This article is an excerpt from the following book: Using Reason's Virtual Instruments: Skill Pack.
This article is also a continuation of Propellerhead Reason Subtractor Synth - Using Envelopes (Part 1)
Now, as we learned a little earlier, it is fun to sweep filter frequencies, and I will certainly attest to the fact that it is fun to twiddle knobs with one's bare hands in order to do so. However, it's also nice just to hit a chord and let something happen while you hold it. The Filter Envelope is the first of several features to be discussed that allows you to build some hands-free dynamic sonic action into your patches. It is an ADSR envelope, which also includes a Filter Envelope Amount knob and a Filter Envelope Invert button.
1. Start with an empty rack, then add reMix and Subtractor. In the Subtractor's Patch Browser window, it should say Init Patch. Please play a few keys on your MIDI keyboard. Notice the percussive attack that is present in the Init Patch.
2. In the Velocity section, turn down F.Env to zero (12 o'clock). You will see the little red light above it turn off. If you strike a few keys now, you will hear the little percussive attack that was there when striking the keys hard has disappeared because velocity (how hard you strike a key) is no longer affecting how much of the Filter Envelope is applied. The Filter Envelope Amt (amount) knob is already at zero, so the Filter Envelope is not being used at the moment.
3. In the Amp Envelope section, turn the Release slider up to 64.
4. Change the filter type of Filter i to LP 24 by clicking the Filter i Type button.
5. Turn the Filter 1 Frequency slider down to a value of 24. If you play some keys on your MIDI keyboard, you will not hear very much because most of the frequencies are being filtered out now.
6. Turn the Filter Envelope Amount knob all the way to the right (to its maximum value of 127). Now play some keys, and you will hear the sharp attack and short decay of the Filter Envelope affecting the frequency of Filter i.
7. Adjust the Filter Envelope so that Attack = 99, Decay = 99, Sustain = zero, and Release = 76.
8. Play and hold a chord on your MIDI keyboard. Now you can do a nice slow filter sweep while keeping both hands on your keyboard!
The next exercise demonstrates the function of the Filter Envelope Invert button. Clicking the Filter Envelope Invert button turns the whole Filter Envelope upside down. For instance, the Decay parameter would normally control how fast the frequency of Filter i is lowered. When you engage the Filter Envelope Invert button, this is reversed, and the frequency of Filter I will actually increase by the same amount at the rate set by the Decay parameter. To hear this in action, please do the following exercise.
1. Start with an empty rack, then add reMix and Subtractor. In the Subtractor's Patch Browser window, it should say lnit Patch. This exercise can get a hair loud, so turn down the Subtractor's Master Level slider to about 6o.
2. In the Velocity section, turn down F.Env to zero (12 o'clock). You will see the little red light above it turn off.
3. Set Filter i so that Freq=2o, Resonance=o, and Type=Notch.
4. Click on the Filter 2 Link button and the Filter 2 On/Off button (which will both light up red).
5. Set Filter 2 Frequency to 58 and Filter 2 Resonance to 89.
6. Set the Filter Envelope so that Attack=o, Decay=63, Sustain=o, and Release=o.
7. Set the Filter Envelope Amount (Ann) knob to 28.
8. Play a few notes, and you will hear the instant attack (Filter i frequency is at its highest point), followed by the decay (Filter i frequency falls at a rate determined by the Filter Envelope Decay slider).
9. Now click on the Filter Envelope Invert button. Play some more, and you will hear that the envelope has indeed been inverted. Now Filter 1 frequency starts at its low point and rises at a rate determined by the Filter Envelope Decay slider.
The Mod Envelope is another magical pair of invisible knob-twiddling hands that I have to tell you about. The Mod in Mod Envelope is (of course) short for modulation, and we know that to modulate in this context simply means to change or adjust a characteristic. So there is a change that is going to take place, such as changing the pitch of an oscillator or the frequency of Filter 2. The degree of this change will be determined by the Mod Envelope Amount (Amt) knob. How that change is implemented over time will be determined once again by an ADSR envelope.
The Mod Envelope looks almost exactly the same as the Filter Envelope. Like the Filter Envelope, it has sliders for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release. It also has an Amount knob and an Invert button. However, unlike the Filter Envelope, the Mod Envelope has a Destination button. While the Filter Envelope is hardwired to affect Filter i frequency, the Modulation Envelope can be assigned to affect Oscillator i pitch, Oscillator 2 pitch, the mix between Osc i and Osc 2, the amount of frequency modulation (FM), the phase offset of both Osc 1 and Osc2 (simultaneously), and Filter 2 Frequency. Let's give it a spin. You know the drill by now, but here it goes.
1. Start with an empty rack, then add reMix and Subtractor. In the Subtractor's Patch Browser window, it should say Init Patch.
2. Turn the Mod Envelope Amount (Amt) knob up to 12 o'clock. Play some notes on your MIDI keyboard, and you should hear an immediate effect. By default, the Mod Envelope Destination is set for Osc 1, so the Mod Envelope is affecting the pitch of Osc i. Since the Mod Envelope Attack is set for 0, the Mod Envelope affects the pitch of Osc I immediately to a degree determined by the Mod Envelope Amount knob. The short decay allows the pitch of Osc 1 to fall back to normal quickly, almost like an electronic drum sound.
3. Click the Osc 2 On/Off button so that it is lit red, then click the Mod Envelope Destination (Dest) button until the red light next to FM is lit. Play a few notes, and you will hear the Mod Envelope applied to the FM amount.
4. Click on Filter z's On/Off button so it is lit up red. Set the Filter 2 Resonance (Res) slider to 99.
5. Select Filter 2 frequency (Freq 2) as the destination for the Mod Envelope. Play your MIDI keyboard to hear the effect. For more information, see Using Reason's Virtual Instruments: Skill Pack.
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