Routing Effects Returns to Their Own Mix Channel

Posted Dec. 7, 2015, 12:40 p.m.

I touched on this before in my earlier article about creating a Shimmer reverb, but I want to talk about it more now - routing an effects return to its own mix channel.

Normally when adding a send effect to the Reason rack, you'd route the signal from the FX send at the back of the Master Section to the input of the effects unit, and then from the output of the effects unit to the FX return at the back of the Master Section, as shown below.

Instead, let's route the output of the send effect to its own mixer channel - like this:

Why would we do this? By routing the return from the effects device to its own channel, we're effectively isolating it, and now we can do all sorts of creative stuff with it. Here's a snippet of a hang drum with a touch of chorus, delay, & reverb.

Now I've routed the same piece through a long reverb, the outputs of which are routed to their own mixer channel. This mixer track is panned 100% to the right. This gives the reverb an interesting character of its own, but also makes the pre-effect signal stand out against the background.

Here's the same thing again, but now I've added an Audiomatic Retro Transformer as an insert effect on the mixer channel and some automation, panning the mixer channel slowly from right to left and back again.

Having the effect return on its own channel in the mixer also enables setting up a feedback loop, whereby the output of the effects unit is returned to the input to be processed again. You can achieve this by activating the send that's routed to the effect that's feeding the mixer channel. Be careful with this option, and be ready with the fader if you try it, because things can get out of control very quickly!

Isolating the effect return on its own track will also enable you to use the channel strip's EQ and dynamics processing on the effect return, and you can view the return in the spectrum analyser.

Using the various bounce options availble for mixer channels, you can even render the effect return without the original signal. Here I've added some sequenced gating and filters as further insert effects and then renderned just the effect return channel in the mixer by itself, and then added a beat.

I've used a reverb in this article, mostly because it's an effect with a long tail that makes demonstration easy - but any effect is fair game. Give it a try!

- craig

Building a Shimmer Reverb

Posted Oct. 29, 2015, 9:33 a.m.

At its most basic, a shimmer reverb is a pitch-shifted reverb tail in a feedback loop. If you’ve listened to much U2 since the mid-80s, then you’ll have heard it. While it does work particularly well on guitars, it can also be used to great effect on other instruments. Brian Eno, who is generally credited with inventing the effect, had been using it on pianos long before it was popularised by U2’s Edge.

Here's a simple piece, played using a tweaked Radical Pianos preset, played through a shimmer reverb patch I created in Reason:

I built the shimmer effect in the Reason rack with an RV7000 Reverb and a Polar Dual Pitch Shifter. Hold down the shift key when you add these two devices to your rack though,  because we don't want to use the default routing here - we're going to do things a little differently.

Connect an FX Send from the Master Section to the input of the RV7000, but instead of sending the RV7000's output back to the FX Return on the Master Section, connect it to a Spider Audio Merger & Splitter. Send one pair of outputs from the Spider to the FX Return on the Master Section, and send another to the input of the Polar Pitch Shifter. Send the output from the Polar its own channel in the mixer.

RV7000 & Polar connections

Now that we've got the routing sorted out, let's start dialling in some settings. You're going to want a pretty evident reverb. I've used the Arena algorithm, and selected the largest size available. Crank up the diffusion to make everything as fuzzy as possible. Turn the decay *nearly* all the way up, but not quite. Do not be overly concerned with subtlety here, people. Really: go big or go bigger. If you want to start with a preset, then the EFX Kick Bomb patch is as good a place as any. Add a little pre-delay to stagger the beginning of the reverb tail.

For the Pitch shift part of the sound, set both shifters to a shift of a single octave (by all means experiment with different intervals, but an interval of an octave is your safest bet). Play with the feedback level of and delay of each shifter to suit. Dial back on the delay and feedback if you find things are sounding a little seasick. I've detuned the second shifter, panned it to one side, and delayed it slightly.

Because you're adding higher frequencies to the signal, then it doesn't hurt to engage the Polar's LPF - you can select the frequency to match your material.

The final step is feeding the pitch shifted reverb tail back on itself. This shifts the reverb tail in pitch again and again, making for the characteristic sound of the effect.

Because you have the pitch shifted reverb tail in its own mixer channel, you can feed it back through the reverb by activating  the same FX return that is connected to the reverb inputs.

Channel routing

In the screenshot here, I'm using FX Send 5 to send the Distant Piano instrument to my RV7000 reverb. The pitch-shifted reverb tail from the Polar is routed to the Shimmer Return channel in the mixer. This channel in turn has FX Send 5 activated, which feeds the pitch-shifted reverb tail back into the RV7000.

It's a good idea to lower the fader for this channel before you hit play! The channel fader can be used to blend the amount of pitch-shifted reverb against the normal reverb, and you can use the mixer channel's filters, EQ and compressor to control and reign in the signal and keep things under control

Here's the same piece without the shimmer effect:

Download the Reason song file

Download the attached Reason song file and try it out! Try your own material through the shimmer effect. Try different intervals of pitch shift. What's important to bear in mind is that the material you’re running through the effect has space to breathe, allowing the sound to develop and flex. If your material is too dense, you're going to end up with some kind of sparkly celestial soup.

Free reverb resources - where to find impulse responses

Posted July 22, 2015, 12:37 p.m.

Hi there, Stefan here. I just wanted to go through a few resources of where to find new impulse responses to use with the new convolution mode in the updated RV7000 MkII–when you're finished going through the massive RV7000 MkII ReFill, that is.

There is a plethora of free impulse responses (IR files) out there on the web which are free to acquire and free to use. This is only a list of a few of them, so if you're feeling bold, just do a google search for "free impulse responses" and I'm sure you'll find even more.

Another cool trick is if you use Logic Pro, you can simply rename the .sdir files used in Space Designer to .aiff or .wav and they can be used in the RV7000 MkII!  You can find the .sdir files in the following directory: ~/Library/Application Support/Logic/Impulse Responses.

Starting with the most important ones, well, since I'm a guitar player.

Guitar cabs

Marshall 1960A cabinet.
Huge amounts of guitar cabs, and general talk about IR use.

Kalthallen Cabs Free
Guitar cabinets.

Signalaudio's God Cab 1.4
Mesa guitar cabinet.


Huge spaces sampled here.

Lots of unique spaces.

Intelligent Machinery Productions
Experimental and artifical and unnatural spaces.

Real acoustic spaces, interesting buildings and other sources.

Balance Mastering
Try your mix through the Funktion One sound system at The Hive Project night club.
A very cool and unique space here, how about an old German NSA listening tower?

Various spaces.

Diego Stocco
Free/donation for this bonus pack, good for rhythmical material.

Two free halls.


Lexicon 480L
Classic reverb.

Fokke van Saane's Impulse Responses
Lots of classic reverbs, springs and speakers, and also: his own mouth (!).

Eventide DSP4000 and TC Electronics M5000.

Lexicon PCM90.

Bricasti M7, classic reverb unit.

Signal To Noise
Lots of classic reverb units

Posted July 22, 2015, 12:37 p.m.

Discovering Reason

Posted Jan. 28, 2015, 10:21 a.m.

Discovering Reason is a series of articles created especially for people who have been using Reason for some time, yet can't help but feel they've only scratched the surface. While many of them were written for much older Reason versions, they're more retro or classic than out of date.

Reason's endless possibilities are not always obvious and there's a myriad of nifty tricks hidden in this open-ended production environment. We are creatures of habit, and it's easy to become lazy and get stuck in routines - routines which are often a heritage from other production environments that emphasise on quantity and diversity rather than flexibility and experimentalism.

The articles will assume that you have a fair amount of experience with Reason, and will not cover all the details of certain basic operations. Consult the Reason Operation Manual if you stumble upon something unfamiliar.

Part 40: Control Voltages and Gates by Gordon Reid
Part 39: Creative Sampling Tricks by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 38: Thor demystified 17: Formant Filters by Gordon Reid
Part 37: Thor demystified 16: Comb Filters by Gordon Reid
Part 36: Thor demystified 15: Resonance by Gordon Reid
Part 35: Thor demystified 14: High pass filters by Gordon Reid
Part 34: Thor demystified 13: Intro to filters by Gordon Reid
Part 33: Control Remote by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 32: Thor demystified 12: The Wavetable oscillator pt 2 by Gordon Reid
Part 31: Thor demystified 11: The Wavetable oscillator pt 1 by Gordon Reid
Part 30: Thor demystified 10: An introduction to FM Synthesis pt 2 by Gordon Reid
Part 29: Thor demystified 9: An introduction to FM Synthesis pt 1 by Gordon Reid
Part 28: Lost & found: Hidden gems in Reason 4 by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 27: Thor demystified 8: More on Phase Modulation by Gordon Reid
Part 26: Getting down & dirty with delay by Fredrik Hägglund and James Bernard
Part 25: Thor demystified 7: The Phase Modulation Oscillator by Gordon Reid
Part 24: Thor demystified 6: Standing on Alien Shorelines by Gordon Reid
Part 23: Thor demystified 5: The Noise Oscillator by Gordon Reid
Part 22: Thor demystified 4: The Multi Oscillator by Gordon Reid
Part 21: Thor demystified 3: Pulse Width Modulation by Gordon Reid
Part 20: Thor demystified 2: Analog AM & Sync by Gordon Reid
Part 19: Thor demystified 1: The Analogue Oscillator by Gordon Reid
Part 18: Making friends with clips by Fredrik Hylvander
Part 17: Let's RPG-8! by Fredrik Hylvander
Part 16: One Hand in the Mix - Combinator Crossfaders by Kurt "Peff" Kurasaki
Part 15: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Combinator - part II by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 14: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Combinator - part I by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 13: Go With the Workflow by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 12: Filter Up by Kurt "Peff" Kurasaki
Part 11: Itsy Bitsy Spiders - part II by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 10: Itsy Bitsy Spiders - part I by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 9: Take it to the NN-XT level by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 8: Six strings attached by Jerry McPherson
Part 7: Space Madness! by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 6: Scream and Scream Again by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 5: Reason Vocoding 101 by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 4: What is the Matrix? by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 3: Mastering Mastering by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 2: Dial R for ReDrum by Fredrik Hägglund
Part 1: Ask Dr. REX! by Fredrik Hägglund

Posted Jan. 28, 2015, 10:21 a.m.

Tips for Using Send Effects

Posted Sept. 6, 2013, 12:28 p.m.

In this Reason Sound Design video Mattias shows you a couple of ways you can use the sends and returns in Reason and do a bit more than meets the eye! Do quick and easy parallel processing, make your mixes cleaner and open up new creative possibilities with these tips.

Posted Sept. 6, 2013, 12:28 p.m.

Make music together! Play a piece and build on it in a compatible app.
Learn more