If you ever want your faith in humanity restored, the NI Reaktor user library is a good place to start. Since the early 2000s, Reaktor power-users have uploaded over 4000 instruments, effects and utilities – all available for free download. Sure, there’s some half-baked barely functioning ideas in there, but there’s also some astoundingly good things in there – stuff that would have taken a serious amount of time to build. And even though we got the fancy new modular Blocks eco-system with Reaktor 6 in 2015, we thought we’d take a look at some of the ageing classic gems that still hold up incredibly well in 2018. (Note: the full version of Reaktor 6 is required to use all User Library ensembles)
No surprises what this Reaktor instrument emulates, Stephan Becker’s 2013 Roland Juno 106 emulator is an exceptional recreation of the classic synth with an included set of preset essential sounds. It’s a pretty faithful recreation and everything works as it should with some minor quirks. The SAVE, VERIFY and LOAD buttons have been repurposed to control unison detuning, seems to us like you could probably label the buttons as such. But in the end, this is free way to add that sought-after ’80s Juno character to your intrument library, it sounds great, it works, all is well.
VHS Audio Degradation Suite
Nostalgia makes you do weird things, like enjoy the sound of audio that’s been worn down to a warbly muffled fuzz, akin to that of a much loved VHS from your childhood. Artists like Boards of Canada channeled that nostalgia with huge success and the recent Vaporwave movement made a genre from it. If you’re craving an injection of that dreamy lo-fi treatment, this fx suite is AMAZING, by far the most flexible and useful effect of its type we’ve tried. James Peck uploaded this ensemble in 2017 and it’s now one of the most downloaded of all time in the User Library.
Eminent-V 310 Strings Ensemble MkII
For over 10 years, Hugo Portillo has been maintaining and updating his emulation of the string section on the Eminent 310 Unique/Theatre Organ – made famous by French artist Jean-Michel Jarre who used it on his classic synth odyssey Oxygene. And if the Oxygene sound is what you’re chasing, Hugo’s got you sorted. This ensemble absolutely nails that ’70s string machine sound and to top it off has a very nice interface design and incredible sounding effects mimicking classic stompboxes. Well worth a play around on.
This ensemble emulates a classic gig-ready guitar amp and pedal board set-up. The description simply says “THANKYOU AND HAVE FUN” so if you’re not familiar with guitar equipment you may struggle here, but if you are it’s easy enough to work out. Equipped with a Fender-style multi-channel amplifier with vibrato and delay, an Ibanez-style tube-screamer overdrive pedal, an MXR-style compressor pedal, Boss-style chorus pedal, a Leslie-style tremelo and a Digitech-style whammy pedal, so there’s a ton of tone at your disposal. This ensemble’s been kicking around since 2007 but is still a worthy addition to your software amp arsenal.
MPT Deep Synth V2
Using this ensemble is like stumbling on the deep-house music holy grail. Or to quote Mike Huckaby “Man this synth is like a secret weapon…dangerous.” It’s no secret that many dance music producers know little of music theory and struggle when programming chords, this ensemble solves that by combining a 6 oscillator synth engine with a bank of commonly used chords designed for house-music. It’s a simple concept built on a powerful engine making it incredibly effective and musical. Creator Danny Lewis put this out in 2014 – when deep-house music was exploding, and it’s still an amazingly useful additional to your library today.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Native Instruments Reaktor, it’s an incredibly powerful platform with a long history. Reaktor is part of NI’s Komplete family of products, but is available to purchase seperately – head to their website here for more info or check out Komplete at a local Australian retailer.