Reason’s new Objekt synth takes physical modelling in a new direction.
It’s been a few months since Reason Studios released their latest instrument, Objekt, but I’m still finding new and occasionally mind‑blowing things to do with it. Objekt is a physical‑modelling synth with a suite of tools for generating real‑world, acoustic‑like sounds. Interestingly its panel doesn’t present things in terms of emulating acoustic instruments: there’s no mention of plucks, hammers, strings or pipes. Rather it presents the tools of sound generation in pure synthesis terms. While this might sound like an academic approach, I think it’s a stroke of genius: why get hung up on emulating real instruments when you can make sounds that are lifelike but unique, and morph and bend the rules of physics. It’s great timing: there are many modern electronic genres incorporating more acoustic and fewer traditional synth lines, from Afrobeats to drill, liquid drum & bass to hyperpop. And if you’re making ambient or soundtrack music you should be all over this.
Objekt has lots of presets to explore, helping you get a feel for many of the things it can do. Learning to create your own sounds from scratch takes time and patience, so Reason Studios suggest using existing patches as starting points. The important resonator sections of the synth also provide starting point template settings. Certain types of sound come very naturally to Objekt, in particular bells, mallets, metallic sounds and tuned percussion. But it will also do plucked strings, electric pianos and organs. Less obvious but certainly reachable are wind and brass type sounds. Then you can move away from traditional classifications and explore more ‘sound design‑y’ tones as showcased in the Pads and Texture/FX factory patches.
To create sounds Objekt uses an Exciter (which in the real world would be something getting hit, plucked, blown, bowed, etc) and two different types of resonators (Modal and Object) which emulate how the excited object or system responds. In a real instrument this can be incredibly complex: a plucked string vibrates, which transfers vibration to the body and sound hole and other strings, resulting in an interacting blend of harmonic and inharmonic frequencies.
Looking at the device, the Exciter module is the yellow section to the left. It can generate various types of impulses and noise and can also take an external input. Handy arrows on the panel and a schematic on the rear show how these feed into the three resonators. Each of the resonators can take a direct input from the Exciter, but you can also chain them serially. A mixer section blends the outputs of each section, so you have a lot of routing...