Improvements in software-based music applications progress a lot faster than their real counterparts, making it particularly tough to create an innovative classic that stands the test of time. There are ‘older’ soft synths still influencing today’s sound, in some cases even shaping whole genre aesthetics. ABSYNTH (first version released by Native Instruments in 2001) or MASSIVE (first version released in 2007) are only two examples of those plug-in milestones that continue to be go-to software synths to this day.
Spanning nearly 20 years of innovative and high-quality submissions from REAKTOR community members, the User Library offers thousands of plug-in creations for free. This compilation of user-made ensembles highlights some of the most timeless instruments and effects available in the user library. Some even dating as far back as 2003.
The Big Reverb
Submitted more than 14 years ago, this ensemble still sounds as fresh as anything today. Gabriel Mulzer’s Morphine Spectral Injection Modelling Synthesis is a conglomerate of five individual instruments morphed into one beautiful, reverb-drenched dream state.
The sound clip below uses only one instance of the ensemble, no external effects, with a bit of internal modulation added throughout the chord-sequence.
Check out Morphine Spectral Injection Modelling Synthesis here.
Autechre in a box
Opening up Drox for the first time you might feel a bit surprised by its small measurements. Don’t let that fool you though. As soon as you start pushing and re-forming those squares throughout the little green box you’ll instantly get captivated by the grains, glitches, and blips it produces. More than 15 years after it has been uploaded it still sounds futuristic and fresh.
The big guns
Gritty synth sounds
This thing indeed sounds mean, but it can also be tamed to be a gentle beast offering some nice, slightly distorted analog sweetness. The onboard effects make it such a versatile and great sounding monster. The audio clip below only uses three instances of hello programchild’s meanmachine and its built-in effects section.
Check out p r o g r a m c h i l d + meanmachine here.
All the holy grails
Step into analogue heaven with this collection of vintage synths, modeled after their iconic real-life keyboard flagships Minimoog, the Prophet-5, Roland’s SH-101, and the Jupiter 8. They may not sound exactly like the originals, but they do all sound beautiful.
Get plucky with it
Uploaded in 2003, Acoustring by Kristian Thom is one of the old-school User Library ensembles that still holds up to its successors. It was designed to be a “Physical Modeling synth for plucked acoustic string instruments“, but obviously is not limited to just plucky sounds. Due to its extensive user interface, it is a fully functional synthesizer.
Check out Acoustring here.
Samplers and Romplers
Multisampled Vintage warmth
A simple yet beautifully crafted ensemble that was uploaded back in 2005. Created by Lynden Garrett, the Vintage Electric Piano is a very rich sounding, multi-sampled, electric piano with a built-in vibrato effect and a two-band EQ.
It sounds like the real deal when played properly. In the sound clip below you hear a Bill Evans MIDI-sequence playing the Vintage Electric Piano. No outside effects were used. You can find the MIDI file here.
Check out Vintage Electric Piano here.
Science in deconstruction
This is another one of Chris List’s genius takes on sample deconstruction. El Destrükto “Turns your ordinary household samples into blazing meteors in the night sky”. Made in 2004 it should still be a stable in every digital music production environment. It “comes with [its] own step-by-step tutorial built into the ensemble, just change snapshots, and read the information”.
Check out El Destrükto here.
Random beat machine
Created by David Dayneko, Delivery 2 is a four-part sample-based sequencer offering tons of modulation and effect processing and if this wasn’t enough fun already, each parameter has a random knob attached to it. If you ever get stuck or can’t seem to get the creative juices flowing, just play with the random knobs.
The clip below shows Delivery 2 as a classic drum sequencer running three different time signatures at once so the three drum elements shift in rhythm over the course of the track.
Check out Delivery 2 here.