Polar+Essentials Patch Pack

It’s another “Freebie Friday” here at Reason101 and this time I thought I would bring you more new instruments and effects for those with Polar and Reason Essentials. Last week’s Pulsar+Essentials Patch Pack seemed to be a hit, and generated some new ideas and thoughts from all you good folks. So let’s see if we can repeat that this week as well. And what better way to start the weekend than with a few new sound ideas. So download and enjoy.

Polar + Essentials Patch Pack.It’s another “Freebie Friday” here at Reason101 and this time I thought I would bring you more new instruments and effects for those with Polar and Reason Essentials. Last week’s Pulsar+Essentials Patch Pack seemed to be a hit, and generated some new ideas and thoughts from all you good folks. So let’s see if we can repeat that this week as well. And what better way to start the weekend than with a few new sound ideas. So download and enjoy.

The Polar+Essentials-Patch-Pack contains 11 Instruments and 9 Effects. Since Polar can save and load patches, some of the effects patches can be loaded directly into Polar. Some of the more complex effect patches and all instrument patches are Combinators. You will need to download the Polar Rack Extension in order to use any of these patches. While they were built for Reason Essentials 1.5  users in mind, there’s nothing stopping those who have the full version of Reason 6.5 from taking advantage of them. Try them out and if you like them, please consider donating: [paypal-donation]

There are two sections:

  1. Instruments — Use Polar in some way to enhance or add to the core Reason Essentials instrument’s sound (for example, the Subtractor, ID8, and other Essentials instruments).
  2. Effects — Use Polar on its own or with other effect devices in order to process your instrument in some way.

Here is a brief description of each patch you’ll find inside this pack:


  • Aggrodesiac.cmb

This patch uses a Matrix to create an arpeggiated synth. The cool idea in this one has to do with using a Matrix Curve to play the Pitch shifting on Polar. To access this sound, you must first press the “Run Pattern Devices” button on the front of the Combinator. Then use Button 1 to turn on the Matrix sequencing, and Rotary 1 to adjust the Matrix pattern’s Rate. The main rate of the sequence can be controlled via Rotary 4. Rotary 2 detunes the Pitch shifters on Polar, creating a wider sound. And Rotary 3 controls the Phase offset in the Subtractor instrument.

Button 1 changes the LFO2 on the Subtractor from adjusting the Phase (Button off) to adjusting the Amp (Button on). Button 3 adds a heavy dose of Portamento, and Button 4 allows you to switch between playing the patch as a Mono lead (Button off) or adding Polyphony (Button on).

  •  Arpe Dulce [RUN + Play MIDI].cmb

This patch is another Arpeggiated sequence in which you can Run the Arpeggio by pressing the “Run Pattern Devices” button on the Combinator front panel. Once you do this, you can play the MIDI keyboard to hear the sequence. Note that you don’t HAVE TO run the pattern devices, but it might be a little dull and lifeless without it. You could also mess around with the Matrix sequencer to create your own arpeggiator if you like.

The cool thing about this patch (and the take-away I think), is the way in which the Matrix is used to “Gate” the Polar device. Notice on the front of Polar, the “Env to Amp” button is lit up. Essentially, the Matrix Gate/Note CV is used to trigger the Polar’s envelope section. Then this envelope section is sent to the Polar Amp section. The envelope parameters you set in Polar affect the Amplitude, as you would adjust the Amp Envelope in any of Reason’s synth devices. This is what causes the gated sound. I’ve also mapped Rotary 2 (Staccato) to the Envelope’s Release parameter. This has the effect of creating a very short Staccato sound as you turn the Rotary left. The sound gets longer as you turn the Rotary right.

  • Dreamy Island Progression [RUN].cmb
  • I-vi-ii-V (Blue Moon) Progression [RUN].cmb
  • Polar Synth Chord Progression [RUN].cmb
  • Wurly Triplet Progression [RUN].cmb
  • Wurly Trip MK II [RUN].cmb

These patches use 3 Matrixes and 2 Polar devices to control Harmonies by shifting the three notes found in chord triads. Each Matrix controls a single Pitch Shifter. There is a root, third, and fifth pitch shifter and when summed together, they provide the chords. Then a fourth Matrix is used to control the Note/Gate of the instrument. This provides the Rhythm mostly. All these instruments are in the Key of “C,” though some patterns venture outside this a little, creating some interesting sequences. To play the patch, you have to press the “Run Pattern Devices” button on the front Combinator panel. As long as button 1 is lit up on the Combi, the Note/Gate Matrix is turned on, and the pattern will run automatically to generate the sounds. Button 2 controls whether or not the Harmonies for the three pitch shifters are enabled or not. All three must run in tandem, so if you do decide to change the Resolution of any of the Chord Matrixes, ensure you change all three to the same value (otherwise the chords will shift out of sync – though maybe this is what you want).

Rotary 1 controls the Pattern used to play the patch. There are 4 patterns from which to select, and one of the patches has 6 patterns. Rotary 2 and 3 Control parameters on the device itself. Since most of these patches use the ID8 as the main instrument, I”ve mapped Rotary 2 and 3 to Parameters 1 and 2 on the ID8. Rotary 4 controls the Volume of the instrument. Button 3 controls the Analysis Type and Algorithm of the Polar Pitch Shifter. For the most part, if you leave Button 3 off, you have a fast pitch shift. If you turn Button 3 on, you have a slower pitch shift. Button 4 is used to spread the Chords across the Stereo Field. In one patch, Button 4 is used as an auto-panner.

The Pitch Shift Wheel is mapped to the Polar pitch shifter, and the Mod Wheel is mapped to the ID8’s hard-coded Mod assignment, which usually leads to a Vibrato effect.

I should note that you CAN play the patch via MIDI keyboard controller. Simply turn off Button 1. If you then keep Button 2 turned on, you’ll still hear the Chord Shifting as you play, provided the notes are sustained. If you turn off Button 2, you can still play the patch via MIDI, but this may be a bit boring. Still, you can do it.

Note also that since these patches use Matrixes, there may be a lag before the Matrixes kick in, which, depending on your song Tempo and the Pattern length, could be very short or a little longer. Best thing to do if you switch the pattern on Rotary 1 or turn Button 1 or 2 on is to give it a chance to kick in. However, turning buttons 1 and/or Button 2 off is instantaneous.

Dreamy Island Progression uses a Subtractor as the main instrument and it’s a fairly slow tempo sequence. It’s got a Carribean-type flavor with a nice meandering synth sound.

I-vi-ii-V (Blue Moon) Progression uses an ID8 set to the “Crystal Pad” Synth. It also provides a very mellow and slow progression. The idea here was to present one of the most common major chord progressions and show how it is put together. So this should sound very familiar.

Polar Synth Chord Progression uses an ID8 set to the “Synth” Bass. It’s a little more harder edge, with a faster sequence. It also doesn’t really come out sounding like a Bass; more like a synth lead. You can have a lot of fun simply toying with the “Tone” Rotary (Rotary 2).

Wurly Triplet Progression is probably my favorite of the bunch. Who doesn’t like a good Wurlitzer sound right? The Note sequencer is set to Triplet, and funny story: I had the chord Matrixes set to 1/2 Resolution, and forgot to set them to 1/8T during the creation stage. Of course if you change them, you’ll get a totally different sound. But it didn’t sound right, so I left them at 1/2 Resolution. It gives a much better Rhythm I think.

Wurly Trip MK II is slightly different than the Wurly Triplet Progression patch. It includes Drums, and only uses one pattern for the sequence. Instead, Rotary 1 allows you to transpose both the Piano and the Drums upward by 1 octave (in semitone increments). This way, the patch shows how you can program the Matrix to play the harmony sequence in any scale. It’s a slightly different take on the previous patch. Also, both the Piano and Drums have a lot of processing going on. In this respect, the Combinator is more of a “Song Starter” than single instrument patch.

  • Effigy Pad.cmb

This is my take on a Subtractor Pad, and uses 2 Subtractors and 2 Polar devices. The Polar devices are used to expand or widen the sound. The Rotaries are used to adjust the fattening of the sound via the Polar parameters (except Rotary 4, which is used to adjust the Polar Filters). The first three Buttons are used to change the Timbre of the sound, so that you can get more flexibility out of the patch. The final Button (Button 4) is used to pan the signals left and right on the Mixer, which again widens the sound in the Stereo field. The Mod Wheel also changes the Timbre of the sound, making it more ominous when the wheel is pushed upward. Pitch Bend naturally adjusts the instrument pitch upward or downward.

  • Fortitude Lead.cmb

This patch uses a Subtractor as its base sound, and Polar is used to both Widen the sound and provide Harmony (if you want, on Button 4). Using Button 4 shifts the pitch so that a major chord is played (Root – Third – Fifth / 0 – 4 – 7 interval). If the Button is off, a single note is played (Monophonic). There’s other fun things you can do with the sound, but as far as Polar is concerned, this is about as basic as you can get. The Polar setup in this patch really amplifies and lifts the sound up from boring to vibrant. Bypass Polar to hear the difference.

  • House of Mirrors.cmb
  • Serial Polar Strings.cmb

These are two other Instrument patches, and are probably the most “out there” of the bunch.

House of Mirrors is a very bouncy synth sound. It uses the “Gating” trick I described earlier, except this time, the Subtractor’s LFO is used as both the Gate and as part of the CV used to “Lock” the Delay Buffer in Polar. The CV in both this and the “Serial Polar Strings” patches are a little experimental and convoluted, but the experimentation was fun, and I think the results came out alright.

Serial Polar Strings uses an ID8 “Guitar” patch set to “Dulcimer.” I thought of trying to process the sound through two Polars that are connected in series. I found that doing this is very tricky, as the sound going from one to the other becomes pretty finicky. It’s hard to describe exactly, but it took a lot of work to try to get something interesting out of it. I’ll let you decide if it was worth the work or not.


  • Alien Galaxy.repatch
  • Creeper.repatch
  • Harmony Modulator (For Leads).repatch
  • Simple Octave Gate.repatch
  • Spiral Staircase.repatch
  • Tin Man.repatch

These are some basic Polar stand-alone effect patches.

Alien Galaxy creates an almost other-worldly sound that works well with most synth patches.

Creeper is exactly what it says. It shifts and modulates the sound to produce a highly spooky sound. Great for all kinds of sounds, but I like it with a Lead or a Pad sound. Just be careful if you’re using it with multiple notes (Polyphony), as it can tend to get a little loud. If you do, you may want to turn the Volume down on the dry signal and the two shifters.

Harmony Modulator (For Leads) is a rough harmonizer patch that works well on monophonic leads. Just a simple way you can add movement at the same time as harmony. Fun little rough patch.

Simple Octave Gate is a double-Octave spreader (up 1 Octave and down 1 Octave), with a rough LFO gate applied to the Low Pass Filter. Cool for most any kinds of sounds that you want Gated. The LFO which produces the gate is Tempo Synced, so if you want it faster or slower, simply adjust the LFO Rate.

Spiral Staircase is a slow-moving patch that takes advantage of the reverse sawtooth LFO wave to shift both pitch shifters by 50% – producing a downward moving pitch. At the same time, the auto-pan feature is applied to the original (Dry) sound, and the Feedback / Delay / Detune parameters produce a wider sound. Interesting in a wonky kind of way.

Tin Man, as the name suggests, provides a metallic chorus sound. Try it out on your guitar tracks. All guitars love a good Comb filter right?

  • Mayhem Glitchem.cmb

This patch is highly experimental. Basically, it sends the audio through a Polar device, then splits the audio into two streams: one is the original audio, and the second is a Hi band pass through two Screams and a second Polar. It’s fun to tweak around with the parameters on this one. There’s two Distortion algorithms on Button 2, and you can adjust Parameter 2 with Rotary 2. Rotary 1 and Button 1 adjust the Rate of the first Polar’s LFO, which can provide some really freaky sounds.

Rotary 3 and 4 control the original Audio Level and the Screams’ Distortion Level. Pretty straightforward. Use these two Rotaries to parallel process and mix the sound together. Button 3 changes the first Polar’s Algorithm from fast to slow. Button 4 is an added bonus. It allows you to lock the Buffer (Delay) from both Polar devices. Depending on the patch you’re sending through this effect Combinator, you can get some interesting glitchy effects when the Buffer is locked.

The Mod Wheel actually detunes both shifters on the first Polar, and the Pitch Bend Wheel is tied to the original Polar’s Pitch Bend Wheel.

  • Pseudo-Doppler (For Sustained Sounds).cmb

This patch is a simple Polar device that’s doctored up inside a Combinator. It creates a really cool Doppler-style effect (as dopplers inside Polar can go, that is). The Loop Length can be adjusted via Rotary 1. The shorter the loop (towards the left), the shorter the Doppler sound is. The longer the loop, the longer the amount of original sound gets through (and the more strange the sound becomes). You can also play with the Pitch Width on Rotary 2 and the Amp Width on Rotary 4. The LFO Rate on Rotary 3 controls the speed of the Doppler effect (slower speeds to the left; faster speeds to the right).

Button 1 switches the filter from a Low Pass to a High Pass, and Button 2 is used to widen the Filter. In this control, as in all the other “Widener” controls, the LFO intensity increases for said parameter. For example, with Button 2 turned off, the LFO affects the Filter to a smaller degree than if Button 2 is turned on. Likewise for the Pitch Widener. Turn it to the left and the LFO affects the Pitch Shifters to a smaller degree than if you turn this Rotary to the right.

Finally, Button 3 adds a huge amount of Resonance, and Button 4 allows you to include the dry signal, if you like. The Mod Wheel is also mapped to the Polar device. Try this out on sustained sounds, like Pads, sustained Organs, or even Guitars.

  • Tape Stop Lite (Btn 1 or Mod Wheel).cmb

This patch came out of my desire to rework a patch that I put together for inclusion with Polar. If you look in the patches that ship with Polar, there’s a Tape Stop patch under the “Tweaky” folder. This patch uses a Thor to gate the Polar device, which helps drive the Tape Stop effect. The reason why I wanted to rework it is so that I could recreate the same type of effect using only Reason Essentials devices. In this instance, a Scream is used to convert the incoming audio to a CV signal, which then triggers the gate on Polar. This has almost the same effect as the original Tape Stop patch, but without the need to use Thor. This means that even Reason Essentials users can take advantage of a fully functional Tape Stop Combinator effect.

Button 1 or the Mod Wheel is used to trigger the Tape Stop action. This the heart of the effect. All the other Rotaries, Buttons, etc. are used to adjust how the Tape Stop sounds or how fast / slow the tape stop effect works.

One note about this Combinator. If you enable the Tape Stop effect (button 1 or Mod Wheel), and then disable it too quickly, you’ll hear the original sound kick back in. So it’s probably not the most ideal solution for rapid stuttering. And in most cases, I would assume you’ll want to use this effect at the end of a passage instead, where the effect is enabled and the song ends, for example. In this case, you won’t need to disable the effect after the fact, so it won’t be a problem. And who knows, maybe there’s some creative call for having the sound jump back in. Either way, this “issue” only occurs with this “Lite” Combinator. The one that ships with Polar does not work in the same way, and the sound does not come back in afterwards. If anyone knows a workaround for this issue, please let me know. 🙂

That about does it for Freebie Friday here at Reason101. If you have any cool Polar patches, please share them. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas on how to use these devices, whether they be the stock Reason devices or the new Rack Extensions. Carry on. . .

Pulsar+Essentials Patch Pack

Here’s a few patches I put together for Reason Essential users who have the Pulsar Rack Extension. It was pointed out that there were very few synths and effects bundled with Pulsar that are usable in a Reason Essentials environment (I think there were about 5 out of 90 synths and 11 out of 52 effects which were compatible with Reason Essentials). And being one of the team members that helped come up with those sounds, I felt it was a missed opportunity.

Pulsar plus Essentials Patch PackHere’s a few patches I put together for Reason Essentials users who have the Pulsar Rack Extension. It was pointed out that there were very few synths and effects bundled with Pulsar that are usable in a Reason Essentials environment (I think there were about 5 out of 90 synths and 11 out of 52 effects). All other synths and effects can only be used within the full Reason program. Being one of the team members that helped come up with those sounds, I feel a huge sense of pride at all the sounds we produced. I also wanted to apologize for not including more patches for our Reason Essentials brethren (and sistren?). I hope this makes up for it.

The Pulsar+Essentials Patch Pack contains 14 synths and 6 effects. Since Pulsar cannot save nor load patches, all the patches are Combinators, and all of them use Pulsar, so you need to download the Pulsar Rack Extension in order to use these patches. While they were built for Reason Essentials 1.5  users in mind, there’s nothing stopping those who have the full version of Reason 6.5 from taking advantage of them. Try them out and if you like them, please consider donating: [paypal-donation]

There are two sections:

  1. Instruments — Use Pulsar’s LFOs as Oscillators to generate the instrument sounds or else use the Subtractor and/or other Essentials instruments to generate the sound. In this second scenario, at least a few Pulsars are used to modulate various parameters of the instruments.
  2. Effects — Use Pulsar on its own or with other effect devices in order to process your instruments in some way.

Here is a brief description of each patch you’ll find inside this pack:


  • 4-way ID8 Synth with Multi-FX

This instrument gives you the choice to play all four modes of the ID8 “Synth” patch, and then processes that patch through a variety of effects devices. The Pulsar is used to modulate the “Scream” distortion. From the Scream, the signal is split to an overlapping low and high band of frequencies, and in turn is processed through a Reverb (high) and Delay (Low). The signal is then merged back together and sent back the the output. Use Button 1 to change the distortion type from “Warp” to “Digital” and use the remaining 3 buttons to decide which of the four Synths to play through those effects. Rotary 1 adjusts the amount of Reverb, Rotary 2 adjusts the Reverb Decay, Rotary 3 adjusts the amount of Delay, and Button 4 adjusts the P2 parameter of the distortion (Bias for Warp and Rate for Digital).

The Pitch Bend and Mod Wheels are automatically mapped to the ID8. I really do wish you could assign different Pitches and Mods (you can have some limited assignments if you use the Combinator’s Mod Routing section, but yeah, it’s limited). The Pitch Bend will pitch the Synth sound up or down 2 semitones, which is standard for the ID8. The Mod wheel applies Vibrato to the synth.

  • Another Layered Synth
  • Layered Detuned Organ

These two synths use multiple Pulsar  devices to create layered Oscillators sent to different Mix channels inside the Combinator. Adjustable parameters are the Amp Envelope Attack (Rotary 1), Amp Envelope Release (Rotary 2), Shuffle (Rotary 3), Level (Rotary 4), Detuning or Presence (Button 1), Presence or Vibrato (Button 2), Tremolo (button 3), and Mastering (button 4). The Pitch Bend wheel allows you to spread the synth layers across the stereo field (panning them) and Mod Wheel applies Reverb to the synths.

The cool thing about the Layered Detuned Organ is the fact that you can detune it using Button 1. This adjusts the rate differently for all three Pulsar devices (each pair of LFOs are set to a slightly different rate using the Envelope Rate knobs). This produces a much fatter “detuned” Oscillator sound.  The “Presence” parameter accesses a set of delay devices set to very short durations (a la Haas effect). This effect raises perceived loudness without actually hearing the delays; resulting in a more spacious sound. The Vibrato and Tremolo are pretty basic, adjusting the pitch and amp modulations with other Pulsar LFO units.

The Another Layered Synth patch is similar, however, it only uses 2 Pulsars instead of 3, and the waveforms are different.

Note: You’ll notice an audible “plucked” sound when the synth notes are released. I have a feeling this has something to do with the way the rates are adjusted (detuned) in the Amp Envelope of each Pulsar device. However, I have not found a way to get rid of this sound. If anyone (Reason or Reason Essentials user) has any suggestions to get rid of it, please let me know.

  • Arced Archaic Arp

This patch use the Subtractor synth as the basis for generating the sound, and a series of Pulsars to mangle or modulate that sound. It creates a moving Arp-like synth sound, and boy do I sure love me some modulation. This is probably one of my favorite synths developed in this pack. A few special notes: The distorted Vibrato (Button 1) gives the synth a very driven metallic feel, which sounds more like distortion than vibrato. The standard Vibrato (on Button 2) is more akin to what most people think of as “Vibrato.” Using both of them together is probably not what you want to do, but separately they are pretty cool I think. Everything else on this patch is pretty self-explanatory.

  • Basic 4-Step Synth
  • Basic Saw Synth
  • Basic Sine Synth
  • Basic Slope Synth
  • Basic Square Synth

These synths are simple ways for the Reason Essential user to play Pulsar as a synth. They each use a different Waveform as the basic Oscillators, and the combined LFO 1 & 2 are used as a mono synth. Adjustable parameters are the Amp Envelope Attack (Rotary 1), Amp Envelope Release (Rotary 2), Shuffle (Rotary 3), Level (Rotary 4), Delay (Button 1), Distortion or Modulation (Button 3), and Reverb (Button 4). The Pitch and Mod Wheel are mapped to different parameters on different synths. The idea behind these synths were to create very simple dual oscillator synths that are the “bare bones” for Essentials users. But don’t let that fool you. There’s a lot of power in these little synths. For example, to get a really fat beefy sound, increase the “Shuffle” parameter mapped to Rotary 3.

  • Dominion

This is another bassy, filter-modulated sound (not really dubstep, but still kinda fun to play). It’s unique in that it combines a Subtractor Synth with the Pulsar LFOs-as-Oscillators, which was another interesting Reason integration idea I had. I used the RV7000 as an Echo (Button 3), and there’s some fun Scream distortion on Button 4. Note that you can adjust the mix between the two synth layers using Rotary 3 and 4. Most of the other controls adjust the Panning settings for the global sound.

  • Phi’s ID8 Bass Synth

This synth bass patch uses 2 overlapping ID8 devices, with one of the Basses detuned down an octave (using the Combinator’s Transpose function – in the Key Mapping area of the Programmer). The sound is then processed through a Scream Distortion Unit to give it some more “oomph.” You can select between two different algorithms using Button 4, and then change Parameter 2 with Rotary 4. Release time is adjusted using Rotary 1, and Rotary 2 spreads the Basses a little bit in opposite directions in the stereo field. Buttons 1-3 allow you to Modulate a few different parameters with the Pulsar LFOs. Button 1 turns on the Volume modulation, Button 2 turns on the Bass Tone modulation, and Button 3 turns on the Distortion modulations. The Pitch Bend and Mod Wheels are hard-coded to the ID8 Bass devices. Pitch Bend adjusts the pitch up or down by 2 semitones, and the Mod Wheel is mapped to Bass Vibrato.

  • Pulsar Drum Gates [Btn 4=RUN]

It might be fairly self-explanatory, but you can’t play this instrument. Instead, you “Run” it using Button 4, which turns the whole thing on or off. Then you can adjust various parameters using the other Rotaries, Buttons and Wheels. The idea behind this patch was to create a kind of drum kit / song starter patch that uses the Pulsar devices as drum gates for the various drums. The Pulsars take over the role of the Redrum sequencer (or the main sequencer, for that matter). I particularly like how the Mod Wheel changes the kit’s sound entirely.

The other interesting idea with this patch was the CV connection from LFO 1 to LFO 2’s Rate input. Originally, I had thought about setting up each drum to be turned on or off by enabling LFO 2 to run or not (I discarded that idea in favor of level switches on the four Rotaries, but still used the on/off idea for the “FM Fuzz” on Button 3). Anyway, if you do turn your drums on/off using this method, and still want access to combine LFO 1 with LFO 2, sending the CV cable from one LFO to the other LFO’s Rate is the way to go. Otherwise, you could just send the Combination CV directly into the drum device’s gate. I hope that makes sense.

  • Rate Rhythm Synth

This patch is unique because of the kinds of modulations going on. Pulsar is used as an Oscillator, but the Subtractor’s Mod Envelope is being manipulated by another Pulsar. In turn, the Mod Envelope is used to adjust the rate of the Main Pulsar’s Oscillators, which gives it a rate wobble (vibrato during the decay and sustain stage of the envelope) which kind of sounds like a natural Horn instrument. There’s also some other manipulations going on in here, but I think that’s the one trick that is most interesting about this patch. It also goes to show you that you can manipulate any Subtractor parameters using the Pulsar’s LFOs.

  • Wave Sprinter

This was another idea I had in which the Wave shapes from the Pulsar are in a state of constant LFO flux. The Pulsar LFOs are used as Oscillators in this one. But since the Waves are constantly shifting, the sound they produce can be quite chaotic (aka: lovely in my world). You can alternate which waves are fluctuating using Button 2. You can also turn the Wave shifter off and on using Button 4. The Pitch Wheel affects how fast or slow the Waves fluctuate (Rate). Lastly, the Mod Wheel is very cool way to get an extreme pitch shift for the Oscillators in the main Pulsar. Hope you have some fun with it.


The effects were all designed as Inserts, but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use them as Sends as well. Here is what I’ve included, with a brief description of each.

  • Pulsating Chorus
  • Pulsating Delays
  • Pulsating Echo Multi-FX
  • Pulsating Scream

These effects were built with simplicity in mind. Essentially, they each use Pulsars to modulate the various parameters of their respective effects device (CF-101 Chorus, DDL-1 Delay, and Scream 4 Sound Destruction Unit.

Pulsating Chorus focuses on modulating the Delay and Rate of the CF-101 device. Feedback is mapped to the Pitch Wheel and Modulation mapped to Rotary 1. Try out both to get some extreme effects. There’s also a Pan control on Button 2 and a way to sync the panning to the tempo using Button 3. All other parameters affect the Delay and Rate of the CF-101 using two Pulsar devices.

The Pulsating Delays are a set of Delay devices set to different delay times for the Left & Right position in the stereo field. All the other parameters affect the Feedback and Dry/Wet signal of both delay units.

The Pulsating Echo Multi-FX patch uses two RV7000 devices set to the “Echo” algorithm. They are then processed through a Hi and Low Stereo split. Note that the delay times of each Echo algorithm is different. You can use the various Rotaries and Buttons to have Pulsar’s LFOs applied to various aspects of the Stereo Imagers (X-Over Frequency on Button 1 and Width on Button 2) and Reverbs (Master Volume on Button 4). Note that Rotary 1 adjusts the Cross-over frequency manually when not using the Auto-Wah on Button 1. The same goes for the Reverb Master Volume adjustment on Rotary 4. Because of this, when you turn off Button 1 or Button 4, the parameters of each device go back to 0 (Middle) for the X-Over Frequency, or 64 (Middle) for Reverb Dry/Wet; regardless of where the Rotaries are set – simply readjust the rotaries to get these two parameters back where you want after turning off Button 1 or Button 4. There’s also a Tremolo adjustment on Button 3, with its adjustable Rate setting on Rotary 3.

Pulsating Scream is a bit of a monstrosity and was probably the most challenging effect to set up. It uses some Pulsars to modulate the Damage Type, P2 parameter, and the Scream’s “Auto” parameter in the “Body” section. All of this can be turned on and off, and modulated to create some really crazy gated distortion or some very subtle chorus-like effects (for example, load the effect and turn off Button 1 & 2 — hear what I mean)?

One minor quirk with this Scream effect should be noted: Button 3 switches between the Feedback and Modulation algorithms in Scream’s damage section. However, if you automate the Damage Type (using Button 2), when you then go to turn off this automation, the Damage Type will always reset to “Feedback,” even if Button 3 is telling you the algorithm should be set to “Modulation” — simply press Button 3 two times and you’ll get back to the “Modulation” algorithm. Yes, I know there’s definitely a way to jury-rig this button to work more logically, but I was getting a little tired towards the end of developing that patch and I just didn’t have the mental energy nor dexterity to rework it. Either way, I think it’s a minor inconvenience. This patch is still my favorite out of all the effects patches.

  • Pulsator Tremolo & Pan

This is a combo effect patch that allows you to adjust both the Tremolo of any incoming signal, as well as the Panning of that incoming signal in the stereo field. You can combine the Tremolo with the original signal (Button 1), and adjust how much Panning and Tremolo is used to affect the audio. This is probably a close second on my list of favorite effects in this pack. The nice thing about it is how you can shape the combination of both Tremolo and Pan together.

  • Simple EQ Wah

There is a Wah effect that I built for the Pulsar which is included in the stock patches, however, it uses a Thor to do some CV trickery. So I developed its little brother here, which essentially does the same thing, but can be used by Essentials users. It’s a very simple concept. It uses the Pulsar LFOs to create both a boost and a cut in the EQ frequencies of the M Class Equalizer, and then make that boost and cut travel along the EQ’s frequencies. It produces a basic Wah sound. Use the various parameters in the Combinator to achieve a plethora of Wah-type wobbly sounds for your audio.

So that’s what you’ll find included in the free Pulsar Essentials Pack. If you have any ideas for additional patches, let me know and I’ll be happy to try to come up with new ones and include them here. Also let me know if you have any questions, or what you think of the patches in general. All my best for now, and happy Reasoning (essentially, that is).

79 – Introducing Pulsar

With the introduction of Rack Extensions from Propellerhead, we see a major shift of the company into the Plugin arena, although Rack Extensions are expressed as “plugins done right.” And the Props have introduced 3 new Re devices (Radical Piano, Polar, and Pulsar). Not too bad for a point release. Instead of focusing on the 6.5 release itself, and debating the cost (it’s been done to death in the forums), I thought I would start by taking a tour of Pulsar, a device that is free for 3 months, and $49 thereafter. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll see why the price is justified. Pulsar is simple, fun, and capable of some very unique sound ideas. Let’s take a look at why this is the case.

With the introduction of Rack Extensions from Propellerhead, we see a major shift of the company into the Plugin arena, although Rack Extensions are expressed as “plugins done right.” And the Props have introduced 3 new Re devices (Radical Piano, Polar, and Pulsar). Not too bad for a point release. Instead of focusing on the 6.5 release itself, and debating the cost (it’s been done to death in the forums), I thought I would start by taking a tour of Pulsar, a device that is free for 3 months, and $49 thereafter. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll see why the price is justified. Pulsar is simple, fun, and capable of some very unique sound ideas. Let’s take a look at why this is the case.

You can download the project files here: pulsar-synths. This zip file contains some Combinators and .reason files which go through some of the concepts I’ll discuss below.

Starting off with a simple LFO

At it’s most basic, Pulsar is a Dual LFO. But when you first add a Pulsar to your project, you’ll only be using LFO 1. In many cases, this may be all you need. And if that’s the case, you may be wondering why you would need yet another LFO in the Reason arsenal? Doesn’t Thor, Subtractor, Malstrom, and even some other devices have one or two LFOs that can be used (and have been used) by many since the birth of Reason? Sure. But Pulsar delivers something the other LFOs do not (apart from Pulveriser). It comes with a “Lag” feature. Furthermore, it comes with two other unique features: “Phase” and “Shuffle.”

To recap, the “Lag” feature is an LFO filter which smooths out the shape of the LFO. If you are using an LFO with a sharp edge (Square or Stepped, for example), increasing the Lag feature curves those sharp edges, and can reduce a lot of the abrupt “clicking” that can result from these LFOs.

“Phase” is used to shift the LFO forward or backward, kind of like a pulse width modulation for your LFO. Look at Thor’s Analogue oscillator set to a square wave. The Mod parameter works the same way by shifting the LFO forward or backward (widening or narrowing the LFO). When using two similar LFOs in Pulsar and adjusting their Phases (or automating Phase movement in real-time), you can create some really interesting modulations with the LFOs.

Finally, there’s a parameter we’ve seen time and time again, though not in an LFO: “Shuffle.” This parameter shuffles the LFO, making the movement or LFO automation more erratic. Keep in mind though, that while “Shuffle” provides some randomness to your LFO cycles, the cycles themselves will always be in sync. In other words, the start and stop of the waveform will be random, but their duration will always equal the time cycle that you set up in the timing of the LFO. And it’s important to note that “Shuffle” works in 2-cycle pairs. So looking at a 2-cycle waveform set to 1/4 Tempo Sync means that you have two cycles of the wave that equal 1/4 each. Cycle 1 will always start at the beginning of the cycle, but can end anywhere within both cycles. Then cycle 2 starts and always ends at the end of both cycles. Kind of an interesting strategy if you ask me. But putting the theory aside for a moment, the best way to get a feel for it is to try it out for yourself.

All three of these parameters are fairly unique to Pulsar. And so it might be worth your while to try using this LFO on it’s own the next time your modulation calls for it in your track.

There’s also lots of other interesting things you can do with Pulsar: Sync LFO 2 with LFO 1, Have the Level of LFO 2 affect LFO 1 (AM), have the Rate of LFO 2 affect LFO 1 (FM), trigger the envelope via LFO 2, and this doesn’t begin to get into the CV / Audio modulations on the back of the device. Using all of these features allows you to set up some very complex modulations and even use Pulsar’s LFOs as Oscillators to create some very unique sounding (somewhat Analog-style) synth instruments. We’ll dig into that further below.

But before going further, you should definitely check out the introductory video from the Props on how Pulsar can be used as an LFO and how those LFOs can be used as Oscillators. This is perfect for getting your feet wet with the device. And the final song result at the end of this tutorial is truly inspiring. So before doing anything more, let’s take a first look at Pulsar:

Accessing the Pulsar Patches

Pulsar can’t load or save patches. However, you can contain a Pulsar (along with any other devices to which Pulsar is connected) inside a Combinator and then save the Combinator. And this is a great time to bring up the fact that Pulsar comes with a wide variety of effects and instruments that were put together by some very talented patch designers. Here’s how you can access them:

  1. Right-click on the Rack and select “Create Instrument” or “Create Effect,” depending which option you want.

    Right-clicking on the rack and selecting "Create Instrument" or "Create Effect"
    Right-clicking on the rack and selecting “Create Instrument” or “Create Effect”
  2. The Reason Browser opens. Notice the “Rack Extensions” option under the “Locations and Favorites” area on the left side of the window? Click it, and you’ll see all your loaded Rack Extensions displayed on the right side.

    The new "Rack Extensions" stock patch bank in Reason 6.5
    The new “Rack Extensions” stock patch bank in Reason 6.5
  3. From this list, select Pulsar directly by double-clicking it and navigating down the folders to all the available patches. Alternately, you can click the plus (+) sign and drill down to the patch you like.

    The Pulsar stock patch bank expanded
    The Pulsar stock patch bank expanded on the right side of the Browser window.
  4. Double-click on the patch of your choice to open it in the Rack.

    The Pulsar patch loaded into the Rack (with a great new Combinator backdrop by the way).
    The Pulsar patch loaded into the Rack (with a great new Combinator backdrop by the way – nice job Propellerheads!).

Of course, if you’re saving your own patches, you’ll have to save them to your own computer location. All Pulsar patches need to be saved as a Combinator device. So all the patches you’ll find underneath the Pulsar stock patches are Combinators.

I strongly urge you to have a look at these patches. They showcase how you can use Pulsar in all manner of ways. There’s a way to use it as a dual gate, dual wah, LFO filter wobbler, FM, AM, etc. So opening the patches to get a feel for Pulsar is a great way to learn how to use it.

Pulsar as Dual Oscillators: Cheap on CPU, not Cheap on Sound.

And now for the major coup. Yes, you can use Pulsar as a dual Oscillator to create all manner of synth sounds. Trust me, I’ve tried. For those using Reason essentials, this provides a great alternative to the Subtractor synth. You now have a second synth inside Reason. And for those using Reason, you’ll be thrilled to know you not only have a simple synth, but process this synth through Thor, and you have a very amazing sound generation tool that is quite unlike the other sounds in Reason (whether that sound is good or bad is something I’ll leave for you to decide, as it’s a raw aliased sound that some like and some don’t). But nevertheless, it’s a unique sound with which you should experiment.

First, the video:

Let’s start off slow and figure out how to use Pulsar as a synth on its own. Since Reason Essentials doesn’t come with Thor, this is really the only way to go for that group of users. And yes, you can most definitely use Pulsar as a synth on its own. This is really great for Bass sounds, and in my opinion, this is where it shines. So let’s get started with a very simple setup:

  1. Right-click on the rack and select Utilities > Combinator. Inside the Combinator, right-click and select Utilities > Pulsar Dual LFO.
  2. Flip to the back of the rack and send LFO 1 Audio Output 1 from Pulsar to the Left “From Devices” Combinator Audio input. Then send LFO 2 Audio Output 1 from Pulsar to the Right “From Devices” Combinator Audio input. This way, LFO 1 produces the sound for the Left side of the stereo field, and LFO 2 produces the sound for the Right side of the stereo field.

    The Routings from the Pulsar to the Combinator
    The Routings from the Pulsar to the Combinator
  3. Open the Combinator’s programmer and select the Pulsar device. At the bottom left side of the screen place a checkmark in the “Receive Notes” checkbox. This allows you to play the Pulsar through the Combinator’s MIDI note input.

    Selecting the Pulsar device in the Combinator's Programmer and ensuring it "Receives Notes"
    Selecting the Pulsar device in the Combinator’s Programmer and ensuring it “Receives Notes”
  4. It’s important in this kind of setup to ensure that the parameters for both LFOs are set exactly the same, otherwise you’ll hear differences in the sound coming from both the left and right sides of the stereo field. Start by turning Off the Tempo Sync for LFO 1, and turn On LFO 2 (On/Off button). Switch LFO 1 and LFO 2 Waveforms to Sawtooth waves. Then reduce the “Level” rotaries to 0% for both LFOs. Increase the Shuffle knobs to 70% for both LFOs.
  5. In the Pulsar Envelope section at the right side of the device, reduce the Release amount to zero (0) ms. Increase the Envelope Rate for both LFOs to 100%, and increase the Envelope Level to about 60% for both LFOs.
  6. If you play the Combinator through your MIDI keyboard at this point, there is no key scaling. No matter what key you play, you’ll hear the same note pitch. In order to scale the keyboard, you must turn the MIDI KBD Follow knob on Pulsar fully right to 100%. Once you do that, you’ll have yourself a nice little patch that should play a pretty cool bassline in the C-1 to C2 range.

    The Pulsar's front panel setup
    The Pulsar’s front panel setup

Advanced Pulsar Synth Processing through Thor

Let’s take it up a notch:

There’s two ways you can process Pulsar through Thor: Both methods involve sending the audio outputs from LFO 1 and LFO 2 into Thor and then entering the following two lines into Thor’s Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS):

Audio In1 : 100 > Filt1 In

Audio In2 : 100 > Filt1 In

As long as both the Pulsar and Thor are receiving notes, and are inside a Combinator, you’re all set. Ensure that both LFO 1 and 2 on Pulsar are not Tempo Synced, and turn the rates all the way up (fully to the right). Also keep the Pulsar Envelope settings at their default, and turn the MIDI KBD Follow knob all the way right to 100%.

The cool thing about this setup is that you can use Thor’s Portamento, Shaper, Filter 1, Filter 2, Amp Envelope, Amp section, and pretty much everything else in Thor to shape the sound of the Pulsar LFOs. In this instance, you’re simply replacing Thor’s Oscillators with Pulsar’s LFOs (which are used as Oscillators).

One thing to keep in mind with this approach is that since you’re processing the audio through the Amp section, the levels of your audio are going to be adjusted using both the Thor Amp Gain and Pulsar’s LFO Level controls. So watch those levels!

The second approach builds on the first and bypasses most of Thor by sending the audio into Filter 3. So after you’ve entered the two audio lines in the MBRS as above, enter the following two lines in the bottom right two MBRS entries as follows:

Filter 1 : 100 > Filt3 L.In : 100 > Amp Env : 100 > MIDI Vel

Filter 1 : 100 > Filt3 R.In : 100 > Amp Env : 100 > MIDI Vel

With this approach, you’re bypassing everything between Filter 1 and Filter 3. This means no Shaper, no Filter 1 and 2, and normally, no Amp Envelope either. However, since you’re scaling the audio using the Amp Envelope explicitly in the MBRS, then you can still use the Amp Envelope to adjust your audio. The advantage is that you gain a 4-stage envelope (Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release) with Thor, instead of a 2-stage envelope with Pulsar (Attack and Release). Also, you can use the Delay and Chorus FX in Thor to affect the synth sound.

One note though. You can’t use Thor’s Amp section for any adjustments. So all the volume control resides in Pulsar’s LFO 1 and 2. And it suddenly occurs to me that all of this is in the video, so check it out if any of this sounds esoteric to you. Have fun!

Oh and in case you missed it, here’s James Bernard’s take on Pulsar. Pretty awesome sampling technique. Don’t miss this one either:


The downside is that you need Reason to do these wonderful Thor processing tricks. No can do with Reason Essentials. So upgrade already!

So that’s how you set up Pulsar as a synth. Try out the different waveforms and have a blast making some new sounds. And if you have any other Pulsar tricks, be sure to let us all know. Cheers!