Reason 6's console and routing system is awesome, there's no doubt about that. One thing the Props have overlooked so far though is the proper implementation of group tracks for the main console. This can prove to be a bit of set back in busy mixes.
I’m sure there are a hundred ways around this issue but I thought I’d share my preferred method with you. I’m sure this will be helpful to the new Reason users out there and maybe some more experienced ones too.
Step 1 - Identifying Devices To Group
The first step is the easiest bit, simply decide which parts of your Reason 6 project you want to group. This could be a number of audio tracks, a selection of instruments or even multiple outputs from a single instrument.
Essentially you need to start thinking about the different audio streams you want to combine into a single mixer channel on the console. This process is extremely useful if you are a beginner as it will help you visualise the changes you need to make when we come to the actual routing.
The devices I plan to group!
It can help at this point to move the devices you intend to group closer together in the rack. This will not only help you visualise the group you are going to create but there is quite a bit of routing coming up and it can make the whole thing a little easier.
The current ungrouped mix
Step 2 - Break Out The Submixer
At this point you’ll need a ‘submixer’, this is the mixer we’ll use to sum the various audio streams into a single stereo mix, ready to be inserted into a new console channel.
There are a few options here. If you only have a few different outputs that simply need to be blended you can opt for the basic line mixer. This will give you access to level and pan for each separate input and is very compact, keeping things simple.
The mixer I used for my Sub Mix
If you need something a little more feature rich and you would like to apply EQ, send effects or just need more channels then you’ll need to go for the full rack mixer. Either way you’ll want to insert this in it’s own space in the rack with no routings.
You can now start to send the various outputs to the new submixer. You can either route the device directly or use the ‘Direct Out’ on the individual mixer objects. The latter is perfect if you have already applied EQ on the console or have inserts in place.
The routing begins and the Sub Mix is created
At this point you shouldn't hear anything and as your existing routings are being broken you may lose some of your mix. Fear not the sound will return!
The Sub Mix is in place and ready to be connected
Step 3 - Create A New Console Channel
Below your new submixer create a ‘Mix Channel’ from the ‘Other’ section in the drop down menu. This will give you a fresh console channel to route your submixer to and essentially give us control over the entire group from the console itself.
The Mix Channel is created
With the new channel created you can go ahead and name it. In this case as we are working with various drum based sources I have names it ‘Drum Group’. Simple!
… And named
Step 4 - Feeding The New Group
You can now hook up your submixer to the Mix Channel. You should hear the entire group in action at this point and everything that was fed into your submixer should be audible. If it’s not retrace your steps and check your connections!
Hooking up the Sub Mix to the Mix Channel
Your levels may be a bit all over the place on the initial playback, so your first job is to get a good relative mix on the submixer. You can also apply any EQ or send / return effects you want to use in your sub mix at this point.
You are now pretty much done and you have created your first group channel. This may seem a touch convoluted but trust me once you have done it a few times you can literally do it in a few minutes. Personally I love the control this gives me over traditional group channels.
The group is now active!
Step 5 - Using Inserts And Console Processing On The Group
With everything in place you are now free to start applying processing to your group. There are actually three routes available to you here. You can use the console’s in built channel strip processors. Namely dynamics and equalisation, or you can use send return effects in the same way as you would with any other channel.
Some console based processing
Alternatively you can insert processors directly into the mixer channel’s rack device. This is great because it means you can use devices such as the Scream 4 or Pulveriser across a drum mix coming from a number of different sources.
And some insert based buss processing
One of my favourite processes is the Scream 4’s tape compression setting. Add this just about any group and you’ll instantly fall in love with it. Add to this the fact that we’ll soon have rack extensions and you have the perfect buss processing set up!