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Archive for February, 2007

Outside The Club Effect

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

You’ve all heard it… a low-pass filter on the master out.


Low-Pass filter on the master outHere’s how to do it in Reason: Create an ECF-42 filter unit, and wire your mixer through the filter into the audio interface. Right click (Ctrl + click for mac) on the device and choose Create Sequencer Track for name of device. When your track is playing, hit record and turn up the FREQ knob to make it sound like you’re going back into the club. Try experimenting with the modes on the filter. BP 12 means band-pass filter. It allows only frequencies a bit lower and a bit higher than the frequency specified by the cutoff point (FREQ knob). The “angle” at which frequency amplitudes drop off is 12dB per octave. The LP filter has two modes: 12 and 24 dB per octave. The 24 cuts off frequencies above the cutoff point much more dramatically then the 12. The 12 leaks more high frequencies than the 24.

Song Intros

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Visual representation of a song introIf you think of a song as an arrangement of layers of audio, then it makes most sense to begin a track with one or two layers. Instead of jumping right into a beat, it helps to ease the listener into the song. The intro gives the listener an idea of what the rest of the song will be like. It sets the mood, and at raves or other dance parties, it gives dancers a chance to catch their breath and rest for a bit.

If you are writing a downtempo or ambient song, it’s good to start the track out with sound effects with lots of delay on them. Try finding some sounds from the special effect presets on your synth. You want to ‘hook’ the listener from the first few seconds of your track. I can’t tell you how many producers start their tracks with a basic drum loop that stretches on way too long before anything interesting happens. In my opinion, that’s a very boring way to start a track (ok, it can be helpful for DJ’s, but still…)

Trippy delay effect

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

Automated Delay UnitIn Reason, put a delay device on any drum beat or instrument. Create an automation track for it. Then, make sure that the track’s record toggle button is on. Hit record, and go wild with changing the delay time (the box with numbers in it), feedback, delay unit (ms or steps), etc. If done right, you get a crazy effect because a non-fixed delay time has to compensate for the change by fluctuating the pitch, it’s really weird sounding. Try it!


Frequencies of Common Instruments

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Frequency ChartHere’s a handy PDF chart that will show you the frequency ranges of different instruments, and how to EQ them to achieve certain sounds. Includes: Kick drum, snare, hi hats/cymbals, bass, vocals, piano, electric guitar, strings, and acoustic guitar
(from Computer Music Magazine)

Sonic Space

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Imagine each moment of your stereo track as a box with three dimensions: Panning (left and right), Amplitude (volume) & Frequency. This box represents any given moment in time. Keep in mind that each instrument has a unique sonic footprint, or is composed of certain sets of frequencies. These varying frequencies can range in how far they span across the spectrum. In order to achieve a full, loud sound like the pros, you must fill this box in each dimension. The most common thing that prevents amateurs from getting a full sound is not filling this box properly. They combine sounds that overlap each other too far, which forces them to lower the volume of the song to prevent clipping (remember, the height of this box, or the volume/amplitude, cannot exceed a certain limit. Once it does, you will get distorted sounds, this is known as clipping). In order to maximize volume, it’s necessary to designate space inside this box to each element so that they all fit nicely together.

For a more detailed tutorial on this subject, check out this tutorial by tweakheadz

Take a Break from Music

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Take a BreakAfter hours of listening to the same track over and over, your ears will probably get exhausted. You will begin to lose your ability to mix the track properly. Take a break from your mix if you can. Sleep on it, and come back to it a day or two later. I guarantee you will hear things or notice things you wouldn’t have before. There’s nothing that can help you mix a track quite like distancing yourself from it for a while.

Animating Reason’s Knobs

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Have you ever wanted to make a knob move around on its own? With the Reason 3.0 addition of the combinator device, this is possible. And it’s pretty entertaining to see the MClass EQ device’s EQ curve dance around (as seen in the animation) when its knobs are moved automatically. Steps 3 and 5

First, create a combinator device in the rack.
Then right-click inside the combinator device and create a Subtractor synth.

Press tab to flip the Subtractor around, and draw a cable from LFO 1 (under Modulation Input) to Rotary 1 on the Combinator device. Optionally, you can change the amount on the CV amount knob next to the Rotary 1 input, and this will affect the amount of modulation. Flip the rack around again, and click “Show programmer” on the Combi device. Select Subtractor 1 on the leftmost list, and on the right, select “Filter Freq” from the first list box. The boxes to the right control the minimum and maxium values that will be sent to the filter frequency slider. Notice the Filter frequency knob is moving on its own! Now, the section on the Subtractor labeled “LFO 1” is where you can change the speed (rate) of the modulation. Notice the Amount knob doesn’t affect how the filter frequency slider is now moving. The LFO can still work independently and modulate the available parameters (like Osc pitch, FM amount, Phase, etc.) Try experimenting with the value of the Rotary 1 knob, the Min and Max boxes in the programmer, and the CV amount knob to get the perfect settings. Go crazy with the modulation routing, and animate different knobs, it’s great fun. Notice you can use ANY Modulation Output source and control the knobs like this. Anothing thing to try is the Spider CV merger/splitter. With this tool, you can send multiple CV signals all from one LFO. To make the animation seen above, I used the CV splitter to make two copies of the LFO signal, one of them inverted. That’s how I got one EQ gain paramater to move up while the other moved down.

Reverb/Delay Automation in Reason

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Automation Tracks in Reason

A really mind-bending technique in reason is to automate the various knobs on a master auxiliary effect. To do this, set up an auxiliary effect (such as the ping pong delay mentioned on this site) by right-clicking on the main mixer and then creating an RV7000 reverb unit. This will automatically create the auxiliary send for you. Now, you turn up the auxiliary send knobs for each track you want to have an effect on. Then, create a new sequencer track and assign it to that RV7000 unit. Next, arm the track for recording and then press record. Now fiddle with the any of the knobs on the RV7000 and it will all be recorded. For an example of this technique in action, check out this excerpt from a track by Takyon called Hypergate:

Download Hypergate reason file (1.7 Mb)


Thursday, February 15th, 2007


Amplitude modulation in Reason 3This involves drawing many sequential ON and OFFs in your volume automation. For an example of this technique, listen to this example from “outer shpongolia” by shpongle. In Reason, there is really simple way to achieve this effect with the matrix pattern sequencer.

Here’s an example that you can use in Reason 2.5 or above: Download the example .rns file

Route the gate cv out of a matrix into the amp level in of any device. As you can see on the front side of the matrix, there is a note sequencer and a gate sequencer directly underneath it. Notice in the screenshot I have drawn in a pattern into the gate sequencer. This will automatically control the volume of the Subtractor synth. To create stuttery sounds, play a sequence through the synth while the matrix is on. Start drawing gating notes and see how it sounds. To create tie notes (the wide red columns that take up a whole grid box to themselves), hold down shift while drawing notes. Notice that you can also change the time resolution on the very right knob. This will make your pattern be interpreted at different speeds. For super-stutter, make it really fast =D Now you can program many different patterns by playing with the buttons on the left of the device. You can then automate the changes of the patterns for creating a unique, easy to manage microedited sound! For all other programs, you can automate the volume with a tempo grid turned on. Just draw volume automation into on and off patterns at different grid divisions.

Editing the Velocity of Select Notes in Reason

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

This comes in really handy when you’re editing a drum track in Reason, in fact, it’s pretty essential. When you hold down shift while using the pencil tool in the sequence view, only the notes that you have selected will be affected. So for example, if you want to make a snare roll with a bunch of sequential 16th notes, but you have a kick drum hitting at the same time as some of the snare hits, you use the arrow tool to select just the snare rolls, and then use this method to alter just the snare notes, just draw a diagonal line that moves from low to high, and voila, a snare roll! (Snare rolls are even better, though, with a slight accent in velocity every 3rd or 4th note.)