Making Hip Hop Beats in Reason pt 1

How to Make a Hip Hop Beat in Reason

This is a quick and dirty guide on how to make a hip hop beat in Reason. If you’ve never made a beat before, don’t worry, I’ll walk you through how to make a hip hop beat in Reason easily.

If you’ve made beats before, I think there’s some tips here that will help take your hip hop beats to the next level. I’m going to show you how to tighten up your beats, and how to mix them so they full of punch and bang.

Before you start recording and mixing, though, you’ll need to know what type of beat you want.

How to make a hip hop beat in Reason: Step 1 – Deconstruct Your Favorite Beat

One of my favorite techniques is to simply listen to loops or songs you like. Here’s a list of some of the best places for free loops and samples! Once you’ve found a beat you like, deconstruct it and add your own spin to!

After you have deconstructed enough beats, you’ll start to understand what goes into a beat, and it will become easier to build your own beats from scratch.

To do this easily, create a track in Reason and import the beat you want to imitate. Alternately, if it’s a Dr. OctoRex loop, you can load one of those up and compare to it.

First try to imitate the drum beat itself.

Open up Kong, Dr. OctoRex, an NN-XT or whatever other device you want to use to play the beat.

You want to build up your beat starting with getting the kick drum correct in its placement. Then add the snare. From there, you’ll work on the hi-hats, and any accent cymbals.

Be sure to include a few variations in the patterns. Maybe just a little difference in timing, or double up a kick or snare somewhere. You can also try adding fills at the end of every few measures.

Once the groove of the beat is pretty solid, you’ll want to compare the individual drum samples you’re using to those in your reference track. That is if you’re trying to imitate the sounds. But don’t be afraid to experiment.

How to make a hip hop beat in Reason: Step 2 – Tighten Up

From here, you’ll want to tighten up your beat. This is time consuming, but one of the most important parts of creating a dope hip hop beat in Reason.

To do this, you’ll need to go into the Reason sequencer and zoom in on the notes. You’ll want to make sure each one is in the right spot. Unless you’re going for a programmed boom-bap sound, you’ll want to avoid quantizing. Otherwise, things will sound stiff and inhuman.

You’ll have to do this the old fashioned way. Note by note. But it pays off.

The other important thing to do at this step is to vary the velocity (aka volume) of your hits, to make things sound less mechanical. You can select all the notes, hit F8, and bring up the tool menu. Got to the “note velocity” sub menu, and select “random.” Try a setting of about 20% and click apply. This will randomly make all the notes increase or decrease in volume by 20%, creating a more human feel.

How to make a hip hop beat in Reason

Use the “random” tool to create more human grooves.

Then, if you feel like there’s certain parts that need more emphasis, you can manually edit the velocity to bring those parts out, like drum fills, for example.

How to make a hip hop beat in Reason: Step 3 – Mixing Punch Hip Hop Drums

This step is perhaps the least understood. I’d really recommend watching this video first. It covers how to use parallel compression, reverb, eq, and saturation to create loud punchy drums.

I think hearing the examples is the best way to demonstrate this.

5 How to Use VST Instruments in Reason

Solved! How to use VST Instruments in Reason

For more than 10 years, I didn’t know how to use VST Instruments in Reason. But I recently learned how to access my virtual instruments, and it’s amazing! The possibilities that open up by being able to have full access to my Native Instruments Komplete killer synthesizers like Monark and Massive, through Reason are incredible.

I’d heard so many people say: You can’t use VSTs in Reason that I took it as a given.

My method of how to use VST Instruments in Reason should work in versions of Reason 7 and up.

While this guide for using virtual instruments in Reason sounds complicated, once you do it a few times, it can be done in less than a minute.

It’s really pretty simple!

You should watch this video of how to use VST Instruments in Reason first, then follow the steps below, just to be sure.

First, you want to download a free program, Loop Midi on Windows or create a virtual port on a Mac. Loop Midi essentially creates a virtual patch cable between your audio programs.

Then you’ll want to hit the “+” button and add a channel. You can call it whatever you want, but let’s call it “Reason Send.”

The next step in how to use a VST instrument in Reason requires you to launch Reason. From there, you want to create a new instrument: the External Midi Instrument.

On the External Midi Instrument’s interface, select “Reason Send” from the red drop down menu in the middle.

Next, you will want to open up your virtual instrument program, like Kontakt. In the Kontakt player, you open the “Options” menu, and make sure that the midi input is set to “Reason Send.”

Now, select a virtual instrument in Kontakt. If you switch over to Reason, any midi you play/record, will now go out of Reason as Midi data  into Kontakt, where it will then go out your speakers as audio!

However, you still don’t have an actual way of recording the audio in Reason!

So what you want to do is record your midi performance in Reason. Record yourself playing the notes, chords, etc and in Reason.

You need to be VERY careful with the next few steps, because it is easy to cause feedback and even blow out your speakers!

So turn the volume of your audio interface all the way down. However, you can use your headphones. Just keep the volume low to avoid blowing out your ears.

Mute EVERY track in Reason.

Connect the outputs of your audio interface to inputs on your audio interface.

For example, if you have multiple outputs on your audio interface, with your monitors connected to outputs 1-2, you would connect outputs 3-4 to inputs 1-2 with cables. If you have outboard hardware, like eqs, compressors, etc, you can also insert them in the signal chain. This can add even more warmth and punch to the use of VST instruments in Reason.

Next, you’ll want to create and audio channel in Reason. Mute it. You want to select inputs 1-2 as the source (and put it in stereo, if you want).

Now, when you hit play, you should not hear anything. The midi is going to the virtual instrument, but because the volume on your audio interface is all the way down, nothing is coming out of your virtual instrument and into the audio input.

SLOWLY turn the volume of your audio interface up. You’ll see the levels of the new audio track you created in Reason slowly fill up. You do not need this to be very loud, because you can crank it up digitally with clip gain and trim once it’s in Reason.

The main point now is to avoid feedback. After doing this a few times, you’ll develop a good sense of the levels when recording VST instruments in Reason.

Now go to the beginning of your song, hit record, and Reason will record the output of the virtual instrument. When the song is finished, hit stop.

Mute the midi track. Unmute all your other tracks.

Voila, there you have it. The simple steps to follow for how to use VST instruments in Reason. Now that the virtual instrument is recorded, you can delete the midi track, if you’d like!

Reason 9 review

Propellerhead Reason 9 Review – Time to Upgrade?


This Reason 9 Review will explain why Propellerhead’s Reason 9 is hands down the best installment in their legendary Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) line up.

As someone who was coming from Reason 7, upgrading to Reason 9 was an easy choice. However, if I was going to upgrade from Reason 8, I’m not sure that Propellerhead Software added enough to make it worthwhile, as I’ll discuss.

[update see my thoughts on the Reason 9.2 update patch here.]

Reason 9 Review – What’s New

There are several great new features in Reason 9.

No Reason 9 review would be complete without pointing to the biggest change is: addition of the new “players.”

Now I’ve heard that playas gonna play, and in Reason 9, they do.

These players are three special rack extension-style devices that open a whole new world of performance and arranging options.

My favorite player is the “scales and chords,” which let’s you either select a key to play in (with all notes outside of the key being converted to the scale) or to play all sorts of chords with the touch of one note. My music theory training is real rusty, so while I know a lot of these concepts, I often find Scale and Chords to inspire my with interesting, jazzy chord inversions or weird scales that take me out of my comfort zone.

Next up is the Dual Arpeggiator. If you use a lot of automated arpeggios, then you’ll love this, because it allows much more complicated arps than the RPG-8. Most of my music doesn’t revolve around arpeggios, so I don’t use this a ton, but it allows for some really interesting, evolving patterns.

Finally, there’s Note Echo, which allows you to create cool 80’s style sampled chords and some very interesting glitchy sound effects. I haven’t used it a ton, but really do enjoy it.

Reason 9 also includes a great pitch editor for tuning vocals, a fair number of useful new sounds, a bunch of minor tweaks under the hood, and the ability to convert audio to midi, which is really powerful.

Reason 9 Review – What’s Wrong With Reason 9

There are still a dozen or so minor problems with Reason 9 that consistently annoy me.

I’m a little OCD (ok, a lot), so some of these might not bother every one: for example, the way that that many features don’t synchronize between the sequencer and the rack/mixer.

Other features are more significant: plugins don’t automatically update (or let you know that they need to be updated), you can get into situations where buss channels get permanently bypassed, and I think performance has taken a slight hit.

Reason 9 Review – Final Verdict

At the end of the day, I love Reason 9. As a musician first, I find that Reason’s interface is way more intuitive than most DAWs. It’s easy to use, it makes sense, and I can move around quickly in it.

It comes standard with all the sounds, synthesizers, effects, and tools you need to make professional recordings. And you can expand these through buying Rack Extensions. While it is not compatible directly with VST instruments, there are plenty of good workarounds that allow you to use things like Kontakt virtual instruments.

If I was coming from Reason 8, I’d probably hold off on this upgrade, however. I don’t think it adds enough to the party to justify the cost.

If you’re a musician looking for a new DAW, I’d highly recommend it. Now, my Reason Review is obviously tempered by the handful of small problems. But at the end of the day, I’d give it a 9/10.

However, if you’ve already got a DAW that you’re happy with, you should stick with it! The most important thing is being able to do what you want quickly and capture your ideas before they get lost – so don’t change just because of the buzz.


  • a couple of years ago
  • Reviews
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