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How to Set Up Creative Delays in Reason


It’s always been fun to play around with devices in Reason. When it comes to creating a unique device, synth or effect, you have limitless possibilities. You could call it playing Lego with audio devices. In this tutorial I will continue building blocks and explain three different ways to set up DLL-1 devices within Combinator.

Setting Up the Combinator as an Effect Device

With these setups we are going to use the Combinator as an effect device. To do this we will route the incoming audio through Combinator’s input. Here’s a screenshot of the setup.

For more information about the Combinator, visit Eric Shafer’s tutorial.

Distorted Delay

This demonstrates a simple stereo delay with a distortion and filter. First insert a Line Mixer and route its main output through Combinator’s “From Devices” input. Then connect “To Devices” to Line Mixer’s Channel 1 input. This way we can use the Line Mixer for the effects. Here’s a screenshot.

Now throw in one ECF-42 Filter, one Scream 4 Distortion and two DLL-1 Delay devices, holding down the shift key as you insert these devices so they don’t auto-route. Rename the delays as “Delay L” and “Delay R”. The routing of these devices follows:

  • Line Mixer Aux Send > Filter Input (Make sure you have set the “Aux Pre/Post” to “Pre”)
  • Filter Output > Scream Input
  • Scream Output Left > Delay L Input
  • Scream Output Right > Delay R Input
  • Delay L > Line Mixer Channel 5 Input
  • Delay R > Line Mixer Channel 6 Input

Here’s a screenshot of the routing:

This way the input signal will run through Line Mixer’s Channel 1 Aux Send to Filter, Distortion and Delays. Now we’re going to configure Combinator macro controls for devices. Go into the Programmer on the Combinator and enter these settings:

  • Line Mixer > Rotary 1 > Channel 1 Aux Send > Min: 0, Max: 100
  • Line Mixer > Rotary 1 > Channel 1 Level > Min: 100, Max: 0
  • Rotary 1 works as Wet/Dry control.
  • Filter > Rotary 2 > Frequency > Min: 40, Max: 110
  • Filter > Rotary 2 > Resonance > Min: 50, Max: 20
  • Filter > Button 2 > Mode > Min: 0, Max: 2

Rotary 2 controls both Freqency and Resonance, Button 2 switches between BandPass and LowPass modes.

  • Scream > Rotary 3 > Parameter 1 > Min: 0, Max: 127
  • Scream > Rotary 3 > Parameter 2 > Min: 127, Max: 0
  • Scream > Button 3 > Body On/Off 1 > Min: 0, Max: 1

Rotary 3 modulates the Distortion and Button 3 enables the Body. These values are not exact values, and you can experiment with these.

Now let’s add an auto-pan effect. To do this we’re going to use a Malström. Drop one in while holding the shift key. Now connect Mod A CV output to Combinator’s Rotary 4 CV input. Go to Malström’s modulator A and select “Curve 16”, turn “Sync” on and set the “Rate” as 8/4. Then go back to the Programmer and set:

  • Line Mixer > Rotary 4 > Channel 5 Pan > Min: -64, Max: 63
  • Line Mixer > Rotary 4 > Channel 6 Pan > Min: 63, Max: -64

Now you should see the Pan knobs are wiggling opposite ways.

Here’s an example of how this device sounds. For this example I used a Dr. Rex with the “Dr. Rex Instrument Loops > Various Hip-Hop Loops > Hhp_Pingline_98” patch and on the Scream I used the “Fidelity FX > Digistructor” patch. You can of course try this with different Distortion patches.

Filter Delay

This device setup is a re-make of the Filter Delay effect in Ableton’s Live. Again, start off with a Combinator and a Line Mixer in it, connect “To Devices” to Line Mixer Channel 1 input and Line Mixer main out to “From Devices”. Then add a Spider Audio Merger/Splitter to the soup. Connect Line Mixer’s Aux Send to the Spider Audio’s “Split” input. Again switch to “Pre” on the Line Mixer Aux.

Now place 3 ECF-42 Filters and 3 DDL-1 Delays while holding down the shift button. Name the Delays “Delay L”, “Delay L+R” and “Delay R”. The routing of these devices follow:

  • Spider Audio Split Output 1 > Filter 1 > Delay L > Line Mixer Ch. 4 input
  • Spider Audio Split Output 2 > Filter 2 > Delay L+R > Line Mixer Ch. 5 input
  • Spider Audio Split Output 3 > Filter 3 > Delay R > Line Mixer Ch. 6 input

Here’s a screenshot:

Turn Delay L’s pan to full left and Delay R’s to full right. Now to the programmer:

  • Line Mixer > Rotary 1 > Channel 1 Aux Send > Min: 0, Max: 100
  • Line Mixer > Rotary 1 > Channel 1 Level > Min: 100, Max: 0

Rotary 1 works as Dry/Wet control as before.

  • Filter 1 > Rotary 2 > Frequency > Min: 40, Max: 110
  • Filter 1 > Rotary 2 > Resonance > Min: 50, Max: 20
  • Filter 1 > Button 2 > Mode > Min: 0, Max: 2
  • Filter 2 > Rotary 3 > Frequency > Min: 40, Max: 110
  • Filter 2 > Rotary 3 > Resonance > Min: 50, Max: 20
  • Filter 2 > Button 3 > Mode > Min: 0, Max: 2
  • Filter 3 > Rotary 4 > Frequency > Min: 40, Max: 110
  • Filter 3 > Rotary 4 > Resonance > Min: 50, Max: 20
  • Filter 3 > Button 4 > Mode > Min: 0, Max: 2

Like above, Rotaries 2, 3 and 4 control both Frequency and Resonance, and Buttons 2, 3 and 4 switch between BandPass and LowPass modes.

For the final touches insert a RV7000 Reverb after Delay L+R with a Dry/Wet around 35, pick a Reverb patch to your taste. Then add a Stereo Expander after the Line Mixer main output.

Here’s how this device sounds:

For the guitar loop I’m using “Music Loops > Variable Tempo (rex) > Downtempo Loops > 90_Bluestrat” patch on the Dr. REX.

Brake/Spin Effect

This is quite a different and experimental but very fun-to-use effect setup. I believe you have noticed the weird sounds when you are changing the Delay steps on the DDL-1. Now we’re going to use this weird delay effect to create a break/spin effect sounding as if you are playing on a turntable.

For this effect we’ll only need a DDL-1 Delay and a Malström inside a Combinator. Then we’ll route the Combinator’s “To Devices” output to Delay’s input and Delay’s output through “From Devices” input. Turn the rack around and on the Delay, select “ms” instead of “steps”, turn “Feedback” and “Dry/Wet” down to 0.

Go to the back of the rack again and connect Malström Mod A CV to Combinator’s Rotary 3 CV and Mod B to Rotary 4 CV. Turn CV values up to 100 on both Rotaries. Go back and select “Curve 2” on both modulators of Malström. Turn on the “Sync” buttons.

Here’s a screenshot of both the front and back of the rack:

Now let’s get to the Programmer and for the Delay:

  • Rotary 3 > Delay Time (ms) > Min: 1, Max: 2000
  • Rotary 4 > Delay Time (ms) > Min: 2000, Max: 1
  • Button 1 > Dry/Wet > Min: 0, Max: 127
  • Button 2 > Dry/Wet > Min: 0, Max: 127

..and for the Malström:

  • Rotary 1 > Mod A Rate > Min: 0, Max: 127
  • Rotary 2 > Mod B Rate > Min: 0, Max: 127
  • Button 1 > Mod A On/Off > Min: 0, Max: 1
  • Button 2 > Mod B On/Off > Min: 0, Max: 1

Now, what happens when you press Button 1 while you are playing is Combinator enables the Malsröm’s Modulator A and turns Delay’s Dry/Wet value up to 127. Then Modulator A sends CV data to Combinator’s Rotary 3 which modifies the Delay Time. The increase (or decrease) in Delay Time creates a Spin/Brake like effect. Also you can use Rotary 1 and 2 for the speed of these effects.

Here’s how this sounds:

Finally, you may want to check Getting Down and Dirty with Delay on Discovering Reason and Peff’s website for more crazy Delay setups.

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