Anyone can learn how to chop samples in the Reason DAW. There are at least four different ways to chop samples in Reason, and each of them has their own pros and cons.
Note – this post may contain affiliate links, which means that I receive a commission if you purchase through them, nonetheless, this did not affect which products I recommend.
Update (2/2/18): These days I’m pretty much exclusively using Serrato Sample (affiliate link) to chop samples. It is like the future of sampling. It makes chopping so fast and easy! Much better than any of the methods described below, but it costs $99.
You can use the sequencer, Kong, Dr. OctoRex, NN19 or the NN-XT. This article will tell you how to chop hip hop vocals in Reason and explore when you may want to use each of the devices.
And if you’re looking for a good source of vocal samples for Reason to chop, I’d recommend Loopmasters (affiliate link). I get most of my samples from their massive library.
Reason 9 added a bunch of new features to the sequencer that may make the Reason 9 sequencer the most powerful sequencer in the Reason DAW workspace.
As far as I'm concerned, it added the best way to chop samples in Reason, which you can see how to do here. Basically, you can create your own Rex loops in the sequencer in just a couple clicks, then use Dr. OctoRex to chop them up!
The huge benefits of using the sequencer – unlike Kong, NN19, and the NN-XT – are that you can time stretch a sample without affecting the pitch. And you can change the key of the sample without affecting the tempo.
These two features are huge.
Here’s an in-depth video tutorial on using Propellerhead’s Reason sequencer to chop samples.
But wait, there’s more….
Using Reason’s sequencer, you can easily edit the pitch of individual notes and move the time of transients. You also have access to the formant control to create unique effects.
And it also makes it really easy to cut tails, mute small sections and re-arrange fragments.
The downside to chopping samples in Reason’s sequencer is that it’s not very creative.
When you use Reason’s sequencer to chop samples, you’re not going to be able to use a keyboard. Instead you need to hunt through your sample library and place the samples you want directly on the sequencer timeline to use them.
As a result, it doesn’t lead to nearly as many happy accidents as the other methods, and can be quite time consuming.
The Kong is my preferred way of chopping samples in Reason. To me it feels the most natural and musical, like old school hip hop chops.
Aside from feeling highly musical, chopping samples with Kong has a few other benefits. You can use the pad groups to create mute and choke groups, easily set up round robins, and get easy access to certain effects only available in Kong (there’s a workaround for this, though).
Here’s an in depth video on chopping vocal samples in Kong.
The big downside to the Kong (aside from the pitch and timing issues mentioned above), is that it’s a bit of a pain to actually set the sample start and end point.
Dr. Octo-Rex is probably my favorite way of chopping samples in Reason. It makes it really easy to pick slices, apply the most typical types of filtering, and loop things, if necessary.
You can easily make quick changes to the sound of individual slices, like reversing them, changing the pitch, or volume. However, it’s not that easy to move the location of the slices. You’ve basically got to convert the loop to an audio track, then move around the slice points. Then reconvert to Rex. The video details this more.
But yea, moving slices in Dr. Octo-Rex ain’t the easiest.
Reason’s NN-XT Sampler is a super powered tool for creating complicated layers of sampled sound. Learning how to chop samples in Reason using the NN-XT is very similar to chopping samples in the Kong. In fact, the sampler used in Kong is just a striped down version of the NN-XT sampler. So if you understand the basics of setting the stop and start times from the Kong video, you’re off to a good start.
When you first create an NN-XT, you’ll want to right click on the interface and select “Reset Device.” This will clear out the current samples. From there, you want to click on the tab to expand the NN-XT’s “remote editor” and click on the file icon to load up your sample.
When sampling in Reason’s NN-XT, you can easily layer multiple samples. You can also chromatically map the samples across the keyboard, or just assign them to one note each. Please note that when chopping samples in the NN-XT, changing the pitch will effect the speed of the sample. Sometimes this creates cool effects, so experiment with it.
The NN-XT also provides a ton of tools for modify the pitch, amplitude, filtering, and velocity, among other things, of each sample. When used well, these additional tools can add a lot to a performance. However, if you don’t need the full flexibility these tools provide, it is often simpler to chop samples in Reason using the NN-19 or the sequencer.
And, of course, here is a detailed video on how to do it.
The NN-19 is really just a stripped down version of the NN-XT. It’s easier and faster to load samples in the NN-19, and it provides a little less strain on your CPU.
The cost is that you have fewer filtering and modulation options, and layering samples isn’t nearly as powerful.
But if you are perfectly content with the sample you’ve got, there’s no need to use the more complex NN-XT, and this is probably the most light weight way how to chop samples in Reason.
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