REVIEW: Krotos Audio - Reformer (Multiple Libraries)
Company: Krotos Audio
Product: Reformer (Multiple Libraries)
£358.80 (Bundle 1) by Krotos
£70.80 (Computer Sound FX 2.0 Bundle)
£136 (Filthy Rhythms) by SoundBits
Our Rating: 4.7/5
Krotos Audio have taken the Audio world by storm with yet another product that pushes the limits of Sound Design and Digital Signal Processing technology - they call it Reformer.
Installation and Use
Installing the free Reformer software is easy, an installer package works quickly to generate the relevant AAX Native/Audiosuite, VST and AU versions. The additional libraries must also be installed and have to be stored on the computers system drive. We think that due to the popularity of low memory SSD system drives, this can create some issues for users, Krotos have mentioned that they are working on it and will release an update to rectify this.
The product is activated via iLok which many people dislike, but we think it's great that users can take the product to another system or studio to work. Users can grab the software free with the included Black Leopard Library. We performed our tests and review within Pro Tools 12 running at 24Bit 96kHz on a Windows system, it worked very efficiently, with a streamlined interface to save CPU horsepower and provide a user friendly, interactive experience.
The interface is very reactive and intuitive, so small that multiple windows can be used, even on tiny screens. The parameters are rather minimal here, a playback speed encoder offers pitch and time control for the library samples, while the dry wet encoder is a simple way to sculpt your raw and processed sounds.
"The outer-most (yellow) ring displays the frequency of the processed (wet) signal. This begins at 50hz roughly at 3 o’clock (thinking about the location of hour timings on a clock-face), and moves up the frequency spectrum anticlockwise. For example, around 3khz will appear around 12 o’clock, 9khz around 9 o’clock and 15khz around 6 o’clock. The inner-most (orange) ring represents the amplitude of the incoming (dry) signal. The middle ring (red) represents the amplitude of the processed (wet) signal"
Krotos Audio Reformer Manual
A Little Less Conversation...
Reformer works as an insert and detects incoming audio intelligently, analysing transients and pitches, it retains these when triggering the multiple 'Reformer Libraries', which are sounds from various vendors ported to this system. Some libraries are built up of multiple patches and you will receive a 50% discount on libraries where you already own the WAV format versions.
We were a little sceptical of this move from Krotos initially, but then after using the software, we immediately see why Krotos has chosen the path of a modular purchase system. They have to port the sound libraries, arranging them in a way that the software transforms the live input accordingly to give instant gratification and deep sound design possibilities to users.
So, less talk, let us move on to using the plugin and what it can do.
The moment you plug in a mic and start playing, you will notice an amazing reaction from the software to different types of audio inputs. For example, with the Bengal Tiger Library from Krotos Bundle 1, transient sounds become footsteps, breaths become soft throat vocalisations and speech becomes really great sounding Tiger phrases that move fluidly. This thing could save documentary production companies thousands on sound editorial time alone! You definitely get a different response than from Dehumaniser - Krotos' previous flagship product. Think of Dehumaniser as morphing your voice and think of Reformer and taking a performance and applying it to something else; they are both winners in different situations.
Another great example we tried from Krotos Bundle 1 is the Fruit and Veg Bundle Library, it reacts really nicely to inputs from plastic packaging. This can be turned into everything from squeezing juicy brains to disgusting blood splatters and impacts, simply amazing. The implications here for low budget foley make the cost of the libraries seem minuscule. You can literally foley scenes with incorrect items and get usable results.
We then moved on to some offerings from our friends at SoundBits, who never disappoint - them teaming up with Krotos is a testament to the awesome cinematic sounds you get when working with their products.
Filthy Rhythms from SoundBits, yeah you guessed it - you can make music with Reformer too - did we remember to say that we are excited? The poorest vocal lines can be transformed into dirty Hip Hop/Electronic Beats. It's got a sporadic feel that would work well in heavy designed scenes where glitchy effects are needed. We can't wait to see the first electronic musician perform on stage with this. Very smart SoundBits!
Ever had that moment where the Director makes the sound he is hearing in his head with his voice? With Reformer Libraries like Computer Sound FX 2.0 form SoundBits, his vocalisations can now fill your Sci-Fi scene. We all know Directors who love to get deeply involved in the Post Production of their film. This one reacts very well to pitch, a personal favourite being the alarms section, which works well if you sing in ascending or descending pitch.
Every library sounds great, feels dynamic and offers a new experience for users. A smart way to buy would be on a per project basis. Let your clients know how much they can save on editorial if they provide you with a library.
Lights, Mic, Action!
The obvious improvements to be made here are in the installation system for additional libraries. Space is still an issue on SSD system drives and hopefully Krotos will address the installation path limitation promptly.
There have also been some sceptical comments from users that want Krotos to release the software with an open platform to import your own sounds. While we understand the sentiment, look at what they are doing here. There has to be quality control and the company has to be paid for developing all of these innovative sound toys that we use as our chisels when crafting sounds. If they do so, it will likely be expensive, and results will vary wildly unless there is an elaborate sample mapping system in place.
There could be some further parameters on the front panel, as there is a sense of Apple like minimalism going on. Krotos obviously want you to experiment with inputs more than parameters, a direct counterpoint to Dehumaniser.
As the technology is new, you may find some slight discrepancies in the input analysis - sometimes your voice or other inputs may not have as a specific control over the sound as expected, but nonetheless will trigger nice sounding results, which is all that matters. The key to Krotos Software is experimentation and with the speed you are generating content using Reformer, this will not be a problem.
The Bottom Line
There isn't much constructive feedback that can be given to this product and it's libraries. Krotos have great quality control and have selected and ported the best libraries available for the technology. Skeptics, we urge you to download the demo and start Reforming today.