Vortex review: a “mental” workstation

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Twisted Tools is a young software company, created by Igor Shilov (Reaktor designer SonicTwist) and Josh Hinden (Director of MIDI, Expression.edu).
Vortex is their first commercial release. It’s a powerful yet easy to use, well designed, six tracks polyphonic sequencer Reaktor ensemble (it requires the latest v.5 release).
Yes, there are hundreds of free Reaktor ensembles around the web (and Twisted Tools has a few to offer as well, just sign up on their site to get them), but Vortex goes one step further.

First of all, the layout/design. While I love Reaktor’s potential, I’ve often found its ensembles difficult to use, especially because of their ugly (especially in the past) and complicated interfaces.
In that regard Vortex is so good (read also: easier to the eye) that… well, it doesn’t even look like a typical Reaktor ensemble! I’m sure this required a lot of work and dedication.

Splice Rent-to-Own

Then I thought, ok, it’s a six tracks polyphonic sampler/sequencer, it has to be a CPU killer. Wrong, Vortex is highly optimized, and it can be used even on old PPC machines (this should tell you something!).
Another plus: a useful pdf and a bunch of (really well made) HD videos will guide you through Vortex’ features and workflow. I recommend having a look at these tutorials (before and after buying), their full screen resolution is perfect to check even the most subtle submenus’ actions. Have a look (select the 720 dpi option if you have enough bandwidth)…

Vortex comes with a huge collection of samples (courtesy of several sound-designers like c2, Richard Devine, Josh Hinden, Noklip, GlitchMachines.com, Mike Huckaby, Sonictwist, Tipper and Vinja). Of course you can replace the factory samples with yours, once you’ve taken control of the ship.

These are the most important features, at a glance:

  • Six Track Sequencer, 4 Sequencers Per Track
  • Six-Voice Polyphonic Granular Sampler
  • Color-Coded Modulation System
  • Two Cross Modulating LFOs
  • Extensive Randomization Features
  • MIDI Learn System with Controller Feedback
  • Alternate View Option
  • Multi-Out Support (in Logic too, check Twisted Tools’ video page)
  • Extensive Cut/Copy/Paste/Select/Randomize Functionality
  • Advanced ‘Graphic Layer’ Editing
  • Scene Sequencing (create arrangements within each preset)

If you’re a Kore or Maschine user, you’ll get a template for these devices too.


If you enjoy tweaking rhythms and samples (and even if you’re not a hardcore Reaktor user), you should spend these 29$ (fair price!) and get Vortex. The flexible modulation and randomization features make it a “mental workstation”, suitable for live performances (here the MIDI Learn System comes handy) and studio use as well (the scene sequencing lets you quickly test new arrangements).
I’d love to see an Undo button somewhere in the interface but maybe it’s a Reaktor’s limitation (I’ve asked the developer, and I’m waiting for an answer).. It seems the Undo will be added in a next release, good to know.

Splice Sounds

Vortex is a powerful yet easy to use, well designed, six tracks polyphonic sequencer Reaktor ensemble

Product’s page


  • easy to use, also thanks to the tutorial videos
  • powerful and flexible features
  • CPU-optimized
  • very fair price


  • you’ll need Reaktor 5 to use it. And even if Vortex is highly customized (compared to most ensembles), a native coding would have probably given more freedom to the developers


  • no Undo (at least at the moment)
  • the sensibility of the knobs could be improved

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