Tech Tip:Computer Recording for Guitarists by Line 6, Part 4

Using Reason, Live, and POD Farm Together

By Philip De Lancie


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4



In  our previous articles on computer-based recording we've looked at  several aspects of the recording process: using an audio interface (e.g.  Line 6 POD Studio™) to  get sound into the computer, using digital audio workstation software  (Ableton® Live Lite 7) to record guitar and to sequence an accompanying  MIDI drum track, and using Line 6's POD Farm™ software to add effects,  including modeled guitar amps and cabinets. POD Farm and Live Lite are  included with all Line 6 POD Studio interfaces, giving many guitarists everything they will need to get started recording. In addition, two POD Studio interfaces (UX2 and KB37)  offer another software application, Reason® Adapted 4, which combines  with POD Farm and Live Lite to create an even more powerful package. In  this article, we'll look at how to use these programs together to  increase the range of sonic textures you have available to present your  musical ideas.


As  we've seen in earlier articles, Live itself is a very capable program,  offering not only traditional DAW recording and mixing capabilities but  also a built-in MIDI sequencer and a unique set of on-the-fly looping  features designed for live performance. Live also comes with a wide  range of synthetic and sampled sounds for use with its sequencer, as  well as audio and MIDI effects. With all this to offer, it may not be  evident at first glance what additional benefit is offered by Reason  Adapted, which is also a sequencer with sounds (sampled and synthetic)  and effects, but not an audio recorder. The answer boils down to three  main factors: variety, control, and interface.


Variety  comes from the fact that Reason provides an additional set of built-in  synth patches, sampled sounds, and audio effects to work with, giving  you greater choice and variety than you have with Live alone. And Reason  gives you extraordinarily detailed control over those sounds, allowing  you (if you choose) to tweak envelopes and filters to your heart's  content. As for interface, Reason's mimics a real rack of samplers,  synthesizers, and effects that are controlled by virtual knobs and  switches on the "front" panel and connected via virtual patch cords on  the back. This hardware-inspired look is the polar opposite of Live's  minimalist 2D aesthetic, which means that you'll likely interact with  the programs in different ways and come up with different sounds than  you would using Live alone.


Before  we delve into how these programs work together, let's briefly clarify a  couple of points about Reason Adapted. In the full version of Reason  you custom-configure your Rack by choosing components from the Tool  Window, and you can use multiple instances of any component. In the  Adapted version, the Rack is preconfigured, so while duplicates of some  components (e.g. Dr.Rex) are included there is only one instance of  others (e.g. the NN-XT sample player). Adapted also comes with a smaller  Reason Factory Sound Bank (set of included sounds), and cannot play  Refills, which are additional sounds for sale from Reason's maker,  Propellerhead Software. However, all included components offer the same  quality as in the full version, so Adapted is still very valuable as a  complement to the sounds and effects in Live Lite.


Because  there are so many different components, each of which has its own  unique controls, Reason's possibilities are endless, and there's no  space here for a comprehensive review of its capabilities. Instead we'll  stick with a simple scenario that will allow us to demonstrate using  Reason Adapted and Live Lite together.



Rhythm with Reason


Let's get started by laying down a drum loop in Reason Adapted:


»  With Reason launched and initial setup completed, you'll see the Rack  at the top of the Reason window and the Sequencer at the bottom. To give  yourself more space in each, separate the two by detaching the  Sequencer (Window menu).

» In the Rack, look for the electric blue  Dr.Rex Loop Player, which we'll use to play a ready-made drum loop. If  the component is "folded" (minimized), click the right-facing triangle  at the far left to show the hidden controls.

» Click the Browse  button (folder icon) at the upper left of the component, thereby opening  the browser dialog, and select one of the available loops (e.g.  ACS01_StrghtAhead_130.rx2), and click OK.

» Switch to the Sequencer  window with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+2 (Windows) or Cmd+2 (Mac). You  should be in the sequencer's Arrange mode, which displays a series of  horizontal tracks that each correspond to a sound source in the Rack. If  you're in Edit mode instead, toggle views with Ctrl/Cmd+E.
» Find  the track corresponding to Dr.Rex. It should contain a one-measure clip  representing the drum loop. Double-click in the name label at the far  left of the track, and enter a clever name like "Drums."

» Drag at the right of the clip to extend it out to 8 measures, which should be enough for our test sequence.

»  At the bottom of the Sequencer window you'll find Reason's Transport  controls. Enable looping with the Loop On/Off button (right of the red  record button), then set the loop to the first 8 measures using the L  and R markers in the ruler at the top of the sequencer.

» Drag the  ruler's song position marker to the start of the sequence (measure 1,  beat 1). If your computer keyboard includes a numeric keypad, you can do  this by pressing 1.

» Switch back to the Rack (Ctrl/Cmd+1) and find the fader on the mixer that's labeled "Drums." Make sure the fader is up.

»  Press play in the Transport controls (or hit your computer keyboard's  space bar). You should now hear the drum part loop until you press stop  (or hit the space bar again).



Synths and Samples


Now  let's create a synth bass clip to go along with our drum loop. Adapted  includes several synthesizer components, each with a different synthesis  method for a distinctive character. We'll use Subtractor, a polyphonic  synth that uses subtractive synthesis for a classic analog sound:

» In the Rack, find Subtractor and, if needed, unfold it with its triangle button.

»  Use the Browse button to open the browser window, then select one of  the available sounds (e.g. "Bass Guitar.zyp"), and click OK.

» Switch to the Sequencer, name the Subtractor track (e.g. "Synth bass"), and click on it to enable it for recording.

» Enter a synth bass line:
- If you have a MIDI keyboard like Line 6's POD Studio KB37 USB MIDI controller/audio interface, you can play your part while  listening to the drum loop. Check the settings of the transport's click,  pre, and quantize buttons, then click the record button and begin  playing.

- If you don't have a MIDI controller, you can enter notes  individually. Switch to Edit mode and choose the pencil tool (upper left  of sequencer). In the "piano roll" area that represents notes  (vertical) and rhythm (horizontal), click and drag to draw a clip  spanning the first two or four measures. You can then draw individual  notes within the span of the clip. When you're happy with the line,  switch back to Arrange mode and copy/paste the clip as needed to repeat  it for the remainder of our eight measure sequence.

» In the Rack,  find the mixer fader labeled "Synth bass," and make sure it's up. Hit  the space bar to hear the drums and bass together.


We now need to  add one more part, this time with a sound that's sampled rather than  synthetic. Follow the steps above, but use the NN-XT sampler as the  instrument. When browsing for the instrument's sound, choose "Strat Edge  w Mutes.sxt." Then enter some kind of melody or riff in the NN-XT's  track in the sequencer. With the NN-XT fader up in the mixer, you should  hear your melody part along with the bass and drums. By default, the  mixer's Aux 1 is assigned to Reason's Reverb component, so you can  sweeten the melody by turning up the Aux 1 send (red knob at top of  input strip).



Rewiring Reason to Live


Now  that we've got drums, bass, and a melody, we can move on to using  Reason and Live together, which will allow us to enhance Reason audio  with effects from Live (including POD Farm) and also to play live MIDI  parts on Reason instruments (samplers and synths). Note that the  following sections assume that you have already read the previous  Computer Recording for Guitarists articles that cover recording with  Live (Part 2 and Part 3).


We'll  start by enabling a cool Propellerhead technology called Rewire that  slaves Reason to Live (as well as to most other popular DAWs) so that  the two programs play back in sync:

» Save changes in Reason and quit the program.

» Launch Live.

»  Re-launch Reason. The LED display at the left of the Hardware Interface  component at the top of the Rack should now say "Rewire Slave Mode."  Audio output for both programs is via Live, and playback is controlled  by the transport controls of both programs (record functions remain  separate).


Next we'll bring the output of the Reason mixer into Live:

»  By default, a new Live session opens with one audio and one MIDI track.  In Live's Arrangement view, set the audio track's monitoring switch to  In, then select Reason from the track's Input Type chooser (drop down  menu).

» In the Input Channel chooser just below, select "1/2: Mix L, Mix R."

» Set Live to loop the first eight measures.

»  Check that the Track Activator is on (track is not muted), then press  play. You should now hear the sequence (drums, bass, and melody) from  the main L/R outputs of the Reason mixer playing in Live, and see the  mix in the meters at the right of the track.


Cross-program Synergy

With  what we've done so far you can see that by combining the two programs  Live Lite users can transcend track count limitations and Reason users  can access Live's audio recording capability, which Reason lacks. Next  we'll see how to use the two programs together to add plug-in effects to  audio from Reason, which does not itself support plug-ins:

» In Reason, press Tab to view the back of the Rack.

»  Find the patch cords that connect the sampler to the mixer, and drag  them up to inputs 3 and 4 of the Hardware Device instead. The sampler  playing the melody part will now no longer be going through the Reason  mixer.

» In Live, press play. You should hear the drums and bass,  but not the melody. Now create a new audio track and set its monitoring  to In. Set the track's Input Type chooser to Reason and its Input  Channel chooser to "3/4: Channel 3, Channel 4." Assuming that the track  is activated, you should now hear the melody part.

» In Live's  Plug-in Device Browser, find POD Farm in the Line 6 folder, and drop it  onto the melody audio track. The POD Farm window should open, and you  can then choose a single or dual POD Farm tone to apply to the melody  (see article Part 3, Applying Guitar Effects).


Another  great thing you can do with Reason and Live together is to play MIDI  tracks from the Live sequencer using instruments from Reason:

»  Start by choosing an instrument from the Reason Rack to play the MIDI  part. This time let's use the Malstrom Graintable Synthesizer. Choose a  sound by clicking on Malstrom's Browse button, then name the instrument  by double-clicking the label on the front panel.

» In Live, create a  MIDI track and set its monitoring to In. From the track's Output Type  chooser (just below the monitoring switch), choose Reason. Then, from  the Output Channel chooser just below, choose the name you used for the  Malstrom instrument. Assuming that the track is activated, you should  now hear the instrument when you play your MIDI controller. If you don't  have a MIDI controller, Live will let you play a part on your computer  keyboard (Options menu).

» Arm the MIDI track, press the master  record-enable button, and then press play. As the loop plays, Live will  record whatever you play on your controller.


» After the new clip is  recorded you can then quantize and edit it in the MIDI note editor of  Live's Clip View. You'll need to switch monitoring to Auto to hear the  track during playback. If you change the sound selected in the Malstrom  instrument, the track will play back in Live with the new sound.


The  steps above let you use Reason sounds even if you prefer to keep your  MIDI tracks in the Live sequencer alongside your audio. It also means  that you can switch to a Reason sound even if you've already sequenced a  part in Live (you must first open the Track View at the bottom right of  the Live window and delete the existing instrument assigned to the  track). This flexibility is another example of how the software included  with Line 6 POD Studio interfaces can be even more powerful when you know how make the entire package work together to bring your musical vision to life.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4