MPC Groove Template Tutorial

Saturday, January 28th, 2006 | 10:34 am and filed in Reason, Tutorials.


I love the Akai MPC-3000. The drum grooves created with this instrument consistently yield a very musical flow that inspire beat oriented tracks. The design of legend, Roger Linn, combined with Akai’s sampling technology is still used by many to this day. This project was inspired by necessity to bring the feel of the MPC into Reason. I’m consistently asked how to use this song file, so the following tutorial explains the procedure of using Reason’s user groove feature.


The MPC-3000 Groove Templates are MIDI sequences extracted from sample loops created with an Akai MPC-3000 MIDI Production Center. Originally, this project involved creating MIDI files on the MPC and transferring them to a computer for import into Reason, but the results did not quite have the same feel as loops created with the MPC. The timing does not seem to capture the groove when using imported MIDI files. The problem could be the difference in PPQ (Pulse Per Quarter Note) resolution on different sequencers, or perhaps the latency and timing of the circuitry in the sampler engine.

As an alternative solution, loops, programmed on the MPC, were recorded into a digital audio workstation. Each loop is a series of 16th note hi-hat events with a length of four measures. These loops have different quantization swing settings, which range from 50% (16th Notes) to 75% (triplets). Each loop was processed in ReCycle. Once converted to REX files, these loops were loaded into Reason via a Dr.REX Loop player, and the slice data was extracted into individual sequencer tracks. The REX files provided the ideal solution as they capture all of the timing idiosyncrasies of the MPC-3000 with the precision of digital audio rather than MIDI PPQ.

Reason User Groove Feature

If you are unfamiliar with the “User Groove” feature in Reason, try the following exercise to discover how to set a groove quantization template.

1. In an empty Reason song file, create a Dr.REX Loop player.
2. Load the ReCycle Loop, “Hse06_Strictly_130_eLAB.rx2” from the Factory Sound bank \ Dr Rex Drum Loops \ House Directory.
3. Click the “To Track” button on the Dr.REX player to export the loop slice data to the Reason Sequencer. The slice data is 2 measures and will appear grouped in 2 measure segments.
4. Position the mouse cursor over a grouped segment in the sequencer, and right-click (MacOS: Hold Control & Click) to open the contextual menu.
5. Select the “Get User Groove” item from the contextual menu list. Notice that the Quantization setting on the sequencer changes from “1/16” to “User”. This indicates that the template is stored in the song, and from this point, any quantization will conform to the template extracted from the loop slice data.
6. Create a second Dr.REX Loop Player and load the ReCycle Loop, “Ahp05_Live_087_Chronic.rx2” from the Factory Sound Bank \ Dr Rex Drum Loops \ Acoustic \ Hip Hop Directory.
7. Copy the Slice data to the Dr.REX 2 sequencer track by clicking on the “To Track” button.
8. Run the Sequence to hear the two loops play at the same time. You should notice that certain timing issues conflict when both loops play simultaneously. Stop the sequence.
9. Right-Click on the Dr.REX 2 Sequencer Track name to open the contextual menu, and select the “Quantize Notes” item. This method will quantize all events on the sequencer track.
10. Run the sequence to hear the quantization of the first loop applied to the second loop.

This is the basic procedure for setting the template (User Groove) and applying a groove quantization to other tracks. While the example describes quantizing a second loop, the process can be applied to basslines and other tracks in the song.

Auditioning the ‘Peff-MPC Grooves MIDI.rns’ File

The MPC Groove Template file is simply a Reason Song File with 26 sequencer tracks-each track having a different groove. When you open the song file, you will see all 26 tracks assigned to the Dr.REX Loop player. The following example describes simply how to audition each of the grooves.

Download Peff-MPC Grooves MIDI.rns

1. Open the file “Peff-MPC Grooves MIDI.rns”
2. Run the sequence, and you should hear a sequence of hi-hats played from one of the sequencer tracks (61%).
3. Mute the sequencer track. You should hear nothing now.
4. Unmute a different sequencer track to hear a different groove setting.
5. Continue auditioning the sequencer tracks to gain familiarity with the quantization templates.

Applying the MPC Grooves Quantization templates

To apply the groove quantization to a song, a sequencer track from the ‘MPC Grooves’ file must be copied into the sequencer of the song. This means you should first audition the grooves and find one that suits your tastes. (Refer to the previous example)

For the following example, you will need the file:

Download NoGrooveSong.rns

1. Open the Reason song file, “Peff-MPC Grooves MIDI.rns”
2. Select the sequencer track labeled “64%”
3. Right-Click (MacOS: Hold Control & Click) to open the contextual menu, and select the “Copy” item.
4. Close the ‘MPC Grooves’ song file.
5. Open the Reason song file “NoGrooveSong.rns”. Run the sequence and listen to the song with its rigid 16th note quantization. Stop the sequence and proceed.
6. Click on the sequencer track list.
7. Right-Click to open the contextual menu, and select the “Paste” item.
8. You will see the MPC “64%” track appear at the bottom of the track list. Right click on this track and select, “Get User Groove”
9. From the Edit menu, select the item “Select All”. This will select all of the sequencer tracks so that quantization will applied over the entire song.
10. Right-Click over the track list and select the “Quantize Notes” item on the contextual menu.
11. Run the sequence to hear the MPC 64% swing quantization applied to the Reason song.

You will hear a distinctive bounce in the track after applying the MPC swing quantization. It’s as simple as that. This process can be applied to your own songs, however quantization only affects notes in the Reason sequencer. Redrum and Matrix patterns are not quantized. In order to apply the MPC Groove to a pattern sequence, you must first convert the patterns using the “Copy Pattern to Track” or “Convert Pattern to Track Notes” features from the edit menu. Further explanation of these procedures can be found in the Reason Documentation included with the software.

33 Responses to “MPC Groove Template Tutorial”

  1. Recolt Says:


  2. Marco Raaphorst Says:

    I remember this file from a couple of years back. Or did you change anything to it recently?

    DrREX is not spot on when it comes to microsecond-timing I need to say. Anthing lower than 10 ms is not played properly. I can imagine that recording the MIDI output would be a cool idea too to capture the timing of the MPC. Have you tried this?

  3. max xiantu Says:

    Thank you very much kind sir. I’ve been hungering for a way to bring back that groove from the MPC I so absent-mindedly sold. Big ups.

  4. Thijs Says:

    Cool. thanks! goes for the book too :)

  5. ShoX Says:

    Thanx man.

  6. ed moon child Says:

    thank you for helping me. i love the mpc 2 . my man rocwilder help with my drums on it.good looking one love.

  7. DJ AJ-47 Says:

    An indispensable tool for those of us wishing to apply that infectious and popular MPC swing to our Reason Songs! Very effective results. Thank you for you time and work creating this simple yet brilliant tool for us Kurt. You are a kind and clever man of inestimable worth to the Reason community. Cheers, Anthony Jacobs

  8. chano Says:

    i have been waiting for something like this, thank you very much. i tried to make a beat with it but it would not play the 1st beat of the bar. is this possible to do, or is it just to be applied to beats that are already made in reasons. either way this is dope, you know since this can be done with the, mpc 3000, we are going to be looking for the, mpc 60, 2000xl and the 2500. just a thought, but please consider it. thanks again, you have given a MUCH needed tool for reason users. keep up the great work. peace.


  9. Jabari Williams Says:

    I have been trying to figure out a way to do this for a long time now. I just read the article and I’m gonna try it out tonight after work! I can’t wait! I’m a certified Apple Tech in the ATL so being a computer nerd on a low budget I needed something like this! I have a ton of MPC sounds, and alot of pro board sounds the only element missing is the swing! Until now!
    You are the man!

  10. Erica Says:

    I tried to open the .rns files for the tutorial, but it said “unsupported format.” All of my .rns (song) files open fine. I didn’t accidently use the MAC file either. Any ideas on what the problem could be? Thanks.

  11. Peff Says:

    I re-saved all of the files as version 3.0 RNS files. These are probably not backwards compatible to Reason 2.5.

    I no longer have 2.5 installed, but try the old Reason 1.0.1 Groove template file, and let me know if this gives you problems:


  12. Erica Says:

    That worked, thanks.

  13. Erica Says:

    Well, I was trying to finish the tutorial and realized the “NoGroove” is probably still in Reason 3 format. If you get the time, can you send that to me or post it here? Thanks in advance if that is possible.

  14. Peff Says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t provide the NoGroove file in Reason 1.0 format. What you could do is follow the process through step 4, then in step 5, substitute the file with one of your own songs or even the default Reason song.

    Note: Quantization only affects MIDI events, so Redrum and Matrix Patterns will not be quantized. However, you can convert Redrum patterns to MIDI note events. Right Click on a Redrum or Matrix in the track list, and select the “Convert pattern to Track Notes” item. You can then proceed with tutorial from step 6.

  15. stephen Says:

    This all sounds very interesting…. I have wondered for a while whether the famous MPC groove templates differ much from the percentage swing quantize available within Cubase (SL1, for me).

    Peff, would there be any chance at all of making the .rex files available for those of us without Reason? That would be fantastic, and very much appreciated. It would enable me to answer a question that’s been bugging me for a while now ;o)


  16. peter Says:

    your a champion Peff. i remember when i first read your blog a while back and asked you for the raw midi files. those templates did not disappoint! loading them the first time over a 808 beat i made in EXS24… it rolled so hard. i had a smile on my face all week!
    peace my friend =)

  17. Colin Says:

    These are excellent, you have saved me some cash on that mpc!
    I owe you a drink ;)

  18. DBMC Says:

    This is great!

    I have been wondering why my beats were somewhat sterile compared to others.

    Does anyone know how to export a .rex from a .rns?

    I want to import the .rex files into Cubase to apply the MPC quantize to beats created there using Reason rewired in.

    I was able to export the midi from Reason and import into Cubase, but I think that it woll suffer from same problem as bringing the midi into Reason.

  19. Peff Says:

    Does cubase import REX loops?

    To make a REX file, you will still need ReCycle. It’s pretty easy with Reason, since you can export a loop then import it into ReCycle and quickly set the slice points for the REX loop.

  20. wesley Says:

    thank you for the tutorial but i was unable to try it as every time i try to open the nugroove file in reason 2.5 it says unsupported format. is the file for pc or mac,im using pc.

  21. andreherring Says:

    i followed the instructions above but it wouldn’t work for me.i think it’s because i have a pc

  22. Peff Says:

    There shouldn’t be any problems with the files on Windows, however the files are made with Reason 3.0. Unfortunately they are not backwards compatible. Check the reply on March 26 which explains how you can try the quantization exercises with Reason 2.5. The download link is for a Reason 1.0 file which should work fine with any version.

  23. dktheman Says:


    I completely enjoy the MPC groove template for reason, it is just a wonderful thing, I really appreciate it. Do you know, since it is a 4-bar loop, if the MPC 3000 applies a swing throughout the entire track, or does a 4-bar loop capture the actual timing differences and an actual MPC 3000 hardware unit does the same. Basically, what I’m asking is: Does the MPC 3000 hardware apply for example 53% swing and it VARIES throughout the entire sequence, or is it basically a 4-bar loop that doesn’t change?

    Thanks again so much its so excellent!

  24. DjP Says:

    Peff mate, u r a legend!

    i have been wondering for ages on how to get some kind of groove goin through any type of software for drumming, so that it doesnt sound soooo robotic. and then i came across this. thank you so much! this is a solution for people who want that great mpc feel, but without having 2 dig deep for a new mpc.

    thanks once again bro,


  25. Phlexter Says:

    I tried your templates with Reason Sequencer and once with my MPC.
    I have to say that the feeling of the MPC is much better than the templates.
    Sad, cuz i would have really needed some extra cash for selling my MPC, but after that NO WAY.

    But thanx for trying it.


  26. Peff Says:

    Yes, I still own my MPC-3000 as well. Programming a groove is easier on the pads and the drum sequencer. It’s a great tool, and you should keep it! It’s also a great clock source for Reason :-)

  27. Says:

    hey peff !

    can you make this quantization setting available for cubase sx users also ?

    i´d like to get those settings but dunno how to import your rsn stuff


  28. Says:

    i had an idea tonight, how you could make this stuff available to cubase and logic users also. if you give us those hihats - every single .wav from 50 to 75 (i downloaded reason demo and listened to your rsn data) , we could use the hihats. cubase has a feature to create hitpoints in audio and create a groove from it. but we´d need a minimum of two bars for each quantization step.

    that´d be great !

    thank you in advance

  29. Arthur Says:

    Peff, plz could you repost the MPC Grooves as a raw MIDI file again, as mentioned earlier? I don’t have Reason but would like to import them into Cubase VST 5.0 if possible. Any help greatly appreciated ;)

  30. marvin Says:

    could you post the mpc midi files I use logic and can’t export them out of the demo version of reason. I wish someone would make a daw that grooves as much as mpc. I have used protools(1 year) midi sucked moved on to logic(1 year) good midi but designed for techno I am a rock/r&b/country song writer looking for a solid kick snare and hat. The only thing I have heard that comes close is the akai and my system is not setup for a drummachine I only have 2 inputs on my rossetta 200. It sure makes you feel like shit when some guy on youtube can make a great sequence in 5 minutes on a mpc Iv been looking for 2 years. marvin

  31. peff•com » Blog Archive » MPC 3000 ReGroove Template Says:

    […] Many years ago I created a file of MPC 3000 grooves which were very popular on this site, and with the introduction of the Reason 4.0 ReGroove mixer, I planned to revisit this project with a set of groove templates. Originally i tried importing the old files, but I encountered some problems. Recently I decided to re-record the beats and reanalyze them for groove extraction. These groove patterns are four measures long with inconsistent timings (see the previous posting: MPC Groove Template Tutorial. The original REX files are also included in the refill along with development files I used to create the set. […]

  32. peff•com » Blog Archive » ReDrum ReGroove Says:

    […] The old tutorial on MPC Groove Templates is still pretty popular, and usually fall at the top of the stats. I figured it was about time that I updated the old tutorial with something new that explains how to use the ReGroove Mixer in Reason 4.0. […]

  33. Akai MPC Series « Re-Wiki Says:

    […] MPC Groove Template Tutorial The MPC-3000 Groove Templates are MIDI sequences extracted from sample loops created with an Akai MPC-3000 MIDI Production Center. Originally, this project involved creating MIDI files on the MPC and transferring them to a computer for import into Reason, but the results did not quite have the same feel as loops created with the MPC. The timing does not seem to capture the groove when using imported MIDI files. The problem could be the difference in PPQ (Pulse Per Quarter Note) resolution on different sequencers, or perhaps the latency and timing of the circuitry in the sampler engine. […]

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