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Audio Input For Reason

Reason Tips & Techniques By Derek Johnson
Published June 2005

A couple of examples of how users are customising the look of the Combinator, with the 'Select backdrop' option.A couple of examples of how users are customising the look of the Combinator, with the 'Select backdrop' option.

With some clever programming, an Italian software house have created a program that claims to add an audio input to Reason. We take a sneak peek, as well as bringing you essential Reason news and quick tips.

Showing a good mix of ingenuity and lateral thinking, Italian developers Petertools have struck again. They've already made an impression with their Live Set, which provides a performance biased front end, consisting of various nifty MIDI manipulation tools, aimed at Rewire-equipped applications — although Reason was the main platform for Live Set 's development.

Now Petertools have taken a close look at the Rebirth Input Module (RIM) device and think they may have half an answer to many a Reason user's major wish. How does the prospect of an audio input sound? That will be the aim of the software currently known as Hammer.

Hammer It Home

Hammer is still in beta testing, but, once finished, should allow audio to be routed to Reason via full-duplex, multi-client, ASIO-compatible audio cards. Don't get too excited: Reason still lacks any kind of target for recording audio, so that remains a dream, but it certainly offers plenty of devices which can be used to treat audio.

With the help of Hammer, external audio can be routed via the RIM to the Malström audio inputs, BV512 vocoder, Scream 4 distortion or any other effect (or effect-laden Combinator). Such treatment will always be a live experience, since neither of Reason 's bounce-to-disk audio options works in real time. It's also not possible to Rewire Reason to another application while Hammer is in use (a side-effect of how Rewire works). But there should be a way to record the finished output, to an external digital recorder or direct to your hard disk via other software you might own.

It seems that latency is a bit of an issue when integrating the Hammer input with Reason — perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the audio is passing through a number of stages that add increasing delays. Petertools thus recommend the use of high-end audio cards that are capable of very low latency. Once the software is released, the combination of Hammer and such a low-latency audio card will bring Reason more definitely into an interactive performance environment. Keep track of developments at

Patch It Up

I'm sure we all appreciate the efforts of third-party commercial entities, and other Reason users, to provide novel sonic material — and it's always interesting to see how other people, whether commercial or enthusiast, push the platform. For example, the new Combinator device introduced with v3 is the main focus for any sound designer working with Reason, and commercial developers and users are debuting their creations as I write. A visit to the popular Reasonstation ( reveals an expanding range of Combis, some of which just sound good and some of which showcase clever programming ideas, from creative use of velocity splitting to unusual soundscapes and rhythmic experimentation.

The new examples also show off the graphic possibilities offered by the fact that the Combinator 's 'skin' can be customised with the 'Select backdrop' command. Users are often as creative in this department as they are in the sonic field.

Quick Tips

Let's say you've loaded a Combinator with several Subtractors (or other devices), which you'd like to velocity switch and play as one super-instrument. In some circumstances, you might like to save a Matrix sequencer as part of the Combinator setup, and in order to play the multiple devices from the one Matrix you might think it necessary to split the gates and CVs with Spider CV devices. Not at all: simply route the Gate and CV outs of the Matrix in the Combinator to that Combinator 's Gate and CV ins. The routing will be saved when you save the 'Combi', allowing you to include a range of patterns in the patch.

Don't forget that Reason v3's new patch browser provides auditioning for all patch types. That includes effects devices, such as RV7000 and Scream, that offer patch saving. Simply ensure that the device you're loading the patch into is highlighted in the sequencer track list, and that the MIDI In icon is enabled.

Another v3 feature worth remembering is the Combinator 's FX Bypass switch. This is especially useful when working with the MClass Combinator type, or a custom Combi made up of effects. All effects can be muted with one click, allowing the dry or unprocessed mix to be checked in its raw state.

Be creative when assigning Combinator rotary knobs: one knob doesn't have to be assigned to the same parameter on every related device in a Combinator. For example, if you've included a DDL1 delay, you could set its feedback parameter to change with the filter resonance parameter on a couple of Subtractor synths, to make delay time increase dynamically with changes to the filter. Or set a knob to increase reverb time on an RV7 or RV7000 and delay feedback on a DDL1, for instant dubby effects. If you find that high feedback or reverb decay time values get out of control in these specific examples, remember that it's possible to cap the parameter range of knob assignments. In the case of DDL1 feedback, for example, set the 'max' value to around 100 instead of 127, and even when the rotary knob is tweaked full right, feedback will not reach its full level. The same technique could be used in other potentially unstable circumstances, such as when using the rotary controllers to increase LFO depth or speed.

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