Posted Nov. 26, 2013, 2:16 p.m.
In this exclusive article, Matt Piper will highlight his 7 favorite new features in Reason 7. To learn more, join lynda.com and get access to his Up and Running with Reason 7 video course as well as over 100 other classes on recording, mixing, mastering, acoustics and software.
1.) Use Hi-Pass and Low-Pass filters to define your mix
Before ever touching any other EQ controls, once you have set comfortable relative signal levels for each channel in your mix, you can define the sonic space of each channel with the Hi-Pass and Low-Pass filters. For instance, set the low pass filter on the kick so that the highest frequencies of the kick do not overlap with the core frequencies of the snare. Then use the high-pass filter on the snare to filter out unnecessary low frequencies. For visual feedback on what you are doing, press F2 on your computer keyboard to see the Spectrum EQ display.
2.) Loop record and Comp Edit your guitar Solo
When recording a vocal part or a guitar solo, loop recording can be a great way to take the pressure off and get a great composite take. Reason's Comp Editor allows fast, easy editing of loop-recorded vocal and instrumental audio tracks. This video from the lynda.com course Up and Running With Reason 7 shows how to loop record a guitar solo part in Reason, and then quickly edit and crossfade the looped takes into a single composite track.
3.) Get instant results with the Audiomatic Retro Transformer
If you are relatively new to audio recording, you may not yet have developed an intuitive knowledge of how to manipulate compressors, EQ, and other effects to achieve a specific desired effect. In much the same way that Instagram allows you to easily apply complex processing to your photos without any prior knowledge of photo processing tricks, Audiomatic Retro Transformer allows you to instantly process your audio through a variety of expertly tweaked effects combinations.
Try inserting Audiomatic Retro Transformer into your Master Insert just before the maximizer, and listen to the Tape preset. You might also want to add a second ART and set the control for Vinyl. Since this is such a strong effect, turn the Dry/Wet knob toward Dry until the effect is suitably subtle. Use it as a channel insert effect to fatten bass and drums, or go for extreme electronic processing of drum loops to create something entirely new and unrecognizable. Note that Audiomatic Retro Transformer is not automatically installed when Reason 7 is installed, but Reason 7 owners receive a license for Audiomatic Retro Transformer that appears in their Propellerhead account (along with a download button) shortly after they register Reason 7.
4.) Randomize your drum and bass sequences
A creative option that has been available in Reason since the program was introduced is the ability to create randomized beats and random patterns of notes. I often enjoy randomizing repeatedly until something catches my ear and I become inspired to lift a groove out of the chaos. To try this, create an instance of Redrum, right-click on Redrum, and choose Randomize Pattern. The resulting beat may be a mess, but if you try it a few times, you might hear something you sort of like. Then you can add order to the chaos by removing beats from individual drums and doing things like putting the snare on the 2 and 4 counts and confining the kick to 4-on-the-floor.
If randomizing the entire pattern feels too extreme and you already have a groove in mind, try randomizing a single drum sound, like the hi-hat pattern. Just select the drum channel you want to randomize, right-click on Redrum and choose “Randomize Drum.” By the way, Redrum is not the only Reason instrument with a Randomize Pattern function. To try Randomize Pattern with the Matrix Pattern Sequencer, create the synth bass instrument of your choosing, create a Matrix Pattern Sequencer just below it, right click on Matrix, and select Randomize Pattern. Many random patterns will sound very weird, but again, the more you randomize, the more likely you are to happen upon a happy accident that points in an unexpected creative direction.
5.) Pulverise Your Drum Bus
Reason 7 allows you to create an unlimited number of new output busses in addition to the Master Output Bus. One common way to use this functionality is when mixing drums. If you have a Reason project that includes individual drum channels for kick, snare, overhead left, overhead right, etc., open it now. (Or if not, you could create several empty tracks in a new Reason song for purposes of following along.) In the Reason mixer, look at the right-most drum channel, click at the bottom of the channel where it says “Output” and select New Output Bus from the menu. A new output bus (labeled Bus 1) will appear to right of the selected drum channel, and the output signal of the drum channel will be routed to the new output bus instead of to the Master Output. The output signal from your new output bus will be routed to the Master Output. Now click on the left-most drum channel, then [Shift]click on the right-most drum channel that is still routed to the Master Output to select that entire range of channels. In the output menu at the bottom of any of the selected channels, hover your cursor over “All Channels” at the bottom of the menu, and choose your new output bus from the submenu.
Now you can apply both insert effects and send effects to your new drum bus, and hear the effects applied to the entire drum mix. Try inserting a Pulverizer to hear a massive effect on your drums! You can use Pulveriser's Blend knob to dial back in the appropriate amount of dry signal to make the effect less extreme. You can also control the overall volume of the entire drum mix with the single fader on your new bus. Of course, you will want to rename your new bus something useful, like Drum Bus. Just double-click where it says Bus 1 at the bottom of the bus channel to change the name.
6.) Quantize your audio
With Reason 7, quantizing your audio is super-fast. Have a rhythm guitar track that is just a little off? Double-click on the waveform in the sequencer, and you will see that the waveform is automatically sliced on the transients (attacks). [Cmd]+A (Mac) or [Ctrl]+A (Windows) to select all the slices. Open your Tool Window (F8) and click the Sequencer Tools tab at the top of the window. In the Quantize section at the top, make sure the proper note value is selected (like 1/16, for instance). By default, the Quantize Amount is set to 100%, but if you want to retain a bit of human feel, you could turn the Amount down to 75-80%. Then click the Apply button, and the attacks of your guitar part will be moved to the closest 1/16 note (or whatever note value you have chosen). If you choose a Quantize Amount of 100%, the attacks will be lined up exactly on the grid, but if you choose 75%, the attack of each slice will be moved 75% closer to the nearest grid note.
7.) Ensnare a Snare
Is there a drum beat in your music collection with a kick or a snare that you really like the sound of? If you have the drum track isolated, or if there is a portion of the drum beat present on the recording with no other competing instruments, import that audio into an empty Reason song. Now double-click on the audio waveform in the sequencer. Again, you will see that the waveform is automatically sliced on the transients (attacks). [Cmd]click (Mac) or [Alt]click (Windows) on each slice to hear what it sounds like, and note the location of the first four snare hits you find. [Cmd]+A (Mac) or [Ctrl]+A (Windows) to select all the slices. Right-click on the waveform and select Split At Slices from the menu. [Cmd]click (Mac) or [Ctrl]click (Windows) on each of the four snare hits, so that they are all selected simultaneously. Right-click on one of the snare hits, and in the menu that appears, mouse over Bounce and click Bounce Clip To New Samples. You will see the four snare samples appear in your Tool Window.
Now you've got four variations on that snare sound to play with. Load those four samples into a single hit in the NN-Nano drum module in the Kong Drum Designer and check the Alternate Layers box (labeled “Alt”), so that a different snare sample will be triggered each time that Kong pad is played. This will give the snare a realistic and human feel than you would have if the very same sample were triggered over and over again.