Native Instruments Razor – Is this the best Dubstep synth?

Written by Andrew Trafik. Posted in Computer Music, Videos

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Published on November 10, 2011 with 1 Comment

Native Instruments unleashed their Razor additive synthesizer on the world earlier this year and it has been touted around as the definitive Dubstep synth. It’s certainly not the only piece of kit out there with a hefty wobble – but it definitely does the business and it’s a great tool to help you make Dubstep.

It is not a one trick pony though – the keys and arps on it are amazing, the pad sounds are blissful and the techno bleeps are pretty rocking too. It has a lovely looking (but pretty useless) 3D waveform viewer and lots of easy to use controls.

Razor is a refreshing, truly new instrument based on additive synthesis, created by maverick Berlin producer Errorsmith in partnership with NATIVE INSTRUMENTS. It has a characteristically dynamic and precise sound suited to tense basses, bristling leads and shifting, sci-fi soundscapes. Its additive engine consists of up to 320 partials. Everything you hear – the filters, the stereo imaging, even the reverbs and delays are created by manipulating these individual sine waves. The resulting sound remains clear and precise at all times, even when heavily modulated.

Apart from outstanding sound quality, the level of control in additive synthesis provides a host of new possibilities for shaping sound. Here are some examples of what’s possible in RAZOR:

  • Creative filters – variable slopes and boosts
  • Dissonance – from modulating single partials to compressing the whole sound
  • Reverb per-partial – the reverb tail follows pitch
  • Partial panning – pan parts of the frequency spectrum separately
  • Complex formants – as filters and oscillators
  • Echo steps – create evolving echoes
  • Vocoder – an exceptional 34-band vocoder

The FX concept in RAZOR is about integrating them into the additive structure to create unique features. Delay is a good example of this approach. In RAZOR, the echoes are created by echoing envelopes instead of audio. Thus, the echo affects only those parameters which are modulated by these envelopes, creating artificial but very musical echoes. Both the stereo pan and the stereo spreader FX pan each partial individually in the stereo field. These effects are great for creating a stereo sensation without altering the basic sound too much. It’s amazing how much a simple sound gains from this – it stays ‘pure’ but sounds broader and fatter.

For only $79 it is reasonably priced as an add-on to the free Reaktor 5 player – and it comes as part of Komplete 8 Ultimate.

“Razor really stands out for me – the phat sound is very unique and ‘outside-the-box’.”
Boys Noize

“Razor is my favorite virtual synth ever. It’s never been this much fun to modulate a sound on the computer.”

“Razor is something like a stealth bomber among software synths… Small and inconspicuous, but ridiculously mean when it spits out sounds…”

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