French sound design company BlinkSonic rather affordable Duoz, are Reaktor ensembles, Aetonz and Ruidoz 2, for use with Native Instruments' Reaktor 5 or 6.
While Reaktor is known as a platform for unique instruments and tools, few straddle the division between niche sound design and instant playability like Aetonz. Essentially a sampler comprised of two sample re-synthesis oscillators, or Decks, the versatile tones draw from 114 expertly captured acoustic and electronic instruments, all contained within an appealing modern design.
Each Deck allows you to select a sample with adjustable Start, Length, and granular Speed controls, along with Octave, Semitone, and Fine tuning capabilities. Once the decks are blent via discrete Gain controls, a global ADSR envelope shapes the initial output, which is then fed through dedicated Tremolo and Vibrato controls into a richly resonant filter section complete with Width amount and dedicated LFO. From there, an Overdrive section sends your signal to a filtered Delay line with its own LFO, and finally a lush Reverb to polish the results.
Two features set Aetonz apart. First, the scale and key quantization, selectable in the lower right of the interface, keeps all the potential chaos harmonically compatible. Most importantly, the Tønz mode toggle in the sample section randomizes the sample playback with every note on signal, delivering incredibly dynamic shifting tones within your chords, melodies, or whatever you're triggering Aetonz to play. The result? Otherworldly sound design ranging from organic tones to digital extremities in mere seconds.
Where Aetonz excels at sample re-synthesis and randomization for melodic textures and harmonies, Ruidoz does more or less the same for drums. Built on four sample map engines, each of which can be deactivated or replaced with your own samples, a 16-step sequencer lets you program the rhythmic results.
Speed, Grain, and Smoothing controls allow for some delicious digital degradation at extreme settings, while a dedicated Pitch LFO generates welcome movement—and wild bleep sonics, if desired. Global ADSR envelopes and a juicy seven mode filter sculpt the output. The handy sequencer can be set to whole notes or all the way up to 48ths, with forward, reverse, back-and-forth, and random directions—along with offset and shuffle amounts.
The randomized sample selection modes are where truly unusual percussion patterns spill out, with two randomization modes to choose from: randomized sample, or randomized map. With the first mode, you can select where in the map to select from, and a range of notes on either side of that to specify how many samples you're willing to draw from.
A pair of Auto FX banks with recordable movement controls are cleverly applied in separate amounts to low and high frequency bands, with Resonator, Frequency Mod, Vowel, UFO, Reflection, Stutter, Scratch, Reverse, Feedback, and Space all available alongside more familiar processors such as Bit Reducer, Flanger, Phaser, and more. Finally, a global Auto-Panner, Compressor, and Reverb circuit add a final layer of polish to this well-thought out device.
If you're not happy with the samples on offer, just switch presets to quickly load a whole other bank of well-crafted one-shots, and start tweaking. Whether you're looking to spit hot percussive fire or simply generate unique percussive rhythms and textures, Ruidoz is an excellent tool.
With Duoz, BlinkSonic has delivered an impressively inspiring pair of tools with a wide range of presets to start from. While each one could provide near-limitless inspiration on its own, the pair is so complimentary it's hard to imagine using one without the other. At time of writing I wasn't able to configure parameters for automation in Live, though I hope this will be addressed with an imminent update—and it's easy to overlook with tools as useful as these. While they maybe an unfamiliar name, if BlinkSonic keeps developing instruments like this, it won't be long before they're recognized as one of the premier Reaktor ensemble design outfits working today.
Editor's Note: Since the May 2016 update you can get all automation in your DAW (ableton, cubase, logic). It's also NKS ready for NI Kontrol S series controller.
Pros: Inspiring tools for next-level sound design, powerful idea generators on a budget.
Cons: LFOs don't sync to host, host DAW automation not currently possible; the Ruidoz Pitch LFO could cause CPU spikes when activated, no individual sample gain controls for Ruidoz.
Price: €29.99 / $33.86 USD