Tag Archives: Software Modular Synthesizer

Native Instruments Brings in the Modular with Reaktor 6 and Blocks

Native Instruments Reaktor 6 with the New Blocks Feature
Native Instruments Reaktor 6 with the New Blocks Feature

Native Instruments yesterday pushed out an unannounced new version of Reaktor. I spoke about Reaktor before being a good interface for audio visual programming. New Native Instruments releases to existing products are usually not exciting, but this one was. A big part of the new product was the Blocks functionality, which basically creates a standard for modular synthesis within Reaktor. While others have tried to create modular systems in Reaktor, the resulting interfaces have left much to be desired. In this case, the Blocks are beautiful, largely because the patching is contained in the edit screen (which is very easy to access). The result is the best  looking software modulars ever to grace to screen.

This has been a banner year for software that tries to replicate modular systems, both with Max for Cat’s Oscillot, and now NI Reaktor 6.  I will be doing a full review of blocks in the near future, and many even put out a few Blocks myself.

 

Audulus Software Synthesizer Review

Audulus has been around as an iPad app for some time now. But I recently procured the windows version and have been spending the night exploring it as a plugin.

Audulus is a rather simple and straightforward software modular synthesizer. It is also pretty as can be with a pleasing to the eye UI and straightforward interface.

Comparatively it is not the best sounding vst out there, but it’s flexibility even with it’s simplicity is pretty impressive. While it lacks the sophistication and sound of Max for Cats, or Reaktor, it makes up for being quickly understandable. This is not to say it sounds bad, but rather there are better sounding products out there.  Watch the short video I posted above, and just take it from there.

That is not to say there are not issues. This largely has to do with what should be it’s strong suit, it’s usability.  For such a straightforward product it does have some pain points. There is something I would like to call the infinite black hole of space with the program on windows. While zooming in and out is nice, having a palette to add things as large as it is with Audulus runs into some issues. If you accidentally slip up you can take your module to who knows where, and never find your way back. Likewise the zoom out feature can lead to similar issues. While I understand the need for giving plenty of space to the users to work and create, and where zoom in and out features can help. There is such a thing as giving users to much to work with. If the zoom out makes things as small as a pixel, and the space to work in makes it impossible to find what you did, both may be a problem, and some realistic constraints would make a world of good.

In addition to that, selecting waveforms with a mouse, as well as other issues lead to flickering of the section selected.

In terms of modules there are a few things I would have liked, such as a more traditional approach to the VCA which separated it from the ADSR such as on a traditional modular synthesizer.  Likewise a proper LFO would have been nice as well. One last tiny gripe, I really do believe FM input should be a standard feature of all oscillators, both software and hardware.  This is another small gripe is the delay tends to spike things in terms of CPU usage, it is likely a bug but I had to do a quick exit from the product as a result.

Needless to say as a PC plugin product this could be improved significantly from where it is now, it still has some major issues to be ironed out. This has a great deal of potential with some tweaks to usability, as well as a few additional features and modules. The patch capabilities for windows would be nice too, I know this has mac and iPad origins, but this is a common feature.

With all that being said, for thirty dollars it is not an expensive tool to explore. It is more straightforward than visual programmers, and a good introduction to the concept of a more modular form of synthesis. Over time if these issues are worked out, this could be an incredibly powerful tool. It is not quite there yet though, at least on PC.