Category Archives for "Advanced Reason Tips"

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! 

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.

Note: this article may include affiliate links, which means that I receive a commission if you purchase through them. Nonetheless, this did not influence the products I recommend here. 

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.​

Update (2/2/18): These days I'm pretty much exclusively using Serrato Sample to chop samples. It is like the future of sampling. It makes chopping so fast and easy!

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

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. 

How to Chop Samples in Reason

Complete Guide on How to Chop Samples in Reason DAW

Propellerhead software makes is so anyone can learn how to chop samples in Reason. It’s so easy, in fact!

There are at least four different ways to chop samples in Reason, and each of them has their own pros and cons.

Note – this post may contain affiliate links, which means that I receive a commission if you purchase through them, nonetheless, this did not affect which products I recommend. 

Update (2/2/18): These days I’m pretty much exclusively using Serrato Sample to chop samples. It is like the future of sampling. It makes chopping so fast and easy! Much better than any of the methods described below, but it costs $99. 

You can use the sequencer, Kong, Dr. OctoRex, NN19 or the NN-XT.  This article will tell you how to chop hip hop vocals in Reason and explore when you may want to use each of the devices.

And if you’re looking for a good source of vocal samples to chop, I’d recommend Loopmasters. I get most of my samples from their massive library.

How to chop samples in Reason with the Sequencer

Reason 9 has added a bunch of new features to the sequencer that may make the Reason 9 sequencer the most powerful sequencer in the DAW workspace.

The huge benefits of using the sequencer – unlike Kong, NN19, and the NN-XT – are that you can time stretch a sample without affecting the pitch. And you can change the key of the sample without affecting the tempo.

These two features are huge.

Here’s an in-depth video tutorial on using Propellerhead’s Reason sequencer to chop samples.

But wait, there’s more….

Using Reason’s sequencer, you can easily edit the pitch of individual notes and move the time of transients. You also have access to the forment control to create unique effects.

And it also makes it really easy to cut tails, mute small sections and re-arrange fragments.

The downside to chopping samples in Reason’s sequencer is that it’s not very creative.

When you use Reason’s sequencer to chop samples, you’re not going to be able to use a keyboard. Instead you need to hunt through your sample library and place the samples you want directly on the sequencer timeline to use them.

As a result, it doesn’t lead to nearly as many happy accidents as the other methods, and can be quite time consuming.

How to Chop Samples in Reason with the Kong

The Kong is my preferred way of chopping samples in Reason. To me it feels the most natural and musical, like old school hip hop chops.

Aside from feeling highly musical, chopping samples with Kong has a few other benefits. You can use the pad groups to create mute and choke groups, easily set up round robins, and get easy access to certain effects only available in Kong (there’s a workaround for this, though).

Here’s an in depth video on chopping vocal samples in Kong.

The big downside to the Kong (aside from the pitch and timing issues mentioned above), is that it’s a bit of a pain to actually set the sample start and end point.

Chopping Samples in Reason Using Dr. Octo-Rex

Dr. Octo-Rex is probably my favorite way of chopping samples in Reason. It makes it really easy to pick slices, apply the most typical types of filtering, and loop things, if necessary.

You can easily make quick changes to the sound of individual slices, like reversing them, changing the pitch, or volume. However, it’s not that easy to move the location of the slices. You’ve basically got to convert the loop to an audio track, then move around the slice points. Then reconvert to Rex. The video details this more.

But yea, moving slices in Dr. Octo-Rex ain’t the easiest.

How to Chop Samples in Reason Using the NN-XT

Reason’s NN-XT Sampler is a super powered tool for creating complicated layers of sampled sound. Learning how to chop samples in Reason using the NN-XT is very similar to chopping samples in the Kong. In fact, the sampler used in Kong is just a striped down version of the NN-XT sampler. So if you understand the basics of setting the stop and start times from the Kong video, you’re off to a good start.

When you first create an NN-XT, you’ll want to right click on the interface and select “Reset Device.” This will clear out the current samples. From there, you want to click on the tab to expand the NN-XT’s “remote editor” and click on the file icon to load up your sample.

When sampling in Reason’s NN-XT, you can easily layer multiple samples. You can also chromatically map the samples  across the keyboard, or just assign them to one note each. Please note that when chopping samples in the NN-XT, changing the pitch will effect the speed of the sample. Sometimes this creates cool effects, so experiment with it.

The NN-XT also provides a ton of tools for modify the pitch, amplitude, filtering, and velocity, among other things, of each sample. When used well, these additional tools can add a lot to a performance. However, if you don’t need the full flexibility these tools provide, it is often simpler to chop samples in Reason using the NN-19 or the sequencer.

And, of course, here is a detailed video on how to do it.


Chopping Samples in Reason Using the NN-19

The NN-19 is really just a stripped down version of the NN-XT. It’s easier and faster to load samples in the NN-19, and it provides a little less strain on your CPU.

The cost is that you have fewer filtering and modulation options, and layering samples isn’t nearly as powerful.

But if you are perfectly content with the sample you’ve got, there’s no need to use the more complex NN-XT, and this is probably the most light weight way how to chop samples in Reason.



Creative sidechain compression effects in Reason

Creative Sidechain Compression Effects in Reason

Last week I showed you an ultra-detailed tutorial about all the cool ways that you can trigger sidechain compression in Propellerhead Software’s Reason 9 DAW. Now that you know how to use sidechain compression though, I want to help you think about some creative ways that you can use it to further your sounds.

This guide includes a lot of really cool, unique sidechain compression effects. These techniques work in Reason 9, but should work in most versions.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Sidechain reverb for a rhythmic pumping effect
  • Create a free dynamic equalizer
  • Duck multiple instruments at once
  • Throw sidechain compression on a delay for other worldly effects

You can download some of these creative sidechain patches here.

Now without further ado, here’s an in-depth exploration of all the cool things that you can do in Reason with sidechain compression.

Did I miss any? What creative ways do you use sidechain compression in Reason?