Review: Native Instruments Reaktor 6

Native Instruments & Reaktor have been at the forefront of the software synthesis game for almost two decades. The long awaited update to v6 brings new depth and new heights. Brian Cass checks it out.  

Ensembles & Instruments

The new ensembles and instruments in Reaktor 6

The factory ensembles included with Reaktor 6 are enough to create a lifetime worth of music. There are sequencers, samplers, synthesizers, physical models, generative instruments, the list goes on... Technically a Reaktor Ensemble is a group of Instruments, as you’d expect from the name, but many Ensembles are actually just one Instrument to start. Of course, you can then load your favorite 6 Instruments and put them all in one Ensemble together, save that, and you will be able to reload the entire collection in your next session. If you want to do some creative patching between the instruments (and/or effects) you will need to look into the Structure view. The Structure view is the under-the-hood editing layer in Reaktor. Meanwhile the Panel view is the GUI with all the knobs and buttons.

Macros & Modules

Macros and modules in Reaktor 6.

Speaking of the Structure view, this is where you will find smaller components within Instruments. These are called Modules, and can also be ganged together into Macros. In fact, a Macro can contain another Macro, and they can be further nested for quite a bit of patching depth! Modules available include Oscillators, Filters, Envelopes, and other typical synthesizer elements. There are also some very basic (and useful) Modules in the math department, such as Add, Subtract, Multiply, etc. And also some more interesting choices: Rectify, Modulo, Compare, and many more.

In order to connect and route all of these various signals, there is a great collection of Signal Path modules. Switches, Mixers, Crossfaders, all sorts of smart devices for wrangling your audio and modulations. Meanwhile, in the Panel section, there are GUI elements to allow you and other users to interact with your creation.

Core Cells

Reaktor 6 Core Cells

Reaktor 6 Core Cells

One layer deeper into Reaktor are the Core Cells. This is for the user that decides they want to build their own Karplus-Strong string model or create a Granular Sampler. In order to work with the Core level of Reaktor, it’s best to have a grasp on some basic DSP concepts. If you are that user, who wants to get very deep and have access to tremendous flexibility, you will spend many hours happily tweaking with Core Cells. If you are not that user, do not dispair, read on...


Blocks in Reaktor 6

Blocks in Reaktor 6

One of the most obvious updates to Reaktor is the addition of Reaktor Blocks. These modular components can be combined and connected much like components of a modular synthesizer. NI are using a universal template and specific modulation signal configurations to allow users to start patching with very little Reaktor experience. A basic knowledge of synthesis will get a user up and running right away. The Reaktor installer provides a good pack of starting modules and there will certainly be more to come. But it’s clear to see that NI is hoping users will start to develop their own Blocks to be shared on the (already popular) Reaktor User Library

Price: $199 (Update and Crossgrade: $99)

Pros: Incredibly powerful and flexible environment for custom instrument and effect creation. Tons of existing content from NI and the user community.

Cons: Requires at least a little bit of synthesis knowledge to build anything interesting. Other users will need to own the full version of Reaktor if they want to load and use your creations.


Watch Video Tutorials: Reaktor Synth Building Explored | Reaktor Blocks Explored

Music Technologist Brian Cass brings years of experience as a musician, engineer, and sound designer. His first instrument was the Commodore 64 followed shortly by the electric guitar. More recently he's been building his own instruments using sensors and microcontrollers. Having graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1999, Brian l... Read More


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