Creating Full On Acid Sounds With The ABL2 in Reason

It’s official; acid will never die and everybody loves a 303! If you agree with this and you use Reason then it's time to check out Audiorealism's 303 clone in the form of a rack extension!  

It’s official; acid will never die and everybody loves a 303! If you agree with this and you use Reason then I have some very good news for you, Audiorealism have produced a 303 clone in the form of a Rack Extension.

Couple this little acidic gem with an analog style step sequencer, some heavy tube distortion and a good dose of tape echo and you have possibly the best software acid machine out there. Here’s how...


Installing And Loading The ABL2

First things first, you will need to make sure you have the ABL2 installed on your system. As it’s a Rack Extension, the only place you can get it is at the official Propellerheads store. As is the case with all other Rack Extensions, you have the choice of running a 30-day unlimited trial or purchasing it outright.

The ABL2 in the Prop shop.

The ABL2 in the Prop shop.


Loading the ABL2 in Reason.

Loading the ABL2 in Reason.


Whichever option you go for, once downloaded installation is a breeze. You will see a download area and then the ABL2 will be available as an instrument in your rack. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. 

The ABL2 in the rack.

The ABL2 in the rack.


Firing Up The Matrix Sequencer

The ABL2 can be triggered straight from your keyboard but if you want to create authentic acidic sequences, you should think about using the Matrix Pattern Sequencer. This will allow you to access real step sequencing.

Creating The Matrix.

Creating The Matrix.


If you create a Matrix directly below the ABL2, the CV connections needed to use the devices together will automatically be made for you. Once connected, any notes entered into the Matrix grid will immediately trigger the ABL2.

The automatic routing is complete.

The automatic routing is complete.


Programming An Acid Style Pattern

I have used the Matrix to program a pretty authentic acid sequence here. The real trick is to use the occasional ‘tie’ within the sequence. This will essentially create an overlap between a couple of notes, in turn this produce a glide effect between these notes. This is an effect that was synonymous with the TB-303.

The acid sequence is programmed within The Matrix.

The acid sequence is programmed within The Matrix.


The basic sequence plays back:



I also engaged the swing function at this point to add a little groove to proceedings. This is just an on/off feature so there isn’t much room for experimentation here!

The swing function is useful for adding a little groove.

The swing function is useful for adding a little groove.


Some swing is added to the pattern:



Tweaks And Distortion 

Now it’s time to add some attitude to the sequence. The ABL2 has a great analog style distortion built into its interface. Here, a generous amount of distortion and drive were added to the sound.

Adding distortion and drive.

Adding distortion and drive.


The distortion and drive gets cranked:



Also try adding a solid dose of resonance, some envelope modulation and some extra decay. When combined with the distortion, these effects produce a really authentic, up front sound. 

The synth parameters are tweaked.

The synth parameters are tweaked.


The extra resonance and modulation add character:



Automation And Echo

To finish, the cutoff frequency was automated. This added some welcome movement to the pattern. To take this a step further, ‘The Echo’ was used to add some simple delay.

Automation is used to add movement to the filter.

Automation is used to add movement to the filter.


The final sequence with automation and effects:



The Echo is used to open the pattern up a little.

The Echo is used to open the pattern up a little.


So there you have it, straight up acid style analog synth lines in a few easy steps. Although you were already able to create similar sounds in Reason, the ABL2 has made it a whole lot easier.


Find out more about ABL2 here.

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software tha... Read More

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