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Merge John Horton Conway's Game of Life sim with Reaktor's Newscool Groovebox, and you get a groovy beat box.
Reaktor is a guiding light for the do-it-yourself sonic set. The latest version extends the app in crucial ways, with awesome new sounds, a load of fresh building modules, and mounds of examples - expect this monster to keep you busy for the next 10,000 years or so.
Reaktor is a deeply programmable virtual-audio laboratory. You string together low-level programming modules (filters, oscillators, mixers, and logic devices) into flowcharts called structures; combinations of these make up actual instruments. You can create everything from wild drum machines and wacky effects boxes to MIDI synths and real-time sampled-audio manglers. Reaktor works with any app that supports Audio Units, including GarageBand, Logic, Ableton Live, Digital Performer, or any other respectable MIDI sequencer or audio editor. You can also run Reaktor in standalone mode, which is useful for creating new instruments from scratch.
You'll boggle your mind with the vast possibilities offered by the new Reaktor Core Technology, which provides a way for anyone to build the essential blocks used in complex instruments. All interface elements can now be skinned, including knobs, buttons, faders, and even display readouts-these major enhancements remove the last barriers that prevent aural Dr. Frankensteins from creating outrageous audio concoctions.
Library. Most Reaktor users dive right into its library of prefabricated instruments and effects, most of which are compelling - if not totally useful - in a musical context. Most musicians will find this library to be Reaktor's biggest benefit.
Of Reaktor's synthesizers, Steampipe 2 is one of our favorites. It sports deliciously convincing digital models of air moving through a virtual pipe, resulting in exquisitely natural instruments such as cellos, glockenspiels, flutes, and more. The Subharmonic synth will drive electronic musicians insane with its velvety smoothness.
If wild beats are your bag, Reaktor's Grooveboxes (two virtual-analog drum synths and two sample-based drum and performance machines) are enough to keep you busy for the 10,000 years we mentioned earlier. Newscool is extremely eccentric - imagine mathematician John Horton Conway's Game of Life (www.bitstorm.org/gameoflife) as a rhythm generator. Aerobic is light-years ahead of any Roland drum machine on the planet - you're likely to start hearing it in dance hits around the globe.
Some of Reaktor's new sound generators are almost too bizarre to even categorize, such as the astounding Skrewell, an insane audio-video device that looks (and sounds) like it was recovered from a crashed UFO. The Vectory sampled-sound processor takes any sampled audio and creates instant beats and arpeggios; it works wonders on loops generated by Reaktor 5's Grooveboxes. The package also contains a gaggle of retro sequencer modules, the luscious Space Master 2 reverb tool, the highly useful FatBlaster 2 mastering limiter and compressor, and the positively daunting Lurker delay/phaser/mangler, which can turn any incoming signal into audio magic.
The bottom line. Reaktor 5 stands at the top of the audio experimenter's heap. It can make amazing sounds that no hardcore electronic musician will want to live without.
COMPANY: Native Instruments
CONTACT: 866-556-6487 or 323-467-5260, www.nativeinstruments.de
REQUIREMENTS: 1GHz G4, Mac OS 10.2.6 or later, 512MB RAM, 1GB disk space
New flexible Core architecture. Excellent additions to instrument and effect libraries. Beefed-up audio engine.
Leaves no time for eating, sleeping, or other important activities.