I have used Native Instrument’s plugins for some time. FM8 is probably my old stand by in terms of software synthesis. Plugins are indespensible for me, as they allow me to skip having large keyboards drowning out what little space I have, which a significant chunk is dedicated to modulars.
What Native Instruments though has brought to the table with Reaktor 6 though is about the software synthesis equivalent to an earthquake. I am not usually compelled to upgrade individual plugins for NI products because I wait a few years to upgrade Komplete. This time, I updated Reaktor immediately instead.
Reaktor has always been a good visual programming environment for music, with some notable instruments associated with it which were fantastic. There were a few gripes with it though, that the more one used, the more one realized could be better regarding the product. They were minor gripes as the synths associated with it sounded absolutely fantastic, and the user community has been rather robust in terms of new creations.
Blocks though addresses one of those major gripes, as much as Reaktor claims to be modular, it never really was. Reaktor 6 Blocks actually makes it more akin to an actual modular synth. Albeit more within a modern context, of hiding the patch cords in the edit page instead of having them on the module themselves.
This is a bit akin to an easier to use and more expandable Tassman 4. I stress more expandable, because the user creation features of Reaktor are still stressed in NI blocks themselves.
The wonderful part of Native Instruments Reaktor has always been it’s endless user library, where users share their creations. I actually held off in putting off the review for blocks because I wanted to see what people put out there. Well, it was worthwhile in me doing so since blocks such as a Low Pass Gate, Wavetable Oscilator, wavefolders, and logic gates have all been released by users. Basically, every day the selection of modules grows, and this is what is at the core what was the potential for the blocks system. In some ways it is becoming the software equivalent of the Eurorack modular format.
In terms of the sound, the truth is Reaktor always sounded very good. In fact at times I am shocked at how thick and rich some of the sounds from the blocks patches I created were. If there is any flaw its the fact it is a bit too high fidelity at times, as it creates the musical equivalent of the uncanny valley, something sounding to perfect when emulating something which is sometimes fundamentally quirky and lo-fi.
For the cost of upgrading, the $100 is worth it to get Reaktor if you have Komplete or a previous version of Reaktor already. Otherwise if you are new to Native Instruments I suggest you hold off until Komplete 11 is released. Not because this version of Reaktor is poor, but rather because all of the other instruments in Komplete are incredibly useful or fantastic. Right now the current version of Komplete does not include the new version of Reaktor. This should be remedied in the next few months.