When back when, when I was on a much tighter budget and Reaktor was new, they had for sale Reaktor Sessions, which was essentially the “player” version of the software; meaning that you could load ensembles, but not create or edit them. I guess software was pretty new back then and companies were more or less afraid of giving their product away for free. Flash forward a decade and a half and these companies have now found their footing and there are several free player versions out there for immediate download.
This is good for quite a few reasons. The first is that these companies have finally accepted that there are two types of musicians out there: sound designers and players. The former, if they wish, has access to the sound engine and programming capabilities while the latter can simply download the player for free and then purchase sound packs and presets rather than worrying about fronting the larger cost for the full program. The second is that the sound designers can also sell their own Reaktor ensembles and patches for other programs that run natively without having to convert them to other formats.
Here’s four that I know of, right off the top of my head. Most of them contain free sounds to get you going and there are many sound fonts available for free on the net as well. If you know of any others, please jump in the comments and let us know, cause hey, who doesn’t like free stuff?