How to stack Combinators in Reason 7.1 & older versions

You can stack Combinator devices in Reason. Thanks to the new browser which was introduced in Reason 8, it’s just a matter of dragging and dropping devices/patches into the Reason rack. I will explain this in detail, tomorrow. But for users of Reason 7.1 or older versions this takes a little more effort, but nevertheless it can be done.

Stacking Combinators is something I mention in the manual of my Rockmen ReFill because its presets are meant to be combined. Well, let’s start.

Step 1: create an audio track

  • Create a new audio track from the Reason menu and select the interface input channel your guitar is connected to.
  • Make sure the speaker icon is activated (green light) and play some notes to see if your input level is ok. The audio should not be clipping, if so put the input volume of your audio interface a little lower. The trick is to set the input gain as loud as possible but just before the input starts to clip.

Step 2: create an insert effect for the audio track (method A)

When you click on Show Programmer you can browse for an insert patchinsert-fx-patch. When you select a patch the insert FX device will show parameters you can adjust just like a Combinator but without a special skin/Backdrop.

insert-FX

Step 2: create an insert effect for the audio track (method B)

But there’s an alternative way to add an insert effect to the audio channel which I prefer because it will show the Combinator including the skin/Backdrop.

  • Right-click on the free black area just below the audio track. A menu is shown:

Create-effect

  • Select Create Effect…
  • Choose a patch you want to use (for example an AMP preset of my Rockmen ReFill).
  • Unfortunately Reason will not automatically connect the Combinator to the audio track as insert (it will connect the Combinator effect to a FX send of the Master Section!) , so you need to reconnect the device.
  • Press the TAB-key which will flip the rack.
  • Now unplug the Combinator, click on Show Insert FX and connect the Combinator as an insert effect like this:

rack-insert

  • If the Combinator effect is a mono effect (like the AMP presets of the Rockmen ReFill for example) you don’t have to connect the right channel. You only need to make cable connections using the L(eft) channels. You can add the R(ight) cable(s) as well, but it simply won’t be used (no audio will run through the cable).

Pat yourself on the back: you have added a Combinator as an insert effect for the audio track.

Step 3: stack a second Combinator

  • Right-click on the free black area just below the Combinator device you’ve added in step 2.

Create-effect

  • Select Create Effect…
  • Choose a patch you want to use (for example an DLY preset of my Rockmen ReFill).
  • Thankfully Reason now automatically connects the Combinator in the right way! Take a look:

2combis

  • Both Combinator effects are chained in serial as insert effects for the audio track. This means the audio input is running through Combinator 1 first and then goes through Combinator 2. We could also say: Combinator 2 comes after Combinator 1. And if you have selected an amp simulation effect as Combinator 1 (as I was suggestion using my Rockmen ReFill) and a delay (DLY) effect as Combinator 2 this makes a signal chain of stacked Combinators which is very common for guitar users: where a delay unit is often placed AFTER the amp.

But what if we want to put the Combinator 2 effect BEFORE Combinator 1? We can move Combinator 2 and place it before Combinator 1 by dragging and dropping the device but when  you do so the cables will stay the same because they are connected to the units. So the sound will not be any different. What we need to do is replug the devices, like this:

combis-swapped-replugged

Hurray you’ve done a great job! You’ve reversed the effects chain. The signal of the audio track now enters the Combinator 2 first (the delay) and then goes through Combinator 1 (the AMP).

WYSIWYG

The cool thing about Reason is: What You See Is What You Get. It takes a bit of time to fully understand the concept of devices with cables, but when it does click you will “see” how the signal is processed by the Reason devices simply by looking at how they are connected. Try the above instructions a few times to get familiar with it and then think about how you can add/stack even more effects to the effects chain.

English is not my native language so if I am a little unclear here and there, let me know and I will try to clear things up for you. Just leave your comments if there’s anything to ask!

Tomorrow I will write how to stack Combinators in Reason 8 and 9 by dragging and dropping presets from the browser. After that I will update the manual of Rockmen ReFill with these instructions.


Also published on Medium.

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