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 Aerotronic's Combinator patches



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!

Trip Hop Drums: Super Neat Beat Cheat Sheet

Posted Oct. 30, 2015, 3:32 p.m.

Ever since those Portishead folks in Bristol found the magic that happens when you pitch a drum sample down and bath it in gloomy reverb, Trip Hop has been one of the most popular genres for people learning to make beats. When we got requests to cover Trip Hop in this tutorial series, we wondered what people were really asking for. Trip Hop is a sample-loop based genre that doesn't require too much production wizardry, if you don't' want it to... In this tutorial, however, we'll cover those basics but we'll also delve further into the sound design theory that lies behind those loops so that you can create your own custom Trip Hop sounds and beats.

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.

Getting started with convolution reverb

Posted June 30, 2015, 1:41 p.m.

If you want to get up to speed on the new convolution reverb that's part of Reason 8.3's revamped RV7000 MkII reverb unit, then you've come to the right place. In this tutorial we'll take a look at the history of reverb to understand how convolution fits into the story, how it works, and how you can go about making your own presets with custom spaces.

Posted June 30, 2015, 1:41 p.m.