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.

Elite Session with Lucky Date

Posted July 20, 2015, 2:15 p.m.


House producer and long time Reason user Lucky Date recently joined up with Pyramind and held a two hour Elite Session which is now available online over at their website. Among LOTS of other things, Lucky Date talks about his production process and workflow in Reason and also how he came to the name "Lucky Date". We get an in-depth exploration of his own tracks and how they came about, as well as a discussion about collaboration techniques when working with other producers and musicians.

Check out the video teaser below and then head over to Pyramind's website for the full two hour Elite Session.


Click here to watch the full two hour Elite Session with Lucky Date!


Pyramind Training, the San Francisco music production school, operates side by side with Pyramind Studios. Pyramind offers a wide range of programs; Music for Picture and Games, Electronic Music Production and Rock & Acoustic recording as well as four online programs centered around specific DAWs.

Click here to learn more about the courses at Pyramind Training!



Posted July 20, 2015, 2:15 p.m.

Hot Sugar on Sampling the World

Posted Nov. 18, 2013, 3:49 p.m.

Hot Sugar Cropped

When you come across a video where someone samples percussion and snoring (!) together with an older gentleman covered in tattoos, it's hard not to be curious. Therefore we had a quick chat with New York-based mad audio experimentalist Hot Sugar to find out more about his approach to music production.

Your music is full of  unique sounds, could you tell us a bit about how you create them?
I record a lot of sounds on portable recorders then import them to the NN-XT to make patches. I make everything from basses to keys or sustained organ type patches. I'll compose a melody and add instrumentation surrounding it. After that I import drum samples i've recorded into Redrum or Kong and make a beat to accompany the riffs I created. Between the drum machines and the samplers you can make a whole song.

My favorite patches are the ones I've made using recordings I couldn't hear at the time (usually because they were too quiet or even silent). Just because we don't hear something doesn't mean there isn't a sound, tone or texture to present. I love recording "silence" and cranking up the volume afterwards to hear the intricacies our ears cant. I've made number of patches from roomtones that at first seemed silent but once distorted and compressed sounded like eerie whistles or even basses. I usually throw them into the NN-XT too.

When I travel to a place I haven't been to before I turn on my recorder and capture it (whether a new place a couple blocks from my apartment or another country entirely). Sometimes I like to scroll through my folders of recordings and press play without reading the filename. Some are recognizable but most are confusing and disorienting. I try to picture the spot and by then my imagination gets the best of me. Once I'm lost in that world I can hear other melodies and things going on so the songs start writing themselves.

Any Words of Wisdom for aspiring producers and musicians?
There are plenty of stock sounds offered by a program like Reason but there are an infinite number of other ones outside that are just waiting to be recorded and brought back to your computer. The sounds that come with the program are incredibly impressive but the real gift Reason offers is the ability to transform whatever you want on your own.

Posted Nov. 18, 2013, 3:49 p.m.

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