The NN-19 was Reason's original sampler, introduced in Reason 1.0. It has since then been eclipsed in capacity by its bigger sibling, the NN-XT, but the NN-19 still have a few unique tricks up its sleeve. If samplers have sleeves?
With its bare bones approach to sample handling, the NN-19 is perfect for anyone who are looking for a sampler that can treat its samples with lots of modulation and automation. Unlike the NN-XT, all of the controls on the NN-19 can be fully automated, making this the sampler of choice for sound mangling duties.
Patches & Samples
There are two ways of getting sound out of NN19: Load a single wav/aiff sample or load a sampler patch.
Loading a single wav/aiff file will instantly transpose the audio across the keyboard by speeding up or slowing down the playback of the sample. The NN19 can import and play mono or stereo files.
This is of course a simple and quick way of creating interesting and artificial sounds. To create a more realistic emulation of, say, a piano, we need to multi sample the instrument with enough samples to ensure that each note is not transposed more than a few semi tones.
Now, there are also two ways of creating a multi sample patch:
loading all samples first and use the "automap" function located in the edit menu, to provide a starting point for the key mapping.
Create key zones first and loading samples into the desired locations afterwards.
Key Zones & Sample Control
Each sample/key zone has parameters for fine tuning, level and loop "forward, forward-backward and off". Zones are easily selected on the graphical keyboard or by using midi. Serious sound designers will need to use a dedicated editor such as Wavelab or Peak to set loop points as the NN19 is not intended to provide these options. NN19 loop, by default, from the end of the sample to the beginning and as already mentioned, in a forward or forward-backward movement. We will explore opportunities to create unique sounds using the set loop points provided, a bit later.
If a sample has not been edited correctly and start a bit late or has an attack which we would prefer to avoid, the "sample Start" selector will let us move the playback start point. This means that it's possible to jump past an attack, effectively ignoring the start of the sample, but without altering the original. "Sample Start" can also be controlled by velocity which means that it could be possible to avoid the initial attack while playing a key soft and introduce more of the attack as it' s played harder.
So how do I create more samples?
Just sample anything you like by pressing the Sample button on NN-19. One sample transposed across the whole keyboard is usually enough to create a useful sound. It is also very likely that the sound will loop quite happily, particularly if you are using the "forward-backward" loop mode. This method really does give Reason infinite sound creation capabilities
The Matrix, Modulation & Other interesting ideas
Ok so now we've been through how to create source sounds using unconventional methods. But the NN19 of course has a great filter section, LFO and envelopes. So yes, you can create countless variations on even basic samples and the NN19 to a large extent behaves like a synth, once we have gone past the initial sampling stage.
Another, not immediately obvious feature is to use the filter envelope to control oscillator pitch.
But there is more... Turning the NN19 around there are some pretty interesting connection options. For instance, how about controlling the resonance with NN19's own LFO or open the filter with a drum beat from Dr Rex.
Modulation inputs include Oscillator, Filter, Filter Resonance, Level or Modulation Wheel (giving even further options). Modulation out can be sent by the Filter Envelope or LFO and Gate Inputs are available for the Amp or Filter Envelope.