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Creative Delay effects

Published: 2017-09-02

Welcome to another tutorial about Propellerhead Reason. Today I will dive in to setting up a wide range of different creative effects using Digital Delays or using Digital Delays in combination with different utilities that come as stock devices. While there are rack extensions that do something similar, the idea with these creative setups is to show case what some crafty wiring can do for you while setting up an effect chain. It is more or less a combination of thinking inside the box, while thinking outside the box more or less. So if you have the proper mindset to be creative, and you are up for the challenge, then maybe these type of articles can be useful. If you think it is a waste of your time (because it is too much work), then just don't bother reading any further and just VST your way using effects in Reason.

Alright, intro is out of the way, lets hop right in to this shall we.

The Haas Effect in Reason

The precedence effect or law of the first wavefront is a binaural psychoacoustic effect. When a sound is followed by another sound separated by a sufficiently short time delay (below the listener's echo threshold), listeners perceive a single fused auditory image. This is later to be known as the Haas effect, described by Helmut Haas.

The theory behind the Haas effect is that the sound over left vs right have delay span over 2ms to 30ms. This creates depth and positions the sound over left vs right different. It is a very common technique applied in different applications. For instance big concert halls use this in their speakers to delay certain speaker to create depth in the sound output. With mixing and mastering this technique is often used to create space over left vs right.

A very common setup with in Reason is to use the Left cable of the audio output with a different delay time. While using the Right audio output with another delay time. Often it depend what the output needs to do. Sometimes a third signal is applied (known as the dry signal) which goes in dead center (the mono channel).

Haas effect diagram

A basic concept on how to create the Haas effect in a Combinator can be done pretty fast (it takes 3 minutes, maybe less).

  • Create a combinator
  • Add a spider audio merger splitter
  • Create 2 digital delays
  • Set the digital delays to milliseconds
  • One digital delay goes on 2ms the other delay goes on 30ms
  • Create a mixer 6:2 (or mixer 14:2)
  • Connect the digital delays to mixer channel 1 and channel 2
  • Connect the spider audio to the mixer channel 3
  • Pan channel 1 to left and pan channel 2 to right
  • set the level of channel 1 and 2 to roughly 75-ish (because the pan setting also increases the volume with roughly 3dB)

The combinator could be looking somewhat like the following:

Haas Effect in Reason

The following Combinator can be downloaded using the following link:

Download Haas effect Combinator patch

While the Haas effect creates space, this effect will also have an impact on the amount of phase inversion that takes place in the mix. So if you mix in mono, then do not use this effect at all! (another reason why I do not mix in mono, but we covered that)

Beat repeater effect

The beat repeater effect could have been created since Reason 3.0. Yep... The idea behind setting up the beat repeater using a Digital Delay is a time consuming thing though. Since it depends on how you want to use it. Second there is no real control on triggering different steps while mashing down keys (there is a linear way to do that, but I will present that option in a later article).

The effect is usually triggered by "stopping" the incoming audio and triggering the digital delay in an infinite loop. This is handled by a toggle button that sets the feedback amount all the way to full while at the same time the Dry/Wet of the Delay is set to Wet.

To create this we'll require 4 things:

  • A Combinator as an audio effect (can also be an insert effect in Propellerhead Reason)
  • A Mixer 6:2 (easier to program vs the Mixer 14:2)
  • One Digital Delay Line
  • Another Mixer 6:2 (to control the balance when the beat repeater is active)

And those are the main ingredients. The only thing it lacks is a grain of pepper and a sound source to trigger it.

Beat repeater effect in Reason

By default our beat repeater effect (which does not do anything) will look like the following. Now comes the time consuming process. We need to program the thing to start beat repeating. For this I will be using the Button 1 of the combinator patch (as I have also named this as "beat repeater").

To make everything work, we'll need to program the whole thing to do the following:

  • First mixer goes on mute
  • Digital Delay Feedback goes from 0 to 127
  • Digital Delay Dry/Wet goes to Wet (127)
  • Level of Channel 1 in the second mixer goes from 100 to 75-ish (this may sometimes vary)

The programmer section for the first mixer will look like the following: 

Beat repeater effect in Reason

And alternative route would be using the Level of channel 1 where it goes from 100 to 0 (which is the same as mute).

The digital delay line will be set up as followed:

The button 1 now will control two parameters at the same time!

The last setting we'll need for our beat repeater effect is the toggle for the level. This can be done by using Channel 1 > Level. An alternative method would be using the master level of the mixer. Since it does nothing more then changing the gain of the endless delay. 

Beat repeater effect in Reason

Last but not least, we'll need an instrument that gets connected to this Combinator patch. At the same time you could use this as an insert effect if you need it. 

beat-repeater-3-stepper.cmb

Custom chorus flange effect

With digital delay lines you are able to create your own custom and unique type of Chorus or Flange effect. The only thing we need is to have to proper definition of these two effect (they do something similar)

A Flange effect contains an original signal where an additional processed signal goes in parallel. The processed signal will contain a delay with no feedback. The delay will be set from 2 ms to a maximum of 20 milliseconds. Often this is done by a Low Frequency oscillator

A chorus effect contains an original signal where an additional processed signal goes in parallel. The processed signal will contain a delay with no feedback. The delay will be set above the 20 milliseconds while the delay will vary in time. Often this is done by a Low Frequency oscillator. Often Chorus effects are processed with different feedback (pre-feedback or aft feedback). Also it will contain some pitch changing elements

Now that we have covered the basics. We have the tools, and we have the talent! So it is Miller time! Lets set this up inside a Combinator patch. For the initial setup we'll be needing the following ingredients:

  • A Combinator as an Audio effect (can also be an insert)
  • Add an Audio Splitter to the Combinator (since we'll need at least 3 audio outputs from the same input)
  • Create 2 delays set on milliseconds
  • Add an LFO (I will go for the Malstrom being an Low Frequency Oscillator)
  • Connect the LFO to the delay time (min value around 20ms, max value around 40ms will do)
  • Merge all the audio outputs to a Mixer 6:2 (Delay, Delay and Dry signal)

Custom Chorus in a Combinator

While by default there isn't really much exiting about this set up, because the audio output will go from spider audio splitter to the delays while the dry signal goes in parallel. What does make it interesting in this case is the LFO that we can use to manipulate the chorus / flange effect. 

For the programmer section in the combinator I have set up the following:

Chorus flanger programmer

The delay gets its input from the CV 1 slot of the combinator. The CV 1 in this case is the Mod A of the Malstrom. Where CV 2 is the Mod B of the Malstrom. With this connection set up the delay time will constantly hop up and down from 26 to 18 milliseconds while doing so. The theory behind the Flange / Chorus effect is that it would normally be done with Tape (as explained in our article about Low Fidelity)

In this particular case we could (if we want) kind of take it to a whole different level. For instance, the delay times are in a linear change (going up, going down). At the same time we could (if we wanted) change the pattern of the lfo just to make the delay changes different. Thus, we have our own custom method to reshape the Chorus Flange effect in to something totally unique. With default devices this is usually never an option because the algorithms are fixes (mostly a triangle or sine). Also you could (if you wanted) position the delay times different over left vs right by inverting the changes of the delay times. Kind of like the Haas effect, but then a constantly changing haas effect that flanges (ow boy... what have I started).

Just to let you play with the effect I am sharing the combinator patch that also contains a scalar to control the amount of changes from the Low Frequency oscillator

Custom Chorus Effect

Ping pong delay

The ping pong delay sits in a device like the Echo. While in theory it is nothing more then having one step go over left, while the next step goes over right. With that in mind, we can (if we want, since we are on the topic, we shall) create a custom ping pong delay effect by having different steps that trigger left / right in a different time scale. This requires a bit more then the previous setups we have been talking about so far. Because every step needs to have no feedback at all. We need to define every step in the way. So for each step we'll need a delay. 

The setup will again require an Audio Splitter. Since for every signal path we'll be needing an audio output to process it through a digital delay line. Every delay will then go in parallel. A different take on this would be using delays in a serial chain (which is an interesting take, but works totally different).

The first delay will be set to step 2, with a feedback amount on 0 while slightly panned to left.
The second delay will be set to step 3, with a feedback amount on 0 while slightly panned to right.
The third delay will be set to step 4, with a feedback amount on 0 while slightly panned to left.
The second delay will be set to step 5, with a feedback amount on 0 while slightly panned to right.

etc. It just depends on how many steps you'll need to process it further. Also it also depends on how many steps you want in between. I am going for a linear direction for this one.

Ping Pong Delay

As you may see here is that the original sound source get split up in to 7 different paths. The first signal is the dry signal. The others are a set of delays ranging from step 2 to step 7. The main idea with this particular setup is that every delay has its own position in the stereo field over left vs right. This is done by the settings in the Mixer 14:2. Last the amplitude per step is different. In this case I have set it up in a linear way going downwards. This means that step 2 is the strongest while thing progress over time the sound dies out gradual.

While there are rack extensions out there that do something similar (3plex or steerpike just to name two of them), the idea here is to have a unique type of setup where everything can be tweaked or balanced by using stock devices. This could also be done with either filters or a wide range of notched EQs (just throwing additional options on the table while I am going on with this story)

You can download the ping pong effect by clicking on the button below

Ping Pong Digital Delay

Ping Pong Extravaganza

While we are talking about an audio module, we can take things a few steps further regarding the way things can be processed. One example would be using a Feedback system which listens in to the audio. The feedback can be for instance controlled by an LFO (or an audio listener). 

While using the LFO, first thing we'll need is to have a connection to program it later on. For this one I will be using the Mod A from the Malstrom again.

LFO for a Ping Pong delay in Propellerhead Reason

With this connected, we can start programming the delays to trigger for instance the Feedback amount as a destination.

Ping Pong Delay Feedback in Propellerhead Reason

When doing the feedback changes this will also mean that some of these delays will have a different length (depending on which delay picks up the feedback amount). The best option for this would be having a free running LFO, since the feedback changes will become a bit more random while doing this.

Another thing we can add to every delay is a different filter with a different filter frequency or resonance. This will turn the whole idea in to something more "tangerine dream" like.

Delay with Filters

And if your up for the challenge you could decide to manipulate those filters using an LFO while your at it.

Download Custom Delay with Moving Filter

In conclusion

While digital delays are the most obvious effects to implement. The most common technique regarding delays is to have them set up as a send effect. If you think in terms of modular synthesizers, you want to have these delays as an insert effect most of the time. The steps can vary, the tonal context can vary per step or you could modulate the time while doing so to create 'that specific effect' your looking for. Sure, I will admit that the Echo (since Reason 6) has a lot to offer to be a delay on steroids. But... I am not going to stop here yet. Some day I'll touch the echo in an in depth article like the one I have done here. So that is going to rather exciting to make it and most likely rather boring to read. 

Last but not least, I will add an additional link below which contains the example files as Reason 9.5 song files so you might have some understanding on how to use them in context. Make note, these files are not really 'that' exciting though. But it is the idea that matters right?

Creative Delays

Published on Reason Experts
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Published on Reason Experts
Published: 2017-09-02

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