Hi! I’m Kris. I’m stoked (that’s Australian for very pleased) to get the chance to run you through Processed – a Reaktor ensemble I made and uploaded to the User Library back in early April 2017. It almost sounds embarrassing, but I’ve been working on this ensemble on-and-off for about 8 years now. First up, download the Processed ensemble here.
What is Processed?
Processed is an Audio Beautifier. You know when you want something to sound hyper-lush and gorgeous? Or underwater, but glittering? Yeah, you do. Well, that’s when you get Processed out and start running your audio through it.
Processed is a spatial effects processor that feeds into four separate loopers, each of which then splits into two pitchshift-able layers of sound.
From a single mono source you can end up with eight looped layers of sound, with up to five effected sources in each loop, plus a live feed that’s run through the FX to play over the loops. To recap, that’s one mono source in, up to 45 stereo layers out. It’s DIY audio photoshop!
Since this ensemble generates so much sound from so little input I STRONGLY RECOMMEND USING HEADPHONES (not speakers) to monitor while using it with a microphone as this thing can’t wait to start feeding back, and I don’t want you to blow up your gear.
Why did you make Processed?
Nine years ago I decided I was going to learn to play the harp. Not a harmonica, but a proper orchestral pedal harp. I signed up for lessons, and practiced at harp school for two hours a day, every day for a year. I got good enough to play Avril 14th right through but was still a total beginner.
I knew the harp sounded gorgeous, but I also knew with a bit of Reaktor love I could make it sound so much better. So I stuck a mic in front of the harp and started building Processed.
It was designed with pure harp tones in mind as the input source, though it works great with almost any harmonic or melodic source run through it.
Processed has been refined over the years. I made an earlier version called Invert The Universe (image below) which actually has more features including pitchshifting on the input, filters on all the loops and dedicated post FX on certain loop channels, but I found as my playing developed I didn’t use any of it, so those extras got the chop.
I grew up in the ’90s so my references for life-changing sound worlds are the layered harp samples of Bows, the otherworldly glitched ambience of Oval and the gorgeous wooziness of MBV. This means when I make music with Processed it sounds like this:
This track is from my new album, Processed Harp Works, Volume 2, which was made entirely with Processed.
I played my harp in front of a single mic that was run into Processed.
I used Processed’s 16-Outs mode to multitrack everything into Live, where I could then edit the rubbish bits out of the recordings. Easy! Hopefully you’ll be able to knock an album out with it too!
How Processed Works
Processed can be run in stand-alone mode or within a DAW such as Logic or Ableton Live. Put it in Stereo Output mode (for now) and run some audio into the input – either a loop or a record armed track.
If you’re struggling with any of the terminology you can always refer to the manual which is included with the download. Let’s look at each section one-by-one starting with the input FX:
The Dry, Echo, Delay, [Re]Verb and Trem[olo] dials are the input volume levels for each of the corresponding effects, which run in parallel. Each has a bypass button just underneath the dial.
The Echo, Verb and Delay each have two tweak-able parameters allowing you to get everything from short boxy sounds to infinitely feeding back canyons of reflections, so be careful when maxing out the parameter setting. The Tremolo has a rate control for the LFO.
All the other effect parameters are under the hood, otherwise there’s too many buttons and dials to worry about. Set and forget!
Lets have a listen to what’s possible with the FX section:
Here’s a dry harp sample:
Through the Echo:
Through the Delay:
Through the Reverb:
Through the Tremolo:
Those all sound pretty standard, but when you mix them all together you can quickly get things sounding lush. Here’s the Dry, Echo, Delay and Tremolo all mixed together:
The Loop Section
There are four separate loops and each one can be toggled on/off. When the button’s off, it’s secretly buffering the sound coming from your input FX section, just waiting to play it back. When the loop button is on, it plays back that audio signal.
Each loop also has it own length setting, which is in beats and is synced to the master tempo of your DAW (or Reaktor if you’re in stand-alone mode).
Having four loops with separate lengths means you can create overlapping, poly-metric loops which will sound more like mysteriously evolving samples.
Here’s a little example, same source audio, one loop is 8 beats, the other 7, they drift in and out of phase before it finally looping again.
Once you have a loop in the buffer, turning off the loop button reverts it to buffering mode, pressing the loop button back on completes a primitive punch-in overdub that replaces the old audio.
Here’s an example, where a dry audio signal is punched into a loop that was heavily effected. These changes of texture make everything sound more exciting/glitched/wrong.
You can also use the overdub for completely different things. Here’s a breakbeat that I’ve punched some random synth noise into. There’s no limit to how many times you punch in.
Decreasing Loop Length
This truncates the loop. The new, shorter loop ends at the exact point you click the new length from the pull-down loop length menu. For example:
Here’s an 8 beat loop – 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 / 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 /
Here’s the important bit: if you decided to reduce it to 4 beats, the new loop’s content is dependent on when you click the new length. Click it at the very end of beat 4, your loop becomes 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4 / etc like this:
However if you click it at the very end of beat 7, your loop becomes 4 5 6 7 / 4 5 6 7 / etc like this:
… and if you click it at the very end of beat 2, your loop becomes 7 8 1 2 / 7 8 1 2 / etc like this: