Music Talk: Aerotronic

Posted Aug. 3, 2016, 8:51 a.m.

Jordi Moonen and Laurens Van Steenbergen, also known as Aerotronic, met each other at the age of seven and discovered at this very young age to share the same taste of music. A couple of years later, they decided to start experimenting with dj-ing and producing, leading to developing a passion that has been growing ever since.

Aerotronic has released their music on labels such as Teenage Riot Records, Sex Cult and Boxon Records, and gained support from many artists including Mr Oizo, Zombie Nation, Fake Blood and Mixhell.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Jordi and Laurens about their relation to Reason and their thoughts on our latest release, Reason 9. Be sure to download and check out their top 5 custom Combinator patches below!

What's your favorite new Reason 9 feature?
The Dual Arpeggio is definitely a game changer. It’s so easy to program polyphonic sequences now. I like it that you can make it as simple or complex as you want. It feels like a fusion of the Matrix Pattern Sequencer and the RPG-8, but even bigger. And you can perfect your loops with the ease of clicking the send to track button, which transfers the arpeggio sequence into midi data. Super useful. I also found myself to be using the ‘Bounce in place’ function quite a lot. It allows for quick loop creations. Overall, R9 is a superb update, from the players to the pitch edit. It’s all really solid.

How do you get started with a new song? What usually sparks your creativity?
We just listen to a lot of different music. It does help a lot that we have a very similar taste in music, that makes it easy for us to agree on production decisions. Then, when we start to make music, it all really depends on what new sound design we come up with. Sometimes it’s a melody hook. Sometimes it’s some percussion loops we’ve made. Then we try to build a theme around it. Sound design is a big part of what we do. Mostly we come up with some new sounds in seperate sessions, later we record the results and manipulate them. Building the full track happens later. Once we’ve established a couple of decent loops, we try building them up and down into a structure that makes the most sense to us.

What do you do if writer's block hits? Any tips to break out of it?
When we don’t have any ideas with the material we made, we just let it sit in our computer folder for a couple of weeks. So you fully forget about the progress you made. When you come back later with a fresh mind, you can easily spot what you like or dislike. We recently finished a project that was over 3 years old (see the song ZYX below!). So anything can happen really. I also noticed that once you run out of ideas, the best thing is to go do something completely different. Otherwise you’re wasting time. It also helps to take risks, do things to your track that you wouldn’t normally do, if you’re lucky, that kind of experimentation can pay off.

Do you have any special Reason production trick that you always use?
It’s standard for us to cut the frequency of our kick drums below 60hz with the Main Mixer EQ. The spectrum analyzer has a highpass filter which you can move to cut some of that useless low end. Another one, is to use Thor’s low pass filer on other audio sources. It’s simply a great filter, and our songs have a lot of filter automations going on. The new bounce in place feature from Reason 9 is also a clever trick to save some DSP on your overall project.

The three most used devices in your Reason rack?
Tough question. Malström is definitely among the most imporatant three. It has been a vital part of the Aerotronic sound. Especially the very glitchy synths. The RV7000 is also very important to us. Amazing sounding reverb/delay unit. It’s so easy to make it sound good too, adding a bit of wetness to the overall mix. Our last choice would be a tie between Redrum and Kong. We both used these so much. Redrum handles our sample-based drum sections and with Kong you can create some stellar drums from scratch with the built in drum synths.

 

Download

Download Aerotronic's Combinator patches

 

 

Aeropitcher
This is the arpeggio you can hear throughout the song ‘ZYX’. It sounds best when you layer it with other analog sounding synths. Gives drive to the track.

Revelation Lead
The lead stab to our song ‘Revelation’. It’s so simple it works. The song has one of our favorite buildups from the entire Aerotronic discography.

Kinda Acid
There are numerous acid style synths you can spot in our songs. This is one of them. Build with a Malström, and it sounds so dope.

Gearshift Lead
By automating the pitch and the free rate of the RPG-8, you get that glitchy type of sound that we made in the song “Gearshift”. Also build with a Malström.

Night Tales Bass
In one of the darker cuts of our album, we have this huge bassline going on that drives the track from beginning to end. The more you chop your notes the better it sounds. Listen here!
 

Collaborate with Aerotronic on Allihoopa!

Reason Producer: Sam Heim

Posted Feb. 25, 2015, 2:01 p.m.

Samuel Aneheim Ulvenäs AKA Sam Heim is a Swedish producer who lives and breathes Reason. He just produced Fredrik Jean Venard's debut single 'Business' and when we heard it here at PropellerHQ, we absolutely loved it. Sam is also a really nice guy and when we met him at Dreamhill Studios, we talked him into sharing a Combinator patch from the song! Read what Sam had to say and grab the distorted piano patch below:

 

"My name is Samuel and I started out as what you call a "bedroom producer", hanging around EDM forums a lot and speaking to other producers where we all exchanged experience with each other and just had fun. Some of them very successful today; Dj Deamon (Madeon) and Ekowraith (Porter Robinson). I've been producing in Reason since version 2.5 and it's still my go-to DAW. One of the many reasons that I love Reason is because of its great audio processing and its creatively humble workflow that lets me jump in to an idea as quick as I need to. Today I'm located at Dreamhill Studios in Stockholm, founded by producer and songwriter Anders Bagge.

When I produced this particular song, I wanted to create an ambient atmosphere that would sit well with the hip hop beat and Fredriks voice, but I still wanted it to be a bit edgy. With all my love for distortion and reverb I came up with this idea of a sound that I wanted to share with you guys."

 

Download the patch (Please note: the patch uses the Synapse DR-1 Deep Reverb, but it can be opened without it)

Posted Feb. 25, 2015, 2:01 p.m.

Sound Design with Suspicious Stench

Posted April 25, 2014, 2:56 p.m.

ss-crop

Suspect and Stenchman, collaborating under the name Suspicious Stench, are two mad-men producers from Dover, UK. After hearing their music, we had to ask about their guttural, growling dubstep sound design. Read on to find out how they do it and download two free Combinator patches!

How do you use Reason in your music making?
We use Reason for everything. Quite a lot of people ReWire it but with all the new rack extensions there isn’t much reason to add loads to the CPU when we have everything we need in one simple package.

Suspicious Stench are really two artists collaborating, how do you handle that?
Sometimes we make stuff in the studio together and other times we just pass the file back and forth via instant messaging. Also if one of us was to start a project the other would sometimes finish it then go over final details and mix down together.

What do you do when writer's block strikes?
We tend to make bass patches & drums when we hit writer's block just so something’s being done and normally it sparks an idea in the process. Either that or watch YouTube videos of people falling over.

Could you tell us a bit about how you approach sound design?
We're pretty random when it comes to approach. We don’t really have a formula or a certain structure that we stick to, we basically just make whatever comes out depending on what mood we're in or what we’ve been inspired by at the time. We tend not to start from scratch when designing sounds but instead use a preset that has characteristics we like and shape the sound accordingly

 

Download

Download Suspicious Stench's Combinator patches
(Requires Reason 6.5+)

 

Suspect’s Hover Craft Bass
It's a pretty gritty wobbler style bass, which Malström is really good for. I started off with just a Malström and I pretty much just mess about with buttons until I get a good sound and then tweak it from there. I used the Modulator B curve 17 as I don’t use it very much and was after a bit of a different wave pattern. I used 2 square 16’s with a slight bit of oscillator motion on just for extra movement. I also moved the Index on one of the oscillators, but you can set this to how you want it. I set the Shaper to 86 on Noise, this just makes it a little more prominent and fuzzy if you like. I’ve also put the attack up on both oscillators so you don’t get so much of a stabby sound on the first part of the note. Also on the Modulator A, I’ve put a pitch bend on so that the note goes up a bit as it plays to make it more interesting.

I added a compressor to it just to level the sound out and stop it being so harsh. I then EQ'd it with an old school equaliser, the PEQ-2, just to take a little bit of the harshness out again and some low end. I then added a Scream 4 to it as I felt it needed to sound a little more distorted to sound fuller. Then at the end I added a bit of reverb, a Rv-7 Digital Reverb, just to make it sound a bit more wet and to help it sit in the track better. That’s basically all i did to make the sound. You can use this bass as short stabby notes or have it as a longer note to get the full wobble. Also you can change the Modulator curve to suite you and automate the Index which keeps the sound interesting as the track goes on.

 

Stenchies Lazer Reece
This is a pretty simple dual layered reece patch with a bit of a twist. The oscillators are all Multi Osc's set to saw waves, all tuned slightly differently and with a little random detune as well to give a thick texture. The oscillators then go into a Notch Filter which is set differently on the two Thors to give the patch more width and character. The LFO also affects these filters on both instances, but only a relatively small amount (53).

I used slightly different effects on each of the thors, the top one has a Scream 4 on the Tape setting and an EQ with a wide mid cut. The other has a Scream 4 on the Fuzz setting and an RV7000 with the Hall reverb setting applied. I normally use the EQ on the RV7000 to cut all the low frequencies, but I kinda liked the muddiness with the full range of frequencies getting affected so I left it. The EQ is pre-setup to cut though so you can just turn it on if they wish.

I have used the built in Chorus unit on one of the Thors. I tend not to use it on multiple layers as it can soften the sound a little when used too heavily. There is also a Phaser unit that is routed to the AUX send of the line mixer. The amount it is applied to the second Thor can be controlled from the fourth rotary on the Combinator front. This is so you can give it some movement in productions. I have also used the other modulation routers to control a lazerish womp out of one of the multi osc's. The speed and intensity of it can be controlled from the Combinator. Finally there is a control for the filter frequency for one of the notch filters, again this is to give chance for automation that gives movement to the synths sound.

Posted April 25, 2014, 2:56 p.m.

Remapping incoming MIDI from your digital drum kit

Posted Oct. 18, 2013, 9:09 a.m.

I have a digital drum kit that sends MIDI, but making sure sent notes trigger the right drum pads in Kong is a bit tricky. Hitting the floor tom triggers the snare drum, the snare drum triggers the crash, and so on. This can temporarily be solved by using the right-hand drum assignment buttons in Kong, but such changes are not persistent when changing patches. Ideally, remapping of incoming notes would happen behind the scenes so that Kong receives the proper notes to begin with. This would also enable us to load entire drum kit patches in Kong without losing the remapping.

Thanks to Thor and Combinator (and most of all to Leo who came up with this solution) I now have a general purpose Reason patch that does exactly this, and I thought I'd share it to anyone who might have the same problem. Keep reading if you want to know how it works in detail, or just download the patch right away:

Kong-Millenium-MPS-100.cmb

It is called Millenium MPS-100 because that's the name of my drum kit but of course it applies to any kit, although you might have to edit the mapping. However, such change is trivial and you will only have to do it once. Here's how it works:

Inside the Combinator is a Kong and ten Thors, one for each drum. This includes open and closed hi-hat as well as the hi-hat pedal itself as three separate drums. Each Thor has a cable going from its CV1 output to the Gate In input on the corresponding Kong pad. The modulation matrix in Thor has one entry with the source Voice Key > Velocity, amount 100 and destination CV Output > 1. This will send any incoming notes to the CV output that is routed to Kong.

All ten Thors are set up this way, with the only difference being that they are routed to different Kong pads. Now, playing a drum will trigger a pad, but you will discover that in fact all the routed pads are played at the same time for all the drums. The last step in making this patch work is to make it only trigger a pad if one specific drum/note is played. This is done using the programmer section of the Combinator:

kong-drum-remapping-01

As seen in the image, the Thors have been appropriately named for easy reference. Each unit is then selected in the list on the left side, and its key narrowed down from the initial range over many notes to just one single note, by dragging the left and right handles right beneath the keyboard. This single note is then moved to the note coming from the drum kit. The easiest way to figure out what notes the drum kit is sending is to simply press record in Reason, hit each drum once in some order that is easy to remember, then look at the recorded notes in the sequencer.

Mission accomplished! The drum kit will now play the correct notes regardless of its initial configuration, and this patch can be saved and reused whenever you would normally use a Kong. I've seen people resort to additional MIDI software to do something like this at a system level, which just seems overkill. If your drum kit has no way to alter the MIDI out data, which is the case for most lower-end kits, this is the perfect solution. Once again, the power and versatility of Thor saves the day.

On a last note (no pun intended): If more people are doing this, a collaborative ReFill could be built and maintained with remapped Kong patches for various drum kits. Feel free to start a thread in the user forum and share your own configurations.

Posted Oct. 18, 2013, 9:09 a.m.

One Hand in the Mix - Building Crossfaders using the Combinator

Posted Jan. 16, 2006, 10:39 a.m.

With the invention of Propellerhead Software's Remote technology, Reason is, more than ever, a powerful live performance tool, especially when used in conjunction with a control surface. One of the basic elements for many live applications is the ability to segue between two audio sources in real-time using a crossfader. The principle is simple where the level of two faders simultaneously change when receiving a single controller event. The fader levels are inversely proportional so as one level increases, the other decreases. This allows convenient blending or transitions between audio sources without having to use two controllers or separate mouse parameter changes. This installment of Discovering Reason describes two methods of creating crossfaders using the Combinator in Reason 3.0, and when used with an external control surface, present a powerful tool for live performance.

The principle of a crossfader is very straightforward, and most Reason users can probably already figure out how to create a crossfader patch using the Combinator and the Micro Mix Line Mixer. For those who have yet to explore this type of control, the following project is adapted from Chapter 5 of Power Tools for Reason 3.0, which describes using multiple modulation routings from a single Combinator Rotary control.

Basic Crossfader


In Chapter 4 of Power Tools for Reason 3.0, an example demonstrated a technique of using a CV signal and an inverted CV signal to modulate two fader levels simultaneously in order to create a crossfader. A more elegant solution to this effect uses the multiple modulation routing features of the Combinator.

  1. In an empty rack, create a reMix mixer.

  2. Create a Combinator.

  3. In the Combinator sub-rack, create a microMix Line mixer.

  4. Click on the Show Programmer button, and click on Line Mixer 1 in the device list.

  5. In the modulation routing list, set the rotary 1 target to Channel 1 Level. Set the rotary 1 Min to 127 and Max to 0.

  6. Beneath the button 4 source field, set the empty source field to Rotary 1. Set the target to Channel 2 Level, in 0,Max 127.

  7. Double-click on the rotary 1 label and change the name to "X-Fade."

  8. Click on the disk icon in the Combinator and save the patch as "Basic Crossfader.cmb."


This configuration fades between the microMix channel 1 and 2 inputs, and now that it is saved as a patch, it can be recalled anytime in the future for use in other projects. The next section illustrates how to implement the crossfader with sound sources.

  1. Click on the empty rack area beneath the Combinator.

  2. Bypass auto-routing (Hold the Shift Key and select an item from the create menu) and create a Dr.REX Loop Player.

  3. On the Dr.REX, load the loop, "Hhp11_Chronic_093_Chrnc.rx2" from the Factory Sound Bank\Dr Rex Drum Loops\Hip Hop directory.

  4. Copy the REX data to the Dr.REX 1 sequencer track.

  5. Connect the Dr.REX 1 audio outputs to the microMix channel 1 inputs.

  6. Click on the empty rack area beneath the Dr.REX.

  7. Bypass auto-routing and create another Dr.REX Loop Player.

  8. On the second Dr.REX, load the ReCycle file "Hhp18_Furious_093_Chrnc.rx2" from the Factory Sound Bank\Dr Rex Drum Loops\Hip Hop directory.

  9. Copy the REX data to the Dr.REX 2 sequencer track.

  10. Connect the Dr.REX 2 audio outputs to the MicroMix Channel 2 inputs.


Example File: Basic Crossfader.rns

Cables from outside of the Combinator can connect directly into devices in the sub-rack, but these connections are not saved with the patches. The Combinator will indicate "external routing" when such connections are present. The two Dr.REX loops provide two different sound sources. Run the sequence to play the loops, then adjust the Combinator's X-Fade rotary control to crossfade between the two loops.

Discovering Part16 1

Figure 1. The basic crossfader only uses a single Micro Mix Line Mixer. The sound sources are two Dr.Rex players externally routed into the Line Mixer inputs. The Rex Players are not included in the Combinator rack.

There is an inherent problem with this configuration, heard as you fade between the two sources. As you run the sequence, slowly turn the X-Fade Rotary from left to right and back. As the control nears the mid point, the output level dips down. The linear fading characteristic of this configuration causes this decrease in level. The effect of the dip can be reduced by decreasing the range of modulation, but cannot effectively be overcome for this configuration. While this works fine for most applications, for live performance applications a more desirable effect is an equal-power crossfade.

Equal Power Crossfader


The attenuation characteristics of both the ReMix and MicroMix mixer pan pots is not linear like the crossfade example above, instead the pan pots have a scaled attenuation rate called constant-power or equal-power. The output level of the two panned signals is constant between the left and right channels. The scaled attenuation of the pan pots can be used to create an Equal Power Crossfader.

Discovering Part16 2

Figure 2. Two Line Mixers are used for the Equal Power Crossfader patch. Each Mixer handles a single channel, so two are required for a stereo crossfader. The Spider Audio Merger/Splitters are used as patchbays so that external stereo connections automatically route to the proper input channels.

The following is referenced on the Power Tools for Reason 3.0 CD-ROM in the Combinator patches folder. For the readers of Discovering Reason, the project illustrates how to create this effect on your own. An example Reason song file is included at the end of the project.

Equal Power Crossfader Combinator Patch




    1. In an empty rack, create a reMix mixer.

    2. Create a Combinator, and verify that it is cabled to the remix Channel 1 inputs.

    3. In the Combinator sub-rack, bypass auto-routing (hold down the shift key) and create two microMix Line mixers.

    4. Bypass auto-routing and connect the Line Mixer 1 Left output to the Combinator 'From Devices' Left input.

    5. Connect the Line Mixer 2 Left output to the Combinator 'From Devices' Right input.

    6. Create a Spider Audio Merger/Splitter, and Rename it to 'Input 1'

    7. Bypass Auto-routing and connect the 'Input 1' Merger Output Left to the Line Mixer 1 Channel 1 Left input.

    8. Connect the 'Input 1' Merger Output Right to the Line Mixer 2 Channel 1 Left input.

    9. Create another Spider Audio Merger/Splitter, and Rename it to 'Input 2'.

    10. Bypass Auto-routing and connect the 'Input 2' Merger Output Left to the Line Mixer 1 Channel 2 Left input.

    11. Connect the 'Input 2' Merger Output Right to the Line Mixer 2 Channel 2 Left input.

    12. Click on the Show Programmer button, and program the following modulation routings. For the second Rotary 1 source, use the Assignable Source set to Rotary 1:












































DeviceSourceTargetMinMax
Line Mixer 1Rotary 1Channel 1 Pan-6463
Line Mixer 1Rotary 1Channel 2 Pan63-64
Line Mixer 2Rotary 1Channel 1 Pan-6463
Line Mixer 2Rotary 1Channel 2 Pan63-64



    1. Double-click on the rotary 1 label and change the name to "X-Fade."

    2. Click on the disk icon in the Combinator, and save the patch as "Equal Power Crossfader.cmb."



The Spider Audio Mergers are not a necessary part of the effect, but they provide an easy way to connect sources into the crossfader. The merger inputs take advantage of the auto-routing rules so that stereo sources are properly cabled in a single connection. One of these can be routed to the combinator's inputs instead. Since four inputs are available, multiple input sources can be configured to mix through a single crossfader.

Sound Source


  1. Click on the empty rack area beneath the Combinator.

  2. Bypass auto-routing (Hold the Shift Key and select an item from the create menu) and create a Dr.REX Loop Player.

  3. On the Dr.REX, load the loop, "Hhp11_Chronic_093_Chrnc.rx2" from the Factory Sound Bank\Dr Rex Drum Loops\Hip Hop directory.

  4. Copy the REX data to the Dr.REX 1 sequencer track.

  5. Connect the Dr.REX 1 audio outputs to 'Input 1' Merge Input 1 inputs.

  6. Bypass auto-routing and create another Dr.REX Loop Player.

  7. On the second Dr.REX, load the ReCycle file "Hhp18_Furious_093_Chrnc.rx2" from the Factory Sound Bank\Dr Rex Drum Loops\Hip Hop directory.

  8. Copy the REX data to the Dr.REX 2 sequencer track.

  9. Connect the Dr.REX 2 audio outputs to the 'Input 2' Merge Input 1 inputs.


Run the sequence and adjust the X-Fade (Rotary 1) on the Combinator.

Example File: Equal Power Xfade.rns

The louder crossfade action is noticeable immediately in the Equal Power Xfade example. The mid point between the two sources does not diminish as much as the basic crossfader example making it better suited for applications like mixing loops where even dynamics are desired during the transition.

The example song file features extra controls for input level trims to balance the incoming signals as well as a master level control. A few other features you might wish to add are kill switches on the button controls that modulate input channel muting. All of this can be assigned to a Remote control surface for use in a live performance or other real-time mixing applications, and of course, the crossfades can be recorded and edited on the Combinator 1 sequencer track.

Wet/Dry Balance Crossfader


Crossfader configurations effect can also be implemented as a Wet/Dry Balance control as well for real-time switching between a direct signal and a processed signal. Again, this can be especially useful for drum loops in a live situation where you want to create the energy of a performance rather than a preprogrammed sequence.

The following example file demonstrates using a ReCycle Loop playing from a Dr.REX Loop player being processed with a custom delay effect based on the "Beat Juggler" Project in Power Tools for Reason 3.0. The Loop audio is split into parallel signals using a Spider Audio Splitter. The dry signal passes through the splitter into the Equal Power Crossfader Input 1, and a split signal, processed through the delay effect, is connected to the Crossfader Input 2. The demonstration sequence is recorded in real-time with various control parameters for the crossfader, delay time, and delay feedback being controlled by a Remote Control surface.

Example File: Equal Power Xfade DelayFX.rns

A single fader is used to mix between the direct loop level and the delayed loop level via the crossfader, liberating a hand to manipulate the delay and feedback effects. Obviously this quite useful for live performances, but it's also an exciting way to create tracks in the studio environment as well. You can quickly create rhythmic variation on the fly rather than tediously programming REX slices. This type of effect crossfader can be implemented with any variety of effects like the Scream 4 distortion, the ECF-42 Filter, or the Reverb units for even more variations.

Text & Music by Kurt Kurasaki

Posted Jan. 16, 2006, 10:39 a.m.