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June 14th, 2009

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Reason CV/Gate to Analog Synths

June 12th, 2009

Lately It seems like the only things I purchase from guitar cnter are connectors and jacks. Yesterday I wandered in to get (more) connectors to make some XLR to 1/8″ phone cables which would further my experiments using Reason 4.0 as a control voltage generator with some of my analog synthesizers. Surprisingly, they had some premade cables that fit the bill: Female XLR to 1/8″ mini plug!

After wiring everything up, it took about 90 seconds to find the right calibration settings and I had Reason sending Note CV and Gate CV signals out through the MOTU 896HD into an old Oberheim CPS-1 / S.E.M. module. A bit of tweaking was required to get the note cv scaling set, but after finding the right settings, I had Thor acting as a MIDI to CV converter.

With this Thor patch, it’s possible to control analog synthesizer systems (in this case the Oberheim S.E.M.) from the Reason MIDI Sequencer, Thor Pattern Sequencer, Matrix Pattern Sequencer, any LFO source in Reason, and the RPG-8 Monophonic Arpeggiator. It should also be noted that because the Reason 4.0 sequencer is sample accurate, theoretically, the synchronization should be very solid when sending CV signals through the MOTU audio interface.

This should work on Windows based computers running Reason 4.0, so PCers who are itching for Volta for windows can try this out, provided you have a proper interface. Make sure that your system meets the specifications outlined by Mark of the Unicorn on their site:

Disclaimer: Do not play notes into the combinator or run the song file if your system is not configured to control analog synths. The Reason file generates a DC signal directed at your audio interface which may cause problems. The CV/Gate signals are connected to the Reason Hardware Interface inputs 3 and 4. Disconnect these if you don’t know what you’re doing!

The reason song file containing the arpeggiator combinator patch is available here:

Peff - Reason CV to

The song file will not work without multiple audio outputs assigned. These should be enabled in the audio preferences. This file was calibrated for the MOTU 896HD. Other Interfaces may not be calibrated properly. You will need to adjust the KeyNote to Audio Out1 AMOUNT values on the Thor modulation matrix. Try adjusting the -29 value, and play octaves until you get a proper note division. AMOUNT Values of 79 and -17 might be more appropriate in some cases.

I have not tested this with an S-Trig system like a vintage minimoog, and I suspect that it will not work properly. As I try out new configurations, I will post updates. I’ve tested the file with an Oberheim Two-Voice and CPS-1, and an ARP 2600.

If you are using a Rewire Host application, make certain that the signal path is direct to the audio interface, and that the gain structure remains at unity.

Reason CV to Moogerfoogers

June 5th, 2009

The introduction of Volta from Mark of the Unicorn, is especially exciting news for those of us who have held on to our beloved analog gear. Volta is an application/plug-in that sends control voltage signals through MOTU hardware interfaces which can trigger and modulate analog hardware synthesizers and effects. The beauty of this system is that it is sample accurate and for old MOTU interface owners, adds new life to interfaces which might be considered obsolete.

I was pretty excited when I saw this since I have a MOTU 896HD (prior to volta I had seriously considered selling it). Then it dawned on me… in Reason 4.0, you can route control voltages to audio. Maybe i could create my own ‘ReVolta’? I’ve certainly used reason to trigger hardware envelope generators as gates, but the thought of sending DC signals from Reason had never crossed my mind before.

It was easy to test this out. I fashioned a couple of XLR to TRS cables, and connected them to a couple of audio outputs on my MOTU 896HD. In Reason’s audio preferences, I enabled the (normally dormant) motu outputs which would be used as control voltage sources. The plan was to route the connections to CV inputs on a Moog FreqBox and Moogerfooger Lowpass Filter.

Before making any connections, I read up on the MOTU specs and tested out the wiring with a voltmeter. Pin 2 is the positive connection and Pin 3 is the negative connection. The signal is DC coupled across the balanced outputs of the MOTU interface. To test the CV to DC relationship, an instance of Thor, with Rotary 1 routed to Audio Output 1, was connected directly into the Reason Hardware interface. Turning the rotary generated a steady DC voltage on the meter, which indicated that this was definitely going to work. One issue to take into consideration with this is that the moog devices have a low current +5dc on the ring, so the connections should be from the tip and the sleeve from pin2 and pin3 on the XLR. My cables also have pin 1 tied to the sleeve.


To convert Reason CVs to Audio signals, the CV source must be bridged through a Thor Polysonic Synthesizer. In the modulation matrix, set CV input 1 and CV input 2 as sources, Audio Output 3 and Audio Output 4 as destinations, and set the destination amounts to 100. For the Moogerfooger modulation setup, two Matrix Pattern Sequencers were created and the Curve CV outputs were patched into the Thor CV inputs. With this configuration, one Matrix Sequencer controlled the FreqBox’s pitch, and the other Matrix controlled the MF-101’s Cutoff setting. A Dr. REX provided a drum loop to process through the effect devices.

With the REX loop running through the effect boxes, I programming the Matrix Sequencers and listened as the two curve patterns modulated the Moog hardware. LFO Signals, Gate CV, Envelope Generators, Thor’s Sequencer all work great with this configuration. The one thing that I haven’t quite sorted out is accurate pitch control from the Matrix Note CV. A bit of CV math has to occur to make this work properly. When this is sorted, I’ll post some patches along with a few more details in setting this up with the Moog devices as well as other analog hardware.

Audio Demo of Moogerfooger Pitch and Filters modulated by Reason Matrix Pattern Sequencers:

CV to Moogerfoogers MP3 example

Audio Demo of Thor Step Sequencer (Note CV) controlling FreqBox pitch & Thor Envelope modulating Low Pass cutoff frequency. Live knob tweaking on top of repeating pattern sequence:

Thor to Moogerfoogers MP3 example

Reason Users NYC - June 2 at Dubspot

May 21st, 2009

I’ll be in New York City during the beginning of June for a few days - long enough to drop in on the first official Reason Users Group NYC event at Dubspot. I’ll be talking about Malstrom stuff, Combi Stuff and building Malstrom effects. There’s also a Q&A session afterwards where we can hang and go deep into Reason.

For more information and sign-up, please visit the NYRUG page:

Reason Users Group NYC

Propellerheads announce Record

May 11th, 2009

Those who attended the Producers Conferences this past weekend were given a sneak peak at Propellerhead Software’s new music production application, Record. Public beta testing is officially open, and Producers Conference attendees can use the codes they were given to sign on and have the first opportunity to see how cool Reason and Record work together. Click on the image to see a screenshot of the song Push Me Down, by Josh Mobley. The track features Jodie Evans on vocals, Tim DeGaugh on Drums, Goh Nakamura on Guitars, James Bernard on Bass, and mixed by the legendary Niklas Flyckt

The official announcement is now posted on their website where you can read the details!

Record Demo at the LA Producers Conference

May 11th, 2009

Video Courtesy of Alan Strahsburg

Reason Users Group - New York City

May 10th, 2009

Chris Petti, a good friend and expert Reason User who you know from the Producers Conferences and many many many clinics he has presented over the years, is organizing the New York Reason Users Group. He’s planning a very active schedule over the coming months and is looking to schedule some great workshops and get-togethers at various locations around the city. I’m also planning a trip to present at one of these events.

You can find out more information and get on the mail list here: