Building a “clamping VCA” in Reaktor for subtle distortion, imitating the envelopes in Roland TR-808.
Normally, an amplitude envelope for your synths are just that: a control envelope on the amplitude of the signal. When we use a “clamping VCA”, though, instead of controlling the amplitude of the waveform, we clip it at the desired maximum envelope. This means, when the VCA is all the way up, it sounds the same, but during the attack and release, we’ll get the addition of subtle (or perhaps not-so-subtle) distortion to our waveform.
I use the “Mod. Clipper” in Reaktor 6 to achieve this effect, stealing the idea from Noise Engineering’s “Sinclastic Empulatrix” module, which, in turn, stole the idea from from the Roland TR-808 drum machine’s cymbal envelopes.
0:00 The “Mod. Clipper” 0:33 Clamping VCA 1:25 Simple Sine Oscillator 2:03 Mod-Clipping the Sine Wave 3:51 Standard VCA for comparison 4:58 Pulse Wave 5:41 Sawtooth Wave 6:34 Adding a Filter 7:35 Next Steps
All sound can be broken down into individual frequency components, and the lowest frequency component of a sound is called the “fundamental” (all the frequencies above that fundamental frequency are the “partials”). By cleverly setting the relationships of the amplitude and frequencies of the harmonic spectrum, though, you can trick your ear into hearing the pitch of a sound as an octave below the lowest frequency component.
Here, I’ve built a quick demo in Reaktor 6. Listen and see what you think.
Some ideas on how to add some beautiful (analog?) imperfections to your Reaktor synths in Reaktor Primary.
The definition of “analog warmth” is pretty nebulous, but it brings to mind things like tube distortion and tape saturation–imperfections to the “fidelity” of the sound. Digital sound has imperfections too, of course, but these are aesthetically different (though perhaps no less interesting). In this video, though, I talk about some ideas in how to imitate the imperfections of analog in our digital Reaktor 6 synths.
Building a basic but expandable FM synthesizer in Reaktor 6, making an FM operators that we can duplicate as much as we want.
In FM synthesis, we modulate the frequency of one oscillator (the carrier) with another oscillator in the audible range. We can make an FM synth in Reaktor that’s modular and quickly expandable if we make a macro with the oscillator, an envelope, and a few special controls at the FM input.
0:00 Intro / What is FM Synthesis? 1:30 Sine Oscillator with Amplitude Envelope 3:14 The “F” Input of Sine FM Oscillators 4:20 Modulating the Frequency 5:24 Modulating the Frequency in the Audible Range 6:13 Adding Musical Controls 11:50 Combining Our FM Operators 13:01 Sideband Modulation with Envelope Control 16:12 Chaining FM Operators Together 19:48 Recap / Next Steps
Mid/Side is a different way of working with stereo, where, rather than one channel for the left, and one for the right, you have one channel for the “mid” information, and one channel for the “side”. This format allows for different approaches to stereo processing, playing with the stereo image in new and interesting ways.
I’ve seen a lot of videos about mid/side for mixing or mastering but I thought I’d talk a bit about the potential for this approach in sound design, and how it can help us think about 3D audio and ambisonics too.
Using Reaktor 6 Primary to create some generative Sci Fi music inspired by Todd Barton’s “Krell Music” patch on the Buchla Synthesizer.
As I mentioned last week, in my regular journeys across the internet, I came across the concept of a “Krell Music” patch–a self-generating patch created by Todd Barton, inspired by Bebe and Louis Barron‘s soundtrack to the 1956 film “Forbidden Planet.” The Barrons’ soundtrack to the film is amazing, and a bit beyond what I can get into here (see links below). Barton’s Buchla patch tries to capture some of the dynamic timbres of that score.
My oversimplification of the idea is this: a note has an amplitude envelope–attack and release–and when that amplitude envelope ends it triggers the next envelope. At the same time, that trigger selects a new (likely different) attack and decay time, as well as a new pitch and timbre for the next note. So we create a continuous series of musical tones, each distinct from the one before it. So let’s make that in Reaktor 6 Primary.