If any of you are bedroom producers whose tastes lean towards the experimental or electronic, then here is your holy grail. Reaktor is an industrial strength native synthesis program with an inexhaustible potential for sonic mayhem. If you are are new to the concept of native synthesis - basically it's the idea of using software to authentically emulate hardware. What makes Reaktor particularly appealing to anyone using a computer in their studio (or in my case - my computer is my studio) is that the sound is not diluted by the cables or A/D converters involved in outboard gear. Until now, native synthesis software has been extremely limited, single minded, and often sonically "thin". Enter Reaktor, an extremely flexible, brick-solid sound tool that can be used as a sampler, an FX plug-in, a drum machine, a sequencer, or as a synth emulator (analog, FM, granular, or any combination). I could write pages on every particular feature of Reaktor, but it'd be a bit like missing the forest for the trees - since what makes Reaktor such a kick in the pants is that it's like an audio erector set with a true DIY mind-set. Unlike previous stabs a software instruments where the focus is only on emulating a particular piece of hardware (a Hammond organ, Moog synths, Roland analog drum machines), Reaktor is focused on generating new sounds previously unutterable by its hardware forefathers. For example, have you ever wanted to crack open a $1200 AKAI sampler and hard-wire its output to the granular synthesis chip on some $3000 Waldorf synth and then run it through a four-tap delay line into a vintage Korg envelope filter - just to hear what happens? Even if you had all that gear, you'd have to certifiably insane to take a screwdriver and a soldering iron to any of them. Reaktor lets you indulge in whatever far-fetched gear fantasy you can concoct - from designing your own dream synth, to creating an effect that can make a sample sound like it's being slowly pulled out of a baboon's ass. What's even better, the Native Instruments website has pages of freely downloadable user- created Reaktor modules that run the gamut from hardly conceivable gear hybrids, to incredibly realistic emulations of hard to find vintage gear like a Korg MS-20 patch-able monosynth that some obsessive gear geek recreated from a block diagram of the original. Reaktor works on both Mac and PC, but it does suck-up a lot of processor power so make sure your computer's up for the challenge. It also works as a VST instrument and/or effect within Cubase, Direct- Connect for Pro Tools, and as a MIDI object for Logic Audio. Reaktor can generate sound at 16 or 32 bits, and at sample rates from 22 kHz - 132 kHz, and all in real time. Reaktor does not sound like some lame-o all in one bargain synth toy - Reaktor is a fuckin' hardcore sonic A-bomb that can create sounds so amazing it may give you rectal leakage. The full Reaktor package retails for $500. However, for about $200 you can get a version of the Reaktor software called Dynamo, which lets you play all the pre-made instruments, but does not allow you to design your own. The full package is a dream for any of you who lust over soldering together PAIA synth kits, or building your own Frankensynth - but the Dynamo package is a much better value for those of us that just want an extremely powerful, versatile, all-in-one synth, sampler, and FX engine/plug-in, but don't really care to mess around much with the nuts and bolts. (www.native- instruments.com)

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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