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ABOUT ERRORSMITH

Errorsmith is a producer and DJ based in Berlin. He is a solo artist, a member of MMM and half of Smith'n'Hack. Errorsmith operates without a label, releasing all his tracks independently through the legendary Berlin record store Hard Wax. He developed RAZOR initially for personal use, using REAKTOR 5. Errorsmith is a REAKTOR ninja – he’s been using it since 1996.

Read on for his personal take on some of the unique features of RAZOR.

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GRAPHICAL DISPLAY

"RAZOR's graphical display shows the exact spectrum of the oscillators, filter curves, the stereo spectrum, etc. It provides helpful visual feedback, which makes it easier to set up sounds because you can see exactly how the sound changes. It also shows beautiful animations, especially in 3D mode. Be careful: you might find yourself creating nice 3D graphics with RAZOR and totally forget about making music!"

CREATIVE FILTERS

"Usually, you only get Cutoff and Resonance as filter parameters, but Razor lets you additionally set the resonance width, because I love the sound of broad resonance peaks... You can also set the Filter Slope continuously from 0 db to an extreme -36 db/octave.

Comb filters have repeated notches or peaks over the frequency axis. My simulation of the comb filter found in hardware flangers, though ‘mathematically correct,’ sounded too thin, so I experimented with less spiky shapes and they sounded much better. I also added a continuous blend between flanger and phaser behavior.

The waterbed filter is really new. It simulates ripples on a water surface, creating a filter curve with a rippling shape. It's like an 'organic' phaser. This sound, together with the spectral display, has an instant calming, meditative effect on me. Try it out for yourselves!"

DISSONANCE AND CENTROID

"Dissonance is a great effect for creating tension within a track. Let the sound get more and more dissonant before the drop, then bring back the harmonics. RAZOR comes with some really great dissonance effects!

One which I like for its simplicity and its drastic-ness is the Centroid effect. It gradually de-tunes the partials so they meet at one frequency. Apart from looking cool in 3D, this is one of RAZOR’s signature sounds."

PANNING THE PARTIALS

"Both the stereo pan and the stereo spreader FX pan each partial individually in the stereo field. These effects are great for creating a stereo sensation without altering the basic sound too much. It's amazing how much a simple sound gains from this – it stays 'pure' but sounds broader and fatter."

REVERB IN RAZOR

"Remarkably, RAZOR's reverb is created in the additive engine – a filtered noise is added to the dry signal, similar to the noise tail of 808 claps. Yet it doesn't sound like noise, it sounds like even better reverb: spatial, dense and without the ringing sometimes heard in other reverbs. Even with very short decay times!

As a musical side effect, the reverb tail follows the pitch of the synthesizer voice, so it's pitchable via envelopes, LFOs and dissonance effects. In monophonic mode, this feature is especially useful, as the dry signal and the overlapping reverb tails are always in tune, so even very long decay doesn't muddy up your melody."

SPECTRAL CLIP AND SAFE BASS

"There are two tools in RAZOR that keep the partial amplitude in check. The first is Spectral Clip. It's like a multiband limiter with up to 320 bands - every partial has its own limiter. It's useful when using two modulated filters in sequence, for example, when their resonant frequency overlaps. Set the clipping curve so that the single resonances are just above it (use the spectral display!) and your problem's solved.

The second is Safe Bass. It doesn't boost the bass – it backs it up, adding bass frequencies to fill out the sound and preserve a big low end. This can be very handy – with the Pulse Width oscillator, for example, the sound gets brighter and less bassy as the pulse width gets narrow. Safe Bass irons out this dynamic and keeps the bass energy at a constant level. Even if the pulsewidth gets so narrow that the sound is turned off!"

DELAYS AND ECHO STEPS

"The FX concept in RAZOR is about integrating them into the additive structure to create unique features. Delay is a good example of this approach. In RAZOR, the echoes are created by echoing envelopes instead of audio. Thus, the echo affects only those parameters which are modulated by these envelopes, creating artificial but very musical echoes.

Echo Steps takes this idea even further, changing the effect of the envelope step by step. Use it to create increasingly dissonant echoes, for example, or to pan the echoes independently from left to right."

PSEUDO PITCHBEND AND OVERTONES

"The 'pseudo pitchbend' oscillators don't actually bend the pitch at all. Instead, they give the illusion of pitch bend by filtering out partials that would not be present in the pitch shifted waveform. For example, if set to octave step, the first partial is eliminated, then the third, the fifth etc. This sounds exactly as if the sound had been pitched up an octave. Other pitchbend intervals are approximated – this sounds less polished, and in a way, more interesting.

It's similar to overtone singing, where melodies are created just by shifting formants. Sometimes it has a dissonant character, but this is an illusion – the sound is actually perfectly harmonic. I like this sound a lot."

THE FORMANT SETTING

"The 'Formant' setting in the oscillators and filter 1 is great for organic and complex spectral shapes – in fact, it adds 32 different oscillators and filters to RAZOR! The original idea was to integrate single cycle waveforms. At first I wasn't too sure about this – it seemed to contradict RAZOR's purist approach. But then I experimented with formant shifting – and I was convinced.

Formant shifting is the movement of resonance peaks across the spectrum. It sometimes sounds like shifting the cutoff frequency of a filter – in a way, this oscillator is a hybrid between oscillator and filter. It's a great sound, and a lot of fun. It's a unique RAZOR feature."

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