Review: Krotos Reformer Pro
Software that ingeniously matches your input to a range of sound libraries, all in real time. We explore a unique approach to sound design.
Reformer Pro key features:
- Unique approach to sound design
- Use audio, automation or MIDI to perform libraries in real time
- Automatically edit and comp sounds from multiple libraries
- Fast, intuitive and fun workflow
- 3.82GB of library content included
- Create custom Reformer libraries
- Convert your existing libraries for use with Reformer
- Minimum system: Mac: 2.4GHz Intel Dual Core Processor, 4GB RAM, OS X 10.10
- PC: 2.4GHz Intel Dual Core Processor, 4GB RAM, Windows 7
A traditional approach to creating sound effects for TV, film or games might go something like this: browse through a range of source audio, then edit, comp and mix while maintaining sync with picture. Krotos offers a unique rethinking of this process with the Reformer plug-in. It allows you to select, edit and mix sounds from libraries in real time, by using your voice or any other audio or MIDI input.
Reformer performs an analysis of incoming audio signals and uses this to select, edit and output SFX that match the frequency, amplitude and length of the input. By roaring into a microphone, you can hear your voice as a Bengal tiger, black leopard or glitching robot. What you hear coming out of Reformer is dictated by the audio that you feed in, making the plug-in highly expressive and intuitive.
Pro allows you to mix the output of four separate libraries. If you’ve ever wanted to know what a cyborg black leopard made of styrofoam sounds like, here’s your chance! Further bolt-ons include the facility to control the punch of transient sounds, options for using automation and MIDI inputs, plus a tool which allows you to convert your own libraries to Reformer’s format. Pro also allows you to tinker under the hood of each of your libraries, mute sounds you want to exclude or change the start and end points of individual samples.
The first thing you notice when using Reformer Pro is the incredible speed with which you can create outstanding SFX that lock with visuals, reducing the need for manual layering, editing and mixing within the DAW. This feels much more natural compared to clicking and typing. I did hit some snags when using the Bengal tiger library to sync with the video of a tiger roaring – certain layers within the outputted sound didn’t quite fit the visuals.
However, because of Pro’s extended library view, I was able to quickly mute these, excluding them from the output. Not only does the plug-in work very well for creating individual SFX, it can also be used to add layers of detail to existing sounds.
There is a caveat: Reformer only works as well as its libraries. It selects the sounds that are most similar to what you are feeding its audio input. If a sound isn’t in the library, you aren’t going to create it by trying to imitate it with your voice. Having said that, its libraries are comprehensive and offer plenty of variation.
The software ships with a range of detailed, professional-sounding libraries (Krotos Bundle 1) and should you want to expand your collection, there are plenty of other Krotos and third-party options available, although these aren’t free. With Pro, you can even add your pre-existing libraries to Reformer, or record and compile your own.
Dehumaniser 2 £334
Krotos’ specialised creature and monster vocalisation design software processes inputted audio, rather than using it to trigger library recordings. It’s suited to creating imaginary beasts rather than real animals.
Vocal Synth 2 £150
An unusual vocoder that allows an audio track in your DAW to provide a ‘carrier’ signal which can then be used to modulate recordings with an audio input. Overall, this is a fantastic piece of software, with great and inspiring features.