I love the add-on device to Reason called Synchronous. But I should start by saying I don’t use many add-ons for Reason. I feel Reason pretty much added everything people could want with version 5 (when you had to buy both Reason and Record that then turned into what I called “Super Reason”). When you have the Combinator, the Spider Audio / CV Splitters / Mergers, the rack mixer and now the virtual SSL mixer console and the ability to edit and place audio directly in the sequencer, you pretty much have everything you need.
The Combinator is so powerful, there isn’t need for much else. But that’s for another, future topic. Because of how much Reason can do currently, there isn’t much need for 99% of the new, outside devices to be bought. But Synchronous is a little different. Here’s the intro video.
Regarding Reason having pretty much everything you need after version 5? Well Synchronous is no exception… but it really eases the complexities of doing certain things that would normally be done via CV or automation mapping.
Instead of using a device, such as a Malström to generate CV signals via an LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator) to control certain things, you can use a Synchronous in one of two ways… either directly, having curves drawn in Synchronous to control the built-in effects (distortion, filter, delay and reverb) or you can output the curve’s CV into whatever you’re wanting to control. Being able to see what your CV input would be using with Synchronous is far better than having literally no input working with LFO’s.
Synchronous even has some randomness… no, it can’t generate random curves, like a Malström’s two random LFO settings can, but you can set the offset of how long (far) each of the three curves (“1,2,3”) travel for. Instead of traveling out for four bars, if you nudged the ending to end right before the forth bar, it’ll make the step timer become out of sync with the timing. (See the screen shot with the red circle.) So, even if you have a simple saw wave form drawn out, it can shift and change when it happens each bar. That’s not too impressive with just one active curve, but when you repeat the same process with two or three curves, each having their ending time at different positions so that each curve plays differently and alters the sound that much more.
Synchronous is also useful when you simply would automate a knob or lever for a short, repeating result (such as having a panner pan left and right). Instead of doing automation, you could use Synchronous to do this. It doesn’t mean it’s necessarily any better to do it with Synchronous, but given the fact that Synchronous can be bypassed (with the bypass able to be controlled via a hardware button or automated in the song itself), it may open the doors to new or easier possibilities.
My Use Lately
I’ve been using Synchronous quite a bit lately. I’ve been creating parallel channels for sounds and using a Synchronous on the parallel channel to change things up lately based on time. This has helped me from loading, or building, complex Combinator effect patches that otherwise would include multiple devices routing CV signals from LFO generators and other complex things. All I need is a little bit of variety in order to create an evolving, altered sound. This helps reduce the DSP workload of my computer and keeps things… simple. I’m much more likely to experiment, such as adding or removing something, if it’s easy to put together.
So far, Synchronous is one of only three devices I’ve bought outside of Reason (the other two featured here). I feel it’s absolutely paid for itself. And, happily, of all the add-on device’s I’ve researched or demoed for Reason, I don’t feel I need anything more than what I have currently.
Later. – MJ