COLORFLEX, developed in Reaktor 5, offers a fascinating take on matrix sequencing. It’s just a sequencer, not something that makes noise itself – it sends notes, Control Change, and IC send – but what a sequencer it is. Color zones act as different “tracks” of material, allowing complex patterns to be layered atop a single grid. Multiple layers also work with available functions like copy/paste, randomize, and shuffle, allowing you to creatively spawn patterns from other patterns. There are also analog-style master controls for swing, random step, and variation.

Because it’s a sequencer, Colorflex becomes useful when combined with other tools for making sound and controlling performances. Coupled with its own sampler, synth, mixer, effects, and sampler library, it can make various sounds. It’s also pre-configured with templates for Native Instruments’ Kore 2 and Maschine. (They’re optional, but if you’re a fan of either tool, you get plug-and-play functionality and live playability. And there’s already discussion of how this could be controlled from the monome, too.)

I think part of the fun of this will be using it to sequence your own sound sources (which, via MIDI, could be anything), but it does come with an interesting-sounding sample bank. There are samples by Antonio Blanca, D’arcangelo, Richard Devine, Josh Hinden,, Sonictwist, Timonkey, and Tipper.

The whole package is yours for US$29.00 (though you need Reaktor 5 first – call it a niche, boutique tool).

Sorry, Native Instruments, but I think the folks at Twisted Tools may have done something more interesting with your platforms than you have. (Then again, that’s a good thing – and a mark of a cool sound platform.) Okay – yes, as readers note, there have been fantastic, creative tools like Spiral, Spark, Animated Circuits, and The Finger released through NI, all of which have seen some coverage on CDM. But it’s terrific to see an independent developer doing this, and the fact that Colorflex puts together Kore, Reaktor, and Maschine is relatively new. I think NI can take a little gentle trash talk – especially as everyone is a bit anxious to see what the successor to Reaktor 5 will be.

It’s already got me thinking about new ways of building sequencers, especially as I initially misunderstood a couple of the ways it was working. (My mistake translates to … new ideas.)

  • Sweet =)

    Reaktor > M4L

  • Martin

    I've been checking their site for the last few days waitnig for this to be released and I bought it earlier today; I've been playing around with it for the last few hours and now that I've got my head around the ins and outs of it, all I can say is "wow". It's easily the best Reaktor-based tool I've ever come across; it's ingenious. I bought Sugar Bytes Thesis (or whatever it's called) a few months ago, and despite it costing about 5 times as much I can see it getting very little use in the future now I have this.

    Twisted Tools say on their site that it wil be compatible with the new 1.2 update of Vector when it's released; I can't wait to see what's possible when the two are combined. They're quite possibly the most exciting audio software developers at the moment, as far as I'm concerned. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.

    I wonder if they'll ever do native versions of their devices? I'm sure non Reaktor users would lap up VST/AU/RTAS versions.

    I hope I'm not coming across like an advert – I've got nothing to do with them honestly! Just really enthused by all of their stuff so far!

  • MP

    "Sorry, Native Instruments, but I think the folks at Twisted Tools may have done something more interesting with your platforms than you have."

    That's a bit of a easy comment ain't it? Reaktor 5 is at least 5 years old and I'm pretty sure that back in those matrix-controller-less days TwistedTools would not have come up with Colorflex. The last 'official' NI ensembles as Spiral and The Finger are at least as interesting.

    Nevertheless; great ensemble!

  • @MP


    it's a pretty classless comment, unnecessarily catty. Does he make such comments about cycling 74 if, god forbid, someone releases something as interesting ?

  • Classless?

    Come on. This looks terrific. The other libraries you mention are also terrific, and I've given them due credit. The fact remains that this is the most compelling idea I've seen yet for fusing Maschine, Kore, and Reaktor all three. I'm sure NI can take a little friendly prodding. Don't take it too seriously.

  • MP

    you know Reaktor 5 plus it's factory library is old.. very old.. that's the perspective..

  • friendly prodding ?

    more like getting a surprise kick in the nuts on your birthday!

  • "Then again, that’s a good thing – and a mark of a cool sound platform." (from the original and current draft of this story)

    Reaktor is a development platform for sound. To some extent, Kore is. I explicitly said why it's a compliment that a third party did something that NI didn't.

    On some level, I think I should try to avoid getting sucked into comment discussions, but if a post featuring NI's products with an explicit compliment about why they're important is viewed by anyone as "catty," "classless," and a "kick to the nuts," I get confused, and I can't resist asking what the heck you're talking about.

  • Side note: people often do cooler things with the things I write about on this site than I do. Please refrain from kicking me in the nuts, but feel free to prod me about it. πŸ˜‰

  • jimmy

    this really looks great. i've liked their free ens, too. always a good thing when new tools for reaktor are released – free and pay.

    dunno about the ripping (or ribbing) on ni bit though. limelite and krypt from ei2 have been around a long time and still hold up imo. shoot, i still use sinebeats from 10+ years ago.

  • salamanderanagram

    personally, while i'm happy to see some new pro ensembles in reaktor, this simply looks too confusing to me. i like my sequencers to be relatively straight forward so i can take a look and understand what the hell is going on at any given point. from that viewpoint, this ensemble looks like a nightmare!

  • yeah, I think comparing Reaktor to MaxForLive is a bit of a stretch, isn't it? I mean Reaktor 5 is very long in the tooth and hasn't been developed by NI in ages… Yes it has a great user-lib, but NI can't really take credit for that, can they?

    "Reaktor > M4L" – I wouldn't say that neccesarily. More accurate would be: Reaktor base > M4L base, which is true. But uhm, lets go back in time to when Reaktor, then "Generator" was just a few months old, like MfL is now… MfL doesn't look so bad in that context now, does it? πŸ˜‰

  • salamanderanagram

    "I think comparing Reaktor to MaxForLive is a bit of a stretch, isn’t it?"

    not really… i've still yet to hear a fully functional and programmable synth made in max that actually sounded good. maybe i haven't looked hard enough, but i haven't seen anything in max that can touch the sound quality of reaktor. just my opinions of course, and i guess i haven't looked that hard…

  • Sorry, to be clear: people have made great stuff in Max. (I.e., if it sounds like crap, it may not be Max that's the problem.) And NI has done some fantastic add-ons for Reaktor. I was not suggesting otherwise.

    @Andreas: no criticism intended for Max for Live, but I don't think you *can* go back in time, and the heart and soul of Max for Live is still Max/MSP – which predates Generator. They're both mature tools. They each have their own audience.

    Anyway, my point was that a third party went beyond what NI has done and built something that works across Reaktor, Maschine, and Kore. I'm sure NI is paying attention, and I wouldn't be surprised if they take some inspiration from this. (They've historically often pulled sounds and ensembles from users and the user library and commissioned new works – some of them from the people involved in this particular process!)

    No more complex than that.

    No, I'm still surprised that there isn't more effort on the free software side to share work more systematically. My prediction: in the coming couple of years, the situation will be markedly better than it has in the past.

    In fact, the bottom line as I see it is that there's greater participation from digital musicians across all these DIY-styled tools, free and commercial alike, fueled by better communication online. So that's probably what we should be talking about. Sorry if somehow I caused us to get off-track.

  • salamanderanagram

    no, what i mean is, i see plenty of innovative step sequencers, midi handlers and what-have-you made with max/msp. but basically no synths…

  • Edward

    re: "but basically no synths" in m4l

    I am actually surprised any one would bother developing a synth in M4L or Max/MSP (or even Reaktor for that matter). Since the release of M4L I have focused almost 100% on just midi plugins via M4L churning out tons of little tools for myself. It seems like a waste of time creating a synth when the integration with Live is so tight and I have things like Analog, Operator and the whole Native Instruments suite available that I can twist and turn. What the hell could I come up with that would ever compare??? I have developed some synths and in the end I had a weaker version of operator or analog so what is the point, I think focusing on off the wall ways to manipulate midi and audio are the way forward and the beauty of Max and where Reaktor should be (like the Colorflex sequencer).

  • @salamanderanagram: Ah, that's a good point. I think that has more to do with the limited number of approaches we have to synthesis. You've got your granular synthesis, your additive, your subtractive, your FM… wait, actually, we're already getting some crossover, as "FM" is something that can be accomplished with any number of multi-oscillator synths.

    Sequencers, on the other hand, are effectively unlimited in the number of approaches you could use.

    Or to look at it another way, it's harder to make a sequencer that is useful to a wide range of people than it is to make a synthesizer that is useful to a wide range of people. That is, we have an easier time coming up with a few basic synths that are versatile in a range of situations than sequencers, which tend to be more contingent on a particular musical idea.

    I talked to Gerhard and Robert about this in the past, about ways in which Operator could easily be the only synth you *ever* used. That's not an advertisement for Operator, though – it's an admission that there's a pretty predictable range of things you need from a synth.

  • YETI

    this looks great, and it looks like you can get quite in depth with this, but it looks like it may be an easy button for breakcore and other random ass noise.

  • This looks really cool.

    Things have been pretty quiet in the Reaktor world lately.

    I'm interested in making stuff for Reaktor and Max4Live, and I love the interoperability within their host environments. But I'm dreading putting that much work into something locked into one host or locked into a very expensive runtime environment. And things have been moving in the wrong direction in that respect over the past few years with the death of the Reaktor runtime and plug-in hosting of Max.

  • @RichardL: I think, just as it's within the rights of developers of tools like Max and Reaktor to convince you to invest in their platform, it's equally within *your* rights to invest in free platforms if that's what makes sense to you.

    And ultimately, that's what I've decided with a lot of my time. There are also tools out there that are very different than Max or Reaktor. So I think we could do a better job – minus the context of the commercial enterprise these tools represent – of tracking activity in these other spheres. Stay tuned.

  • salamanderanagram

    reaktor runtime was like $200 anyway wasn't it? better off saving yr $200 and saving up for komplete anyway, i'd say.

  • Chris

    I love vortex by the same team, I'm going to check this one out too. These guys definately push the envelope of what reaktor can (or anything else for that mater) do. Vortex is more than worth the $29 admission provided you already own reaktor, and I suspect this will be too.

  • messy…too many colors…and the demos sound terrible…is this another proud american glitchmobber ?

  • Dez

    Let's hope NI aren't so stunned from this severe tongue lashing you've meted out that they stop paying you to festoon the place with their banner ads. Because you've got to be fair and balanced, eh Pete.

  • @Dez: Dude, I'm not even sure what you're saying through the sarcasm now. I'm really anti-NI? I'm really pro-NI? I'm somehow both simultaneously? I'm just a general jerk? I don't know.

    Anyway, generally if I say something that upsets a developer, if they think it was unfair, I hear from them. πŸ˜‰

    The NI ads you're seeing are not booked through CDM. They're Google AdSense ads. I don't allow those ads to even directly target the domain, so it means NI is just buying up keywords and their ads are appearing.

    NI has been a sponsor in the past. Right now, they're not, but not for any particular reason. I think I'm balanced, but then, I'm biased. πŸ˜‰

  • ye…a general jerk suits you well…who likes techy stuff with flashing colors moving very fast…who cares if actually usable or just disfunctional…you don't use them…yourmission is to tease…

  • Why has this turned into a creekbed kegger? I use Reaktor, own the finger and agree that TwistedTools makes some cool stuff. The upshot of reaktor is that you can too!

  • j

    wow – lots of hostility. if it isn't your thing, no need to be rude to the author. is this not a blog about "techy stuff"? he likes it, you don't. just move on.

  • Actually, I found that hilarious.

    But yes, otherwise, what Valis said…

  • y

    we like tech stuff not gimmicks

    "Because it’s a sequencer, Colorflex becomes useful when combined with other tools for making sound and controlling performances. Coupled with its own sampler, synth, mixer, effects, and sampler library, it can make various sounds"

    oh lord, is that for real ?

  • paul

    poor Peter… crazy

  • ehdyn


    Ok, strange

    Don't like the site, don't come. Save the personal attacks for your friends.

    To "y" – the product in this case is the sequencer. The sampler and synth are there for demo really-so less advanced users aren't greeted with a bare sequencer that they don't know how to connect to other synths/devices.

    I agree Peter, to me these are more interesting than anything NI has done with the platform. If NI would get serious and release the 5.5 update to Reaktor we could see some seriously crazy shit from TwistedTools.
    You have to be compulsive/deranged to create stuff like this with Reaktor and sell it so cheap!

    Hope you interview Sonictwist and Josh soon.

  • y

    this is a blog innit ?
    and it is legal to add comments to it innit ?
    thius is what makes it "popular" innit ?
    and maybe someone doesn't agree to what the boss here is writing, what is the problem ?
    the problem is that he cannot take it.
    critics are painful for the arrogants.
    I don't like the site but I will keep coming.
    buried under tons of gimmicks there are some useful infos.
    but hey Peter, when you get so much obstility is a sign of increasing popularity, you should be happy, no sorry, proud.
    home of the braves innit ?

  • Techmology

    <a title="Techmology" href="; rel="nofollow">Techmology Innit

  • MP

    wow.. so a journalist places a bit of an uneducated comment and we're not allowed to disagree here on his public space?

    let me just quote myself

    ///Reaktor 5 is at least 5 years old and I’m pretty sure that back in those matrix-controller-less days TwistedTools would not have come up with Colorflex.///

    ///But it’s terrific to see an independent developer doing this, and the fact that Colorflex puts together Kore, Reaktor, and Maschine is relatively new.///

    look at the Reaktor UL.. independent developers galore.. nothing new..

    the fact that it connects to Kore and Machine is really not that special.. its just a template connection, that's all..

  • Who said you weren't allowed to comment / disagree?

    This is people holding back? ("Tell us what you REALLY think.") πŸ˜‰