“Red” ReFill

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

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

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

What’s included in the ReFill?

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

Purchasing

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

Add to Cart

Demo Videos

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

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

Etch Red Patch Pack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FX Combinators

  • Drive LP FX.cmb

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

  • Dual Auto-Panner FX.cmb

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

  • Hi – Lo Filter Splits (BP).cmb

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

  • Tremolo & Vibrato FX.cmb

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

Instrument Combinators

  • Dubstep Bass C.cmb

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

  • Easy Etch Synth Pad Hybrid.cmb

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

  • Hooveretch.cmb

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

  • Memory Pad

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

Etch Red Device Patches

  • Basic Auto-Panner.repatch

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

  • Comb Phreak.repatch

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

  • Deep Basso.repatch

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

  • Dueling Filter Sweeps.repatch

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

  • Ghost Pad.repatch

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

  • Grunge Guitar.repatch

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

  • Kick Variable Enhancer.repatch

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

  • LFO Grind Drive Distort.repatch

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

  • Simple Tremolo.repatch

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

  • Panned Combs.repatch

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

  • Snare Variable Dual Filter.repatch

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

  • Whacky Comb.repatch

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


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

82 – Etch Red

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

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

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

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

It’s all about Source > Destination = Modulation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting a little more Advanced

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

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

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

More Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

73 – Pounding The Pulveriser (Pt. 2)

In this next installment of exploring the Pulveriser, I’ll go a little deeper and see how we can use it for more than just Parallel Compression. We can see how we can use it to warm or destroy a sound, and explore some of the CV / audio routing possibilities to get much more out of the device. And while it’s great on drum sounds and good to beef things up, it can be downright scary when used in a glitch environment. So let’s take a deeper look.

In this next installment of exploring the Pulveriser, I’ll go a little deeper and see how we can use it for more than just Parallel Compression. We can see how we can use it to warm or destroy a sound, and explore some of the CV / audio routing possibilities to get much more out of the device. And while it’s great on drum sounds and good to beef things up, it can be downright scary when used in a glitch environment. So let’s take a deeper look.

You can download the project files here: pulveriser-ideas. This zip file contain a .reason file and separate Combinator files that outline some of the ideas you’ll find in this article.

First, a note about Pulveriser Levels.

If you bypass the filter, and keep the volume level at 100, and the Blend knob fully wet, you’ll notice that the audio source going into the device is higher than it would be if you were to bypass the Pulveriser. If you then turn the Blend knob fully dry, you’ll notice that the signal increases even more. This had me confused, so I went about trying to figure out what level the Pulveriser should be in order to give consistent volume levels for what they would be if they were bypassed. From my tests, I found that a Volume level of 64 when Wet, and a Volume level of 44 when Dry made the device consistent with a bypassed audio source. How helpful is this information? Well, it could help to know in the event you want to have more consistency between the levels going into the Pulveriser and the relationship between the Volume and the Blend knobs. I find myself usually turning the volume down quite a bit in my own patches. But again, it depends on other factors, such as Squash, Dirt, and Filter settings. I just wanted to point out what I found while I was doing my own tests.

In the project files, you’ll see a “Dry-Wet” Combinator that is used to affect an Initialized Thor patch. The first Rotary labeled “True Dry/Wet” was used to crossover the Dry/Wet Blend knob to create consistent volumes with the source audio. It’s just a test file, and whether or not this is of any use to anyone, I’ll let you decide. But it was a good test to find out those equivalent values.

Now let’s have some fun with FM and AM inputs on the back of the Pulveriser

There are two Audio inputs on the back of the Pulveriser that are used to modulate the Filter Frequency with external audio (FM – Frequency Modulation) and the Amplitude Output with external audio (AM – Amplitude Modulation). According to the Reason manual, these inputs accept the rate of the incoming audio signal, so play around with the rate of the incoming audio and this also has an effect on the Filter Frequency and Amplitude.

So here’s an idea. Use two Thor Oscillators that are played via Step Sequencer to affect both the FM and AM in the Pulveriser.

Let’s give our Bass some Wobble (is that a Dubstep Bass Wobble I hear?)

The Pulveriser was not only built to provide Parallel Compression and Dirty up your signal with some distortion. It also is quite capable of wobbling pretty much anything you can think of, and synching or unsynching the wobbled signal. Not only that, but you can spread the wobble across the stereo field if you like with the Spread button. This makes it pretty handy to create Dubstep Bass wobbles without too much trouble. Here’s nifty way you can create a unique Wobble effect for your Bass, or any other audio you care to throw at the Pulveriser.

Here’s a video to outline one of a thousand ways to creatively wobble your bass:

Triggering the Follower via External CV.

You can also “Trigger” the Follower to act via the CV on the back of the device. This means you can use a Matrix Curve CV or Thor Step Sequencer Curve CV to “Gate” the Follower. If you do this, the Follower connection is broken, meaning that the Audio input does not trigger the Follower anymore. Now, your CV connection is doing the work. For example, you could have the Tremor set up to control the Volume (Tremor to Volume knob), and have the Follower control the Filter Frequency (Follower to Frequency knob). In this scenario, the Pulveriser’s incoming volume has no effect on the Follower. Now, the Curve CV is sending both Gate (when the Follower is triggered) and Velocity (the strength of the signal sent to the Follower) into the Pulveriser’s Follower.

Note: The strength or velocity of the signal can be roughly gauged by the red lamp between the Threshold and Attack rotaries. While I love the lamp idea, I would have preferred a dynamic numerical gauge to accompany the lamp (or at least a tooltip readout of the CV velocity value). And for that matter, a numerical readout on the Matrix Curves and Gates. But I digress. . .

Here’s a video to show how to trigger the Follower from an external CV source. In this video, I’m using Thor’s global envelope to trigger the Pulveriser’s Follower:

Some other Assorted things that can be done

You can use the Follower to control any external CV destination. From the back, hook the CV output of the follower to any CV input in Reason. Or send it to a CV input on a Combinator to control any other parameter of any other device inside the same Combinator. This opens up the door to several possibilities because you can shape the Follower’s Threshold, Attack and Release settings to modify its effect on the CV destination.

If you like the Filters in the Pulveriser, you can use the Filter only, without the Squash, Dirt, Follower or Tremor. In this way, the Pulveriser is an advanced Filter device that can warm up your sounds, or carve out your sounds. The nice thing about using the Pulveriser in this way is that it’s one of the easiest filters to insert into your audio flow, and requires no routing knowledge whatsoever. Just insert and start filtering.


What other things are you doing with the Pulveriser that might be of interest to the community? As always, please share your ideas. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. I probably won’t write any more tutorials until the new year. But you can be sure I’ll be thinking up some new ideas for 2012. Until then, good luck in all your musical endeavors.

72 – Pounding The Pulveriser (Pt. 1)

Now there’s a word with some power behind it: PULVERISE! Let’s pulverise our sound. New in Reason 6 is this wonderful Distortion-Compression-Tremolo-Follower-Filter-Parallel Processor — And oh yeah, it’s got a Lag feature too! Suffice it to say this thing is vintage goodness, and it can do an awful lot to your sound, whether you just want to warm things up a bit, or set your sound to completely self-destruct. Let’s push it to the limit and see where it takes us.

Now there’s a word with some power behind it: PULVERISE! Let’s pulverise our sound. New in Reason 6 is this wonderful Distortion-Compression-Tremolo-Follower-Filter-Parallel Processor — And oh yeah, it’s got a Lag feature too! Suffice it to say this thing is vintage goodness, and it can do an awful lot to your sound, whether you just want to warm things up a bit, or set your sound to completely self-destruct. Let’s push it to the limit and see where it takes us.

This article is going to provide you with an introduction to the device, as well as show you how to use it as a parallel compressor. I’ll get into more tricks with it in part 2. But for right now, I thought we’d first like to get acquainted with all of it’s goodies. So let’s start with a look at all the parameters on the device.

Also don’t forget that my latest Refill, Pureffects, is available with 1,250 effect patches designed specifically with Reason 6 in mind. There’s 200 Pulveriser patches alone, and several Pulveriser-based Combinators with all kinds of interesting routing ideas. Read More about the ReFill.

Explaining the Interface

Here’s the front look at the Pulveriser and a brief explanation of what each feature does.

The front panel of the Pulveriser with an explanation of the interface.
The front panel of the Pulveriser with an explanation of the interface.

Now let’s break down the Pulveriser into it’s Component Sections:

Compression Section

  • Squash: This is another fancy word for Compression. It compresses the audio signal coming into the Pulveriser. So in this respect, it’s kind of like the Compression Ratio of the M Class Compressor. Though it’s probably a different algorithm entirely if I’m reading the Props correctly (maybe Selig can provide charts and comparisons?).
  • Release: Controls the Release of the Squash (compression).

Distortion Section

  • Dirt: This is another fancy word for Distortion. It distorts the signal coming into the Pulveriser. Note that the Dirt algorithm is unlike any other one found in any other Reason device. I have this on very good authority from the Props themselves. So you can think of this as a brand new Scream algorithm if you like. And I must say it’s one of the cleanest distortions I’ve heard in Reason or any other virtual instrument. Definitely one of the highlights of Reason 6.
  • Tone: This controls a low pass filter that is applied to the Dirt. It is outside the realm of the Filter section, so this is not to be confused with any of the Filters found there. This is a separate filter altogether. Practically, it smooths out the Dirt (Distortion), the further left you turn the knob; which may be what you want.

Filter Section

  • Filter: Allows you to select from a variety of built-in Filters. Bypass will bypass the Filter section entirely. The other filters provided are Low Pass 24, Low Pass 12 + Notch, Band Pass, High Pass, and Comb.
  • Frequency: Controls the Filter Cutoff Frequency. Pretty standard for most filters.
  • Peak: This is just another fancy word for Filter Resonance. However, to my ears this Resonance is not as bright as other Resonance settings for other filters in Reason. I may be wrong, or my ears may be shot. But this Resonance algorithm sounds a little more “tame” than the others. But don’t get me wrong, if that is the case, I’m happy about this. It means that we have more choices in Reason on what kind of Filters and Resonance settings to use. More choices = more flexibility.

Tremor Section

The Tremor section can be thought of as an LFO which you can send to various parameters both inside and outside the Pulveriser.

  • Tremor Rate: This controls the Rate of the LFO.
  • Tremor Synch: This controls whether the Tremor is synched to Tempo (when the Sync button is lit) or the Tremor is unsynced/free running (when the Sync button is turned off).
  • Waveform: You can select between 9 different waveforms, as follows: Sine (0), Triangle (1), Square/Pulse (2), Sawtooth (3), Random Square (4), Downward Ramp (5), 3-Step Sawtooth (6), 4-Step Sawtooth (7), and 4-Step Triangle (8).
  • Tremor Spread: This is another fancy way of saying “Pan.” It pans the LFO across the stereo field in a ping-pong kind of way, based on the Rate and LFO waveform.
  • Lag: This is actually yet another filter inside the Pulveriser, however, it’s a filter which is not so much audible, as it is a tool to smooth out the LFO Curve. Obviously if you select a sine wave, it’s already smoothed out, so lag has no effect. But if you select a square wave, for example, the more lag you use (more right you turn the knob), the smoother the corners of the LFO Curve become. So fully right and a square wave would become a Sine wave.

Note: That’s also my biggest beef with the Alligator. For all the greatness it possesses, it doesn’t posses a “lag” knob for the LFOs, which would reduce the pops and clicks I was speaking about in the Alligator tutorial I wrote. And as far as I can tell, there’s no way for you to “add” any lag to the LFO in the Alligator because you can’t, for example, take an LFO from the Pulveriser and use that to affect the LFO of the Alligator.

Oh and by the way, did anyone catch that little note on the back of the Pulveriser? It points you in the direction of how to use the “Lag” feature. However, I don’t see a similar note on Alligator. Too bad.

  • Tremor to Frequency & Tremor to Volume knobs: Here’s how I think of it. When you use the “Tremor to Volume” knob, you are creating Tremolo (change in amplitude over time, or more colloquially, a “Volume Wobble”). Depending where the volume knob is located, this Tremolo effect tremors lower (to the left) or higher (to the right). But it’s more of a Vibrato effect when using the “Tremor to Filter” knob. Because the Tremor creates a “Filter Frequency Vibrato” — think Dubstep Bass Wobble. I honestly don’t know if musical terminology has an alternate name for “Filter Frequency Vibrato” since strictly speaking, “Vibrato” refers to a change in Pitch, not in Filter Frequency.

Follower Section

The Follower is an Envelope Follower that takes the incoming Pulveriser audio and converts it to a CV signal that you can use to modulate all kinds of things both inside the Pulveriser and outside the Pulveriser (via the CV on the back of the Pulveriser – don’t worry, we’ll get to that shortly).

  • Trig: This allows you to manually trigger the Follower section. If you do this, you are no longer using the Audio alone to trigger the Follower. It becomes a manual process (for as long as you hold down “Trig”). Once you let go, if you have any audio going into the Pulveriser, it triggers the Follower to act. Of course, you can disconnect audio from being sent into the Pulveriser and use the Trig button to manually trigger the follower. Nothing is preventing you from doing that. In that case, the Follower is purely manual, with no audio controlling the Follower whatsoever.
  • Threshold: Controls the Threshold of the Follower.
  • Lamp: The Lamp is just a simple red light which turns on while the Follower is triggered. Note that the intensity of the red light shows the level of the Follower. So if the light is dull, the level is low. If the light is intensely red, then the Follower level is high.
  • Attack: Controls the Attack of the Follower.
  • Release: Controls the Release of the Follower.
  • Follower to Rate: The Follower affects the Rate. So if you aren’t using the Tremor to affect either the Filter Frequency or the volume, this knob does nothing. If, however, you are using the Tremor for anything, using this knob will basically send the follower to the Tremor Rate. Depending where the Rate knob is “set” turning this knob left will shift the rate downward (slower rates), and turning this knob right will shift the rate upward (faster rates). So, for example, if the Tremor is affecting your volume, and the Tremor Rate is set to 1/4, turning the knob right means the volume will be “wobbled” at a rate starting at 1/4, but then the wobble will get faster — move at a faster rate — depending on your follower settings. The Follower is kind of like a “rate envelope” (i.e.: it changes the Tremor Rate over time). With the knob set further left of center, the rate still starts at 1/4, but becomes “slower” over time. Personally, this is one of the most interesting knobs on the whole device IMHO.
  • Follower to Frequency: Similar to the “Tremor to Frequency” knob, this knob sends the envelope follower to control the wobble of the Frequency. You can get some really interesting effects when using both Tremor and Follower sent to the Frequency, so its important to play around with both knobs in tandem (though you don’t have to). This is bipolar. Moving the knob more to the left, and the Frequency wobbles below where the Frequency knob is set. Moving the knob more to the right, and the Frequency wobbles above where the Frequency knob is set.

Mix Section

  • Volume: This is the master volume for the Pulveriser. Pretty standard.
  • Blend: This blends the original audio signal with the “Pulverised” audio signal. In this sense, it acts as a Dry/Wet knob. However, when you use this in conjunction with the Squash on your Kick drum, for example, it turns into a Parallel Processor. The nice thing about using the Pulveriser in this way is how easy it is to create create Parallel Compression for your audio, because you only need one device and two knobs to achieve the effect. Of course, you can still use all the other features, such as Dirt, Filtering, Tremor, etc.

Ins and Outs of The Pulveriser: A Look at the Flipside

The back of the Pulveriser presents several ways you can modulate the Pulveriser with CV and output the Tremor and Follower to modulate other devices in Reason. Here’s the skinny. . .

An explanation of the connections on the back of the Pulveriser device.
An explanation of the connections on the back of the Pulveriser device.

I won’t go into explaining all the uses of the inputs / outputs and CV connections. Instead, the image pretty much says all you need to know. In the next article, I’ll go over some of the uses of these connections, and how you can use them in various Pulveriser techniques. Suffice it to say you have a lot of power on the rear of the device, as I hope you can see from the image above.

Basic Application: Parallel Compression.

So after reading that somewhat elaborate explanation of all the parameters on the Pulveriser, where do you start?

A hint comes in the way I’ve explained things. Notice that each part of the front of the Pulveriser is divided into sections. These sections can be used independently or in tandem to produce results. In addition, the Pulveriser’s sections are also very interdependent; arguably more-so than the other effect devices. So, for example, if you want to Parallel Compress your kick drum you would create your drum sound, and then add the Pulveriser as an insert effect. Bypass the filter section, and use the following:

Squash and Release + Blend = Parallel Compression
Squash and Release + Blend = Parallel Compression

Instant Parallel Compression using 3 knobs. It really can’t get much easier than this.

Let’s compare this to how you would traditionally set it up in Reason. To get this setup outside the Pulveriser, you would have to split the output of your drum module and send one split into an M Class Compressor and then out to Mix Channel “1” and then send another split directly to Mix Channel “2.” While you can say that this setup provides for more control over the compression, you could also say that it involves more routing, more time to setup, and more controls to worry about. In our Pulveriser setup, this process is much more efficient and easy to setup and control, at the expense of a slight loss in some of the finer aspects of control (you don’t have Compression Attack, for example, which you DO have with the M Class Compressor setup).

In the Pulveriser, the M Class Compressor would be akin to the Squash and Release knobs, while the two faders used to “blend” the two Mixer channels together would be akin to the (you guessed it) Blend knob.

Here’s a video to show you the comparison:

So which setup do you select? That all depends on what you feel sounds better to you, and it’s important to note that both setups are equally valid. The Pulveriser simply provides you with a convenient way to set up Parallel Compression.


Well that’s it for now. I’m a little worn out from writing all this stuff out. But I’ll come back and continue with the Pulveriser to see some of the cool things you can do with it. Stay tuned. And write me if you think of some really wacky ways it can be used. From my own experiments, I’ve learned you can do everything from enhance and warm up sounds to completely destroy them. Hours of fun, and you won’t hurt anything except maybe your hearing while you experiment. Let me know what you think. And thanks for reading this.

69 – All about the Alligator (Part 2)

Let’s continue with the Alligator and find a few other tricks that it can perform. In the first part, I looked at how the Alligator works, and provided a few ideas for how to work with it. In this part, I’m going to get a little more practical and show a few new ideas you can incorporate into your tunes. Hopefully this will provide you with some new creative inspiration.

Let’s continue with the Alligator and find a few other tricks that it can perform. In the first part, I looked at how the Alligator works, and provided a few ideas for how to work with it. In this part, I’m going to get a little more practical and show a few new ideas you can incorporate into your tunes. Hopefully this will provide you with some new creative inspiration.

You can download the project files here: alligator-techniques-part2. There are some Combinators and a .reason file showcasing the examples found below. In the .reason file, I’ve used mutes to silence all the tracks. To listen to a track, unmute it. I hope you find some of these tricks useful.

Also don’t forget that my latest Refill, Pureffects, is available with 1,250 effect patches designed specifically with Reason 6 in mind. There’s 200 Alligator patches alone, and several Alligator-based Combinators with all kinds of interesting routing ideas. Read More about the ReFill.

So let’s continue where we left off last. . .

Technique #5: Using the Alligator Effects without the Gates or Filters

After I wrote the first tutorial, it occurred to me that you can use each part of the Alligator independantly. For example, you can use the Gates only, without the Filter and Effects section. Or you can use the Filter section only, while keeping the Gates continually open. And lastly, you can use the Effects or Mixer sections only, if that’s all you want to use (Drive, Phaser, Delay, Pan, Volume). The way to achieve it is as follows:

  1. Start with “Technique #2: Keeping your Gates Open.” To recap, you set the pattern to #60, and ensure the Amp Envelope Decay knob is set to 127 (fully right). Then flip to the back of the Alligator, and send Gate CV Output 1 to Gate CV Input 3, Gate CV Output 2 to Gate CV Input 1, and Gate CV Output 3 to Gate CV Input 2. This way all your gates are Fully open.
  2. Fully turn down the volume of the High and Band pass filters. Note: Alternately, you can move the main left/right output cables to the Low Pass Channel left/right outputs on the back of the Alligator. This way, the audio input into the Alligator is only passing through the Low Pass section of the Alligator. Note also that this doesn’t have to be the Low Pass Channel. This idea works with any of the Channels in the Alligator, since the effects and mixer sections are the same for all 3 Channels. The idea is to pick one Channel, and mute the other two.
  3. Turn off the filter section (green light) on the low pass filter.
  4. You might also want to reduce the volume of the low pass filter (I found a volume setting of 64 for the low pass volume combined with a volume setting of 100 for the master volume is equivalent to bypassing the Alligator — at least to my ears).

Now your signal is passing through the low pass Channel only, and with the Gate always open and the Filter section turned off, you can use the effects & mixer sections independently to affect your sound.

The Alligator Front Panel, showing the areas of importance when trying to use a single channel for effects and Mixer only; in this case, using the Low Pass Channel
The Alligator Front Panel, showing the areas of importance when trying to use a single channel for effects and Mixer only; in this case, using the Low Pass Channel

Technique #6: Using External Effects

As with all Reason devices, you can very easily set things up to use external Reason devices. In other words, you are not limited to using the Drive, Phaser, and Delay that’s already built into the Alligator device. If you wish to use an external effects device, such as an Echo, Scream, or even any of the Kong FX modules, you can easily set this up. Here’s how you go about it.

  1. Select the sound source device or Audio Channel and then add an Alligator so that it’s auto-routed.
  2. Determine if you want the external effect to be applied to all three Channels or just one of the Channels.
  3. If you want the effect applied to all three Channels, it’s super easy. Just select the Alligator and add your effect device (a Scream, for instance). The Scream is auto-routed after the Alligator and will be applied to the Gated signal from all three Channels.
  4. If, however, you want to have the effect applied to specific Channels, select the Alligator and add your effect device (a Scream, for instance). Then flip to the back of the device (Tab), and move the main left/right Alligator audio output cables to one of the three desired Channel output pair (High, Band, or Low Pass Channel).
  5. If you desire, you can do the same thing for the other two Channels by adding other effects and routing them in a similar way. This way, you could have a Chorus effect inserted into the High Pass Channel, a Scream inserted into the Band Pass Channel, and a Pulveriser inserted into the Low Pass Channel. Or you could have three different screams inserted into the three different Channels, and set the parameters/settings for all three Screams differently to get more variation.

The more you experiment with external devices, the more I’m sure you’ll find how versatile the Alligator is in processing your sounds. You might even wonder how you ever lived without this device.

The back of the rack, showing how to process the audio through single Alligator channels and external effects.
The back of the rack, showing how to process the audio through single Alligator channels and external effects.

Here’s the video showing you the above two techniques:

Technique #7: Gating Three different Audio signals across Three Different Gate Channels.

Here’s an interesting way to go about using the Alligator Effect device. How about taking three different sound sources and passing them through the three different Alligator Gate Channels, and then outputting them to three different Mixer Channels? Confused yet?

No, you can’t really do this with a single Alligator because the Alligator only has one pair of Inputs. However, you can create three Alligators, and then send your three audio sources into the three different Alligators (one audio source for each Alligator). Once this is done, you can send the separate channel outputs on to their own Mix Channel Inputs. The setup would look like this:

  • Audio Source 1 > Alligator “A” main left/right input > High Pass Channel left/right output > Mix Channel “A” left/right input
  • Audio Source 1 > Alligator “B” main left/right input > Band Pass Channel left/right output > Mix Channel “B” left/right input
  • Audio Source 1 > Alligator “C” main left/right input > Low Pass Channel left/right output > Mix Channel “C” left/right input

The nice thing about this setup is that you can choose to keep all three Alligators’ “Pattern” section the same, in which case the “Pattern” sounds sync nicely together between all three Alligators, or you can spice it up by setting up different parameters in each of the Alligator “Pattern” sections. For example, you could set Alligator “A” to have a resolution of 1/8, Alligator “B” to have a resolution of 1/16, and Alligator “C” to have a resolution of 1/32. And/or you can set all three Alligators to different patterns entirely. This way, you can attain some very intriguing and unique gate patterns going on, and all your friends will wonder how the hell you did it. Well, maybe not, but it’s something worth a try!

Showing different audio sources processed by different alligator channels to achieve an interesting result.
Showing different audio sources processed by different alligator channels to achieve an interesting result.

Technique #8: Oh Hell, let’s just dive off the cliff already!

You want something completely off the wall right? Well here goes. Since the Alligator contains separate outputs, you could theoretically “Nest” the Alligators one after the other. This creates a Double-Gate-Filter-FX Channel for any audio source passed through it. Here’s how this little trick works at it’s most simplest (note that you can create Triple- Quadruple- and so on, nested Channels up to the point where it probably just won’t sound good anymore and your CPU will have a heart attack and lie dead on the operation table). This technique goes down one nested level, and only highlights the “High Pass” Channel. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from mixing/matching nested channels either. For example, a High Pass Channel goes into a Low Pass Channel, or a Low Pass Channel goes into a Band Pass Channel. Just be warned that you may need to write this out as a diagram on paper first before you lose yourself in Cables.

  • Audio Source > Alligator “A” main left/right input > High Pass Channel left/right output. . .
  • . . . Alligator “A” High Pass Channel left/right output > Alligator “B” main left/right input > High Pass Channel left/right output > Mix Channel left/right input

So now that you’ve set it up in this way, if all your Alligators are set to the exact same parameters, adding on these additional “nested” Alligators won’t produce a different sound. Where things get interesting is when you start changing the parameters so each of the Alligators are set with unique parameters. See the Project Files at the top of this tutorial for a Combinator that shows this type of setup.

Of course, if you want to use all three channels, you’ll need to create more Alligators, and each nested level will require a new Alligator. You’ll also need a Spider Audio Merger/Splitter to both split the Audio Source into the three channels, and then use the Merged side to merge them back again before going on to the Mix Channel input. As I said, this could get very tricky very quickly, and will probably be quite CPU-intensive. My advice would be to start off with one Channel and two levels (as the example shows above), then start setting up the parameters on both Alligators. See how that works out for you. Then build it up by moving to the next Channel (if you like), and so on.

Processing your audio source through multiple Alligator Channels. This shows the High Pass Channel in series. But you can do the same with other Alligator channels.
Processing your audio source through multiple Alligator Channels. This shows the High Pass Channel in series. But you can do the same with other Alligator channels.

Technique #9: Let’s Dial it Back a Bit. Adding Filter Movement

This technique is a little less freaky, and I’m going to end off with it so that you give your mind a chance to wrap around that last little technique. In this one, we’ll do something easy. We’ll take some Malstrom Curves and send them into the Alligator’s Frequency CV inputs to create some movement. Then, since there is only 2 Curve’s available with the Malstrom, we’ll steal the LFO CV output and send it into the third Filter Frequency CV input (all within the same Alligator). Sounds more complicated than it actually is. But here’s an image that shows the setup:

Showing the Malstrom's 2 Mod A/B waves and the Alligator's LFO to provide movement to the Alligator's 3 filters.
Showing the Malstrom's 2 Mod A/B waves and the Alligator's LFO to provide movement to the Alligator's 3 filters.

Those are all the ideas I have for the Alligator at the moment. I’m sure there’s many other interesting ways it can be used. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them, so please don’t be shy and comment to let me know what you’ve come up with. I’m all ears. Until next time, go make some killer music. 🙂

68 – All about the Alligator (Part 1)

In this tutorial I’m going to talk about the new Alligator device in Reason 6. I think no other device has mystified so many since the RPG-8, and a lot of people have reluctance to really dive into it, thinking it’s mainly built for electronic musicians. Truth is that it’s a very easy device to work with, and it has applications for all kinds of instruments and all kinds of genres. So don’t be intimidated by all the knobs and levers. It’s a veritable evil laboratory, but getting it under control is easier than you think, and that’s the focus here.

In this tutorial I’m going to talk about the new Alligator device in Reason 6. I think no other device has mystified so many since the RPG-8, and a lot of people have reluctance to really dive into it, thinking it’s mainly built for electronic musicians. Truth is that it’s a very easy device to work with, and it has applications for all kinds of instruments and all kinds of genres. So don’t be intimidated by all the knobs and levers. It’s a veritable evil laboratory, but getting it under control is easier than you think, and that’s the focus here.

You can download the project files here: alligator-techniques. They contain a .reason file with all the techniques described below, as well as the separate combinators. You will of course need Reason 6 in order to load and use any of the files.

Introduction to the Alligator

The Alligator is billed as a “Triple Filtered Gate” and that’s exactly what it is. However, it’s quite a bit more. It contains 64 patterns that can be manipulated, it has a few built in effects (Drive, Phaser, and Delay), it has 9 LFO’s that can be used to affect the filters, and the Panning capabilities allow you to create some movement in the stereo field. That’s not even taking a look at what you can do with the CV connections on the back of the device.

To start, let’s take a look at the various sections of the Alligator. When I’m starting off creating a patch for this device, I usually first load up a sound I want affected. So if it’s a Bass or a Synth or a Drum sound, all of these sounds will require a different approach to the Alligator. In other words, the sound I feed into it coupled with what I want to do to that sound in my head, will decide how I proceed with the device.

Following is an explanation of the parameters you will find on the front panel of the Alligator device.

The Alligator front panel with legend and explanation of the device functions.
The Alligator front panel with legend and explanation of the device functions.

And following is an explanation of the inputs and outputs found on the back panel of the Alligator device.

The back of the Alligator device with an explanation of the CV and Audio inputs and outputs.
The back of the Alligator device with an explanation of the CV and Audio inputs and outputs.

And here’s the quick introduction video to show you the main components of the Alligator:

Technique #1: Creating a Dry / Wet Knob for the Alligator

Since the Alligator does not have a Dry / Wet knob, we have to go about getting a little creative. This means wrapping the device inside a Combinator. Once there, you can use the Dry Level Knob and program its direction to be inverse to the individual Band level knobs. Set that up on a rotary in the Combinator and you have an instant Dry / Wet control for our Mister Alligator.

Technique #2: Keeping your Gates Open

You’ll notice that the Alligator by default uses a pattern to open/close the gates. You can turn them off or turn the pattern on, but what if you want to keep the gates open all the time. The easy solution is to do the following:

  1. Set the Alligator pattern to #60
  2. Flip to the back of the Alligator and send the Gate 1 CV output to Gate 3 CV input (both on the same Alligator device)
  3. Send Gate 2 CV output to Gate 1 CV input (both on the same Alligator device)
  4. Send Gate 3 CV output to Gate 2 CV input (both on the same Alligator device)

If you flip back to the front of the Alligator you will see all the gates are permanently on. This means that you can still use the LFO, Frequency, Resonance, all the Effects (Drive, Phaser, Delay), and Mixer controls to affect the sound, but you bypass the Gate section of the Alligator. It’s always on.

Just note one thing when you do this: You want to keep the Amp Envelope Decay set to full (fully right). If you lower the Amp Envelope Decay knob, the gate will fade out (even though it is completely open). If this happens, you’ll have to first move the decay knob all the way right, and then reset the CV on the back of the Alligator (unplug all 3 CV connections, and plug them back in again).

Alternately, you can send a one step tied curve pattern in a Matrix split 3 ways through a Spider and then sent to all 3 gate inputs, but this means creating additional devices when it can all be accomplished with a single Alligator.

This video will show you how to set up the above 2 Techniques:

Technique #3: Creating your own Patterns to Control the Gates

You’re not limited to the 64 patterns that are built into the Alligator (though you can definitely have a lot of fun with so many different patterns). You can easily use 3 Thors or 3 Matrix Curves/Gate CV to control all 3 gates in a single Alligator. To do this, first turn off the pattern section in the Alligator (the big “ON” button at the top of the Pattern section). Once you do this, you’ll need to create your Thors or Matrixes and flip to the back of the rack. Send the CV from the Step Sequencers into the 3 Gate CV inputs and then start all of the pattern devices up (this is easier to do if everything is Combined in a Combinator. That way when you press the “Run all Pattern Devices” or press “Play” on the Transport, the Step Sequencers start gating the Alligator. Dead simple my friends!

Best of all, this means you can create any kind of gate of any length you can imagine (See my “Matrix” series of tutorials #48-51 or Thor sequencing ideas #60-62 for ways in which you can extend the length of your patterns).

Technique #4: Stealing the Patterns to sequence other Reason Device Parameters

Forgetting about the Alligator’s intended purpose for a second, you can use its built-in patterns to affect any other parameter in any of Reason’s devices (just about). In this way I got pretty excited to see that you can use the Alligator as an “already pre-configured Matrix with double the amount of patterns” — yeah that’s pretty exciting for a nerdy nerd like me. It means I don’t have to tediously program two matrixes filled with patterns (though truth be told, if you’ve read article #3 in my 101 Creative Projects category, you already have a huge array of Matrixes from which you can copy/paste into any of your projects, right?).

In any event, to get the ball rolling, pick a pattern you like. Then flip to the back of the Alligator and disconnect the audio cables. You’re only using the pattern section here to trigger something else in Reason. And since you have 3 gates, this means you can modulate three other parameters from a single Alligator device (or how about using a spider to combine the three gates and sending the merged output to control a single parameter). I think you get the picture. This is a very quick and easy way to control things via CV.

One idea is to use the Gates in the Alligator to play the Kong drum designer. Send the three gates of an alligator into 3 drum pad CV inputs on the back of Kong, and then you can set up some pad groups in Kong so that you get even more variation. Finally, set up a Matrix curve to control the “Shift” knob via one of the CV inputs in a Combinator, and you have instant “Groove” for your drums, without ever using the ReGroove. It’s a nice alternate way to get some drums going quickly in your tracks. For the full feature on how this is done, see the video below.

Tip #1: Tuning your Filters

This concept was provided by Peff when he was doing his tutoring session in Las Vegas. And I really do hope that he doesn’t mind me providing the tip here. But in the attempt at full disclosure he needs full credit on this one.

Tuning filters is not a concept I was all that familiar with, but armed with this knowledge, it actually makes perfect sense, and has applications that reach out much farther than just the Alligator. But that could be a whole tutorial in and of itself. For our purposes, tuning the Alligator filters is a way to produce a more even sound coming out of the device. The idea is that you pick a frequency as your “Base” and then set the other filters up so that they are multiples of this “Base” frequency. So if you set up the LP Filter on the low end to be 200 Hz, then the BP Filter could be set up to 400 Hz and the HP Filter could be set to 800 Hz, which should produce a “cleaner” tone than if the filters were out of sync or out of tune.

Now while this is a handy technique, I should also say that going for a sound where the filters are more out of tune is perfectly valid. This is not a practice that should be set in stone. It’s more a technique that you should understand and get acquainted with and add into your arsenal of knowledge. But don’t be afraid to venture outside this technique.

You’ll also notice that it’s not always possible to get a precise multiple of a specific Filter Frequency. But generally, the closer you are to a multiple, the more “in tune” the filters should be with each other.

Tip #2: Taming the Dreaded Pops & Clicks

One thing that still bothers me to this day is how quirky the envelopes and LFO can be in the Alligator. Under certain settings, you can hear noticeable pops and clicks which are most definitely unwanted. Here are a few ways to deal with this if you find it happening to you.

First, it’s important to note what’s causing the pops and clicks in the first place. More often than not, it’s a result of a short Attack Time in the Amp Envelope coupled with a slow-running LFO with a sharp edge (think the Pulse or stepped Waveforms). The lack of a lag feature (which is available in the Pulveriser) means that you can’t smooth out the LFO. And when it’s running too slow, and the attack time is short, this is usually a recipe for disaster. Here are a few hints to get you out of this jam. Note that all of these methods will change the sound of the gated effect, but there’s really no way around this that I’ve found.

  • Use a smooth LFO, such as the Sine Wave or even the Triangle Wave. Stay away from the Stepped, Ramp, or Pulse waves.
  • Adjust the Amp Envelope’s Attack time to be slower (turn the knob more to the right). Times that are above 25 or 30 work well.
  • Don’t use the LFO at all. Ensure that all the LFO knobs for the bands you are using are all pointing due west! This means the LFO does not affect the bands whatsoever.

So there are a few tips and tricks for you to get acquainted with the Alligator. Give it a whirl on any kind of audio just to get a feel for it, and have some fun gating your audio. Until next time, happy Reasoning!

58 – Taking Komplete Kongtrol

This tutorial should prove a little enlightening for those that only think of Kong as a basic drum module. Here we’re going to twist it into the ultimate controller for everything under the sun. For starters, I’ll show how Kong can control 8 filters at once, and then I’ll move on to use Kong to control the FM Pair Oscillator in Thor. Using some of these methods, you’ll be able to control pretty much anything in Reason or Record with Kong; moving traditional device control from a basic keyboard to a Pad controller.

This tutorial should prove a little enlightening for those that only think of Kong as a basic drum module. Here we’re going to twist it into the ultimate controller for everything under the sun. For starters, I’ll show how Kong can control 8 filters at once, and then I’ll move on to use Kong to control the FM Pair Oscillator in Thor. Using some of these methods, you’ll be able to control pretty much anything in Reason or Record with Kong; moving traditional device control from a basic keyboard to a Pad controller.

Sound exciting? I thought so.

You can download the project files here: Taking-Komplete-Kongtrol. This file contains 2 .rns and 2 .cmb files that are outlined below. Both require Reason 5 or Record 1.5 due to the fact that it uses the new Kong device and new CV inputs on the back of the Combinator. There is also a “Volume Control” example .rns file for you to get your feet wet.

Note also that I’ll be unplugged until next Thursday April 15th, so don’t take it personally if I don’t respond to questions until that time. Some times you just have to unplug from things for a bit. But feel free to leave me a little love. I promise to get to all your comments or questions when I jump back online. Have a great week! 🙂

A Little Background

When I was working on my mammoth “Key Flux FX Processor” patch I got a post on the Propellerhead User Forum from someone who jokingly said “what’s next? A Kong controlling Thor? A Thong?” After I stopped laughing and rolling around on the floor, I thought about it for a minute and said “well why not?” And that was the start to this tutorial here. I decided I wanted to try to control Thor with Kong. Whether or not this is practical is for you all to decide. For my part, I can see this being a new fun way to play around with the devices inside Reason.

Understanding the Kong Control Concepts

There are two main concepts that I’d like to outline here. The first is the idea of using the Pads in Kong as an up / down selector switch to transpose MIDI values up or down. The other is the idea of visualizing these changes in Reason, since visualization in Reason (and Kong especially) is somewhat limited.

The first concept was opened up to me by Ed Bauman of EditEd4TV fame. In the midst of his working on recovers for his 80’s band, I asked him to help me figure out how to transpose from one octave to the next using the Kong pads. This helped me set up the Kong Piano Roll Keyboard (again, that was explored in another article). So credit where credit is due. Without his help on that project, I couldn’t have figured out some of these tangential concepts to control other parameters with the Kong pads.

The concept works like this: Using one pad in Kong for the upward movement and one pad for the downward movement, you use the Thor Step Sequencer “Note Transpose” function to manipulate a device parameter that goes from 0 – 127 MIDI value. Each time the up or down pad is pressed, it transposes the value by an increment of “1.” For example, you can go from 64 to 65 to 66 to 67 and so on, using the “Up” pad. Since Reason allows you to interchange CV values (using Note CV for Gate or Gate CV for Note), this isn’t difficult to accomplish.

Here’s the basic setup to control the Volume of a Channel in the Mixer (just as an example):

  1. Open up Reason with a Main Mixer. Then create a Combinator with a 14:2 Mixer.  Underneath that, create a sound generating device (for simplicity’s sake, create a Subtractor and load up your favorite Sub patch). But note that this can be any device you like. Underneath that, create a Matrix and add a pattern in, so that it is playing the Subtractor.
  2. Now holding the Shift key, create a Kong device. Still holding Shift, create a Thor device and call it “Vol Up.” Completely initialize the Thor device by pulling down all the parameters, removing the Oscillator and Filter, and turning everything to 0 (zero). Also while we’re at it, pull down the level of the Channel on the Mixer where the Subtractor is connected to 0 (zero).
  3. Open up the Thor programmer, and in the Step Sequencer set the Run Mode to “Step,” Step Count to “1,” and set the first step’s note to “D3.” In the Modulation Bus Routing System (MBRS), set up the following 2 lines in the first 2 slots:

    Seq. Note : 100 > S. Transp (Step Sequencer Note : 100 > Step Sequencer Transpose)

    Seq. Note : 100 > CV Out1

  4. Duplicate the “Vol Up” Thor device and rename it “Vol Down.” Then go into this Thor’s Step Sequencer and change the note value of step 1 to “A#2.”

    The MBRS settings for the "Vol Up" Thor device.
    The MBRS / Step Sequencer settings for the "Vol Up" Thor device.
  5. Next, holding the Shift key down, create a Spider CV Merger/Splitter at the bottom of the Combinator rack and name it “Vol Merge.” Now it’s time to route everything up.
  6. Flip the rack around to the back, and on the Combinator’s 14:2 Mixer, turn the Subtractor channel’s level trim knob up to 127. Then connect the Merged output from the “Vol Merge” Spider to the Level CV input on the Mixer channel.
  7. Connect the Kong’s pad 1 “Gate Out” CV to the “Gate In (Trig)” CV input on the “Vol Down” Thor. Also connect Kong’s pad 5 “Gate Out” CV to the “Gate In (Trig)” CV input on the “Vol Up” Thor.
  8. Connect the CV 1 Modulation Output from the “Vol Up” Thor to the “Vol Merge” Spider’s Merge Input 1. Also connect the CV 1 Modulation Output from the “Vol Down” Thor to the “Vol Merge” Spider’s Merge Input 2. Set both trim knobs to a value of “84.” That’s the magic CV number that makes things happen correctly.

    The CV routing for the Up / Down Volume Control using the Kong Pads
    The CV routing for the Up / Down Volume Control using the Kong Pads
  9. Flip the rack to the front again, and label Pad 1 in Kong “Vol Down” and Pad 5 “Vol Up.” Now play your device by pressing “Play” on the Transport and you’ll hear the volume at level 64. Press Pad 5 about 10-15 times and you’ll start hearing the volume rising. Press Pad 1 and the volume drops. You’ve now set up Kong to act as your up / down fader for the volume of your Subtractor device.

Visualizing the Kong Volume Control

Since there’s no visualization in Kong, it’s hard for us to track where the volume is located for the Subtractor. Here’s one way to do it using the DDL-1 device. Note that this trick is curtosy of Sterioevo, and I can’t thank him enough for showing it to me. See the comments to my previous “Kong FX Chain Builder” tutorial for more information on the ins and outs of this visualizing method.

  1. Building on our previous volume level control, hold Shift down and create a DDL-1 device underneath your Kong device. Label it “Volume Viz” or something like that. Also change the Unit to “MS” for Milliseconds.
  2. Open up the Combinator programmer, select the “Volume Viz” device, and in the Modulation Routing area, set up the following line:

    CV In 1 > Delay Time (MS) : 1 / 127

  3. This sets up the CV 1 input on the combinator to change the display of the DDL-1 to show values between 1 and 127.
  4. Now we just need to send the same CV merged signal to also send a value to the CV 1 input on the Combinator, so flip the rack around to the back, and move the CV merged output to one of the A split outputs. Then connect the Merged output to the Split A input on the same “Vol Merge” Spider.
  5. Finally, send another A split output to the Combinator’s new CV 1 input and turn its trim knob all the way to 127.
The DDL-1 used as a visualizer for the Volume setting
The DDL-1 used as a visualizer for the Volume setting

You’re all set. Now when you flip to the front of the rack and start pressing the volume pads, you’ll see the value update in the DDL-1 device. I know, it’s pretty sweet. You now have visualization of your volume setting.

A Look at the “Thong 8-Type Filter FX Processor” Combinator

So to answer the question about controlling Thor with the Kong device, I set up 2 patches. The first one is the “Thong 8-Type Filter FX Processor” which can be used as an insert effect on any sound you like. This patch allows you to switch between 8 different filter types and control them all via the Kong pad interface. Here’s a rundown of the pad assignments. Note: You do not want to use any of the Combinator parameters, since all the CV for the Rotaries, as well as the Mod Wheel was used to create the pad assignments and visualization. So simply create a track for the Kong device in the Combinator, and use that track as your control.

Note: I made all the up / down switches bipolar so that everything starts out with a value of 64. This is because each pad press only moves up one midi value, and if you started out at 0 (zero), you’d have a long way to go to get higher up on the register. Starting out at the middle makes working with the up / down pads a lot easier IMHO.

  • Pads 5 & 1: Controls the Frequency of all filter at once. Pad 5 moves the filter frequency up and Pad 1 moves the filter frequency down. These two pads together act as the frequency rotary control. Visualization for the Frequency setting can be seen on the “Freq Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pads 6 & 2: Controls the Resonance of all filters at once. Pad 6 moves the resonance up, and Pad 2 moves the resonance down. These two pads together act as the resonance rotary control. Visualization for the Resonance setting can be seen on the “Res Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pads 7 & 3: Controls the Drive of all filters at once. Pad 7 moves the drive up, and Pad 3 moves the drive down. These two pads together act as the drive slider control. Visualization for the Drive setting can be seen on the “Drive Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pads 8 & 4: Controls the LPHP parameter of the “Notch” and “Peak” filters, as well as the Gender parameter of the “Formant” filter. Pad 8 moves the LPHP and Gender parameters up, while Pad 4 moves the LPHP and Gender parameters down. These two pads together act as the LPHP and Gender rotary controls. Note that the filter must be set to “Notch,” “Peak,” or “Formant” for you to hear the effects of these two pads. Visualization for the LPHP/Gdr setting can be seen on the “LPHP/Gdr Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pads 13 & 9: Controls the Envelope Amount of all filters at once. Pad 13 moves the envelope amount up, while Pad 9 moves the envelope amount down. Together, these two pads act as the envelope amount rotary. Note: To turn off the envelope entirely, reduce the envelope amount to 0 (zero) using the “Env Down” Pad (Pad 9). If you wish to insert your own pattern sequence to control the envelopes, change the pattern sequence in the Thor Filter device’s Step Sequencer. Each Thor Filter device Step sequencer controls the corresponding filter envelope, except for the “Peak” Thor Filter, which controls both the “Peak” Thor and “AM” Malstrom filters. Visualization for the Envelope Amount setting can be seen on the “Env Amt Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pad 14: Controls whether the Filter Envelope is turned on or off for all filters. Visualization for this pad can be seen on the fourth band of the “Filter Type Viz” BV512 Vocoder device.
  • Pad 12: Controls whether the “Comb” filter is set to plus (+) or minus (-). Visualization for this pad can be seen on the third band of the “Filter Type Viz” BV512 Vocoder device. Note that this is a very specific setting, and the filter type must be set to “Comb” in order for you to hear anything.
  • Pad 15: Controls which filter is heard. Visualization for the Filter Type setting can be seen on the first band of the “Filter Type Viz” BV512 Vocoder device.  Selections can be one of the following 8 different filter types:
  1. LP (Thor Low Pass Ladder Filter)
  2. HP (Thor State Variable Filter – High Pass mode)
  3. Comb (Thor Comb Filter)
  4. Formant (Thor Formant Filter)
  5. BP (Thor State Variable Filter – Band Pass mode)
  6. Notch (Thor State Variable Filter – Notch mode)
  7. Peak (Thor State Variable Filter – Peak mode)
  8. AM (Malstrom AM Filters – both Filter A and B are set exactly the same way when controlling this filter).
  • Pad 16: Filter / Bypass. This provides you with a quick way to switch between the Filtered sound and the non-filtered sound. Think of this as a Wet / Dry switch.

A Look at the “Oscillator Kongtrol – FM Pair” Combinator

The second patch is a Kong controlling an Oscillator inside Thor. To start things off easy, I decided to control the FM Pair Oscillator. Again, I made all the up / down switches bipolar so that everything starts out with a value of 64. This is because each pad press only moves up one midi value, and if you started out at 0 (zero), you’d have a long way to go to get higher up on the register. Starting out at the middle makes working with the up / down pads a lot easier IMHO.

The FM Pair Oscillator control has at least one interesting twist. Since controlling the Carrier / Modulator pair is unlike controlling a MIDI value of 0 – 127, we need to figure out the proper settings to control a MIDI value of 1 – 32. This is done by going into the Up / Down Thor devices and changing the note values of the first step to the following:

“Up” Thor device: G#3

“Down” Thor device: E2

Once this is updated, you can control parameters that have 32 options. This does not only mean the FM Pair Carrier and Modulator, but also the Matrix pattern devices, or Thor’s Wavetable Oscillator “Table” selection. Anything with 32 MIDI values can now be controlled and stepped through one at a time in Kong.

Here’s a rundown of the pad assignments. Note: You do not want to use any of the Combinator parameters, since all the CV for the Rotaries, as well as the Mod Wheel was used to create the pad assignments and visualization. So simply create a track for the Kong device in the Combinator, and use that track as your control.

  • Pads 5 & 1: Controls the Pitch of the Oscillator. Pad 5 moves the pitch up and Pad 1 moves the pitch down. Visualization for the Pitch setting can be seen on the “Pitch Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pads 6 & 2: Controls the FM Parameter of the Oscillator. Pad 6 moves the fm up and Pad 2 moves the fm down. Visualization for the fm setting can be seen on the “FM Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pads 7 & 3: Controls the Carrier setting of the Oscillator. Pad 6 moves the carrier setting up and Pad 2 moves the carrier setting down. Visualization for the carrier setting can be seen on the “Carrier Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pads 8 & 4: Controls the Modulation setting of the Oscillator. Pad 6 moves the Modulation setting up and Pad 2 moves the modulation setting down. Visualization for the mod setting can be seen on the “Mod Viz” DDL-1 device located just below the Kong device.
  • Pads 13 & 9: Controls the Amp Envelope’s “Attack.” Pad 13 moves the Attack setting up (slower attack) and Pad 9 moves the attack down (faster attack). Visualization for the envelope’s attack can be seen on the first and second band of the “Amp Vizualize” BV512 Vocoder device, located just below the 4 DDL-1 devices. The first band shows the upward setting, and the second band shows the downward setting (much easier to see when you are actually using the Kong controller – so download the patch and try it out).
  • Pads 14 & 10: Controls the Amp Envelope’s “Decay.” Pad 14 moves the Decay setting up (longer decay) and Pad 10 moves the decay down (shorter decay). Visualization for the envelope’s decay can be seen on the third and fourth bands of the “Amp Vizualize” BV512 Vocoder device, located just below the 4 DDL-1 devices. The third band shows the upward setting, and the fourth band shows the downward setting.
  • Pads 15 & 11: Controls the Amp Envelope’s “Release.” Pad 15 moves the Release setting up (longer release) and Pad 11 moves the release down (shorter release). Visualization for the envelope’s release can be seen on the fifth and sixth bands of the “Amp Vizualize” BV512 Vocoder device, located just below the 4 DDL-1 devices. The fifth band shows the upward setting, and the sixth band shows the downward setting.
  • Pads 16 & 12: Controls the Panning of the sound. Pad 16 moves the panning left, while Pad 12 moves the panning right. Visualization for the panning can be seen on the seventh and eighth bands of the “Amp Vizualize” BV512 Vocoder device, located just below the 4 DDL-1 devices. The seventh band shows the leftward setting, and the eighth band shows the rightward setting.

Where can you go from Here?

Sometimes it’s the smallest concepts that can lead to the biggest revelations; opening doors to new ideas and solutions. This is definitely one of those cases. Using these simple ideas, you can now control virtually every possible parameter in Reason via the Kong Pads. These are just two types of control devices I built here. But there’s nothing stopping you from building a Reverb Kong controller (ReKong 7001?), or a DDL-1 controlled by Kong (DDKong-2?). And there’s nothing stopping you from building a controller that allows you to combine Oscillators or Filters or any number of things together that can be triggered by Kong pads. Just use your imagination and come up with some cool ways to take your pad controlling to new heights. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Where you go from here is all up to your patience and ambition.

Any thoughts?

Rebirth PCF Effect Combi

This beautiful little patch was contributed by Mick Comito, and it recreates the ReBirth Pattern-Controlled-Filter effect, but in the form of a Combinator that can be used in Reason and Record. I am thrilled that Mick came up with this idea and put this little gem together. If you get a chance, have a look at it and try it out. It’s really something interesting that can be used as an insert effect on any audio you throw at it.

The ReBirth Museum: Official homepage for Propellerhead ReBirth - currently available for the Ipad and Ipod Touch.
The ReBirth Museum: Official homepage for Propellerhead ReBirth - currently available for the Ipad and Ipod Touch.

This beautiful little patch was contributed by Mick Comito, and it recreates the Rebirth Pattern-Controlled-Filter effect, but in the form of a Combinator that can be used in Reason and Record. I am thrilled that Mick came up with this idea and put this little gem together. If you get a chance, have a look at it and try it out. It’s really something interesting that can be used as an insert effect on any audio you throw at it.

Note, the image at right is a link to the homepage for the official site of the ReBirth museum, however, it has since seen a resurgence and can be purchased for the Ipad and Ipod Touch. If you own one of those devices, you may want to check that out here: http://rebirthapp.com/

Now onward to Mick’s great little patch:

Mick Comito's ReBirth PCF Effect Combinator
Mick Comito's ReBirth PCF Effect Combinator

The file can be found here: ReBirth PCF (Run)~mc. There are 2 files: the ReBirth PCF Combinator and an .rns test file. I did note that when running the test file, there was a little bit of clipping here and there, depending on your settings. So you may want to be careful when using this patch. Simply reducing the level on the Mixer’s channel 2 or inserting an M Class Maximizer (to limit the sound) should take care of it, and is a very easy fix. But it’s still an amazing patch and very worthwhile to try out. I can see a lot of useful applications for it. So thanks Mick!

From Mick:

After you posted the blog last week I got nostalgic thinking about the guy who turned me onto ReBirth 8 or 9 years ago and really started me on this path. One of the coolest things about ReBirth was the PCF (Pattern Controlled Filter) effect. I thought that would be something cool to try and re-create. So I downloaded Rebirth and the manual and started playing with it again. It was a cool effect… 54 Patterns!!!! And the cool thing was that they were all illustrated in the manual as well as how it worked. I didn’t mention it to you in my previous email because I wanted to see if I could do it, and I didn’t want to hear “it’s been done a million times… just go to blah blah blah…!)

So last night I sat down and tried to recreate it, based on the knowledge I’ve gained following you and I have to say Hyd as well. At it’s core is a matrix (actually 2) for the patterns and a Thor for its filter, then combined. Getting them cabled and setting up the Thor matrix took a few tries, but I finally got it. Worked in some effects and even made my own backdrop for the combi!

Here’s a video that shows what the PCF Combinator can do:

And here is a rundown of the Rotaries and Buttons in the Combinator:

  • Rotary 1: Scrolls through all the patterns on both Matrixes. So you have 54 patterns from which to select (32 on Matrix A and 22 on Matrix B). Mick also put the matrixes at the top of the combi and compressed all the other inserts. Now you can see what the patterns look like and their note length. Most are 1/16 notes then some 1/32 note and 1/8 note patterns. It’s also easy to tell which one is selected because the “follower” only follows the selected matrix.
  • Rotary2: Controls the filter frequency.
  • Rotary 3: Controls the filter Resonance, but in keeping true to ReBirth, Resonance is labeled “Q.”
  • Rotary 4: Controls the Dry/Wet of the Thor’s delay.
  • Button 1: Selects between the two Matrixes.
  • Button 2: Turns on the Scream. This is a send effect in the mixer. Side note… The Scream is a bit much at times and sounded good just punching it in and out. I didn’t like the way it ended abruptly though, so I added a delay. The problem was when the Scream was in bypass, the signal was still getting through to the delay, so I needed to re-program the Scream (Button2) to go from On to “Off” instead of bypass. this allowed the delay to leave a nice trail without further affecting the sound.
  • Button 3: Turns on the Reverb. This is a send effect in the mixer.
  • Button4: Turns the delay on and off.
  • Mod Wheel: Rebirth had a fader for “amount” which is mapped to the Mod Wheel. This splits the dry and wet signal into a mixer so that the wet/dry amount can be controlled via the Mod Wheel. When the Mod Wheel is at zero (fully down), the PCF is fully wet. When the Mod Wheel is at 127 (pushed to the top), the PCF is fully dry.
The PCF filter located on the ReBirth software screen.
The PCF filter located on the ReBirth software screen.

Mick and I would love to hear any comments you may have.


Mick Comito is an aspiring musician, whose music can be found on Soundcloud under the pseudonym SoulReason. He’s a regular contributor on TSOR (The Sound of Reason).  He’s also a really great guy who is more than willing to share his creative ideas with us, and for that I’m very thankful.

42 – Stacking Modulated Filters

In this tutorial I’m going to show you two things: 1. How to Stack multiple filters together to process a sound, and 2. How to use Thor’s filters to supplement other devices in Reason that don’t have those same filters (think of the Formant and some parts of the State Variable Filter).

In this tutorial I’m going to show you two things: 1. How to Stack multiple filters together to process a sound, and 2. How to use Thor’s filters to supplement other devices in Reason that don’t have those same filters (think of the Formant and some parts of the State Variable Filter).

You can download the project file here: stacking-filters. This is a zip file that contains the .rns file with the two Combinators used in the making of this tutorial. Those same two Combinators are provided separately as well. The files work with Reason 4 and above.

Stacking Thor Filters (In a Nutshell)

Before jumping into the tutorial, if you are a primarily visual person (or just a YouTube whore), you can watch the video below to see the process outlined:

It should be noted that this is merely one method to stack a few filters. I find this method gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to processing the sound, because you can adjust the amount of filtered sound which is mixed with the original sound (in other words, parallel processing). So let’s get started.

  1. First off, Create a Main 14:2 Mixer at the top of your rack. Then create a Combinator. Then inside the Combinator, create in order a 6:2 Line Mixer, RV7000, Spider Audio Merger/Splitter, and Malstrom. Then holding the shift key down (to prevent auto-routing), create a Thor synth device.
  2. Flip the rack around (Tab) and create the following routings: Remove the Malstrom Main A/B Outputs and reroute them to the Main Left/Right splits in the Audio Splitter. Then send one pair of splits to Channel 1 on the Line Mixer. Send another Split into Thor’s Audio Input 1 & 2. Then Send the Left/Right Audio outputs from Thor into Channel 2 on the Mixer.
    The view of the back of the Rack before all the routing
    The view of the back of the Rack before all the routing.

    The view at the back of the rack after all the routings -- we'll get to the second Thor's routing in a bit. . .
    The view at the back of the rack after all the routing -- we'll get to the second Thor's routing in a bit. . .
  3. Flip back around to the Front (Tab). In the Malstrom, turn on Oscillator 2, and set both Oscillators to “Sawtooth*4” and both Waveshapes in Mod A and Mod B to “Curve 2.” Set the ADSR envelopes of  both Oscillators to 40/127/127/75, respectively (This turns the sound into a much more progressive slow-moving Pad). Route Oscillator A to the Shaper and Oscillator B to the Filter B (Note: Do not turn on the Shaper). Set Filter A’s Frequency to somwhere around 116 or so. Set Filter B’s Frequency to somewhere around 106. This is so that we remove a bit of harshness in the final sound we’ll be building up. Set Oscillator A’s Cent value to “+7” and Oscillator B’s Cent value to “-7” which detunes the Oscillators from each other.

    The Malstrom settings
    The Malstrom settings
  4. Moving to the Thor, Turn Oscillator 1 Off, and uncheck the “1” button which routes Osc.1 to Filter 1. You don’t need Oscillators in Thor. We’re only using the Filters in Thor. Turn on the Formant Filter in both the first and second Filter Slots and set up Filter 1’s X/Y value to “0/127” and Filter 2’s X/Y value to “127/127.” Turn off the Filter Envelope’s “Gate Trig” button as well so that the Filters are not affected by the Filter Envelope. Then enable Filter 2 to be sent to the Amp section (the small arrow that leads from Filter 2 to Amp). Turn on the Tempo Sync for LFO2 and set the Rate to 6/4. Finally, set the Amp Envelope’s ADSR to the following values: 396 ms / 29.6 s / -0.0 dB / 6.98 s.
  5. Next, in Thor’s Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS), enter the following slots/lines:

    Slot 1 – Audio In1 : 100 > Filt1 In

    Slot 2 –  Audio In2 : 100 > Filt2 In

    Slot 8 – LFO2 : 100 > Filt1 X : -100 > Filt2 X

    The Thor Filter settings and Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS) settings.
    The Thor Filter settings and Modulation Bus Routing Section (MBRS) settings.

    The first 2 slots are telling Thor to take the audio input of the Left and Right Audio cables we set up previously, and sent them to Filter 1 and Filter 2 respectively. From that point onward, the signal travels through Thor as it normally would and then outputs to Channel 2 on the Line Mixer. The last line is what modulates the filter parameters in Thor. This basically creates a cross-over between filter 1 and filter 2 based on the default Sine wave in LFO2. Ok so far.

  6. Now with the Thor still selected, right-click and select “Duplicate Devices and Tracks.” In the duplicated Thor, set the LFO2 rate to 2/1 and change the Filter 1 X/Y value to “0/0” Then change the slot 8 line in the MBRS to the following:

    LFO2: 100 > Filt1 Y : -100 > Filt2 Y

  7. Flip the rack around and connect another split pair from the Audio Splitter to this new Thor’s Audio Input 1 & 2. Then Send the Left/Right Audio outputs from the new Thor into Channel 3 on the Mixer.
  8. Flip back around to the front of the rack and on the Line Mixer adjust the following:

    Channel 1 : Aux = 34; Level = 36; Pan = -14

    Channel 2: Aux = 50; Level = 92; Pan = 18

    Channel 3: Aux = 53; Level = 90; Pan = 22

  9. Finally, let’s take a look at the RV7000. Truth be told, you could enter whatever preset you like here which would work for a Pad sound. So enter your favorite RV7000 Patch. My settings were a low HF Damp, High EQ, with EQ turned on, and a lowering of the EQ curve on the low end with the gain set on the high EQ end to affect the midtones more than any other area. I also smoothed out the curve and made a few adjustments to the overall Reverb default “Hall” settings, as shown below.
    The RV7000 settings for the Hall Reverb
    The RV7000 settings for the Hall Reverb

    The settings for the Reverb's EQ.
    The settings for the Reverb's EQ.

Now give it a play and see how it sounds. By layering the filters and sending Left and Right to different filters that are modulated with a simple Sine wave, you can create some very complex tones that you couldn’t get using the Malstrom on its own.

Quickly Converting to a Whole New Sound

Now we can do a few interesting things with our setup. For example, duplicate the Combinator and change all four filters to “State Variable Filters.” Set the Resonance in the two filters in the first Thor to 54 and 82 respectively. In the second Thor, set both filters to “BP” mode and set the first filter’s Frequency to 3.28 kHz and Resonance to 38. Set the second filter’s Frequency to 158 kHz and Resonance to 50. Reduce the Attack and Release settings on the first Thor’s Amp Envelope a little bit. And Reduce them completely on the second Thor’s Amp Envelope. You can also use the Mod Envelope to affect the Resonance of the filters as I have done here:

Switching Filters and a few Parameters to get a completely different sound
Switching Filters and a few Parameters to get a completely different sound

Solo each Channel on the Mixer and see if the levels are ok. I found I had to insert a Maximizer after the second Thor just to boost things a bit. Trial and error is the key.

Finally, go into the Malstrom and change the two Oscillators to use the “JewsHarp” graintable in both. Reduce the Filter A & B Frequencies to your liking, and have a listen by playing a few notes. You end up with a very different sound altogether; like a slow meandering rumble. With just a few minor changes you get all sorts of different sounds.

The Malstrom Settings for this brand new sound. Use the JewsHarp Oscillators
The Malstrom Settings for this brand new sound. Use the JewsHarp Oscillators

Where do you go from here?

Anyplace you like is the short answer. But try out different filters and different Malstrom Oscillators. You could also insert a Scream device with some mild settings to completely alter the sound. Or try your hand modulating the filters in different unexpected ways using different LFO waves and rates. The sky is really the limit.

The only thing I might be wary of doing is creating delays on any of the parallel signals, as this can cause some phase shifting. But that might be something you are trying to achieve. It’s really up to you.

Let me know what you think of this tutorial and please add your comments if you come up with something far more interesting than these designs. I’d love to hear your own sound designs and creations. Until next time, good luck in all your endeavors.