As this synth is cancelled, the chance is good to get some reduced offers. but even for the original price i definite recommend this synth(s) to everyone! Some ensembles of the included libary are worth the price alone f.e. vierring or greenmatrix. Yes, the libary is very good equipped: it has subtractive, wavetable, additive, physical modelling, granular, more or less fm, sample player and so on...!
GUI: i like it lot. I think this is how a "COMPUTER"-GUI should look like: not that mega 3d-orgy, great mouse-support with f.e. the often used xypads, a nice "scientific" look, drawable sequences, lots of windows where the audio-output is graphical displayed and a good overall layout for the workflow.
Sound: The reaktor-sound is to my ear very balanced and "neutral". The quality is really top notch! What astonishes me mostly are the built in choruses: i would say these are the best i´ve heard so far.
Features: too many to mention. it goes from great midi-implementation to synth-specific peculiarities like attack modulation, different lfo-speed on each voice, lots of tracking options, resonance behaviour and a lot more!
Documention: i think it´s a little bit short. All emsembles are introduced superficial, but there´s no in depth explanation.
Presets: A lot and most of them are good.
Customer Support: For Reaktor Session there´s no official support any longer. But there is a large community on the web, so you have a support from the user´s side.
VFM: 10 points!
Stability: Beside loading audiofiles with the sampleplayer, i haven´t found huge bugs so far.
Summary: If you have a little place left in your sound-arsenal, go for it. It´s one of the best synth around! Actually i have to say synthS!, because RS has many different synthesis in one programm. One last point: NI says, that you can´t build new instruments with RS. but that´s only the half of the truth, cause what you can do in the terms of ni is building "ensembles". That means that you can create ensembles f.e. with more than one synth, free configured effects-chains and eqs/ mixers if needed. So it´s "half modular" i would say, as you can´t build instruments from scratch.
This is one app any music nerd should have just because of it's sheer funkiness. Really you could doing "everything" with this package (once you pick up a sequencing module from the user forum) but it has it's strong points: 1) Granulators: simply amazing if you're a soundscape person. Probably worth the price alone. 2) Beat Creators: so many ways to funk up sounds into the new mad rhythms of the future. 3) FX: an incredible selection.
The weakest point of Reaktor is, and I know there will be some gasps, it's synths. Unfortunetly they all have a certain tone to them which is just, well, not so pretty. And some of the more interesting ones like Carbon/Kaleidon are so huge to look at onscreen that it's hard to tweak them.
You can find some goodies at the user forum. As in the SynthEdit crowd there are about 15-20 really active contributors. The forum lists 1500 instruments for download but many of those 4-5 upgraded versions of the same instrument, (some won't even work with the latest RS4). Realistically there are about 300 usable instruments in there but that's still pretty amazing. There is also the Amphitryon & Studio from lost-online.com which take Reaktor into a full workstation & sequencer environment for a very nominal cost... making this perhaps the only application you'll ever need. James Walker-Hall built those 2 environments and has contributed several instruments you will find in the RS boxed package as well.
For RS + the 2xtra apps I mention you'll be looking at approx $250+- for the most powerful music making environment currently known. With the ability to combine instruments, effects and live performance tools it is the first stop in your computer music dreams.
beside kontakt and dfx buffer override reaktor session is the only vsti(win xp)/audiounit(osx) that is used in nearly all of my tracks. i can't complain about many crashs, although i had some, but mostly i can avoid the situations that lead to the crash(e.g. cpu overload). the included library is very good, but the main reason i bought reaktor session was the user library that can be found on the website of native instruments. i know no other collection of plugins(or something like that) beside pluggo that offers such great tools for sound manipulation(fx). but also the ("virtual analogue") synths sound very good(of course i tested not every single reaktor ensemble). the gui depends on the used ensemble(there are some that are very hard to use), but in generally the main features(and most of the ensembles) are very easy to use. the support at native instruments is good i think(i only mailed them once, but there's also the forum on ther website). with only a sequencer and reaktor session you are very well equipped for every kind of (electronic) music.
Reaktor is one of those products that just keeps getting better and better. When it first came out, it was ground breaking. Certainly there are other modular synths that have outdone Reaktor in one regard or another (SynC Modular and SynthEdit come to mind), but none encapsulate so much in one place.
I bought Reaktor Session instead of the full Reaktor simply because the full Reaktor is hideously overpriced. I love to program modular synths (I'm a Sync Modular fanatic), but I couldn't justify almost five bills for a piece of music software. At $150-$200, Reaktor Session is a much more reasonably priced alternative.
Although I can't create new instruments, the good news is that there are enough publicly available instruments that I may never need to! Further, while new instruments are not possible, combining existing instruments in new ways most certainly is. So a limited form of ensemble authoring is possible.
All that said, the UI is not particularly appealing, and is quite unintuitive in several areas.
What makes Reaktor Session a must-have is the user library. It is mind-boggling. There are so many ensembles, with so much innovation, that it's really hard to even put it into words. If you are an electronic musician of any stripe - be it ambient, prog elec, symphonic elec, techno, club, etc. - Reaktor is a must-have, for the simple reason that the library is so massive and powerful.
For what it's worth, I found the copy protection to be well implemented and not particularly intrusive. It did prompt me to re-insert my CD once, which was annoying, but overall I pretty much forget that it is copy protected. NI even allows for a duplicate license so I can take Reaktor with me on my laptop for business trips - perfect!
I *would* however like to make a backup copy of my CD, in case one of the kids decides to use it as a frisbee. Unfortunately, I can't. I wonder how much NI would charge if I needed a replacement?
In any event, Reaktor sounds *good*. Reaktor's not the fattest or the most authentic sounding soft synth, but it is still very good sounding. Combined with the massive user library, this is the synth to beat.
Pro: + tons of sound generators + FX for a tolerable price + several powerful great sounding pieces included + a great pool for inspiration and creativity
Con: - paranoid copy protection: Original protected CD checked during 1st startup + challenge/response! - this is what I expected Dynamo should have been... Now it's here: 3 years too late for an increased price
After NI made me an unhappy and disappointed customer of theirs with Dynamo (see my review there), I decided after a long phase of doubt and indecision to spend 99 EUR and upgrade this outdated piece to Reaktor Session.
I finally have what Dynamo should have been, a "runtime environment" for Reaktor, the universal modular multi-platform multi-format sound generating/modifying construction kit.
The lib installed from CD (probably the same shipped with Reaktor 4) includes 9 synthesizers, 4 sequenced synths, 4 samplers/transformers, 2 live tools and 9 effects. I do some of them like more, some less, but now I'm not restricted to a limited small selection. You now have access to a huge collection of Reaktor ensembles from others and the NI page. Besides the "Premium Lib", shipped with Dynamo and Reaktor 2, and those new with Reaktor 3, you can find as a registered user currently over 1300 user contribs for download there.
The GUI looks much better and is easier to use than in Dynamo, and there are several usefull enhancements, like the browser, smart windowsizing or the ability to wire several instruments together. You are no longer restricted to 4 VST plugs and can even build multi-timbral VSTi's.
There are some minor unhandy things, like the patch handling for VST is flexible but tricky and the manual could explain several things a bit better. I noticed some neglectable bugs in 1.02, like flickering hints or wrong update of VST DLL name, but they're not severe and I didn't had a crash so far.
It's big fun exploring the library, trying the ensembles out, learn how they work, playing around with the presets, enjoy the sounds (some are great) and create your own patches. And when you're looking for new toys you can go online and download new ones...
A great inspiration for creativity. This is why I like Reaktor Session, and this is why I'll probably use it more often than I used Dynamo.
Unfortunately I have to end with an unpleasant issue: During first startup the original protected CD is checked, and within 30 days you have to register and enter a response code from NI, otherwise it will no longer work. When you change core components (like CPU or OS), you have to do the C/R proceedings again... Even I didn't had problems so far, as a honest paying customer I'm feeling traced and treated badly as a criminal. In my opinion these proceedings causes more trouble and do not increase sales, since pirates will crack it anyway and don't have to bother with these kinds of restrictions, whereas I will continue to avoid NI's products as long as they continue to use copy protection...
I'm going to review this as non biased as possible and weigh in both the good and the bad. For $199 you get a LOT! A whole music making studio with more included than in other softwares at a higher price. The ability to download Reaktor instruments (thousands of them) is a real plus and offers unlimited expandability in some sense. Included are synths, samplers, drum machines, sequenced synths, effects, various tools, etc. One big problem with this release is the compatibilty with the thousands or Reaktor 3 instruments since they changed the copy protection scheme. A conversion tool is going to be released (might already be out by now). Loading some downloaded ensembles caused a crash. As for the synths in this software... I find them to be too thin and also harsh sounding. I have yet to find a Reaktor synth that has the warmth or tone of analog whereas other softwares do a very good job. The included presets weren't very good being that most were chaotic random sounds that are hardly useable. What really annoyed me was that each preset was set so loud (clipping the meter in Reaktor) that I had to lower the volume of nearly every preset I loaded to stop the clipping. The Junatik had the best presets of the bunch IMO. I will say that I found the Travelizer and Graincloud to be amazing! They can really create some soundscapes that are breathtaking. As for support, Native's response via e-mail is very slow (they take quite a few days)... calling is better. Overall I really didn't care for this software much because of the harsh, obviously digital, sound of the synths and truly weak included presets. If you like tweaking sounds than this is an excellent package as there are lots of complex synths to play with. Also, this package is excellent for creating unique soundscapes as it includes nearly every synthesis method available. And for $199 it definitely offers an incredible amount. I would simply suggest waiting for the Reaktor Session demo to come out and trying it out before buying. It may or may not be for you.
***UPDATE*** I'm adding an update to this review. I have since changed the stability rating from 7 to 2 being that since this review was initially posted I have had a ridiculous amount of crashes using Reaktor Session (with the included synths). I've now been playing with it in Cubase VST 5 and have had it crash to the point of *requiring a reboot* and also causing the loss of ALL work since the last save being that it causes Cubase to freeze and you cannot save. I don't have these problems with any of the other 9 VST synths I use. I have also lowered the value for money rating due to this.
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