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Reaktor Blocks and the future of modular synthesis...
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Author Reaktor Blocks and the future of modular synthesis...
Andrew108
We all know that interest in modular synthesis has been growing exponentially over the last few years. And there is good reason. Modular systems are very versatile. You all know this, so there is no point in me expanding on that. Now with Reaktor Blocks there is program, that due to interfacing with modular systems through voltage conversion, is probably 100x more versatile than any current module. Does this spell the end for a lot of utility modules? And what will that mean for manufacturers and the modular scene in general?

With Reaktor and a suitable interface, you get gates/cv, sequencing, random trigs/gates that are absolutely equivalent to their modular counterparts. I'm not sure about the equivalence of the lfo/envelope generation part in RB or the VCA part and would appreciate hearing from people who've had experience of this. And then I don't think Reaktor will ever be able to replace the sound sources and modifiers that are in the modular world. But my thought is that Reaktor Blocks could probably shrink a 9U system to at least 6U system. And then there is the cost.

I'm interested in peoples thoughts on this. Might it be that all that is needed to have a complex and large modular system is enough sound sources and sound modifiers plus an interface that works with Reaktor Blocks? Can you imagine having a 6U system with the same level of functionality of a system that is twice as big?
unrecordings
For a lot of us (especially the 5U folks) part of the attraction of modular hardware is that tangible interaction with the controls and routing. Like gardening or maintaining a classic car, the end result (some nice veg or a drive in the country) is only part of the activity
petersandbach
Yes I mess about with Blocks for patch ideas/setup/experiment purposes but the process is not as fulfilling for me due to the lack of tangible interface.
chamomileshark
I don't think everything is covered in Reaktor and unless I'm mistaken right now an ensemble equates to a single patch?
sduck
There's also the issue of software support fading away over time and/or OS upgrades making older software unusable. It sounds like a fantastic system, especially if one needed a ton of bells and whistles NOW, but will that system still work to control my otherwise still functional modular in 10 years? Hardware modular systems last a long time; software not so much...
Andrew108
Seem that one of the possible downsides is that it needs a powerful CPU. So by the time I've bought a new computer, the Expert sleepers Es-8 and the software, I could be 2000 out of pocket? Hmmm
chamomileshark
ok, if you've not already tried it you need to realise it's nothing like as immediate as a hardware modular unless you want to use one of the already created systems.

You have to get your modules from the library - connect them up within the wire diagram and then probably rename the modules as they appear in the main panel. If you want to repatch the connections then that is going back into the detail view - and don't forget to save because as said an ensemble is a single patch.
Andrew108
Good to know guys....
ranix
software programmers put me to sleep. Every time I try to use one it's just so frustrating and takes so long to get the results I want, it's like a nightmare where you're trying to run but you can't get anywhere
modfreq
unrecordings wrote:
For a lot of us (especially the 5U folks) part of the attraction of modular hardware is that tangible interaction with the controls and routing.


This.

Reaktor blocks inspired me to finally take the plunge and start building my analog modular. But using a mouse / keyboard is just so uninspiring in comparison.

I've been programming synths for many years, but mostly in the digital realm. (I've owned a few analog synths, but they were all quite heavy on the menu diving) The idea of designing every sound in a song from scratch, has always been super appealing. But on the computer i'd just get bored, and lose focus, every time.

Fast forward to yesterday; I spent what felt like 30 minutes or so just designing kick drums for a tune I'm working on. But when I looked up at the clock it had actually been 3 hours.

Sound design is SOOOO fun. Who knew?
slow_riot
I was pleased to see a lot of set ups of participants of the Sines and Squares festival use hybrid systems with modular and Reaktor or MaxMSP. I was a heavy user of both of these systems before I got into hardware modular, and I think incorporating both into your system opens up a massive potential.

Software programming,especially Max does tend to go a little deeper, and involves probably more time patching than playing, which is more like coding rather than addressing inputs and outputs of complete modules. Latency is a big problem and round trip latency will be enough to put an abrupt end to many wishful ideas.

Max for me is badly crippled by the seperation of timing and audio patching as the scheduler which deals with abstract data and is the most appropriate tool to make sequencers only runs at 1000 cycles per second, which makes it pretty useless for many kinds of music. I thought MaxforLive was a major dud. My mind was spinning about deep control of Ableton in a modular way but it just ended up being a Max VST. Boring!

Glad to see Reaktor getting more attention from NI with version 6. Think that is cutting edge.

Another interesting area is handheld personal devices whether iOS or Android based. Only 5 years ago the Lemur was a specialist user programmable touch screen device that cost £1500 or so. The full featured app version is £20 and touch screen devices are everywhere now.
Shledge
As much as I like Reaktor, the entire appeal of modulars was to get away from the computer to make more experimental sounds.

That said, a tablet with a CV/gate attachment would be a nice mid-way.
thermionicjunky
slow_riot wrote:

...Max for me is badly crippled by the seperation of timing and audio patching as the scheduler which deals with abstract data and is the most appropriate tool to make sequencers only runs at 1000 cycles per second, which makes it pretty useless for many kinds of music...


This is why I do just about everything in MSP and Gen~, unless I'm generating a score.
listentoaheartbeat
sduck wrote:
There's also the issue of software support fading away over time and/or OS upgrades making older software unusable.


Reaktor has consistently been backward compatible for more than 15 years. It has also supported all available OS versions (both Mac and PC) since it was originally released.
Phil999
tablets, phones and computers are an integral part of my modular system.

Some well known advantages and disadvantages:

+:
- versatility (one device, multiple apps)
- patch saving (sequencers, effects)
- uses less space
- relatively cheap

-:
- setup and maintainance of each device (updates, etc.)
- need for interfaces/interface modules
- more complicated
- not always 100% reliable, must be well tested before live use
- additional power bus for power supplies
- positioning (mounts, stands)
Virgil
listentoaheartbeat wrote:
sduck wrote:
There's also the issue of software support fading away over time and/or OS upgrades making older software unusable.


Reaktor has consistently been backward compatible for more than 15 years. It has also supported all available OS versions (both Mac and PC) since it was originally released.


AFAIK there are many old ensembles you can't even open with Reaktor 5 or later.
mt3
Definitely software 100% all the way.
Best part of software that you can't do with hardware is CPU overload, even with a small Reaktor patch that fits in your 15" laptop display. Some nice glitches crackles pops freezes and other surprises. Like Autechre run through an analogue tube.
luketeaford
Reaktor is a cool idea and people are making powerful and interesting things with it -- but I am like many here who want to get away from the computer (I am a programmer for a living...).

I think the future is ongoing development of hardware and experimental digital modules -- in a way that keeps the software abstracted behind the panel (I would be unlikely to use any module that has a "screen" style menu, but am fine with something like Rene)
contrasttx
I really enjoy the Reaktor + Eurorack combo myself. I basically do CV in Reaktor and the audio in the rack. I find that makes for a pretty clear division of duties, keeps things simple without latency worries, and so on.

Also easy enough to map a controller to some important parameters in the patch, and of course Blocks makes this pretty easy.

But for sure if your interest in modular is largely in getting away from the computer, it's much less appealing. Just depends on how you like to work. thumbs up
hamildad
I dont use Reaktor, but do use Max/MSP/BEAP sometimes with my modulars and I think its incredible.

I feel, The future is all about hybrid systems and although some people might not be interested due to the tactile and workflow elements of keeping it out the box, I think that the ability to call up everything from a trigger sequencer to a granular delay effect and have it work with your modular is great.

Its good for testing out new ideas and 'prototyping' without a $$ spend on a new module. You can go from I wish this patch had more LFOs to having more LFOs in a matter of minutes.

Its really nice to build a max patch yourself and see it interact with a musical instrument in the real world. (e.g. taking data from a webcam and translating to CV)

Finally, it breaks down the barriers between software and hardware and makes us all play along... I have a friend who does everything in the box and the ability for Reaktor blocks to be the bridge between his software and my hardware is great for both of us and encourages cooperation.

it all comes down to the joke,

Q: Whats the difference between a Mutable Instruments Module and a VST?


A: Rogan Knobs

(no offence to MI or VST makers... I use both and love them love )
Astrolabe23
Andrew108 wrote:
. Does this spell the end for a lot of utility modules?


I see a future with even more hardware "utility" modules that come in the form of modules running reaktor or max type environments in self contained form with touch screens, knobs, and CV / audio ins and outs.
gruebleengourd
reaktor is cool, but to be honest, I get more great sounds out of my time working with my actual modular. It's powerful but it's not very immediate.
acidbob
I just want to speak to my modular, basically tell it to do stuff while lying in my bed and hearing awesome sounds, now that's the future.

I need Siri in a matrix module, self contained with only on/off button
hamildad
acidbob wrote:
I need Siri in a matrix module, self contained with only on/off button


if you cant set it to be called Bob or Don... no sale..... Dead Banana
frijitz
Reaktor does not have oversampling yet! This means it has to be low-level coded by the developer. Standard waveforms have pretty good quality nowadays. But have any of you blocks users had aliasing problems, eg with ring modulation, deep fm, etc?

Ian
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