Is the New Apple iPad Worth it?

Here’s the lowdown: I own an iPod Touch, and so I have a scaled down version of the iPad. Do I produce music on it? Nope. Do I want to? Maybe. Why don’t I? Because it’s finicky, toyish and still doesn’t have the feel of working in a real DAW or control of working in a real DAW. And worst of all, it doesn’t have any Propellerhead software on it.

“Magical” and “Revolutionary” is the way Apple is describing their new 9.56 x 7.47 inch iPad to the public. But does this device really deliver for Musicians like you and me, who use Propellerhead Reason and Record?

Here’s the lowdown: I own an iPod Touch, and so I have a scaled down version of the iPad. Do I produce music on it? Nope. Do I want to? Maybe. Why don’t I? Because it’s finicky, toyish and still doesn’t have the feel of working in a real DAW or control of working in a real DAW. And worst of all, it doesn’t have any Propellerhead software on it.

On the positive side, I love the flat surface touch control. There’s no doubt that this is the most intuitive and tactile way to control any software. Give me touch, and give me more of it. Let me glide the faders and knobs with a single finger. Let me zoom in and out of areas by pinching and prying apart with my thumb and forefinger. Yeah! I love that.

I was reading in the latest issue of CM (Computer Music magazine) — issue 150, that the App developers were saying this would be a really great product. No offense, but that doesn’t tell me anything. Of course the App developers are going to start promoting the iPad. It gives them a platform to build more and better Apps for which they will make more and better money. Then I read how a certain person from a certain controller company thought the iPad wouldn’t be good for live performance (I share his belief, btw). But again, of course he’s going to dismiss the iPad because it will mean less sales for his company. Everything points to the fact that nobody really knows the impact the iPad will have. And it’s just too early to tell. And way too early to buy IMHO.

And then I read in the CM article that a certain head of Propellerhead software gave the iPad cautious praise. Does this perhaps hint at the possibility of the Props putting together an App of their own, specifically for the iPad? Perhaps. If that happens, I would most definitely give it a great deal more consideration. But this is all rumors and heresay for now. Nobody really knows. So save your money and put the $500 iPad cost to better use by getting an audio interface or nice set of monitors (ok, maybe just 1 monitor, but it’s a start).

Here’s what keeps nagging at me:

  1. Playing “Live” might be a problem due to the fact that the sensor technology is such that when you get all sweaty, the touching might not respond. And even if you’re not all sweaty, the touch system on my iPod Touch can be finicky and non-responsive at times. This still needs to be worked on.
  2. If you’re in the studio, it’s just an overgrown iPod (for now). It’s got the same apps, and the same OS running it. This means that you still can’t multitask, and existing apps don’t take advantage of the additional space.
  3. Did you hear me? It can’t MULTITASK. You can run one app at a time, no more. Which means you can’t run two plug-ins at once, or control a DAW and a synth at the same time.
  4. If it’s one thing I’ve learned from Apple, it’s never to buy the first product release. Why? Because they save all their goodies for v.2 and v.3 product launches. Right now this is nothing more than a larger iPod Touch. Wait 6 months for the iPad v.2 when Apple has had a chance to a) sort out the bugs, b) add new and improved functionality and c) app developers have had a chance to catch up.

    Case in point: my girlfriend bought me the first release of the iPod Touch and 4 months later the iPod Touch release came out with double the amount of space for the same price. I understand that technology keeps moving forward, but Apple just doesn’t take a breather. And as a result, I become a very jaded customer who will never buy the first release. Of course, Apple probably doesn’t care one bit about this situation. There are plenty of others who will jump on the bandwagon to buy this device and even — god forbid — PREORDER! But hey, to each their own. And if you preorder, I wish you the best of luck with your new iPad. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The additional screen real-estate is great, and there’s no question that there is some promise here. It’s also light-weight. But let’s see some Apps built for it first. Let’s see Reason and Record for the iPad. And let’s see how the iPad can be the next super DAW controller and music-making machine. Then, and only then can we assess whether or not this product really is “Magical” or “Revolutionary.” Right now it’s a lot of hype.

There used to be an expression when I was a debt collector talking to deadbeats and trying to get them to pay their bills. It went something like this: There’s a lot of smoke on the barbecue, but I don’t see any meat. Somehow the imminent Apple iPad release made me think of that expression. We’ll see how much “meat” is actually there in the coming months.

What are your thoughts on the new iPad from Apple?

Here’s an interesting article on the subject of iPads and Tablet PCs, which have been around for at least 6 years now. And I think this author is bang on right! http://www.tomshardware.com/news/tablet-islate-ipad-netbook-notebook,9929.html. Thanks Doinky for the link!

16 – Multiband Anything: Freq. FX

Usually we think of Multiband being reserved for Compression, but why not divide any type of effect, sound, or multiple effects and sounds into different bands using the BV512 Vocoder / Equalizer supplied with Reason. Doing so, you can divide effects and sounds into 32 distinct frequency bands, and that, my friend, can open the doors to a whole wealth of possibilities.

Usually we think of Multiband being reserved for Compression, but why not divide any type of effect, sound, or multiple effects and sounds into different bands using the BV512 Vocoder / Equalizer supplied with Reason. Doing so, you can divide effects and sounds into 32 distinct frequency bands, and that, my friend, can open the doors to a whole wealth of possibilities.

You can download the project files here: multiband-anything This is a zip file which contains an .rns file with 6 Effects Combinators to showcase how you can use the BV512 in Equalizer mode to split different effects to different frequencies in order to process your sound. All the Combinators process the same matrix pattern which is sequencing a Thor synth. Each combinator then outputs the sound to a separate channel on the main 14:2 Mixer. To hear the various effects, mute/solo the specific channels on this mixer.

Starting off Small: Understanding the BV512 Digital Vocoder

The BV512 is a Digital Vocoder which can be used as an EQ device as well. When set in EQ mode, you can select 4, 8, 16, 32, and 512 bands of EQ separation. You’ll have to understand that the 512 bands is an FFT (Fast Fourier Transfer) mode, which for all practical purposes will color your sound and will cause a slight delay in the realm of 20 ms. when processing audio through it. There will only be 32 bands displayed, but each of those 32 bands will actually control a higher amount of bands (512 / 32 = 16 bands each). So for this tutorial and for processing purposes I’m going to stay away from the FFT (512) setting, and instead focus on 32 bands or less (a much more manageable number for the following types of effects).

Just because I’m staying away from using the FFT (512) setting doesn’t mean it’s not useful. Try it out in your own patches, because you never know where you’re going to find that signature sound that makes your brain melt. And in certain situations, I really like the color of the FFT (512) setting.

A Basic Multiband Delay

At it’s simplest, here’s a method to split out a different delay to affect different frequency bands. First, the video. Then the instructions below:

First, Create a Combinator. Then inside, while holding down the Shift key, create a 14:2 Mixer, Spider Audio Merger/Splitter, BV512 Vocoder, and DDL-1 Digital Delay device, in that order.

Set the Vocoder’s Band Count to 16 Bands, and switch from Vocoder mode to “Equalizer” mode.

Hit to tab key to flip the rack around  and route the L/R master outs of the Mixer to the L/R “From Devices” of the Combinator. Then route the Combinator’s L/R “To Devices” into the Spider Audio’s main L/R Splitter inputs. Send one pair of L/R split outputs to the Vocoder’s L/R Carrier inputs. Then send the Vocoder’s L/R Carrier outputs to the Delay’s L/R inputs. Finally, send the Delay’s L/R outputs to the Mixer’s L/R channel 1 inputs.

This image shows a single instance of the Vocoder and Delay hooked up to a Channel in the 14:2 Mixer.
This image shows a single instance of the Vocoder and Delay hooked up to a Channel in the 14:2 Mixer.

Hit the tab key again to flip the rack around to the front. Hold the Shift key (if using Reason), or hold the Ctrl key (if using Record), and select both the Vocoder and the Delay devices. Then right-click and select “Duplicate Devices and Tracks.” Do this two more times to create 4 sets of Vocoder/Delay devices.

On the first BV512 (the low range), set bands 5-16 to zero. On the second BV512 (The low-mid range), set bands 1-4 and 9-16 to zero. On the third BV512 (the mid-high range), set bands 1-8 and 13-16 to zero. On the fourth and final BV512 (the high range), set bands 1-12 to zero.

The four BV512 devices with their Frequency bands divided, and 4 associated delay units
The four BV512 devices with their Frequency bands divided, and 4 associated delay units

Set the first Delay unit at the top (the low range) to 1 step, set the second one (low-mid range) to 3 steps, the third one (mid-high range) to 5 steps, and the fourth one (the high range) to 7 steps. This way, each frequency will produce a different delay.

Again, press tab to flip to the back of the rack. Send the other 3 L/R splits from the Audio Splitter into each of the other 3 Vocoder’s L/R carrier Inputs. Then send each of the Delay’s L/R audio outputs to their own Channels on the mixer, so that Channels 1-4 are taken by the Delay Devices outputs.

Now all that’s left is to save the Combinator, and load up your favorite sound to pipe into this effect. To do so, open any instrument and route it’s L/R audio output into the Delay Combinator’s L/R “Combi Input.” Play the sound on your controller keyboard or set up a matrix pattern to sequence the instrument and you’ll hear a different delay for each of the four sets of bands. In other words, the frequency of the sounds you put into the combinator will determine which delay affects the sound. Different frequencies will get different delays applied. Then the sum of all these delayed sounds are mixed into the Mixer, and sent back out the Combinator.

If you give this some thought, you’ll realize that you can apply any number of effects chains to any of the 32-frequency bands of the BV512 to split up effects according to frequency. Furthermore, you can apply this multi-band technique not only to audio and effects, but also to Filters, LFOs and Envelopes which affect the audio. Let’s take a deeper look into how this is done by creating a multiband filter.

MultiBand Filtering: The next step

Now to get a little more complex. Let’s try Filtering our audio based on the Frequency of the incoming signal, and then providing a way to adjust the filter applied to each set of bands. Using our above technique, this becomes child’s play.

Building on the last Delay device we created, select all the DDL-1 Delay units and delete them all.

Then under the first Vocoder, hold Shift down and create a Thor device. Bring all the levels of Thor down to zero (what I call truly initializing Thor). Bring the range on the pitch wheel down to zero, bring polyphony down to zero, bypass all the oscillators and filters, bring all the levels down to zero, and turn all the green buttons off. Leave only the Global envelope Gate Trigger button on, and leave the Global Evelope ADSR envelope in its default position. This way, the envelope can affect Filter 3, which we’ll turn on a little later.

Thor fully initialized, except for the Global Envelope Gate Trig and Tempo Synch Buttons
Thor fully initialized, except for the Global Envelope Gate Trig and Tempo Synch Buttons

Now that Thor is much more initialized, go into the MBRS (Modulation Bus Routing Section) and set up the following modulations:

Audio In1: 100 > Filt3 L.In

Audio In2: 100 > Filt3 R.In

Routings in Thor's Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS)
Routings in Thor's Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS)

Next, duplicate the Thor device 3 times, and place each new Thor under each of the other Vocoders.

Flip the rack around and Move the L/R Carrier output on each Vocoder to the L /R Audio outputs of each corresponding Thor device (1 Mono/Left and 2 Right output on each Thor). Then route new cables from the L/R Carrier output on each Vocoder to the L/R Audio inputs of each corresponding Thor device (Audio In 1 and Audio In 2, respectively on each Thor).

The Back of the Rack showing the Routings for the topmost BV512 device and Thor device
The Back of the Rack showing the Routings for the topmost BV512 device and Thor device

Flip the rack around to the front again, and open up the Combinator’s Programmer. It’s time to add in our Filters and make them adjustable for each set of BV512 bands. For each Thor device, add the following modulations:

Button 1 > Filter 3 Type: 0 / 2

Button 2 > Filter 3 Comb Preset: 0 / 1

Mod Wheel > Filter 3 Res: 0 / 100

Now for each Thor, assign the Filter 3 Frequency to it’s corresponding Rotary as follows:

Thor 1: Rotary 1 > Filter 3 Freq: 1 / 127

Thor 2: Rotary 2 > Filter 3 Freq: 1 / 127

Thor 3: Rotary 3 > Filter 3 Freq: 1 / 127

Thor 4: Rotary 4 > Filter 3 Freq: 1 / 127

The Combinator's Mod Matrix settings for the first Thor
The Combinator's Mod Matrix settings for the first Thor

Now when you plug an instrument into this Combinator, you can selectively adjust the filtering of the various frequencies of the sound using the 4 Rotaries of the Combinator. Rotary 1 will affect the low range, Rotary 2 and 3 will affect the mid range, and Rotary 4 will affect the high end.

Where do you go from here

Included in the project files are a set of 6 effects unit that utilize the Equalizer mode of the BV512 to divide the audio source into separate bands and apply effects to each of those bands. Here’s a brief explanation of each:

4 x 16-Band Delay FX: This Combinator uses the Vocoder in 16-band mode to create 4 splits of the audio source going through 4 different delay units. This combinator is the same one created at the beginning of this tutorial, except that there’s an additional delay created under each Vocoder in order to split the delays left and right (for a wider stereo separation). Each rotary controls the delay time for each left/right delay pair. And the buttons underneath each rotary will change the rotary between Steps / MS delay count. A very important feature of this Combinator is the Mod Wheel, which is used as a global Dry/Wet knob for the delay. In its default low-end position, there is no delay. Push the Mod Wheel all the way up and you’ll push the delay fully wet.

8 x 32-Band Delay FX: This combinator is exactly the same as the above 4-way delay, however this uses the Vocoder’s 32-band setting, and splits the signal into 8 different delay units (affecting 4 bands each). Since there’s only 4 rotaries and buttons, you can’t control each delay individually as you can with the previous Combinator. So I opted to put the global dry/wet delay knob on Rotary 1, and put a global steps/ms switcher on Button 1. The only real effect button 1 has is if you want to quickly edit all the delays and have them in MS mode instead, you simply press the button, then go into each delay to edit the delay time.

2-Band Phased Delay FX: This Combinator really was more of an experiment than anything else. The one interesting feature here is that the Vocoder Bands are curved so they blend into each other, rather than have an abrupt frequency change. You can see this on the Vocoder Band area.

Mixed-Band Reverb FX: This combinator uses the Vocoder bands as a notch and Bandpass frequency filter to send your audio through two very different Reverb effects. This goes to show you that there are a lot of possibilities when you start bending different frequencies on the BV512. Use the first Rotary to adjust the Dry/Wet Reverb signal affecting the low and high range of frequencies. Use Rotary 2 to adjust the Dry/Wet Reverb signal affecting the middle range of frequencies. I put a tight small room reverb on the  low & high frequencies and a long hall reverb on the middle range of frequencies to show how drastically you can affect the ambience of your sound by toying with the different frequency ranges.

SuperSpreader FX: This is one way you can get some severe (and almost irritating) amount of stereo separation from a single sound source. I had to add a bunch of ECF-42 envelope filters in order to tame the sound somewhat. You can program this up if it’s to your taste. One thing that I wanted to point out here is that you can use Rotary 1 to invert the Frequencies, thereby flipping them around in real-time or in automation if you want to program the knob in the sequencer. Check out the Modulation Routing inside the Combinator to see how this is done. One drawback is that you can only affect 10 bands at once for any given vocoder, which limits you to using a set amount of band counts. But I’m sure there’s a way to push this limit using CV. Any takers want to give this a shot?

MultiBand Filter FX: Finally, you have the multiband filter FX Combinator which was featured in this tutorial, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Just note that I added a Delay and Chorus on Buttons 3 and 4 if you want to give those a try.

I can almost see the next question on your mind. If we can do all this with the BV512 in Equalizer mode, then what’s to prevent us from applying these same techniques using the MClass Equalizer? The truth is nothing! In fact, you can tailor the MClass Equalizer to a much finer degree than the Vocoder. However, the Vocoder can be a great way to test out quick ideas in a visually intuitive way. And as I hope I’ve shown here, you can still find this device highly flexible and usable. But that being said, there’s nothing stopping you from separating your signals using the MClass EQ, and even combining this with the MClass Stereo Imager to create some very unique Effects Combinators. If you have any ideas or come up with some brilliant effect unit out of this tutorial, please share, comment, and let us know about it.

Mono, Poly and Stereo

This article will explore Monophonic versus Stereo and Monophonic versus Polyphonic. Two very different concepts, but both very important concepts. This is also a good opportunity to discuss the Effects devices and go over the suggested audio routing options for each.

This article will explore Monophonic versus Stereo and Monophonic versus Polyphonic. Two very different concepts, but both very important concepts with which everyone needs to get to grips. The reason I’m going to explain them both in one article is because they have similar terminology (they both share the term “Monophonic”). This can lead to some confusion. This is also a good opportunity to discuss the Effects devices and go over the suggested audio routing options for each. 

When I originally put together my Reason wishlist and posted it here on my blog, I made the fatal mistake of saying that I wanted the Matrix to be “Stereo.” I actually meant to say I wanted the matrix to be “Polyphonic.” Oh gasp! I know. The horror. So just in case anyone else is confused by these terms, let’s see if we can set the record straight. 

First, there are two concepts: 

  1. Monophonic versus Stereophonic: This refers to channels in an audio system. Monophonic is 1 channel (or any single-channel system). Stereophonic is a two-channel system (left and right audio channels) which are reproduced by 2 speakers (left and right).
  2. Monophonic versus Polyphonic: This refers to the number of voices that a Synthesizer can play at one time. Monophonic means the synth can play a single voice (single note). Polyphonic means the synthesizer can play multiple voices (2 or more notes). In Thor, you can have 32 voice polyphony, meaning you can have 32 notes playing simultaneously. In addition, Thor has Release Polyphony and can also have 32 notes sustain after you lift your finger off the key, or after the note’s end in the sequencer (in the case of midi).

There is also the term “Monophony” which refers to the melody line of the song. It is a song which contains only a melody line without an accompanying Harmony. So strictly speaking, if you have two notes played at once, each one octave apart, the song can still be considered “Monophonic.” Confused yet? I’ll let Wikipedia explain this concept of Monophony

A few other notes: 

  • In Reason, as in the real-world, CV relates to Monophonic and Polyphonic voices of a synthesizer. While Monophonic and Stereophonic channels in an audio system are audio-specific. The RPG-8 Arpeggiator and Matrix are termed “Monophonic” which means they can only control one voice of a synth at a time. If you want to create a “faux” Polyphony, you must first duplicate the RPG-8 or Matrix as well as the sound sources they are controlling, and then send the output of both these sound sources to their own audio channels; either mono or stereo, it doesn’t matter. You now have two-voice polyphony.
  • The above points out also that you can have a Monophonic synth that has a Stereophonic “audio” output OR you could have a Polyphonic synth with a Monophonic “audio” output. Plus, you can take a Stereophonic signal and make it Monophonic (panning both channels to center), but if you take a polyphonic CV and make it mono (sending it to a mono synth) you will just drop all the notes beyond the first or last one (just like playing a chord on a mono synth).

Effects Devices in Reason, and Reason’s Routing Suggestions

According to the literature in Reason and Record, there are specific ways in which the Effect devices should be connected. I’m going to plagiarize for a moment and take an excerpt directly from the help file. This excerpt explains the way Monophonic and Stereophonic signals are processed by the effects devices in Reason, and shed light on those little tiny diagrams on the back of the FX devices (come on, give me a show of hands. How many of you knew those diagrams were there to begin with? And how many knew what they meant?). 

FX Routing Legend and Descriptions
FX Routing Legend and Descriptions

 So looking at the diagrams, we can see the following connections can be made by the Reason devices: 

RV7000 Digital Reverb: 

Mono In / Stereo Out 

Stereo In / Stereo Out 

Scream 4 Distortion: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

BV512 Vocoder: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

RV7 Digital Reverb: 

Mono In / Stereo Out 

Stereo In / Summed Stereo Out 

DDL-1 Digital Delay: 

Mono In / Stereo Out 

Stereo In / Summed Stereo Out 

D-11 Foldback Distortion: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

ECF-42 Envelope Controlled Filter: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

CF-101 Chorus/Flanger: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

Mono In / Stereo Out 

PH-90 Phaser: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

Mono In / Stereo Out 

UN-16 Unison: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

Mono In / Stereo Out 

COMP-01 Compressor: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

PEQ-2 2-Band Parametric EQ: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

MClass Equilizer: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

MClass Stereo Imager: 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

MClass Compressor: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

MClass Maximizer: 

Mono In / Mono Out 

Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out 

Phew! Now that’s quite a lot of information to take in. However, when you look at it, you can pretty much break it down into a few key points which are easier to remember: 

  • All devices can be connected in Mono In/Mono Out except the MClass Stereo Imager (makes sense right? Because you can’t separate a mono signal or make it wider/narrower. It’s already mono, so you can’t make it more mono. You also can’t magically turn a mono signal into a true stereo signal). So forget using it for anything other than Dual Mono In/Dual Mono Out.
  • Every FX device except the Delay and Reverb devices can be connected in Dual Mono In / Dual Mono Out.
  • The RV7000 device is the ONLY device in Reason which is true stereo (Stereo In / Stereo Out). The RV7 and DDL-1 are the next best thing with a Stereo In / Summed Stereo Out.
  • The Devices that can be used as Mono In / Stereo Out are: RV 7000, RV-7, DDL-1, CF-101, PH-90, and UN-16.
  • Every device can be used as an Insert effect, however not every device should be used as a Send effect. Effects that should not be used as Sends fall under 2 categories: 1. Dynamics Processors (all MClass devices, COMP-01 and PEQ-2), and 2. Distortion Units (the Scream 4, and D-11).

This last point is not really related to the issue of Mono/Stereo, but is an important consideration when connecting devices in your tracks and is another point that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

One other thing I wanted to point out. If you get a chance, you really should check out Hydlide24’s great video on different ways to create Stereo separation in Reason. There’s so much great information in this video, I thought this would be a relevant place for it. He tends to move a little fast through the video, but you can always pause and go over it a few times to follow along. Check out some of his other videos if you get a chance as well. 

Hopefully this information is accurate. I’m human and prone to many mistakes. If there is an error, please help me point it out and make sure it’s accurate. I’ll ensure I get it corrected. And if you have anything to add, I welcome your advice and opinions.

15 – Switch Devices with a Rotary

The Question: How do you switch between multiple devices using a single Combinator Rotary. There are two methods to do this, one being good for those who have Reason 3, and the other more advanced method for those that have Reason 4 or Reason+Record. Learn both of these methods.

The Question: How do you switch between multiple devices using a single Combinator Rotary. There are two methods to do this, one being good for those who have Reason 3, and the other more advanced method for those that have Reason 4 or Reason+Record. The first method I’m going to call the “Matrix” method. The second is brought to us by Ed of EditEd4TV fame, and I’ll call this the “Thor Step Sequencer CV” method.

You can download the project files here: instrument-switchers. These include 2 .rns files outlining both methods below. I’ve also included the proper way to create an “Equal-Power Crossfader,” which seemed appropriate given that we’re talking about how to switch from one instrument to another. So if you have only 2 instruments and want to crossfade between them, you can look at the .rns file in the project file download to see how it’s done. If you want to learn more about it, you should read Peff’s detailed tutorial explaining this process over at the Propellerhead User Forum: One Hand in the Mix — Building Crossfaders using the Combinator. Anytime Peff offers something for you to read or download, you should always take advantage of that. His work is several notches above everyone else. And I’m not kidding!

This crossfader method has always been one of my favorites and one of the most useful building blocks in Reason, simply because you can use it in a variety of interesting ways, and map it to your hardware controller’s crossfader, if it has one.

The “Matrix” Method (for Reason 3 and up)

This method is the less preferred of the two methods, because there is a delay or lag involved in using the Matrix in this way. You can, however, change the time signature to 1/4 to reduce the lag, but any way you slice it, there will be a slight pause when transitioning from one instrument to the other using the Combinator Rotary. This just can’t be fixed. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t find some use from this method, and if you’re using Reason 3.0, then this is really the only solution you have, short of programming your mute/solo buttons in the sequencer. The method works like this:

  1. In the combinator, let’s say you have 8 NN-XT devices, and all the devices are connected to a 14:2 mixer on their own channels. Create 8 matrix devices under the mixer and set them all to “Curve.” The curve should be unipolar. Program each of the matrixes to have the same 1-note, 1-step pattern. The level of the 1-step pattern should be raised fully. Now each subsequent matrix will have the pattern programmed on the next bank that follows, like below:

    Matrix 1: A1; Bank A2-A8 should have the curve set to zero (fully off)
    Matrix 2: A2; Bank A1 and A3-A8 should have the curve set to zero (fully off)
    Matrix 3: A3; Bank A1, A2, and A4-A8 should have the curve set to zero (fully off)
    Matrix 4: A4; Bank A1-A3 and A5-A8 should have the curve set to zero (fully off)
    and so on. . .

    The Matrix pattern banks
    The Matrix pattern banks: 1-step pattern for each bank. This image shows the first 3 matrixes -- Bank A1, A2, and A3. All other patterns on all other banks are turned completely off
  2. Flip the rack and connect the curve CV from each of the matrixes to the levels in on each of the 14:2 mixer channels for each of the devices. Then turn the trim knob all the way right for all the level CV ins on the mixer.

    The Matrix Curve CVs connected to the Level In CVs on the ixer
    The Matrix Curve CVs connected to the Level In CVs on the Mixer
  3. Flip the rack around to the front, and set all the fader levels for all 8 channels on the mixer to zero (fully down).

    The 14:2 Mixer with all Level Faders turned down
    The 14:2 Mixer with all Level Faders turned down
  4. Finally, program the same Combi Rotary for each matrix to affect the “Pattern Select” parameter with min: 0 and max: 7.

Now, when you turn the Rotary knob, it will run through all the matrix patterns and essentially only have one device playing at any given time. Each Matrix controls the level of each device, and only opens one device’s level at any one time.

It sounds much more complex than it is. But with this method, you can actually have the rotary adjust up to 32 different device levels; 1 device for each matrix pattern bank. There’s probably even a method to control more than this using 2 combinators linked together, but I haven’t delved that deeply into it, and I doubt you’d ever need to control more than 32 devices with a single Rotary. Perhaps that’s something which could be explored in another tutorial down the road. For right now, I’m much more excited about the next method below, used to control your instruments.

The “Thor Step Sequencer CV” Method (for Reason 4.0 or Reason+Record 1.0 and up — we hope!)

The second method capitalizes on a quirk in Reason which applies only to the Reverse or Random modes of the Thor Step Sequencer. Since this is a quirk, if the Props decide to “fix” this quirk in a future version of Reason or Record, we may be out of luck (and stuck with several Combinators that need to be redesigned), so hopefully this is a quirk that stays with Thor on into the future.

  1. First, let’s build on what we previously did with the “Matrix” method. So open up the Combinator that you just built, and delete all the Matrix devices. Instead, in their place, create a Thor sequencer, and turn everything off. All the green lights need to go off, all the polyphony and pitch bend settings should be set to zero, and all the sliders in all the envelopes need to be turned down. Then bypass all the oscillators and remove all the filters. Just start at ground zero.
  2. Next, in the Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS), enter the following settings:

    S.Curve 1: 100 > CV Out1

    S.Curve 2: 100 > CV Out2

    Seq.Note: 100 > CV Out3

    The MBRS settings and settings for Curve 1
    The MBRS settings and settings for Curve 1
  3. In the Step Sequencer, set the Run Mode to “Step” and the Direction to “Reverse.” Also set the Octave setting to “Full.” Set the Edit knob to “Curve 1,” and set up the Step 1 curve to “100.” Then set curve 1 steps 2-8 to zero.
  4. Move the Edit knob to “Curve 2,” and set up the Step 2 curve to “100.” Then set curve 2 steps 1 and 3-8 to zero.

    The Thor Step Sequencer with the Curve 2 settings
    The Thor Step Sequencer with the Curve 2 settings
  5. Turn the Edit knob to “Note” and set up the Step 3 note to “E6.” Then set the note value for steps 1, 2, and 4-8 to “C-2.” C2 gives off a CV value of zero, while E6 gives off a CV value of 100. In this respect it acts just like the Curve values.

    The Thor Step Sequencer with the third step "Note" setting
    The Thor Step Sequencer with the third step "Note" setting
  6. Flip the rack around and pipe the first 3 CV outs from Thor to the first 3 Level CV ins on channels 1-3 on the 14:2 Mixer. Duplicate the Thor two more times. The second Thor will handle steps 4-6 (Mixer channel 4-6 level CVs), and the third Thor will handle steps 7 & 8 (Mixer channel 7 & 8 level CVs).

    The Thor CV cabling into the Level CV ins on the Mixer
    The Thor CV cabling into the Level CV ins on the Mixer
  7. Finally, go into the Combinator Mod Matrix and program the following for each of the Thor devices:

    Rotary 1 > Step Count: 1 / 8

The Combinator setting for Rotary 1. All 3 Thors need this same setting
The Combinator setting for Rotary 1. All 3 Thors need this same setting. Note: The above image was taken with Reason 4. This used to be called the "16 S Sequencer Step Count" located at the bottom of that gargantuan list of assignable targets -- where you'd have to scroll to the bottom of the list. In version 5, it's now under "Sequencer > Step Count."

Now, when you turn the Rotary 1 knob, it will run through all 8 devices acting like a mute/solo button for all devices. If you think about the way this is working, it’s exactly like the Matrix idea, except you’re using the Step Sequencer in Thor. Each Thor handles 3 different mixer channels, and you can handle up to 15 devices at once with a Rotary (you can’t use the 16th step in the Step Sequencer in this way — but you can use all other 15 steps to control your instruments).

And here’s the magic numbers for the transitions between the 8 devices, using the Rotary:

Instrument 1: 0-18

Instrument 2: 19-36

Instrument 3: 37-54

Instrument 4: 55-72

Instrument 5: 73-90

Instrument 6: 91-108

Instrument 7: 109-126

Instrument 8: 127

Looking at these numbers, you’ll see that everything matches up just fine except the transition between instrument 7 and 8. Not sure why that is, but it’s a little quirky. Still, this technique is instantaneous between all the switches.

I haven’t yet taken a look to see what else can be done with this technique, but it certainly opens the door to a lot of other possibilities. If I get a chance, I’m going to try exploring some other avenues with this little trick and I’ll keep everyone posted. Let me know what you think of this tutorial, and if this will help you build your own patches. And thanks go out to Ed for taking the time to show me how this worked. If it weren’t for guys like Ed, we’d still be working on our patches in a cave.

Until next time, happy Reasoning and Recording!

Dream Sequences EP / Video

I was just way too excited not to post this here. I just released my new Dream Sequences EP with 5 tracks. 3 are remixes of tracks found on my Qxotc Slp CD and 2 are brand new tracks that have not been released yet. You can find both the CD or MP3 downloads at CD Baby. As the description says on there, these tracks are “Sonic sequences that came from a series of ambient glitch dreams I once had.” That sums it up nicely! Leave some love here or out there if you order or listen to the tunes. All comments and feedback are welcome and very much appreciated!

Dream Sequences CoverI was just way too excited not to post this here. I just released my new Dream Sequences EP with 5 tracks. 3 are remixes of tracks found on my Qxotc Slp CD and 2 are brand new tracks that have not been released yet. You can find both the CD or MP3 downloads at CD Baby. As the description says on there, these tracks are “Sonic sequences that came from a series of ambient glitch dreams I once had.” That sums it up nicely! Leave some love here or out there if you order or listen to the tunes. All comments and feedback are welcome and very much appreciated!

In my opinion, it’s one of my best CD/mp3 offerings yet and my favorite by far because it incorporates not only some of my favorite Ambient Glitch tracks, but also because my good friend Matt Pearson from zenbullets helped to collaborate on it. He provided the artwork for the cover and the CD itself, and he’s such a talented guy that I was really truly priviledged to work with him. If you have some time, you should also check out his Abandoned Art site, which is devoted to his generative art.

You can see what Matt has to say about the music in his Phi Sequence post on his site. Again, I can’t thank him enough for working with me.

To kick off the release of this EP, Matt has also kindly put together this video. Note that the video is a much better quality than this, and Youtube tends to squash the actual quality to make it fit for internet consumption. But still, I think he did a stunning job on the video.

Let me know what you think, and as always, thanks for looking and listening!

14 – Layered Synths with a Theme

Layered Synth Patches to celebrate the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. A creative way to present some sound themes in Reason and Record.

This is going to be a little different from my past tutorials. Since this is just as much a forum for creativity as it is a forum for ways in which you can get the most out of Reason and Record, I wanted to take a little time out to offer up an idea I had the other day while watching the Olympics.

Download the project files here: olympic-patches. There is one Reason (.rns) file which contains 5 Combinators. The matrixes that are attached to each of the Combinators are there to preview the sounds. You can mute/unmute the Mixer channel to hear the proper Combinator. They are not meant to be played with each other. Though if you can find a creative way to do this, have at it!

I thought to myself, what about creating a themed set of Combinators, which are based solely on layered synths. The idea came as I was watching the speed skating competition and I started getting some ideas for sounds running through my head. So while I had Record opened, I started working on creating what I felt was the sound of skaters. This further led to the thought: Why not create a series of patches based on the sounds of the Olympics. Now, there’s 15 different events in the Olympics, and that means a lot of Combinators and a lot of programming. So before I go completely nuts with this idea, I decided to first offer up 5 patches for 5 different events.

Here’s a few sound samples using the “Speed Skaters,” “Curling,” and “Alpine Ski” patches:

And here are a few more sound samples showcasing the “Hockey,” and “Biathlon” patches:

 

Olympic Patches: 5 Layered Synth Combinator Patches
Olympic Patches - A tribute to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games

The main premise was to create Combinator patches that encourage you to explore the rotaries and buttons without any preconceived notion of how they are planned out or mapped to the devices inside. So for that reason, I’m not going to go into detail on how things are routed. Rather, I’d prefer if you gave them all a listen and use your ears to explore the types of sounds these patches can generate. So try them out, and give them a whirl. Let your ears be your guide as you make adjustments. And once you’ve done that, then feel free to take a look and see how they are programmed.

I have to say I felt a little sense of pride putting these together, since I’m originally from Canada, and Canada was putting on this year’s Olympic games. The feather in the cap however, was when Canada won the Gold Medal in the last Olympic event yesterday: Men’s Hockey. I have to say, that made my night.

Do you have any Layered Synth ideas of your own that you would like to share here? Do you like these patches? Anything you would do differently. Please feel free to start up a discussion about them. Do they inspire you to create your own themes? What kind of theme would you create? What do you turn to for inspiration? I’m curious.

DopeTank Free 2010 Refill

DopeTank Free 2010 Refill: A collection of 106 Thors and 15 Combinators made by Heikki Roots (aka Pirnikas or Deep’n’Dark). He was gracious enough to offer this out to the Reason community for free.

Download the Refill: DopeTank-Free-2010

A collection of 106 Thors and 15 Combinators made by Heikki Roots (aka Pirnikas or Deep’n’Dark). He was gracious enough to offer this out to the Reason community for free. Here’s what he has to say about his refill:

When making this refill I wanted to keep the sound phat, clean and musical. Another thing I wanted was making every sound different so there’s something for everyone.Every sound-designer has their own methods and their own taste of how it should sound. I like when there’s lot of edge but not too much. When playing the sound, it should make you wanna play your midi keyboard. Most of the time the modwheel has been assigned to some parameter, sometimes the other buttons & rotaries as well. When playing pads or other patches that you may play as chords, I’ve tried to keep the sound clean.

The Combinator patches:

There’s 15 combinators inside this refill. When layering sounds, you can make extremely rich and big sounds as you can add just as many layers as you want. Another thing are the effects which bring in lot of possibilities to shape the sounds.Sometimes you have an instrument that doesn’t sound that special, but when layering some sounds together, you can make some “killer” sounds. Some of these patches have tweaking possibilities, most don’t. These patches can be used for many genres, like hiphop, electronic but also for pop or film music etc. So get the refill and expand your rack as this refill is free.

The Thor patches:

The Thor patches have been categorized into different folders so it’s easy to find right sound every time. The categories are:

  • Bass
  • Fx
  • Keys
  • Leads
  • Mono synth
  • Modulated
  • Other
  • Pads
  • Poly synth
  • Sequenced
  • Voices

What I found great about these patches is the fact that the sound is indeed very clean and crisp. For the combinator patches, there’s a lot of interesting reverb going on in most cases, and the sound is very spacious. Also, what’s nice is that every mod wheel does affect a parameter, so you can vary the sound as you play. The only thing I would criticize is the fact that most of the other combinator parameters or Thor parameters don’t have any modulations assigned to them. I think this misses out on a great opportunity to enhance the patches even further. But putting that aside, the sounds in here are top notch!

Highlights for me were the Combinator and Thor Pads. I think this refill shows off a lot of reverb talent and that comes across best in those patches. I also thought the sequenced and voice Thor patches were really nice, and it’s too bad there weren’t more of these. Perhaps in some future patches or refills, since Heikki has promised more free patches to come in the Propellerhead User Forum.

Thanks for sharing Heikki!

Auto Glitcher Effect

This is a Combinator which can be used to apply some Glitchy fun to any audio source you throw at it. It uses a Scream Distortion unit, 3 delays, and 2 Phasers which are controlled by some Malstrom Curves.

Download the Combinator: Auto-Glitcher

Description: This is a Combinator which can be used to apply some Glitchy fun to any audio source you throw at it. It uses a Scream Distortion unit, 3 delays, and 2 Phasers which are controlled by some Malstrom Curves.

 

 Here’s the complete rundown of the Combinator controls:

Pitch Bend: Unassigned

Mod Wheel: Affects the Rate of the Modulation curve which is tied to the Scream Damage Type. Raising the Mod Wheel makes Damage Type switching faster. Lowering the Mod Wheel makes Damage Type switching slower.

Rotary 1: Don’t Touch!: This Rotary is tied to the Damage Type of the Scream, but is controlled by the Malstrom Mod A Curve, and so does not need to be moved.

Rotary 2: Don’t Touch!: Like the previous Rotary, this one is tied to the Body Type of the scream, and is controlled by the Mod B Curve of the Malstrom, so it does not need to be moved.

Rotary 3: Damage: This controls the amount of Scream Distortion Damage applied to the sound source. Turned fully right, and you’re applying about 50% of damage to the signal (64). Turned fully left, and you’re applying very little damage (10).

Rotary 4: Wave: This controls the Malstrom Wave type (Modulation A Curve) which affects the Damage Type selection on the Scream. You can scroll through all 32 different wave forms in real time.

Button 1: Synch Off / On: This turns on the Synch on the Malstrom’s Mod A Curve (which controls the Scream Damage Type switching). When pushed in, Synch is on. When the button is off, the Synch is off.

Button 2: Body Off / On: This turns on the Body section of the Scream. When pushed in, the Body section is on, when the button is off, the Body section is turned off.

Button 3: Multi / Single Delay: This turns on the Multi-tap delay. When the Button is left off, the last delay in the sequence is the only one on (providing a simple delay to your sound source. When turned on, you have a full-on Multi-tap delay assault, with two Phasers in the mix as well.

Button 4: Damage Off / On: This turns the Damage on or off. When the button is left off, the Scream is bypassed, and when the button is on, the Scream unit is left on. It’s worthwhile to note that if you turn off the Damage, The Mod Wheel, and all the Rotaries will do nothing to your sound. The nice thing about Button 2, 3, and 4 is that you can minimize or maximize the amount of Glitch that is applied to the sound. For example, if you want to hear only a single or multiple delay, just turn leave button 4 off. If you want only the damage with no multi-tap, just turn off button 3. And finally, if you want the damage without the body section, just turn off Button 2. In this way, you can control what effects you want applied to your sound.

Other Notes: Feel free to change any of the Malstrom Mod Curves to curves that you like. Of course, for the Mod A curve on the Malstrom controlling the damage type of the scream, you don’t need to change this curve manually. You can change this using Rotary 4 (Wave). Or, if you want, you can also map any of the Curves to the “Wave” Rotary and have them move in unison together (or flip the min/max settings to change things up a bit). Alternately, you can program Rotary 1 to affect both the Damage and Body Types on the Scream, which could free up a Rotary for you. However, it would also mean that the Body type and Damage type would be using the same curve to control both those parameters.

Let me know if you find this patch useful and if you have any other suggestions for ways it can be made better? Or if you have some suggestions for other ways to get some glitchy fun out of Reason.

13 – Glitch Boxes

In this project, I’m going to create a few Glitch Boxes, and show you some techniques to get a little more glitch out of Reason. Though Reason isn’t built to be a glitch plugin, there are several ways you can connect things up to get some glitch mayhem from the devices.

In this project, I’m going to create a few Glitch Boxes, and show you some techniques to get a little more glitch out of Reason. Though Reason isn’t built to be a glitch plugin, there are several ways you can connect things up to get some glitch mayhem from the devices. When you then combine them all, you can have yourself a field day playing around with the knobs, wheels and buttons and work them into your own compositions.

So here I’m going to provide 3 different Glitch Boxes (incidentally they are color-coded just for fun), and go over some of the techniques that I think make them unique. Before I start, let me point out that I’m not going to go through the process of creating the Combinators from start to finish. Rather, I’m going to use the technique I outlined in the “Creative Redrum” tutorial series, where I added 10 synths and used gate triggering from the redrum to play these synths. The synths are the main glitch sounds, and these can be anything you like. The point is how you can use those sounds inside the combinator, and how you can add stylistic effects to get more out of them.

So let’s start our glitch journey in Reason.

The file for this tutorial can be found here: Glitch Boxes. The zip file contains 3 Combinators inside an .RNS file, each of which is attached to a mixer. To hear one of the combinators, just mute the other ones on the mixer. They weren’t designed to be played together, however, this was the easiest way to provide them to you all at once. Feel free to save them as Combinator patches and/or use them as templates where you can add in your own sounds into each of the 10 different synths in each of the Combinators. Also, don’t forget that you’re not only getting access to 3 patches, but you’re getting access to 30 synth glitch sounds as well. Enjoy!

Glitch Box 1 (Blue – Thors)

This Glitch Box uses 10 Thors to generate 10 different Glitch sounds, which are triggered by the Redrum Sequencer. The Redrum in turn has 32 patterns which are 64 steps each for a maximum Glitch mayhem. The interesting part of this patch is the way the Auto-sequencer is setup. By pressing the fourth button on the Combinator, the Auto-Sequencer kicks in and takes control to provide a very random output. It’s very easy to set this up. You just need to create a few Matrixes, and then send the Curve (or Note or Gate) CV into the Combinator CV inputs to control the overall playback of the Combi, or else any one of the Rotaries or Pitch/Mod wheels.

 

The rest of the Combinator patch is similar to the Creative Redrums 2 and Creative Redrums 3 tutorials, so I’m not going to delve into that right now. Please feel free to read through those tutorial in order to get familiar with the methods used to put together these patches. 

Here is a rundown of how this Combinator’s Rotaries and Buttons work:

Pitch Wheel: This raises or lowers the pitch of the 10 Glitch sounds at once by +/- 7 semitones.

Mod Wheel:  This dampens the sound of the Higher pitched Glitch sounds, essentially making things a little less sibilant.

Rotary 1:  Vocoder Filter – This Rotary affects the Thor Vocoder Modulation Filter. Use this knob to change the affect the filter has on the Vocoder. Basically, use this knob to dial in a sound filtering that appeals to you.

Rotary 2: Shift – This Rotary is used to raise or lower the “Shift” parameter of the Vocoder. Again, you’ll have to experiment with this knob to see what sounds best for you. You can also use it to create some interesting sweeps.

Rotary 3:  Pattern Sequencer – This knob allows you to select from 32 different Glitch patterns (all with 64 steps each). If you want to turn the patterns off, you can by turing the Rotary completely left (at zero). This turns off the patterns entirely so no sound signal will get generated.

Rotary 4:  Master Level – This is the Main Mixer’s master level. It allows you to fine-tune the volume of the overall mix.

Button 1:  Doubler – This essentially doubles the Glitch sounds. Beware, it can add a ton of beats. But if you mute a few of the glitch sounds on the Mixer or Redrum devices, you can have some fun using this button to thicken up and beef up your beats by automatically doubling them.

Button 2:  Alternate Filter – This adds a different filtered sound to the Glitch Box. It can be used to extend the Box to a whole new range of sounds. Experiment to see what you can do with this filter.

Button 3:  Master Bypass – This Button will bypass the Vocoder FX as well as the Mastering devices. If you want a very raw sound, this is the button to press.

Button 4:  Auto-Sequence – This button applies a random auto-sequenced element to the Glitch box. It not only acts as the note/gate CV for the Combinator, but also randomizes the first two Rotaries (the Vocoder Filter and Vocoder Shift parameters).

Glitch Box 2 (Red – Malstroms)

This Glitch Box uses 10 Malstroms to generate 10 different Glitch sounds, which are triggered by the Redrum Sequencer. The Redrum in turn has 32 patterns which are 64 steps each for a maximum Glitch mayhem. The interesting part of this patch is the way in which there are multiple Delay and Phaser units attached to the audio signal at the end. This creates a multi-tap delay effect which can be applied selectively.

Multi-Tap Delay setup (with Phasers)
Multi-Tap Delay setup (with Phasers)

Here is a rundown of how the Combinator Rotaries and Buttons work:

Pitch Wheel: This raises or lowers the pitch of the 10 Glitch sounds at once by +/- 7 semitones.

Mod Wheel:  This completely changes the type of sounds produced by the Glitch devices. Each Malstrom device was programmed to generate something totally wacky and off-the-wall when the Mod Wheel was used. So here is the result. Have at it!

Rotary 1:  Vocoder Filter – This Rotary affects the Thor Vocoder Modulation Filter. Use this knob to change the affect the filter has on the Vocoder. Basically, use this knob to dial in a sound filtering that appeals to you.

Rotary 2: Shift – This Rotary is used to raise or lower the “Shift” parameter of the Vocoder. Again, you’ll have to experiment with this knob to see what sounds best for you. You can also use it to create some interesting sweeps.

Rotary 3:  Pattern Sequencer – This knob allows you to select from 32 different Glitch patterns (all with 64 steps each). If you want to turn the patterns off, you can by turing the Rotary completely left (at zero). This turns off the patterns entirely so no sound signal will get generated.

Rotary 4:  Multi-Tap Delay – This adds some multi-tap delay effect to the glitch sounds. The Rotary acts as a dry/wet knob, so turning it fully left turns the delay off (dry), and turning it fully right turns it fully on (wet). Be careful as it’s easy to overdo it, and sometimes if other parameters are turned on (like Booster), the delay can get pretty loud. Though I’ve tried to limit the loudness of the delays with a Maximizer device. Just be careful not to overuse. 😉

Button 1:  Filter Type A/B – This changes the Thor Vocoder Modulation Filter from a simple Noise Oscillator to a different type of Noise Oscillator, and then adds in a Mixed sine Wavetable Oscillator into the mix. Try it out to change the sound entirely.

Button 2:  Bands 4/32 – This switches the Vocoder Band count from 4 (not pressed) to 32 (pressed in). Use this to keep the sound thin with 4 bands, or thicken it up with 32 bands.

Button 3:  Hold – This triggers the Hold button on the Vocoder. This can add some interesting unpredictible outcomes if pressed every so often. Or create a stutter effect by programming it to hold every bar, beat, or at random throughout your track.

Button 4:  Booster – This adds some emphasis and warmth to the sound via a Scream device.

Glitch Box 3 (Green – Subtractors)

This Glitch Box uses 10 Subtractors to generate 10 different Glitch sounds, which are triggered by the Redrum Sequencer, just like the other Glitch Boxes above. There’s 32 patterns which are 64 steps long, again like the other Boxes. There are a few interesting things happening in this patch, which I’ll go through one at a time.

First, there are Scream Distortion units attached to each of the 10 sounds. The Screams are randomly sequenced to switch using the Matrix “FX Sequencer.” The Curve CV is cabled from this matrix to Rotary 4, which in turn is set to program all the Scream units to various degrees.

Second, there are two Digital Delay units attached to each of the glitch sounds. One unit is set up for the left, and the other for the right. Then they are merged together and sent back to the mixer. By changing the steps associated with each of these devices, you can set up some very complex delay patterns, which in turn enhances the “Glitch” element for each of the sounds.

The anatomy of a single Subtractor Glitch sound with Scream and Left/Right Delay FX
The anatomy of a single Subtractor Glitch sound with Scream and Left/Right Delay FX

Third, Auto-Sequencing is set up so that there is an even more random element added to the box. Here, a matrix is set up for each Rotary as well as the Mod Wheel.

Auto-Sequencing the Mod Wheel and first 3 Rotaries. The fourth is controlled by the Matrix FX Sequencer.
Auto-Sequencing the Mod Wheel and first 3 Rotaries. The fourth is controlled by the Matrix FX Sequencer.
The 4 Matrixes controlling the Mod Wheel, Pattern, Delay, and Scream Damage
The 4 Matrixes controlling the Mod Wheel, Pattern, Delay, and Scream Damage

Fourth, there are a few other effects added into the Mix. If you’ve read some of the other articles, you’ll no doubt be familiar with ways in which the audio can be routed through Thor, and thereby use Thor’s filters on the audio signal chain. So I’ve added an alternate filter using this method. In addition, there are two Reverbs set up at the end of the signal chain in order to add a bit of room where the glitch sounds can feel at home.

Routing the Audio through a Thor Filter, as well as the 2 Reverbs
Routing the Audio through a Thor Filter, as well as the 2 Reverbs

Fifth, and finally, The P1 and P2 parameters on the Scream devices are controlled via CV by a Thor device. The setup is that LFO1 controls P1, and LFO2 controls P2. So if you want to control these two parameters on every Scream device simultaneously, all you have to do is make changes to the LFO1 and 2 parameters in the Thor “P1 & P2 CV” device. This can help add some further Glitchy fun with the sound (especially when the Damage Type keeps changing randomly).

Here is a rundown of how the Combinator Rotaries and Buttons work:

Pitch Wheel: This raises or lowers the pitch of the 10 Glitch sounds at once by +/- 4 semitones.

Mod Wheel:  This affects a few of the Glitch sounds, but not too much. It’s pretty much unassigned.

Rotary 1:  Drum Pattern – This knob allows you to select from 32 different Glitch patterns (all with 64 steps each). If you want to turn the patterns off, you can by turing the Rotary completely left (at zero). This turns off the patterns entirely so no sound signal will get generated.

Rotary 2:  Delay Dry/Wet – This Rotary allows you to apply Delay to the Glitch sounds in a very random way (depending on how the steps are set up in each of your DDL devices. I can only recommend that you play around with the settings in these units, especially varying the steps on each unit). The Rotary acts as a dry/wet knob, so turning it fully left turns the delay off (dry), and turning it fully right turns it fully on (wet).

Rotary 3:  Damage Dry/Wet – This works the same way as the delay does (Dry/Wet), but this time the Scream’s damage knob is affected for all the Scream units. Be careful not to go too far overboard as you can end up making the sound pretty loud. I tried to limit it already a little bit by cutting off the amount of damage that can be applied, but it can still cause pretty loud signals. So just use it cautiously and always be on the lookout for your levels and clipping.

Rotary 4:  Glitch Hi <-> Lo – This essentially will turn off the amount of randomness applied to the Scream devices “Damage Type.” The way the Screams are set up, the matrix controls the damage type and randomly shifts from one type to another using CV to control this knob. If you keep it fully left, the Screams are at their most random; receiving switching cues from the matrix. When the knob is turned fully right, the damage type will not change at all and will stay fixed. So this Rotary controls how much randomness is applied to the Scream Damage Type, or rather how much switching between Damage Types will take place.

Button 1:  Spring Verb – This applies a spring reverb to the entire mix. Feel free to change the RV 7000 patch to anything that you feel suits this sound.

Button 2:  Tight Verb – This applies a tight reverb to the entire mix. Feel free to change the RV 7000 patch to anything that you feel suits this sound.

Button 3:  Comb Filter – This adds a comb filter to the entire mix to quickly change the Glitch sound. Feel free to change this in the Thor “Filter” device, if you like. It’s in the “Filter 3” slot.

Button 4:  Auto Sequence – This button applies a random auto-sequenced element to the Glitch box. It randomizes the Mod Wheel, and first 3 Rotaries (Drum Pattern, Delay, and Damage).

I hope this article provides a few new ways you can add to your Glitch fun in Reason. There’s probably a million different ways you can add Glitch into your tracks. I know Ed from EditEd4TV fame has just come up with a beat repeater that is quite amazing and interesting to look at. Visit the PUF (Propellerhead User Forum) for more information. And if you have any other ideas for ways in which you can make Glitch come to life in reason, please let me know. I’m always interested to hear about your techniques. Don’t be shy. Share them! And until my next installment, have fun in Reason and Record.

Cheers.

12 – Crossfading Mals & Filters

Since Ed’s Thor Shaper article, I’ve been thinking about how to use this information in real-world examples. One idea is to crossfade the Grain Samples in the Malstrom and another idea is to crossfade all 4 Thor filters to affect one sound source. Lots of fun!

Since Ed’s Thor Shaper article, I’ve been thinking about how to use this information in real-world examples. One thought came from a post I saw on the Props forum. Basically, the issue was that you can’t assign the Malstrom Grains to a Combinator Rotary to effectively switch between the 80+ Grain Samples. It’s pretty easy to assign and switch between Modulator waveforms using a Rotary, but not the actual samples in the Malstrom. So this got me thinking of how you could go about switching between these Samples. And truth be told, there’s probably some really obscure way to do it which uses Thor and some heavy CV connections. But here is something that might just inspire you and be the next best thing.

You can download the project zip file here: crossfading-malstroms-and-filters. This file contains 2 rns files with the Combinator setups explained below. One is a 16-Malstrom crossfader, and the other is a 4-way Thor filter crossfader. I would recommend you download them and open them up as you read. It will make things a little easier that way.

Crossfading 16 Malstrom Grain Samples

In this setup, I’m using 16 Malstrom devices and each device is sent to a Mixer Channel in two 14:2 Mixers. The CV from the various Thors are sent to the Mixer Levels, where the level trim knobs are pushed all the way right, and the Mixer channel Levels are set to zero. If you haven’t already seen Ed’s interesting and enlightening tutorial on the subject, you should read it here: Ed’s Thor Shaper Tutorial. It goes through using the Sine Wave Shaper in Thor to create a 4-way Crossfader. In this way, you can cross-fade between 4 different Malstroms. Each Malstrom’s Oscillator A is set to a different Sample.

Since you have 4 Rotaries, each Rotary is set to 4 Malstrom devices. Giving you a total of 16 different Oscillators. Also, since one or more oscillators will be playing at any one given time, I’ve set up each button on the Combinator to mute the specific series of Oscillators. Button/Rotary 1 affects the first group of 4 (Malstroms 1-4), Button/Rotary 2 affects the second group of 4 (Malstroms 5-8), and so on. Only 10 Malstroms should be applied to a single Mixer because you can only map 10 parameters from any one device to the Combinator, and you need all 10 channel mutes mapped to the various Combinator buttons.

To take this a step further, you could create 6 Combinators, which together would contain the full 82 Oscillator Samples used by the Malstrom. Then you could crossfade between any oscillator you like. The sweet spots for each of the rotaries are as follows:

0 = Oscillator 1 Full Level

42 = Oscillator 2 Full Level

85 = Oscillator 3 Full Level

127 = Oscillator 4 Full Level

Any integer between those values will provide a crossfade between the two Oscillators on either side of the value. This can be seen as a downside or an upside. If you want a pure switch between Oscillator 2 and 4 for example, you can automate the Rotary to go straight from 40 to 85 in your sequencer using a Rotary automation lane. In this sense, you can use the Rotary as a 4-way button switcher between each Oscillator.

On the downside, you couldn’t effectively crossfade between Oscillator 2 and Oscillator 6 (on Rotary 2) the way the current Combinator is set up. But if you Reorganize the way the buttons mute, you could effectively do this. I’m open to anyone who has any other suggestions on how this could be achieved. Another downside is that since a different Malstrom is used for each Oscillator, you’ll have to tweak the settings on each Malstrom to get exactly the sound you want. If you want to keep everything consistent between all Malstroms, you’ll have to do it through automation (the easiest way I think). Simply automate one parameter on the first Malstrom in the sequencer, and copy that automation clip into every other Malstrom’s automation lane. It’s a bit of a pain, but it will keep all Malstroms in line, if that’s what you want.

On the upside, since there are 16 different Malstroms, you can fine tune the sound of each of them separately. If you have all the mutes off, you can effectively crossfade between 4-8 Malstrom sounds/devices at once just by shifting the Rotaries around. This adds some very interesting Sound Layering potential.

As it stands, the first 16 Oscillators from the Malstrom are applied to the 4 Rotaries on the Combinator. As I said, you could build up a stack of 6 Combinators to include all the Malstrom Oscillators. In this way you can build up various sounds and switch between the various Oscillators. Does this help anyone out?

Crossfading all 4 Thor Filters, and then some. . .

Next, let’s take a look at how we can crossfade all of Thor’s filters to affect one synth sound. In this case, it’s fairly simple to set up. First, create a Combinator, and set up Ed’s 3 Sine Shaper Thor’s to handle the CV like the previous example (along with a 14:2 Mixer). Then create a Thor and load up a synth sound. Start off with something simple so that you can really hear the different filters affecting the sound. Then create a Spider Audio CV Merger / Splitter, and send the synth’s Left and Right Audio Outputs to the splitter’s inputs. Create 4 Thors underneath the splitter and send each of the 4 splits to these respective Thor’s Audio Inputs 1 and 2. Finally, send the 4 Thor’s Left and Right Audio Outputs to the first four 14:2 Mixer channels.

The setup with The Sine Shaper CV and Audio outputs from Thor into the Mixer
The setup with The Sine Shaper CV and Audio outputs from Thor into the Mixer
The Thor Synth Audio being split and sent through the 4 Thor Filters
The Thor Synth Audio being split and sent through the 4 Thor Filters

On the front of the Rack, add a Low Pass Ladder Filter in the first Thor’s Filter 3 Slot. The settings for this filter are shown in the image below. In addition, add the following into the Modulation Bus Routing System (MBRS):

Audio In1: 100 > Filt3 L.In

Audio In2: 100 > Filt3 R.In

The Low Pass Ladder Thor Filter settings on the front Panel
The Low Pass Ladder Thor Filter settings on the front Panel

Enter the same settings in the other 3 Thors, but with different filters, so you have the State Variable filter in Thor 2, Comb filter in Thor 3, and Formant filter in Thor 4. While you’re at it, play around with the Global ADSR envelope so that it sounds to your liking for the 4 different filters. It’s ok if these settings are different for each filter. This will just make your sound more interesting. One thing I kept the same across all 4 Thor Filters is the FX section (Delay and Chorus). This way, when the filters are transitioned, the FX remain similar across the board.

Now let’s turn to our Combinator section and do some serious routings in the Mod Matrix. Here’s the settings you will need for each of the Thor Filters (they are the same for all 4, but must be applied to all 4):

Rotary 1 is reserved for the Filter Crossfade, so I’m not going to go over it here. You can see it in the Project File rns.

Rotary 2 > Filter 3 Freq: 0 / 127

Rotary 3 > Filter 3 Res: 0 / 127

Rotary 4 > Filter 3 Global Env Amount: 0 / 127

Button 1 > Delay On: 0 / 1

Button 2 > Delay Sync: 0 / 1

Button 3 > Chorus On: 0 / 1

Button 4 > Filter 3 Global Env Invert: 0 / 1

Mod.W > Filter 3 Drive: 50 / 127

The Combinator Mod Bus Routing settings for each of the Filters
The Combinator Mod Bus Routing settings for each of the Filters

Now, what’s happening is that the Mod Wheel controls the drive amount on each of the Filters, While Rotary 1 cross-fades all the filters. This is the main Rotary, and it has the same sweet spots as the previous Malstrom patch. Rotary 2 and 3 control the Frequency and Resonance of the filters, and Rotary 4 adjusts the Envelope of the filter. Button 4 inverts this envelope. The remaining buttons are left for the Delay, Delay Sync and Chorus. Since all the parameters are the same for all the filters, they all shift together. This can be a positive or a negative. You can’t individually set the filters, but at least they sound pretty good when transitioned. Depending on your ADSR settings for the Global Filter, the Envelope Rotary and Envelope Inversion Button may be different for each filter. But as I said before, this can add some nice variety to the sound.

Use this Combinator as a template for your own sounds. All you have to do is add your own patch into the Thor “Synth” or change the Thor “Synth” to any other Synth or Sampler device if you like. Then you’re in filter crossfading heaven.

A huge thanks to Ed for being the inspiration for these patches. Please let me know what you think and if you can think of any other applications that this crossfading technique can have, by all means share it with us. Until next time, have fun with these.