Increasing Loop Length
This repeats the original loop until the new loop length is reached, at which point the loop starts again from the beginning.
If you had a 4 beat loop – 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4 etc you wanted to increase to 8 beats, simply choose 8 from the Loop Length pull-down menu and your new loop is now 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4. The audio is unchanged.
Musically, this is handy if you want to add a variation to your loop. You could make a 4 beat loop, change the loop length to 16, then record a drop-in overwrite by clicking the Loop On/Off button during the 4th bar (assuming you’re in 4/4).
Original loop: 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4
New edit: 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 X X X X /where X X X X is the overwrite.
If the new loop length is not a multiple of the original, the loop will no longer sound unchanged.
A 4 beat loop of 1 2 3 4 / 1 2 3 4 etc increased to a loop length of 6 will become 1 2 3 4 1 2 / 1 2 3 4 1 2 etc. Experiment with when you click the loop length change, its also possible to get a loop of 3 4 1 2 3 4 / 3 4 1 2 3 4.
Writing beats/riffs by changing the loop lengths:
A loop length of 3 turned into a loop of 8 creates: 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 / 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 /etc… Perfect for all your dancehall needs!
Let’s hear an example of messing with the loop length. Here’s a funky loop by little-known artists who goes by the name of Prince:
With some looping it sounds like this:
The Pitchshifting Section
All the examples up ’til now have used a single loop at its original pitch, but, if you’ve been paying attention to the ensemble layout you’ll notice that each loop splits into two. For example, Loop1 becomes 1a and 1b. This is so you can now tune two previously identical loops differently.
This means you can detune slightly for a phased sound, create harmonies by setting the A loop to a different pitch than its respective B loop, or create tonal changes by sticking to octave multiples for pairs of loops. There’s also a cents dial for each one, so you can get all Aphexy and microtonal.
Here’s some audio examples of the pitch shifting in action. This is the effected harp loop we made earlier with the input section:
Hear it pitched down an octave. Recognisable still, but sloth-like!
Now here’s the Original Signal plus the Octave down. Notice how adding the lower octave thickens up a sound very nicely. Also note how the lower octave is lagging behind time-wise. This sounds lovely to me and is caused by the buffering in the granular stretching.
Original Signal plus two Octaves down. You get some really subtle sympathetic sub tones. So nice…
Original plus a fifth down (-5 semitones). Now here’s where the fun starts. Gorgeous new harmonies!
Pitching things up also give interesting results (ask Kayne West). Twinkly glitch artefacts are added into the audio as it’s stretched:
Adding that to the original signal gives nice results:
Finally, using an octave up and an octave down together without the original pitch sounds lush:
So you get the vibe: The pitch shifting thickens and beefs up the sound, making it sound better than it did.
Want More Glitch? Clicking and dragging the BPM of your DAW/Reaktor when there is a loop playing back creates all manner of glitches which then become part of the loop. It sounds like scrubbing through the audio, which I guess it actually is.
Here’s our trusty harp sample with some tempo dragging action
Processed has two output modes. It defaults to stereo but sixteen outputs (eight stereo) are available by clicking the output mode selector over to ’16 Outs’ and then toggling to Reaktor’s ‘B’ view. This is designed so that you can multitrack record everything in to your DAW.
|Reaktor Output||Processed Output|
|15/16||Input Send Level|
Note that Loop 4b gets the chop in 16 Outs Mode as I figured it was more important to have the input send level as the final stereo pair.
There’s a page in the Processed Manual on setting this up with Ableton Live, which I use, might save you some time messing with Live’s inputs etc… If you use Live, check the ins and out setup in my Live Session below:
All eight tracks are audio tracks, with the ‘Reaktor5 FX 16×16’ AU/VST running Processed on track 1. Note now tracks 2-7 have audio coming from track 1, and the sub-menu in tracks 2-7 selects each consecutive Reaktor pair of inputs. Ensure the monitoring is set to ‘In’ for all tracks.
Reaktor is a D.I.Y. instrument and effect making heaven. It costs less than a single boutique stomp box and gives you a whole world of endlessly hackable sound toys. For me, it’s the best of both worlds: It’s not so computery that you need to know how to code, while not being so hands on that you need to know about electrical components and own a soldering iron.
Best of all for me is that you can hack bits off your favourite ensembles and join them all together. That’s exactly what I did with Processed. It’s not pretty under the hood and there are bits I’m not as familiar with, but this is how it’s built…
There are four main sections; the Input Mode selector (yellow), FX (orange), Loops & Pitchshifting (red) and Output options (pink).
The Input Mode is a simple button toggling between a mono or stereo input. The FX section is a hacked Fusion Reflections ensemble (part of the Reaktor 5 library) with some add-ons. Here’s a look at the Fusion Reflection structure:
I added Rotor and Reverb macros. The Rotor comes from Banaan Electrique guitar amp simulator (more Reaktor library).
The way I designed the interface was to find the sweetspots for each of the FX, display two key controls and then hide the remaining parameters. The Processed front panel simply wouldn’t allow too many extra variables, so they had to go. I think that finding the middle ground between usability and complexity is one of the trickiest things to get right when designing ensembles in Reaktor.
Loops & Pitchshifting
The looping engine was hacked from a stuttering buffer effect I found in the User Library called Syncskipper, an ensemble written in 2004 by Ingo Zobel. This was a prime mash-up era effect and looked like this:
You just click the mouse in the grey panel and stuttering loops were yours until you let go of the mouse. It sounds like this:
I changed the loop button’s mode from a gate to a toggle function, so you don’t have to hold the mouse down to keep a loop engaged. Syncskipper would do loops as short as 1/256 all the way to a full bar (4 beats). I got in and changed the properties so that the shortest loop was one beat and the longest was 64 beats (16 bars).
Just tweaking the properties on someone else’s macro turned it into a completely different beast. Here’s what I was left with:
Getting an ensemble to look flash seems to be essential these days. I spent far too long in Photoshop trying to get it looking decent. Early feedback suggests that the Processed layout it too bright though! So, if you need to tone it down, here’s a link to the panel layout graphics, which you can do what you like with.
I need to pay some respect to everyone’s favourite Reaktor creator Boscomac. I stole the knobs off his Snowflake ensemble. Thanks! I’m so in love with the ability to modify other people’s good work in Reaktor, even if it’s just to borrow a simple knob graphic.
Snowflake is an amazing magical twinkly sound generator, well worth checking out.
This is my home studio where I use Processed to write and record. My Rode NT-55 condenser mic is clipped onto the desk and points at the harp.
- I monitor using headphones, so there’s no feedback. I use my UC-33 Midi Controller (in front of the second screen) to access most of Processed’s functions so I don’t need to use the mouse. I can get to everything except changing the loop lengths this way.
- I’m using Processed in sixteen-outs mode running in Live.
- The faders on the UC-33 are mapped to the volume of the eight stereo tracks in Live that Processed is running on.
- I’ve assigned four buttons on the UC-33 to work as the four Loop On/Off toggle muttons.
- I’ve assigned another five buttons on the UC-33 to work as the Dry, Echo, Delay, Verb and Trem On/Off buttons, so I can choose my input effects quickly and easily.
- Lastly in the foreground is my beloved harp. It took four years to save for and cost 20 grand [assuming this $AUS – Ed.] Makes software seem so cheap!
That’s it! Please have fun with the ensemble and I’d love to hear what you make with it. Please post links in the comments here or in the ensemble entry in the Reaktor User Library so we can all hear them. Lastly, here’s one more track I made entirely with Processed:
- Download Processed here.
- Download Kris Keogh’s other Reaktor stuff here.
- Listen to Processed Harp Works, Volume 2 here.