The Reason Malstrom Synthesizer

(From The Reason Manual)

There are a number of different synthesis methods for generating sound. There is e.g. Subtractive Synthesis (which is used in Reason's other synth - the Subtractor), FM Synthesis and Physical Modelling Synthesis to mention but a few.

To give you a clear understanding of the inner workings of the Malström, it might be in order with a brief explanation of what is calledl Graintable Synthesis.

What we refer to as Graintable Synthesis is actually a combination of two synthesis methods; Granular Synthesis and Wavetable Synthesis.

In granular synthesis, sound is generated by a number of short, contiguous segments (grains) of sound, each typically between 5 to 100 milliseconds long. The sound is varied by changing the properties of each grain and/or the order in which they are spliced together. Grains can be produced either by a mathematical formula or by a sampled sound. This is a very dynamic synthesis method with a lot of variation possibilities, although somewhat hard to master and control.

Wavetable synthesis on the other hand, is basically the playback of a sampled waveform. An oscillator in a wavetable synth plays back a single period of a waveform, and some wavetable synths also allow the possibility of sweeping through a set of periodic waveforms. This is a very straightforward synthesis method that is easily controlled, but somewhat limited in variation possibilities.

The Malström combines these two into a synthesis method that provides a very flexible way of synthesizing sounds with incredible flux and mutability.

It works like this:

  • The oscillators in the Malström play back sampled sounds that are subject to some very complex processing and cut up into a number of grains. From here on, these sounds will be referred to as Graintables
  • This results in a set of periodic waveforms (a graintable) that, when spliced together, play back the original sampled sound.
  • This can then be treated just like a wavetable. I.e. It is possible to sweep through it. Move through it at any speed without affecting pitch. Play any section of it repeatedly. Use it to pick static waveforms. Jump between positions. Etc. etc.

Detailed Description of Malstrom Functions

Experiment With The Malstrom Synthesizer Assignment