Review: Electron Reactor by Analogue Instruments

by

With over 200 core sounds broken down into easy to comprehend categories, a performer can quickly bring up what’s needed and give it life through the product’s 5 step sequencers which modulate a variety of parameters and effects. Whether you’re looking for a simple, straight ahead beat or a mangled, distorted one, Electron Reactor gives you the versatility and functionality to do both or anything in-between.

Jump to the Videos of Electron Reactor by Analogue Instruments

Jump to the Demos of Electron Reactor by Analogue Instruments

 

Review: Electron Reactor by Analogue Instruments

So, you’re a live electronic performer and you’re on the spot and need some quick pulses and sequences to add a little extra something to your music…where do you turn? Look no further than Electron Reactor, a product which has a singular purpose…to add rhythm to your sound. With over 200 core sounds broken down into easy to comprehend categories, a performer can quickly bring up what’s needed and give it life through the product’s 5 step sequencers which modulate a variety of parameters and effects. Whether you’re looking for a simple, straight ahead beat or a mangled, distorted one, Electron Reactor gives you the versatility and functionality to do both or anything in-between.

Electron Reactor sells for $69.00 from Analogue Instruments

Thoughts

There are a lot of product libraries on the market that are dedicated to rhythm whether it be organic, hybrid or synthetic. Some are simplistic in nature and some are extremely complex in nature. Electron Reactor sort of hovers somewhere in the middle. The strength of this library lies in 2 areas: 1) the core sounds which include a variety of synthesized and percussive elements and 2) the inclusion of 5 distinct step sequencers, all with individual controls. The general mood of the rhythms can run the gamut from melodic & mellow to chaotic & distorted. However, those are just the starting points. The performer / composer can alter each and every parameter and develop something quite different from hence the starting point. There is enough here to provide a launching pad to compositions bigger and better, to augment cinematic percussion, to provide a backdrop to maniacal leads or to just mellow and chill in hazy ambience.

Electron Reactor

Most of Electron Reactor’s controls are contained in a very “pleasing to the eye” GUI. A fairly easy-to-understand and simplistic layout is technically broken into 3 main parts: 1) The Global controls located on the top line, 2) The Core Sound controls in the upper half and 3) the tabs for the sequencers, effects and presets in the bottom half.

At the very top left, one has the ability to determine what will control the tempo, typically either syncing with the DAW or syncing up with the Keys (using Kontakt’s internal tempo). There is also a Trigger Key control mode where you use the “RED” key on the keyboard to start/stop the sequencers. Alongside these settings, one can determine the sync-up quantization when the DAW is either playing or recording. Quantization can be set for either semi-quaver, quaver or crotchet to ensure the sequencers are in-sync with one another. Alongside the quantization settings is a core-sound menu. This gives one the ability to change the core sound on the fly while keeping the existing parameters and sequencers as defined. This should not be confused with the preset menu located in the “Load & Save” tab which, not only loads the core sound but also loads all parameters / sequencers associated with the preset. To the right of the core sound menu is the Bend parameter which can be adjusted up to 12 semitones (this setting is associated with the pitch-bend wheel). Lastly, there is a velocity on/off switch which, when set on, adjusts the playback to the sensitivity one strikes a particular note. By default, this setting is turned off.

Electron Reactor LFO Waves

Before I continue, I just want to state one overall rule about Electron Reactor…sequencers over-rule LFO’s. In the upper section of the GUI, there are 2 LFO controls…one for Volume and one for Pan. There are also respective sequencers for those 2 parameters. If the Volume or Pan sequencer is turned on, the respective LFO is rendered inactive. If one or both are turned off, then the LFO can be used to modulate that parameter. In the upper section, there is also a master volume control for the core sound and a noise control that determines the amount of noise associated with a free running noise sequencer. This sequencer can be turned on/off via a RED key switch located to the left of the playable blue keys (this key switch is not pictured in the overall view provided). Lastly, there are global Attack & Release settings which effect the core sound.

Electron-Reactor-Presets

You are definitely not going to get cheated on presets with Electron Reactor. There are 375 presets spread over 16 categories. Core sounds are comprised, primarily, of analog synthesis, which is ideal for electronic music, both live and in the studio though, if I have to say, this is definitely bent for a live setting. I can definitely see this being a DJ’s go-to for pulses and sonic mayhem. One thing I should point out is that it is quite advisable to find the right tempo for each loaded preset. Setting the tempo above 120 BPM invites muddiness to the sound in many cases so be careful to test drive a preset at different tempos. Now, on to the heart of the library…the sequencers!!

Electron Reactor Sequencers

The heart of Electron Reactor is the sequencers. This is where most of the motion occurs and where the user is in charge of the modulation. Overall, there are 5 independently controlled sequence modules: 1) Volume 2) Pan 3) Tune 4) FX1 and 5) FX2. The sequencers can be activated / deactivated either by clicking the vertical line to the left of the module or by key switch located to the right of the 5-octave playable area. Each sequencer takes over a set parameter within the module and that parameter is then greyed out and not functional for the performer to manipulate.

When a preset is loaded, some of the sequencers are already activated and come with a predefined sequence. These can easily be changed with your mouse. In addition, one can copy & paste a sequence from one active module to another active module. Each 16-step sequencer can be set to play forward, backward, forward & backward, and random. These 4 controls are located to the right of the step sequencer. Additionally, one can increase, decrease or invert the sequencer values via the arrow keys located in the upper right area of the sequencer section. Below that are random generators; the one to the left, randomizes the sequence, the one in the middle randomizes the sequence after each one has been played through. Lastly, the Exclamation toggle resets all sequencer values to “Zero” which enables one to build from scratch.

One thing to note is that there are 2 FX sequencers…FX1 manipulates either Crush, High Pass, Low Pass or Distortion effects while FX2 manipulates either reverb or delay. If you are going to manipulate reverb or delay, one should be cognizant of the tempo or else you may be left a muddle of sound. I tend to slow the BPM to 100 or less and experiment from there.

The first overall impression one might get from looking at this library is that it is rather easy to play and easy to get a great sound. Admittedly, I looked at this and thought the same thing. Well, looks can be a bit deceiving as it does actually take a great deal of patience and experimentation to get a really nice groove. Personally, I tend to use my DAW to set the tempo and, once I find that groove I like, to experiment with the different sound core presets which can be loaded at the top of the GUI. A really well conceived product for the live performer and a nice into product into the market.

Facts

Electron Reactor downloads at just under 3 GB and contains 225 analog sequences, 225 noise sequences and 375 presets. It requires the full version of Kontakt version 5.8.1 or higher. The product also requires a duo-core processor (or greater) and a minimum of 4 GB of RAM.

Electron Reactor sells for $69.00 from Analogue Instruments

 

Demos of Electron Reactor by Analogue Instruments

Videos of Electron Reactor by Analogue Instruments

 

Contributor Raymond D Ricker reviews Electron Reactor by Analogue Instruments
“With over 200 core sounds broken down into easy to comprehend categories, a performer can quickly bring up what’s needed and give it life through the product’s 5 step sequencers which modulate a variety of parameters and effects. Whether you’re looking for a simple, straight ahead beat or a mangled, distorted one, Electron Reactor gives you the versatility and functionality to do both or anything in-between.”