Reactable puts modular music synthesis on the table
Spain's Reactable Systems first blipped on our sonar in 2006 with the launch of the "seeing is believing" tabletop modular synthesizer. Where large format modular synths like the Moog System 55 can be rather intimidating behemoths, the Reactable digital music maker made use of a projector-based touch surface onto which the player placed blocks to generate sounds and alter parameters. Development of the system has continued, and last week the company unveiled its latest intuitive, modular and portable iteration – the Live! S6 table.
"This version of Reactable Live! S6 could be the reference from Reactable Live! series," the company's Marc Bugés told us. "Better aluminum structure, much long life of projector, great precision from new sensor, and new approach to perform and enjoy music, to challenge and push the limits of how we interact with music."
The system comprises a 35.4 in (90 cm) high aluminum table structure topped by a 26.8 inch (68 cm) diameter acrylic screen. Rather than use bunches of cables to patch generators, effects, filters or controllers, music creation with the Live! S6 modular synth involves the placement and manipulation of transparent blocks on the upper surface of the table. Each cube, sharp-cornered puck, round-cornered block or disc represents a different sound processing module and parameters can be altered by rotating the block itself or by using touch gestures on the screen.
The play area or interface is thrown onto the under side of the screen by an included 900 lumen, 1,280 x 800 resolution DLP projector with 2,600:1 contrast ratio and a (typical) 30,000 hour lamp life. A white light in the center of the screen represents the audio signal, to which blocks can be virtually connected.
A camera module registers the touch points and block fiducials (markers), with processing being undertaken by software running on a computer before sound is generated, effects added, filters applied, oscillators selected, sample banks raided or sequences created. Several players can use the Live! S6 simultaneously for collaborative tune generation, and a live video feed of all the multi-touch action is possible by positioning an action cam above the playing area and sending the images to an onstage display.
The computer needed to run the system software doesn't come with the Live! S6 table, players will need a Macbook or Macbook Pro running OS X 10.5 or higher (the Live! S6 is not compatible with Windows). Bugés told us that the "laptop is usually placed beside the DJ, so they can change or check some parameter during the session and/or use it with other software at same time."
The Live! S6 can be dismantled between performances, and though the structure weight of 40 lb (18 kg) combined with 20 lb (9 kg) for the Core package (which includes the projector and power pack) and Live! pucks isn't exactly backpack-friendly, the synth table can be packed away in the trunk of a car for the journey home.
The Reactable Live! S6 comes with travel bags and is priced at €6,700 (about US$7,400). Shipping is not included in the asking price and will cost an additional €250 to the US.
You can see the Live! S6 is action in the short video below.