My Top 5 Combis

January 14th, 2009

The Propellerheads asked me share some of my favorite “go-to” Reason patches with fellow users. Since I usually program my own patches, I offered some goodies from my secret stash. Have a look on the props website:

Propellerhead Software Patch Charts

I’m keeping this brief since I need to finish packing, so that that i make my flight to NAMM :)

Testing the Rewiring

January 11th, 2009

I’ve had my workstation and patchbay up and running for several weeks now, but my friend Goh came over to help me give it a thorough testing. I’ve installed a Universal Audio 2192 Master Audio Interface along with a Dangerous Music D-Box monitor control system. This is my dream audio recording and monitoring rig to interface my analog world with the digital. Basically it’s Two amazing channels of recording and monitoring. 8 or 16 would be nice, but for my home project use, I would rather have two great channels over 8 mediocre ones.

The recording chain was pretty basic. Goh’s vocals were tracked through my Wunder Audio CM-7 connected to a Revolution REDD.47 into the Modified Altec RS-124 Compressor into the UA2192. The Guitars were recorded simultaneously through an AKG C-12VR into a Telefunken V72 with a bit of compression through a Manley Monoblock VariMu into the UA2192.

The Digitized signal was monitored back out of the 2192’s analog outputs through the Dangerous Music D-Box, so there was very little latency during recording. The D-Box has a talkback feature which made it easy to communicate to Goh who was recording in my front room while I monitored at my workstation.

Everything worked pretty well, and it was fun to quickly patch things around on my TT patchbay. I have to say that the Dangerous Music D-Box has amazing converters - certainly they are mastering quality with an evenness and clarity that make them easy to use during long sessions. Running the system at 96kHz/24 bit wordlength, I noticed very little ear fatigue over the course of the session.

Hopefully Goh will distribute the tracks online to people who have signed onto the mail list, so that you might be able to hear how amazing things sound. Until then, you will have to rely on the crappy YouTube audio compression on his page:

Beat Repeater Combinator Tutorial

December 28th, 2008

For quite some time, I’ve been trying to perfect a beat repeater combinator. You may have seen it in one of my song files or in James Bernard’s demo reason song “Age of Technology”. The quandry that I’ve faced is that there’s no way to make a universally useful version of the patch, so I’ve decided to post a PTR style tutorial so that people can build it themselves and further develop their own modifications.

The beat repeat effect uses DDL-1 Digital Delay Lines as loopers - a real-time sampler. When the delay feedback is set to maximum, the DDL-1 will indefinitely echo the audio in the delay buffer. Incoming signals are merged with looping audio, so a “gating” mechanism must also be put into place that will mute incoming signals while the delay is looping. This is easily set up with a few combinator modulation routings.

Basic Beat Repeater Combi

Devices and Audio Routing
1. In a Reason Song File, create a Combinator. Verify that it’s been connected to a mixer input channel or some other way of monitoring the output signal.

2. Open the Combi Programmer, and then click on the empty space in the Combi Device sub-rack. You will see a red line appear in the sub-rack.

3. Hold down the [Shift] key to bypass auto-routing, and create a Line Mixer 6:2.

4. Hit the [Tab] key to access the cabling on the rear of the rack. Connect the Combinator’s ‘To Devices’ outputs to the Channel 1 inputs on the Mixer.

5. Bypass auto-routing and create two DDL-1 Digital Delay lines. Double click on the labels and rename these devices to “Delay L” and “Delay R”.

6. Bypass auto-routing and connect the Line Mixer Master Out Left to the ‘Delay L’ Left Input.

7. Connect the Line Mixer Master Out Right to the ‘Delay R’ Right input.

8. Bypass auto-routing and connect the ‘Delay L’ Left Output to the Combinator ‘From Devices’ Left input.

9. Connect the ‘Delay R’ Left Output to the Combinator ‘From Devices’ Right input socket.

Combinator Modulation Routings
10. In the programmer window, select “Line Mixer 1″ from the device list. In the Button 1 row, click on the Target Column, and select the item, “Channel 1 Mute”. Leave the default minimum and maximum values.

11. Select “Delay L” in the device list, and in the source column click on “Rotary 2″ and reassign the source to “Rotary 1″. Also, reassign “Rotary 4″ to “Button 1″. Both Rotary 1 and Button 1 will perform multiple operations so it is necessary to have a couple of settings for each. In the target column make the following modulation routings:

Source: Target: Min: Max:
Rotary 1 DelayTime (steps) 1 4
Rotary 1 DelayTime (ms) 1 80
Button 1 Feedback 0 127
Button 1 Dry/Wet Balance 0 127
Button 2 Unit 0 1

12. The routings are duplicated for “Delay R”. After selecting “Delay R” in the device list, assign the source column settings and target modulation routings as indicated in step 11.

13. On the Combinator’s main panel, rename “Rotary 1″ to “Delay Time” and set the rotary value to 0.

14. Rename “Button 1″ to “Repeat” and “Button 2″ to “Unit”. Optionally, you can clear the labels on the other unused rotaries and buttons. Reset the settings by clicking twice on the “Repeat” button. Enable the “Unit” Button, so that the default setting is the delays’ Steps mode.

15. Save the combinator patch as “Basic Beat Repeater.cmb” by clicking on the floppy disk icon. You can also simply save the song file to archive your work up to this point.

Adding a Signal Source
This patch is an insert effect and should be placed in series between a sound module and a mixer channel. You can also insert the beat repeater after a main mixer output in order to apply the effect on the entire mix. Continue with the following to incorporate a ReCycle loop into the song file:

16. Click on the empty rack below the combinator and add a Dr.REX loop player to the rack to use as a signal source.

17. From the Reason Factory Sound Bank, load the REX file, “Acs03_SureGroove_070.rx2″, located in the Acoustic / Shuffle / 070 Sure Groove / Directory. Click on the “To Track” button to export the slice data to the Dr.REX 1 Sequencer Track.

Run the Sequence and as the loop plays, click on “Repeat” Button to engage the beat repeat effect. While the combi is repeating a step, adjust the “Delay Time” control to induce pitch artifacts as the delay cycles with modified values. You can get some really cool effects.

Millisecond Unit Mode
In step mode, the patch is limited to 16th note segments. The main workaround for this issue is to double the tempo of a track, if you want precise 32nd note repeats. Alternatively you can switch off the unit button and adjust the delay time to segments shorter than a 16th. You will need to rely on a delay time/bpm calculator to find the durations for 32nd note or shorter intervals. For example, at 120 BPM, a 32nd note is 62.5 ms, so set the delay time to 63 ms. It’s not precise, but you probably wont notice the half-a-millisecond difference.

Beat Repeater Modifications

Because this effect is highly sensitive to timing, one of the basic modifications is to have the effect triggered by a Matrix Pattern Sequencer. Instead of assigning “Button 1″ as the trigger, change the source settings in all three devices to “Rotary 4″.

Set the default value of Rotary 4 to 0, connect a Matrix Curve CV to the Rotary 4 CV input, and set the Rotary 4 CV scaling to maximum. Now you can program repeat events on the Matrix Curve editor. This is designed to work in unipolar mode with maximum values in the curve editor.

Another very interesting modification is to have a second Matrix Pattern Sequencer modulate the Delay Time rotary. The pitch shifting/artifacting effect can then be controlled with a bit more regularity since you can store the automation with the patch and quickly recall it. This can also be automated with sequencer clips, but it’s a little more convenient to save the patterns within the combinator for use in other projects.

Have fun with this!


December 13th, 2008

Undici by peff

I have audio running again on my workstation, and I’ve been listening to some stuff to get a better feel for the D/A converter installed. While sorting through some old music files, I found this RNS, and though I would give it a new mixdown and experiment with a mid-side mastering configuration I’ve been working on for Reason 4.0.

Anyways… back to sorting through patch bay wiring now :)


December 11th, 2008

No not ReWire-ing…The old school type of hard line rewiring. I’m reconfiguring my workstation which seems to have massed a large number of unused power cords and audio lines over the years… not to mention the dust bunnies. It was basically a huge dusty tangled mess under there. I figured I would incorporate a 1/4″ patchbay (i have tons that software has made obsolete) instead of having a fixed wiring structure, but after a few hours, i was a little put off by the feel. Instead i’m using an old tiny telephone patchbay that also fell victim to the software revolution. The catch is that I have to manually wire it up. The actual work is not a problem, but figuring out how to arrange the points is taking a bit of time. So i’m armed with my trusty new soldering iron and wire strippers and trying to remember which devices are pin 3 hot. It will take a bit of time, but it’s certainly going to be worth the effort.

P.S. did i mention that i had to desolder a 48 channel snake from the patchbay? Uff! that did take some time!

Shepard’s Tone Combi

December 7th, 2008

This is something that’s been sitting on the hard drive for awhile. The evening before the last Producers Conference, the topic of the auditory illusion, known as the Shepard’s Tone, came up, so I took on the challenge of trying to recreate this effect in Reason. The sound is an ascending or descending scale that never seems to end. I made a couple of patches: one is a step sequencer based tone, and the other is simply an instrument based on the sine wave stack. I tried making the shepard-risset glissando, but this proved to be a bit more tedious, and I wasn’t successful. I think there’s a way to achieve it with some kind of simultaneous pitchbend and amp gain modulation to create the barber pole effect. But this will have to wait to another day when I have a bit more time.

Download the Shepard Tone

Ok, I’ve got to get back to re-wiring my workstation :)

Reason 4.0 Key Command Chart

November 26th, 2008

I’ve been brushing up on my illustration skills and have put together a little chart of the Key Commands for Reason 4.0. The Key Command documentation goes into pretty extensive detail about the various shortcuts, but doesn’t provide a visual overview, so hopefully this little visual aid will help you familiarize yourself with many of the available functions. I didn’t incorporate all of the key and mouse modifiers, so by no means does this graphic replace the documentation and users manual.

This is a work in progress, and I only made a chart that reflects my working environment: a mac with a full sized aluminum keyboard. The command set is slightly different for PC users, and I’m not too familiar with the windows key commands. Most of the primary keys are the same, but instead of the [command] key modifier, you use the CTRL key, and the [option] key is the same as the [alt] modifier key for most cases. I will eventually get around to making the PC keyboard layout version as well. Thanks for your patience.

Download the Reason 4.0 Key Commands Mac PDF

I recommend that you print it out on a decent 600dpi or better laser printer and have it handy. It might even be suitable for framing :)

I think some of the most powerful new commands are the arrow keys for navigating through the sequencer lanes and clips, and the ability to nudge clips and note events. Be sure to read up on these in the manual and give them a try if you aren’t already doing so.