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REV Walkthrough Part 1

Welcome. In today’s tutorial, I’m going to go over REV by Output. The world’s first instrument dedicated to all things reverse.

REV is a massive collection housed within four separate engines, and built within Native Instrument’s Kontakt. For those who don’t have Kontakt, the free Kontakt Player.

You’ll find that REV is made up of instruments playable in real time, in addition to loops, rises, pads, pulses, swells, plucks, and much more. Two years ago, we started on REV. We had a simple mission. We wanted to make it easy for people to create sounds in reverse.

Anyone who flips audio backwards in their production understands the process can be quite frustrating and time consuming. Sure, it’s easy to do a quick flip of a snare, but what if you want to go and double a chord progression? Or how about a melody? Or what if you want the cymbals to play backwards while the rest of the drums go forwards?

These are obviously very complex things to do.

Our first challenge was the technical one. How do we play things in reverse and in real time? Once we started recording different instruments, we began to understand that we had a whole new sound at our hands. I mean, how many people have heard a piano flipped backwards? And that becomes the source of a pad.

Or how about taking that and combining it with a reverse guitar harmonic and adding a couple delays? Or how about a synth sound like a sine wave or a saw wave? This was all new.

So we decided not to scrap our original idea, but to add to it, and in fact, we spent an extra year just adding more and more types of sounds to REV. You can read our blog for more information on the making of REV, but what I will say is in the end, what we came up with is an entire world of sounds. It’s been equally for composers or electronic artists. Producers, DJs, or songwriters and sound designers.

Really, anyone looking for something creative to help layer a track. For something to help push their own envelope in production. Reverse sounds, after all, are universal.

Today, we’ll be looking at the four engines. Instruments, loops, rises, and timed instruments.

The instrument engine is your go-to to freely play any instrument backwards, as well as to create simple or complex sounds on your own. There are almost 500 patches that are easily accessible from the main page, and organized by category.

Categories for instruments include fundamentals, which are some of our favorite one shot patches in reverse, pads, both simple and complex, pulses, swells, plucks, retron, which is the REV take on a Mellotron sound, simple, which are simple patches in reverse, like piano, electric bass, Rhodes, etcetera, slingshots, sound design, stuttered one shots, aggressive, and percussive.

All sounds are based on real instruments that we recorded at state-of-the-art studios in Los Angeles. As you’ll see, it’s easy to pull up a patch and play immediately, or to modify one. The basic concept of REV is quite simple to understand. It’s two different layers of sounds playing, controlled by the main page, which acts as a mixer.

You can turn either layer on or off by clicking here, or you can control the volume, pan, or tune here. If you ever need help, just click here, and it’ll pull up a help menu. As I mentioned, all four engines have a similar layout, so let’s start with the elements that they have in common.

On the bottom, you’ll find global effects for each engine. You can turn the effect on or off by clicking here and adjusting any of its parameters here. Effects can be turned on either by clicking the button, or they can be triggered by key if the trigger effects is turned on.

In latch mode, when you hit the note once, it stays on until you hit it again. When latch mode is off, the effects are only on while you’re pressing the key down, which is great for live performance, or if you’re triggering it from a pad.

The effects vary from engine to engine, but what you’ll find are things like bit crushers, distortion, filters, delays, reverbs, and EQ.

Also similar in each of the engines is the layout of the stutters, filters, and envelopes. On instruments and timed instruments, it’s in the layer page, and on loops and rises, it’s on the main page. Here, you’ll find our stutter control, where you can dial in the levels, rate of stutter, and whether or not you want it sync’d to tempo. If it’s sync’d, it sounds like this.

[synth, tempo sync]

If you turn the sync off, you can do all kinds of fun tricks like this.

[synth, no tempo sync]

Pitch stutter is different, in that it’s an LFO that affects the tuning in all kinds of ways.

[synth with pitch stutter]

On the right, you’ll find the typical array of filters and envelopes. Everything is automatable, so filters, sweeps, or swells, all of those are quite easy to write in.


In instruments, once you’ve found the sound you want, you can dial in the exact length with the global slider. Drag it to the left, and it’s a longer note.


[synth, longer note]

Drag it to the right, and it’s shorter.

[synth, short note]

Later in the video, we’ll show you how to make sounds from scratch, but for now, let’s just quickly alter an existing preset.


Okay, so if you change this to a pad, it’s now continuous. It’s a completely new sound.

[synth pad]

Just hit save, and don’t worry, you won’t be writing over any of our original factory patches.

Let’s move on to timed instruments. This will be a much quicker one, as timed instruments is quite similar to instruments. The main difference is that here, instruments are not played freely, but rather, by note duration. As you’ll see in the middle, we have a control with three parameters: whole note, half note, and quarter note.

Open up a session at any tempo, and you can play the notes at those lengths, without having to dial it in. It’s quite useful if you’re doubling chord progressions, or filling out a track, or even want to just have reverse percussion that hits exactly on time.

Let’s pull up a patch and see it in action.

So here, we’ve got a sound in a chord progression. Let’s hear it at half notes, maybe at 120bpm.

[synth, half notes, 120bpm]

Okay, but maybe let’s try it at 140. Now, we’re using Logic, but of course, this will work with any DAW.

Okay, and now quarter.

[synth, quarter timed]

So now, let’s switch to whole notes.

[synth, timed to whole notes]

So you get the idea.

Let’s layer another sound on top.

[layering synths]

Pretty simple.

Timed instruments is laid out the exact same way, and has the same patch types as instruments. So you’ll find yourself quite at home.

However, since it’s a different engine, it actually has a different sound to it. Some categories, like pads, that are continuous, just have an element that hits on the duration selected. For example, here’s a pad playing a half note. You’ll hear how it’s continuous, but there is something that hits at the beginning of the third beat.

[synth pad]

So it’s similar to instruments, but also quite different.




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