NAMM 2009

January 19th, 2009

So…. The Props did not have a booth at the 2009 Winter NAMM, and they were missed. I ran into a lot of people asking where they were hiding and had to deliver the sad news. I wish I could say that this left a large void at the convention, but it didn’t. There were quite a few exciting things (at least to me) on exhibit.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time at the moment to go into too much detail, so I’m posting up the images now and shall fill the text over the next few days.


Akai’s Ableton Performance Controller APC-40. Designed specifically for Live 8. How cool is this? With the Max for Live version, you can program the interface to do more than simply trigger scenes. I don’t think monome users have anything to worry about. While it looks similar, the device is intended with a specific purpose to work with live. The combination of the two would be the ultimate in computer based performance.


Ableton announced several new offerings to Live and offers various packages including Live Suite 8, Live 8, and coming soon, Max for Live. Of these, Max for Live really looks interesting since it is a complete version of Cycling 74’s Max 5 environment along with objects dedicated to control and interface with features of Live 8. Loopers are going to love the new loop effect as well. The transport and timing can all be enabled to lock to the loop settings - including the Max Transport: yes this opens up a world of real time possibilities.


John Bowen Solaris Synthesizer. The production version is nearly complete and they are available in a limited edition.


Dave Smith Electronics MoPho Synth


Jazz Mutant Lemur is on sale! for another 6 weeks, there’s a substantial discount on the coolest control surface ever!


The moog guitar!?


Melodyne Editor with Direct Note Access technology - DNA. Holy Sh*t! I can’t believe they did it. It works great with musical content.


Ana Mod ATS-1 Tape simulator


AEA Ribbon Mic Pre. 26kHz Boost to shape the high end response of ribbons of Wes Dooley.


Dangerous Music Surround Audio DACs


Dirty Boy Pedals at Big City Music Booth


Metasonix Modular Synth devices in the eurorack format


Moog Etherwave Theremin Plus - now features CV/Gate outputs to control other synth and effect devices.


Euphonix MC Control surface. Programmable and very cool.


Arne Wallander Instruments - Additive synthesis based horns and woodwinds with programmable acoustic environments. These sound amazing.


Eventide Guitar Pedals - yes there’s now an eventide harmonizer for your guitar.


genoQs Octopus - really fascinating design. This is a massive console version that was on display next to the Buchla systems.


Native Instruments’ Maschine


An MP3 recorder in your guitar… Really….That’s the Ovation iDea


Use Audio’s Plugiator is a Plug Host with preconfigured controls for their software.


Redmatica Keymap gets an update which now will feature mapping for the NN-XT and Reason!


Sonic Charge, our friend Magnus Lindstrom has a new synth called “Synplant”


Sound Blox effect pedals. They have a motion sensor that attaches to your finger to send a modulation control to any of their effect pedals.


Stanton DaScratch USB control surface. They had this mapped to tractor and serato, but it can be applied to anything.


TC Electronics - a cool simple idea: monitor control knob without the bells and whistles.


Blue Microphones “Mikey” iPod/iPhone Mic. With Sonoma Wire Works 4 Track App.


The Four Food Groups of Recording Lady.

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 :)