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Quick Tip: Create Radio Imaging SFX Using Reason's Malstrom

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Read Time: 4 min

In this quick tip, I want to share with you a fun and easy way to create radio imaging sound effects using Malstrom. Even if you're not familiar with the term, the chances are you know how they sound. A radio imaging sound is a composite effect that brands a radio station, and it can includes jingles, music samples, voice-over, and all kind of sound effects like impacts, sweeps, noises, explosions and so on.

Here are some samples of the patch that we'll build:

1. Configure Malstrom

To keep things clean and organized, we'll work inside a Combinator with all the devices initialized.

Create a Line Mixer 6:2 and an instance of Malstrom. Later, we'll use this mixer to create a more complex patch by alternating two different instances of Malstrom.

Step 1: Set Up the Oscillators

First, let's set the oscillators. For OSC A choose Spectral Sweep and set its release to 50. For OSC B choose VocoderBands, increase its attack to 84, and release to 50.


Step 2: Set Up the Modulators

We'll use MOD A to create the glitch effects by modulating the oscillators. To achieve this effect, change its waveform to the sixth curve, Pitch to 63, Index to 40, and Shift to 46.

The glitch effect appears because the modulator plays random portions of the graintable at different pitch and shift values.

To add even more randomness and diversity to the sound, let's set the MOD B to control Filter A. To create this effect, set its waveform to the sixth curve, like we did for MOD A, and Filter to 43.


Step 3: Set Up the Filter

First, route oscillator A to Shaper. In the Filter A section, set the filter type to BP12 (band pass), Freq to 50, and Res to 54. Later, we'll automate the "On/Off" filter button through Combinator's Programmer section.

Filter A

Step 4: Set Up the Mod Wheel

The mod wheel offers a couple of valuable extra controls, which can be very easily set thanks to Malstrom's modulation design. Turn the Shift knob all the way down, and set the Filter rotary to 35, so that the shifting down effect will be balanced by the rising of the frequency knob.

Mod Wheel

2. Configure a Second Malstrom

The second Malstrom will follow the exact same settings, excepting the graintables. First, duplicate the first Malstrom and route its audio outputs to the second channel of the line mixer. Its first oscillator will be RandomFilter and the second one VSWaves.

Second MalstromSecond MalstromSecond Malstrom

3. Configure the Programmer

Now that the Malstrom patches are done, it's time to program the Combinator's knobs and buttons. First, let's create the possibility to play one Malstrom at a time, using the mixer's M mute buttons.

In the Combinator's Programmer section, select the Line Mixer from the Device list. Notice that in the Modulation Routing section a list with all the Combinator's rotaries and buttons appears.

In order to create this switch button, click on the Target rectangle corresponding to Button1 source, and select Channel 1 Mute.


Button1 of the Combinator now acts like the channel one mute button. A 0 (zero) for the Min and 1 for the Max means that when the Combinator button one is turned off, the mute button of the channel one will be also turned off.

Now we need to invert these values for the second channel of the mixer, so when Malstrom1 is playing, the second one will be muted, and vice versa.

We need Button1 again, so for the first empty source rectangle select Button1 from the list. Its target will be this time Channel 2 Mute, and also the Min will be 1 and the Max will be 0.


For Malstrom1 and Malstrom2, copy the settings shown in the image below:

Set these parameters to the both Malstroms.
Set these parameters for both Malstroms.

Rotary1 and Rotary2 will control the LFO rates, Rotary3 will let you change the modulators waveforms for even more randomness typical of radio imaging sound effects, and lastly an On/Off filter button.

To get better results, export your samples and work with them as audio blocks instead of MIDI notes. In this way, even if you are going for a small project or a larger one, you'll have more control over your sound.


Experiment with all these parameters and find the combinations that you like the most. I hope you've found this tutorial helpful, and if you have any questions or suggestions, please put them in the comment section.

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