Review: Twisted Tools S-Layer for Reaktor

Twisted Tool create some tasty Reaktor ensembles'¦ so you can imagine our excitement when we received an early copy of their new S-Layer to review! Did it live up to our high expectations? Read on...  

Twisted Tools, purveyors of some of the finest Reaktor Ensembles out there on the market have just released S-Layer (Slayer!) a new sample layering and mangling machine that should keep you busy and give your existing sample library a new lease of life!

One of the best things about the Twisted Tools Reaktor range is the UI and modulation concepts are consistent over the board so if you've already used Scapes, Rolodecks or Buffeater (all fantastic!) you should be up and running with S-Layer in no time.

The Concept

S-Layer allows you to manipulate and combine eight sample layers inside a 'Scene'. This may not sound overly exciting at first but once you grasp the scope of what S-Layer can do its potential is pretty mind bending!

Samples are loaded into a Reaktor Sample Map (S-Layer ships with a map but you can make your own) and each layer can draw from up to 128 samples. You select a sample for each layer by moving the sliders in the Sample Cell.

Sample Cell

Each layer also has controls for Sample Start, Pitch, Pan, Volume, Grain, Stretch, Cutoff, Resonance, Filter mode, AHDSR and two FX sends. 

The plan is to be able to create endless possibilities of sonic combinations between the eight layers… and the plan works!

Just starting from scratch with the default 'One-Shot' snapshot and and moving the cell sliders for various parameters will generate some pretty unexpected and sonically pleasing results.

Pleasing results!

Another cool thing is that there are 8 'Scenes' to play with giving you the scope to build some kits. Scenes are triggered from C3-G3. 

Of further note, owners of NI Maschine and/or Lemur for iPad will find pre-built templates for their devices providing useful ways to control S-Layer without a mouse!

Random Carnage

Like all Twisted Tools Ensembles there is a powerful randomize function. You can randomize a cell by hitting the 'RND' button or enable it for global randomization using the 'Master Randomization' function which will affect all parameters selected.

Randomize function

This can yield some great new sounds for endless sonic fun! There is also an option to randomize the entire scene simply by re-triggering it. When you find one you like you can just make a snapshot!

Modulating Cells  

If the random function isn't keeping you busy enough there are also four modulators (A-D) for manipulating the parameters in the cells. Just select the modulator for the cell and off you go.

Modulating cells

The modulators take the form of a sequencer lane that can use predefined shapes or user defined curves.

Use pre-defined shapes or your own curves in the Sequencer lane

These modulators are tempo synced and allow you to create complex loops and grooves. You can choose the length of the loop and timing value for the step duration.

Using these on the Grain and Stretch can really produce some interesting results.

Tip Of The Iceberg

S-Layer is pretty deep and impossible to explain in such a short time. Whether your looking to create new sounds for music production or sound design I would recommend you go and get S-Layer right now (you'll need the full version of Reaktor) and see for yourself.

Just using the default samples provided you could probably create 10 gigs worth of new sample content in half an hour. I suggest you stock up on food and water as you won't be going out for some time!

Visit the Twisted Tools site to find out more and...

Check out the demo video below:

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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