Review: Skanner for Reaktor

Using Reaktor? Downloaded the free Skanner ensemble yet? If not, Toby Pitman explains, with sound examples, why this should be the next file to land in your Downloads folder.  

Skanner is a free Ensemble for use in Reaktor 5.6.2 or the free Reaktor Player developed by the creator of Reaktor Stephan Schmitt. Go and download it NOW because it's feakin' awesome!! And free!!

Based on the 'Sample Lookup' module in Reaktor, Skanner essentially lets you scroll through a sample using a virtual playhead. Anyone familiar with Reaktor will remember Travelizer which has been around since the early versions. Skanner is like Travelizer on steroids!!

There are two views: 'View A' has the 'Preset Morpher', a set of assignable Macro controls and a Global LFO to modulate these parameters:

The preset morpher

The Preset Morpher morphs between groups of presets: 1-8 is Group 1, 9-16 Group 2, etc.

Morphs between groups

The results are pretty cool!

View B is for patch creation:

patch creation

We also find the Macro control setup in a different tab at the bottom:

Macro control setup

How Does It Work?

Good question! Like most Reaktor instruments it's a little overwhelming at first. Once you get the concept it's easy. 

First we have the sample player or 'Sample Lookup' module. There are 12 of these each containing a different default sample. You can drag your own samples in if you have a full version of Reaktor (s,ee manual). You can select between the samples using the forward and back buttons. 

There is a Fine and Coarse position control for the playhead (the Green line).

Fine and coarse position control

When we hit a key and the playhead is static, Skanner makes no sound. If we move the playhead then we get a sound! Think of this like the sound you get from audio scrubbing in your DAW. 

We can move the playhead in a variety of ways. The controls you see below are the modulation sources for the playhead: Two Oscillators (A and B), an LFO, an Envelope and a Feedback loop. 

Modulation sources

Here's where the fun begins! In Skanner the Oscillators 'modulate' the playhead. If I increase the amount of OSC A (set to a Sine wave) you can hear it move the playhead. At low pitches it scrubs and as it gets faster (higher pitch) it starts to become like a wavetable oscillator and a pitch is produced. OSC 1 has an envelope which allows you to shape the amount of modulation further.

shaping the modulation

Here's OSC B set to a higher pitch. Again the Attack is set slow. We get a more recognizable synth sound:


The LFO and Envelope can also be used to move the playhead. This allows for much more radical sweeps of the sample. I'm using the LFO set to a slow speed in this example:

LFO and Envelope

When combining modulation sources things get a lot more interesting. In this example OSC B provides the pitch and the LFO moves the playhead to different positions in the sample creating a morphing oscillator. Because you can load your own samples the creative boundaries are limitless!! The more interesting the sample the better!

combining modulation sources

Here's a similar thing using the break point Envelope. Much more radical!!

Break point envelope

This is just the start! You can also shape your sound using the filters, AM and effects! Endless fun!

I could go on! Hopefully you see the basic concept of this highly powerful synth. My advice would be to initialize Skanner and start experimenting!!

For the past 20 years Toby has worked as a professional guitarist, programmer and producer. Clients include Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Shirley Bassey, Yusuf Islam, Giles Martin as well as the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. He has also worked extensively in TV, Advertising and Film. As well as composing himself he has also ... Read More


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