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Reason: How Powerful Is The Mimic Sampler?

Reason Tips & Techniques By Simon Sherbourne
Published November 2021

Screen 1: Mimic’s Slice mode and Play Thru features are the fastest way to chop samples in Reason.Screen 1: Mimic’s Slice mode and Play Thru features are the fastest way to chop samples in Reason.

There’s more to Reason’s new Mimic creative sampler than meets the eye...

Reason 12 is now out in the wild, with two major new devices: the Mimic performance sampler and the second‑generation Combinator. I’m itching to talk about both, but let’s take them one at a time and get stuck into Mimic this month.

Reason already has a few sampler type devices. NN‑19 is the original sampler, which has been around since version 1.0 and is related to classic rackmount samplers like the Akai S1000. It’s designed for playing back keyzone mapped samples, complementing the Redrum sample‑based drum machine and Dr Rex loop player. Later on this was joined by NN‑XT, which is essentially the same type of instrument as 19, but with the ability to layer samples and configure more performance controls and modulation. These samplers, supported by the multi‑device patching and macro control features of Combinator, provided an engine that could happily power most traditional sample library content.

The NN devices are more like workhorses than fluid, creative samplers like, say, an MPC, or the Simpler device in Ableton Live. And that’s where Mimic comes in: it’s a sampler where you can quickly drop, trigger and mangle individual samples. The Grain instrument covered some of this ground in Reason 10, but as the name suggests it’s focused on granular resynthesis. Mimic brings the same immediacy to regular sample playback and chopping. But while it’s simple, there’s a bunch of interesting and inspiring ways you can use Mimic; so I’m going to speed through the basics and then get to some ideas and tricks.

First Impressions

Mimic has a similar layout to Grain, with a full‑width waveform display at the top, and various modules below for settings, modulation and effects. It’s actually a fair bit simpler and more approachable, without the advanced envelope designer and modulation grid that’s been a standard part of many Reason Studios instruments.

Samples can be dropped in from the browser (or desktop), or imported from the familiar sample loader, which also features a real‑time sampling button. Samples load into the eight slots, selected above the waveform. The slots are used in slightly different ways depending on the mode chosen from the top left of the panel. In Pitch and Slice modes, the slots are selected and played separately, one at a time. In Multi Slot mode, the slots are laid out on the keyboard and can be triggered simultaneously, but not pitched. The layout is repeated on each octave. Multi Pitch mode works much like a traditional sampler, with the slots layered on the keyboard where they can be...

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