Last year I picked up Reaktor 5 on sale for $99 bucks - normally $399. Well Reaktor 6 is here and Native Instruments dropped the price to $199 with the upgrade at $99. I went ahead and swung for the upgrade.
I have to say I ended up NOT using Reaktor 5 much. "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" comes to mind as I was using it. Ensemble programming was a little too complex (I was too busy making music to put the time into learning the platform), and using other peoples super-polished ensembles just felt I was using someone else's dream synth.
Reaktor 6 introduces the notion of "Blocks" - which for me - is just right.
Blocks is a new framework that turns REAKTOR 6 into a fully-equipped, rack-style modular synth. Over 30 Blocks – including oscillators, filters, effects, modulators, and sequencers – come with REAKTOR 6. Among these Blocks are components from acclaimed NI synths such as ROUNDS and MONARK – all you need to start creating elaborate modular synth patches.
Within minutes of firing up Reaktor 6 I was leveraging my sound design chops I used on other instruments to making new patches out of blocks. If you have a basic understanding of signal flow with modulars you'll have no trouble getting going. I watched a handful of videos from this very nice tutorial series on patching with blocks and looked at an example patch and was off to the races. In another words, I'm already actually using and creating with Reaktor 6 after having Reaktor 5 collect dust for a year.
The interface is quite straight forward. When you add blocks (which are standardized in height) they get bolted into your virtual rack in your "Panel" view. You can drag them around in rows of rails. If you click the "Panel | Structure" view a split view is created with your rack up top and the wiring down below allowing you to patch.
The "Bento Box" blocks which come with it are nuts and bolts modules. A nice touch is Native Instruments included modularaized components of their Monark minimoog emulation and two effects processor from their Rounds instrument. The sound quality of modules is excellent. Also, As of this writing, there are already 30 blocks in the user library http://www.native-instruments.com/en/reaktor-community/reaktor-user-library/blocks/. Of course blocks can integrate into existing Reaktor Ensembles.
My First Patch
Here is a video Reaktor 6 of my first patch in action. My goal was to show how just a few modules with a few notes could create something rather sonically complex to show the potential of the system - and for those not familiar with modulars - the kind of sonic mayhem you can create. So please enjoy this simple but fun patch inspired - of course - by the Krell in the film Forbidden Planet.
I'm using the Monark oscillator (now available in Block form) to frequency modulating a a factory Bento box oscillator. I've got an LFO modulating an LFO which modulates the pitch of Monark OSC + delay time of a Rounds Delay (also now available in Blocks form). If you are familiar at all with modular synthesis, you'll find Blocks to be very intuitive and inspiring - and much easier to make instruments from from than using only the techniques possible in Reaktor 5.
I think this is a no-brainer upgrade for existing Reaktor users, especially if you want to get into modular patching. This is also a pretty great value at $199 for new users who want to dip their toe into the modular world and perhaps learn a platform for making instruments.Blocks are useful right away, plus are a nice entry point (perhaps a gateway drug) into the world of instrument building with Reaktor.