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Discussion in 'REAKTOR' started by Keir @ NI, Oct 8, 2015.

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  1. Keir @ NI

    Keir @ NI Community, man NI Team


    Welcome to the all new REAKTOR SPOTLIGHT thread.

    The idea is to put a focus on top builders and give them some exposure, and bring some of their remarkable content (ensembles, blocks, patches) to the attention of the wider Reaktor community.


    Every month(ish), we'll highlight activity from old and new members of the REAKTOR community. It will also be an opportunity for builders to share info on their their work and projects. And each post here will also be shared on the KOMPLETE social media channels for maximum exposure.

    The format is pretty open and we'll see how it develops, but we'd like each post to contain great REAKTOR content that would be of interest to other users, sound examples and in depth descriptions about the work would be amazing, a mug shot with some info about the builder would be nice.

    If you have some work (by you or a fellow user) you'd like highlighted, drop me and @Jonas @ NI a PM. We already have a list containing some of the more longstanding community members and UL contributors with whom we'll be getting in contact about this but first up we have......
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  2. Keir @ NI

    Keir @ NI Community, man NI Team

    builder: @Michael Hetrick

    location: California



    Having uploaded two synths and a sampler to the UL about 8 years ago, Micheal has returned with some Blocks of notable quality.

    Michael's recent Block uploads include tape delay, 8 bit encoder/decoder, random sequencer, quad delay, waveshaper, saw multiplier, crossfader, panner, frequency shifter and more, all with really clear documentation and process explanation.


    Click here to view all uploads: [link]

    Michael in front of Symmesizer, a generative visual project he made.

    In his own words:
    I'm currently writing my dissertation on Compositional Strategies for Modular Synthesis in the Media Arts and Technology department at UC Santa Barbara. I teach a class with Curtis Roads on that topic, and am writing a textbook that will be available soon to anyone looking to learn more. I am also collaborating with an engineer in my department in designing and releasing a hardware module sometime in the next few months.

    The Euro Reakt Blocks solve a few issues for me, including how to set up interactive patches for students that look and feel like hardware (and can also be easily rewired!). One of the main design goals of the Euro Reakt series is to focus on the types of utility and sequencing modules that are frequently overlooked in systems, despite their importance in expanding the sound generators and effects. I'm also using the series as an opportunity to explore my own musical and artistic interests, including chaos, probability, generative systems, and computer science.

    My main focus outside of my academic studies is my plug-in company, Unfiltered Audio (http://unfilteredaudio.com/). We recently joined Plugin Alliance and released our two plug-ins onto more formats with more features. To celebrate, I posted a Reaktor Block that is based off of the variable sample-rate delay at the heart of Sandman.

    I also create music under the name The February Thaw (https://soundcloud.com/the-february-thaw). I have performed live a number of times using only my Eurorack synthesizer. I'm hoping to start incorporating Reaktor 6 into my newer compositions, as I absolutely love the workflow. For my next major project, I plan on releasing an album of modular-focused compositions.

    If you want to see more of my portfolio, you can find me at http://mhetrick.com/.

    • Like Like x 10
  3. Jonas @ NI

    Jonas @ NI EDU NI Team

    Builder: @herw

    This month’s Reaktor Spotlight is about one of the longstanding members of the Reaktor community, who is not only father to some of the most ambitious Reaktor ensembles but also a prolific expert in these forums who has helped countless builders getting closer to their goals. We are of course talking about @herw . Here he is himself, talking about his inspiration and the story behind his legendary ‘Mini-Modular’ project.


    Hi, my name is Herwig Kraß and I am from the Ruhr area of Germany, currently living in Dortmund. Reaktor is my big passion. I started building back in 2003, and as a high-school teacher for maths and physics got my head around programming in Reaktor relatively quickly. Being a teacher I also really enjoy helping around these forums.

    I first got into electronic music as a student with the renowned ‘Switched-on Bach’ record by Wendy (Walter) Carlos in 1968. Ever since I wanted to have my own modular synthesizer, which after a couple of failed DIY attempts (Formant Synthesizer) became reality with Reaktor version 2.3 in 2003. My musical interests are pretty broad: from Bach and Strawinsky to Stockhausen and AC/DC, just to name a few. This is also reflected in the ‘music’ that I make, examples of which you can find here:

    Glas und Metall (Absynth)

    Rock (Real Strat of Soundlab and Guitar Rig)

    1914 (Schoolproject around the topic of 'World War 1' using Action Strikes and Komplete)

    I am very patient and not afraid of large Reaktor projects, which explains why I have been working on my modular ensemble with panel connections since 2004. It all started while on vacation and, in absence of a lap-top, only lived in my head at first. Here are some of the original sketches I made.


    Initially I wanted to create a very specific ensemble which explored only one sound. However, I was too lazy to build an ensemble for each sound so I thought about creating a testing environment which led to the idea of a fully modular synthesizer inside of Reaktor.
    My biggest concern was how I could make connections on the panel that would be reflected in the structure - the current version at that time, Reaktor 4, did not have multidisplays. I was discussing the necessity of virtual patch cables with Eric Wiestrand (ew) and we both agreed that they were essential in visualizing the signal path. That is why I started the sub project of panel connections.


    The underlying principle is quite simple and I still use it today: a button is representing an in- or out-put and sends its address as a number including panel coordinates. This connection data is stored in a central memory called SnapValueArray. However, graphical representation of connections in form of virtual cables was almost impossible in Reaktor 4. I was considering making transparent pictures for every possible connection (thousands) but then, thankfully, Reaktor 5 came out in 2005 including the much needed multidisplays. From then on everything was easy. The data of the connections was sent to the multidisplays and the receive modules at the same time to make patching on the panel possible. After one year of development the first Modular ensemble with patching cables on the front panel was finished.


    Shortly after I made the slightly bigger version ‘Modular-Mini 2’ which can still be found in the user library today:


    The ensemble was quite popular which led to a small competition initiated by Rick Scott (unfortunately this is only available as a cached version): https://web.archive.org/web/20120305225630/http://www.reaktions.com/compilations/herw_modular_mini.htm

    Here is some of the music that was composed for this competition using only the Modular-Mini 2

    rachMiel (Rick Scott)

    Sowari (Phil Durrant)

    herw (Me)

    Even though I have been working on this project for over a decade, the goal of the ensemble has remained the same: The whole modular system, in its structure, is as simple as possible, allowing for everyone to combine modules for their personal Modular. In the last couple of years I have expanded on this foundation: Send and receive connections, event and audio tables (which were not published) and most recently a shared array in core allowing modules to be rearranged freely. Simplicity for the user was always paramount. You can find a small test ensemble here:


    My lifelong dream has thereby been fulfilled, also in regards of a ‘real’ modular system which you can see in the pictures of my studio below.

    Next to programming I also moderate the small German Reaktor forum which is very friendly and technically focused but sometimes also intense. In addition to all the tips and tricks you can find there, you can also read more about my modular project in the following two threads (if you speak German that is):


    Finally, even though I have been programming in Reaktor for a long time now, there are still secrets and techniques that I can discover. At this point I would like to highlight the physical modelling ensemble by Chet Singer which you can find here:


    As always: ciao herw
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
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  4. Keir @ NI

    Keir @ NI Community, man NI Team

    builder: Dieter Zobel

    location: Berlin

    uploads: 164



    This month’s Reaktor Spotlight shines on Dieter Zobel, the man behind some of the most creative uploads to the userlibary. His creations unify technical mastery with direct musical gratification, sprinkled with a healthy dose of humour. (He called his newest upload, the Ostblock, quite literally ‘A Joke’).

    We asked him a couple of questions, answers to which you can find below, and are looking forward to what he comes up with next.

    1. Hi Dieter, please introduce yourself.

    Hi, my name is Dieter Zobel, I am 57 years old, live in Berlin and I am a cab driving musician.

    Between 1985 and 1992 I played the guitar and numerous DIY instruments in a band called “Das Freie Orchester” (The free orchestra) or DFO, which was a project dedicated to improvised rock music based in East Berlin. The whole concept was not only slightly bizarre, but also quite the venture at that time. Krautrock made in the GDR, and some poor Stasi snitch was listening the whole time.

    Building peculiar instruments has always been a hobby of mine, and for DFO I built a whole series of quirky ‘instruments’ that we used extensively at concerts or recording sessions.



    'Metallic Noise Masturbator 1'

    'Wooden Orgasme 1'

    2. When did you first come in contact with Reaktor

    The first time I came into contact with Reaktor was in 1999. A friend of mine - the drummer of my band ‘Freicore’ at that time– was recording Hi-Hat samples for NI (Which were included in the Reaktor 2 release as a samplemap under the name ‘Rob’s Real HiHat’) and as part of the payment he received a copy of Reaktor, which he gave to me.

    I’ve been a junky ever since and admit to it. My hobby for building instruments has been transferred into the virtual domain.

    3. With which of your own Reaktor ensembles are you the happiest?

    I can’t really say which one is the best. Kulup Arp III maybe? I use it frequently to create bizarre figures out of simple chords. Chance as inspiration…


    The E-piano that you hear in the soundtrack of the following cinematic epic was created using this ensemble.

    Also the prosthetic guitar from this piece:

    I also enjoy KrafStrom a lot, but more as a toy for relaxation. This ensemble originated from the beautiful steampunk paneldesign by Jonathan Style, which I found in the userlibrary. It was so inspiring, that the underlying ensemble almost built itself.


    I also still find Locutus II quite entertaining.


    And last but not least, my sequenced granular sampler ‘Veformung’, which is a toy for adults. Please enjoy responsibly.


    4. What are the inspirations behind your music and Reaktor ensembles?

    Walks through the forest, I walk around the Liepnitzsee (north of Berlin) once a week.

    Holidays in Oderbruch. An empty Ensemble structure. A good movie.

    The quirks of my peers, my own quirks and of course the user library.

    5. Do you have a favourite ensemble which you did not create yourself?

    Yeah, Knoerre and Organol by Siegmar Kreie and FM Drone by Martin Brinkmann. Those are Reaktor classics.




    6. Do you have advice that you would like to share with fellow builders, be they seasoned veterans or just getting started?

    Eat healthy, exercise regularly and do not sit in front of the computer for too long. And protect your ears!

    7. Where can people find you online?

    I am currently one half of Dubspace. We play improvised electronic music which is not focused on a single genre, but as the name suggest generally dubby. No laptop defaces our stage setting.


    My own music:


    Das Freie Orchester


    8. Anything else that you would like to add?

    I want to send my regards to the Reaktor community, I am happy to be a part of it and will open myself a beer now. Cheers!
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
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  5. Jonas @ NI

    Jonas @ NI EDU NI Team

    Builder: Donald Phillips (@salamanderanagram)

    Location: Portland, Oregon

    Uploads: 17

    We are delighted to be able to present another REAKTOR SPOTLIGHT to you, this time featuring SALAMANDERANAGRAM who is not only a staple here in the forums, but whose voice has also introduced countless brave synthheads to the bottomless world of REAKTOR via Reaktortutorials.com or ADSR.

    Here is the humble man himself, giving an insight on his inspirations and current projects.

    About Me

    My name is Donald Phillips, also known as salamanderanagram, and I am 34 years old, living in Portland, Oregon.


    I started playing classical guitar at the age of 7. Since then, I have been involved in various musical projects ranging in style from punk to glitch hop, from circuit-bent monstrosities to programming my own Nintendo cartridges to take advantage of the NES sound chip.

    Reaktor first caught my eye in 2009, with the release of Tim Exile's The Finger. At the time, I was working on a similar (but substantially less advanced) project in a trial copy of Max/MSP. A few months later, Reaktor went on sale for $99, and I snapped up a copy. At that time, there was not much in the way of tutorials to help learn Reaktor, so I did most of my learning by reading old forum threads by the likes of @CList and @herw

    It always kind of irked me that there were no up-to-date ways to learn Reaktor, so I began helping people on the forums to the best of my abilities. This was a great learning experience as it exposed me to all sorts of pitfalls within the Reaktor building experience. Over time, this led to me starting a blog to post various Reaktor projects, which I operated up until I began creating content for reaktortutorials.com.

    Outside my life as a Reaktor fanatic, I'm a bit of a nerd, as you may have guessed! I like videos games, especially Fallout. I still play Nintendo and Sega Genesis games from my youth as well. I enjoy comic books, my favorite being The Invisibles by Grant Morrison. I'm a voracious reader, everything from Harry Potter to Noam Chomsky.

    Current Projects

    I have several projects in the works, including a piano roll interface:


    There are multiple read positions, and each one has it's own speed, octave, etc. You can change the number of read positions by editing the number of voices in the instrument. In addition, you can set a scale and key and the sequencer will automatically re-arrange all the notes to fit the new scale.

    Building projects of this size in Reaktor requires a lot of patience, because there are a lot of components and a lot of things that can go wrong. I generally begin by identifying the most important part of the project and try to create that part first.

    For this project, that part was the GUI - a Mouse Area module on top of a Multi Display, with a core cell interfacing between them. You can add notes by clicking on the display, and you can drag the mouse before releasing the button to increase the length of the notes. In addition, you can move an existing note by clicking on it and dragging it to it's desired location.

    To make something this complex, I start very simple and work from there. The first iteration of this project was a simple grid. By clicking on the grid, you could add a rectangle to the position you clicked on. Next, I add a function that allowed you to right click on the grid, and delete any rectangle found at that position. Often problems that seem overwhelming at first can actually be broken down into several simple steps.

    One of the key tools I always use on projects like this is Chris List's Eventwatcher04. There are lots of event watchers out there, (some newer ones are much more advanced) but this is the one I first started with, and find the easiest to use. If you are just learning to build, using an event watcher is the best thing you can do to really understand what is happening in Reaktor. It is very difficult to understand the way that events work, especially in Primary, without one.

    Using Reaktor to Write Code for the NES

    Another thing I have been working on lately is using a combination of Max/MSP and Reaktor as a tool for making NES (Nintendo) games. I use Max/MSP as a graphics and level editor:


    The Reaktor side of the project is a collection of ensembles that emulate the various channels of the NES sound chip. The ensembles are designed to run in a DAW, and they record all of the parameter changes over the course of a track. The data is then saved in a format that can be loaded directly into a NES assembly file.

    This makes it possible to write music for the NES inside Maschine or Ableton, instead of hammering hexadecimal code into a text editor.

    As you may have guessed, this project is very complex! It will probably never be ready for public consumption (and I can't imagine there would be much demand for it anyway) but some of the audio components of it have been translated into the Blocks framework:

    ARP Odyssey

    A while back somebody was asking questions about the ARP Odyssey and posted a link to the manual. I was amazed at how much technical information was included.

    So I tried to build a rough approximation in Reaktor. Surely, there are many things that don't work quite right compared to the real thing (especially because I don't have one to test with).

    But it's been a fun project nonetheless:


    When I began programming in Reaktor, I understood the basic signal flow of a synthesizer, I had a year's worth of college math that I hadn't used in almost 10 years, and I had basic programming skills as a hobbyist. In other words, I had a lot to learn.

    Fortunately, in Reaktor, it's very easy to stand on the shoulders of giants - I was very lucky to be able to learn from those around me, and I do my best to pay it forward. With my work I hope to enable a new generation of builders to make things I never dreamed of.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016
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