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DARK STAR 2 (prototype)

A semi-granular reverb effect with several routing options.

(31 Votes)
Bryan Lake
2.0 (Updated 6 years ago)
December 13, 2014
Reaktor 5 or lower
Effect Delay based


This is just a hair away from being finished. I just need to make some small adjustments to a few of the knobs in order to visualize fine tuning decimation (as soon as I figure out how to do that), as well as include some better documentation of the parameters. But I guess I can go ahead and break it down for some of you....

(I'll just explain the parameters that you DON'T see in typical reverbs.)

The "Embed" button just to the right of the "Stereo Grain Delay" section toggles between two modes: When switched OFF, it positions the grain delay AFTER the "Signal Gate" module and BEFORE the reverb. When switched ON, the grain delay modules are EMBEDDED (hence the name) within the feedback delay network of the reverb. This allows not only for huge, pillowy shimmer effects, but it can also be used to add depth and sophistication to the reverb tail when the "Pitch" knobs are at zero and detuned slightly apart with a bit of jitter -- BUT NOT TOO MUCH!

That "Jitter" control can completely destroy the grain length ... but if destruction is your thing, I think you'll enjoy creating some horrifying sounds with it. Actually, now that I think on it, I should have made a snapshot for some big creepy atmosphere. I'll make more snapshots for the official release, I promise :)

The "Invert L" and "Invert R" buttons simply invert the respective audio signals going into the feedback multipliers. The results may not be dramatic, but they can have a slight influence on the reverb tail that might make a world of difference later on.

The "Merge" knob in the Stereo Grain Delay module is pretty cool. I created it so you can blend the left and right stereo signals when they are at different pitches, so you don't hear an octave in your right ear and a perfect fifth in your left ear. Both pitches can be blended together by MERGING the stereo signal -- BUT KNOW THIS: When the Merge knob is turned all the way up, you will eventually turn that wide stereo output into a flat as a pancake mono output. However, to counteract this, I cleverly hid a single delay module that creates a Haas effect when the Merge knob is turned all the way up, which delays the right audio output by exactly 25 milliseconds. Turn the Merge knob all the way down, and the right audio output is not delayed at all. Pretty nifty, huh?

The "Signal Gate" section isn't as complicated as it looks. The general idea is that your incoming audio signal is translated to a simple ON/OFF gate that triggers an Attack & Release envelope so you can adjust the way your audio is fed into the reverb module, as well as some added bells & whistles that control what's going OUT of the reverb. For instance, the "Tail" button applies the gate to the reverb tail only; this works better if the Attack knob is turned all the way down. Tail mode is suited for more traditional gated reverbs to use for drums and sharp transients that need a short burst of energy.

The "Makeup" knob is a simple makeup gain control that can boost incoming audio by a few decibels when the Attack knob is turned up. The more you turn the Attack knob up, the more amplitude is available to the Makeup multiplier. If you turn the Attack knob all the way up, you have approximately 4dB of gain that you can adjust with the Makeup knob. When the Attack knob is at 50%, you have (more or less) 2dB of gain available to the Makeup multiplier. So, the more attack you have, the more makeup gain you have available to the Makeup multiplier. Got it? Good.

But wait, there's more! The Makeup multiplier responds to an internal envelope that also behaves in accordance with the Attack knob. So, when the Attack knob is at a low value, the makeup gain will taper off at a rapid rate, but when the attack knob is at a higher value, the makeup gain will taper off at a slower rate. This way, when you are in "Choke" mode, which literally CHOKES BOTH the dry and wet signals, you can perform volume swells that don't get washed out by the attack stage of the envelope. Your signal CAN BE boosted in accordance with the attack knob, and that boosted audio tapers off to its original amplitude when the attack stage is complete. This way, your volume swells will have more presence than with traditional volume pedals that don't have this feature.

The "Manual" button allows you to trigger the signal gate envelope with a midi controller that you can assign to the "Gate" button, which is connected to your midi keyboard's sustain pedal (ctrl#64) by default, but you can go to the "Connect" tab in the properties of the Gate button and change it to whatever controller you want. Also, you can just press the Gate Button with your mouse if you don't have any midi controllers.

Well, that's pretty much it for the *unusual* stuff. Everything else is standard fare. The bypass buttons do what they say. The controls for both Early and Late Reflection are pretty common. The "Offset" knob just staggers the early reflection times from left-to-right to create a more realistic environment that works great for all kinds of acoustic spaces.

Anyway, like I said, better documentation will be included in the official version. But for now, I think this prototype is functional enough for experimentation and troubleshooting. Have fun :)


John Prato
4 months ago
This has consistently been m.y favorite and most used Reaktor anything. I keep hoping Bryan will release a DarkStar3.. not because this needs improvement, I just want more from the genius' mind. (I'd buy this in a heartbeat, of course the DarkStar2 is FREE!) I'm just here to say after 2 years (older review below) that this is still totally awesome and everyone should download this and experiment. If you are looking for something in Reaktor to take your music to another level...
Antony Butterfield
1 year ago
Great shimmer reverb. It does everything Valhalla Shimmer does and more.
Artem Moroz
1 year ago
Thank You!!!
Pablo Bastian
1 year ago
Ambient and soundscape instant machine!
Epsilon Coma
2 years ago
(This is The Shit)
John Prato
2 years ago
Yeah, this is SO great! Processing trance gives me goosebumps every time. Thank you for this rich effect!
Sean Flannery
3 years ago
Wow :)
Manu Garcia
5 years ago
Thank you very much, one of the best effects I've tried lately UnamBeats
Michael Bourne
5 years ago
Are you s**ting me ? This is amazing!
Patrick Charles-Lundaahl
6 years ago
Really stoked on the sound design possibilities with this!
Jan Heinke
6 years ago
just love it. thanks for sharing!
Bryan Lake
6 years ago
Matt, check the Early/Late fader and make sure you aren't just listening to your early reflections, or perhaps check the Reverb/Grain fader and make sure you aren't just listening to the Grain Delay. You might also have "Tail" or "Manual" mode engaged in the Signal Gate section, so toggle those buttons to see if that's what it is. I feel your grief, it's a lot to get your head around, but once you understand the routing features, I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself. I might also make a few tutorials on Youtube, being that it's such a monster ensemble, so stay tuned:
Matt Simmons
6 years ago
The wet signal is very quiet compared to dry??
Ng Mui
6 years ago
Wow Bryan, this is indeed insane like Paul said, very creative and inspiring work, love the way you explained all the details. Thanks for sharing!
Paul Weber
6 years ago
You gotta be kidding. The thing is insane! thank you fro taking your time to create and share, Paul