How to Make an Organic 'Super Flanger' in Reason
This tutorial will show you how you can build an organic sounding 'super flanger' using the RV7000 and a combinator in Reason. This effect can really add some life and movement to drums and other sounds in your music, and takes advantage of the unique wiring options offered in Reason. I have used Reason 4 to make this effect but any version of Reason from 2.5 and upwards is fine. Below is an example of the kind of effect you can create with this device.
This process will be easier to understand if you know a little about what actually creates a flanging effect. Flangers are essentially the same as delay units, but with a very very short delay time. In this first audio example I am using the standard DDL-1 delay unit in reason, with a simple drum hit being played as I shorten the delay time. The first hit has a delay time of 191 ms, and the last one has a delay time of just 30 ms.
You can hear that once the delay time is short enough we can no longer distinguish between the individual repetitions of the hi hat hit, and the delays blur into what sounds like a tone in its own right. This is a principle known as self-oscillation - the rate (or frequency) of the delay has now entered the spectrum of human hearing. This principle is used in advances synthesis techniques, and can become very complicated but we don't need to go too far into that for the purposes of our flanging effect.
Now we are ready to begin. The first thing we need to do is to create a combinator with an RV7000 inside it. I have chosen to use the RV7000 instead of the DDL-1 delay unit as the 'echo' function in the RV7000 is much more organic sounding and I feel that it suits this particular effect really nicely. If your auto wiring is turned on it should connect itself like this; the 'to devices' sockets on the combinator should connect to the input on the RV7000 and the 'from devices' socket should connect to the RV7000's output, as shown below.
At this stage it is helpful to run a sound into the combinator. For simplicity I have just used a Dr Rex player with the amen break. Simply plug the output of your instrument (in this case the Dr Rex) into the combinator input, and take the combinator output up to your mixer - the combinator is wired just like any other insert effect in Reason.
If you play the loop you will hear reverb applied from whatever initial setting the RV7000 loaded up when you created it. We need to change the effect from a reverb to the delay/echo effect we are using for this exercise.
Open up the advanced controls on the RV7000 by clicking the tiny arrow on the left hand side where it says 'remote programmer'. Now turn up the knob labelled 'algorithm' until you get to the setting called 'echo'. You should now hear the reverb effect change to a delay/echo effect. You should also turn the dry/wet knob on the main panel of the device to about 12 o'clock to allow some of the unaffected signal from your instrument through.
Below the 'algorithm' knob is another one which controls the echo time. By shortening this you should begin to hear the flanging effect come through. You may wish to turn up the 'decay' knob on the main panel of the RV7000 to create longer tails of the flanging effect. Your effect should now look and sound like this:
This is where things start to get interesting. We are going to use an LFO to modulate the delay time on our RV7000, so that it moves between longer and shorter delays, creating an interesting and ever changing effect.
Create a Malstrom synthesizer in your combinator, and flip the rack around by pressing Tab. You will notice that the audio outputs on the Malstrom are not connected, but this is fine as we only need to use the 'mod' outputs. Take the output from Mod A and connect it to the input for 'Rotary 1' on the back of your combinator, turning the input knob all the way up. You should have something like this:
Back on the front of your rack, click the 'show programmer' button on your Combinator to pop out the routing options. Highlight the RV7000 in the table by clicking on its name, then on the right hand side, assign the destination of 'Rotary 1' to the echo time. Be careful here, as there are 2 options in the dropdown menu here, one says 'echo time (steps)' - we don't want this one as it only affects the echo time if we are using the tempo sync option. Further down the list is an option that simply says 'echo time'.
You should now see the display on the RV7000 come to life as the delay time is rapidly turned up and down. If you play the drum loop you will most likely hear an awful mess of delays! This is because the LFO is switching between very long and very short delays, but we only want to be using the shortest delay times that cause our flanging effect. Luckily this is easy to fix. On the right hand side of the combinators programmer window you can assign a minimum and maximum value for the 'Rotary 1' controller. For this example I have set the minimum to 20 and decreased the maximum to 70.
To stop things from getting too hectic I have slowed down the rate of 'mod a' on the Malstrom to 36. The effect is starting to come together now, and should sound something like this:
We have now completed all the major steps to get our flanging effect up and running, but to get some really crazy effects we need to go a little further. We are going to create another RV7000 flanger and link it up with the one we have already made! Create a second RV7000 inside the combinator and put it in the chain directly after the first one, like so:
To save time we can copy the patch from the first RV7000 and use it in the second, simply right click on the device and choose 'copy patch' then choose 'paste patch' on the new device. Connect the Malstrom's 'mod b' to the 'rotary 2' input on the combinator and assign the rotary to the echo time on the second RV7000, in exactly the same way as we did with the first one. Both RV7000 devices should now show a changing echo time on their main display.
That's it folks! You may wish to experiment with different delay times, different LFO shapes and speeds as well as different decay times on the RV7000s for different effects. Different settings will suit different sounds better. You can save the combinator patch and load it up in seconds, ready to apply to any sound you like. Also, try experimenting with different effects after the flanger - in the example below I have used another standard delay unit and some reverb to add even more depth to the sound.