For true diggers, however, the REAKTOR User Library offers up a treasure trove of tools that you’ll find nowhere else. From tricky sample manipulators to thundering drums and bass, to effects processors capable of turning the most mundane beats into well-worn dollar store grime, the following nine Ensembles are essential sonic weapons for all aspiring Pharrells, Dres, and Dillas.
Here come the drums
LIME.lite – Though easily employed for just about any genre, LIME.lite imbues beats with that indefinable magical swing that’s so vital to hip hop. Add to this a host of first-rate effects and pattern randomization/humanization possibilities, and even the most mundane of drum loops suddenly become living, breathing entities.
Check out LIME.lite here
Pre Skool II – A truly ancient Ensemble combining a sound akin to the Roland CR-78 (HUGE kick drum!) with 808-style step sequencing. On top of that, it has effects including filter, delay, a reverb that sounds like it’s been collecting dust at a RadioShack for 30 years, and a worn vinyl simulator for adding hiss, crackle and pop for days.
Check out Pre Skool II here
SynthHop_mk1 – A fantastic Blocks-based Ensemble capable of creating entire tracks. It’s got its own drum machine, a simple but massively heavy-sounding bass synth, and a tricky sampler for scrambling loops in untold ways, with great processing options for all of them.
check out Synthhop_mk1 here
Bass: How low can you go?
Corn Delight – With a sound similar to the often overlooked Casio MT-40, this simple little delight may not look much, but for classic West Coast gangsta lead lines and thundering clean sub bass as heard on countless Tupac and Warren G cuts, search no further.
Check out Corn Delight here
Dusk BLK – For the snarling low-end modulations of modern trap and grime production, few synths in the User Library can match the awesome power of Dusk BLK. Add to this a beautifully organised interface with extensive modulation possibilities and first-rate effects, and you have all you need for getting mean and “narsty”.
Check out Dusk BLK here
Whack It – For hip hop production on a jazzier, funkier tip, Whack It uses waveguide physical modelling synthesis to achieve incredibly realistic, expressive approximations of upright and electric bass. Played further up the keyboard, you can find the pizzicato string plucks of classic-era RZA productions. Finally, try combining it with your wah pedal and amp simulator of choice for funky clavinet and muted guitar tones.
Check out Whack It here
Grungelator – For giving your drum samples a straight-from-vinyl or -tape quality, few Ensembles provide more authentic results than Grungelator. Its elegantly designed interface allows you to tweak the effect in a myriad of ways, from ever-so-subtle mix colouring to full-on busted needle noise.
Check out Grungelator here
Live Sampler – Producers have bashed out edits on the pads of the good-old MPC for years. In a similar way, Live Sampler lets you apply skip, stutter, reverse, rudimentary scratching effects, and a whole lot more, using your computer keyboard. Providing hours of QWERTY-mashing fun, this slick little beast is sure to breathe new life into even the most overused drum loops and samples.
Check out Live Sampler here
Pump it! – While decidedly a one-trick pony, this Ensemble accomplishes the rhythmic, pumping ‘compression without a compressor’ effects championed by Flying Lotus and in use by damn near everyone nowadays. The incredibly simple interface offers precise control of the start time and duration of the effect synced to host tempo, and you simply draw in the shape you wish to use.
Check out Pump it! here