ReCycle is the application that started it all for Sweden's Propellerhead Software. A landmark application that single-handedly spawned a whole new way of thinking, ReCycle enabled users to force loops to change tempo or pitch just as easily as with MIDI. And it was truly wonderful. Throughout the years, this product has matured and expanded. Now, version 2.1 is available, with some major improvements.
LOCK AND LOAD
ReCycle does a lot for your loops: You can change tempo without affecting pitch, change pitch without affecting tempo, quantize drum loops or apply a groove map, extract a groove map for application to another loop (even a MIDI loop), replace individual sounds in a drum loop, edit the playing of the loop without changing the basic feel, remove sounds from a loop and process loops with effects. Most of this functionality has always existed, but version 2.1 adds and improves. For example, Mac OS X support is now included, along with true Windows XP support. Version 2.1 also adds multiple levels of undo — very important when working with loops. What's more, 24-bit resolution is now supported. But the really big news is the inclusion of Reason Adapted and Reload. The former is a stripped-down version of Reason that grants you access to three Dr.Rex loop players, one NN-XT Advanced Sampler, one RV7000 Advanced Reverb, a mixer, the Reason sequencer and a bank of sounds; the latter, Reload, allows you to import Akai samples.
Dr.Rex players are Propellerhead's proprietary ReCycle playback units. They enable loop tweaking and are an important staple in Reason. The NN-XT is a full-featured sampler, and the RV7000 Reverb is a high-quality processor. Once you slice up some loops with ReCycle, you immediately have a platform in which they are usable. This is not everything that you need to create music, but it's a good start.
Also included with the ReCycle 2.1 kit is Reload, which converts Akai S1000 and S3000 formatted samples into versions usable by Reason, ReCycle and other applications. It's nice to pull out those old Akai-formatted disks and easily convert them into a format that's instantly available on the computer. I've already dusted off a handful of old sounds and used them.
SLICE AND GO
Briefly, the process of “ReCycling” a loop begins with importing a segment of audio that you wish to process. Once the audio is imported, a Sensitivity slider (not unlike Digidesign Pro Tools' Strip Silence) determines the threshold at which the individual slices are marked. You can add or remove individual slices if the automatic slicing does not accomplish precisely what you want. Once the loop is established and sliced, you can then compress the loop with the Envelope processor, with Attack, Decay and Stretch parameters. Stretch extends the decay of each slice while leaving the natural attack. When slowing a loop down, this is awesome. ReCycle's Transient Shaper works like a compressor, except it works on individual slices. Furthermore, the Threshold, Amount, Attack and Release parameters are tweakable, and this process enabled me to get that supercompressed sound that is so popular in jungle and drum 'n' bass. The Equalizer gives you low and high cut, which are both adjustable in terms of frequency. The slope is not ultrasteep, but there is just a bit of resonance at the cutoff. There are also two completely parametric bands, low and high, with controls for frequency, boost/cut and Q.
ReCycle has always been a powerful and necessary tool, and the new version updates that important function nicely. The inclusion of Reason Adapted and Reload makes it a nice value. In case you've been living under a rock and you don't already own the full version of Reason 2.5, the company is currently offering $100 off the full version for registered Reason Adapted users.
PROPELLERHEAD (DIST. BY M-AUDIO)
RECYCLE 2.1 > $249; $76
(UPGRADE FROM V. 1.x); $17 (UPGRADE FROM V. 2.0)
Pros: Powerful, must-have application.
MAC: G3; 128 MB RAM; Mac OS 10.2 or later
PC: Pentium-compatible 300MHz or faster; 128 MB RAM; Windows 2000/XP; 16-bit Windows-compatible soundcard