Monthly Archives: June 2017

2 Output Exhale Review

Output Exhale Review: A Great Kontakt Player 5 Synth

Once VSts were added to Reason 9.5, I knew I'd have to do an Output Exhale review. Plain an simple. The Exhale Modern Vocal Synth by Output is just too much of a beast to ignore. Note: Output provided me with a free review copy for this article, but that did not influence the content of the review. 

Exhale can do everything from warm, lush pads to glitched modern pop vocal hooks.

And it makes it all incredibly easy to do with a simple but powerful interface.

In short, you can skip the rest of this Output Exhale review and just go buy the damn thing. It's that good.​

But for those of you still reading,  this Output Exhale review features 3 videos and is going to cover the following topics: Exhale's sound, how to use Exhale, and then offer a quick demo of making a song with Exhale.

Output Exhale's Sound

Output's sounds are incredibly high quality. The samples it works with are ​warm, lush, and full of character. Some have been delightfully processed, while others sound nice and warm.

On top of the sample layers, what make Exhale really powerful is that the engine gives you so many options for tweaking things, but in an intuitive, musical way.

It features two main engines, an LFO that can modulate plenty of characteristics, powerful macro knobs for quickly morphing the key presets of your sound, and about a dozen built in effects that can be modulated and shaped to make natural, evolving sounds.​

Here is an Output Exhale​ review I did on Youtube where you can really here the richness of the sounds.

How to Use the Exhale VST

Exhale is instrument made for Native Instruments free Kontakt Player 5. Users who've spent time with the Kontakt Player 5 will instantly feel at home, but most people should have no trouble adapting.

The Exhale VST interface features two pages. Novices can get most everything they need on the first page, which features four macro sliders mapped to the synth's main parameters, the ability to select which mode Exhale is in, and the preset browser.​

output exhale review page 1

More experienced gear heads will want to go to the second page, where they can tweak the engines that go into shapping each sound, apply effects, and choose how those effects are modulated by the LFOs.

The second page is also where you can go to change the key of the samples, which is an incredibly helpful feature.​

output exhale review page 2

Exhale features 3 main modes: note, loop, and slice. In note mode it works like any other synthesizer, the notes you play can trigger the synth to play ​notes or chords.

The second mode triggers a loop each time you press a key, and there are all sorts of incredible sounds that come with Exhale.

The third mode, slice mode, features the ability to trigger individual slices in special loops ​for really far out, processed sounds.

Here's a video overview the main parts of Output's Exhale VST.​

So what's the verdict of this Output Exhale review?

I love it. ​

This is one of those synths that just inspires you to make music the minute you hit it. 

Here is literally a video of me making a song on the spot with Exhale in like 10 minutes. It's that inspiring.

So what are you waiting for? You can buy Output here.​

Have you tried Output? What did you think? Do you have any links to any songs you made with it that you'd like to share?

How to automate trap hats in Reason

How to Automate Trap Hats in Reason

Once you learn how to automate trap hats in Reason, you'll be able to quickly make trap beats. But for some reason, Propellerheads Software has made it surprisingly difficult to automate hi hats to create a trap beat.

But don't fear! I'm going to teach you how to quickly get your trap hats firing.

You can download the patch here:

Start by creating a Kong drum machine in Reason and loading up a drum kit that you like.

Then create a Combinator. Inside the Combinator you're going to place an RPG-8 arpeggiator.

Now you're going to press the tab key.

Create a CV connection between the RPG-8's Gate CV Output and the Gate In of the Hi Hat in your Kong.

How to automate trap hats in Reason CV Routing

To automate your trap hi hats, make sure your CV routing looks like this.

Now select the Combinator ​to receive note input, hold down a key, and you should hear hi hats repeating.

Note: if the hi hats only trigger once, make sure you've got Single Note Repeat selected on the RPG-8.

Now repeating hi hats are good, but that's not the sound of trap hats.

So while holding down the key, experiment with moving the Rate knob in the RPG-8 (make sure the Sync button is pushed down).

Now you start to be hearing trap hats! ​Of course, you've still got to automate them.

So ​right click on the RPG-8 rate knob and click "Edit Automation." 

This will take you to the ​sequencer channel for the RPG-8's Rate. Select the pencil tool and draw in an automation space. Then you want to draw in your automation curve. This will determine how the hi hats speed up and slow down. 

How to automate trap hats in Rease sample automation curve

An example of how you'd automate trap hi hats

You'll want to experiment with the movement of your hats, but at this point it's up to you to automate your trap hats. 

Note: a Combinator isn't really necessary to program the rhythm of trap hats, but it is necessary if you want to start easily automating the pitch of the hi hats as well as the rhythm. 

Best Free VST Effects for Reason 9.5

Best Free VST Effects

There are a lot of amazing free VST effects out there, but in my experience, these are the best 5 free VST effects. 

They all bring something fun to the table, are easy to use, sound great - and most of all they are free!​ So start downloading today!

Don't miss out on the latest music news! Sign up for my totally non-spammy newsletter.​

1. Audiothing Filterjam

Audiothing's filter jam is just a great sounding filter, and one of the best free VSTs. It's got 4 different modes, and does amazing things as a multi-band resonant filter. It's very intuitive to use, and can get tones from subtle brightening, to all out freaky. ​

2. TAL Chorus LX

TAL's Chorus LX is modeled on the chorus section of one of the most classic synths of all time, the Juno. It only has a couple of buttons and knobs, but it instantly get smooth, silky chorusing effects in seconds. And it sounds good on everything from guitars, to vocals. Try it out and I'm sure you'll agree that it's one of the best free VSTs.​

3. Tritik - Krush

Tritik's Krush is an incredible powerful bitcrusher with a swiss army knife of usable destruction. But it goes far beyond mere bit crushing. It also features exciting lfo based modulation to give life to your crushing and includes low and high pass filters that can also be modulated by the lfo. It's amazing that this much sonic destruction is free.​

​4. URSA DSP - Lagrange

URSA DSP's Lagrange granular delays is weird. I don't really know how to describe it. It sure doesn't sound like your typical delays. But that's just where the fun starts. Throw it on and start experimenting with far out sounds. ​

5. Valhalla FREQ

Valhalla DSP's FREQ Echo is a freak. It's easy to turn it on and get simple repeats. But where this shines as one of the best free VSTs is when you start playing around with its "Shift" knob. All of a sudden your sounds get twisted and turned in amazing - musical - ways. You can throw this on anything from dub to rock and come away impressed with the results. ​

Propellerheads Reason 9.5 Review (Time to Upgrade?)

The biggest question any Reason 9.5 review has to answer is: how well do the VSTs work in Reason? Well, they work pretty damn well. And they’re a joy to have in the software.

I think that Reason is now, hands down, the best DAW for musicians. You can buy your copy here.

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Reason, and I though Reason 9 was great (here’s my original Reason 9 review).

Review: Using VSTs in Reason 9.5

Many VSTs in Reason 9.5 work perfectly, have no performance issues, and integrate tightly into key Reason features like CV control and automation.

But they certainly are not implemented perfectly.

First of all, there seem to be some performance issues with certain VSTs. It’s unclear whether this is on Propellerhead Software’s side (does Reason need to be better optimized?) or on the VST plugin manufacturer’s side. But performance could be a bit better.

The second issue is consistency. Some VSTs allow you to easily create “Images” so you can see them in the rack, but others don’t. And some VSTs respond weirdly when you click to close certain sub windows. Now, this inconsistencies don’t massively detract from this Reason 9.5 review, but they do exist. I appreciate though, the Propellerheads chose to give us Reason 9.5 now instead of waiting for everything to be perfect.

The third issue is stability. I have had one full blown crash in the few weeks on Reason 9.5, which is as many as I’ve had in other versions of Reason over 15 years. But mostly Reason 9.5 limits VST crashes to within the VST plug in themselves. So it doesn’t create a huge problem. You just need to restart them. It would be great if Propellerhead software would give us the option of how frequently Reason auto saves now that crashes may be more common, though.

From a philosophical standpoint, I think too many people are going to think that VSTs are world changing. They’re not. Many things are still easier and cleaner to do with a rack extension. I think the VSTs will have a major place in the Reason ecosystem, but there is still a lot more work that Rack Extensions will be called on to perform.

Review: Automated Delay Compensation is a Godsend

The other brilliant change that this Reason 9.5 review can’t ignore is the addition of automated delay compensation.

Honestly, if that was the only update, it would have been enough for me. Automated delay compensation gets rid of the phase issues cause be plugin lag. In the past if you had a parallel channel with a bunch of effects on it, it might sound awful and phase, and the only way to fix it was to put those same effects, on bypass on the original channel. This was a pain in the ass and it took up additional system resources. But now, you can fix that with the flick of the compensation switch.

Of course, this Reason 9.5 review would be worthless if it glossed past all the little minor distractions that affected Reason 9 and still haven’t been resolved. These are things like having a sequencer window that is not synchronized with the mixer and rack view, which affects Reason’s browser, mute, and solo buttons and a few other things. It also includes short comings like the lack of preset automation curves and the inability to control multiple faders simultaneously.

For a full list of things that could be fixed, here’s a video.