While I’m here doing updates, I couldn’t help but notice some nice pictures over in our Flickr sidebar. The folks at Skratchworx do a wonderful job of covering DJing from a vinyl/scratch-centric perspective. They have a look at the Kontrol X1, the new DJ controller from NI. It’s great to see in photos, as you get a sense of scale. Note one item that surprised me a bit, at least – you do need to chain two of these together in order to have four decks, if I understand correctly. But it is a striking, compact design. I might consider one, since I’m looking into Traktor just as a backup for sets when I discover I need to plug in longer than my prepared live PA set allows.
Here’s a clever idea and a total surprise – instead of just dumping some samples on you, the folks at Akai have built a whole Reaktor ensemble full of analog drum samples, set up by default to work with their excellent, ultra-compact LPD8 pad controller. Now, because it’s in Reaktor, you can edit the ensemble. You know what that means: this thing is screaming to be modified or dropped into your own ensemble with custom effects. If anyone feels up to the task, I can try contacting Akai and see if they’ll be willing to distribute a couple of mash-ups of this ensemble.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, the LPD8 is pictured below. It’s similar to the Korg nano Series, but is slightly larger and thicker (and has knobs); you sacrifice a bit of the ultra-portability of the nano in favor of a bit more playability. (I’m becoming addicted to small controllers, so I may just have to get all of them.)
In the meantime, I find I’m coming across new materials nearly every day via Twitter (oddly enough, the new ground for such stuff), so I’ll begin selecting the best Native Instruments-themed inspirational clips and tips to share here. I have quite a backlog of material to share, so stay tuned here and on CDM.
First up – I’ve long been fascinated by the possibilities to use the computer screen for something other than just fake knobs. A simple oscilloscope can offer profound insight into sound, and that’s essentially analog technology. Imagine what’s possible in the real of digital visualization.
The first step is to simply get things up and running so you can begin experimenting. The wonderful electronic artist and audiovisualist ape5 has been posting some early experiments doing just that. Think of these as “Hello, World” work rather than finished projects – but I always enjoy watching that very process, and this looks promising.
1. Quartz Composer, the graphical patching tool for visuals bundled with the Mac developer tools (if you’ve got a recent Mac OS, you already own it, in other words). See Create Digital Motion for more QC resources.
2. Native Instruments Massive, in this case transmitting audio to produce the lovely patterns at top. (To analyze the audio stream, ape5 uses Quartz Composer’s Audio Spectrum object.)
3. Native Instrument Reaktor. With Reaktor, you have some choices – you could use audio, or you could use OpenSoundControl (OSC) to transmit control data.
ape5 also works with MIDI using the Mac’s IAC MIDI bus.
If you’re on Windows and interested in working in similar directions, check out vvvv (Windows-only) or the open-source Processing. On Windows, you don’t have built-in methods for routing audio and MIDI between apps, but check out tools like LoopBe for MIDI and ReaRoute for audio (a special ASIO driver you can install with the excellent production tool Reaper).
Today, I cover the Battery 3.05 (beta) and Kontakt 3.5 updates. For both tools, you get 64-bit support under Windows, which lets you get into terabytes of addressable memory (theoretically), plus a much-needed fix for compatibility with Pro Tools 8 on Mac. On Kontakt, you also get a range of improvements, including “zero-memory” functionality when streaming from disk, multicore and multi-processor improvements, improved library management, aftertouch KSP support, and more MIDI assignments. Kontakt also supports up to 32GB of memory even on the Mac – which doesn’t yet do true 64-bit memory addressing for audio apps – thanks to something called the Kontakt Memory Server.
Now, not all of the Kontakt improvements are relevant to Battery, but it’s worth stepping back and looking at the two apps. There’s a reason there’s both Battery and Kontakt, even though they share some core technologies.
NI explains to CDM how the engines differ – some subtle differences that can make Battery the right tool for certain jobs:
The core engine technology is the same in Battery 3.0.5 and Kontakt 3.5, but Battery uses a “lighter” version because of its typical use case as a drum sampler.
It doesn’t include the Memory Server and the multiprocessor/multicore support because these features really only become necessary with multitimbral operation, high polyphony and a huge number of instrument samples (and heavy effects usage) like in Kontakt.
More on the updates at CDM, but I thought this was the perfect place to make the comparison clear.
Since we have some hard-core users of both these tools reading this minisite, I’m curious to hear your mileage!
Note that, yes, we will generally be posting a lot more of our NI-related content on CDM moving forward, and that community contributions we expect to start appearing on our community platform noisepages.com, now in early testing. I’ll make a full announcement about this soon.
Somewhere, people are wasting time, procrastinating, and having inane chats on Twitter. But don’t tell that to the hard-core synth geek, who has bent Twitter into becoming a useful tool for finding like-minded creators, solving problems, and sharing tips and techniques. In 140 characters, there’s not much you can do to describe the depth of, say, Reaktor. Think instead of these tools as a compact, real-time pointer to the information elsewhere.
One of my favorite reads – and, regardless of your tools of choice, a great use case for how to make Twitter productive – is Reaktor Lovers. On Twitter as reaktorlovers, you get tips, tricks, story links, and for my favorite feature, the Reaktor Ensemble of the Day.
Given the depth of the User Library, it doesn’t look like we’ll be running out of Ensemble of the Day posts any time soon. That includes gems like the fascinating grid interface for the pad synth Pataphysical, top, and the ridiculously knob-laden DotCom 44 Modular, bottom.
So, what happens when you’ve run out of 140 characters and the forum isn’t the right forum? If you’d like to try out forming your own social groups with other users and have free blogs on this site – with the same tools we’ve used for the Kore site – come beta-test noisepages with us.
Let us know if there are features you’d like or some things aren’t working – we’re doing an open beta precisely to get that kind of feedback. The venue for that feedback is the Help & Development group, where we’ll also be chatting about making improvements.
But just as the CDM team will continue working to bring you information, we’d love to see what you and the community has to share, too. Your work is ceaselessly inspiring – and makes reading Twitter a meaningful distraction.
We’ve got more Kore and Reaktor updates in the hopper, so stay tuned here and on CDM.
I’m a big fan of the FL Studio DAW software, and also a big fan of NI plugins. In the past this has been a problem because of an incompatibility that caused CPU spikes in some NI plugins running in FL. Specifically, in Reaktor this manifested as a constant fluctuation of the CPU meter, even without an ensemble loaded. I’ve also noticed this behavior in Absynth. It’s been possible to compensate by setting the plugins to run with fixed-size buffers, but that has two undesirable consequences; one, it increases the latency for those plugins, putting them slightly out of sync with other elements in the mix and two, it takes away the ability to use multiple outputs to separate mixer tracks in FL.
Well, the new 8.5 beta of FL solves all that! I was initially excited to read that the new beta lets plugins running with fixed size buffers use multiple outputs – but then I discovered a new audio setting called “align tick lengths” that makes those large fixed buffers unnecessary. The mouse-over hint for the align tick lengths checkbox tells us “may increase CPU performance” and they aren’t kidding.
This is fantastic, because now I can load up Kore in FL and Reaktor in Kore and get one of my favorite DAWs, my favorite control surface and my favorite plugins working together smoothly with no hitches, glitches or handicaps.
Licensed FL producer edition users can download the beta through their account page.
Via our friends at Make Magazine, Captain Dan controls a custom-created Reaktor synth with an Xbox 360 game controller. The secret ingredient: GlovePIE, the powerful, free scripting tool for alternative controllers under Windows. GlovePIE can actually output both OpenSoundControl and MIDI, either of which Reaktor can use, but in this case, Dan chose MIDI and routed between applications via MIDI Yoke.
The results may not necessarily be a new musical high point, but they are good fun. If you’ve got a Mac instead, you have several exceptional options:
Confession: plug-in specs make me batty. Happily, there’s a nice blog post that explains how to adjust a Reaktor patch for easy envelope control in Ableton Live. Ableton Live 8 changes how parameters are controlled, and I think fixes this problem – I need to try it with Reaktor. (Anyone out there already ahead of me?) But in the meantime, here’s the fix:
Guiliano Cantini sends this patch he’s put together with Kore Player and Pd. He uses transient detection in Pd to trigger randomized parameter changes in Kore Player. That rig is entirely free (as in beer), but the same ideas could apply to Kore, too – and if you’re not into the clap metaphor, you could find other audio-reactive or controller-reactive approaches. (You can also just slap the mic on your laptop.)
From the description:
Instantly tweak NI Kore Player’s sound controls with a clap. Pure Data detects your clap and uses it to randomize all 8 controls. Download pd patch @ jkant.altervista.org
The power of Reaktor is essentially the power to build any instrument or effect you can imagine. But what does that mean for hardware control – how can hardware be as open-ended as software? One solution is multi-touch interfaces.
Antonio Blanca writes to share the work he’s done (in collaboration with JazzMutant’s Bryant Davis Place) on “Lemurizing” popular Reaktor ensembles. These make the Lemur touchscreen a dynamic, interactive hardware controller for these Reaktor ensembles. In the collection from Antonio and other creators, and all downloadable via JazzMutant:
From sequencing to modulation, there’s quite a lot you can control in these ensembles with your fingers. That demonstrates not only the potential for Lemur, but many other alternative interfaces, as well. With the exception of the standalone Massive, you can see some of the power of OpenSoundControl support in Reaktor, as well.
Antonio is extending this idea with Reaktor and exploring more sequencing ideas. He writes:
Now I am working on new “Lemur Projects” — a new version of Lemurized Metaphysical Functions and a pseudo-random sequencer built on the Lemur itself using the multiline script (amazing feature, by the way). Here’s some info from my outdated blog: