Coming Soon. . .

10 Years in the making. What I will present to you on December 1st, 2013 is the book I always envisioned for the program, and I want to invite you to stand over my shoulder and see why I find this software such a compelling and creative tool for anyone with a love of music and audio. I wrote the “Reason101 Visual Guide to the Reason Rack” so that I could convey all the amazing things this program can do in a logical, easy-to-follow way. I wanted to shorten your learning curve, and at the same time share my 10-year Reason journey with you. I hope you enjoy learning about Reason as much as I do.

Robert Anselmi's Reason101 Visual Guide to the Reason RackRobert Anselmi’s Reason101 Visual Guide to the Reason Rack

When I first started working with Reason, I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the program. It had such a wide array of devices and options, it made my head spin. And the visual design of the software was truly stunning. I was excited and wanted to learn more. I had longed for a book that would walk me through all these Rack devices, and more importantly, would explain how to connect all these devices together to create what I wanted. It had to be highly visual as well, doing justice to the fine artistic efforts put into the Reason software design. I searched everywhere for a concise and comprehensive book that would teach me all the possibilities. Yet, nothing like that existed at the time. And it was at that point I decided to eventually write that book. I’m more than happy to provide it to you now, a decade later.

What I will present to you on December 1st, 2013 is the book I always envisioned for the program, and I want to invite you to stand over my shoulder and see why I find this software such a compelling and creative tool for anyone with a love of music and audio. I guarantee two things will happen when you invest in it: 1. It will save you time when seeking out answers to how the software operates; making you more efficient, and 2. It will teach you something new; no matter what level of expertise. These are bold claims. And I promise to deliver.

Reason is a gigantic Lego set, and you’re free to construct anything you can think up. Using the devices, audio, CV, and all the related sliders, rotaries, and buttons as your building blocks, you’re free to construct an endless amount of sounds, effects, and utilities.

But without an understanding of how these blocks fit together, it’s difficult to build anything. And that’s where this book comes in. The first half will provide you with the theory. Every core device and 8 Rack Extensions are comprehensively outlined in a clear, concise, and visual way. You’ll learn how each device operates, front to back, A-Z. It can be read straight through, or used as a desk reference when you are seeking out how a particular control or connection works.

The second half of the book will provide you with the practical side of Reason, and can be thought of as a complete course, from basic to advanced, over the span of 101 in-depth lessons. You can read them straight through, or focus on specific tutorials that interest you. To help you navigate through these two sections, I’ve cross-referenced them. This way, you can see the tutorials that relate to a specific device in each device section, and which devices are used in a specific tutorial in each tutorial section.

I wrote the Reason101 Visual Guide to the Reason Rack so that I could convey all the amazing things this program can do in a logical, easy-to-follow way. I wanted to shorten your learning curve, and at the same time share my 10-year Reason journey with you. I hope you enjoy learning about Reason as much as I do.

You can pick up your copy of the Reason101 Visual Guide to the Reason Rack exclusively at http://www.reason101.net/shop

More details to follow in the coming days. . .

“Thunder” ReFill

The Thunder ReFill is based on synth drum patches, samples & complete drum kits, with hundreds of unique patterns built-in. If you’re looking for some fresh percussion sounds, then this is the most versatile and expansive set out there. Kicks, Snares, Hi Hats, Cymbals, Toms, Bells, Bongos, Congas, Udu, Claps, and many other percussion varieties for many different styles and genres for a highly comprehensive and versatile drum package. Over 1,600 samples & patches for Reason 6.0 and up.

Thunder ReFillReason101 & Odarmonix, two sound designers behind many of the sounds found in the Reason Factory Sound Bank (FSB), have teamed up to present you with the Thunder ReFill for Reason 6.0 and above. This ReFill centers around Synth Drum patches, samples* & complete Kits with hundreds of unique patterns built in. If you’re looking for some fresh percussion sounds, then this is the most versatile and expansive set out there. Whether you use the included Combinator, Redrum, or Kong kits, or roll-your-own drums with the included samples and patches (for SubTractor, Malstrom, Thor, and Kong), you’ll find a wealth of expressiveness. Kicks, Snares, Hi Hats, Cymbals, Toms, Bells, Bongos, Congas, Udu, Claps, and many other percussion varieties for many different styles and genres are available. We made this with the intention to create a highly comprehensive and versatile drum package.

What’s included in the ReFill?

  • 65 Combinator Kits
  • 17 Redrum Kits
  • 22 Kong Kits
  • 415 Drum Instrument Patches (Bass, Bells, Claps, Cymbals, Ethnic, Hi Hats, Misc, Snares, Toms)
  • 1,089 Drum Samples (Bass, Bells, Claps, Cymbals, Ethnic, Hi Hats, Misc, Snares, Toms)*
  • 18 Effect Patches
  • 1,627 Elements in total

* Sample Bit Depth: 16; Sample Rate: 44,100 Hz; Mono. Samples resampled from the 3 core Reason synths (SubTractor, Malstrom, Thor) and Kong. All drum patches are included in the event you want to resample them yourself for further variation.

Purchasing

The Thunder ReFill cost is $59.00 USD. Purchasing is done through Paypal. After payment is made, you will be able to download your product.

Add to Cart   

Demos

Following is a sample track that showcases many of the Combinator kits included. Note that each combinator comes with between 8-16 patterns each. This simply showccases one pattern per kit. And all kits are played at 120 bpm. Of course they can be sped up or slowed down to your liking.

The following track showcases a song I put together in which all the drums were taken from one of the Combinator kits:

83 – Audiomatic Instant Switcher

With the advent of Reason 7, you get the Audiomatic Retro Transformer Rack Extension for free. This is like Instagram for photos, except it creates musical snapshots that can be applied to the whole mix or individual tracks. So I thought, why not create an FX combinator where you can select different Audiomatic presets using the Kong pads. The added benefit is that you can switch between them in real-time at any point you like using automation. I even added a bypass so that when an audiomatic preset is not selected, the original audio is passed through unaffected. Or, there’s a method to play it parallel with the original loop.

In this tutorial I’m going to go over how to create an 8-way Audiomatic Retro Transformer Switcher using the Pads in a Kong device. You can easily add all 16 on all Kong Pads and then switch between any of them using your Pad Controller or Key Controller. Or you can use a built-in randomizer. This is just one idea I came up with out of a discussion with Kurt Kurasaki on Facebook. So I thought I would share it with everyone.

With the advent of Reason 7, you get the Audiomatic Retro Transformer Rack Extension for free. This is like Instagram for photos, except it creates musical snapshots that can be applied to the whole mix or individual tracks. So I thought, why not create an FX combinator where you can select different Audiomatic presets using the Kong pads. The added benefit is that you can switch between them in real-time at any point you like using automation. I even added a bypass so that when an audiomatic preset is not selected, the original audio is passed through unaffected. Or, there’s a method to play it parallel with the original loop.

You can download the project files here: 8-way-audiomatic-kong-switcher. There’s 2 Combinator files included. One file with an audio bypass, and one without. It requires Reason 7.0, Audiomatic Retro Transformer and Directre.

The Audiomatic Retro Transformer Instantaneous Switcher

  1. Create a Dr. Octo Rex Loop Player. Click the Browse Patch folder icon and open the AC Guitar | Open Strums Key of A 90 bpm.drex patch. This provides a sound source for our Combinator FX setup.
  2. Hold down Shift and create a Combinator. Click the Show Programmer button.
  3. Inside the Combinator, create a Mixer 14:2. Reduce the Level Faders on Channels 1-8 all the way to 0. We’re going to control the volume of these Channels using Kong.
  4. Hold down Shift and create a Kong Drum Designer. Relabel pads 1-8 in the following way:

    Pad 1 = Spread

    Pad 2 = Radio

    Pad 3 = VHS

    Pad 4 = Vinyl

    Pad 5 = Tape

    Pad 6 = Hi-Fi

    Pad 7 = Bright

    Pad 8 = Bottom

  5. Hold down Shift and create a Directre Audio Router. Turn on all 8 Channels using the Enable buttons. We’ll use this to split the incoming audio out to 8 different Channels on Directre (note that you can also use another Mixer 14:2 for this task, instead of Directre).
  6. Hold down Shift and create 8 Audiomatic Retro Transformer devices. Label them the same way you labeled the first 8 Pads on Kong above. Then switch each device’s Preset to the corresponding label. In this case, we will have 8 Audiomatic devices, each with a different preset. The basic premise is to send audio splits from each Directre output into the Audiomatic, and then send that back out to the Main Mixer and then out of the Combinator.
  7. Hold down Shift and create a Thor device. Click the Show Programmer buttton. Name the Thor device “Sequencer.” On the Global panel, set the Pitch Bend range, Polyphony, and Release Polyphony to 0. Relabel Button 1 “Trig Step Seq” and disable both the MIDI & Step Seq buttons. In the Programmer panel, turn off Oscillator 1, disable routing Oscillator 1 from the Mixer to Filter 1 by deselecting the “1” button, bypass Filter 1, and turn off the Global Envelope. Rename Thor 1 “Bass Filter” and Thor 2 “Snare Filter” (see image at right). Enter the following into the first line of the Modulation Bus Routing System (MBRS):

    Button 1 : 100 > S. Trig [This allows you to enable the Run button on Thor’s Step Sequencer from Thor’s Button 1]

  8. Still inside the “Sequencer” Thor, set the Run Mode to Repeat, and the Direction to Random. Set the Octave Switch to 4. Create an 8-step sequence where each step is set to subsequent Note values from C1 to G1. Since these notes trigger Kong’s first 8 pads via the internal MIDI Pad assignments, we’re setting up Thor to trigger these Pads randomly.
  9. Still inside the “Sequencer” Thor device, switch the Edit rotary to “Gate Length” and set all 8 steps to 100%. This ensures that switching among Audiomatic presets is instantaneous, as it takes up the full length of the gate. Going from one to the other is a smooth transition.

    The front panel showing all the devices in the Audiomatic Retro Transformer Combinator patch.
    The front panel showing all the devices in the Audiomatic Retro Transformer Combinator patch.
  10. Tab to the back of the rack. Move the left / right Main Output cables from the Dr. Octo Rex to the left / right “Combi Output.” Create a new audio cable pair from the left / right Main output of Dr. Octo Rex to the left / right “Combi Input.” Create another audio cable pair from the Combinator’s left / right “To Devices” to the left / right “Main In” on Directre.

    The back of the rack showing the routings between the Dr. Octo Rex and the Combinator, as well as the routings for the Main Mixer.
    The back of the rack showing the routings between the Dr. Octo Rex and the Combinator, as well as the routings for the Main Mixer.
  11. Send Channels 1-8 left / right Direct Out from Directre into the 8 Audiomatic left / right inputs. Then send the left / right outputs of all 8 Audiomatic devices into the first 8 Channels on the Mixer 14:2.
  12. On Kong, send the first 8 Pad Gate Out CV cables to their respective Level CV In on the Mixer 14:2. However, set it up so that Pads 1-4 on Kong are going into Channels 5-8 on the Mixer, and Pads 5-8 on Kong are going into Channels 1-4 on the Mixer.
  13. Finally, on the “Sequencer” Thor device, send the Note & Gate/Velocity from Thor’s Step Sequencer into the Kong’s CV & Gate inputs. This sets up Kong to be sequenced from Thor.

    The back of the rack showing the routings between the Mixer, Kong, Directre and the Audiomatic devices.
    The back of the rack showing the routings between the Mixer, Kong, Directre and the Audiomatic devices.
  14. Tab to the front of the rack. On the Combinator, label Rotary 1 “Rate,” Button 1 “Rnd Sequence,” and Button 2 “Sync.” In the Programmer, select the “Sequencer” Thor device in the Key Mapping area, and enter the following in the Modulation Routing section:

    Rotary 1 > Synced Rate : 0 / 20 [Ensures you have access to the full rate of Thor’s sequencer via Rotary 1 on the Combinator]

    Rotary 1 > Free Rate : 1 / 2,500 [Ensures you have access to the full rate of Thor’s sequencer via Rotary 1 on the Combinator]

    Button 1 > Button 1 : 0 / 1 [Since Thor’s Button 1 sets the Sequencer in motion, this Button turns the Sequencer on when enabled]

    Button 2 > Synced : 0 / 1 [Syncs Thor’s Step Sequencer to the Rate to the Song Tempo when enabled]

  15. Set Rotary 1 on the Combinator to 72 (which equals a rate of 1/4 in the Sequencer). Then press Button 2 to set the Sequencer to Sync mode (even though it’s already set up like this by default, it engages the button to operate in Sync).

Press the Run button on the Dr. Octo Rex or press play on the Transport. This starts the Dr. Octo Rex guitar loop. You won’t hear anything though, because there’s no audio bypass. However, when you now press Button 1 on the Combinator, Thor’s Sequencer is set in motion. This, in turn, triggers the Kong Pads to play the first 8 pads randomly (and this, I should add, is wonderful for many different applications). However, you may want to play the Pads manually, or from your Pad Controller, without using the Thor sequencer. You can do this by creating a track for Kong and then going nuts on the first 8 pads. Since the audio is always going through all 8 Audiomatic devices, the switch from Pad to Pad is instantaneous. However, when no pad is pressed, you won’t hear anything. So let’s set up our Combinator so that if the Pads are not pressed, the original audio still passes through. The following explains how to set this up.

Setting up an Audio Bypass

  1. Continuing with our above tutorial, go inside the Combinator and select the Mixer 14:2. Hold Shift down, and create a Line Mixer 6:2, a Spider Audio Merger / Splitter, and a Thor. Name the Line Mixer “Bypass,” the Spider “Bypass Split,” and the Thor “Bypass Gate.”
  2. In the “Bypass Gate” Thor device, set the Pitch Bend Range to 0, the Polyphony & Release Polyphony to 0, and click the Show Programmer buttton. Turn off Oscillator 1, disable routing Oscillator 1 from the Mixer to Filter 1 by deselecting the “1” button, bypass Filter 1, and turn off all the Envelope (Gate Trig) buttons. Enter the following in the first 2 lines of the MBRS:

    Audio In1 : 100 > Audio Out1 : -100 > MIDI Gate

    Audio In2 : 100 > Audio Out2 : -100 > MIDI Gate

  3. The negative MIDI gate values in the MBRS mean that the original unprocessed sound will shine through when the keys are NOT played. They will also cut the sound when the keys ARE played. In this case, since you have the effects loaded on the keys, the FX signal will take over and you’ll hear the effects processing the sounds while those keys are played. Click the Show Programmer button again to fold up the “Bypass Gate” Thor device.
  4. Tab to the back of the rack, and Move the Directre’s left / right “Main In” audio cables to the “Bypass Split” Spider’s left / right Split Inputs. Send Split 1 left / right outputs on the “Bypass Split” Spider back into the Directre’s left / right “Main In.”  Then send a second Split from the “Bypass Split” (Split 2) left / right outputs into the “Bypass Gate” Thor device’s Audio In 1 / Audio In 2.
  5. On the “Bypass Gate” Thor device, send 1 / Left & 2 / Right Audio Outputs into the Channel 1 left / right inputs on the “Bypass” Line Mixer. Move the left / right Master Outputs from the Mixer 14:2 into the Master Outputs of the “Bypass” Line Mixer. Then create a new audio connection from the left / right Master Outputs of the Main Mixer 14:2 to the Channel 2 left / right inputs on the “Bypass” Line Mixer.
The back of the rack showing the routings for the Audio / FX  Bypass setup.
The back of the rack showing the routings for the Audio / FX Bypass setup.

Tab to the front of the rack. So far we’ve set up the routing for the bypass. As it stands now, if you press Run on the Dr. Octo Rex, you’ll hear the original loop. If you then press Button 1 on the Combinator, you’ll hear BOTH the original Loop and the Audiomatic Preset playing at once (in a Parallel manner). To set things up so that you don’t hear both at once do the following:

  1. Hold Shift and create a Spider CV Merger / Splitter at the bottom of the Combinator’s device stack. Tab to the back of the rack. Move the “Sequencer” Thor’s Gate / Velocity CV output from the Step Sequencer into the A Split 1 on the Spider CV Splitter. Then create a new CV cable from the “Sequencer” Thor Gate / Velocity CV output into the Spider CV Splitter’s A input. Send another Split (A Split 2) into the Combinator’s CV 1 Input. Change the CV Switch on Input 1 to Unipolar.
  2. Tab to the front of the rack, and in the Combinator, select the “Bypass” Line Mixer in the Key Mapping area. Enter the following in the Modulation Routing section:

    CV In 1 > Channel 1 Mute : 0 / 1

When you press Run on the Dr. Octo Rex, you’ll hear the original loop. If you now press Button 1 on the Combinator, the original loop is muted, and only the Audiomatic preset affecting the loop will be heard. Note that with this setup, you cannot play the pads individually via your Pad Controller. If you do, you will still hear the parallel processed configuration with both the Original and processed loop at the same time. However, this gives you two methods to control the Audiomatic switching effect.


That’s it for now. Hope you find this idea useful. Try your hand at creating a 16-way switcher if you like.

“Red” ReFill

This ReFill contains many different experimentations and uses for Etch Red, and showcases the many possibilities of using this device, both in your instruments and as effects. There are many examples of Dubstep Basses, Pad rhythms, Wide Chorusing effects, Vibrato & Tremolo effects, and Filter Frequency effects. There are also a few Rex loops included to show you some examples of how you can integrate the Dr. OctoRex with Etch Red. My hope is that I’ve provided you not only with a highly playable and fun Refill to use as is, but also with many different designs that you can open up and look inside to spark your own experimentation and curiosity. In this way, Red can become a springboard for your own ideas.

Reason101 Red ReFillRed is a ReFill based around the Etch Red Rack Extension from FXpansion. In order to use it you will need Reason 6.5+ and Etch Red. If you want to learn more about Etch Red, I’ve created this introductory Etch Red Tutorial that might help you along. You can also purchase Etch Red if you don’t already have it.

This ReFill contains many different experimentations and uses for Etch Red, and showcases the many possibilities of using this device, both in your instruments and as effects. There are many examples of Dubstep Basses, Pad rhythms, Wide Chorusing effects, Vibrato & Tremolo effects, and Filter Frequency effects. There are also a few Rex loops included to show you some examples of how you can integrate the Dr. OctoRex with Etch Red. My hope is that I’ve provided you not only with a highly playable and fun Refill to use as is, but also with many different designs that you can open up and look inside to spark your own experimentation and curiosity. In this way, Red can become a springboard for your own ideas.

What’s included in the ReFill?

  • 60 Effect Combinators
  • 40 Instrument Combinators
  • 120 Etch Red device patches
  • 10 Rex Loops

Purchasing

The Red ReFill cost is $15.00 USD. Purchasing is done through Paypal. After payment is made, you will be able to download your product.

Add to Cart

Demo Videos

Here is a video that outlines the instruments you’ll find in the ReFill:

Here is a video that outlines the instruments you’ll find in the ReFill:

Etch Red Patch Pack

In my fervent attempt to learn every single Rack Extension in the known universe, I stumbled upon Etch Red. And then I started creating, and just kept going and going and going. You see, this is part of the fun of the Rack Extensions. I’m starting to learn it’s not always about pitting the default Reason software against a particular Rack Extension. It’s just as important that a Rack Extension motivates you to create more. To that end, Etch Red was a seriously fun creative tool that allowed me to experiment on a large scale. So I thought I would share some of these experimentations with you.

Reason101 Etch Red Patch Pack.In my fervent attempt to learn every single Rack Extension in the known universe, I stumbled upon Etch Red. And then I started creating, and just kept going and going and going. You see, this is part of the fun of the Rack Extensions. I’m starting to learn it’s not always about pitting the default Reason software against a particular Rack Extension. It’s just as important that a Rack Extension motivates you to create more. To that end, Etch Red was a seriously fun creative tool that allowed me to experiment on a large scale. So I thought I would share some of these experimentations with you.

You can download the patches here: Etch Red Patch Pack. There are 20 patches included: 8 Combinators (4 Instruments and 4 Effect devices), along with 12 Etch Red device patches. In order to use them, you will need Reason 6.5+ and the Etch Red Rack Extension.

I hope you enjoy the patches. And if you do, please consider donating here: [paypal-donation]

Now a little bit about the patch pack. There are two sections:

  1. Combinators — There are 4 instrument patches and 4 effect devices, all of which make use of Etch Red.
  2. Etch Red Device Patches — Since Etch Red can save it’s own patches, I’ve included 12 .repatch files as well.

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

FX Combinators

  • Drive LP FX.cmb

This patch Combines the various drive modes of Etch Red and pairs them with a Low Pass Filter. Use Rotary 1 for the Drive amount, and Rotary 2 to switch between the seven drive modes.  Rotary 3 and 4 allow you to shape the LP filter (Frequency and Resonance). You can turn the drive or filter on or off using the first two buttons. And even apply some Drive modulation using button 3. Lastly, you can Pan the Filter using button 4.

  • Dual Auto-Panner FX.cmb

As it says in the name, this Combinator offers up some dual panning. It uses the two Etch Red LFOs in order to Pan the audio signal. In this way, you can create complex panning effects. The Rotaries control the depth (gain) and Rate of both Pans. You can also change between two different wave types (square and sine) for both Pans using Button 1 and 2. And if you like, you can turn off the second pan altogether using Button 3. Lastly, you can sync or un-sync Pan 1.

  • Hi – Lo Filter Splits (BP).cmb

This Combinator splits out the audio signal into the High and Low Frequencies. The fun comes in the fact that you can apply a different Bandpass filter to these two different Frequency splits independently. Use Rotary 1 to determine the crossover frequency, and then use Rotary 2 and 3 to set the Frequency for the High and Low Bandpass filters. There’s also a few other modulations and a HP filter that you can apply to both the High and Low Frequency streams, as well as some FM application if you like (on Rotary 4).

  • Tremolo & Vibrato FX.cmb

Tremolo affects the level of the audio signal (volume wobble), and Vibrato affects the Filter variance (Filter wobble). Using the Combinator Rotaries and buttons, you can control both in a variety of ways. You can adjust their Level, Rate, and what wave shape is used for the wobbling.

Instrument Combinators

  • Dubstep Bass C.cmb

As the name suggests, this is a Dubstep Bass experiment. You can adjust Filter Frequency, Drive, FM, and Wobble Glide using the rotaries, as well as some other adjustments using the buttons. Hint: If you don’t like the wobble pattern, open up the Combinator, and change the Thor step sequencer Velocity and Step Count. The velocity controls the Rate of the LFO in Etch Red, and therefore the type of Wobble you hear.

  • Easy Etch Synth Pad Hybrid.cmb

This is a nice hybrid between a polyphonic synth and pad instrument. Use Rotary 3 to smoothly transition between a Synth (fully left) and a Pad (fully right). Frequency and Resonance are on Rotaries 1 & 2. And you can control the level of the Sub Oscillator on Rotary 3. Button 1 and Button 2 control various Modulations applied to the Filter Frequency and FM, respectively. And try out the Pad Wrapper on button 3, which adds a nice shaper modulation to the sound.

  • Hooveretch.cmb

Where Etch Red meets a Hoover style sound. There’s even a Thor Step Sequencer thrown in for an Arpeggiated rhythm. Probably one of my favorite sounds of the bunch. You can control the Filter Frequencies using the first two Rotaries, and the level of the Sub Oscillator on Rotary 3. You can also use Rotary 4 to detune the main two Oscillators. Add in some Delay, FM, and Shaper, and you have yourself a really nice rich Bass.

  • Memory Pad

Another Pad, I think this one has a nice upbeat sound, yet still floats in the background. It’s more Rhythmic in nature, but you can dampen that if you like by turning down the “Flicker” rotary (Rotary 3) and turning switching to the alternate Wave type (Turn button 1 On).

Etch Red Device Patches

  • Basic Auto-Panner.repatch

The name is pretty self-explanatory. This is a patch that allows you to pan any audio signal.

  • Comb Phreak.repatch

Difficult to explain. Baiscally uses a Comb along with some drive to create a pretty wild little sound. Great for a sci-fi effect.

  • Deep Basso.repatch

Try this one out on your Bass sounds. It tends to raise the level and spreads out the Bass sound a little for you.

  • Dueling Filter Sweeps.repatch

This one is a double-sweep using two slow LFOs. Try to use this on a sound with a long ADSR time, like a Pad. That way you really get a chance to hear the sweep.

  • Ghost Pad.repatch

This is one of my favorites, and is great for smooth Pads and textures. It creates almost a feedback echo on your sound, but it’s a slow sweeping echo. So give it some musical room to breathe. Long held notes for this one.

  • Grunge Guitar.repatch

How could I do an Etch Red Patch Pack without a great distorted effect for Guitar. Nuff said.

  • Kick Variable Enhancer.repatch

Use this on your Kicks. It adds both punch and enough variation in the Filtering / Resonance so that it doesn’t become static. Instead your Kick drum will display a little variation each time it’s played.

  • LFO Grind Drive Distort.repatch

Another wacky and heavily distorted sound. There’s a lot of vibration and drive in this one. Try it with a bass or synth sound. Or even a texture or drone sound.

  • Simple Tremolo.repatch

This is a simplified version of Tremolo, and shows you how you can wobble the level of any audio source.

  • Panned Combs.repatch

A very simple patch that takes the audio coming into Etch Red and sends it through two Comb filters in parallel. Then the signal is panned left and right.

  • Snare Variable Dual Filter.repatch

Like the Kick Variable patch, except this one was built for snares.

  • Whacky Comb.repatch

Something a little more “out there” using a Comb filter. Try it out for some weird glitchiness.


So that’s what you’ll find included in the free Etch Red Patch Pack. Let me know what you think. Now I have to go wrap my head around Peff’s excellent Directre Rack Extension. Deep! Until next time, I hope some of what I do inspires you. All my best.

82 – Etch Red

This article will introduce you to the Etch Red RE from http://www.fxpansion.com. This RE is a powerful dual multi-mode filter that can be set up in series or parallel. It also comes with a comprehensive built-in and external modulation scheme that is unlike any other in the stock Reason program. Aside from filtering, it is capable of several tricks such as gating, stereo widening, compression, distortion, LFO wobbling, Tremolo, and Vibrato effects. To top it all off, it comes with the ability to Frequency Modulate the filters (either internally via the 2 built-in LFOs, or externally using an incoming audio source). A lot of power for a very affordable Reason device. So let’s take a walk-through and learn a little more about it.

This article will introduce you to the Etch Red RE from FXpansion. This Rack Extension is a powerful dual multi-mode filter that can be set up in series or parallel. It also comes with a comprehensive built-in and external modulation scheme that is unlike any other in the stock Reason program. Aside from filtering, it is capable of several tricks such as gating, stereo widening, compression, distortion, LFO wobbling, Tremolo, and Vibrato effects. To top it all off, it comes with the ability to Frequency Modulate the filters (either internally via the 2 built-in LFOs, or externally using an incoming audio source). A lot of power for a very affordable Reason device. So let’s take a walk-through and learn a little more about it.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the device, let me first point you to the PDF User Manual that you can download. This comes straight from the FXpansion site, and it’s a good idea that you have a read before jumping in. There’s a few pitfalls that you want to avoid when working with this Rack Extension, and while it’s a very nicely designed device, there’s still some areas that might cause you to scratch your head.

Next, let me point out the main features of this Rack Extension in a simple video:

It’s all about Source > Destination = Modulation.

The heart of Etch Red is all the wonderful red knobs scattered throughout the upper (Filters) and lower (Sources) section of the device. These knobs allow you to modulate their associated parameters with one or more of the 10 Sources (selected in the Middle section of the device). Indeed you can modulate one parameter with all 10 sources if you like. Where I can see a lot of people getting tripped up is when you start trying to figure out how to modulate one destination with these Multiple Sources. So here’s a step-by-step tutorial to help you get your feet wet with this concept:

  1. Create a Subtractor, Thor, NNXT, or any other sound-generating device in Reason, or else create a new Audio Track and place some audio on this track. My recommendation is to go for a nice Pad sound to start yourself off. Load up a Pad patch from the Factory Sound Bank if you are stumped for creativity.
  2. Create an Etch Red device underneath so that it is auto-routed to the sound device (hint: Etch Red is found in the Creative FX menu if you right-click under the sound device). If all goes well, the sound device’s Left and Right audio goes into the Etch Red device, and then back out to the Mix Channel or Audio Track.
  3. Set the LFO1 Rate to be 1/2 bars and LFO2 Rate to be 1/16 bars. Both are Synced by default. Also adjust their Gain settings to both be set to around 66%. This will remove the harshness of the LFO curve. It’s like a depth or volume setting for the modulation source.

    Setting the LFO1 Rate to 1/2 Bars in the Source (bottom) section of the device
    Setting the LFO1 Rate to 1/2 Bars in the Source (bottom) section of the device

    Setting the LFO2 Rate to 1/16 Bars in the Source (bottom) section of the device
    Setting the LFO2 Rate to 1/16 Bars in the Source (bottom) section of the device
  4. Select a Source from the middle “Modulation Source Selection” section of the device. By default, the LFO1 is selected as a source. You can see this because the little LED within the square icon is yellow. You can also select a source using the drop-down list to the right of all 10 sources. For this example, we’ll use both LFO1 and LFO2 as a source to modulate both Filter Frequencies. Keep LFO1 selected for now. Click the tiny square red LED light just to the bottom right of the LFO1 selector. Turning it off switches the polarity of LFO1 from Unipolar to Bipolar. Leave LFO2 set to Unipolar, which is the default.
    The Modulation Source Selection (middle) area of Etch Red. Note that the LFO1 selector is yellow. You can select a source by pressing these square icons, or by clicking from the drop-down list (both are shown here with a black square border).
    The Modulation Source Selection (middle) area of Etch Red. Note that the LFO1 selector is yellow. You can select a source by pressing these square icons, or by clicking from the drop-down list (both are shown here with a black square border).

    Setting the Polarity of LFO1 to Unipolar by turning the LED off. This ensures the LFO travels both negatively and positively to affect the destination parameter.
    Setting the Polarity of LFO1 to Unipolar by turning the LED off. This ensures the LFO travels both negatively and positively to affect the destination parameter.
  5. Next, switch the Filter 1 Mode to a 4-Pole High Pass Filter (4H) and the Frequency to 6 Hz (fully left). For Filter 2, leave it set to the Low Pass Filter (default), and set the Frequency to around 350 Hz or so. Also set its Resonance (Rez Rotary) to roughly 25%. Note: The Black rotaries change the parameters. The Rotaries encased in Red circles are used to modulate these parameters. So Black changes the parameters outright, while red is used to modulate them negatively (left) or positively (right).
    Setting Filter 1 Mode to a 4-Pole High Pass Filter.
    Setting Filter 1 Mode to a 4-Pole High Pass Filter.

    Setting the Filter 1 Frequency to 6 Hz.
    Setting the Filter 1 Frequency to 6 Hz.

    Setting the Filter 2 Frequency to around 350 Hz and the Resolution (Rez) to about 25%.
    Setting the Filter 2 Frequency to around 350 Hz and the Resolution (Rez) to about 25%.
  6. Now we’re set to actually use the sources to modulate the Filters. Using the Red Modulation Rotaries, set the rotaries beneath both filter Frequency parameters to positive 28%. You’ll start to hear the sway of LFO1 affecting the sound as you play the sound device.

    Adjusting the Modulation of the Filter 1 Frequency.
    Adjusting the Modulation of the Filter 1 Frequency.
  7. Select LFO2 by clicking on the square icon in the middle section of the device or using the drop-down at the far right of the 10 Mod Sources. When you switch over to a new Modulation Source, you’ll notice that both filter frequencies’ Modulation Rotaries snap back to their original values (dead center). You’ll also notice that the small LED circle just above these rotaries turn red. This LEDs indicate that there is another source modulating this parameter. Finally, the previous source’s square selector changes from yellow to red (LFO1 in this case). Switch back to LFO1, and these LEDs turn yellow. Switch back to LFO2, the parameters go back to their default and the LEDs turn Red. Yellow = whatever is currently selected in Etch Red. Red = another value is being used to modulate this parameter.

    Note: The one thing that I dislike about working with Etch Red is the fact that when you start creating complex modulations and have several sources modulating a certain Destination, there’s no immediate way to see which sources are modulating the parameter and by how much. You have to click on each source to see how it is affecting all its associated destinations. On the flipside, this does make experimenting with complex modulation assignments quick and you can easily get lost in experimentation. So that’s a plus!

  8. With LFO2 as the selected source, change the Modulation Rotary underneath Filter 2 to a positive 50%. You now have the Frequency for Filter 2 being modulated by both LFO1 and LFO2. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

    The Final Etch Red Filter, Mod Source Selection, and Sources sections.
    The Final Etch Red Filter, Mod Source Selection, and Sources sections. Note how LFO2 and the LED just above the Modulation rotary for the Filter 2 Frequency are yellow, indicating LFO 2 is the currently selected source, and Filter 2 Frequency is being modulated by LFO2. On the other hand the LED above the Modulation Rotary for the Filter 1 Frequency parameter is red, indicating it is being modulated by another source (in this case, LFO1).

Note: Of course, you can also modulate a Source’s Rate or Gain settings (at least for the sources listed in the top row of the Modulation Source Selection area) by adjusting the red Modulation Rotaries underneath these parameters (in the bottom section of the device). This can also open up some very complex modulations. You can even use LFO1 to modulate its own Rate and Gain. How trippy.

Getting a little more Advanced

So now that we have a grasp on how Etch Red works, I thought I would delve a little deeper into things by using the Envelope source. In order to get the envelope working, you need to send a Gate input signal into the back of the device. And what better way to trigger the envelope than with a Rex loop’s Gate output. So here’s a little video that shows a few techniques along those lines:

Everyone Loves a Dubstep Bass, right (or am I being sarcastic)?

Here’s a great video put together by FXpansion themselves that goes over the process of creating a Dubstep Bass using their device. It’s a little more advanced, but it’s a great way to showcase how some of the CV modulations can be used on the back of their device. And the sound is just cool, so I had to include it here:

More Tips and Tricks

Here are a few other handy tricks you can try out using Etch Red.

  • Fun with Distortion: Unsync LFO 1 and select it as a mod source. Set its rate to somewhere around 100-600 Hz. Set the output level to -14 dB. Turn up the Drive Mod Rotary slowly. adjust the LFO 1 Rate, Mph, and Drive Types until you find something you like. Great for basses.
  • Tremolo: Select the LFO 1 as a mod source and click the Polarity LED to make it bipolar. Adjust the Level Mod rotary set to a small amount in either direction for Tremolo.effects.
  • More Shapes: Create a Malstrom and from the back send Mod A into Etch Red’s CV 1 input. You can now use Malstrom’s 31 waves as a source to affect any Etch Red Modulation.
  • Dual Filter Gates: Turn off Drive and Filter 2. Set LFO 1 & 2 with “Square” shapes. Ensure the rates are synced, but different for each (ex.: 1/4 & 1/16). Keep the Gain full. Select LFO 1 as a source, and Set Filter 1 to Low Pass (Japan, SVF, or Fatty). Set the Frequency to 6 Hz (full left). Then turn the Frequency Mod Rotary to 100% (full right). Now select LFO 2 as a Source and use it to modulate the same Filter 1 Frequency in the same way (Mod Rotary to 100% – full right). Adjust the depth of both LFOs by adjusting their Gain values.
  • Auto-Panner: Set LFO 1 to Bipolar. Then use LFO 1 as a source adjusting the Pan Mod Rotary for Filter 1. Adjust the LFO 1 settings to taste.
  • FM Audio Fun: Try sending audio from a Loop or a synth into the Filter 1 and/or 2 FM inputs. Then on the front, turn up the FM Rotaries, and adjust the Filter Freq & Res to taste. Noise and Saw Oscillators are great audio inputs too (though you may need to raise their volume). For further manipulation, assign an LFO to modulate the FM amount.
  • Envelopes: To use the Etch Red Envelope, you need to send a CV signal into the Gate CV input on the back. Try sending a matrix Gate CV into the Gate CV input. Now put together a gate pattern in the matrix. Alternately, you can send a Curve CV from the Matrix. Now you can use the Envelope modulation source to modulate any Etch Red Mod Parameters.
  • Key Tracking your Filters: To use the Etch Red “Key Track” feature, create a Sequencer Track for Etch Red. Then copy MIDI data from another Track (some monophonic data works best). Then reduce the Filter Frequency. When you play back the Sequencer, the Filter will follow the MIDI track, and will in essence be following the musical track from which you stole the MIDI data. Or you can just play along on your keyboard to track the Filters.
  • Internal Pitching: Try sending the LFO 1 CV output to the Pitch CV input on the back of Etch Red. Then turn on Key Track on the front, and set up your Filter. Choose a Fatty LP filter for a nice bassy sound. Set Freq to about 185 Hz, Rez to 70%, and set LFO 1 Rate to 34 Hz, Free-running, and Mph to about 77%. Oh yeah, some nice Bass Wobbling.

Hope you enjoy Etch Red as much as I do. It’s capable of quite a lot. If you have any other ideas, tips and tricks, please share them with the class.

81 – Using Templates

Reason is one heckuva great program. Reason is the reason I’ve created all these tutorials. Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects to the program is the creation and usage of Templates. These amazing time savers can reduce your time to creating tracks immensely, and if you don’t use them now, hopefully you’ll realize their value after you read this article, and use them as an integral part of your process. So let’s get busy!

Reason is one heckuva great program. Reason is the reason I’ve created all these tutorials. Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects to the program is the creation and usage of Templates. These amazing time savers can reduce your time to creating tracks immensely, and if you don’t use them now, hopefully you’ll realize their value after you read this article, and use them as an integral part of your process. So let’s get busy!

You can download the project files here: 3-templates. They contain 3 Templates that I have used in the past. The first template Album Session – Dark is exactly that. It’s a template I used when I was coming up with the songs for my “Dark” album. It contains all the starting things you would need (Drums, Bass, and two audio tracks). I used Redrum channel 1, 2, and 3 to mix together 3 bass drums. Channel 4 & 5 were for the Snare sound, and channel 8 & 9 for the Hi Hat. The Bass Drum is processed through a Pulverizer and is also used to sidechain the Bass. I put a simple drum track in the Redrum Pattern Sequencer and Bass track in the Main Sequencer so you can see the setup. The audio tracks were used to include samples that I stretched out to be a super long length and in effect created the Pad sound. I also sometimes threw in an Alligator to apply to the Bass or the Pad sound on the audio track. There’s also some basic mastering in the Master Insert device, and two Reverb Send FX. It’s pretty basic, but gives you an idea of how to set up a template for use as the main song starter for an entire project. There’s a million different directions you could go with this idea. Normally, after loading this template, I would change out the drum and bass sounds, and create a new pattern (or several) in the Redrum. I would also play a different MIDI pattern on the Main Sequencer for the Bass, and change the Bass instrument. Essentially, it’s just an empty shell. It’s up to you to fill it with your own MIDI, Patterns, and instruments.

The second template is the ReDrum Submix which I used to use prior to Record and Reason 6. It submixes a Redrum into its own 14:2 Mixer, and then routes that mixer to the Main Mixer for the song. Again, a simple pattern was added into the ReDrum to give you an example. This also uses two BV512 Vocoders as Spectrum Analyzers to monitor your sound. The third template, Sound Design is one that I still use when I want to create some new patches and sounds in Reason using the stock 3 synth devices. There’s one of each of these devices, and all the parameters are set to zero. In addition, there’s a Matrix sequencer attached to each one. This way, you can start from the ground up on any device you wish (you just need to give the correct device focus – on startup, the Subtractor has focus). Since all parameters are set to zero, you have to build the whole patch from scratch. The Matrix devices are in there so that you can use a simple pattern to play the device, instead of playing via your key controller. This can make it easier when you want to focus on changing parameters and let the Matrix handle the device playback. Note that you should also test out your patches using the key controller, as this can help you with things like key range, velocity settings, etc. Either way, you can use the Matrixes or not.

What is a Template?

A Template, put simply, is a Reason song file (.reason). It cannot be any other file type. It is used as a starting point for document development (usually a song; however, it can also be used as a Mastering Template, Sound Design template, Loop Template, or any other purpose that you have for Reason files). It can contain anything that can be saved in a Reason file, which pretty much means anything and everything in the Reason universe.

The concept of Templates is nothing new. You find them in Microsoft Word, Excel, and Adobe products, such as InDesign as well. If you think about what happens when you first use any of your programs, you usually start off with a New, empty document. Then you perform a few common tasks. For example, you open up a new Word document to a blank page, then you may change your styles to reflect what you want to write, show hidden text to show you paragraph markers, maybe add a specific layout, create a two-column setup, write a basic introduction, and add a Table of Contents. After a while, you realize that you keep performing these same tasks at the start of every new document. Well, what if instead when you open that new document, all of these tasks were already performed, allowing you to “skip over them” and get straight to writing the content of the document. This would save you a lot of time right?

Enter the concept of the “Template.” The Template takes all of the common tasks that you perform at the start of a new document, and puts everything in place for you so you can get right to work. In the Reason world, this might be including a set of Send effects, or your own personal mastering template before the audio output goes to your audio card. If you use the same drums or bass or other instruments, you can include them and they, in turn, can have their own inserts. If you find you are always including 3 audio tracks in every song, you can add the tracks and have them ready to go the next time you start off your document. Channel strip settings, MIDI data on the sequencer, automation, Blocks, CV and Audio routings. All of these things can be saved into a Template.

Then, the next time you want to start a song, you can open up your Template and get to work unfettered by all the repetitious and dull start-up nonsense. It’s the equivalent to starting off a road race half-way to the finish line. While everyone around you starts way back at the starting gun. Then, once you’ve added your new (unique) work into the mix, and save your document, you’re NOT saving over top of the Template. You’re saving your work to a new file. It’s like using “Save As” in reverse. Instead you’re using “Start As” to start off a new document as a Template. And this is an important point. Your template remains the same and is stored into its own special folder. When you open it to start a new document (from File > New from Template), you are opening a “copy” of that Template document. When you then go to File > Save or File > Save As, you saving this “copy” of the file, not the Template itself. The only time you can overwrite a Template is if you actually go into the Template folder and save over your Template, or delete the Template from the Templates folder directly.

Navigating Templates

Let’s start with a simple premise: A lot of users don’t know where the templates file is stored. Furthermore, most people confuse a “Template” with a “Default Song.” These are not the same thing. The Default Song can be accessed from the Edit > Preferences folder (on the General tab), as shown below:

The Default Song options from the Edit > Preferences > General Tab Menu
The Default Song options from the Edit > Preferences > General Tab Menu

The Default Song parameters set up what you want to happen when you open Reason. If you want to always open Reason with a Template song, you can do so by selecting the “Template” option. However, this is very different from the Templates you can access once Reason is open. In this case, a Template is accessed from the File > New from Template menu, as shown below:

The File > New from Template sub-menu where you can access all your stored Templates.
The File > New from Template sub-menu where you can access all your stored Templates.

You’ll notice a few things. First, you already have a few default templates stored here, which are nice to look at and explore. You might also find a Template or two that fit your own working process. Second, you’ll see that there is a “Show Template Folder” option at the bottom of the list. This is handy to point you to where your Template Folder is on your machine (I’ll get to this in a minute, as it’s different for different operating systems), and also a handy way to open the Template folder and delete Templates quickly (again, more on this below). Third, and most importantly, after a while the inevitable question will pop into your head: “How do I add my own Templates”?

So let’s deal with the question: “Where are your Templates stored”? All templates are stored in the following folder. Note that your location varies depending on your operating system:

  • PC (Win Vista)*: C:\Users\[User Name]\Application Data\Propellerhead Software\Reason\Template Songs
  • PC (Win7)*: C:\Users\[User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Propellerhead Software\Reason\Template Songs
  • MAC (OSX):  \user\Library\Application Support\Propellerhead Software\Reason\Template Songs

* Note that in Windows, this folder may be hidden. You will have to unhide your system folders in order to see it. In Windows 7, open your “Control Panel > Folder Options > View Tab,” and select the “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” radio button.

* Note also that if you have moved the “Users” folder or mucked about with the system folders in Windows, you can open an Explorer window and type “%appdata%” into the path entry (search field) at the top. This will open up the “Roaming” folder. From there, you can navigate to “Propellerhead Software/Reason/Template Songs.

So once you have your template set up the way you want, you’ll need to first save your song into the above folder. Then you can open it from File > New from Template > [Your Template File].

Note to Props: It would be nice to have a direct command under the File menu that allows you to “Save As Template” which opens the “Save As” dialog directly navigated to the “Template Songs” folder. This way you could easily save any document you’re working on into the Template Songs folder. Just a thought.

Building a Template: The Checklist

Everyone will have their own purpose for creating and using a Template. As you create your template, it’s a good idea to look at the checklist below and cross out those areas that don’t pertain to you, and check off those that do. Doing this while you create a Template will ensure you don’t forget something in the process. As you create more Templates, you’ll need to rely on this list less and less. I might have missed a few things, and if so, let me know and I’ll update the list below. Print it out and make a few copies the next time you create your Template.

  • Purpose of Template? (Song Structure, Mastering, Startup document)
  • Edit > Remote Override settings
  • Master effect inserts (Rack)
  • Send effects (Rack)
  • Audio channel devices (Rack)
  • Audio track (Sequencer)
    • Audio track clips (Sequencer)
    • Audio track clip labels (Sequencer)
    • Audio track clip colors (Sequencer)
    • Audio data in the clips (Sequencer)
  • Mix channels (Rack)
  • Instrument devices (Rack)
    • Instrument track  (Sequencer)
    • Instrument track clips (Sequencer)
    • Instrument track clip labels (Sequencer)
    • Instrument track clip colors (Sequencer)
    • MIDI data in the clips (Sequencer)
  • Instrument device inserts (Rack)
  • Pattern devices (Rack)
  • Pattern data in the devices (Rack)
  • Pattern track (sequencer)
    • Pattern lanes (Sequencer)
    • Pattern lane clips (Sequencer)
    • Pattern lane clip labels (Sequencer)
    • Pattern lane clip colors (Sequencer)
  • Blocks (Sequencer – Block mode)
  • Blocks (Sequencer – Song mode)
    • Block labels (Sequencer – Song mode)
    • Block colors (Sequencer – Song mode)
  • Audio routings (Rack)
  • CV routings (Rack)
  • Mixer Channel Strip settings for each device (Mixer)
  • Master Channel Strip settings (Mixer)
  • Master Bus Compressor settings (Mixer)
  • Device labels (Rack)
  • Screen Layout (Rack/Mixer/Sequencer combined or split, F4 Keyboard on/off, etc)

Now for the naming of your Template file. Create a naming structure that you will understand. It may not seem important right now, and yes you can always change file names later. But if you start off organized, you’ll benefit as your Template list grows in size. Since you can’t currently create folders for hierarchy, the Template name becomes even more important. So keep the first word in the file name reserved for hierarchical purposes. Here’s what I recommend as an idea:

  • Mastering – Dubstep – Brickwall
  • Mastering – Dubstep – MidSide
  • Mastering – Electronic – Kompact
  • Mastering – Rock – Subtle
  • Mastering – Rock – Wide
  • Startup – Empty – 3 Windows
  • Startup – Empty – 1 Window
  • Startup – Sound Design – Combi
  • Startup – Sound Design – Synths
  • Structural – Electronic
  • Structural – House – ICVCVO
  • Structural – House – ICVBCVBO
  • Structural – Rock – CCVCVO

This type of hierarchy is merely a small example. It provides for the three main reasons for using templates at the top level: Mastering, Song Startups, and Song Structures. The second level provides for the type of genre you’re working on. And the third level provides the type of Mastering or the type of Song Structure (I=Intro, C=Chorus, V=Verse, B=Break or Interlude, O=Outro). Song Starters are a little different. I usually use the second level to provide the focus, and the third level to narrow that focus. This will make navigating your template folder easy and save you time when looking through a very large list. You could even add numbers if you have two different templates for the same type of Mastering or Song Structure Template. If you do this, the numbering should probably go at the end as a fourth level. And with everything, this is only a suggestion for keeping things neat and tidy.

I also didn’t include a category for “Album Mastering” but of course you can add this as well. There are two or 3 default templates that show how Templates can be used in this manner. In this case, you add the amount of audio tracks (Audio Channel devices) into your Template document. Each track represents a song in your album project. You then add the appropriate sends/mastering devices that will be used for all the tracks. Then anytime you have a project, you open up that document and start adding your tracks into the existing channels. In this way Reason becomes your track recorder/master.

Templates for Power Users

Once you get comfortable with Templates, you’ll realize you can create as many of them as you like. Perhaps you’ll create a new Template for each album or EP project. Or, you might want to create a few different templates for different genres or recording situations. The point is, you’ll start developing your own Template folder. There’s a few key things that I would recommend if you’re going to become a Power Template User:

  • Unless you use any of the default Templates regularly, create a “Default” folder in your “Template Songs” folder and move them all into this folder. Note: Any folders created under the “Template Songs” folder won’t show up in the “File > New from Template” subfolder in Reason. Then enter any Reason song files you want to use as Templates into the main “Template Songs” folder. These songs will show up in the File > New from Template submenu, and it’s dynamic, meaning that you don’t have to first shut down and then restart Reason in order to see them in the submenu. They are just magically there once you place them.

Note to Props: It would be nice if the folder hierarchy does show up under the File > Template Songs folder, in the event that power users want to categorize their Templates. Just a thought.

  • Remote Overrides (under Options > Remote Override Edit Mode) can also be saved with your Template. This means that you can use Templates as a “Remote Template” for any controllers you have connected to your computer. A nice handy way to instantly call up a Controller setup (especially for live recording).
  • I have it on pretty good authority that some artists use Templates to create their own “song structure” templates, complete with instruments, sends, inserts, mastering, MIDI, etc. Then they use these templates to switch out instruments. This becomes their entire process, creating several songs that have the same basic structure but sound different. While this is perfectly valid and I wouldn’t argue against doing this (I think it’s quite ingenious actually), I would add a word of caution. Templates are powerful things. But don’t let them stop you from starting off your songs with a completely empty slate as well. It’s the only way to grow and enhance your skills. So if you DO end up going in this direction, don’t neglect the artistic or creative side of starting projects off without a Template, at least every now and then.
  • As with anything you do on your computer, make a backup of your entire “Template Songs” folder somewhere outside this folder and outside the evil clutches of the Reason install (and preferably on a completely separate external drive or backup drive). I’m joking of course, as I don’t know if any files in this folder get overwritten. It’s quite possible that on your next install, the default Template songs will merely be added back into the folder in a gleefully chummy way next to your other personal Template files. But if not, or if something crashes, you can just copy this backup folder and paste it over the post-installation “Template Songs” folder. And hey, it’s backup. You should do this regularly!

So that’s Templates in a nutshell. I really didn’t think this article would end up being so long. But it seems there were a lot of things to discuss. Hopefully this helps you understand them, navigate through them, create them, and use them. So go forth and create some cool templates and please share them with me if you have some great ideas. I’d love to take a look at your inner workings. If we all shared a few templates, we’d all raise our game and learn a few things along the way. So let’s see what you’ve got! All my best and happy music making.

 

80 – Shelob Audio Splitter

Matt Black (aka: Jiggery Pokery) has done it again. Instead of providing a new ReFill, he has dazzled us with a new Rack Extension: Shelob, a 4-input, 16 stereo /32 mono audio output Splitter. Think of it as 4 Spiders locked together in a nice compact unit, but with a few extras. And all for the low price of $9.00 USD. In this article, I’ll discuss a little about what you can do with this baby.

Matt Black (aka: Jiggery Pokery) has done it again. Instead of providing a new ReFill, he has dazzled us with a new Rack Extension: Shelob, a 4-input, 16 stereo /32 mono audio output Splitter. Think of it as 4 Spiders locked together in a nice compact unit, but with a few extras. And all for the low price of $9.00 USD. In this article, I’ll discuss a little about what you can do with this baby.

You can download a few free patches here:  Shelob Patches. These patches outline a few ways you can use Shelob to crossfade, parallel process, stripe a range of effects splits played via keys on your MIDI keyboard, group splits, create a fade in / fade out combinator, etc. Use them as templates and lessons in how to route things up in Shelob. See the videos below for a little more about how Shelob works.

First, let’s take a look at what Shelob replaces or improves upon:

Spider Audio Merger Splitter - Splitter side
Reason’s stock Spider Audio Merger/Splitter from the back, indicating the split side with 1 audio input and 4 audio split outputs. This is what Shelob replaces.

Next, let’s take a quick look at Shelob from the front and from the back:

Shelob Audio Splitter Rack Extension - Front
The Front of the Shelob Audio Bypass Splitter
Shelob Audio Splitter Rack Extension - Back
The Back of the Shelob Audio Bypass Splitter

The following showcases the differences between the original Spider Audio Merger/Splitter and the Shelob:

  1. Uses 1 device rather than 4 Spiders. Note that the Spider can take 1 input signal and split it 4 ways, as well as take 4 input signals and merge them into 1. On the other hand, Shelob can take four input signals and split each of those signals 4 ways (or any combination of those, for example, you can take 1 input signal and split it up to 20 ways; 16 straight outputs and 4 pass-through outputs). There is no merging capability with Shelob, though I have it on good authority that a merging device is on the way.
  2. Off/On of each of those 4 channels and 16 stereo/32 mono outputs can be automated
  3. Each set of 4 inputs can be used as a pass-through in order to create “Split Groups” that can be turned on/off
  4. Ability to fade the signals in or out. This opens the door to creating crossfades between signals on Shelob, and fade in / fade outs of any audio signal. The Fade is “global” so it affects all signals sent in or out of Shelob. The fade can be anywhere between 1 millisecond to 20 seconds.
  5. Ability to “Stripe” the signal. This means you can take one input signal and send it to all 20 outputs without any additional inputs or routing.
  6. All switches on the device can be automated or programmed in the Combinator to be on / off. In addition, the fade knob can also be automated or programmed to a Combinator control.

Here’s a quick introduction to the device:

Fade Knob

The fade essentially determines how long the sound “fades out” after you turn that specific channel from “On” to “Off.” In the default position, turn any channel off and the sound stops immediately. With more fade, turning any channel off will let the sound fade out slowly. This also works both ways, so you can “fade in” a signal when you turn a specific channel from “Off” to “On.”

Fade is global, so it affects all channels, and it can be automated. But of course you can create multiple Shelobs to control fade on some channels and then fade differently on others.

From Matt:

Fade times work both ways – switch on (fade in), and switch off (fade out).

As Rob says above, Fade time can be automated as required.

With a maximum fade time of 20s, you could even stick a Shelob on your master outs, or just before Ozone if using that for dithering, and flick a switch for fade in at the start and fade out at the end

The Fade knob is 0-100 milliseconds in the white area, and 101-20000 milliseconds (20 seconds) in the green area. This means you can create a fade 0-20 seconds long. To create a simple crossfade between two signals, for example, program a Combinator Button to switch Channel 01-A to go on/off and Channel 01-B to go off/on. The button is now used to crossfade between the two signals. Program the Rotary 1 to adjust the Fade knob and use it to determine the fade time from 0-20 seconds. This makes it one of the easiest ways to crossfade between two audio sources or two effects.

Here’s a video that shows you how to Crossfade and parallel process your audio signals:

Stripe Switch

With the Stripe switched turned on, you can send one audio signal into Channel 1 input, and then split that signal on all outputs (A through P) at once, without any further input signals. This means you don’t need to Chain an output split to the next 3 Channels (for example, from A-1 to Channel 2 input). With Stripe Off, the Channels can be used separately (as if you have 4 independent Channels in Shelob, or more to the point, the Shelob acts more like 4 Spider Audio Splitters in one).

Incidentally, if you want to use Shelob exactly as you use the Reason Spider Audio Splitter, keep Stripe off, and turn on all output splits (A through P). Now, all splits are open or on, and you can send four different audio inputs into all four Channels and split them into their respective splits.

Also, with the Pass-Through, you gain an additional output on each Channel, meaning that you have 4 extra Splits (for a total of 20 outputs). Though this is not the intended use of Pass-Through (discussed more below), you can indeed use it this way.

Again, from Matt:

While you can get 20 ouputs, the recommended setting here is to not connect the Pass jacks, but you can do.

Put your input into Channel 1, and turn on Stripe. Channel 1 will then be sent to Channnels 2, 3 and 4. Now you can turn each Channel off/on either as a Channel group with it’s Pass Switch (hence why it’s recommended not to use the Pass Jacks), and you can turn all Channels 2, 3 and 4 on and off simultaneously via the Stripe switch!

This opens the door to a lot of possibilities. Here’s a quick video to show you how to use the Stripe Feature and showcases a few of the included Combinators:

Inputs 1, 2, 3, and 4

Simply, this is where you input your audio source(s). Pretty straightforward. There are four Channels, and you can source four audio signals.

Pass-Through 1, 2, 3, and 4

Pass-Through allows you to send audio from one Channel to another. Since each Pass-Through has an on/off switch on the front of the device, this means you can “group” your splits and turn on/off all four splits of each channel with one switch. To use it, simply ensure you have an audio source going into a Channel (let’s say Channel 1, for example). Then send the Pass-Through from Channel 1 to the input of Channel 2, 3, or 4. Now, the audio source into Channel 1 is also input into Channel 2, without the need to steal a split from Channel 1 to chain Channel 1 to Channel 2 (via split A, B, C, or D). This is one other advantage Shelob has over Reason’s Spider Splitter.

Here’s a video to show you how Pass-Through operates:

Splits A through P

The Splits take whatever Audio is input into a Channel (or from a previous Channel, if Stripe is turned on), and sends it out to whatever destination you like. You can send a split out to other effect(s), or straight to a Mixer Channel or to a Mix Channel device, or other splitters. The audio can be sent to whatever audio destination you like.


That’s the Shelob utility Rack Extension in a nutshell. Hopefully, this gives you some ideas and helps you understand how to use the device. Check out the attached Combinator patches and have some fun playing with it. For less than the price of an iTunes album, it’s well worth the expense to get a little more functionality out of audio splitting. Happy Reasoning! And thanks so much Matt, for such a great addition to the Rack. Cheers mate!

Basic Subtractor Patch Pack

Most people that have used Reason since version 1.0 might already be very familiar with the Subtractor. It was the first synth in Reason, and at the time, was the only synth in Reason. However, if you are just coming into Reason right now (version 6.5), you may not have ever used the Subtractor. Or maybe you haven’t touched it in a very long time. So this article will present some of the basic building blocks of Subtractor sounds. Use these 25 patches as starting points for your own creations, or use them as is. What I tried to do here is show some of the capabilities of the Subtractor synth via example patches. There’s no CV, no Combinators. Just straight single Subtractor sounds. As well as some tips for working with this — still amazing — synth.

Basic Subtractor Patch PackMost people that have used Reason since version 1.0 might already be very familiar with the Subtractor. It was the first synth in Reason, and at the time, was the only synth in Reason. However, if you are just coming into Reason right now (version 6.5), you may not have ever used the Subtractor. Or maybe you haven’t touched it in a very long time. So this article will present some of the basic building blocks of Subtractor sounds. Use these 25 patches as starting points for your own creations, or use them as is. What I tried to do here is show some of the capabilities of the Subtractor synth via example patches. There’s no CV, no Combinators. Just straight single Subtractor sounds. As well as some tips for working with this — still amazing — synth.

You can download the patch pack here: Basic-Subtractor. It contains 25 Subtractor patches that are used as examples to show how various basic sounds are generated with the device. Use these as they are, or use them as springboards for your own designs.

So try out the patches, and if you like them please consider donating: [paypal-donation]

The Subtractor is a very straightforward 2-Oscillator synth that is based on subtractive synthesis. It’s modelled to react in the same way an Analogue synthesizer would, even though it’s a digital recreation of one. Its subtractive synthesis engine means that the Oscillators make up the tones, and these tones can be shaped and whittled down between each other, and with mixing and filtering to remove or subtract parts of the sound for a final outcome. Creating sounds is like covering up an entire canvas with a coat of black , and then painting by removing those black areas to reveal the painting underneath. Or rather, painting using the negative space, as opposed to the positive space. This is the basic idea that forms the wealth of sounds you can gleen from the device.

The following shows the Subtractor device, with the “Init Patch” loaded. The Init Patch is used as a starting point for building sounds. Note that the Init Patch does not start at ground zero, and instead is an actual patch that generates an actual sound. I find that in some circumstances you may want to start at ground zero. In this case, you can set all the sliders and knobs to their zero or center position and save the patch. This way, you can always load your new “Init Patch” anytime you like. I’m sure only the die hard sound creation gurus will go to this trouble, but if you are new to any synth, it’s always better to learn from the bottom up, than to have half a sound already generated for you. But that’s just my own opinion.

The Subtractor Synth Device
The Subtractor Synth Device. When the device is “Reset” from the context menu, the initialized patch is entered. This is used as a starting point from which you can build your sounds.

The Patches

Following are the various patch examples you will find within the patch pack, along with a brief description and key features of each. The idea behind these patches are to show you the versatility of the synth, and show some of the types of sounds it can produce. Of course, there are many more kinds of sounds. An oboe, bassoon, an ambulance siren, and the list can go on. I encourage you to try your own. But hopefully these can get you started and give you some ideas of how to work with the Subtractor.

  • Bass Example
  • Bass Wobble Example
  • TB303 Example 01
  • TB303 Example 02

These patches are probably the type of sound that is most commonly associated with the Subtractor: Bass. Octave separation between the two oscillators is key here, along with the right kind of filtering and amp envelope.

  • ChipTune Example

This type of sound is one that you’d find on any video game console from the ’80’s. The key to this kind of sound is use of the LFO set to square wave and modifying Oscillator Pitch. This creates the arp feel of the patch. In addition, the Band Pass Filter and setting the envelopes to a full decay and all other envelope parameters to zero gives the sound a minimal 8-bit feel. If you wanted to, you could use the Noise generator to add a little distortion to the sound. But it’s usually better to add a Scream FX unit set to “Digital” damage mode in order to recreate some “crunch” to the sound. Be sure to also keep the Oscillator waves simple as well. Remember, you’re trying to recreate very basic technology here.

  • Filter Sweep Example

This shows you how the Filter Envelope can be used to sweep the filter in your sounds.

  • Flute Example
  • Horn Example

These two patches show you how you can create some wind instruments. One of the keys to recreating these types of sounds is using the sawtooth oscillator and proper filtering. A little modulation helps as well. Generally, I find wind instruments use either Sawtooth or Sine waves, and benefit from a HP filter in Filter 1 and a then the Low Pass filter 2. Some tweaking with the envelopes and a little modulation affecting the pitch to give it a jump in pitch at the beginning can recreate the “blowing” sound that starts at the beginning of these sounds. As with everything in patch design, the devil is in the details.

  • FM Texture Example

Shows how using FM can give a whole new perspective to your sound, and can often generate interesting textures. FM, as well as Ring Mod can make the sound very unnatural, distorted, or even metallic. See the next “Glockenspiel” patch.

  • Glockenspiel Example

This is an example of a glock — or bell-like sound. The use of the Ring Mod feature is what really makes the sound here. The example presented is tonal, because the Oscillators are set one octave apart. But you can get some really interesting atonal bell sounds by separating the Octave in weird degrees (for example, try separating them by 6 or 9 semitones, or play around with odd “Cent” differences).

  • Guitar Example

Guitars are difficult — probably the most difficult — to reproduce. But if you can reproduce a piano sound with a synth, you can take an extra leap to try a Guitar sound as well. The two actually share some similar concepts I think. And while the Subtactor isn’t perfect for guitars, they are still do-able. I found that using Wave 15 in Oscillator 1 paired with a sawtooth provided the raw tones. Then a Bandpass filter 1 going to the Low Pass filter 2 seemed to work out well. I then set the Filter and Amp envelopes to similar values, with medium Decay and Release on both. Keep the Attack at zero to give that initial hard attack. The sustain is tricky, and you can leave it out if you want, or add just a little bit to keep the sound going. That’s your call. The other key to this sound is adding a little FM for a metallic sound. Then turn the Mix knob all the way left so that you’re only hearing the FM Carrier (Oscillator 1). That’s the basis for a typical Subtractor Guitar sound. But play around to see what type of sounds you can build from this technique.

  • Hi Hat Example
  • Kick Drum Example
  • Snare Drum Example
  • Tom Tom Example

These are some Drum examples. While all the drums are different and Subtractor is capable of producing a wide variety of drum sounds, there are some common characteristics. For example, most drum sounds don’t have any Sustain, and also have extremely short Attack — usually set to zero. There is minimal Decay and Release as well. So set up the Amp envelope with this in mind. In addition, your drums may or may not require pitching up or down, so you can disable the keyboard tracking for the Oscillators. Then use the Oscillator tuning to get them to sound accurate (usually in the lower register). This way, the drum will sound at the same pitch no matter where you play it on the keyboard. However, this may or may not be what you want.

Filtering is also important for drums. Generally, Bass, Snare, and Tom drums use Low Pass filtering. While Hi Hats, Crashes, Cymbals, and the like use Hi Pass filtering. The Noise generator can be very helpful here as well. For low Bass Drums, be sure to turn the Color knob closer or all the way left. This brings the register of the noise downward. For more of a biting drum, like a Snare, turn the Color knob closer or all the way to the right.

  • Mod Pad Example

Here’s an example of a Pad – a String Pad actually, which use two Sawtooth Oscillators (great for achieving nice string pad sounds). The idea behind creating a nice Pad sound, in my opinion, lies in two areas: A) The Amp Envelope settings, which are fairly slow. This means that the Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release are generally pushed up quite high (over a value of 60 in most cases). And B) The modulations you create, which are usually slow as well. This can be anything from the LFO affecting the Mix or Amp, while the Mod Envelope affects the Phase of the Oscillators. The Rates for the LFOs should be set fairly slow (Rate knob more to the left) and the amount values should be subtle (more to the left) as well. This creates very soothing and meandering sounds which work well for Pads.

Of course, never forget that rules are meant to be broken, and nothing here is set in stone. I’m just presenting you with some generalities.

  • Morse Code Example
  • Noise Doppler Example
  • UFO Effect Example

These three show how you can create various special effects with the Subtractor. The Morse Code patch is a good example of how you can use the Random LFO 1 applied to the Filter Frequency in order to create a random Morse Code Sonar sound. Depending what Oscillator you are using and how it’s filtered, you can have it sound like a Telegraph, if you like. So give that a try.

The Noise Doppler Effect is a good example of how you can use the Noise generator on its own, without any Oscillators. The noise is modulated with the two LFOs to create a pseudo-doppler effect. Then the Mod Envelope is used to control Frequency Cutoff on the Low Pass Filter 2. And the Filter Envelope is affecting Filter 1. This all creates a double filter sweep that brings the sound in slowly as it’s sustained. Try playing a chord and note how the sound gets louder over time (as the filters are opened). The LFO 2 plays its part as well by cycling the Amp. A lot of mods working in tandem to affect a very simple Noise generator. Fun stuff!

And finally there is the UFO effect which showcases how you can create some interesting Alien-type sci-fi sounds. As with all the patches here — but moreso in this particular patch, try using the Mod Wheel to show some variation in the sound.

  • Organ Example 01
  • Organ Example 02
  • Piano Example 01
  • Piano Example 02

These four patches are examples of how to recreate organ and piano sounds using the Subtractor. I don’t know about you, but I find programming Pads, Pianos, Organs, and Basses are probably among the easiest types of instruments to reproduce with the Subtractor. I’m not going to go into all the details of how these patches are put together, because they all use different settings, Oscillators, Filters, etc. And you can take a look at them for yourself and then try your hand at creating similar kinds of sounds. I would say that a good starting point is a Sine wave and Low Pass filter though. Sometimes a Notch filter can work well. It all depends. So here are four examples.

  • PWM Lead Example

This shows how the Phase is used to offset and modulate the Oscillator wave, creating “Pulse Width Modulation” (or PWM for short). This is also referred to as “Phase Offset Modulation” (POM). Essentially, its the same thing.

  • Rhythmic Example

In this patch I tried to show how you can get some very complex rhythms using the two LFOs and the Mod Envelope together. The Mod envelope is applied to the pitch to create a sound that continually moves downward. LFO 1 is applied to the Filter 1 Frequency Cutoff to create a gate-like rhythm to the sound. And LFO 2 is applied to the Phase to create a PWM as Phase is swept back and forth. 2 things you can do: A) Try reversing the direction of the sound by inverting the Mod Envelope (click the upside down ADSR graphic button at the top right of the Mod Envelope section). B) Try adjusting the Rates of the LFOs. You can sync them to each other by keeping their rate values identical. You can separate their sync by using two different rates. It’s up to you. But this is different than syncing the LFOs to the tempo of the song; something else you can try out.

Tips for working with the Subtractor

Aside from the basic Oscillators, there are several other wave samples that are hard-coded into the device (represented by waves 5 through 32 in the Oscillator slots). Then there are the usual things that are familiar to most analog synths: 2 filters, 3 envelopes (Amp, Filter, and Mod), 2 LFOs, Noise generator, FM and Ring Modulation, Pitch Bend & Mod Wheels, and a very extensive Velocity parameter section. All of this should be familiar to the synthesist and sound designer, and I’m not going into all the ins and outs here. The Reason User Guide is an excellent resource which goes over most everything you will need to know in order to get familiar with the Subtractor.

What I do want to cover here are a few pointers that may not be obvious when using the Subtractor, or might cause some confusion when you begin to work with it. Think of this as some additional insight into the device which sooner or later you would figure out on your own. Maybe this might save you the trouble?

  • The Subtractor is monaural in two senses: It creates a single channel of sound, and can only generate one sound at one time. However, the device is polyphonic, in that you can play that same sound using multiple keys (think: chords). The number of keys that can be played at the same time is set up in the Polyphony setting (1-99). However, what you may not know is that some of the modulation is polyphonic as well. I know this sounds a little counter-intuitive, but here’s the deal: If you set up your patch to have a Polyphony setting above 2 (usually you want this higher at 8 or 12), then you can use LFO2 to affect the Oscillator 1 & 2 Pitch, Phase, Filter 2 Frequency Cutoff, or Amp. If you do this, playing a broken chord (one note after another) results in an LFO that retriggers separately for each note. This is different than the LFO 1 in the Subtractor, which is a global or monophonic LFO, meaning it does not retrigger with each new note.
  • Using the LFO 2 to affect the Amp is the way in which you set up Tremolo. It’s a shame that you can’t apply this Tremolo to the Mod Wheel inside a Subtractor patch (a fairly common Mod Wheel assignment), however, you can do this if you put the Subtractor inside a Combinator, and assign the Subtractor’s LFO 2 Amount to the Combinator’s Mod Wheel.
  • Those who are new to the Subtractor may not know that in order for FM or Ring Mod to function, you need to have both Oscillators enabled. This is because both of these features rely on the interaction between the two Oscillators. In addition, if you want to hear only the Frequency Modulated sound, without the Modulator, turn the Mix knob fully left. If you want to hear the Ring Mod sound without the Modulator, turn the Mix knob fully right.
  • The Noise generator is also similarly connected to the second Oscillator output, which means turning the Mix knob fully left while the Noise generator is on will reveal nothing from the Noise generator. To hear the Noise generator fully, turn the Mix knob fully right. Therefore, to get a mix between the Noise generator and an Oscillator, turn off Oscillator 2. Instead, set up Oscillator 1, turn on the Noise generator, and keep the Mix knob centered. If you instead want a pure noise sound, keep Oscillator 2 turned off, and turn the Mix knob fully right. This removes Oscillator 1 from the Mix and fully introduces the Noise generator.
  • And as with all rules of thumb, there are always exceptions. If you disable Oscillator 2 and enable the Noise generator, you can still use the FM knob to modulate Oscillator 1 with the Noise generator (remember that the Noise generator outputs where Oscillator 2 is output). You are effectively using the Noise generator as the second Oscillator, and this is used as the Modulator to Frequency Modulate Oscillator 1. So yes, there are exceptions. And while all of this may sound complicated, it’s really not. Think about it. Turn on Noise, increase FM, and turn the Mix knob all the way left. Then experiment with the various Oscillator 1 and Noise generator settings to see what you can come up with.
  • If your Oscillators are set to “o” as opposed to “-” and “x,” then the Phase knobs have no effect on the sound. Phase only works with subtractive (-) and multiplied (x) modes. You can, of course, set up mode combinations where Oscillator 1 is set to subtracive (-) and Oscillator 2 is set to “0.” In this case, only the Oscillator 1 Phase knob will have any impact on the sound.
  • The Velocity section can have an amazing impact on how the sound is played, and has a wide array of options. However, where a lot of new users get confused is in how to set up the Velocity knobs. First things first. Set up a matrix or Thor Step sequencer to play a single note repeatedly at a relatively slow speed, and create a velocity ramp up and down over the duration of the sequence (ramp the full range of the velocity). This sets up the sound to be played at the same pitch, with only the velocity changing as the notes are played. It also helps you to hear what’s going on with velocity. With that done, start experimenting with the 9 velocity knobs to hear how they interact and affect your sound.
  • Another thing to keep in mind when adjusting velocity parameters: When the knobs are dead center, velocity has no effect on the parameters. Turn the knob to the left and velocity has a negative impact on the parameter in question. Turn the knob to the right and the velocity has a positive impact on the parameter in question. In simple terms, if you adjust the Amp velocity in a positive way, the sound becomes louder the harder you play your keyboard (normally what you would expect). However, you can reverse this relationship by adjusting the amp velocity knob in a negative way, so that the sound becomes quieter the harder you play your keyboard.
  • And more about the velocity parameters: Note that if you have a parameter that is adjusted fully one way (for example, the Filter 1 Frequency slider is set to 127 or fully open), then adjust velocity to increase this parameter in the same direction (for example, the Filter Frequency velocity knob is adjusted in a positive direction), the velocity will have no impact on the sound. This is because the Filter Frequency is fully open, and can’t go any further. You could, however, adjust the Filter Frequency in a negative direction in this example, in order to close the filter the harder you play your keyboard.
  • Finally, one last note about the Phase Velocity parameter. Adjusting this will adjust both Oscillator Phase knobs in tandem by the same proportion. This means if you have one Phase knob set to 40 and another Phase knob set to 80, with the Phase Velocity knob set to 10 (positive), when you play the keyboard at full velocity, the Phase knobs will sound as if they are set to 50 and 90, respectively. You can, of course, set up one of the Oscillators to a mode of “o” as outlined earlier, so that the Phase of that Oscillator has no effect on the sound. Of course, this can change the sound. This tandem shifting of Phase is also true of the Phase knob that can be used as a destination for the Mod Wheel. So bear this in mind when adjusting these two parameters.
  • In case you were ever wondering, that second filter in Subtractor is a 12 dB Low Pass Filter, and it cannot be changed to any other Filter Type. Also, when working with it, turning it on will mean that the sound passes through Filter 1 and then into Filter 2 (Serially). With this setting, you can use the Frequency Cutoff sliders of both filters independently (and in some interesting ways — for example, setting up a High Pass Filter 1 and then having it go through the Low Pass Filter 2). Alternately, you can “Link” the Filters together. When they are linked, the Frequency Cutoff of Filter 1 controls the Cutoff of both filters (but the relative position of Filter 2’s Cutoff Slider is maintained). For example, if Filter 2 is set to 50, and Filter 1 is set to 80, moving the Filter 1 Cutoff Slider down to 70 will also reduce the Filter 2 Cutoff to 40. They work in tandem. Note: Low Cutoff Frequencies with High Resonance settings can produce severely loud sounds. This is amplified by the “Link” feature. As such, it’s always a good idea to A) Turn down the Resonance for both filters to zero before applying the “Link” button. And B) Turn down the volume if you are experimenting with the Resonance of either filter while the “Link” button is activated.
  • Filter 2 does have its own dedicated Filter Envelope. Use the Mod Envelope with a destination of “Freq 2.” Now you can control Filter 1 Frequency Cutoff with the Filter Envelope and Filter 2 Frequency Cutoff with the Mod Envelope, all at the same time. This allows you to create some pretty complex filtering in your patches.
  • Lo BW. Unless you are rockin’ out with your PII Pentium 200 Mhz computer from 1994, you will never need to enable this feature. Just pretend it’s not there.
  • Want a fatter sound? If both Oscillators are set to the exact same settings, detune them by a few centos in opposing directions (Oscillator 1 = -4 Cents / Oscillator 2 = +4 Cents). You’ll have to venture outside a simple Subtractor for other fattness tricks, but two of my favorites are A) creating a Unison device under the Subtractor (between the Subtractor and the Mix Channel). This automatically fattens your sound. B) After you have the Subtractor patch set up exactly as you want, duplicate the Subtractor and send both subtractors to separate Mix Channels. Then on the Mixer, pan Subtractor 1 fully left and Subtractor 2 fully right.

So that’s a little bit about the basics of the Subtractor synth, along with a new patch pack. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and if you have any tips or ideas related to using the Subtractor, please share them. All my best, and happy sound designing!

 

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:

Instruments

  • 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.

Effects

  • 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. . .