(compMus1) Combining Synths in Reason, Part 1

I wasn’t sure how to name this post. I’m going to go over how you can combine synths in Reason for expanded synthesis and control capabilities. In this context, multiple synths are used to produce one composite output. For example, you can combine two (or more) Subractors to have four (or more) oscillators in your output sound. Or you can add an additional Subractor and use its LFO, Filter, and Mod Envelope as additional CV sources.

Reason has a device called the Combinator that can combine multiple synths, effects, and control units, but you give up a lot of control over individual parameters with this type of setup. For our projects, we will use Device Groups in Digital Performer to output one MIDI track to multiple MIDI channel outputs. I’ll cover device groups in a subsequent post.

Some things to keep in mind when combining multiple synths in Reason.

  • Envelopes are triggered by noteon commands, or gate messages from a step sequencer. If you’re using noteon commands, you will need to use device groups in DP.
  • Make sure each synth is assigned a MIDI channel in the Adv MIDI control interface.
  • If you are combining synths for more oscillator outputs, then you will probably want to mix the output of the synths. You can use a Line Mixer 6:2 instead of a full Mixer 14:2. The Line Mixer has gain, pan, and aux send controls for each input pair.
  • If you are using a synth for CV purposes (Env, LFO, etc.), you will make CV connections on the back panels of the synths.
  • Back panel CV outputs are not scaled by the front panel “amount” controls. Back panel outputs are always at full level. You control how much effect the CV has by adjusting the input gain control of the target parameter.
  • Synth patches store only front panel controls. Back panel controls and connections are only saved with the rack (Reason song).
  • It is a good idea to save synth patches even if you are only using a synth for one its envelopes. Recalling a patch is still quicker than setting four sliders, and you can save variations of envelopes that can be recalled for multiple uses.
  • If you want one back panel CV output to control multiple parameters, you need to use the splitter section of a Spider CV Merger & Splitter. The Spider has two splitter sections, with one CV input being multiplied to four outputs. You can even combine the two splitters if you connect one split output (from A) to the B input. This will give you seven outputs for one input. You could even combine CV outputs into one using the merge section. You could combine an envelope and an LFO to provide a pitch envelope with vibrato.


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