Groove Pump Compression System

May 15th, 2006
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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

The RB-303 Project

May 12th, 2006

There’s an old project that’s been sitting on my desk for almost a year. Ever since I discovered that ReBirth was going to be discontinued from the Propellerhead Software line of products, I decided that it might be cool to create a multisample of the modelled bassline synths in ReBirth. The project is not finished, but I finally have some time to wrap it up.

The first task was to create a ReBirth Song File that plays the entire range of notes which covers a 5 octave range. This is about an octave more than the Roland TB-303, which totals 61 individual samples. After rendering the RBS to an audio file. At first I thought it might be enough just to cut up the individual sample and load them straight into an NN-XT, but I decided to take it a step further.

I decided to further process the audio through an analog signal chain to add a some depth to the sound. After loading the audio file into Logic Pro, I bounced the track through a Revolution REDD.47 Mic Pre and compressed the audio with an old Manley Monoblock Compressor. Overkill? Probably… but after being re-digitized through the apogee, it sweetened up the virtual synth rather nicely. The result is punchy without being too bloated. The unprocessed 303 samples are bigger, but the REDD47 and Manley processing make make them slightly punchier.

As it turns out, the samples are a bit difficult to loop properly. I might go back and reprocess a new set of samples and loop them, but for the moment, they are simply straight samples. Once edited and mapped into NN-XTs, the samples were incorporated into the BF318 Combinator patch to (attempt, somewhat in vain) emulate the 303 filters. I’ve finally managed to find a working solution to a problem I encountered last year, but unfortunately, it’s still not a perfect simulation.

I put together a Reason file that incorporates two of these RB-303 combinators, the ReBirth 808 & 909 Combis from the ReFill RB-338 ReFill, and a PCF Combi fashioned from an ECF-42 and a Matrix. Along with a D-11 Distortion, Comp-01, and a custom Delay Combinator, I managed to create a reasonable facsimile of ReBirth. What surprises me the most is how much work is involved in actually programming a track using this interface. The amount of sophistication incorporated behind the ReBirth GUI became quite apparent as I put this song file together. There’s a simplicity and elegance to programming ReBirth which is not easily recreated in Reason. (click on the image to see the full size)

Anyhoo… i hope to get this thing together soon, now that I’ve managed to get the power supply cable back for my Quad. I forgot it up at RML a few weeks ago, and I’ve been working on the backup Dual. All of the combis will probably be packaged up into a ReFill, but i need to get the official OK to release such a project.

Some Previews made with the ReBirth RB-338 ReFill and the RB-303 Combis:

RB-Test_File.mp3

RB-Test_File-orion909.mp3

SF Bay Area Reason User Group

May 8th, 2006
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Finally…well over a year later, the SF Bay Area Reason Users Group managed to get together again for the annual dinner event last Saturday evening. Once again the group converged in the intriging town of Walnut Creek, California. Many thanks to Ed Bauman (EditEd4TV) for organizing the evening. It was nice to meet everyone and talk “shop”.

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I was looking forward to seeing the old crew - Mike, Steven, John, Jon - however, they were unable to make it this evening. Ed, GW, and I were the only three repeats from last year, but we met up with Darin (dbooty) and Mark from the boards, and Mason, who I met the week before at RML. The only non Reason user in attendance was my friend John Hinson, but he fit in quite well with the rest of the audio-heads. I’m sorry that others missed it, but there will certainly be another get-together.

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Ed suggested that we get together more often. Naturally everyone concurred, so we hope to organize something else before the end of summer. The consensus was to set something up where we could meet, bring in laptops, and play music - not just eat and drink. If any Reason User in the SF Area knows of a place where we could set up, drop Ed a line. For those who want to join in next time, Ed organizes things through the Propellerhead Software Users Forum.

Recombinant Labs - Reason Workshops

May 2nd, 2006
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I’m recovering from lecturing at the Reason Workshops this past weekend at the Asphodel Records compound, Recombinant Media Labs in San Francisco. GW Childs and I presented two classes on Reason 3.0 in the amazing surround sound/video performance venue. The sound system is a custom 16.8.2 surround system. There are 8 speakers that circle the top of the room, and a matching 8 that circle the bottom of the room. 8 bass speakers are paired along the bottom of the room, and two Low Frequency Emitters are set up on each end. It’s unbelievably loud, and the room is virtually anechoic, so every little detail is clearly audible. We had an absolute blast, but it was indeed exhausting.

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I came up on Friday afternoon to load in and get everything set up for the workshops on Saturday and Sunday. I brought in my main workstation rig which consists of a Quad Tower, a Cinema Display, and the Korg Kontrol49. I didn’t bring in an audio interface, since they had a MOTU 828mkII available, and I planned to connect into the system via firewire. GW was obviously not as concerned with convience, and brought in his massive laptop and Radium controller - no where near as portable as my rig :-p

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As we were getting the audio system configured, I sarcastically prodded Bryan Gibbs, the RML engineer, that a facility like this should at least have optical feeds available…He boastfully replied “We can do that!” From the 828mkII, a Digital feed from the ADAT lightpipe output was redirected to the house system into Apogee Converters. So my audio was going digital right into the converters housed with the amplifiers in the control room. The sound was awesome! I was having too much fun sending out low frequency sine waves from the Malström to find the resonance frequency of the room and make it shake.

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The Beginners workshop covered basic workflow procedures like the various preference settings; adding devices to the rack; pattern devices and sequencing patterns; cabling and auto-cabling rules; transport features including metronome and loop points; ReCycle, and the Dr.REX Loop Player; Sequence recording, editing, groups and automation; and adding parallel aux effects. We had to cram things during the last 3 hours in order to cover everything planned in the outline.

During one of the breaks of the Beginners Workshop, Bryan Gibbs, the house engineer, fired up the system and replayed the multichannel audio/360° Video performance of Curtis Roads. Bryan also took everyone on a tour of the rest of the facility. They have a Vintage analog synth production room as well as a control room with a Neve VR72. This was a great way to compare the tools of the Real World with devices in Reason.

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Plans for the Advanced workshop were a little more ambitious, and we did not manage to cover everything planned. We started off with various ways of using insert effects like the vocoder and Scream 4, then moved into explaining the process of Mixing and embellishing a track by inserting equalizers and compressors. I spent about 45 minutes dissecting a file provided by one of the participants and showed how it could be refined with the use of effects and careful mixing.

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Before discussing a bit about mastering, Hayden Bursk demonstrated using ReWire with Ableton Live as a host application which many people found invaluable. Hayden was incredibly helpful in answering questions, and his demo of the Tone Port was definitely a highlight. The Props and Line 6 sent up some Reason 3.0 T-Shirts and Reason USB Thumb Drives that were given to those who attended.

We covered the basics of using the MClass mastering tools and demonstrated the various patches, then we went into details about setting up the gain structure for properly using the compressors and maximizers. As time was running short, we started to merge synth programming with combinator patches. People also started to field more questions about using samplers, and I had a few demos set up to demonstrate synchronizing long audio files with the tempo in Reason. Finally we ended up demonstrating how to use the Combinator to create insane modulation routings and rhythm patterns being morphed by random LFOs.

Backbeat Books also provided books that we raffled off at the end of the class. These included copies of Jim Aikin’s “Player’s Guide to Chords & Harmony”, Rikky Rooksby’s “How to Write Songs on Keyboards”, and a copy of David Battino & Kelli Richards book, “The Art of Digital Music”. David was present on Day 2 and spoke about the interviews with Propellerhead Software published in his book.

I’m guessing things went over well with Recombinant Labs, since they’ve suggested making these workshops a regular event. I love working on that sound system - i just need to develop some visuals to take advantage of the video. I’m really grateful to Propellerhead Software and Line 6 for their help with the workshop, and to everyone who came to support the workshops. Meeting other Reason Users was really cool, and the event was really nice, and If there’s enough interest, I would love to do this again in the near future.

Vintage RDK v1.1

April 19th, 2006
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I’ve received a number of comments over the months regarding the confusing patch names for Vintage RDK, and so I’ve updated the refill with a new set located in the subdirectory “Vintage RDK Combis Named”. The original patch set is also included for those who prefer the original naming system.

Once again, these patches require the Reason Drum Kits 2.0 Refill. There are a set of REX loops included with the archive produced with the permission of Propellerhead Software, but the concept behind Vintage RDK is for people to create their own loops or crusty old drum tracks.

The patch name still includes the numbering system that refers to the samples used. For example Albright Kit (ALL 2B7 55).cmb uses the following sample sets from RDK 2.0:

Kick (BD) = BD2_ALL Y9k20×16
Snare (SD) = SDB_ALL YBC14×4 Hi Pitched Damped
Toms ( TM) = TM7_BR_ALL Y9k(3)
HiHat (HH) = HH5_ALL 15″ZNB
Cymbals(CY) = CY5_ALL 24″A-Z Riveted

The update is available here:

Peff 029 - Vintage RDK Combis v1.1.rfl

Named Patch List

Albright Kit (ALL 2B7 55).cmb
Alma Kit(ALL 3C6 61).cmb
Baxter Kit (ALL 4E5 12).cmb
Binzie Kit (ALL 5E3 16).cmb
Caroline Kit (ALL 5F2 22).cmb
Caroline Kit B (ALL 5F2 22).cmb
Cassini Kit (ALL 131 32).cmb
Cavendish Kit (ALL 7D2 66).cmb
Dexter Kit A (ALL 135 32).cmb
Dexter Kit B (ALL 135 32).cmb
Englmeyer Kit (ALL 171 53).cmb
Farell Kit (ALL 257 56).cmb
Forgne Kit (ALL 326 52).cmb
Fyve Kit (ALL 327 52).cmb
Fyve Kit B (ALL 327 52).cmb
Garrick Kit (ALL 472 16).cmb
Garrick Kit B (ALL 472 16).cmb
Gazette Kit A (ALL 495 34).cmb
Gazette Kit B (ALL 495 34).cmb
Harris Kit (ALL 498 66).cmb
Indigo Kit (ALL 573 62).cmb
Jenny Kit (ALL 621 52).cmb
Lasser Kit A (ALL 631 52).cmb
Lasser Kit B (ALL 631 52).cmb
Lasser Kit C (ALL 631 52).cmb
Mercatur Kit A (ALL 735 32).cmb
Mercatur Kit B (ALL 735 32).cmb
Murrah Kit (ALL 735 52).cmb
Murrah Kit B (ALL 735 52).cmb
Murrah Kit C (ALL 735 52).cmb
Nagai Kit A (ALL 771 53).cmb
Nagai Kit B (ALL 771 53).cmb
Nordic Kit (ALL 771 55).cmb
Parson Kit Brushed (ALL 777 5Br).cmb
Rudolph Kit A Brushed (ALL 797 5B-br).cmb
Rudolph Kit B Brushed (ALL 797 5B-br)b.cmb

Reason Drum Kits 2.0 is required to use these Combinator Patches

Reason Workshops Registration

April 8th, 2006

Recombinant Media Labs now has registration set up for the Reason Workshops on April 29 and April 30.

http://www.recombinantmedia.net/workshop/

and if you’re not busy next weekend… the legendary Curtis Roads will be performing at the labs.

RML Reason Workshops April 29 & 30 in SF

March 21st, 2006
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Here are more details about the upcoming Reason workshops. Registration isn’t quite ready. Either contact me or RML directly at the email/phone number below.

Recombinant Media Labs in San Francisco, CA will be offering two workshops on Propellerhead Software Reason 3.0, presented by G.W. Childs and Kurt Kurasaki. The courses are structured for all ranges of Reason users who wish to explore the possibilities of music creation in the Virtual Studio environment.

Reason Basics
Saturday, April 29, 2006
1:00pm – 7:00pm

• Intro to Reason
• Synthesizers & Samplers
• Rhythm Programming
• Sequencing & Editing
• Mixing & Effects

Reason Advanced
Sunday, April 30, 2006
1:00pm – 7:00pm

• Mixing & Mastering
• Advanced Effects
• Sound Design
• Combinator
• Remote & Rewire

The Workshops
Reason Basics is geared for novice users and explains the process of developing and shaping musical ideas into complete songs. This workshop is highly recommended for people interested in sequencers, editing, synthesizers, drum machines, and loops.

Reason Advanced is for intermediate/advanced Reason users. This workshop covers complex mixing and the use of signal processors and effects; programming synthesizer, sampler, and Combinator patches; using Reason as a production tool; and Reason as a live performance platform.

The Instructors
G.W. Childs is a veteran video game sound/voice effects designer, musician, and is a featured artist and sound designer for Propellerhead Software. He has worked on over 20 video game titles including Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Mercenaries, and Star Wars: Battlefront 2. Additionally, G.W. performs with the electronic/industrial acts Deathline International and Soil & Eclipse.

Kurt “Peff” Kurasaki, … well you’re visiting my site …

Recombinant Media Labs
The workshop takes place in Recombinant Media Lab’s unique, state-of-the-art audio-visual environment. Equipped with truly world-class surround audio and video systems, Recombinant Media Labs focuses on education, research, production and the presentation of new forms of audio/visual expression.
763 Brannan Street between 6th St. & 7th St. in San Francisco’s SOMA District

Participation
Enrollment fees are $150 for each day ($300 for both courses) and space is limited to 20 people. Priority is given to those who register for both workshops. Attendees are encouraged to bring their laptops and Reason 3.0

Telephone: 415 863-3068 x 20