Should there be a different format for Blocks (Euroblocks format)?

Schabbes
Schabbes Member Posts: 5 Member
edited June 2023 in Reaktor

Hi there!

Reaktor Blocks are amazing in sound quality and functionality, plus the front panel patching and how it works in Reaktor 6 is just beautiful - but still I find the blocks format klunky and not much fun to patch around and play with.

The blocks format was a really genious solution for back when there was no front panel patching, and it still has it's advantages, but I find it much nicer to patch with modules that are in a eurorack-format and work like that, so I'm still playing with VCV Rack pretty much exclusively when I want to try something modular.

I thought, however, in theory Reaktor should have the ultimate modular system, since it's so easy and accessible for everyone to build high quality modules in Reaktor - but it seems not too many people use it.

What do you think? Would it make sense to start a new modular system in Reaktor based on eurorack specifications? Euroblocks?

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Comments

  • Schabbes
    Schabbes Member Posts: 5 Member

    I personally would like to ditch the A/B modulation system with it's animations and the separation of GUI and DSP in favour of individual modulation inputs with individual attenuators and better performance and switch to a upright panel design.

    Maybe even incorporate eurorack voltage standards, but since that would brake compatibility with regular Blocks it might be better to keep Blocks standard of Voltages...

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 754 Guru

    There are no 'voltages' in Blocks, or in VCV rack, so the idea of standard voltages really makes no sense.

    I agree that the A/B modulation thing is maybe somewhat problematic.

    When Blocks was developed, Eurorack was no where near as popular and well known as it is now, and VCV Rack didn't exist. There was no front panel patching either, so the idea of individual inputs would have been a harder sell. At least with a standard of A and B mod inputs for all Blocks we didn't need to 'see' them, they were always there. It's a pretty good design seen in the context of the time.

    With front panel patching, it might make sense to do it differently, but Blocks already exists as a standard, so...

    It shouldn't be a problem though. When you build Blocks, there is nothing at all stopping you from including individual modulation inputs for individual parameters - just remember that they are not free, they all use cpu for smoothing etc.

    Some folk have also added C and even D mods to the A/B system.

    What is really more of a problem is that the limitations of the Reaktor 'instrument' format that Block use means that you can't self patch Blocks. That is a problematic omission in the context of Modular synthesis.

    So for example one of the most famous Eurorack modules is Makenoise Maths. Much of the power of that module comes from self patching the different channels of the module - none of that is possible in Blocks. You can kinda do it by having a second utility Block that just passes signals straight through, but that is messy and clunky and draws attention to the weakness, so it's unlikely that a developer would create Blocks that require that approach - don't want to highlight weaknesses of the format you have bought into!

    That said, it is perfectly possible though to have separate function generator, attenuverter, and logic Blocks, then could then be combined to give the same feature set as a Maths. So it's really just a problem of imagination in the user ;)

    I'm really not sure why you would remove the separation between DSP and GUI though. That is just good practice in general. Seems odd that you would want to go backwards with that?

  • Paule
    Paule Member Posts: 1,328 Expert

    If you don't like the spaghettis use another view. One is less cables.

  • Schabbes
    Schabbes Member Posts: 5 Member
    edited June 2023

    I like spaghettis :)

    Yeah I don't know... thought a couple of times about if I should start a euroblocks format with a few modules.. maybe I'll try that some day, maybe not... I think it would be more appealing and more comfortable, but don't know if it's really worth the effort.

    If I would do so I would probably build it in the laziest way possible, frankenstein some blocks and ignore good practices, so I wouldn't care about separating GUI and DSP for example, and probably avoid getting into core too much, because that seems really complicated.

    Just wanted to check if other people think it's a good idea or if the current Blocks format is better.

    Concerning the voltages, that would just be different values for reference... I got a bit used to thinking with V/Oct, audio signals going -5...+5 and modulation envelopes going 0...+10 - but it doesn't really matter, -1...+1 and 0...+1 are just as good in the end.

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 754 Guru

    In Blocks, it's 0.1 per octave. pretty easy to understand, and nice to convert to/from midi, just multiply/divide by 120.

    I think you will struggle to get close to the same sound quality without using core for the DSP. Part of the reason blocks sound so good is because everything is an audio signal, so audio, but also control voltages are at a high frequency. That will be tricky (or impossible in some cases) to match using Primary modules.

    Something else to consider about the A/B system is that those attenuverters are nice and compact, so screen usage is pretty efficient.

    That makes A/B a good thing. Better to develop it with A/B/C and augment it with separate per parameter mod inputs where necessary than to scrap it completely - that way you maintain compatibility with the concept, so you get best of both worlds.

    But like I've already mentioned, there's really no point in trying to directly recreate Eurorack in Reaktor until NI update Reaktor so that instruments (or modules if you decided to go that way) can be self patched.

    A good example is the West Coast CFG quad envelope. The real power is quad envelopes is firstly, self patching so that e.g. triggers from one envelope can be patched to control one or more of the other envelopes... and secondly being able to modulate parameters of all for envelopes...

    Neither of those things are possible in Reaktor, no self patching, and only two modulation inputs. So what should be a powerhouse becomes a bit of a let down. It would be much better as a single envelope that you can create four instances of and inter patch them... Instead they include some modes allowing interaction between the channels, but that's way less flexible IMO.

    It just highlights how Eurorack has different strengths. We can get closer than Blocks maybe, but not all the way there, so it's better to play to Reaktor's strengths instead - we can do stuff that is difficult or impossible in Eurorack land - like having a compact powerful modulation system where multiple attenuverters per control are basically free, and there is intuitive visual feedback for the active modulation on each control - thats awesome, and something that Eurorack users can only dream about (there is I thing one module that has feedback via rings of LED's, but it looks a bit meh IMO, and would be truly horrible if all modules had it.

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