Buffre Beat Repeater

June 14th, 2012

The PEFF Rack Extension Development Team is proud to introduce Buffre, a beat repeater effect device for Propellerhead Reason 6.5 that loops audio in sync with song tempo. Buffre is a performance effect, controllable in real-time from a MIDI keyboard or control surface, and supports Reason control voltage routings for creating modular-based stutter and glitch effects. The loop engine features several playback modes and can process audio segments from two measures down to a 4096th note.

Buffre features real-time reverse loop playback and sample rate control. Instantly add a backwards drum hit by switching to reverse mode, or adjust the pitch control to mimic the sound of a tape stop or spin up. Also, by capturing and manipulating extremely short audio loops, Buffre can synthesize granular audio textures.

Get Reason 6.5 and try Buffre

Rack Extensions require Propellerhead Reason 6.5 or Reason Essentials 1.5. Once installed, you can try Buffre and other great Rack Extensions available from the Propellerhead Shop:

Buffre Beat Repeater - Shop - Propellerhead

Available in the Propellerhead Shop

Operation Manual

Buffre Documetation is available from the following link:

Download the Buffre Operation Manual

Play with Buffre

Buffre is designed to be brutalized with combinator and control voltage modulations. We would love to hear and or see what you come up with.

Please post links on our Facebook page or tweet your links @peff

Thank You!

For a small group of friends to develop a new bit of software for an entirely new technology was no small undertaking, and we are grateful for all the support and advice we’ve had along the way. Big thanks to all the people at Propellerhead Software for helping us throughout this project. Thanks to all of the beta testers who helped us debug, and many thanks to the Reason users we’ve met over the past few months who lent their ears and feedback.

Propellerhead Reason Rack Extensions

March 20th, 2012

The news of Propellerhead Reason Rack Extensions is very exciting! The Reason production environment will be open to third party developers, and with Reason 6.5, users will have access to a whole new range of sonic tools from some incredible companies: Korg, Softtube, Sonic Charge, u-he, Sugarbytes, and GForce, to name a few!

This website was mentioned during the press conference in Frankfurt, and I want to confirm my involvement. In conjunction with the graphic design team, Bitplant and programer Hayden Bursk, we are working to establish a “Peff” brand of rack extensions. What makes this team unique is that we are Reason users who met because of Propellerhead, and now we have an opportunity to collaborate on something special. This is a new venture for us, and while we are the little guys on the scene, we are dedicated to making some interesting and cool devices that people will hopefully find useful.

I’ve been known to push Reason down paths where it was never designed to go, and looking towards the future, this team is dedicated to continue this tradition. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’ll post quick updates when possible on Facebook and twitter.

facebook/peff
twitter/peff

Daylight Savings / Surrogate Valentine 2.0

February 20th, 2012
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My friends, Dave Boyle, Gary Chou, and Goh Nakamura asked me to be a part of another film / music / soundtrack project, officially titled Daylight Savings. To make matters a bit more confusing, the film is also called Surrogate Valentine 2.0 - essentially its ’s a sequel-ette to Surrogate Valentine (1), where Goh plays a struggling musician from San Francisco who is also coincidentally named, Goh.

The cast and crew of Daylight/SV2 came to my little rural community of San Juan Bautista to film some the scenes, and I was ‘recruited’ into the production staff - fetching coffee and lunch; finding extras and props; and BBQ-ing. A little situation arose when we tried to secure a location, and we had to deal with ’small town’ politics. Poor Dave was put in an uncomfortable situation which required some diplomacy, but after seeing the footage from that scene, it was absolutely worth the effort. Helping out in the production was quite good fun, and it got the people in town talking about the making of a movie.

I’m happy to announce that Daylight Savings has been accepted to the SxSW Film Festival, and makes it’s world premiere on Saturday, March 10 in Austin, Texas! Screenings continue throughout the week during the SxSW Music Festival. DS/SV2 debuts in California at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival on March 11.

Daylight Savings at SxSW

Surrogate Valentine 2: Daylight Savings at SFIAAFF

SV / SV2.0 / Daylight Savings Films Website

The Soundtrack

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We’re putting together a soundtrack album, and I’m reviewing the final masters before we go to duplication. The album features Goh’s songs from both SV and SV2.0, interwoven with various music cues. Like the films, the music is quirky and weaves a strange little tale. Stylistically, the material is ‘all over the place’. There are pieces in Goh’s singer/songwriter style with an Elliot Smith / Beatles influence, but interspersed are other pieces that draw from the Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, the Police, Django Reinhardt, and we added a touch of punk elements, too… eclectic is one way to describe it!

The soundtrack was the effort of many talented people who helped raise Goh’s music to an entirely different level. I want to acknowledge and thank everyone involved:

Musicians: Tim Bulkley (drums), Brian Wright (drums), Gary Wang (bass / vocals), Kyle Forestor (bass), Gary Olson (trumpet), Cory Gray (trumpet), Art Hirahara (piano), Lucien Lamotte (bass), and Sadie Contini (guitar / vocals / arrangement)

Engineers: Bryce Gonzales, Cory Gray, Teri Hinmon, Dave Middleton, Gary Olson, and Mike Wells

Studios: Scenic Burrows (Portland, OR), Marlborough Farms (Brooklyn, NY), The Hangar (Sacramento, CA), Women’s Audio Mission (San Francisco, CA), Mike Wells Mastering (Los Angeles, CA), Shabbey Road, and my place!

Special Thanks: John Baccigaluppi, Carson Day, Gary Chou (social media guru), and Brian Kobashikawa (design)

Motion from the Music Picture

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We used an extensive range of technologies for the recordings and primarily relied on Reason and Logic for the final cues and album, which is titled Motion from the Music Picture. The album features a great new track called Walk, and singles from the first film. My personal favorite is a cover of Daylight Savings, rearranged and performed by Sadie Contini. We took her guitar and really f-ed it up through a Metasonix TM-7 - it turned out ridiculously cool!

Once we have the details of duplication sussed, Goh will make an announcement: gohnakamura.com

Grainshifter Combinator Refill Beta

December 29th, 2011

The Grainshifter Combinator Refill is a collection sample instruments that apply a limited granular technique using a variety of control voltage modulation routings to retrigger segments of audio loaded on the Reason NN-19 sampler.

This version of the refill falls short of the expected quantity of content, but the patches are usable and easily modified with custom audio files.

Download Peff 037-Grainshifter Combinator Beta Refill

Archive includes the template for the iPad Lemur app

Balance Shootout at Robotspeak

December 6th, 2011
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By now most avid followers of Propellerhead Reason are probably familiar with the new hardware audio interface, Balance. Balance is an elegant, 2-channel desktop unit that connects to a Mac or PC via USB and features all of the general connections one would expect from a quality device. There are also Reason specific functions, including Clip Safe control and a button to call up an input monitor/tuner display. Once you’ve moved past the looks and features of the unit, the one question that remains is “how does Balance sound?” Well.. to answer this question, a group of us got together in San Francisco at Robotspeak to compare Balance with a few other popular devices in an audio interface shootout.

Interfaces and Set Up

We looked to devices comparable in features and price, and managed to borrow a Digidesign (Avid) Mbox 2, an Apogee Duet, and a MOTU Ultralite. The interfaces were simultaneously connected to an iMac, making it possible to switch between them by driver selection. Audio was routed to a Mackie Mixer which feeds the Robotspeak house system, a pair of large QSC powered speakers.

To minimize noise and to ensure reproduction levels were exactly the same, the output levels were calibrated with a test tone and a multimeter. This is important because the slightest level difference could alter the results. The Duet and Ultralight were the most difficult to match because the monitor level controls are stepped, but once these were matched, it was easy to use the analog controls of Balance and the MBox 2 to calibrate the tone level to a 10th of a millivolt.

Test Conditions

Those familiar with Robotspeak know that it’s not an ideal space for conducting critical listening tests. The ceiling is low, there’s street traffic, and music from the neighbors can be heard through the walls. However, most Reason users work in less than ideal conditions and the level of environmental noise feels more realistic, especially with the roaming intoxicated indigents (or roosters) who add a certain charm to the neighborhood.

The audio examples were extracted from compact discs and imported into a Reason 6 song file. The content ranged from Classic Rock, Dance, Dubstep, Electronic, Experimental, Hip-Hop, IDM, Indy, Rock, RnB, Orchestral, Opera, Pop, Progressive, Punk, and a few other genres. For playback of the listening test, all device drivers were set for 44.1 kHz sample rate with 24 bit resolution.

Each round of testing placed Balance against one of the other devices, however the listeners could only identify the interface as either A or B. A 30 second clip was played through A, and then through B, and then again through both; so the listeners could compare their first impressions and finally confirm their preference after the second pass.

Listening Test Results

Going into the listening test, I hypothesized that people would not be able to tell the difference between Balance and other unit, and the results would average a 50% favorability for Balance and 50% for other interfaces. After tabulating the data, my hypothesis was proven somewhat wrong. The final results indicate that listeners favored Balance by 68.8% compared to the other interfaces. In one test of a female pop vocal piece, every listener preferred the track when heard through Balance (100% favorability). The lowest margin of favorability was 50% where the listeners were split. To my surprise, there were no results where Balance performed with a lower favorability rating than 50%.

When tested against the MBox 2, Balance was favored on average 66.7%; against the MOTU Ultralite, Balance was preferred at 58.3% – closer to my original hypothesis. Compared to the Apogee Duet, Balance was preferred at 78.1%. The image below describes each test in detail.

The results might be slightly in error since we did not match other interfaces against each other (i.e. Mbox 2 vs Duet), nor did we perform blinds controls like Balance vs. Balance. Also, bear in mind that many of the interfaces are older and considered obsolete, so Balance may have the competitive edge through newer technology and freshly mounted components. Still, we are happy to confirm that Balance performs quite well against legacy devices from very reputable companies.

While overall the group preferred Balance, we cannot overlook some of the details in the results where certain characteristics of the other interfaces were subjectively preferred. The high end detail of some examples was favored through the Duet and Ultralight, but at the same time, others felt the high end detail was too harsh and brittle. The listener notes seem fairly consistent about this aspect where people preferred hearing more treble. Some preferred the tone of electric guitars through the MBox 2, stating that the tone was more natural. Low mid and bass heavy examples fared better through Balance where the listeners noticed more definition, but at the same time, others felt that there was too much bass from Balance. Louder examples (primarily electronic/dance music) with smaller dynamic ranges were favored through Balance, which indicates that it’s complementary to typical Reason productions. Examples with considerable dynamic range (jazz/orchestral) were evenly mixed between Balance and the other interfaces. These are important issues to consider because the feedback suggests that listeners have a subjective bias, and that Balance may not be the most suitable interface for the type of music being produced.

Recording Tests

SF Musician/Songwriter, Michael Shockey, lent his guitar and vocal talents for the recording tests. I brought along a Wunder CM-7 (large condenser valve mic) to track vocals, and guitar was tracked via D.I. inputs. We were not able to track to all four interfaces simultaneously, but Mike is a consistent and did a great job at repeating his performance as we tracked through each of the four interfaces into Reason.

Despite the inability to conduct blind listening test of recorded material, Mike’s tracks provided a solid template to analyze the differences in tonal quality between the units. I found that the MOTU Ultralight and Apogee Duet distinctly have a bit more sharpness that you find with digital recordings, but Balance captured the coloration of the tube mic better than the other units. While we were only dealing with D.I. on guitar, I preferred the Apogee and Balance more than the MOTU and MBox2.

One person commented that while the sound of Balance is more pleasing, the clinical quality of the apogee might be more useful for mixing. Despite the fact that these results are subjectively biased, we were satisfied in knowing that recording through Balance sounds as good (if not better) than the devices used in this test.

Final Thoughts

We will probably continue with this experiment, and hopefully test Balance with contemporary devices. In the future, I would focus on the recording aspect and prepare blind listening tests of material recorded through different interfaces. With current units, I expect the results to be much more evenly spread. Even though we cannot conclusively say how Balance will stand up to contemporary devices, anyone looking to upgrade from one of these older firewire interfaces should be confident that going to USB based Balance is not a step down in performance or audio quality.

animoog inspired Reason 6 combi

October 31st, 2011
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My latest obsession has been the new animoog iPad app from moog music, inc. It’s a brilliant example of the tablet platform and touch control surface as a creative and expressive musical instrument. If you haven’t tried animoog, I highly highly highly recommend getting it.

Animoog’s sound generation system is akin to a vector synthesizer, however the main XY pad merges an eight way source selector against a wavetable grain selector. The modulation of the XY pad can be automated allowing you to explore complex variations between wavetables and granular systems. I’ve found that bypassing the modulation “orbits” and “path” parameters and simply controlling these parameters in real-time offers and incredible performance experience. This has inspired me to try to share the experience with Reason 6 users who may not have access to an iPad.

Reason users have had a similar technology available for quite some time in the Malstrom graintable synthesizer where you have two graintable oscillators. The main difference in the experience is the control over the graintables. Animoog allows you to “crossfade” between each of the sources while Malstrom’s architecture is somewhat fixed and allows you to layer the two sources or fade with envelopes, rather than a real time control.

Using a combinator configured with several Malstroms and a multi source fader, I’ve devised a patch that simulates the experience of the animoog sound source. Due to the limitations of using multiple synth devices, the configuration is limited to a monophonic instrument. Despite being mono, it’s fun nonetheless!

Download

The combinator is contained in the example Reason 6 session file and patch archive available here:

peff-animoog_inspired_combi.zip

Combinator Controls

Below is a description of the combinator controls and the functions they perform. To simulate the animoog style of table/index control try mapping the modwheel and Index control to an XY pad. This particular patch is designed to create aggressive dubstepish tones, however you can modify graintable selections and other Malstrom parameters to customize the behavior.

Mod Wheel: Multi Source fader control fades between the 8 graintables

Rotary 1 - Index: simultaneously controls all graintable index positions.

Rotary 2 - Shift: simultaneously controls all 8 graintable shift amounts.

Rotary 3 - BitCrush: increasing this knobs applies more bit crushing

Rotary 4 - LFO Rate: controls the wobble rate

Button 1 - Index Mod: applies ramp modulation to the index of all 8 graintables.

Button 2 - Table Sweep: applies LFO to the multi source fader

Button 3 - Crush On: Enables/Disables the Scream 4 bitcrush effect

Button 4 - LFO Enabled: Enables/Disables the modulation of the filter and amp sections

Multi Source Fader control

The eight way source selector relies on an old technique (think power tools for Reason 2.5 era) of using the BV512 Vocoder as an audio to CV converter. When the combi receives a note on message, a Thor polysonic synth is triggered to generate a sine wave. The sine wave acts as a modulator signal on the vocoder and opens specific bands on the vocoder. The CV signals generated by the individual bands control the fader levels of remix mixer. When the pitch of the sine wave is adjusted (by way of the mod wheel), a different range of bands opens, subsequently opening different mixer channels. This is an important aspect of the patch because that recreates the experience of using animoog.

Migrating Record Locations & Favorites to Reason 6

October 3rd, 2011

A Reason+Record Duo User who attended the Producers Conference in Las Vegas asked a rather important question about losing all of his patch browser “Favorites” and “Locations” settings when upgrading from the RR5 Duo package to Reason 6. We discovered that it is possible to migrate these settings provided you are working on the same computer system and the locations of refills and other patch data has not changed in the upgrade process. If your refills are somewhere in a user document location and have not been moved, this process should work fairly smoothly. If your refills and patches were in the Reason Application folder or have been moved, this may not work. While this may not be relevant for every user, those who have put an extensive amount of time in organizing refills and patch lists in Record will probably want to migrate these lists into Reason 6.

Before proceeding with this process, quit Record and/or Reason 6, and make sure your account has administrator privileges. Otherwise, find the administrator and have them perform this process.

The Reason/Record Browser stores the patch location information in “.favo” files. On a Mac OS system, the files can be found in the following directory:

Drive (MacHD) \ Users \ username \ Library \ Application Support \ Propellerhead Software \

and on a Windows system:

C: \ Documents and Settings \ username \ Application Data \ Propellerhead Software \

You will see folders for “Reason” and “Record”, and each contain similar files, including “Locations.favo” and any other favorites lists. To transfer your Record locations settings to Reason 6, simply replace the “Locations.favo” in the Reason folder with the one from the Record folder. When you Launch Reason 6, the locations list will appear as it did in the Reason+Record Duo browser.

Instead of deleting the Reason 6 list, I renamed it to “Locations2.favo”, and then copied the Record “Locations.favo” into the Reason folder. “Locations2″ appears as a favorites list, and my old Record settings now populate the browser Locations lists.

As a reminder, you no longer need Propellerhead Record, and should now only launch Reason 6. I recommend that you transition through the upgrade process slowly and try to keep your old files around. If you have uninstalled Record from your system, you may have lost previous locations lists. Rename the old application folder to “Reason 5″ and keep both v5 and v6 installed. Once you’re confident that everything is working properly in Reason 6, then uninstall Reason 5 and Record 1.5.