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
Adding envelopes to our synthesizer that aren‘tan ADSR.
ADSRs might be the envelope generators that we encounter most often, but they’re not the only way to shape our sound. There are a number of other musical ways to craft change in our synthesizer over time with these non-periodic TVCs.
Let’s check out what other options there are in Reaktor 6 primary.
Creating retro sounds with hard-synced oscillators in Reaktor 6 Primary.
“Hard sync” is synthesis technique that uses two oscillators: when one oscillator (the “leader”) finishes a cycle, it resets the period of the other oscillator (the “follower”), creating a period at the frequency of the leader, but a timbre from the incomplete cycles of the follower.
This is a really easy way to create original, complex sounds, using just two oscillators.
0:00 Defining “Hard Sync” 0:38 Building a Single Oscillator 1:35 Adding the “Follower” 3:03 Changing the Pitch Relationship 4:40 That Hard Sync Sound 4:57 How it Works 6:30 Follower Lower than Leader 7:25 Adding an Amplitude Envelope 8:10 Adding a Filter (for a bit) 9:28 Closing, Next Steps
Here’s a simple patch based off the work of composer/engineer Jaap Vink from the Institute For Sonology, Utrecht. This ensemble is a feedback loop with a delay, a ring modulator, and a saturator (with a simple sine as a “trigger” to get things started).
Each pass through the loop, the signal is delayed, then ring-modulated, significantly changing the spectrum. This can devolve into noise rather quickly, but a soft touch can lead to some interesting evolving soundscapes.
There’s no talking on this one, just building the patch, and listening to it go.
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.
A super-quick video on adding portamento to your Reaktor synthesizers and the theory behind it.
Portamento is a glide between notes, so, rather than jumping from pitch to pitch, we have an uninterrupted, continuous connection between the notes. Since we know our low-pass filter “rounds off” our audio waveforms, let’s see what happens when we apply that to our pitch control data.
Using Reaktor 6 to build a synth with XY timbre controls.
The term “Vector Synthesis” was coined to describe Sequential Circuits’ 1986 Prophet VS synthesizer. This synth included a joystick with two dimensions of control that allowed for dynamic, real-time control of the timbre of the instrument by cross-fading between its wavetables.
Here, let’s steal that idea of X/Y control over timbre, and see if we can make a quick Reaktor synthesizer with the same real-time interactivity.
0:00 What is Vector Synthesis? 1:28 XY Plane 2:30 XY Controlling One Oscillator 3:59 Crossfading Oscillators 6:12 2D Crossfading 9:34 Different Waveform in Each Corner 13:50 Adding a Filter 14:37 More Sophisticated Oscillators 16:00 Polyphony 16:49 Next Steps
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