I always get excited when I see new, third-party instruments for Reaktor. This is in part due to the fact that every time I am faced with a new, third-party Reaktor instrument, it usually ends up becoming one of my new favorite instruments. And, it looks like history might repeat itself. Today, I am going to go over, not just one, but three new instruments released by Heavyocity, known simply as C-Tools.
You get three C-Tools, actually: Capsule, Coil and Clique. Each tool contributes to the three main elements needed to complete a certain type of composition: Capsule (Drums), Coil (Bass) and Clique (Melody/Pads).
The ‘type’ of composition that I’m referring to is very much apparent in the preset patches, included with all of the instruments. Pads from Clique instantly transported me back to favorite ’80s, melancholic, sci-fi. When I played some Coil, underneath, and along with the pads, the illusion was maintained, giving me memories of Thomas Dolby and Harold Faltermeyer. And, when the drums of Capsule finally rounded out the picture and gave visual, and audible rhythm to my ’80s future that never was, truly the only things missing are vocals and the old, cheesy samples. C-Tools really did their homework. Now, let’s take a deeper look at each tool.
As a drum machine, I was pretty impressed with the simplicity of the design of Capsule. Its front plate is very straightforward, so much to the point, that I found myself making some pretty cool drum patterns, with very little effort, and without ever having to look at a manual. And, I was overjoyed to discover not only really nice sound design, but also a familiar pattern sequencer that reminded me of many classic drum machines I’ve worked with. But, if you’re not into pattern sequencers, don’t worry! Capsule can be triggered via MIDI keyboard, and is nicely mapped with a very handy GM-ish mapping. So, feel free to drop existing MIDI drum patterns of your own on to a capsule track, and start jamming.
If ‘dreamy’ is an element you like to have maintained in your music, then you’re going to love Clique. Designed to merge elements of dedicated string synths like the Solina, and some of the more simple, portable organs of the ’70s and ’80s. Basic oscillators are replaced with more straightforward oscillators with mission exclusive, internal sound generators like Strings and Pulse Width Modulation Oscillator that allow even the greenest of sound designers a shot at making some really beautiful keys and pads. An internal phaser beautiful adds to the lushness. And, a really nice tempo delay compliment a really nicely created mix section that finishes the mix. And, can even supply you with an Ensemble effect. Pads get big!
Rounding out the two, severe elements of Clique and Capsule comes Coil. And, it really does have that ‘glue that holds everything together’ sound. Basses are the name of the game here. And, when you’ve got a nice, analog-ish style oscillator, and FM Synthesis all under one hood, Axel-F never played so easily. Like most of the C-Tools, Coil is wonderfully animated. Wherein Capsule has 3-dimensional objects moving through space to the beat of your drums, Coil includes a more Razor like display that really does help in building your patches. This is especially true in moments where you adjust the Shape of the Analog Oscillator and actually see the wave shape morph before your eyes from a more triangle-ish wave, to a more jagged sawtooth. And, while there are all of the retro sensibilities you’d expect on a bass synth with this kind of aim, there are also some modern twists. The Side Chain Pumper is an amazing opportunity to bring in some gnarly sidechain bass lines. Mix this with a Freq Shifter that makes dubstep wobbles a cinch, and a Saturator that puts it all in your face, and you’re going to have yourself quite a time making a new dance track.
C-Tools is an amazing bundle package that, if you own the full version of Reaktor, will add some very valuable new synths to your arsenal. Especially if you enjoy sounds like EDM, Trance, Dubstep, House, Prog House, Tech House, and more. The only area that it seemed a little weak in was in the size of the soundbanks. I was hoping for a little more patches from Coil and Clique. However, the synths are simplistically dense enough that you can easily build several banks of your own, without even realizing it. And, considering that the price that this entire package is going for, I feel bad for even mentioning it. If you own Reaktor, check out C-Tools, now!
Pros: Beautiful, hard, wonderfully designed synths and a drum machine that make music making a lot of fun, while sounding great.
Cons: Small sound banks.