mØxr - CV Audio to MIDI Converter

June 15th, 2011
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mØxr is a MaxMSP based application that converts Control Voltages as audio signal to monophonic MIDI note messages. The application must receive two CV signals through audio connections, a Gate CV and a Note CV. While any audio signal can trigger a MIDI note message, mØxr is calibrated specifically for the Note CV values generated by a Thor Polysonic Synthesizer in Propellerhead Reason.

Discussions on the propellerhead user forum inspired me to pursue this idea, which began with the MOTU Volta concept of controlling analog hardware synthesizers with software based CV sources routed to a MOTU hardware interface. Experiments in controlling analog hardware from Reason were very successful, so this was the next logical move. I only have a basic understanding of Max, so this is all experimental and will probably sit as one of those never ending works in progress.

How this works

The connection between Reason+Record and mØxr requires an inter application audio routing extension, such as Cycling74 Soundflower, aggregated with your primary audio interface. CV/Gate data is transmitted from Reason+Record to mØxr through Soundflower, while audio signals to and from the hardware interface pass normally. This allows you to trigger a MIDI hardware synthesizer using Reason CV/Gate signals and track the audio back into Record.

As an alternative to soundflower and setting up an aggregate driver, you can also use a purely digital loopback configuration. If your hardware has unused ADAT Lightpipe connections, a digital audio loop from the output to the input can be configured with a short TOSLink cable. (The shorter the better to reduce latency of light). CV/Gate audio data can be routed from Reason+Record to the ADAT lightpipe outputs, and mØxr can receive them from the ADAT lightpipe inputs.

Things you can do

While some work is involved in getting mØxr operational, there are some surprisingly gratifying results. In addition to triggering MIDI synths from a sequence in Reason+Record, Control Voltage pattern devices like the Matrix Pattern Sequencer and RPG-8 Monophonic Arpeggiator can also be used to drive hardware.

RTFM

Support for mØxr is minimal because there’s no efficient way to tech a system remotely. The documentation is rough, but I’ve attempted to cover the key issues regarding installation and operation. The CV to MIDI conversion process relies on so many different parts working together, so it’s rather difficult for me to provide support without being there in person.

It must be reiterated that mØxr generates a monophonic MIDI stream, so results from polyphonic MIDI sequences are unpredictable. Also, latency varies depending on your driver settings, buffer size, and MIDI configuration. Troubleshooting issues are (somewhat) covered in the documentation.

Download the latest mØxr Documentation

Download mØxr

mØxr is a stand-alone application for MacOS 10.6, and operates side-by-side with Reason+Record duo. Attempts to get it working on Windows have been unsuccessful, but anyone interested in exploring this concept on the windows platform can find the original patches in the MIDIRunner topic in the Propellerhead User Forum

Download mØxr.dmg

- updated 9/18/11 Max 5.1.9
- not tested with Mac OS 10.7 Lion

Producers Conference San Diego

May 16th, 2011
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Huge Thanks to those who attended the Producers Conference in San Diego this past weekend. Dave, Matt, and I agree that It was definitely one of the best events to date, and we look forward to future events in the area.

My presentation, on the topic of compressors and sidechain compression, picked up where I left off during the MMM webcast on CV Basics by going into envelope followers and how they work in the process of compression. Below are links for a couple of the example files including the “home made compressor” patch and the aux bus routing system which allows you to automate sidechain compression.

DIYCompressor.rns

SidechainAuxsend.rns

I’ve decided to hold off publicly releasing the other example files on sidechain modulation, but my offer to examine your mixes and mastering still stands. I would need to see the complete Reason or Reason+Record session with all samples self-contained. Please contact me via email, or facebook.

Also here’s the demo that featured some of the more complex sidechaining processes:


CV Demo (for MMM) Record Mix by peff

Propellerhead Music Making Month

April 30th, 2011
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Starting Monday May 2, Propellerheads will be hosting live webcasts featuring artists, producers, industry specialists, and engineers from around the planet, including Josh Mobley, Adam Fielding, Mocean Worker, Matt Piper, Olivia Broadfield, DJ LuckyDate, Dave Brown, Jessica Gore (NNXT), Terri Winston, Chris Petti, The Freemasons, Gary Bromham, SoundCloud, Kim Nieva, Ed Bauman (EditEd4TV), James Bernard, Amber Rubarth, Giles Reeves (selig), Gerald Simpson (A Guy called Gerald), and the Propellerhead Crew themselves!

During the live webcasts, you can post questions directly to the presenters via chat, and carry on in a live discussion about Reason, music production, and the music industry. To see the full schedule of events, visit the prop’s website:

MMM Schedule of Events

Next Saturday, May 7, I will deliver a presentation on one of my specialities, Control Voltage Routing This will cater towards those who are not familiar with patching CVs in Reason, but I will certainly welcome questions that are more advanced. Hope to see you there.

808 reasons why we should help Japan

March 14th, 2011
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The news from Japan is terribly sad and this affects me deeply on a personal level. I have family there. Fortunately, they are safe but still feel anxious over the events of the past few days. I also have many friends there, and if you’re involved in the world of music, believe it or not, you too, have many friends in Japan!

These are your friends who work at Akai who made your MPC; the friends at Korg who made your Kaoss Pad; and the friends at Tascam who assembled your old Portastudio - to name a few. These are also the friends at Technics, who built your 1200s; friends at Yamaha who made your old DX-7; the friends at Sony who developed your CD Player; and these are the friends at Roland who invented the TR-808 that was sampled so you could download a fat bass drum for your new beat.

The devastation of the 2011 Tohoku – Pacific Ocean Earthquake and subsequent Tsunami has put a tremendous toll on our friends, their families, and neighbors, and right now they need a favor. One way to help is through the Red Cross: People in the United States can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Also, people in Canada can text “REDCROSS” to 30333 to make a donation.

I can also vouch for the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund set up by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California where funds are not reduced for administrative costs: JCCCNC.org

It’s ok if you can’t help with a donation. Next time you hear that 808 bass drop, just think of your friends in Japan, and hope for better days ahead.

Livid Instruments OHM64

February 25th, 2011

I recently performed a live set [video] where I was asked to use ReBirth for iPad. To complement the 303s and RB drums, I built an effect and loop system in Reason 5 that would allow me to process the ReBirth audio in real-time. Additionally, I had all of the Reason parameters mapped to a Livid Instruments OHM64 control surface. This “live set” configuration used the hardware interface audio inputs to route the iPad audio into the Reason effects, and the ReBirth patterns and Reason sequences were switched in and out via the OHM64.

In practice this live setup worked great…but at the party, I couldn’t hear the tracks over the noise. This made it nearly impossible to synchronize ReBirth with the Reason song file, so things went pretty badly. Were it not for the OHM64 (and the open bar), it would have been a complete mess. I had enough material preprogrammed and mapped to the controller, so it was easy to fade out the ReBirth parts and improvise on the fly. It’s too bad that I couldn’t pull off the set better, but I left with a better appreciation for the OHM64.

OHM64 Control Mapping

The video above demonstrates the layout of the controls mapped to Reason. The remote files and livid lua codec are hacked in a manner that bypasses the midi note mappings. The controls are manually assigned to the various parameters in the Reason rack. The image below describes the various knob, slider, and button assignments.

The Measure Counter and Beat Counter section are triggered with a MIDI sequence that toggles the state of buttons on Combinators. These buttons are then mapped to the top row of the OHM64 and change state as the sequence runs. It’s not a perfect solution, but it certainly helps me keep track of the relative position in a musical phrase. With the beat counter and transport controls mapped to the controller, it becomes unnecessary to look at the computer screen. The song file is essentially a 16 measure phrase that endlessly cycles.

The two Bus effects are beat repeater/jugglers based around the CycleOn combinator, and the master fx are two custom patches with one-shot insert controls that engage and disengage in time with the track.

REX Jockey Signal Path

A battery of Dr.OctoREX loop players are routed in parallel through two mix busses. Each bus has an insert effect which can be triggered to drop automatically on beat. This allows you to trigger an effect and fade into a different loop. In addition to the loop players, there is a Kong drum machine loaded with 16 NurseREX modules. The Kong is controlled by a Thor step sequencer which sequentially triggers loops over two measures. The image below describes the signal path from the Dr.OctoREXs and the NurseREX sequencer through the switching matrix, effects, and crossfader.

The flowchart illustrates one way of organizing sound sources. The Dr.OctoREX Loop players could easily be replaced with Redrum Drum Computers, Synths, or Samplers, and controls for pattern sequencers can be mapped to allow real-time switching.

Download

peff-rexjockeylividohm64.zip archive

The archive includes a Reason song file with the remote override mappings set for a Livid Instruments OHM64. Also included are the Livid.lua file and Livid.luacodec which replace the default lua codec files. Also the Ohm64.remotemap file must also replace the default map before the setting function properly.

For more information on hacking remote maps and codecs please see the Discovering Reason article on the topic: Control Remote

For the end user who has both Reason 5 and an OHM64, this Reason song file can be used as a template. Customize the setup by loading your own ReCycle loops into the four Dr.OctoREXs, and by modifying the loops loaded in the Kong embedded in the “NurseREX SEQ” combinator. Save the song file and the mapping will remain unchanged. Certain features like the effect triggers will not function without proper mapping, so this file is not compatible with devices other than the OHM64.

Demo Session

peff-REXJockeyDemo.rps.zip

The following file is a demo session sequenced in real time using the OHM64 using the sample set from the video. The file is in the published song file format, but the controls are still mapped to the OHM64. Users with other control surfaces can experiment with this file to get a feel for the system. In the future, I will break down some of these structures, and will post some generic example files for the control system.

Music Production with Reason & Record

February 16th, 2011
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I’m happy to announce that the Music Production with Reason & Record tutorial video is finally available from Groove 3! In this edition, we look at Josh’s track, “What’s the Reason” which features the talents and writing of a new artist, Blackjack. You can download the Record+Reason session file from the Propellerhead website here: demo song download

Following the tradition of the Reason 4 tutorial, Josh and I go through and deconstruct his production process and recreate the track from the ground up starting in Reason and moving the project over to Record+Reason duo. It is designed to complement Music Production with Reason 4.0 which focuses more on musical applications, while the latest title focuses more on using OctoREX, Kong, and Audio manipulation in Record. If you are a total novice, I personally recommend that you also look at MPR4, some of the concepts in this title explain a different approach on production.

Surrogate Valentine Video

February 14th, 2011

Surrogate Valentine Trailer and Video Download now available on iTunes

For your Valentine’s Day viewing pleasure, here is the title track from a new film by Dave Boyle, Surrogate Valentine, from Tiger Industry Films. The Film features Goh Nakamura in the starring role along with Chadd Stoops, Lynn Chen, Mary Cavett, Joy Osmanski, Parry Shen, Calpernia Addams, Dan “Damage” Bjornson, Di Quon, Joe Polhemus.

The World Premiere of Surrogate Valentine is at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX on March 12. At the SF International Asian American Film Festival, the film will be screened at closing celebration on Thursday, March 17 at 7pm at the Sundance Kabuki Theater.

Richard Wong directed this video piece for the SV single which will be released in March 2011. Produced by Seng Chen, the music video features Theresa Navarro. Goh and I recorded this track at my home studio, and the project will be released on 7″ vinyl and as a digital download. Here’s a video of the test pressing:

Surrogate Valentine Test Pressing

For the gear enthusiasts out there, here’s a list of the equipment used:

Wunder Audio CM-7 microphone
AKG C-12 VR microphone
Revolution R.47 MkII preamp
Neve 1095 preamp
RS-124 type Altec compressor
UREI LA-22 comp/limiter
Manley/VTL limiter/compressor/amplifiers
Universal Audio 2192 converters
Dangerous Music D-Box

Propellerhead Record+Reason duo used for recording and mixing.

Mastered by Mike Wells