“Thorium” ReFill

Reason101 & Odarmonix are proud to present the “Thorium” ReFill for Reason 4 and above. 500 fresh new sounds for Reason’s flagship Thor synth. Built over a 2-year period, constantly crafted and honed to provide a full assortment of sounds that range over a wide variety of instruments. This is the perfect all-encompassing Thor package, which doubles as a learning experience to develop your Thor skills as well. Every effort was made to provide a wide array of sounds that utilized Thor to its fullest. Every rotary, button, mod wheel & pitch bend wheel have been fully mapped to provide expanded sound options for each patch.

Thorium ReFill for Reason 4.0+Reason101 & Odarmonix are proud to present the Thorium ReFill for Reason 4 and above. 500 fresh new sounds for Reason’s flagship Thor synth. Built over a 2-year period, constantly crafted and honed to provide a full assortment of sounds that range over a wide variety of instruments. This is the perfect all-encompassing Thor package, which doubles as a learning experience to develop your Thor skills as well. Every effort was made to provide a wide array of sounds that utilized Thor to its fullest. Every rotary, button, mod wheel & pitch bend wheel have been fully mapped to provide expanded sound options for each patch.

This product was put together to compliment the Thunder ReFill that I released last year. That’s why, for the month of May, 2014, anyone that purchases Thorium, and puts together a song in any genre that displays the power of Thorium will receive a free copy of Thunder. To qualify, you can only use Thorium patches as instruments. All stock Reason Effects & Utilities are also allowed, as well as any automation. However, Rack Extensions are not allowed. Note: song quality to be evaluated by me, and I reserve the right to showcase the song on social media, including my SoundCloud page. But that also means some free promotion and a free ReFill for you. Email me your final .reason file before the end of May, 2014, and I’ll send you the Thunder ReFill. Offer expires May 31st, 2014.

What’s included?

The ReFill contains 500 Thor patches, which are categorized as follows:

  • 44 Bass patches
  • 43 Chiptune & Glitch patches
  • 23 Guitar & String patches
  • 10 Hybrid patches
  • 50 Pad patches
  • 56 Percussion patches
  • 17 Piano & Organs patches
  • 16 Rhythmic patches
  • 18 Sequenced patches
  • 21 Special Effect patches
  • 26 Sweep patches
  • 58 Synths (Monophonic) patches
  • 55 Synths (Polyphonic) patches
  • 38 Texture patches
  • 2 Vox & Choir patches
  • 23 Woodwind patches

Cost & Purchase

The cost of the ReFill is $39.99 USD. Purchases are made through Paypal here:

Add to Cart

ReFill Sound Examples

I’ve put together a collection of YouTube videos to demonstrate the sounds you will find inside the ReFill. Have a listen. The first video goes over the Basses, Chip tune, and Glitch sounds:

The second video goes over the Guitar, Strings, and Hybrid sounds:

The third video goes over the Pad, Piano, and Organ sounds:

The fourth video goes over the Rhythmic and Sequenced sounds:

The fifth video goes over the Special Effect and Sweep sounds:

The sixth video goes over the Monophonic and Polyphonic Synth sounds:

And finally, the seventh video goes over the Texture, Vox & Choir, and Woodwind sounds.

Thanks for checking out the ReFill. As always, happy Reasoning!

78 – Creating Better Patches (Part 5)

In this fifth installment of my series on better patch design, I thought I would take a much-needed break from all the theory and synth jargon, and instead focus on some creative Thor synth ideas. I can almost hear the collective yawn after reading the last few articles. So let’s spice it up with a few videos that showcase some of the concepts we’ve talked about, but more importantly, let’s just have some fun fiddling around in Thor.

In this fifth installment of my series on better patch design, I thought I would take a much-needed break from all the theory and synth jargon, and instead focus on some creative Thor synth ideas. I can almost hear the collective yawn after reading the last few articles. So let’s spice it up with a few videos that showcase some of the concepts we’ve talked about, but more importantly, let’s just have some fun fiddling around in Thor.

You can download the project files here: better-patches-part5. This zip consists of a few Thor patches and demo .reason files that outline the ideas below. You can use any version of Reason above 4.0 (when the Thor synth was introduced to the world of Reason). Enjoy! Read on for more about these ideas.

The Hoover Sound (Redux)

Chris Petti did a great video on how to create a Hoover Sound in Reason using some Analog Oscillators and a Multi-Oscillator to fatten everything up. If you haven’t seen his video, I’m going to showcase it here. Have a look and build the patch first. We’ll use this as the base building block and figure out a few modifications you can add to enhance it’s flexibility. Here’s his video:

This patch is a really great sound as it is, and Mr. Petti does a bang up job of presenting it to us (not to mention his videos are way cooler than my own DIY camera work). Nonetheless, there’s lots you can do to add to his patch. So I’m going to start where Chris left off and see what we can do to make his patch more flexible, taking it to the next level of patch design. Check out the video below:

Button Trigger Madness

In my never-ending quest to solve interesting problems in Reason, I came across this dilemma. How can I use the button in Thor as a toggle switch to step through the Thor Sequencer? I wasn’t happy with the “it’s not possible” answer. So here’s what I devised. It’s actually a nice simple solution which allows you to use the Thor button as a cycler. The power in this trick is that when the Sequencer is set to “Step” mode, the button can be used to cycle through all 16 steps. If you watch the video below, you’ll see how this can help you devise Thor patches that contain 16 distinct sounds within a single Thor patch.

Here’s the short version of how you set it up (see the Chiptune video below for a practical application):

  1. Open a new Reason document. Go into Edit > Preferences, and on the “Audio Tab,” ensure the Sample Rate is set to 44,100 (should be the default). Then close out of this dialog.
  2. Create an initialized Thor device.
  3. Turn off the “Step Sequencer” green light in the Global section’s “Trigger” area. While we’re doing that, label Button 1 the “Stepper.”
  4. Turn off the Global Envelope’s “Gate Trig” green light.
  5. Turn up the Global Envelope’s Sustain to full (0.0 dB), and turn down all other Global Envelope parameters to zero.
  6. In the Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS), create the following two lines on the left side:

    Button1 : 100 > G.Env Gate

    Global Env : -100 > S. Trig

  7. Now, enter the following in the MBRS on the first line on the right side

    Button1 : 100 > S. Trig : 100 > S. Trig

  8. In the Step Sequencer section, change the Run Mode to “Step.”
The Thor Button Cycler, showing all the changes that need to be made to the Thor init patch
The Thor Button Cycler, showing all the changes that need to be made to the Thor init patch

Now when you press button 1, you’ll notice that the Step sequencer moves forward one step when turned on, and another step when turned off. In essence, we’ve tricked Thor into thinking that both button “on” and button “off” should trigger the Step Sequencer to “Run.” The Global Envelope was required because it is always left on, and so can be manipulated without requiring a Midi Note to “gate” the envelope.

You can now use the Step Sequencer’s Note, Curve 1, Curve 2, Gate Length, etc. to control any aspect of the Thor patch that you like, and build up different sounds at each step of the Step Sequencer. Think of generating 16 different Bass tones or 16 different Pads, Strings, Drum sounds, or any interesting sounds you can dream up. The only limitation is that you won’t have access to the Global Envelope — a minor limitation given the fact that you can get Thor to generate 16 different sounds from a single patch.

Chiptune Sounds (Redux)

As I was experimenting one day, I stumbled upon. . .

. . . a wonderful way to create some Chiptune sounds using the Wavetable Oscillator in Thor and affect it’s “Frequency (FM)” parameter with a stepped LFO. Sometimes it’s not how crazy you can make things. Instead, it’s about keeping things ultra simple. Have a look at the video to see how I paired this Chiptune idea with the above “Button Trigger Madness” idea to create 4 different Chiptune sounds within a single Thor patch.

Here’s the video:

Creating a Sweep

This is an interesting patch that will show you an alternate use for the Velocity performance of the Patch. Since the sweep changes the Volume (along with a few other parameters) over time to sweep the sound upward to full volume, you probably don’t want to have Volume modulated by Velocity. Instead, you can use the Velocity information from the musician’s performance to adjust the speed or rate of the sweep, making it rise slowly when the keys are played softly, and faster when the keys are played harder. You could also set up a button to reverse the Velocity behavior, if you like (see my previous tutorials in this series for explanations on how this is done).

Here’s the video:

Using the FSB for Practice

Another idea I had was to take patches from one synth and transfer them over to another synth within Reason. In this video, I’ll show you how you can take one of my favorite Subtractor patches and recreate the sounds inside Thor. While not every sound from the Subtractor (or Malstrom, for that matter) can be accurately reflected in Thor — they are, for the most part, different synthesis algorithms and techniques underlying each synth — you can still get pretty close, depending on the patch you start out with. It’s good mental exercise. It will help you get to know all the synth parameters and how they work. And you have an endless array of sounds at your fingertips in the FSB.

So why not give this a try with your favorite sounds? And there’s also another reason to transfer patches from the Subtractor into Thor: At the end of the transfer, you’ll still have the Rotaries, Buttons, and step sequencer to enhance or expand on the patches — something the Subtractor lacks. So here’s the video to show you the method I used:


So that’s part five in the series. As always if you have any questions or want to contribute your thoughts and ideas, I encourage you to do so. I’m always interested in hearing new ways you’ve found to work with Reason. All my best until next time.

70 – ChipTune Sounds

There’s a wealth of great information out there on recreating the sounds of old computer chips, like the Commodore 64 or old SID chips and video console chips, and using these sounds to create tunes (Chiptune). I honestly knew very little about the subject until I, along with several other very talented folks, were asked to put together some fresh new sounds for the Reason 6 Factory Sound Bank (FSB). So here I’m going to explore and explain how I created a few of these sounds, and show you that you can definitely recreate some convincing Chiptune sounds using nothing but Reason and a little experimentation.

There’s a wealth of great information out there on recreating the sounds of old computer chips, like the Commodore 64 or old SID chips and video console chips, and using these sounds to create tunes (Chiptune). I honestly knew very little about the subject until I, along with several other very talented folks, were asked to put together some fresh new sounds for the Reason 6 Factory Sound Bank (FSB). So here I’m going to explore and explain how I created a few of these sounds, and show you that you can definitely recreate some convincing Chiptune sounds using nothing but Reason and a little experimentation.

There are no additional project files for this tutorial because all the project files can already be found in the FSB (Factory Sound Bank) for Reason 6. So read the article, watch the videos, and I’ll point to where you can find these chiptune sounds and show you how they are put together.

The Process: It’s all in seeking out the Answers!

Before I delve into creating these wily little playful sounds, I want to shed a little light on how I approached the subject. Because hopefully that might give some insight into the process of sound creation and more importantly, might inspire you to seek out the knowledge you need to tackle any sound design project, even if you know very little about it. The whole process starts by asking yourself two questions:

  1. What is the sound I’m looking for? What does Chiptune sound like?
  2. How can I recreate those sounds inside Reason.

The answer to the second question depends upon the first, so your first step is to seek out Chiptune sounds. Try to find some sites on the internet that cater to that specific sound and immerse yourself in them. It also helps if you can download a few sounds in your genre of choice and then deconstruct them using a spectrum analyzer. The more you do this, the better you will be at instantly recognizing what type of Oscillator was used, envelope settings, and the like. And yes, this is another plea for the Props to introduce a fully-featured Spectrum Analyzer in Reason. Because, for a sound designer, this is a very important analysis tool.

Once you have an idea of how the genre or specific instruments sound, the next step is to seek out information on how those sounds are built. I went to my best virtual friend next to Google to get the answer: Wikipedia. Enter “Chiptune” into the search box, and you have all the information you need to figure out how to build chiptune sounds inside Reason (or at least a very good start). Look for keywords like which “Oscillators” and “Waves” and “Filters” were used. Then you can transfer this knowledge over to Reason and be well on your way to creating vintage Chiptune sounds.

So if you really want to know about Chiptune, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiptune. After you’ve read that (especially the section on “Technology” and “Style”), come back here and we’ll continue with taking the knowledge from that article and build our chiptune sounds in Reason.

Note: There are several sites dedicated to creating Chiptune sounds, software and hardware used to create chiptune sounds, discussion groups, sound share sites, and a plethora of everything to try to recreate these old video game consoles and chips. Simply searching on Google will give you a wide variety of information and I urge you to explore those avenues as well, if this is your thing.

Components of Chiptune Sounds

Now that we have an idea of what Chiptune sounds like, and we know a little about what elements of the synthesizers are used to recreate those sounds, we can jump into Reason. Of course since this is a Reason article and since we’re using Reason software, it makes perfect sense that we are taking the software route to recreate these sounds. But that doesn’t mean you can’t recreate them via hardware instead. You could also, if you’re lucky, have access to those older chips from the 80’s and build your own box if you are feeling inspired by your inner engineer spirit. There’s also a wide variety of other software dedicated to recreating these chips and chip sounds. But that’s a whole other article for a totally different kind of blog. Here, it’s all about software and Reason.

Most of the components of the chiptune sounds use some or all of the features below, and are very simple to create in Reason. As a matter of fact, you can use any or all of Reason’s synths to mimic some very realistic chiptune sounds. Where the fun comes is adding your own variation or style to the sound. Since the chips used to create the sounds of the 80’s arcade devices were very basic, they required very little CPU and that holds true even today. So you can create whole songs out of them with very little strain on your processor.

  • Usage of Square Wave (also called Pulse Wave)
  • Usage of the Bandpass filter
  • Bitcrushing to add distortion and a low quality feel
  • White noise for drum sounds
  • Arpeggios were simulated with a fast-changing pitch (something easily simulated by an LFO affecting the Pitch)

That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Now let’s see how we can set up our sounds using all three Reason synths.

Malstrom Chiptune Sounds

Here’s the video that shows you how to build some chiptune sounds using the Malstrom. Think of this as your own Malstrom chiptune emulator:

Here’s the process to create some interesting Chiptune sounds with the Malstrom (the short version):

  1. Create a Combinator and a 14:2 Mixer inside the Combinator. Then create a Malstrom, so it is auto-routed to the first channel of the Mixer.
  2. Turn off filters A & B in the Malstrom.
  3. Select Curve 26 for Modulator A, and Curve 3 (square wave) for Modulator B. You can play around with the Curves after you’ve created most of the patch. The key is to select sharp-edged (stepped or square) waves. This provides a distinctive chip sound for the patch.
  4. Turn the Rate knob for Modulator A to around 104, and the Rate knob for Modulator B to around 96. Also set the “Modulator A to Pitch” knob to 63 (all the way up). And then set the “Modulator B to Motion” knob to around 22
  5. In Oscillator A, select “VSWaves” and turn the Motion down to -64. Then turn the Index up to 127. Finally, set the ADSR envelope of Oscillator A to 0 / 127 / 0 / 0
  6. Set Polyphony to 1.

Now when you play the Malstrom you should hear some interesting chippy sounds coming out of it. You can now set up the Combinator Rotaries/Buttons to play around with the Rates of both Modulator A & B, as well as the Modulator A to Pitch, Modulator B to Motion, and Oscillator A Index. Here are the settings I entered for the Malstrom Emulator patch I created for the Reason 6 FSB. The idea is to keep things playful, flexible and usable.

The Combinator's Modulation Routing settings for the Malstrom, which were used in the Chiptune Emulator A patch from the Reason 6 FSB
The Combinator's Modulation Routing settings for the Malstrom, which were used in the Chiptune Emulator A patch from the Reason 6 FSB

Adding some “Crunch” or Bitcrushing into the Mix

To add a bit of bitcrushing to the sound, you can do the following:

  1. Select the 14:2 Mixer and create a Scream 4 device. This will auto-route to the first Auxiliary of the Mixer.
  2. Turn the “Return” knob of Aux 1 down to around 50 or so. Then turn Channel 1 Aux 1 all the way up to 127.
  3. Select the Scream device, and set the Damage Control to full (127), Damage Type to “Digital,” and P1 to 105.
  4. Select the “Scream 4” in the Combinator Mod Routing section, and enter the following settings: Rotary 4 > Parameter 2 : 0 / 127. Also set Button 4 > Damage On/Off : 0 / 1.

This way, Button 4 acts as the Bitcrush On/Off switch, and Rotary 4 acts as a “tone” knob for the bitcrusher. If the effect is too much for you, reduce the Return knob on the Mixer for Aux 1 down a bit more. If it’s not enough, turn it up.

Thor Chiptune Sounds

Here’s the video that shows you how to build some chiptune sounds using the Thor synth. Think of this as your own  Thor chiptune emulator:

Here’s the process to create some interesting Chiptune sounds with Thor (the short version):

  1. Create a Combinator and a 14:2 Mixer inside the Combinator. Then create a Thor synth, so it is auto-routed to the first channel of the Mixer.
  2. Ensure Oscillator 1 is Analog (by default, this should already be set). Then change the wave to a square (pulse) wave. Use the Oscillator 1 Mod setting to 64.
  3. Bypass the Filter 1 slot, but ensure the Oscillator is still going into Filter 1 (the red “1” button to the left of the Filter 1 slot).
  4. Set the LFO 2 to a square (pulse) wave, and the Rate to somewhere around 11.3 Hz. Things are more interesting if you don’t “sync” the LFO to the tempo, so leave that off for now.
  5. Set the Amp Envelope’s ADSR to 0 / 127 / 0 / 0
  6. Set Polyphony to “1” and Release Polyphony to 0 (zero).
  7. In the Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS) at the bottom of Thor, enter the following: LFO2 : 66 > Osc1 Pitch
  8. Setting up the “Bitcrusher” is exactly the same as previously described when creating the Malstrom patch, so you can set that up for your Thor chiptune emulator if you desire.

Now when you play the Thor synth you should hear a classic Chiptune sound. The next step is to set up the Combinator Rotaries/Buttons to play around with the Rate of the LFO2, as well as the PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) of Oscillator 1.

The interesting thing about using Thor is that you also have access to the built in step sequencer. So another approach is to set up a random pattern to a “Pendulum” setting, then unsyncing the step sequencer, and having it trigger from a button on the Combinator (see the video for more on this). Setting up the sequencer this way means that you have an “auto-sequenced” pattern triggered from the Combinator button. Handy for instant chiptune.

Here are my own Combinator settings for the Thor device:

The Combinator Modulation Routing settings for the Thor chiptune Emulator.
The Combinator Modulation Routing settings for the Thor chiptune Emulator.

Now let’s have a look at some Chiptune sounds triggered via Kong.

Here is another little patch that I put together for the FSB, along with some other talented people who helped out by providing a few of their sounds as well. It’s a little Kong Kit that you can experiment with. Note that in order to create some of the drum sounds that are classic 80’s arcade, you will want to use “white noise.” This formed the basis for classic chiptune drums.

So there are a few outlines to create classic 80’s arcade sounds. With a little tweaking, I’m sure you can come up with several authentic sounding video game sounds using Reason. And I’d sure love to hear them. Furthermore, armed with this knowledge, why don’t you try out using the Subtractor to create chiptune sounds. And if you come up with some good ones, please be sure to send them my way and let me have a listen. Until next time, happy Reasoning.