaktor community. Offering freely available content, this covers all manner of synthesis methods and is designed for users of all ability levels.