It slices! It dices! No, really - it does. Finally, you don't have to leave Reason to prep samples and loops.

It slices! It dices! No, really – it does. Finally, you don’t have to leave Reason to prep samples and loops or re-time recorded sound.

Far beyond the simple sampling that first appeared in hardware, slicing, re-timing, and stretching audio keeps getting more sophisticated, manipulating recorded sound in musical ways. But a lot of the popularity of this technique traces back to Propellerhead and their ReCycle tool. By bringing together smart digital slicing with its REX file format for loops, ReCycle helped launch the looping craze in software.

REX support has always been part of Reason, since the start. But the way sound works in Reason has gradually evolved, particularly as Swedish developers Propellerhead made Reason into less of a rack of synths and more of a full production environment. Bringing integrated recording, live sampling, and time stretching into the mix, literally, meant that you might go directly from a mic into an instrument.

And that brings us to Reason 7. If you want to do your own sampling work, you probably want the ability to have everything happen inside Reason rather than rely on an external tool like ReCycle. Propellerhead certainly kept you waiting for the chance to do that, but in typical form, they’ve also got their own way of going about it.

CDM talked to Propellerhead about what they’ve done and why they think it’s worth your attention. It’s a companion to the first conversation we had with them, about the addition of MIDI; see:
When Reason Met MIDI Out: How MIDI, Virtual CV Work in the New Reason 7 [Pictures, Details]

But if the last story got their answers on what Reason 7 could do for your favorite synth or drum machine, let’s put them in the hot seat on the question of what it does for your microphone.

Why add ReCycle integration now?

It just made sense! :-)

What we’ve done in Reason isn’t exactly ReCycle though. It’s a combination of our amazing time stretch now being used for audio slicing, too, and the added ability for Reason to create REX files. We haven’t actually integrated ReCycle and Reason. We have given Reason the ability to convert audio into REX loops, but that happens completely independent of ReCycle! It’s a feature available to all Reason 7 users, natively in Reason.

The focus for the implementation in Reason is to make it fast and easy so you can quickly get a recording or imported audio file from the sequencer into Dr. Octo Rex, the NN-XT sampler or Kong drum designer and continue working creatively with it in the rack. Think of ReCycle as an “editor” and Reason as a music-making program and you get a pretty good idea of how the implementations differ.

ReCycle still remains as a standalone tool, and for those who use other programs than Reason for their music-making, create sample libraries or just want the control that ReCycle brings (like threshold for slice-creation, stretch amount, and more) it’s great for that. As an example, about half of the current ReCycle user base are not Reason users — they use ReCycle to create REX files for other programs, like Live or Logic, or Stylus RMX, or are sample library creators who will need the added control that ReCycle gives.

For most of us, though, Reason’s REX file implementation will do everything we’ll ever need, without interrupting the workflow. The automatic slicing is really accurate, and twisting your recordings into something new is a lot of fun!

What’s different about it?

The REX file creation is one puzzle piece in the improved audio handling in Reason’s sequencer! Reason 7 now instantly analyzes any recorded or imported audio, finds the transients and adds slices to it. This opens up for quantizing, stretching the individual slices, or bouncing the audio to a REX file. The slice detection is very accurate, and the slice stretching uses the same time stretch algorithms as we already have for full tracks in Reason, which we know is of extremely high quality, so you can trust that your songs will still sound great. So really, when we’re talking about stretch, there’s both the classic ReCycle type stretch of increasing the space between the slices when you’re using REX files, and our modern time stretch that actually stretches the audio.

For the user, this means that recordings or imported audio files can be worked with in a number of new creative ways. You can change the timing, change the tempo, make the recording “better” (tighter) or groovier. And then when you’re happy with it, put it in a REX player in the rack to play the slices from a keyboard, rearrange the performance live and even put effects on the individual slices in Kong.

What sorts of workflows might people use with this integrated functionality, as far as sampling, slicing, recording in different contexts?

Resampling is of course a big concept in electronic music-making today. Being able to take your resampled sounds directly into a REX player in Reason opens up a ton of new possibilities.

Recording something, instantly have it sliced and ready to throw into a REX player means you can hammer out beats and work creatively with your recordings with just a few mouse clicks.

It really is about taking down the barriers between the rack and the sequencer in Reason, and open up for more creative possibilities with audio.

Tutorial: How to get going

So, that’s the rationale, some clarification, and the marketing pitch. If you’re grabbing Reason 7, though, you’ll want to know how to get working.

Product specialist Mattias produced a tutorial video on slice markers and the newly-integrated functionality, and includes a number of useful tips:

So, what do you think? Is this something you’ll use? Are you sticking to a different tool of choice, or excited to see this in Reason? (And we’ll be keen to hear how you work with it once that Reason 7 download finishes – or if you’ve been on the beta.)

Update: Drag and drop workflow

Via comments, it appears some people are confused about how the drag-and-drop sample loading workflow actually … works.

eXode explains:

1. Drag the desired .wav from browser in Explorer to Reason 7 [Ed.: or any other supported format, or from OS X Finder]
2. double click the clip in the sequencer, then choose “Bounce -> Bounce Clip to REX loop” on the rick click context menu..
3. The “Tool” window will automatically pop up with the new REX file selected. In that same tool window you click the “To Rack” button.
Voila! Your brand new REX loop is now loaded into a Dr. OctoRex.

It actually works rather nicely. Of course, all of this assumes that you already like Dr. OctoRex, Kong, or other built-in devices – as otherwise you wouldn’t be using Reason. But that to me is rather the point: yes, multiple apps will slice and dice and stretch audio. Ultimately, it depends on how you prefer to work with that audio, whether in Reason’s semi-modular environment, traditional DAWs (SONAR comes up in comments), drum machine-style tools like Maschine, clip-based live performance environments like Ableton Live (okay, that’s still sort of a category of one), or something entirely different. Reason’s advantage is these devices that feel a bit like hardware, but still have software flexibility, in a semi-modular environment you can rig up however you like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Giorgio-Martini/100001338310093 Giorgio Martini

    An emulation of a music studio in your laptop ! the most original, cutting edge and fresh idea i’ve seen in the last 10 years !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Giorgio-Martini/100001338310093 Giorgio Martini

    An emulation of a music studio in your pocket ! the most original , cutting edge and fresh idea i’ve seen in the last 10 years !

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      That wasn’t actually the topic anywhere of this story, but thanks. Also – hitting post once is usually enough. ;)

    • gunboat_d

      well it “is* about music. Spambots are getting smarter; they’ve gotten to the ‘almost in the same ballpark’ relevancy stage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

    The capability to slice is cool but the implementation is cumbersome. To get a wav file into Octorex is not a simple process. You cannot drag a wav into a slot, because Reason will not allow drag and drop, nor will it read acidified wav files, nor will it convert to Rex on the fly. Users must create a dedicated audio track for the wav file, slice, then export as a rex file, then import to octorex (using file open, click on folder, click on folder…to find file), then delete dedicated audio track used to slice the wav file. Repeat for EVERY wav file you need in Octorex. It works but other daws like Sonar can just read the file and will slice with a simple command. Once Reason has a Rex file, it has powerful options but rack devices such as Octorex have not been updated to make the importing of wav files a quick and simple process. Propellerhead is a great developer but they are dedicated to the Rex format and this can result in idiosyncratic workflow decisions,

    • gunboat_d

      congrats on finding the only thing that Sonar can do with a simple command. that DAW is a mess.
      although i agree that R7 needs a browser with drag-and-drop

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

      Reason is powerful and fun but I like Sonar too. I can run anything through Sonar including Reason and get a mix with any of my instruments. Its a big tent app and Cakewalk, like Props, is outstanding with updates and they treat their customers like kings. Two of the best developers imho. They’re complimentary programs.

    • gunboat_d

      i bought sonar because i switched to windows and MOTU had not yet announced DP for windows. i was frustrated with the way rewire works in Sonar vis a vis DP.
      it *sounds* great and some of the tools are great, but the events editor and aux tracks and the method for automating meter and key changes were just too cumbersome (no copy paste!). but mostly it was aux tracks and the inability to ‘print to tape’ right from reason (without bouncing) that really cemented my opinion of it. oh and the annoying tendency to zoom to fit my mini notes in the PRV. grrrr!

    • eXode

      You’re doing it wrong. If you convert the clip to a rex it will automatically be placed in “unassigned samples” folder which is then available from one click in the browser window of Dr.OctoREX or other device that reads such files. Yes, you still need to load it as an audio track but it’s not like that you have to “slice” it, from audio track to OctoRex it’s about three clicks at tops

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

      Thanks, eXode. I may not have been clear but I was trying to contrast dragging a clip directly into an Octorex slot with the current implementation which requires using the timeline to make the file conversion. The “unassigned sample” folder is also another odd design choice in this release. It feels like the developers are still unsure how to work with these clips and are using a twilight zone folder as a temporary holding place. It takes some getting used to. Can’t help but feel it will get more elegant in a future version.

    • UoPoko

      Why can’t it just work the same was as Adobe Audition or Pro Tools… ie: drag sample into track, stretch or shrink as needed (or “conform to tempo”), apply pitch changes as needed, copy and paste sample as needed. Recycle is a bitch when it comes to anything more complicated / busy than a simple drum loop. I just want to drop samples in and that be it, not spend hours setting down lines (and if it’s something like say, a chiptune piece with lots of arpeggio, you may as well give up before you even start). Recycle’s “sensitive” was never as good as a human hand, but after a the 80th line, that hand is overworked and tired. I mean, Dr. Rex is nice and all for playing a break, or playing individual chops. But I want drag ‘n drop sample placing…

    • eXode

      You can drag a sample .wav from windows Explorer directly onto Reason 7 and it will automatically load as an audio track. It’s three easy steps:

      1. Drag the desired .wav from browser in Explorer to Reason 7

      2. double click the clip in the sequencer, then choose “Bounce -> Bounce Clip to REX loop” on the rick click context menu..

      3. The “Tool” window will automatically pop up with the new REX file selected. In that same tool window you click the “To Rack” button.

      Voila! Your brand new REX loop is now loaded into a Dr.OctoRex. Explain to me how this is cumbersome?

    • Henry

      I tried Reason 7 in the beta test phase and found all this working quite nicely and well integrated indeed. Making REX files is really just those few clicks away, which brings Reason on par with e.g. Logic in that very area.

      In terms of sound quality on time stretched audio material, I must admit I never made any “scientific” comparisons anywhere. Whether Live sounds better with their warping than Logic or Reason – honestly, I couldn’t care less. I really can’t be bothered getting anal on such a topic. In my opinion, the workflow design is much more important to get (and keep!) the creative juices flowing. And that is where Reason makes the big difference to me.

      Although I admit that I would also like to see a massively improved browser for files, factory sound bank, refills and rack extensions – and everything much better integrated in such new browser! – as one of the very next improvements.

      Until then, I will enjoy running my Nord Electro 3 from Reason, slice and mangle audio, and enjoy the ease of the new spectrum analyser and bus channels when mixing.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yeah, clearly just some confusion about how this works. I added your steps to the post as I think other people may find them useful, too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

      I did not realize that so much umbrage would be taken over the word cumbersome. It’s not a do or die criticism. Its also not a misunderstanding. I know that you can drag and drop to the timeline but getting the loop into Octorex is still a minimum of three clicks, pop up windows and right clicks, versus just dragging the sample directly into the Octorex slot. It adds up. To fill all eight slots is at least twenty-four operations instead of simply dragging the samples onto the Octorex slots. What does the user gain from dragging the clip into the sequencer? It’s not a greater degree of control since Props has automated the process and the user can always go to Recycle to do power slicing. But if the slicing process is already automated, why not let the user drag the clip directly onto an Octorex slot? Relative to going out of reason to slice, the feature is an improvement but it just strikes me as odd that the trip into Octorex even needs the steps which eXode listed. If the user gained more control, then the design compromise would make sense. Props always improves Reason and it has added long requested features such as recording and midiout after many years of user discussion. I’m sure they will improve the slicing and conversion of non-rex files over time as well.

    • foljs

      “”"The capability to slice is cool but the implementation is cumbersome. To get a wav file into Octorex is not a simple process. You cannot drag a wav into a slot, because Reason will not allow drag and drop, nor will it read acidified wav files, nor will it convert to Rex on the fly. Users must create a dedicated audio track for the wav file, slice, then export as a rex file, then import to octorex (using file open, click on folder, click on folder…to find file), then delete dedicated audio track used to slice the wav file. “”"

      Spoken like someone who never had to work with samples on a S1000 in the 90s…

      Sure, it could be made faster. But this is “cumbersome”? Really? First world problems of the finest calibre…

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

      Thanks, non-industrialized world inhabitant using computers to make electronic music. How do you do it without electricity and clean water? Kettle/black. : )

    • foljs

      The difference is I know where to stop (whining) and appreciate what we’ve got…

      It’s the difference between an audiophile and a music lover…

    • Bungy

      I love audiophiles that make good music. It’s this same attitude that has kept maschine from being able to do basic things like record midi cc or even have a freakin decent timeline for that matter. I will never understand why people who don’t approve of software improvements even use a computer in the first place.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

      foljs,

      Not sure why internet discussions always end up in name-calling. I made a legitimate criticism, not to hate on Reason, but to note an area where I’ve seen other programs take steps to streamline the workflow. Its not the end of the world to have a discussion. Was it really necessary to start a flame war by calling people whiners and claiming the moral high-ground of appreciating “what we got” as non-first-worlders who make electronic music? When new product versions are released, its normal to discuss what users like or dislike. I’m not sure why you felt threatened by that. A lot of people seem to like how the feature is implemented so I may be in the minority here but does that really require turning the discussion into a personal attack?

      Also, audiophile (ie, lover of audio) and music lover are nearly synonymous. What is your distinction between the two terms?

    • David Prouty

      You know Reaper has audio slice, quantize and stretch markers as of the last release and it all happens very cleanly in the timeline. I am trying to find a reason to drop some money on this but its hard to.

    • foljs

      The thing is this has a totally different workflow and approach than Reaper.

      Might as well compare apples to oranges — or an Akai MPC to Kontakt. Sure, both are samplers, but that’s beside the point.

      If you like the idea of hardware-like devices, arbitrarily patchable, and an all-in environment, you might like Reason. Else, you can use whatever suits your workflow.

  • lowshelf

    Does the amazing timestretch scale the stretching away from the transients on drum loop slices? Or does it sound rank if you half-time a kick or snare slice?
    Can you drag out slices from an audio clip to a new audio/sequencer track?
    Any improvements in drag and dropping audio, or is it still via file dialogs?
    Do bounced REXs still suffer fades on every slice? That always glitched up sustained musical REX loops. I’d check the demo, but the new sysreq have passed me by.

    • erja

      As far as I know, you’ve always been able to control or completely disable the decay on REX slices.

    • eXode

      Can’t really comment on the scaling thing as I’m not sure what you mean there.

      On dragging out slices to a new track, I think you actually need to chop them first. You see the beat detection doesn’t chop the audio by default, it just adds “markers” at the detected transients. You can however via the context menu choose to slice the audio clip into smaller individual clips. When you have done this, you can drag them to other lanes, or re-arrange them as you see fit.

      Re drag and drop, you can now drag and drop audio files (i.e. wav) from the browser in windows/finder and Reason 7 will automatically create an audio track in the sequencer for that audio file.

      I have not experienced the slice fade issue that you are mentioning but I haven’t really dived into that portion yet either. :)

    • lowshelf

      Scaling – I was trying out an early version of Reaper 4.4′s warping, and found it wasn’t great for beat stretching. I heard they’ve now added a progressive warping to preserve the and stretch the drum decay. It’s the sort of muso friendly thing I would hope Props do.

      Fadeouts – if I chopped up a loud, constant, sustained sound into slices, it always had something like ~20ms fadeout per slice when replayed from Dr Rex, or any other rack sampler. Even happens in Live’s REX playback. (Correct me if that’s a Recycle option I missed, haven’t used it in ages.) I just wondered if it happens in Reason slicing.

      DnD – It’s a start!

    • lowshelf

      [typo] … preserve the attack and stretch the drum decay…

    • http://melodiefabriek.com/ Marco Raaphorst

      in the past I found an issue with REX loops in Reason adding 10 milliseconds of the attack. for very sharp ones that was an issue. that was just after Reason 3 came out. never noticed it anymore since. probably solved. haven’t found weird stuff doing REX loops from audio within Reason. stretch will always affect the sound but you can choose between algorithms and it seems to works great. try the demo. sound quality of Reason (thanks to SSL and the effects) is better than competition imo.

  • bloodynails

    Is it now possible to slice an audio loop, sequence those slices in a pattern, then change the song tempo at will and have the sequenced slices automatically timestretch in realtime to the tempo changes? No software I know of currently allows for this (not even Ableton Live) so it would be very interesting if this was finally possible.

  • disqus_h8CSIvqDmh

    i’ve never really used reason, but i’ve been long intrigued. however, watching that video was rather a let down, because basically all it said is that you can warp like ableton now.

    i’m sure that’s a big deal for people for whom reason really works tho.

    • http://madameblavatskyoverdrive.com/ Ifthenwhy

      ‘i’m sure that’s a big deal for people for whom reason really works tho.”

      Yup. And one of the first times that I can say Reason is “truly” competing with other offerings.

  • steve

    From my recent experiences with Reason 6.5, there is a strange gap between Propellerheads ‘everything is designed to help you make music quickly’ marketing, and the reality of actually using the software.

    It is definitely the most counter intuitive DAW I have tried personally.

    It’s a shame as I used to love Reason for its simplicity. The more they have added, the further they seem to have gone from the programs original purpose.

  • http://madameblavatskyoverdrive.com/ Ifthenwhy

    I’m calling this update ” VERSION_It’s About F%#@ing Time”. MIDI out, integration of Recycle into Props flagship app, frigging track GROUPING.

    These are all functions that, to a non-Reason user, may seem rather unexciting. Why? Because they “are” unexciting. But, I’m guessing, users of other DAW’s have not had to manually group 15 drum channels into a mixer every flippin’ time they want to compress a bus channel? Face palm.

    I will never fault the creativity and engineering talents of Propellerheads. But someone at that company decided that, for years, these industry standard features were not worth the R&D investments. I’m guessing it was the same people that thought parsing “Record” into a separate app, rather than initially including it in a Reason update, was a good idea as well. All very curious.

    But for dedicated Reason users (like myself) this is a long overdue “update”. And with the advent of Racks, I’m finding the VST architecture of other platforms even less compelling.

    Now, why Props still refuses to include Markers is beyond my understanding.

    • gunboat_d

      markers? yes please! don’t forget the ability to select all notes of the same pitch by clicking on the corresponding key in edit mode.
      I found it crazy that Live just got around to allowing you to draw curves for automation. i guess i was spoiled by DP for all those years.

  • http://melodiefabriek.com/ Marco Raaphorst

    This update is huge. I remember Reason 1.0. And I know how mind blowing version 7 is. One thing that changed my world thanks to Reason 7: parallel channels. I believe that since the addition of the SSL mixer in Reason in 6, Reason is the best DAW ever for mixing. Reason 7 adds mind blowing features to it. I remember the old days. Analogue tape. Analogue boards. We dreamt about how all these things could be improved.

    There’s no better time to do sound and music than this time. And I’m glad to be involved :)

  • Guest

    All good news,

  • jssf101

    All good news — but a quick question: When I bring any sort of audio into Reason 7, I don’t see how to export it to a Rex file. That options is greyed out when you choose what you can bounce to. Anyone have a quick solution? Cheers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

      Other users in the betatest forum had the same experience. I can’t remember the discussion at the moment but will try to look it up. You’re not alone. It was recommended that the issue be addressed in the manual because making the export to rex feature unavailable was intentional by Props. Its been a few weeks and I need to reread the discussion to remember the exact cause that is preventing you from accessing the feature.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

      Simple solution: the clip has to be in edit mode. It’s that simple but the program does not tell you you’re in the wrong mode. It just disables the function until you somehow figure it out. That’s the reason it was recommended that the issue be addressed in the documentation somewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trevor-Horton/100000744831484 Trevor Horton

    Peter and eXode,

    I’m going to beat the horse dead. Sorry. I’ve got Reason 7 in front of me and it is not as simple as you presented above. There are steps that you left out and limitations that you overlook.

    First, when you “export to rex” the audio track you used to work the wav file remains. So you need to delete the track or mute it, if you don’t want the part doubled. Its a step that you will repreat each time you convert the wav with the intention of sending it into Octorex.

    Secondly, when you send the rex file from the Tool Window to Octorex, it creates a new instance of Octorex for each Rex file. It does not offer you the choice of sending the rex file to the next open slot in the existing Octorex device.

    Here’s the contrast which defines “cumbersome”: Load eight wav files into the eight slots of one instance of Octorex. You’d want to do this because you could play the eight loops (without having to program each “note” across eight separate instances of Octorex). One Octorex filled allows for switching between loops and, in the case of related loops, such as guitar loops, a better way to figure which loops work together and in what order.

    Now, on one hand, you could drag eight wav files to the slots of one Octorex. That is fast.

    On the other hand, how many operations would you need to accomplish this same goal in the current implementation? Remember you need to delete or mute the audio file tracks. Sending the file “to rack” does not work because it creates separate instances of Octorex, so one option is to send the file to disk, then in Octorex browse where the file was saved, and repeat for each of the 6 remaining slots.

    Try to get eight wav files into one instance of Octorex and let us know how many steps it takes. Using an Octorex with eight loops is going to be a common occurrence for a lot of users. Oddly, in the Tool Window, you can see the different loops that have been converted to Rex files but you can’t drag them from the tool window to the original instance of Octorex nor can you drag between the difference instances of Octorex. Unless I’ve missed something, every wav file requires more than three operations to get into an Octorex device. I don;t see how this is very elegant.

    Again, its not the end of the world. Reason is still a great program. But lets not say something is easy when its clunky. Maybe, I’m missing something.

  • lowtense

    How about exporting straight to mp3 or flac?
    I listen back tracks when i’m cycling to work the following day with some headphones on.
    You can import mp3′s but not export it? Whatsup with that? Why no bezier curve editing in the automation lanes/of fade-in and out? And als; how do i export rex files out of Reason for a mate of mine who works in Cubase only?

  • Michelle

    Is there a way to input your own slice markers rather than using Reason’s markers which automatically look for the transients???