Under the Hood
Let’s examine the architecture of SpacedDrone by going into edit mode and delving into the instrument.
This may look a little fiddly, but I can assure you it’s a hell of a lot simpler and easier-on-the-eye than some other Reaktor ensembles.
Firstly you should notice that there are four macros (highlighted in pinky/red), two named Display, the Geiger macro and one titled Space.
Macros are like a folders containing other modules and core cells within Reaktor. I’m going to ignore the two Display macros as they’re solely concerned with the visual side to SpaceDrone, which I don’t want to focus on.
In addition I’m going to ignore the Space macro right at the end of the signal path – this is just the reverb unit. Disabling it really roughens the patch up (not in an always pleasing way).
Much like all synths, the signal path of SpaceDrone is actually quite simple. Yes there’s loads of modulation from all-sorts of pseudo random sources but here are the nuts and bolts:
This isn’t the prettiest diagram I’ve ever made, and this is an oversimplification, but we can expand on it. Let’s start with the green route. This is how most subtractive synthesisers work.
We have some sort of tone generation (in this case a white noise oscillator), a filter, and then an output or amp. SpaceDrone’s output is slightly more advanced, allowing panning within a stereo spectrum and it has it’s own dedicated reverb. Aside from that it’s fairly standard.
In Orange we have the ADR (attack, decay, release) envelope, which controls both our amplitude and filter cutoff. This is triggered by our Geiger macro, which we’ll deal with in more depth later. In Purple/red is a Slow Random LFO module controlling the rate of triangle wave LFO, which in turn determines the pan position of our voices.
Of course SpaceDrone is not as simple as it first seems and there’s a lot of maths going on that I’m not going to go into in this write up. Whilst SpaceDrone is not technically a granular synthesiser, it has a similar sonic effect to one. Each voice is assigned a filter frequency cutoff and position within a stereo field, not dissimilar to the grains in the context of a granular synth.
At the heart of this all this is a simple 2-pole band-pass filter. The In and Res inputs are relatively simple. The In takes the output of the Noise module and Res(onance) has a simple knob on the front panel. However the P (for Pitch) input is slightly more complex, and this is largely what gives SpaceDrone its unique, musical sound.
As mentioned previously the Fundamental and Offset determine each voice’s pitch and harmonic; this effect is not dissimilar to the Aetherizer, which users of Absynth may be familiar with. It’s a granular effect based on short delays, pitch-shifting and a musical sounding filter that is capable of creating very tonal cloud-like swarms of sound.