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Propellerhead Reason Tips - The Combinator (Part 2)
Written by C.L. Martin - © 2005, Cengage Learning. Reprinted with Permission.
This article is an excerpt from the following book: Reason Overdrive! - Expert Quick Tips.

This article is also a continuation of Propellerhead Reason Tips - The Combinator (Part 1)

Tuning Combis
Because there are so many Combis to choose from in the Factory Sound Bank (FSB), it can be really hard to decide what's right for your song. To make it easier, all the Combis can be easily changed to sound more like the sound you are looking for. These new sounds can be saved as different Combis after you change the Combi setup to your liking. The problem with changing the sounds is that the setup of the Combi can be very complicated, and thus hard to understand. Here are some guidelines to help you out:

* Combis are simply devices, primarily from Reason Version 2.5, that you can use to further control CV and group parameter modulations with the Programmer. To change the individual sounds, the standard rules for tuning synths and samplers apply. Look for any pitch or filter modulations that the Combi may be using on any sound-generating device. If you can't control any of the knobs that have a rotary as a source in the Programmer, it may be that a CV is controlling them. See Chapter 6, "Synthesizer Effects," and Chapter 7, "Advanced Use of Reason's Sample Playback Devices," for more information.

* The Modulation Routing section of the Combinator can be fine-tuned; simply change the range numbers to your liking. For example, suppose you have Rotary 1 controlling a filter on a MalstrOm. Instead of having it oscillate from 120 to 127, you can change it to a more midrange modulation—say, 30 to 60. If you want a parameter modulation to go in reverse, simply switch the two range numbers.

* There are two programmable sources in the Modulation Routing section. This means that up to three parameters can be controlled with one knob. To enable the use of more controls than this, try using the mod wheel on the sound-generating device as one of the targets, and then program the mod wheel with its various associated parameters, such as the FM Mod Wheel Amount knob on the SubTractor.

* If there is a Matrix controlling a rotary or button though CV, you might want to see if the Unipolar/Bipolar switch is set to cover the correct range of modulation.

* Both the key range and the velocity range can be tuned in the Key Mapping section. If you choose a split Combi from the FSB and you want to switch the side of the keyboard on which an instrument is played with the other instrument, do it from the Key Mapping section. This goes for changing the velocity range of an instrument as well.

* Combis whose names contain the word "Run" include pattern devices. Remember the Run Pattern Devices button on the Controller panel? This button activates all pattern devices, thereby acting as a separate Play button. It responds to the Stop and Play buttons on the transport bar.

* Multi-instrument Combis usually use a line mixer. If there is a sound that is not agreeable, you can use this line mixer to solo out instruments within the Combinator that you want to change. Use the line mixer for send effects within your Combi as well.

Basically, the trick is to mentally separate each instrument and to tune each instrument within the Combi individually. Some devices might be doing things they weren't originally intended for. For example, the Stereo Imager can act as a frequency splitter instead of a widener. Remember that some devices are there simply to act as modulators rather than to generate the sounds. By studying the Combis, you can begin to make some sense of Reason 3.0's infinite capabilities.

Combining Old Songs
Now that you have Reason 3.0, you might as well utilize its features to upgrade all the songs that you composed in previous versions of Reason. One way to do this is to put all the devices, wiring and all, into a fresh Combinator, as shown in Figure 1.10. That way, you can enjoy Reason 3.0's new methods of control over your songs—namely, the rotary knobs and the Programmer. You cannot place a Combinator within another Combinator, but if you need to have certain devices within their own Combinator, you can mimic that procedure. (See the trick titled "Super Master Combinator" in Chapter 10, "Super Routers," for information about mimicking a Combi within a Combi.)

Before you combine your old songs, I suggest removing any master insert effects. This way you can create a separate Combinator after combining your song to use as a master insert Combinator. You should then fill your new Combinator with all the goodies associated with the MClass label. I also suggest running all original devices through two individual Combinators so there's less wiring involved, making it easier to keep track of what's going where. Some excellent Combi patches intended strictly for sound processing are excellent for the overall mix. If you not sure what to use on your song for mastering, just browse through the Combi effects patches.

Here is the exact procedure for combining old songs:
1. Open the old song and, while holding down the Shift key on your computer keyboard, click all associated devices.
2. Right-click the selection and choose Combine. Everything should now be within the new Combinator. Alternatively, you can drag the selection to the Combinator, as shown in Figure 1.11.
3. From this point on, whenever you create a new instrument within the Combinator, you must manually create a sequencer track for it.

Here are some added bonuses that come with this procedure:
* Because you now have a sequencer track dedicated to the one Combinator, you can play your keyboard and see what it sounds like to have all your sounds from your song played at once.
* You can save what's now in the Combinator, which is basically your whole song, as a Combi patch. You won't retain the sequencing except what's in your pattern devices, but it's perfect for giving someone the file so he or she can do your remix!
* The Programmer in the Combinator can now control any knob in your song.
I recommend this for all songs written in previous versions of Reason. All controls are now limitless!

Modulation Routing Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for using the Modulation Routing section of the Programmer on the Combinator. This is the section where you can set the controls for any parameter within Reason, excluding some of the NN-XT controls, which are explained in Chapter 7.

* Use CV routing to modulate the rotaries. Cable the Mod A or Mod B CV output from the Malstriim or the Curve output from the Matrix to any of the rotary inputs on the Combinator. Assign the target of any device parameter and watch the knobs turn by themselves! If you use the MalstrOrn, be sure the Mods are not set to One Shot so the knob will continue to turn without playing the song. If you use the Matrix, make sure the pattern is enabled so that it modulates the parameter continuously.

* Use the buttons as on/off switches for complex modulations. For example, if you use the Malstram's Mod A as an LFO to control Rotary 1, assign the Mod A On/Off button to Button 1. Then make sure that the minimum amount is set to 0 and the maximum amount to 1. Having the button turned on will turn on Mod A. This minimum/ maximum amount can be switched to reverse the button control.

* Although you can have only three parameters on a device mapped to one control, you can still have that control mapped to other devices. You can also map a control to the mod wheel (if the device has it), adding yet more controls!

* Certain functions—usually switches on processing devices—show up as a numerical value of 0-2 on the Min/Max section. Pay close attention to these parameters, because they can be very valuable for certain functions. These functions can be reversed as well by switching the values.

* You never need to program a button to turn on pattern devices, such as the Matrix or the Redrum. This is included with the front Controller panel. By simply clicking this button, you can turn on all these types of devices. The same goes for bypassing effects; it just takes one button.

Studying the Combis can help you realize the potential of modulation routing. To record automation of the individual parameters for each sample within the NN-XT, see Chapter 7. For more information, see Reason Overdrive! - Expert Quick Tips.

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