Music Geekery

Feeling much better today — thank the gods for the thunderstorms that released some of the pressure last night. Of course, now I have a backlog of Adamant stuff that I need to get done…which means that I didn’t get anything out to my writing group for this week’s meeting. It also means that I haven’t had the time to play with my new music-production toy.

I picked up a copy of Propellerhead Software’s Reason 3.0. Holy crap is this cool. I can’t wait to start using it.

Reason is a “virtual rack unit” — a software package that emulates the hardware racks that you find in production studios. The rack can be customized as you see fit, with any of Reason’s included tools:

  • The NN-XT advanced digital sampler (for playing any sampled audio, whether your own, or any of the several gigabites of sampled instruments that it comes with)
  • The Malström synthesizer (a cross between granular synthesis and good old wavetable synthesis. with a staggering array of filtering and modulation options, essentially allowing for the creation of custom sounds)
  • The Subtractor synthesizer (virtual emulation of an old-school analog polyphonic synthesizer)
  • ReDrum (drum machine with a built-in pattern sequencer)
  • The Dr-Rex Loop Player (editing and looping of digital audio files)
  • The NN-19 digital sampler (a more basic sampler, based on the classic 1980s samplers)
  • The Matrix sequencer (an analog style sequencer with a maximum of 32 steps per pattern)
  • Spider Audio & Spider CV (tools for merging and splitting audio signals for use with effects processors)
  • The MClass Mastering Suite (including an equalizer, a stereo imager, a compressor and a maximizer)
  • The RV7000 Reverb Unit (audio effect processor)
  • The BV512 Digital Vocoder (A vocoder takes two input signals, the carrier, which provides the pitch, and the modulator, supplying the characteristics –usually this is used for combining vocals with a keyboard — but the BV512 allows you to combine any two sound sources. For example, you can vocode your percussion track with the bass line or the string pad with the rhythm guitar.)
  • The Scream 4 Sound Destruction Unit (digital distortion and overdrive)
  • The UN-16 Unison (a sound “fattiner” — based on the unison functions of early-80s synths).
  • The Combinator — a powerful new tool allowing you to create a combination of any of the above tools, and play it as a single “instrument”

So yeah — a ridiculous amount of tools at my fingertips. All customizable — and even cooler: The whole thing is given a user interface which operates like the real world models. So the rack looks like this (click the image for a larger, more detailed view):

….but the coolest bit is this. If I hit the TAB key, the whole thing swings around to show me the “back” of the instruments (again, click the image for a larger, more detailed view):

AND I CAN RE-WIRE THE WHOLE THING. If I want to run a gate line from a synth or a sampler into ReDrum, and have the ReDrum sequencer trigger those instruments instead of the drum pattern, I can do that. If I want to daisy-chain effects, I can do that. Just unplug and plug, and the behind-the-scenes data manipulation is done for me.

The whole real-world look of the thing even includes labelling of instruments done in what looks like magic-marker on masking tape, so if I’m using multiple versions of the same instruments, they can be labeled for use just like you’d do in a regular studio.

If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEing, over here in the corner.

Anyway. Like I said — no time to play around with it right now. Too much work to do. But essentially, I’ve got a brand-fucking-new studio, and I can do ANYTHING with it. Expect to see more music from me in the coming months.

11 Replies to “Music Geekery”

  1. could have it at any time for the asking. We are both fans of programs which allow you to plug in outside synthesizers not produced by snooty French people, aka FL Studio. Reason is still cool, but much like a Mac computer relies on single source technology too much for comfort :-))

  2. The price makes me cry. I really don’t do electronica so it has less application for me. But…since I can never seem to keep a band perhaps I should. I could at least start out with the CakeWalk I have.

  3. Didn’t I get you a copy of that? Or did I just give you a printed copy of the instruction manual so you could see if it was something you’d be interested in?

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