Toybox is one of the best software modular designers out there, bar none – and easily must-have for the Reaktor Blocks platform. There’s a lot of stuff you can use for free, inside and outside Reaktor.
This is all a big deal, being free. Yes, it’s good marketing. But apart from that, it’s an entry point into modular – and a common set of tools for teaching. That to me is always tremendously exciting, and the fact that I now have a free Reaktor Blocks (with these Toybox additions), plus the free VCV Rack, on top of tools like Pd and SuperCollider and TidalCycles means we really have can share synthesis with a vast range of people.
These are essential tools to know, so let’s break them down.
Completely free, no Reaktor needed
The situation for modules has changed in Reaktor-land recently. As of Reaktor 6.4, you can use custom User Blocks in Reaktor, opening up tons of third-party support – including the ability to more easily distribute free modules.
But before we get to that, you can start playing with Toybox stuff even without owning a Reaktor license. You just grab the free Reaktor Player :
Synths: Reaktor 6 Player [Native Instruments]
And while you’re there, you should also get the Blocks Base collection of modules, which at least includes the basic utility Blocks plus some of the best stuff from Bento Box – certainly enough to make a convincing bass lines, and do a bit of frequency modulation (including the filter):
BLOCKS BASE [Native Instruments]
Those two combined get you going, but you can also use Toybox’s 44(!) modules in their Free Pack. That gives you oscillators, filters, effects, and utilities you can use in Reaktor Player.
You just provide an email address, and then are granted both a download and a code to enter from Native Access. (You need Native Access to install; that process is well explained in the documentation.)
So so far you’ve spent absolutely no money at all, and gotten a fully functional modular you can use standalone or as a Mac or Windows plug-in, with both the Free Pack from Toybox and the Blocks Base pack from NI. Got it?
Using this thing you spent no money on, you can watch a 2-minute tutorial with Nicky that is also free and learn how to make your first synth.
Free for Reaktor users, and very cool
If you do have a full Reaktor 6 license, this part is for you.
Okay, you should also download the free pack from Toybox – it’ll work with the full Reaktor, as well, and there with all the Reaktor functionality and a lot more modules.
But now thanks to User Blocks, there’s some new stuff from Toybox. They’ve created Toybox User Blocks and are adding new stuff to it on a regular basis. This won’t run in Reaktor Player, but it’s also far easier to install.
And it has two very essential modules – ones I wish existed on other platforms, even.
There’s the Modulation Lane Block, which feels a bit like having an Ableton Live modulation envelope inside your modular environment (which should be obviously cool indeed).
And now even better, there’s Table, basically a graphical, audio-rate array you can read and write to. There are a ton of extras, and it all feels, for lack of a better word, totally Reaktor-ish.
Check out what it can do:
- 2 separate tables
- Each table can have have between 1 and 1024 ‘storage cells’
- Independent read and write locations
- All parameters are modulateable
- 8 morphable snapshot locations
- Gate generator
- Undo / Redo
Why yes, thank you, I would like to make IDM for the rest of the night. Glad you asked. (In a dark and complex world, what better than to disappear into headphones and listen to the sound of gently morphing oscillators, I ask you…)
Or as the creators put it:
The block is a real Swiss Army knife: it can be used to draw or record modulation, used as a drawable audio-rate oscillator, used as part of a generative music patch, used for recording and storing notes of a sequence, generating clocks and much more.
Similar to the above – give them your email address, get a download. Of course, they’re betting that then you’ll want their commercial modules, but the full bundle is only US$80, so that’s not the worst thing.
For more advanced videos, by the way, you should also check Ask Video:
Everything is at the Toybox site:
And for more on the evolution of Reaktor 6.4 and User Blocks, see my previous article: