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Reason: Exploring The New Combinator

Reason Studios Reason Tips & Technqiues By Simon Sherbourne
Published March 2022

Screen 1: The new Combinator has a fully customisable panel and a built‑in summing mixer.Screen 1: The new Combinator has a fully customisable panel and a built‑in summing mixer.

We dive into the newly improved and expanded Combinator.

One of the key components of the Reason Rack, the Combinator is a device that contains other Rack devices, allowing you to make a section of your Rack self‑contained and portable, add macro controls, or effectively turn a multi‑device patch into a new instrument or effect chain. Even if you don’t combine devices yourself, you’ll almost certainly have used it regularly as it’s the host to many of Reason’s factory presets, and most third‑party sound libraries.

Sound designers have long wished for a Combinator with extended functionality, especially one that goes beyond the limit of four macro knobs and four buttons. Reason 12 delivers this and more with a huge update to the Combinator, bringing a completely customisable and resizable panel, an internal mixer, and of course support for high‑resolution graphics and skins. This month we’ll have a look at what’s new and how you can start building in the Combinator.

Combi Recap

The Combinator is like a sub‑rack: a box containing its own Rack that behaves just like the main Rack. You can drop devices into a Combinator and connect them together, or select a group of devices in the main Rack and Combine them (Edit / Combine, or Right‑click / Combine).

Combined devices can continue to act independently and connect directly to the world outside, but more often than not you set up a Combi to consolidate devices into a single entity with its own top‑level audio, MIDI and CV connections. To facilitate this the Combinator has internal audio connections for passing audio in and out. When you choose the Combinator as a MIDI target (or connect Note/Gate inputs) the notes and control data can be passed through to devices inside, and can be filtered in various ways to set up things like splits and layers with two or more instruments.

The controls on the Combinator can be mapped to controls on the internal devices to create macros. At the most basic level you could put a single device into a Combinator and create a simplified panel, calling out the controls relevant to the sound you’re using, and focusing them to a range of values. Macros can point to different devices inside the Combi, and control multiple parameters simultaneously. You can save your own effect chains with custom performance controls. You can save snapshots for live shows, with a different Combinator configured for each song. And you can create patches to share, or to...

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