Review: Native Instruments Mikro Prism, free Reaktor-based synth

Native Instruments Mikro Prism

When I get asked for resources for free synthesizer and effect plug-ins I often recommend ones by smaller developers.

Perhaps I tend to overlook the offerings of the big guys like Native Instruments since I mostly use the non-player versions of Reaktor, Kontakt and Kore (actually I use Kore Player quite a lot as it does a fine job playing presets and it loads a bit faster on my PC), but in my opinion these player editions are some of the best free plug-ins around.

Native Instruments’ latest freebie is Mikro Prism, a synthesizer instrument based on Reaktor Prism.

Using the same sound engine as its bigger brother and REAKTOR 5.5’s new dynamic ”Modal Bank” technology, this fully-playable instrument shines with a stunning range of brilliant sounds.

So basically Mikro Prism is the same Reaktor 5 Player powered instrument as Reaktor Prism, but without the full set of controls. It comes with 70 presets in various categories: Bass, Bells, Keys, Mallets, Leads, Pads, Plucked, and Soundscapes.

Although editing capabilities are limited, Mikro Prism still has plenty of controls to change the presets.

Native Instruments Mikro Prism

Mikro Prism controls

  • Exciter, the sound generation module which creates impulses & noise signals (both have independent controls), with a high and low cut filter.
  • Modal bank, a dynamic module that follows the exciter. Much of the sound of Mikro Prism is done here, by passing the signal through some resonating filters. The parameters for this section might seem a bit vague as the underlying controls are not available, but just playing around with them you will quickly discover how things affect the sounds.
  • Effects, includes cabinet emulation, 8-pole filter, flanger, echo/delay and reverb modules. Each has just one control.
  • LFO, with rate control and sync option.
  • Modulation, two synchronized internal modulation circuits (MC).
  • Automatable macro controls, all parameters are instantly accessible.

Besides these controls you can also use the randomize and morphing features of Reaktor Player to create new sounds.

Have a listen to the Mikro Prism audio demos from Native Instruments (Mikro Prism was released December 20th, hence the Christmas themed sounds/tunes).

So what do I think?

Product: Mikro Prism by Native Instruments
Format: Reaktor 5.5 / Reaktor 5 Player (VST/AU/RTAS)
Price: free
Like: great sounds, easy interface, free!
Don’t like: —
Verdict: 10/10

While it is not terribly hard to like most freebies, Native Instruments certainly never fails to impress me with their “little brother of” software. Mikro Prism is the exact same high quality instrument as its commercial counterpart Reaktor Prism, minus the full set of controls.

The 70 included presets include some most beautiful sounds, and even with the limited controls available this is still a versatile instrument capable of producing a wide range of sounds. Having just a few knobs and sliders to mess around with makes this “black box” interface rather intuitive and fun to play with.

Mikro Prism was undoubtedly created as a “teaser” instrument in order to get you interested in Reaktor Prism, it still has lots to offer and is truly an instrument that holds its own. Highly recommended!

More information: Native Instruments / Mikro Prism


Variety Of Sound releases NastyVCS

Variety Of Sound has released NastyVCS, a free channel strip effect plug-in for Windows.

Inspired by the smooth dynamic and tone shaping capabilities of some high-end mixing consoles and channel strips, this plug-in implements the most distinctive and much appreciated sonic effects generated by these devices:

  • filtering and equalizing
  • preamp style saturation and phase adjustments
  • opto-electric compression
Variety Of Sound NastyVCS
Variety Of Sound NastyVCS

NastyVCS features

  • Performs gentle audio dynamic treatments
  • Masters difficult to handle audio material in a musical fashion
  • Shapes frequency and phase response
  • Adds extra harmonics and saturation effects
  • Controls outgoing audio peaks
  • Win32 / VST compatible
  • State-of-the-art digital signal processing
  • Performance-critical parts are written in assembler
  • Completely SSE optimized

NastyVCS is available to download as a freeware VST effect plug-in for Windows PC.

More information: Variety Of Sound / NastyVCS


Top Freeware Picks – March 2008

The amount of last month’s quality freeware plug-ins had me struggling to limit the list of top picks to just 4.

Shattersync, Beatburner, Umbra & Machin

The following plug-ins stood out for me. Feel free to post additions if you feel they should’ve made this list.

  1. Shattersync by Pluggotic
    Pluggotic took Jack Dark’s Shattershot Lite and modified it to be host synchronized and implemented MIDI. Shattersync is perfect for creating subtle hiccups to full scale FSU madness.
  2. Beatburner by Code Audio
    This synth turns your beats into lovely new sounds by waveshaping and filtering the input.

    Warning: Beatburner tends to suck up big chucks of your spare time!

  3. Umbra by H.G. Fortune
    Umbra is a synth / SF player combination much like H.G. Fortune’s STS and ProtoPlasm series plug-ins. It is great for experimental soundscapes & athmospheres. The free version of this synth includes only 24 waveforms (128 for the full version), but it is still has a lot to offer. I love H.G. Fortune’s lazy buttons which allow for fast and sane randomizing of this synth.
  4. Machin by de la Mancha
    I have to admit I haven’t even had a chance to check this one out, but I just know it’s going to be great fun, just like truc. Be sure to check this one out if you’re into FSU type plug-ins.

I know there aren’t any Mac plug-ins in this list, but I’m afraid I don’t own a Mac…


Top Freeware Picks – January 2008

Bootsy TesslaSE v1.0

The new year started off well with tons of new and updated freeware VST effect and instrument plugins.

Here are my top picks of January in random order.

  1. TesslaSE by Bootsy.
    This effect plug-in does some tube+digital magic in the area of signal saturation and coloration.
  2. S3 by Krakli.
    Can we ever have enough string machine emulators? I think not!
  3. Prophanity by Roberson Audio.
    This one does a great job emulating the classic Prophet 5 synth. Must check if you like VA type synths.
  4. GTG 44 S by GTG Synths.
    Mik’s plug-ins are always top notch and this six voice VA type synth is no exception. Great for those oldskool analog type sounds, fat leads etc.

The plug-ins listed above are all freely available in VST format for Windows PC.