Interview with Ed Gool of Oenkenstein Audio about designing Rumble for Reason

photo by: Peter Dullaart

Ed Gool = Oenkenstein Audio. I know Ed for many years. He’s a Dutch Reason college who also lives in the same place as I do, The Hague. We often meet at the weekly ‘Opuh Koffie’ The Hague. Such a small Reason world it is…

Yesterday Ed released his first Reason Rack Extension: the Rumble K1 Granular Synthesizer. Time to ask Ed a few questions about it!

Ed, you are long time Reason user isn’t it?

Yes, I knew the now legendary Rebirth and when Reason 1.0 was released went to a local guitar center to buy a copy. It seems ages ago. Reason has come a long way.

What sets Reason apart from its competition (Live, Cubase, ProTools etc) in your opinion?

Most important is that Reason with it’s stock devices does not crash. It is not nice to have your DAW shut down while mixing a project. Collaboration is very easy: The self contain settings enables me to transfer just one single file to another user. The Rack paradigm is great, it is like working in a real studio full with toys. CV or control voltage is one of Reason’s unique features and together with Reason’s modular approach, it opens a whole new world for sound designers. Last, but not least: Reason works on both PC and Mac, can sync with external apps via Ableton Link and has it’s own music platform, which I just discovered recently: Allihoopa.

How did you about creating your own Rack Extension for Reason?

I wanted to replace defect keys on an old Kawai K1 Digital synthesizer from 1985, but was afraid to damage the ROM with all the sound samples and other parts, so decided to make a backup of the device. It started with sampling the basic waveforms from the Kawai K1 and making a Refill containing all the single and multi instrument patches from the K1, build with a combinator, line mixer and eight NN-XT samplers.

When I heard about Propellerhead’s Instrument Developer Toolkit (IDT), I took the plunge into the developers world and start converting the Refill into an IDT Rack Extension.

How much time did it take to build Rumble?

The build of the Refill started in May 2016 and laid the basis for coding the Rack Extension, which started in November 2016. The coding took three or four weeks. The graphic user interface took seven months. The beta test started in May 2017 and with the release of Rumble it took 14 months of daily work in total.

Tell me a little bit about the Reason community and how they got involved in making patches and even doing some sampling for Rumble.

Without knowing what to expect, I got a warm bath at Reasontalk, a Reason dedicated forum with the ability to host a complete beta test environment for developers. In just a few days, sufficient beta testers joined the project, a first sign of the involvement of Reason users and forum members with the project. Meanwhile at Reasonistas, a Reason orientated community on Facebook, the owner started to ‘leak’ screen shots of the first stages of the Rumble K1 GUI and it got quite some response. All this for free, without asking. Amazing!

Then the beta testers started to share their thoughts, suggestions and… patches. A professional sound designer came with an offer to make patches and send them in for free. Beta testers started to make field, studio and home recordings to include in the sample bank of Rumble. Platzangst (user can be found at Reasontalk) came with some pretty weird recordings of electro magnectic fields with an Elektrosluch. Users from Vietnam and France joined the idea of making a kind of international counting translator database and did some recordings. Giles Reaves, although very busy with his Proton RE, allowed me to use his suspended cymbals, previously packed as a gift to the Reason community in a refill. Also suggestions were made and advise given on how to handle Remote. A Remote map was created by a beta tester.

I must say, I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the beta testers and also got emotional from time to time. The Reason community is something special, very gentle and a beacon of hope for the future.

The only thing I can do in return is give these people a free license of Rumble, or make a donation, but they really deserve more.

You created an IDT RE which is script based, that sounds easier than it is right?

Well, the script part is not difficult if you have some programming skills and even if you are a novice, you can learn the languages and procedures needed to make an IDT quickly. The conversion from a Refill, based on for example an NN-XT, might give some headache in the beginning, but once a developer has done all the steps to compile a working test version, the making of a sample bank and scripting is just every days work at the office.

The graphics part of creating a Rack Extension is bound to strict rules and you have to invest a lot of time to get a decent graphic user interface. Rumble had more than 80 revisions, so beware if you think this is an easy part of the production.

Are you already thinking about a next product?

Yes. There will be a Rumble K2 with less knobs on the front panel, the ability to fold/unfold panels, smooth scrolling through waveloop samples, a more versatile modulation matrix and lots and lots more. Rumble K2 will contain most of the suggestions done during the beta testing, but also suggestions of regular users now Rumble K1 is released. There are more ideas, but some have to wait with implementation until the developers library or SDK allows Audio In in an IDT.

Now with VST added to Reason 9.5 aren’t you afraid VST will overshadow any RE future development?

We have to see what the future brings. It overshadows the Rack Extension market already. There are, let’s say, 100.000 VST’s and ‘just’ 500 Rack Extensions, but this Rack Extension format is too cool to lose it’s solid ground and Rack Extensions will continue to be made in future by developers and supported by Propellerhead. In this case, numbers do not count in my opinion, but quality does.

Well, thank you so much for the questions, but let’s make some music. Let’s Rumble!

You can find Rumble in the Propellerhead Webshop. Or go to the Oenkenstein website for more information.


Also published on Medium.

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