Audio Production

How to Create a Beat Repeater in Reason


This tutorial will show you how to create a 'beat repeat' effects unit similar to the one found in Ableton. This can be a great tool for adding interest to a track, glitching up beats, vocal lines or other sounds!

Step 1

Firstly, open a new project in Reason, and create a mixer (and a mastering suite if you like).

Next, create a DR Rex loop player. We will use this to generate a sound for our beat repeat effect to go on. The effect will work on any of Reason's instruments, but for now the Rex player is quick and easy.

Load in a loop, copy it to the track and set up a 1 or 2 bar loop. I would recommend using a pattern which has a clear rhythm to it, as this will make it easier to tell what the beat repeat is doing to the sound.

Step 2

Now you will need to create a combinator below your DR Rex, and initialise the patch. We will be using some of the programming functions in the combinator to set up the devices inside it to behave how this effect demands.

Hold shift, and right click inside the black 'empty rack' are inside the combinator, and create the following, in order:

  1. A Line Mixer 6:2,
  2. 2x DDL1 digital delay line
  3. Holding shift whilst you create a device in Reason disables the automatic wiring feature, and allows you to connect the device yourself.

Step 3

Hit TAB to flip the rack around, and make the following connections:

  1. Connect the 'to devices' output in the combinator to the 1st input on the line mixer.
  2. Connect the left socket of the line mixer's output to the left input of delay 1.
  3. Connect the right socket of the line mixer's output to the left input of delay 2
  4. Connect the left output of delay 1 to the left input on the combinators 'from devices' port.
  5. Connect the left output of delay 2 to the right input on the combinators 'from devices' port.

Your wiring should look like this:

Step 4

We now need to open the programmer panel on the combinator to assign the buttons and knobs on the combinator to control the devices inside it. Click the 'show programmer' button on the front of the device.

First, assign button 1 to the line mixer's channel 1 mute button, demonstrated below.

This means that pressing button 1 will now mute or unmute the input going into the mixer. We will also need to assign button 1 to control the dry/wet mix on both the delay units. Highlight the delay 1 unit on the left hand list of devices, then assign the button as shown below.

Repeat this process for the other delay unit - delay 2.

Now we can connect our Rex Player to the combinator to see how things are starting to sound. Connect the output of the Dr Rex to the 'to devices' input on the back of the combinator. The output of the combinator should already be connected to a channel of your main mixer, but if it's not connect this now.

Play your loop by pressing play in the transport bar (remember, you should have the pattern copied to your track). When you press button 1 on your combinator you should hear the beat stop, and a delay sound come in.

Step 5

This is all well and good, but it would be nice if that delay could continue for a much longer time. We will now assign button 1 to the feedback amount controls on both delay units. In order to do this we will need to create a new line for button 1, as we have already assigned it to one control on each of the delay units. You can see how this looks below.

Repeat this step for the second delay unit.

Now try playing your beat and hitting the button on and off - the delay should now last forever.

Step 6

We're starting to get somewhere now. All that remains is to program a few more controls to give us some extra control over how the delays work.

Lets assign rotary1 (knob 1) on the combinator to the delay time (steps) on our delay units.

In this example I have set the maximum value of the control to 4 - I generally find that a 4 step delay is the most I really want, though feel free to play around with some other values for this parameter. Don't forget to apply this to both of the delay units.

Hit play again and now you should be able to move the dial to change the length of the repeated section. Have a play around, and see what happens if you move the knob whilst the repeater is engaged. You can get some pretty cool glitchy effects.

Step 7

All that remains is to label our controls on the combinator, and save the patch so that we can load it into any project we like.

We now have a fully functioning beat repeater device, which syncs up nicely to our beat, with any delay time we choose to set.

It is possible to go further and follow a couple of extra steps to make things really glitchy.

Optional Step 8

Firstly, assign button 2 on your combinator to the 'units' control on both of your delay units.

This means that we can now change the delay time from synced steps into milliseconds. Very short delays can give some excellent flange effects, however we have a small problem to overcome.

Try moving rotary 1 now that the delay time is in ms. You will notice that it has no effect. This is because in the programmer the combinator considers the delay time in steps and the delay time in ms to be 2 different controls. We must assign the knob to control both.

In this example I have set the maximum value to 78, though feel free to experiment with different values. I also find that you can get some interesting pan and 'ping pong' effects by setting the maximum value slightly differently for the 2 delay units. In this example I set the max on delay 1 to 78 and the max on delay 2 to 82.

By moving or automating the controls you can now get some sounds which I have never heard outside of this device. Try changing the units whilst the repeat is engaged.

Here is an example of a track making use of the beat repeater:

Happy glitching!

Download the Play Pack for this tutorial (4 KB)


  • Combinator Source File
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