There are a huge number of tools available for slicing and dicing loops but one of the original (and still one of the best) is Propellerheads Recycle. When the resulting .Rex files are manipulated in Reason’s Dr. Rex player great results are possible.
Whether you are pretty new to these packages or you just want to get away from using library loops, using these tools to create your own mangles loops can be a great way to inject some originality into your composition.
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Step 1 – Choosing a Loop
Start by grabbing a loop or groove from your personal collection, or if you’re feeling really adventurous (or don’t have any loops yet!) sample something from your own music collection. For this to work well the loop should be rhythmical and not be too busy. In other words, it should have clear transients / dynamics and be easy to loop. This can be musical or percussion based, either will work fine here.
Open the loop in an audio editor and inspect it for clips and any faults. Also make sure there is enough audio present to create a complete loop. If anything is wrong at this point go back and resample your sound, or if this isn’t possible use a different file.
Step 2 – Editing in Recycle
Once you have finished editing your sound, save it in a high bit depth (preferably 24 bit) and open the file in Recycle. At first glance the window will display the file in a similar fashion to any other audio editor but once the controls get tweaked you will start to see the difference.
First up start to raise the sensitivity control, this will alter the amount of transients Recycle senses. You really need to make an educated judgement here about how many slices you will need the file to be cut into. Recycle works by cutting the audio up into these slices and consolidating the data into one single .Rex file, this way other applications can change tempo without changing the pitch or timbre of the sound.
If your not sure how many slices to use try experimenting to see the outcome of your editing and a few good guidelines are that less tends to be more here and keeping things reasonably uniform is usually beneficial. Try focusing on the important transient events and don’t place markers for the sake of it. For more help on Recycle try delving into the manual, it’s got a pretty easy learning curve.
Step 3 – Final Recycle Tweaks
After sorting your markers out you might want to make some final adjustments in Recycle. For instance once you have hit the preview button you can enter the amount of bars and beats that are in the loop and Recycle will calculate the bpm for you. You can now change the tempo and audition the loop at varying speeds.
You may also hear some irregularities in the playback when you enter audition mode, this can be due to the slices being processed. If after moving the markers around you are still experiencing problems, try adjusting the attack time in the envelope section.
Another useful technique is adjusting the stretch amount. If you plan to slow the loop down more than a few BPM try upping the stretch percentage. This will add a small amount of reversed audio onto the end of each slice, filling gaps on playback and making the whole loop sound generally smoother.
Step 4 – Saving Your .Rex File
Once you are happy with your markers and settings, you are ready to save the file so it can be used in other instruments and host software. Make sure you save the file in .rex2 format and you should be good to go.
Step 5 – Importing Your .Rex into Reason
Now simply create a Dr. Rex loop player in your Reason rack and import your newly created .rex file into it. You should now see the file in the Dr. Rex central display. It can be a good idea at this point to set Reason’s clock to your required tempo.
You should now be able to hit the audition button in the Dr. Rex player and be able to hear the dry loop play back.
Step 6 – The Dr Rex Filter and LFO
With your loop loaded into the Dr. Rex you are now ready to start using its synthesis and editing capabilities to twist the sound. Dr Rex’s main manipulation tools are its filter, envelopes and tempo sync-able LFO.
For this sound I have used a resonant low pass filter, modulated by a fast attack and decay envelope for an acidic effect. This in turn is also modulated by an LFO oscillating reasonably slowly to add movement to the sound. This LFO can also be hard wired to pitch or panning for vibrato or auto pan effects if required.
Step 7 – Further Editing in Dr. Rex
For even deeper editing of the sound you can alter properties of each slice within the loop. This is achieved by tweaking values in the instruments central display area. You are able to change the pan, pitch and decay values here.
You should be able to hear parts of the loop changing position in the stereo field. This adds a good feeling of width and is easily achieved using this section of the Dr Rex.
Step 8 – Adding FX and Other Sounds
Once fully tweaked you can feed the sound though some extra effects and processor. I’ve used a Scream distortion unit to add some tube crunch and delay unit to add a little space. To show you the sound interacting with another element, I have added a simple kick drum loop.
Now try the whole process with some of your sounds and try using different parameters and mixing several twisted loops together!
Final Loop Mix
- Reason 4 Source Files
- Dr. REX Loop