As I say often Reason is my Ableton’s good looking girlfriend. My start-up template always has Reason ready to go to pretty things up. The Swede’s are moving faster with updates than they used to and here we have Reason 5 and Record 1.5. There’s some good new features: sampling (direct into Re-Drum!), Neptune vocal tuning, sequencer “blocks”, Dr. Octo Rex, the new Kong groovebox and more.
“Sampling in Reason is simple and straightforward. Hit the sample button and Reason starts sampling. Reason will detect the sample start automatically. You can sample when Reason is running too if you like – no need to stop the music.” – propellerheads.se
Here’s an evolution in music software I like: Dr. Octo Rex. The .rex format is an old format which allows you to auto splice a sample and therefore make it easy to rearrange the pieces. It also allowed some slowing down speeding up of the clip long before Ableton was born. Sampled sounds have a certain punch to them. I think they are number two in the pecking order for chest thumb behind pure analog and leaps and bounds over virtual instruments. I can sit and play for hours with the Rex loop player in Reason. I wasn’t ever expecting it to be updated but here it is.
“The upgraded Dr. Octo Rex loop player loads eight REX loops into one player and lets you switch between them on the fly. This makes arranging a breeze – load the drum loops into one player, the guitars into another and use the sequencer to select what loop to play in a pattern-like fashion. With eight loops to switch between, the new rex also comes ready for the experimental minded. Set the player to retrig the loops on the beat, on the bar or on the 16th note. Or program the loops manually like in the original rex player.” – propellerheads.se
Nothing beats the sound of the 80s. Period. At least that’s my own view. The amazing and expensive Fairlight CMI was the sampler that defined much of the 80s sound. Bands like Art of Noise used the Fairlight extensively. I once owned a Roland S-50 sampler and it had a small copy of the Fairlight’s amazing sound set. I miss those sounds so I’m happy to report that PowerFX has released a Refill for Propellerheads Reason called Fairlight CMI Legacy.
“This library collects an awesome amount of ultra clean recordings of the original sounds from the Fairlight CMI II, the world’s first real sampling based workstation as premiered some time before 1980. And this entire Reason 4 library costs much less than 64 kilobytes of memory did in 1980. The ReFill contains somewhat more than that, too. It carries 644 Megabyte of samples. You get over 2000 sounds in all, including all of the Fairlight’s 33 precious 8 inch factory discs. To celebrate the Fairlight feel, all new samples are labeled and arranged in virtual 8 inch disks as well.” – powerfx.com
Dave Spoon says, “The best records sometimes are just very simple and easier said than done.”. I can’t agree with that more. Usually if you’re tweaking for hours with a mountain of sound layers your probably working on a turd. Here’s a quick look at his Reason file for his big UK hit “At Night” (iTunes).
There’s nothing more pathetic than Polar Bear’s drowning because we melted too much the world’s Arctic ice shelf. Could buying a ReFill for Propellerhead’s Reason help? New Atlantis Audio will be release ReFills of which a percent of the sale will go to charity. Upcoming charities include the Elevate Hope Foundation, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the WWF (World Wildlife Fund).
“Hi Oliver, We are a new sound design company who’ve just released our first product, “Polar Elements”, a ReFill for Propellerhead Reason 4. Our mission is to provide musicians with unique, high-quality affordable audio products, while raising money for worthy causes which are important to ourselves and our users. A portion of the proceeds of this sale with be going to help protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Northern Alaska.” New Atlantis Audio, newatlantisaudio.com
The first ReFill from New Atlantis Audio is called Polar Elements. It requires Reason 4, contains 50 Combinator patches and has an introductory price of $5.00. Interestingly the ReFill was created to induce visions of the Polar region. You can hear an audio sample here: newatlantisaudio.com/reason-refill-polar-elements
My wife consistently asks me how to do the same few things in Photoshop over and over. I beg her to RTFM (read the ____ing manual) but it’s just too dry for her. Myself on the other hand read operation manuals cover to cover at least two or three times. The way I see it is the more you know the more power you have in your hands. Power!!!
As a reader of Wire to the Ear you know I was graciously given a free copy of Reason 4 not too long ago. As soon as I finished the yummy manual I did my usual forum and blog troll for more info. I knew there were some really crazy things I could do with the back panel routing in Reason. More than a few times Kurt Kurasaki’s series of books aptly titled “Power Tools for Reason” came into the conversation. Kurt is the defacto Propellerhead Reason smart man. I remember coming across his Reason specialty websites and refills since the Netscape Navigator days. You may know him as Peff. That rings a bell no?
“Peff’s (as Kurasaki is more widely known as) book is a great journey through Reason’s deeper mysteries for those who have cut their teeth on the virtual studio software and want to see just how deep the hole goes. Beginners need not apply – read the very good documentation that comes with Reason first – but intermediate level users who have a song or two under their belts and know their way around Reason’s virtual rack will find a wealth of information and techniques that will prove indispensible in their later music projects.” - Jacques L Capesius
“For one, it certainly DOES illustrate the fact that Reason is a much more powerful piece of software than most people will believe. Secondly, the information itself is very good, and I’m sure will be a great reference tool for those who already have a strong background in audio engineering. The bottom line is, don’t get this book if you’re looking to learn the basics, that’s what the instruction manual is. This book was written with the professional industry veterans in mind.” - the enlightened one
My copy of Power Tools for Reason managed to get through German customs last week and I have been really enjoying it. As the reviews above state this is meaty material. I already deployed a few new tricks into my own music from the book. If you have Reason it’s highly recommended.
Kurt (or Peff if you like) makes the rounds at many of the Propellerheads Producers Conference meetups the company produces. You can also check out his site at: www.peff.com
The Rex audio file format was created by Swedish software house Propellerhead in June 1994. Rex files are audio loops with slice information data attached to them. This allows a Rex file to play back at any tempo. It also allows the individual slices of the loop to be re-arranged in creative ways. With modern DAWs you can get away without the Rex format because of audio warping and slicing tools. However, Rex files continue to be relevant because they come prepared and ready to manipulate which is extreme fun. I often load Rex files into Propellerhead Reason’s Dr. Rex player. I then re-arrange the slice order, slice decay, filter and pitch to make something unique to my project.
A recent exciting development is that Ableton Live 7 now supports Rex files natively. Because of this I thought I’d mention Zero-G Total Rex. This is a two DVD set of Rex files. It’s 10 Gigabytes and has over 15,000 loops!
“…Covers every imaginable base… in a wide range of styles… thanks to the flexibility that the REX format offers, you can easily use loops that are intended for one style in another. The quality of the content is superb, but given that this is essentially a ‘best of’ from one from one of the most reliable sample production houses around, that’s to be expected… Highly recommended. Rating: 9 out of 10″ – Computer Music
I can’t see a better way to get a mass of useful sounds in one shot. Personally I find Rex files far more useful than basic sample sets. Grab an external hard drive and load this baby onto it. On the left side of the Ableton Live interface is the browser area. It has three snapshots for places on your hard drive. I alway keep the middle one pointed to this Rex collection. While working on a project just scroll through the loops and they play back in time with your project. With such a large library on hand it’s rare you wont find something that improves the song.
Do you use Rex files? Are there any Rex collections you really like?