Review: Twisted Tools MSMAX for Reaktor

If you want to super-charge your NI Reaktor experience, you owe it to yourself to check out Twisted Tools. Their new MSMAX, a powerful Mid/Side Matrix, is examined by G. W. Childs.  

If you've already blown through all of the goodies in NI's Komplete 9, and are back to looking for more Reaktor, you may want to read on. For outside of the mostly monochrome pages of the NI website, there are other Reaktor providers out there that offer some goodness you may not have come across before. One example would be Twisted Tools who have recently released an extremely powerful new Reaktor based Maximizer and Mid/Side Matrix known as MSMAX. 

What are the benefits to MSMAX? Read on, and we'll check it out together.


As a maximizer, MSMAX is more than just impressive. Whether you use it for mastering, or on an individual mono, or stereo track, MSMAX does an extremely impressive job of bringing out details and subtle nuances that may not have even been noticeable. MSMAX is good for both natural sounding finalization, or extremely harsh maximization that can really take one loop, and make it sound like another loop... A much, much harsher and bigger loop. It doesn't screw around.

When you add in the side-chain functionality, which is both simple and flexible, you can quickly and suddenly find yourself bringing up MSMAX... A lot. When I say flexible, I'm referring to the multiple side-chain trigger sources that can be used to duck your audio in normal, and more imaginative ways. There are actually four modes total, including Audio, for using an external signal, and Self, which introduces a 1/4 note pulse that will add automatic pulsing, side-chain rhythms into your incoming audio. 

Personally, I was extremely impressed with MIDI mode, which simply takes a MIDI pulse from a separate incoming MIDI track, and applies is as a side-chain trigger. This is wonderful, as it alleviates the need to, for example, set up kick drums that will never be heard, just to source a rhythmic ducking effect within a trance, house, or dubstep track. Instead, simply record yourself playing MIDI keys that duck audio. In fact, this was insanely easy to set up in Ableton Live. And, I do see myself using MSMAX regularly for this exact operation... And, more.

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MSMAX also brings M/S (Mid/Side) encoding and decoding to the table, which affords you the abilities to do some wonderful alteration of your stereo image. Seriously, if you'd like to make that bassline sound more narrow, or a final mix much wider, you'll love this. 

MSMAX also gives you the ability of introducing effects other than the built-in maximizer effect. You can also add insert effect in from Reaktor's factory library. There's even a built-in example reverb, called Nanoverb, that you can experiment with. Try applying some reverb to a side channel, while leaving the mid channel dry. It can get really cool.

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I've really had a blast working with MSMAX. My beats sound bigger, my voice sounds bigger, and my mixes sound bigger. What more could you ask? And, at a $39 price tag, considering how much bigger it makes everything. Well, you'd be crazy to pass it up. It should be noted that MSMAX does not work with Reaktor player, and does require Reaktor 5.8. 

Oh, and it comes with Lemur templates. Yeah, we like Twisted Tools.


Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


G.W., Thanks for the run-down on MSMAX. I'm probably missing something obvious, but even after checking the TT website, I'm not clear how the effects work. It sounds like the maximization, side-chaining and M/S processing are applied to audio channels. But Reactor 5.8 is inserted into an insert slot on SWI channels. So it's unclear to me how this can be 'applied to a drum buss or used to squeeze the master channel' (as described on the website), unless the entire project is SWI-based. I'm working in Logic, not Live, so maybe that makes a difference.
Also, do you think this processing is more exciting than a fully equipped mastering plugin, like Ozone 5? It certainly is less expensive.
Thanks again.

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