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How to Process REX Files Using Reason's NNX-T Sampler

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In Reason, the dedicated loop player is the Dr. Rex. It plays loops contained in REX files.

Dr. Rex features a lot of options for pitching, panning and filtering parts of your loop. Sometimes however, you may want to split up a REX loop to process the slices individually for applying different effects to individual slices or sounds in the loop, for example.

Let's take a look at how can use the NNX-T sampler to accomplish this.

Step 1

For this tutorial, we've created a Dr. Rex and loaded an acoustic drum loop. As we hear in the example, it's a pretty straightforward loop, just a dry drumkit playing a steady 4/4 beat on kick, snare and hi-hat.

I like the kit and the groove, however I would like to add some punch and beef to the kick. Furthermore, I would like to add some live to the snare by adding some delay and I think the hi-hat needs some grit and sizzle.

Step 2

In order to process the individual parts of the loop, I have to load this loop into a device with multiple outputs. I could use the Redrum, but then I would have to reprogram the beat.

That can take time and might not give me the groove I liked in this loop. A better option in this case would be to load the entire loop into a NNX-T sampler and reroute the parts to different outputs.

Time to create the NNX-T, so, here we go:

Step 3

Now let's load up our REX loop into our NNX-T. To do so, we use the 'Browse Patch' button on the main panel of the NNX-T. In the patch browser we navigate to the REX loop we chose earlier.

Step 4

When we load our REX loop into the NNX-T, it automatically spreads out the slices of the loop chromatically, starting at position C1.

Step 5

Because we want to keep the feel and groove of the loop, we have to copy the MIDI notes from the REX track to the track of the NNX-T. Now we can play the same loop from the NNX-T.

Another possibility is to program the loop using the sequencer, a Matrix, or with a MIDI keyboard or controller. That way we can play the individual slices, just like in the Dr. Rex.

In this example we copy the notes from our original REX track.

Step 6

Now we go to the sequencer window to find the MIDI notes in our Rextrack.

Step 7

Then we select the notes.

Step 8

We join the small REX clips into one big 8-bar clip. We use the 'Join Clips' command from the context menu, or we use the keyboard shortcut (CONTROL)/(COMMAND)+ J.

Step 9

Then copy the clip to the NNX-T track.

Step 10

Make sure to mute the original REX loop, either in the sequencer or on the mixer. Now when we press the 'Play' button, we should hear the exact same loop - only now it's being played back in the NNX-T sampler.

It's time to split up our loop into the individual parts. First we're going to find our slices that contain our kick drum. Once selected we can group them together. To audition a sample or slice in the NNX-T, we have to make sure our editor window is opened.

As we saw earlier, all our slices have now become samples and are put in containers called 'zones' in the editor window. All slices have the name of the REX file and a consecutive number.

To audition a sample we press and hold the (ALT) key. A small speaker icon is shown next to the mouse arrow. Left click the sample you want to audition. To select multiple samples, use the (SHIFT) key.

The trick is to alternate between the (ALT) key and the (SHIFT) key to get all our kick drum zones into our selection. It should then look like this:

Step 11

Now group the kick samples together with the context menu by right-clicking in the editor window. We do this using the 'Group Selected Zones' option in the context menu.

With our kick samples grouped, the editor should look like this:

Step 12

We repeat steps 10 and 11 to isolate and group our snare zones. The remaining zones should contain the last element in our loop; the hi-hat samples. Once we've grouped the snare zones, the remaining zones are automatically grouped as well.

Step 13

With all the parts of our loop neatly grouped together, it's time for our next trick. And this is the trick for which we have selected the NNX-T.

Besides offering you tremendous control over lots of sample parameters, the NNX-T has another unique quality. It lets you route selected samples and groups to eight separate stereo outputs. Let's see how:

Step 14

By default, all samples are routed to the first stereo output of the NNX-T. This output is marked 1-2. The control knob is located just below the bottom right corner of the editor window. We will use output 1-2 for our kick drum group.

Step 15

Now we select our snare group. We do this by left-clicking the group column in the editor window. It's marked with a 'G'. The snares are in the middle group. Selecting the group will mark all snare samples in dark blue, after which, we turn the output control knob to 3-4.

Step 16

We repeat this for the last group. Select the hi-hat group and use the control knob to select output 5-6.

Step 17

We have now successfully routed individual parts of the loop to different outputs on the NNX-T. It's time to do some processing. We would like to add some beef and punch to our kick.

First create a Combinator to process the dynamics of our kick. We hold the (SHIFT) key when we create the Combinator so we can route it manually.

In the Combinator we select the patch called 'Fat punchy BD' for obvious reasons. This Combinator contains an EQ, compressor and Maximizer so we can really make this kick thump.

To make room, I disconnected the Dr. Rex. We'll hook it back up later. Here's the routing from the NNX-T to the Combi and into the mixer:

Step 18

Let's bring out the snare. Repeat Step 17, but now bring up a Combi patch for controlling snare drum dynamics. I've chosen the 'Old school snare' patch.

Step 19

I also want to make the hi-hat more gritty and add some highs. To do so I create a M-Class EQ and a Scream 4 unit. I route outputs 5-6 to the EQ, then into the Scream and then into the mixer. Here's the routing:

Step 20

Now for the tweaking. I want to use this drum part to build a rock song. I like the drums to be punchy and present. To get the kick punchy and low, I use these settings:

Step 21

And now for the snare. You should eq the snare in reference to other parts in the mix. Adjusting the threshold, ratio and attack of the compressor can radically change the sound and presence of you snare.

As with all effects, a little often goes a long way.

Step 22

To give the hi-hat more grit and sustain, I boost the highs around 5,5 kHz and use the hi shelf to boost everything above that by about 5 dB. That gives the Scream a lot of high frequency content to work with.

For the raw, gritty sound I use the Scream's 'Digital' algorithm. This works much like a bitcrusher.

For the hats I use a high resolution and rate so that the sound has a lot of raw edge without breaking up into static-like noise.

Step 23

For some final depth and polish, I add a DDL-1 delay as a send effect on the mixer. I add some of it on the snare and hats. I start by selecting 6 steps and a minimal amount of feedback.

This gives the snare and hats a more human 'casual' feel by adding soft hits before and behind the main hits. In this example I panned them just beside their original position, but this can changes when other elements are added to the mix.

Panning the delays to a very different position can make the sound wider, though sometimes more confusing to the ear.

Nifty trick: After selecting the number of steps, I switch the units to ms or milliseconds. It gives me the 6-step time in milliseconds as a starting point, but I then add some seconds to 'push' the delays forward a bit, giving it a different, less steady feel. Again, a little goes a long way, so don't overdo it.

Step 24

As a final step, I reconnected our Dr. Rex containing the original loop to the last input on the mixer. This way you can alternate between the two loops and examine the difference while tweaking the sound.

In this example we use the NNX-T to split up a simple REX drum loop for separate processing. Besides the ability to use different outputs, the NNX-T offers a lot of capabilities to shape the slices even further before using external effects.

Original drum loop:

Processed drum loop:

We used a drum loop in this example, but there loads of other options, like cutting up music loops or REX loops with vocals. Using the NNX-T for REX file processing opens up a lot of doors and can just make that dusty old loop come to life again.

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