Producers Conference San Diego

May 16th, 2011

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.



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

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

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:

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 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

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

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

Mix and Mastering Comparison

January 29th, 2011

I have a fairly standard response whenever asked about mastering tracks: If this is a serious project headed for a physical or digital product, take it to the mastering studio of a great engineer. A good studio will have the equipment to reveal and correct problems, and balance the tracks to meet current standards and trends. Naturally this presumes you’ve done a good job with the mix, but that topic will have to be covered in a different post.

Once again, I’ve been working again with Goh Nakamura, who is starring in an indy film titled after his song, Surrogate Valentine. The film is due to hit film festivals throughout 2011 starting in March, so Goh has been hustling to get a product available for the release. We tracked the titled song at my place into Propellerhead Record using our collective nice gear. The Rhythm section for the B-Side was recorded in Portland and we redid the lead vocals here. I mixed everything in Propellerhead Record relying heavily on the Record SSL emulation EQs.

Mike Wells in San Francisco mastered the project and provided two versions. One version is the standard PCM master for CD Redbook/MP3, and the second version is for vinyl pressing. I just received the mastered files and took a look at them in a waveform editor. The comparison between the original mix and the mastered versions is quite interesting and I wanted to share some of my observations.

The top set is the final mix (mixed in Propellerhead Record). The Middle set is post mastering, a 16bit 44.1kHz CD master. The bottom set of waveforms are the 24bit 96kHz masters headed for Vinyl pressing.

At first glance the most noticeable difference is the gain between the mix and the mastered versions. I left plenty of headroom with the highest peaks around -9dBFS.

The MP3/CD Master is second set of waveforms. The target for this file is a Digital Download, so Mike optimized this version for typical CD/PCM format or a high resolution MP3 file. The density in waveform and the brickwall limiting reveals that this is pretty tightly compacted making it sound pretty steady, but not overly loud by todays standards. There’s a touch of low end lift which translates well across the board from small format listening systems clock radios and iPod earbuds to home stereo and automotive environments. This file is used for the video which is available for download from iTunes

The Vinyl Master is the bottom set. Straight away you can see that the dynamics are well preserved as the peaks are not jammed to 0dBFS. This version is definitely my favorite. Being that this target format has certain physical limitations, I really needed Mike’s expertise to help get everything balanced. Going into this project, I wasn’t sure if it would be my favorite rendition of the masters, but it best reflects the feel of the original mix.

Audio Examples

I’ve put together a 24/96 Record session which has three 30 second clips which allow you to hear the difference between each version. The session file will play fine at any setting, but for optimal playback fidelity, set the sample rate to 96,000 in the Record audio preferences. The loudness drastically increases from the first clip to the second is drastic, so watch your monitoring levels.

Download the file here: