by Ronan Macdonald

Spice up your synth collection for free: Violet selects 5 hidden REAKTOR gems

The Portuguese producer demonstrates some of the lesser-known ensembles that help power her eclectic sonic signature.

There seems to be no area of music creation and performance in which tireless Portuguese artist Violet – aka Inês Borges Coutinho – isn’t involved. As a producer, her work draws on a kaleidoscopic palette of stylistic elements, from techno, house and breakbeat to retro-pop and cinematic electronica, serving up a raft of singles and EPs since 2012, as well as 2019’s contemplative long-player Bed Of Roses. In parallel, her DJ sets have rocked clubs around the world, from Berlin Atonal and The Yard to Good Room and Smartbar, and found distribution outlets in Mixmag, DJ Mag and Phonica, amongst others. But that’s really only the half of it, as the Lisbon-based muso also owns esteemed underground label Naive, and, in 2015, somehow found time to set up online radio station Rádio Quântica with her partner, Photonz. Oh, and just to fill those last few remaining slots in her schedule, she’s also resident at LGBTQ rave collective mina. We’re exhausted just writing it all down!

On the production side of things, NI’s REAKTOR sound design and processing platform plays an important role in defining Violet’s eclectic, open-ended sound. “REAKTOR helps me explore sound in a deeper way and understand the building blocks of synthesis and effects,” she says. “I love alien sounds, and with it, I reach the most satisfyingly outlandish stuff.”

Here, then, are five free REAKTOR Ensembles from the User and Factory Libraries that Violet wouldn’t want to be without, along with demos of each one made by the artist.


Violet kicks off her top five with Roberto Norris’ out-there “brain stimulation” Ensemble, which really has to be tried to be fully appreciated. “I’ve been exploring therapeutic sound and deep listening, and I ran into Brainwaves, which generates binaural beats,” she explains. “It’s pretty intuitive and visual. I sometimes add simple effects like reverb and delay with the feedback cranked up to give it a disorienting but soothing feel. it reminds me a bit of Daphne Oram’s spectral sound drawings.”

Download Brainwaves

FM-organ for Reaktor 4

16 years after its initial release, this ancient (in music technology terms, at least) organ-style Ensemble looks and sounds splendidly old-school,  with separate ‘percussion’ and ‘sustain’ sections, ’drawbars’ for harmonic shaping, and three levels of voice detuning for thickening up the sound. It’s just the thing for those more abrasive compositional moments. “I use the Detuned 2 mode on this to create one of my favourite elements ever in music: a wonky organ,” Violet states. “This FM organ has a lot of kooky/wonky potential, with eight voices, the detune feature, delay and multiple modulation levels.”

Download FM-organ for Reaktor 4

Solar Loop Echo

An ingenious elaboration on Roland’s classic Space Echo hardware, Solar Loop Echo, which Violet only discovered recently, serves up all kinds of imaginative feedback-driven tape delay-style effects. “Running any sound – a bass in this case – through this delay pedal is beautiful,” she says, in reference to her demo track. “Playing with it creates moments of real magic, I use it to add life and texture to dubbed-out ambient or a lead on a trippy dance track. I love how it visually reacts to the modulation, which adds an immersive sensorial edge to making sounds. A new favurite that I won’t let go of any time soon!”

Download Solar Loop Echo


Detouring from the User Library briefly, Violet reveals her favorite Ensemble from the REAKTOR Factory Library. Deploying a bank of six resonators, Resochord is an effect that conjures chords and harmonic structures out of any input signal, no matter how atonal. She finds it particularly good on drums and percussion. “The ‘Some chords’ Snapshot gives me lovely harmonics to add to an audio drum break if I pass it through a sidechain. The resonance makes the sound design really manic and twisted – just how I like it! The LFO adds all this movement, and I can bring samples alive with this trick.”


4x4 Drone Thing V1

Routing two banks each of four sine wave generators and four sawtooth generators through a series of multimode (high/low-pass) resonant filters, this experimentally-angled synth specialises in sci-fi soundbeds and semi-industrial textures. “Amazing for creating multi-layered continuous drones with great modulation options,” enthuses Violet. “I like to create weird LFO wobblers, and the filters sound dope – such a warm feeling!”

Download 4×4 Drone Thing V1

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