Musikmesse Roundup 2: Native is Restless

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Date: Thursday, March 13th, 2003, 07:40
Category: Archive


I’ll have what they’re having — Native Instruments is eating something serious in their breakfast cereal. They’re turning out yet another wave of groundbreaking new software synths. Remember when we used to spend thousands on hardware to make music?

First up, Native has the first major update to its “semi-modular” synth Absynth 2.0. Absynth was already a must-have tool for sound design, with unique sound-shaping capabilities provided by powerful synthesis and envelope-shaping tools. The new version has 800 presets (which are invaluable for learning the program, which can be a little tough at first), plus new sampling features. Now you can mix sampling, granular sampling, substractive, wavetable, FM, AM, ring modulation, and wave shaping synthesis, and control everything with Absynth’s already-terrific envelope features. Oh, and about envelopes — they’re now controllable one at a time or in groups via MIDI, perfect for live performance. There’s a new optimized DSP core improving audio quality and panning control, and various other under-the-hood improvements. US$299 / EUR289 (they’re compensating for the US dollar’s falling value!), May 2003. This is the first version of Absynth to hit Mac OS X; it’s still OS 9-compatible.

It’s worth quickly reviewing everything Native had at the show, most of it new in the first months of 2003 (check out their own show wrap-up). For fans of Native Instruments’ signature shade of blue, you’ll like their exclusive NI edition Oxygen 8 USB keyboard, which ships with Absynth and FM7 presets, and available in a special FM7 bundle if you don’t have that yet. In their European debut at the show, Native showed off lots of new features in Reaktor 4 (April 2003 / USD-EUR499), and its new younger sibling Reaktor Session for accessing existing Reaktor tools (April 2003 / USD-EUR 249), the streamlined sampler Kompakt with a comprehensive sampler library and extensive import capabilities running the Kontakt engine (April 2003 / USD-EUR 199), the rhythmic loop sampler Intakt (Q2 2003 / USD=EUR 199), shown at left, and the high-resolution 1024-band vocodor cum synth cum granular sampler cum “virtual sound-fusion laboratory” whatever that is, Vokator (this month / USD 299, EUR 289). And best of all, all this software is coming to OS X, so the music software drought is officially over — now we just have to find time to play with all these toys!

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