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.

Introducing Reason Rigs

Posted March 18, 2015, 11:59 a.m.

Propellerhead has teamed up with leading Rack Extension and ReFill developers to bring you Reason Rigs – massive hand-tailored bundles of the top instruments, effects and sample packs. At over 70% off, you can now expand your Reason rack at an unbeatable price. Check out the Rigs!

Posted March 18, 2015, 11:59 a.m.

Synchronous Video Challenge Winner

Posted June 27, 2014, 8:49 a.m.

Our Synchronous Video Challenge is now over and the time has come to pick the winner. There were some great entries and the choice was hard but the esteemed judges at PropellerHQ finally came to a conclusion:

Not only does Seán Murray deliver no less than four different Synchronous tips in five minutes but he does so with high production values, excellent music and careful explaining. A fantastic effort and a worthy winner of all Propellerhead Rack Extensions, congratulations!

If you want even more Synchronous tips and tricks, you can check out all of the entries. If you don't own Synchronous yet, you can check it out in the Propellerhead Shop.



Posted June 27, 2014, 8:49 a.m.

Behind the Rack Extensions: Rob Papen Shares his Story

Posted May 27, 2014, 3:29 p.m.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 17.18.17

Acclaimed music software designer Rob Papen knows a thing or two about creating unique sounds. The self-described “synth freak” and veteran of the Dutch electronic music scene honed his skills designing sounds for bands and synth manufacturers during the 80s and 90s. Nowadays he’s more likely to be found working on innovative new software instruments and effects.

From venerable soft synths like Predator and SubBoomBass to unique effects like RP-Verb and RP-Distort, Rob Papen products are known for their unparalleled sound quality, endless musicality and inspiring presets. We caught up with Rob to learn about his product design philosophy, and find out why he loves developing instruments and effects for Propellerhead’s Rack Extension plug-in platform.

Sound experiments

Papen began experimenting with synths when he was a teenager, and played in several Netherlands-based electronic music groups including PERU, and later, NOVA. “At that time, it was important for electronic music groups to establish their own unique sound,” says Rob. “I was already the sound geek in the band, so naturally I helped create sounds that made us stand out from other groups.”

Rob also applied his sound design talents to create presets for early synth makers. His first foray into professional sound design was crafting patches for the Waldorf Microwave, a wavetable-based digital/analog hybrid synth used by artists like Nine Inch Nails, Hardfloor, Jimmy Edgar, Vangelis, and Crystal Distortion.

The philosophy behind Rob Papen ConcreteFX

After years of designing sounds for others, it was only natural that Rob started to create his own original product designs. “As a synth freak, I had my own ideas of how the features and functionality should be built up,” he relates. “The advent of software synths made it possible for me to pursue my ideas in earnest. In Jon Ayres I found a perfect partner—he’s an outstanding DSP programmer with amazing skills. Together we form RPCX (Rob Papen ConcreteFX), and this partnership has produced wonderful results.”

When Rob designs a product, he prioritizes musicality first. “My goal is to provide great-sounding products with presets that fit into a variety of musical styles, so customers can discover unexpected and inspiring new sounds. As a designer, it’s important to explore new directions while never losing sight of the fact that the products are built for making music.”

The Rack Extension difference

Papen sees a lot of value in developing products for the Rack Extension platform—both from the technological and business perspectives. “The Rack Extension platform opens up a whole new world for musicians,” he says. “And from the development side, the Rack Extension platform significantly expands our potential customer base. The Propellerhead user community is very big and it’s exciting to make Rob Papen soft synths and effects available right inside the Reason rack.”

“As with any development project, creating products for the Rack Extension platform takes time—but on the other hand, we save lots of time since Propellerhead handles the  sales, distribution and support our marketing. That’s a huge support for us. And since Rack Extensions work across Mac and PC, we just have to create one version of the software and Propellerhead makes it available on both operating systems. We don’t have to worry about incompatibilities and differences between hosts.”

Rob Papen’s soft synths and effects have become some of the top-selling Rack Extensions in the Prop Shop. One of the most popular is Predator-RE, a workhorse synth that—in typical Rob Papen fashion—delivers scores of great-sounding, musical presets, and powerful sound sculpting features. And Rob’s not done—he plans on releasing even more incredible sonic tools for the Rack Extension platform.

“We want to release a dedicated Rack Extension synthesizer,” he concludes. “We’re going to introduce a type of synthesis that isn’t covered yet—as far as I know—and offer musicians more of a blank sheet compared to Predator or SubBoomBass, which come with tons of presets. I’m intrigued by the challenge of creating something new especially for Reason—something that will grow in Reason in its own way.”

Posted May 27, 2014, 3:29 p.m.

Creative effects with Synchronous

Posted May 22, 2014, 1:15 p.m.

Max Rehbein is back to show you the ins and outs of Synchronous, the timed modulation effect Rack Extension from Propellerhead. Learn how to take a sound from dull and lifeless to interesting in no time. And when you've spiced up your sounds and it's time to mix, Synchronous is a toolbox of useful features. Max shows how you can save tons of time by using it for quick and easy side-chaining.



Posted May 22, 2014, 1:15 p.m.

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