Can we resurrect Absynth?

Territan Member Posts: 6 Member
edited October 2022 in Reaktor

Okay, Komplete 14, lovely huge expansive pack of sounds, synths, and effects, and I am here for it. Literally. I have it, so I'm here.

But one item got left behind. For reasons, Absynth was left out of the newest pack, and I can understand how hard it can be to update a classic instrument to new hardware and OS ecosystems. That's a shame.

So what does this have to do with the Reaktor forum? Reaktor is already host to several synths and synth tools, including Form, Rounds, Razor, Spark, Prism... if Reaktor can handle that beast, I would expect it to be able to emulate Absynth.

Unfortunately, I don't have the skills to make this happen. Is there someone out there who works a lot in Reaktor and likes Absynth enough to advise? Or is this something NI could be sold on if enough people ask for it?



  • Paule
    Paule Member Posts: 1,328 Expert
    edited October 2022

    I have build lot of monsters but build an Absynth clone? No!

    You can ask Colin, Laureano and Andrew. They are our math champions.

    Thinking by myself: many users have the same disire like you but can't build in Reaktor a synth. That's a pitty.

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 754 Guru

    Hmmm. not sure that this is a math challenge, so much as a UI management challenge. I think it is maybe impossible with the interface tools that are available to us in Reaktor?

    Even if we could recreate the envelope mayhem, the restrictions on mouse and keyboard input would surely make it difficult?

    What would make more sense would be to think about what is amazing about Absynth and maybe build a few different Reaktor synths that target specific things that Absynth can do. And build them in a way that is Reaktor friendly. Assuming you have a few years to spare, or lots of money to pay other folk :)

    I don't have Absynth, and can't get it now unless it gets a free release at some point (like e.g. Rebirth, Sync Modular etc.), so I can't really give much advice about what would and would not be possible...

  • ANDREW221231
    ANDREW221231 Member Posts: 294 Advisor

    i don't know the first thing about absynth but i absolutely love the idea

    almost have to wonder if a reaktor version of it already exists as NI proprietary intellectual property somewhere. i know they use reaktor for prototyping but not sure the practice goes that far back... but i know my rule of thumb for reaktor has served me pretty well: "If You Can Build it, You Can Build it"

    generally reaktor is considered to ba a turing machine so there's no theoretical limitation on what it can build, only practical. how much do you know about the synthesis engine? i'd guess nothing in it is too complex by today's standards and most of the magic is in prudent design decisions? again, know nothing about absynth but im curious to know and i'd be happy to advise

    also this would be a great community project, and pretty funny to do in a way

    wonder what the developer Brian Clevinger might think of such a project. might be a sensitive issue depending on how he's feeling or what he's allowed to divulge?

  • Paule
    Paule Member Posts: 1,328 Expert
    edited October 2022

    almost have to wonder if a reaktor version of it already exists as NI proprietary intellectual property somewhere. i know they use reaktor for prototyping but not sure the practice goes that far back... but i know my rule of thumb for reaktor has served me pretty well: "If You Can Build it, You Can Build it"

    Absynth isn't build by NI it's build by Brian Clevinger the developer of Plasmonic

  • Kubrak
    Kubrak Member Posts: 2,750 Expert

    Wouldn't it be possible to have special VST host that would provide interface for Absynth and which would host and control Reaktor Absynth plugin?

    If it would be possible to make Absynth in Reaktor....

    Anyway, Absynth will hopefully be usable on Win for a decade or two.... So, for me not a real problem.

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 754 Guru

    generally reaktor is considered to ba a turing machine so there's no theoretical limitation on what it can build, only practical.

    Yeah, it's that practical part. The turing completeness of Reaktor does not stretch into GUI/interface development. Absynthe is all about the GUI. The whole thing is that the envelopes are ridiculously powerful and configurable and pretty much every parameter can have its own envelope applied.

    This should be possible in some way in Reaktor in terms of the engine part. However, creating a GUI that makes it usable would be extremely challenging. Not just a case of copying Absynthe, but instead redesigning parts to be achievable in Reaktor. Not impossible, but Many months of work for an expert builder.

    e.g. the existing MBP envelope in Reaktor would be like a starting that would need to be extended or rebuilt to provide the extra functionality we would need. Would want a more intuitive/immediate interface for some features to be accessible - like selection based editing, undo/redo, an other stuff in Absynthe that I don't know about :)

    Then there's the other side - Absynthe has a LOT of synthesis models and modes, for audio generation and for modulation. These are all possible, but again it's about the scale of the project - many 1000s of hours worth I would guess.

    I guess it comes down to "how much do you want it". For me it's "not nearly enough". If I wanted to build something to make thos kinds of sounds, I would be inclined to try to build something Reaktor specific with similar goals, but playing to Reaktor's strengths - so the GUI would likely end up looking completely different.

    Maybe like a set of semi modular polysynths, each with connections for a separate fancy modulation control engine. Then you would create an ensemble with which ever synths you need for a patch, and attach the modulation engine to create the massive sci-fi pad swooshes and evolutions...

    That way you could start with just a single synthesis engine, and the modulation engine, and folk could add their own synthesis engines... Still not sure how well it would work though... would need a lot of thinking. You would need a way for two way communication between the synths and the modulation system... maybe using a shared event table... then the modulation engine could respond and automatically make available the correct options for the active synths...

    First thing to do would be to work on the modulation engine with a built in synthesis to start with... just to get a grip on the break point envelope edition system... with modes for tempo sync, looping, intuitive editing, multiple envelope display... all that shizzle :)

    Maybe a 'poor mans' version would be enough... so a 'quick' update to the MBP envelope so that its GUI can switch between multiple envelope instances (messing around with fixed instances on a stacked macro would be horrible IMO) combined with some basic polysynth engine... some tweak of existing stuff... fun for sure!

  • ANDREW221231
    ANDREW221231 Member Posts: 294 Advisor

    this is just the absynth information i was hoping the thread would yield through osmosis

    GUI was the first complication i thought of but that actually sounds bad.. right in reaktor's kneecap lol

    from what you've explained i see about 0% chance of this happening as inquired about by OP. you say poor man's absynth, i picture something necessarily hobbled and somewhat scaled back. to me that precludes there being a platonic form or 'essense of absynth' in the ether. or, put another way, 'essence of absynth' sounds like 'everything and the kitchen sink'?

    for a synth to be fun make in reaktor you'd want a short list of key defining features. i was picturing mostly synthesis modes, implementing and maybe bringing up to modern standards, that kind of thing sounds like a joy

    but what you described sounds like not just multiple people's combined output but another designated job of someone to stand over and threaten hit them if they stop

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 754 Guru

    Yeah, if I understand it correctly, and from my memory of back in the day when it was a big deal, Absynthe is all about the interface. When all the others were trying to look like a vintage analogue, Absynthe was taking advantage of what a PC can do that can't be done with knobs and buttons.

    I think the point is that it enables the programming of extremely complex soundscapes in a way that is streamlined enough that it can become intuitive.

    I'm sure the functionality could be reproduced in Reaktor with enough work, but I think the workflow cannot be exactly replicated, so the experience would not be the same.

    The part the seems most tricky is displaying (and processing) the connections. So you create an LFO, then an envelope to control it's amplitude, then one for it's frequency, then apply the LFO to a filter, then the filter to an oscillators output, then three more envelopes that control parameters of the oscillator, then two more for other filter parameters... then there is a page that can visually show this structure. I expect it's possible, but would be a huge amount of work in Reaktor.

    Like the various modular within a modular projects that folk have made over the years. Herwig, Salamanderanagram... folk have made clever systems with lots of trick, but even these mostly just handle the cables. For an Absynth thing you'd maybe need to draw the 'modules' too, because their type and number are patch dependent...

    I suppose some sort of grid based thing where each square on the grid is a stacked macro all possible types in layers... or maybe just as bitmaps, so a multidisplay or multipicture would work... then it is 'just' about managing the wires... :-D

  • Laureano Lopez
    Laureano Lopez Member Posts: 102 Advisor

    At that point it would be actually easier to code the thing in C++ 😁 which of course would amount to making a clone, with all the possible legal implications 😅

  • Kymeia
    Kymeia Member Posts: 3,482 Expert

    And there is already a synth that has always been seen as a sort of freeware clone of Absynth - Greenoak Crystal - unfortunately that is also no longer being developed and doesn’t support Apple Arm either

    However it was the direct ancestor of Spectrasonics Omnisphere, so I guess that means Omnisphere is the closest thing to Absynth that is still going.

  • colB
    colB Member Posts: 754 Guru
    edited October 2022

    IANAL, but it's my understanding that as long as you don't rip assets like code, graphics, or any samples that there may be. And you don't pass off your thing as though it was there's - like calling it Abisynthe by Normal Instruments - which would infringe trademarks, then there is no legal implication... unless the publisher or author holds patent(s) on any of the software, and that is unlikely, and I think only applicable in some countries (Software patents are a terrible idea, like patenting math. They are only there to enable large corporations to abuse the patent system. They generally would never hold up, but enable financial bullying via lengthy legal process)

    Reverse engineering is problematic, hence the use of clean room strategies, but I think that only applies if you are trying to exactly copy something.

    Remember folks - you can't copyright an idea!

  • interrobangart
    interrobangart Member Posts: 1 Newcomer

    Brian Clevinger made a statement about NI dumping Absynth:

  • Paule
    Paule Member Posts: 1,328 Expert

    Included a piece of music:

    Improv (bass played through Absynth as effect)

    Brian Clevinger (Absynth - single preset) - L'Autre Coté de l'Abime 3:58

  • djix
    djix Member Posts: 4 Member

    Just found out about this. I was one of those very vocal Kore devotees who did his best to make NI's life a living hell after they discontinued it, but I don't have the time, energy, or desire to do that now.

    I've been moving more toward hardware in recent years, and I think this just seals the deal for me. I'm done supporting Native Instruments. Shame on me for not learning more about how these amazing products worked while they were still under active development, but I think as far as innovation, NI's well past its best years. Most of what they're putting out these days seems to be sound packs for Maschine and tuba emulations. I wish the former could fund the continued development of Absynth and I really have to wonder who it is that's asking for the latter.

  • iNate
    iNate Member Posts: 136 Advisor
    edited January 2023

    Easiest fix is to use Windows and deal with the small UI. It’s basically dead on macOS as we should expect Rosetta 2 to disappear in the next year or two. At that point, anyone buying a new Mac will be incompatible de facto.

    I don't see them investing to rebuild this in Reaktor. They can barely make decent updates for cash cows like Kontakt, these days.

    NI is basically a sample library and synth preset distributor, at this point.

    very little return on synths like Absynth compared to selling Play Series to everyone for $50.

    I think the whole point of Soundwide was that iZotope doesn’t have to worry about virtual instruments and NI can start reducing their investment into discrete plugin and synth development. They just outsource more of that to iZotope and PA then bundle partner products to bolster Komplete.

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