The Bit Reactor is a hardware bit crusher and downsampler. It has no program or CPU, it digitises without software. It takes whatever signal you give it and crunches it up into digital atoms.
We live in an analogue world. But most of the media that we encounter today is digital: an attempt to reproduce real-world signals with a stream of 1s and 0s.
In the realm of modern electronics there’s plenty enough processing power to create a crystal-clear digital copy of pretty much any analogue signal. The Bit Reactor, on the other hand, explores what can happen when we take all that processing power and throw it out the window. Think of an old Atari or NES in all its 8-bit glory and you’ll start to get the idea.
There are two main parameters to play around with on the Bit Reactor: bit depth and sampling frequency. Less bits means the signal levels can’t be properly reproduced, and this can result in anything from a fairly subtle to a super-clipped square wave distortion and its associated harmonics. Meanwhile the sampling frequency determines the maximum frequency that can be accurately reproduced. As it is decreased, the higher frequencies present in the input can no longer be accurately recreated. But rather than these frequencies simply being discarded, they reappear at a different, enharmonic frequency due to the phenomenon known as aliasing. These effects, on their own and in combination, create unique audio artefacts that range from subtle colouring to complete destruction.