Native Instruments has announced the release of Expansions, a new series of sound packs that contains everything musicians need to make a track in a range of modern genres. Based on the acclaimed MASCHINE Expansions series, these 50+ genre-based sound packs contain everything a musician needs to create a full track in a specific style. […]
Flintpope has launched Hornfish, a new granular sample player ensemble for Native Instruments Reaktor. A drag and drop granular sample player that lets you create surprising sounds via randomising playback parameters on the fly. These parameters are changed via mouse drag and/or buttons. Long interesting samples (evolving pads for example) result in far better variations […]
Flintpope has launched Palette for Reaktor, an eight-layer sample-player that lets you paint music with Native Instruments Reaktor 6. More than a rompler, the instrument allows you to use your own samples as well. Eight banks of 47 samples each, triggered by un-mute buttons initially inspired a painter’s palette. By layering these together you can […]
Flintpope has announced Dropscaper, a sample player instrument for Native Instruments Reaktor 6. Dropscaper follows up on the recently released Soundscaper instrument. It features two drag and drop samplers, allowing you to layer different pairs of sounds and tweak the various controls and effects to create new samples. You can record the results with Reaktor’s […]
Sounds.com is a subscription-based loop and sample site – but it’s also a glimpse into Native Instruments’ future strategy for digital services for musicians.
Today, NI are revealing Sounds.com – a product in 2018 that sounds like someone registered a domain in 1996. That domain name pretty much covers it: it’s a place to go get sounds, in the form of loops and samples. It’s only available as a beta in the United States now, but will roll out to the rest of the world over the course of this year.
You can check out the beta now. I’ve had the chance to talk to Matthew Adell (NI’s new digital services chief) and Sunny Lee (Product Owner) about the product, and poked around the beta and sounds a bit in advance. Here’s a sense of what this might mean as a product itself, but also some of the potential to sound designers and future NI products – if the service and its underlying infrastructure are fully exploited.
What’s the pitch for Sounds.com?
There are, of course, a lot of purveyors of loops and sound content. But what NI’s tool here promises is a deeper, broader catalog of sounds from multiple sources, combined with better tools for searching them.
You won’t see much of Native Instruments’ name on the site, and even their own products are in the background. So Maschine Expansions are there, if that’s your thing – but NI is just one of 200 providers. The Loop Loft, MVP, and Symphonic Distribution sit alongside lots of smaller shops. NI also says they’ve got a lot of exclusive content, and are launching with half a million sounds.
You can navigate by genre, covering not just dance genres, but things like “cinematic,” too. You’ll see bundled releases, but also individual sounds.
That could broaden the appeal here. Maybe you don’t want some massive set of Deep House or EDM loops. Fine – search for a single perfect clap one-shot. Maybe you want to explore some weird Reaktor-produced noises made by Applewhite on left-field label Detroit Underground. Or you’re on a tight TV or film scoring deadline and want to grab some unique sounding percussion. Or you just want some sounds to mangle quickly.
Because it’s easy to find one-shots, and because there’s tons of sound material that isn’t genre specific, it seems likely that Sounds.com will appeal to some people who haven’t bothered with loop or sample content before.
Native Instruments have talked a lot lately about reaching more customers. Here, they offer a fair amount of tools in a completely free, unpaid tier. You don’t even need an account to start poking around and previewing. But a free account nets you some selected free downloads.
US$9.99 a month gets you an all-you-can-eat diet of unlimited downloads of whatever you want. (This is the US-specific one for now; the free tier already works worldwide.) Even if you cancel and re-up, those downloads reappear… just in case you have a habit of not backing up and dropping beers on your hard drives.
There’s an underlying technical competency story here, though. In addition to investing over the past year in the cloud and products team, NI has been quietly over time developing in-house expertise in what’s called Music Information Retrieval. Basically, that’s the somewhat arcane research field of developing algorithms that identify sounds and metadata more clearly. This stuff has been bouncing around Europe for years, but it tends to involve stuffy academic contexts and music industry.
The twist here is, some of that “MIR” business can turn out to be, well, fun and useful to you and me. NI tells CDM these algorithms are sharp enough to analyze the difference between a closed and an open high hat. With a bunch of other built-in intelligence about metadata and tagging and the like, this could mean you actually find the sounds you want. We’ll need some time to test that, and because an online service like this both develop over time and can learn from additional data, it’s something that may well evolve.
But yeah, instead of training Facebook how to serve you ads, you might soon instead be training Native Instruments how to identify and find sounds. (It’s fitting we’re exploring machine learning as a topic this year with our hacklab for CTM Festival Berlin.)
And honing in on individual sounds is part of the mission. Thanks to better search tools, you’ll quickly find you can even ignore genre classification and search however you want – including key, BPM, and other sonic characteristics. There are also tools for grouping by artist/producer and label. (Some of those appear to be set to develop over time.)
With its direct access to one-shots and more left-field options, plus a visual waveform preview and lots of metadata, Sounds.com resembles nothing if not long-running platform https://freesound.org/ – more than something like the Beatport Sounds section. (As far as content, I can’t imagine freesound stacking up to this any more than I can imagine Sounds.com replacing freesound. Case in point: as I write this, freesound has as its sound of the day “procesión de la borriquita” –the procession of the donkey – from the first week of Easter in Tarifa, Spain. Still, the interface and some of the appeal do overlap.)
Sounds.com is quick and easy enough that I imagine this could be a huge amount of fun. I’m not a huge fan of soundware, and even I started thinking of how to use this. Hello, Maschine Audio device.
What does this mean for sound creators?
Native Instruments, particularly through their flagship sampler KONTAKT and more recently their NKS format, have always been a platform and reseller for independent sound designers. Now, they actually have a working online platform to do that. NI are promising creators a fluid means to upload and manage their content, as well as a potential commercial opportunity.
The subscription model I imagine could also be disruptive if your business model was based on the à la carte release approach, but we’ll also have to see if these two models reach different customers (and accordingly supply different kinds of content). Consuming sound content for production also isn’t quite the same as consuming albums for listening, even if the buy/subscribe model here is a parallel.
Also, NI say their longer range plan is to provide an open API, also suggesting new developer integrations in music products not made by NI – first to select partners later this year, and then more broadly as they collect user and developer feedback.
What’s the bigger picture at Native Instruments?
Sounds.com has developed over the past year under the leadership of NI’s new “Chief Digital Officer,” Matthew Adell. Adell has experience at Napster and Amazon – and at Beatport. During his tenure, Beatport launched their Sounds section, which then saw explosive growth.
Now, the important thing here is, yes, there’s the specific product Sounds.com – but there’s also the team that built it and the plumbing they created to make it work. Adell confirmed to CDM that this is just a beginning.
I hope that’s the case, because it could make the experience of using NI software significantly better.
Let’s back up and consider the user. We’re already essentially using NI as an online service provider, it’s just that they don’t behave much like one.
You’re a producer, and you’re using Maschine and Komplete. Right now, not even all upgrades and sound content are available in Native Update. Buying and upgrading is … well, complicated. And then storing and accessing your own sounds is often a chore.
Could this MIR stuff help you find and tag your own sounds and snapshots? Well, heck yes – especially because my guess is you’re even less likely to be organized about tagging and organizing your own files. (I’ve seen musicians’ hard drives. A lot of you are … let’s say right brain dominant. “Messy as #$*&” also fits.)
Cue points in Traktor that show up everywhere? Well, now there’s plumbing to make that happen (this appeared briefly in an iPad app, then disappeared right as we said we liked it).
Synchronized Reaktor Blocks ensembles and snapshots? Why not? (The free VCV Rack is already working on that.)
I’d love to use sophisticated sync and MIR technologies to locate and share my sounds and parameters. But it remains to be seen whether this modern approach from the online team in Los Angeles will be able to wrangle the complex web of different products and code that a lot of us use in Komplete and the like.
Sounds.com is recipient of some of the recent funding NI acquired, but its gestation started before that funding, NI say – so we’ll see how this unfolds later this year. Pro software and especially hardware products have much longer development cycles, so expect some of these fruits to appear later.
In the meanwhile, this is an encouraging step – and you’ve got some sounds to play with.
http://sounds.com [public beta; login available only from the USA but preview features available to all]
The post Sounds.com is a new cloud tool for loops and samples from NI appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Flintpope has announced the release of Soundscaper, a sample player instrument for Native Instruments Reaktor 6. It comes with two sound banks featuring 127 samples each, which can be layered in pairs to create over 16,000 combinations. All sounds are made by Flintpope and feature original synthesis; no instruments were recorded at all in the […]
Flintpope has announced that 13 of its instruments and soundsets for Native Instruments Reaktor are now available as “Pay what you want” downloads, including FREE. The offer includes the Drumlines versatile drum looper, Wavcloud sample-morpher that features a pair of grain-resynth sample players routed through a cloud delay, and Dropsynth mixed drag and drop sample […]
Blinksonic has released a free download for Reaktor 6 users, PROCESSORZ° 2, a sort of Periodic Table of Effects.… Read More Free Periodic Table Of Effects For Reaktor 6
Belief Defect’s dark, grungy, distorted sounds come from hardware modulars in tandem with Reaktor and Maschine. Here’s how the Raster artists make it work.
Belief Defect is a duo from two known techno artists, minus their usual identities, with a full-length out on Raster (the label formerly known as Raster-Noton). It digresses from techno into aggressively crunchy left-field sonic tableau and gothic song constructions. There are some video excerpts from their stunning live debut at Berlin’s Atonal Festival, featuring visuals by OKTAform:
They’ve got analog modulars in the studio and onstage, but a whole lot of the live set’s sounds emanate from computers – and the computer pulls the live show together. That’s no less expressive or performative – on the contrary, the combination with Maschine hardware means easy access to playing percussion live and controlling parameters.
Native Instruments asked me to do an in-depth interview for the new NI Blog, to get to talk about their music. The full interview:
Belief Defect on their Maschine and Reaktor modular rig [blog.native-instruments.com]
They’ve got a diverse setup: modular gear across two studios, Bitwig Studio running some stems (and useful in the studio for interfacing with modulars), a Nord Drum connected via MIDI, and then one laptop running Maschine and Reaktor that ties it all together.
Here are some tips picked up from that interview and reviewing the Reaktor patch at the heart of their album and live rig:
1. Embrace your Dr. Frankenstein.
Patching together something from existing stuff to get what you want can give you a tool that gets used and reused. In this case, Belief Defect used some familiar Reaktor ensemble bits to produce their versatile drum kit and effects combo.
2. Saturator love.
Don’t overlook the simple. A lot of the sound of Belief Defect is clever, economical use of the distinctive sound of delay, reverb, filter, and distortion. The distortion, for instance, is the sound of Reaktor’s built-in Saturator 2 module, which is routed after the filter. I suspect that’s not accidental – by not overcomplicating layers of effects, it frees up the artists to use their ears, focus on their source material, and dial in just the sound they want.
And remember if you’re playing with the excellent Reaktor Blocks, you can always modify a module using these tried-and-true bits and pieces from the Reaktor library.
For more saturation, check out the free download they recommend, which you can drop into your Blocks modular rig, too:
ThatOneKnob Compressor [Reaktor User Library]
3. Check out Molekular for vocals.
Also included with Reaktor 6, Molekular is its own modular multi-effects environment. Belief Defect used it on vocals via the harmonic quantizer. And it’s “free” once you have Reaktor – waiting to be used, or even picked apart.
“Using the harmonic quantizer, and then going crazy and have everything not drift into gibberish was just amazing.”
4. Maschine can act as a controller and snapshot recall for Reaktor.
One challenge I suspect for some Reaktor users is, whereas your patching and sound design process is initially all about the mouse and computer, when you play you want to get tangible. Here, Belief Defect have used Reaktor inside Maschine. Then the Maschine pads trigger drum sounds, and the encoders control parameters.
Group A on Maschine houses the Reaktor ensemble. Macro controls are mapped consistently, so that turning the third encoder always has the same result. Then Reaktor snapshots are triggered from clips, so that each track can have presets ready to go.
This is so significant, in fact, that I’ll be looking at this in some future tutorials. (Reaktor also pairs nicely with Ableton Push in the same way; I’ve done that live with Reaktor Blocks rigs. Since what you lose going virtual is hands-on control, this gets it back – and handles that preset recall that analog modulars, cough, don’t exactly do.)
5. Maschine can also act as a bridge to hardware.
On a separate group, Belief Defect control their Nord Drum – this time using MIDI CC messages mapped to encoders. That group is color-coded Nord red (cute).
6. Build a committed relationship.
Well, with an instrument, that is. By practicing with that one Reaktor ensemble, they built a coherent sound, tied the album together, and then had room to play – live and in the studio – by really making it an instrument and an extension of themselves. The drum sounds they point out lasted ten years. On the hardware side, there’s a parallel – like talking about taking their Buchla Music Easel out to work on.
Check out the full interview:
Belief Defect on their Maschine and Reaktor modular rig [blog.native-instruments.com]
Follow Belief Defect on Twitter:
Photo credits: Giovanni Dominice.
The post What you can learn from Belief Defect’s modular-PC live rig appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
Blinksonic° has announced the release of PROCESSORZ° V2, a free multi-effect for Native Instruments Reaktor 6. Version 2 comes with a completely rebuilt structure by Sandy Small, as well as new presets by Richard Devine, Paul Peanuts, Alex Retsis and Matt Subjex. PROCESSORZ° is a cool combination of 25 colorful effects which can be played […]