Making A Fat Lead Using Propellerhead Reason's Europa Synth

Reason 10 comes with the mighty Europa Shapeshifting Synthesizer. While it has some awesome presets, making your own can be even better. Here's how to create a really fat lead.   

1. Reset the synth

The module will load with a preset already present so to get back to zero you will need to make sure the instrument is selected in the Rack then go to the Edit menu and choose Reset Device. This will put it back into a vanilla state. 

2. Change the waveshape

Only Engine 1 will be active now and it will have the most basic wave shape loaded. Go to the wave select menu and change it to Saw-Triangle. Then use the Shape knob to modify its shape. Changing this will change the wave quite a lot. Don’t worry about changing the tuning yet, we’ll get to that later. 


3. Add a Modifier

Modifiers are powerful tools for altering the waveshape. From the Modifier menu select one - here I have chosen Downsample - and dial some in with the Amount knob. You can also add some LFO if you like using the LFO dial, though it’s not essential at this point. Then try adding a second modifier from the second slot. 


4. Bring in a second engine

Now go back to the Engines section and repeat the steps above, this time introducing a second oscillator. Choose a wave shape and modifier if you like. Here I have chosen a Pulse Width wave and added hard sync and self multiply modifiers in varying amounts. Then I have detuned this oscillator down one octave using the Oct knob to add some weight and bottom end to the sound. Already, we have something sounding far bigger than we did at the start, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. 


5. Spectral Filtering

At this point you can try switching on the Spectral Filter section and making some settings. Use it to sharpen up or fatten out the nature of the sound depending what your aims are. The Harmonics section can also be used to add further sonic elements and textures. 


6. Unison mode

Now on to the cool part - the small but powerful Unison section. Remember that all the sections in this area of the synth apply separately to each oscillator and it’s not until the next stage that the sounds actually get mixed together in the mixer section. So all the settings you have made so far apply separately to each oscillator and will become available when an oscillator is selected. So in this case, try dialling in Unison for each of the two engines using different settings.  The dropdown menu under the display lets you choose harmonics, and Count, Blend and Spread control richness and stereo position. You can detune the unison voices too, although this may quickly start to sound quite wobbly if pushed.  

7. One more oscillator…

Now, for fun, activate the third oscillator and make settings as before. In this example I have added some modifiers and unison as well as selecting quite a chaotic wave shape and pitching it up two octaves. This gives the sound some movement at the top end and really works. 

8. Mix it up

In the next section down you are able to mix together each of the three engines to get a better blend of the sounds as well as panning each of them within the stereo field. You can also use the filter controls to selectively assign any or all of the engines to the next filter section, and shape each of them accordingly. By using these sections you can really quickly sculpt your sound and make sweeping changes, adding interest and dynamism. 


9. Add some movement

Now you can have some fun by using the Envelope and LFO sections to add movement to different parts of the signal. As an example, try selecting oscillator 1 (remember each engine can be controlled independently) and then in the Modifier section, apply some LFO to one or both modifiers by raising the relevant knob. In the LFO section towards the bottom of the synth, try changing the shape and frequency of the LFO to alter the movement effect. Repeat with one or both of the remaining oscillators if you like. Each one can use different settings and one of three LFOs or four Envelopes. 


10.  Go even deeper

If you want to get really deep, the modulation matrix at the base of the synth provides a way to route many different modulation parameters to different parts of the synth, with variable amounts. This can include CV inputs from elsewhere, performance controllers and even random values. In the case of this patch it’s already sounding really fat and dynamic so perhaps a few effects is all we need to really polish it up. 


11. Add FX for polish

The effect section at the bottom right hand corner of the synth provides some simple but useful effects to process the whole signal, independently of any external effect modules you might be using. To turn them on use the button under their name and then use their individual controls to make settings. You’ll find that with this patch, perhaps adding a little crunch with the distortion stage and maybe some delay for depth and space can really help finish off the sound nicely. 


12. Save the patch 

As with any patch in Reason that you have spent time making, it’s sensible to save it out so that it can be accessed from any future projects or even shared with others. Use the button in the synth’s header with the disk icon and assign it a name. Save it somewhere sensible and you’ll see it appear in the .repatch format. You can download the patch from this link and use it in your own productions. Consider recreating it by following the steps and see if you can end up with your own version!

 Learn more about Reason and Europa with the pro video courses in the AskAudio Academy

Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues and jazz too much to resist. Graduating from bands to composition then production, he relishes the chance to play anything with keys. A sometime lecturer in videographics, music production and photography post production, Hollin has been a freelance w... Read More


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