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Reason: Creating Custom GUIs

Reason Tips & Techniques By Simon Sherbourne
Published May 2022

Screen 1: The classic default Combi with four knobs and four switches.Screen 1: The classic default Combi with four knobs and four switches.

Create your own custom GUIs in the new Combinator.

In the March 2022 issue we explored Reason’s Combinator, which takes multi‑device patches from your Rack and packs them into self‑contained units. In particular we looked at the new features that have been added to the Combinator in Reason 12. I promised that we’d pick up where we left off, so now we’ll get into custom panel designs and other Combinator ideas.

As well as assigning controls, the Combinator has always allowed you to import your own backdrop graphics, for custom panel art and branding for commercial sound packs.

Panel Discussion

The original Combi has a fixed 2U panel layout (Screen 1), with four knobs and four buttons available for user‑assignable macros, and two additional buttons that bypass the effects and start/stop any sequencers in the group. There is also the familiar pair of virtual pitch and mod wheels. As well as assigning controls, the Combinator has always allowed you to import your own backdrop graphics, for custom panel art and branding for commercial sound packs.

The Combinator MkII still defaults to this classic appearance when added to the Rack, but you can now alter just about every aspect of it, from its size and backdrop to the number and type of controls. This means that you can go beyond the four macro limit, and access a raft of possibilities for turning your patches into custom instrument and effect devices. You can create everything from a one‑knob compressor to a complex new layered synth.

Screen 2: Trying out new design ideas with custom panel graphics and control layouts.Screen 2: Trying out new design ideas with custom panel graphics and control layouts.

This functionality is accessed in the Editor Panel, which unfolds from the bottom of the Combinator. The main Editor page is where you assign the mappings and ranges of controls on the panel, which we covered last time, and will be familiar from earlier Combi versions. All the panel design controls are accessed by clicking the Configure button from within the Editor (Screen 2).

The Configure panel is split into four sections. The leftmost column is the palette of control types you can add to the main control panel. Next is a selector for focusing on existing elements for editing. In Configure mode, clicking directly on a control on the panel has the same effect as selecting it in this list. To the right of the control list is a section for editing the focused element. Finally, on the right is a set of global controls that adjust the general...

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