All Posts by Evano

Add Color with Master Bus Effects

Add Instant Vibe with Master Buss Effects

Fans of "top down" mixing have long used master buss effects to shape the sound of their mix. Whether it's a master buss compressor, a little eq shaping, or maybe a limiter, experimenting with master buss processing can yield huge results with limited processing. 

But you can do even more amazing things with master buss effects. I don't want to feel like your creativity is limited. This video walks you through a few cool ways to create instant vibe in a track by adding master buss effects. 

The song, "Lost in the City" is off of my new EP, Dark Film, which you can listen to here. The entire album is imbued with a synthwave retrofuturism. And this track (more than most) is trying to be just a step removed from an 8-bit video game.  

In the video below I describe how I used a  Blamsoft's Reasmpler bit crusher and Wave's Kramer Master Tape (that link gets you a 10% discount) plugins into instantly give the song the vibe I was looking. By placing these effects on the master buss, I was able to quickly dial in the right sound/vibe, and that helped immensely with the creative process.

Don't be afraid to do things your not supposed to do. Try adding weird effects to the master buss, in small amounts. It won't work for every song, but you can end up with some very cool techniques, even if you just using them on an intro or a breakdown or something! 

Have you used master buss effects in a cool, creative way? Leave a comment with any suggestions! 

Propellerhead Reason 10 Announced!

Propellerhead Software just announced that Reason 10 is going to be released this October! That's absolutely incredible - Reason 9 was released less than 2 years ago, and it's great to see that they're accelerating the development timeline with Reason 10.

Some details are still unrevealed (I'd like to know what's going on under the hood of Reason 10), but the major changes are as follows:

  • A new modern synth, Europa
  • A new granular sampler
  • 3 new synthesizers focusing on pitched percussion, vocals, and world instruments

On top of that, the update will add Radical Piano and Synchronous to the default Reason lineup.

And even better, there will be 3 gigabytes of new samples and loops from Sample Magic, easily my favorite sample company. 

Be sure to stay tuned for more updates as additional information is released! 

How to create lo-fi hip hop

How to Create Lo-Fi Hip Hop Beats in any DAW

Figuring out how to create lo-fi hip hop beats is tough. But once you've unlocked a few core techniques, you'll be able to experiment on your own and create your own dusty, lo-fi hip hop. The examples I'm using today are in Propellerhead's Reason 9.5, but this should work for any DAW.

But not just I'm talking about sounds like you'd hear on Deltron 3030's eponymous magnum opus or ​DJ Shadow's Endtroducing. No, this also works great for electronic music - how do you think Tycho's Dive sounds so incredibly lush but washed out?

The basics of creating a lo-fi hip hop sample are simple: you take one sound, speed it up or slow it down, pitch shift it, and add some distortion. But the skill of learning how to create lo-fi beats comes in the order that you do these things, how you do them, and what your source material is.

Here is a video/audio example of how to create lo-fi hip hop samples in Reason. I show you pretty quickly how massively you can create a radically different sound.

So you saw how I took a high pitched short sound and twisted it into a dusty, lo-fi out of focus drifting loop. Pretty neat.

Now let's walk through the steps. I got the sample from the George Duke Soul Treasures library included in Komplete. I triggered some slices of that to create a new groove, then bounced it to audio.

I then time stretched that audio out so that the individual hits would have longer decays. This part was a little bit of trial and error, because I wanted a bit of the corruption/distortion from time stretching, but not too much.​ It's also worth noting that I cut up each individual hit to stretch out, so that the initial attack and timing of each hit wouldn't really be affected. 

Then I bounced that to a Rex loop and created a Rex player. I added the incredible Wave's Kramer Master​ Tape plugin (affiliate link that will get you 10% off) as an insert on that channel, and dialed in a lo-fi tape setting with a lot of warmth, noise, and some wobble. 

How to create lo-fi hip requires a good tape plugin

A good tape emulation is essential for that lo-fi hip hop sound

Then I used the Octo Rex's ​pitch shift feature to shift the sample down an octave. This created a really brooding sound starkly different from the original in spirit. 

Finally, I used the Octo-Rex's built in LFO to lightly modify its own pitch Oscillator. Basically, this means the the LFO wave is slightly, slowly manipulating the pitch of the sample, giving it that drifting, lo-fi hip hop feel

​There's a ton more ways you can play with these techniques. Bit crushers can play a huge role. Pitching things up and down and up again can create interesting artifacts. Adding a reverb or delay before creating the loop can give you all sorts of little noises to play with. And of, course, a good vinyl emulation plugin can create a distinctly lo-fi sound.

Once you've got your dusty samples, it's time to start chopping them.​

Now that you know how to create lo-fi hip hop sounds, here's some free samples that you can get started manipulating today!​

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. 

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