RB-303 ReFill

June 12th, 2006

Rather than let this one continue to sit on my hard drive, I’ve decided to release the RB-303 refill. This fill is comprised of samples created using the ReBirth 303 Bassline synth, processed through a vacuum tube preamp and vacuum tube compressor. [Read More Here] I’ve received the OK from the props, so everything is set to go. The set is still in a semi-finished format. The samples have not been looped, and the combi skins are variations of the generic peff.com image. Every note is sampled, so note durations are not affected by pitch transposition. For typical 303 synth lines, the durations are long enough and should not be a factor.

The Slide feature in the same manner as ReBirth or a 303, so as a workaround, there is an extra set of samples with moderate portamento settings. I was torn between using the NN-19 which would have made this easier to implement, but something about the NN-XT 6dB filter added to the sound of the patch. So features were sacrificed for sonic character.

Also included in the ReFill is a ReBirth Type PCF combinator patch which provides another integral feature of the ReBirth Sound. Because I ran out of combinator knobs, the patterns must be selected manually by changing the Matrix Pattern Sequencer directly in the Combinator Device Rack. A Linear Pan Delay effect is also included in the ReFill. This is simply a tempo synchronous panning delay that is based on faders rather than panpots. The result is delay signals are louder when panned to either side and decrease in level as they pan towards the center. Something i wished I had in ReBirth but couldn’t achieve without the help of a ReWire host and a plug-in.

Several Demo RNS files are included which require the Propellerhead Software ReBirth RB-338 ReFill. Available through the downloads area on the Props Website.

RB-303 Combis

The RB-303 combis are based on the Bass Filter patches, released here several months ago which added filtering and specialized equalization that attempts to emulate the roland 18dB filters. Its a chains of effects that relies on the 6dB filter of the NN-XT in conjunction with an ECF-42 and a MClass Equalizer. It’s by far from a perfect copy, but it’s functional and provides a 303-ish experience.

There are four different combinator patches provided in the ReFill. RB-303.cmb loads both the sawtooth and squarewave samples, and allows the user to switch between the two by toggling combi button 4. RB-303 Sawtooth.cmb and RB-303 Square.cmb simply load one set of the samples. RB-303 Sawtooth & Square.cmb loads both sets and plays both sets of samples simultaneously for a thick layered sound.

RB-303 Combi Controls

FREQUENCY Knob controls the filter cutoff frequency and modulates the MClass EQ settings.

RESONANCE Knob controls the filter resonance on the NN-XT and the ECF-42. This control also modulates the EQ shape.

DECAY Rotary modulates the decay and release stages of the envelopes on the samplers as well as the secondary filter.

ENV.MOD Control increases the modulation intensity of the ECF-42 only.

DISTORTION Button, enables a preset distortion patch embedded in the combinator.

HYBRID FILTER Switch toggles between the 18dB Low Pass configuration and a hybrid of the NN-XT 6dB lowpass and the ECF-42 12db Band Pass filter.

SLIDE Enables the portamento feature on the NN-XT samplers nested in the combinator patch.

MUTE Button, mutes the output signal.

SQUARE-SAW Button, featured only on the RB-303 combinator, switches between the two sample sets.

ReBirth - PCF Combi Controls

This combinator patch requires users to show devices and select a Matrix Pattern that triggers the ECF-42 envelope. Many of the Original ReBirth PCF Patterns are transcribed based on the pattern illustrations in the ReBirth manual. Other patterns, especially in Bank D, are original.

FREQUENCY Knob controls the filter cutoff frequency.

RESONANCE Knob controls the filter resonance.

AMOUNT Control adjusts the modulation intensity of the Env.AMT and Vel. parameters on the ECF-42.

DECAY Rotary modulates the decay and release envelope stages of the ECF-42

BAND - LOW PASS Switch toggles between the ECF-42 BP 12 and LP 12 modes.


As I mentioned in the beginning, I’m still not perfectly happy with this set, but it might be many months before I get around to perfecting the patches. This refill is subject to further changes down the road - new skins, loops samples, more patches, etc. Until then, try this one out :)

Site 4.2 Beta

June 10th, 2006

The site is going through some growing pains. I thought I could get away with the old site for awhile, until I made the mistake of letting someone have the the wp-theme files. All of a sudden there was another wp-blog site on the web that looked terribly similar to this one. This forced my hand to make a few changes, which may be an improvement.

A flash based font display system has been installed, and hopefully will run without problems for most people. Macromedia Flash is required to see the fonts. One of the default fonts that came with the install looks incredibly similar to the primary font in Power Tools for Reason, so the new look complements my printed works.

Feel free to post up feedback if you find any bugs, as well as your impressions!

Upcoming Events in San Francisco

June 8th, 2006
Line 6 Reason Workshop

Friday, June 16, at Robotspeak, Hayden Bursk will be giving a free Reason clinic from 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Details: Line 6 in the Studio: See how Line 6 and Propellerhead Software can help to unlock your creative potential either on stage or in the studio. Product specialist Hayden Bursk will show you how he uses the Variax electric guitar, the Toneport recording interface, and Reason 3.0 to form a complete portable music production rig. One that cen be used to generate live impromptu compositions as well as recorded masterpieces.

Recombinant Labs Live 5 Workshops

During the weekend of June 24 and 25, Brian Jackson will be presenting his Live 5 workshops at Recombinant Labs.

Details: Learn Live from electronic musician, audio engineer, DJ, teacher, and Live expert Brian Jackson, author of the Live 5 & (forthcoming) Live 6 CSi Master CD-ROM (Thomson Publishing). This workshop is designed to push your Live skills to the next level in just 2 days (12 hours). Through a combination of A/V demonstrations, lecture, Q & A, and guided hands-on practice, each participant will have a chance to learn in a way that best suits their style.

Recombinant Labs Reason 3 Workshops

During the weekend of August 19 - 20, 2006, GW & I are planning another Reason workshop at Recombinant Labs. Registration is not open yet, but check back if you’re interested in coming.

David Battino’s Report on the April 2006 Reason Workshop


Some of us Bay Area Reason users have been tossing around the idea of a Reason Laptop Jam/get together. We shall see how things shape up for this event. June is out of the question for me, but July might work.

Power Tools for Reason 3.0 Bug Fixes

May 30th, 2006

In the past few months, Readers of Power Tools for Reason 3.0 have managed to find a few errors in the manuscript. Naturally these should be called typos, errors, or mistakes, but I think it’s more appropriate to think of them as bugs. Many thanks to those with keen eyes for informing me of the problems. If the book goes to a second pressing, I will ask that these are fixed. If anyone else stumble across a problem or even needs a simple clarification, please don’t hesitate to contact me. The following are known errors in the text:

Using a Gate to Control a Note CV Input [pg 28]

I guess people expect to see the typical programming table after step 6 on this project. In an effort to save space, the table was omitted and it says for the reader to “Program gate events from steps 1 through 16 on the Matrix.” This is, in fact, a redundant statement since the default matrix pattern already has gate events on each step of the pattern.

Thanks Bertholt!

Modulator as a Note CV Source [pg 29]

Step 6 reads “Disconnect the cable connected to the Matrix Sequencer Control CV output”. It should read “Disconnect the cable connected to the SubTractor Control CV input.” or “Disconnect the cable connected to the Matrix Note CV output.” Removing the connection on either end will achieve the same result

Thanks Bertholt & Jacques!

Reason Drum Kits [pg 70]

The example of using the Combine feature with Reason Drum Kits was written before the release of RDK 2.0. The new version of Reason Drum Kits already takes full advantage of the Combinator as a shell for mixers and effects, and the project only applies to those who are using Reason Drum Kits 1.0 and Reason 3.0.x

Bass Limiter [pg 87]

Step 3 asks the reader to load the combi patch “6 - Bass Pattern.cmb”, however the patch was accidentally omitted from the CD-Rom. The patch can be downloaded here. In order to use the patch, a free Refill is also required:

Download the “6 - Bass Pattern.cmb” combinator patch

Download the Peff003 - 303 Square Bass ReFill

Once the Refill is downloaded, it should be moved into a folder referenced in your “Locations” list in the Reason 3.0 Browser. Otherwise, a missing files dialog will appear and ask that you manually find the samples in the ReFill.

Envelope Follower Limiter [pg 87-88]

The introduction is a bit vague in the description when it says “Ideally, this example results in silence.” In reality, the example does not result in complete silence. There are still transients which are not stopped by the limiter. To clarify this issue, step 13 on page 88 should say:

“Set the mixer channel 1 level CV trim to a value of 2 or 3 for limiting. A value of 6 or 8 produces a sever pumping effect. A trim setting of 90 will result in absolute silence.”

David, I hope this clears things up.

Highpass Filter [pg 105]

Step 5 on page 105 instructs the user to adjust the MClass equalizer center frequency to “2.354Hz”. It should read: “Freq: 235.5Hz”

Thanks Jacques!

Pattern Controlled Vocoder [pg 127-129]

At the bottom of Page 128 under the “Carrier Signal Source” subheading of the PCV project, step 10 says “In the Reason Rack, create a second Combinator”, then on step 11, it also says “Create a second Combinator.” Step 11 should be deleted, and readers should simply skip to step 12.

Thanks Scott!

Reasonbanks Virology

May 27th, 2006

Reason users who long for the sound of the Access Virus are going to love this. Reasonbanks Virology is comprised of immaculately multisampled patches from the Virus C Indigo2. Available as either as a ReFill or banks of straight samples, Virology is delivered on a DVD. The Refill is a massive 1.24 Gigabytes which equals 2.24 Gigs of samples, REX loops, and patches. Along with the ReFill are a number of REX loops sorted separately unpacked as well as demo refills of the other Reasonbanks library products. As a bonus, a wide array of free refills from the Reasonbanks team including Eric, Marco, and Andras are also included.

The samples are clean, big, and punchy and really do justice to the sound of the Access instruments. The variety of sounds covers every base with hundreds of patches from straight waveforms to complex Combinator stacks. While the complex rhythmic synth Combinators supply the typical cliché sounds of the virus, my favorites are some of the basic basses and pads. Typically the samples include a bit of filter modulation off the attack, then loop through the sustain, so there’s plenty of character from the original Virus filters without relying on the Reason.

Owners of the Reasonbanks Orange, Proton, and Analog Monsters libraries already know the quality that goes into these libraries, and Virology makes the perfect digital companion to these analog sample sets. Minutes after sorting through patches, the sounds started to inspire me, I really like this library, and see myself using it in a variety of applications.

The following MP3 file is a little piece I made exclusively using the synth and percussion sounds from Virology:

Download Peff-Virology_Xperiments.mp3

ReWire 1.7 & Reason 3.0.5

May 20th, 2006

The Props have released a much needed update to ReWire which makes integration with host applications much smoother. Logic Pro users can sympathize with the excruciatingly slow launch and load times associated with Reason and ReWire, not to mention the occasional hang-up when closing out the ReWire slave application. Finally this issue has been answered!

Besides being able to smoothly check Reason signals using my favorite measurement plug-ins (InspectorXL from Elemental Audio), the improved efficiency with GarageBand has also inspired me to develop some projects that take advantage of Apple’s iLife software and Reason.

More information about the Universal Binary version of Reason 3.0.5 and Rewire 1.7 update is posted on the Propellerheads Website

Groove Pump Compression System

May 15th, 2006

Over the weekend, I was up late, chatting with my friend, DJ Kage, and the subject of sidechain compression came up. Actually this was the third time it’s come up in the past 3 weeks, and something triggered the idea of how to create a rhythmic pumping compression side chain configuration. In a bit of a whirlwind on Sunday Morning, I put together a set of different beat pumping - over compression combinators designed for dance, trance, house, or any style of electronic music with a 4/4 beat.

With some hardware compressors, the attack time can be stretched out for a long duration, however with the MClass Compressor in Reason, you’re limited to about 100 milliseconds. This is fine for mastering, but it’s ineffective for this production technique of “pumping” a beat. Then it dawned on me: simply delay the sidechain signal using a DDL-1. This would allow for the extra time needed to successfully create the pumping effect.

At first, the configuration was comprised of a frequency dependent sidechain where a low pass filter is tuned to isolate the bass frequencies of a kick drum, then delayed by one step before returning to the Compressor sidechain input. Kage commented “Think Daft Punk!”, and so the combi’s were aptly named “Daft Pump”.

The Daft Pump is not 100% effective as a single patch, primarily because it is a frequency dependent compressor, and requires the end user to tweak the sidechain signal for optimum performance. This eventually led me down another path where a kick drum track was introduced into the sidechain from a ReDrum. This independent sidechain signal is optimized without requiring the user to tweak filter or limiter settings. Thus, the “Groove Pump” was born - a sort of keyed compressor/gating effect that’s controlled with it’s own sequencer.

The Groove Pump and Daft Pump basically have the same signal processing chain, the difference is the sidechain processing. On the Groove Pump, the Redrum kick track is delayed and processed with a MClass Maximizer, and then connected to a MClass Compressor sidechain input. The delayed sidechain signal ducks the signal passing through the Compressor a step (+ a bit more) late to induce the pumping effect.

The Groove Pump Compression System Refill contains 16 Groove Pump Combis and 16 Daft Pump Combis, and two example files that demonstrate the effect. These are effect combis so remember to set the Reason 3 browser to “Show All Effects” when attempting to load them.

Download the Groove Pump Compression System Refill (3Mb)

Groove Pump Parameters

Pump Offset controls the delay time in milliseconds of a second DDL-1. This allows for a slightly longer lag before the compression is applied to the passing signal.

Pump Intensity controls the intensity of the compression effect. Higher settings will increase the ducking effect and reduce the signal dramatically. .

Attack controls the compressor attack time to shape the rate of gain reduction. Short attack time will create a very sharp drop in levels, while higher attack times will set a gentle(r) sloping level reduction.

Release controls the compressor release time. This shapes the recovery time from dipping levels back up to normal levels. The minimum setting is 50 ms, and so a sharp release is not possible, but it allows for a longer recovery time - the time for the trough to rise back up to normal loudness.

Upbeat - Dwnbeat Switch adjusts the first sidechain delay stage between 1 step (Off) or 2 steps(On).

Knee Switch enables the Soft Knee feature on the MClass Compressor. This changes the pumping from a hard linear gain reduction (Off) to a gentler curved slope (On).

Peak Shaper Switch enables a second MClass Compressor to compensate for the heavy over-compression induced in the first stage of the effect.

Impact Switch enables a MClass Maximizer set as a peak limiter for the effect chain. The soft clip feature induces the subtle distortion and adds more of an impact to the passing signal.

You can also try making modifications to the patch by changing the kick drum pattern. Keep in mind the kicks are delayed so they should be programmed at the normal intervals and not at the position where you want the pumping to occur.

Another modification is to bypass the first DDL-1 and increase the adjustment range of the Pump Offset (Rotary 1) to 500 to 700 milliseconds. This provides a way of getting precise pumping points between beats.

Modifying the Daft Pump Sidechain Signal

For the adventurous, using the Daft Pump Combis can be an interesting way to learn about sidechain compression. The first step to working with this effect is to tune the filters so that the sidechain efficiently keys in on the kick drum signal.

The following project uses a Hip-Hop loop with several layered bass frequencies. The objective is to filter and EQ the sidechain in an effort to isolate just the kick. The pumping effect is then keyed to the kick. The following project explains the process in PTR-3 fashion. Before and After RNS files are also provided as well.

Download the “DaftPumpTweak.rns” File

1. Open the File and Play the loop to hear the initial state. What you’re hearing is basically the loop with too much compression. The sub bass is massive, and the sidechain is keying in on all of the bass causing the MClass Compressor to stay closed all of the time.

2. Click on the “Show Devices” button of the Daft Pump Combi to expand the rack.

3. On the MClass Compressor labelled “Main Pumper” enable the “Solo Sidechain button”. If it’s not still running, play the song to audition the massive bass on the sidechain signal. You can hear the main sub-bass, and the occasional thump from the kick. The aim is to isolate that thump and filter out the sub-bass.

4. Increase the Filter Cutoff Frequency on “Filter 1″ to about 48. This opens the filter a bit so that more of the kick thump passes.

5. Select the ECF-42 and insert an MClass Equalizer. Continue to play the loop as you make the following adjustments.

6. On the Equalizer, enable the Low Cut (HPF) and Low Shelf. Decrease the Lo Shelf Gain to -18.3dB, Frequency to 271.2 Hz, and Q to 2.

7. On the Equalizer, enable the Parametric 1 stage. Set the Param 1 Q to 32, Gain to 18.3dB, and Freq to 89.0 Hz.

8. On the Equalizer, enable the Parametric 2 stage. Set the Param Gain to -18.3dB and Frequency to 47.7 Hz.

9. Select the Equalizer and create an ECF-42 Envelope Controlled Filter. This should be inserted after the EQ to filter off some of the snare hits. Set the EQ mode to LP24, and frequency to 44.

10. On the MClass Maximizer labelled “Sidechain Limiter” adjust the Output gain to 10.7dB, then adjust the Input Gain to 10.7dB. This provides a suitable amount of make up gain for the filtered down sidechain signal of the isolated kick.

11. On the Compressor labelled “Main Pumper” Disable the Solo Sidechain button, and play the song to hear the compression pump the signal behind each kick.

12. Save the file for future reference :-)

Download the finished “DaftpumpTweaked.rns” file