Reason 2.0

Propellerheads Reason is a complete music-production system emulated in software. It looks like a hardware rack containing MIDI synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, drum machines, effects devices and a mixer. Despite having its own reasonably-powerful on-board sequencing capabilities, it is also possible to use Reason simply as a rack of MIDI devices that can used with your favourite sequencer – Cubase or Pro Tools, for example – using ReWire or OMS IAC. All of Reason’s rack devices operate in a similar way to their hardware equivalents, so if you’re familiar with the hardware, you already know most of how to use this software. For example, the mixer closely resembles the Mackie 3204 rackmount model, with its 14 stereo channels, two-band EQ, and four effect sends – so you control an effect’s level. Pure Reason
Reason provides a selection of eight different effects units, including Reverb, Delay, Distortion, Chorus, Phaser, Compressor, Parametric EQ, and Envelope Controlled Filter. MIDI-controllable sound modules include the Subtractor synthesizer, NN19 sampler player, Dr Rex Loop Player – which plays REX files created in ReCycle, and Redrum, which lets you program drum patterns. There are two sequencers: the Matrix, which is a Roland-style pattern sequencer, and the main MIDI Sequencer that can record and play-back sounds from the synthesizers or sample players. Reason now offers full support for Mac OS X, and will playback samples from ReDrum and Dr Rex at 24-bit resolution. But everything looks much the same as before, until you spot the two new modules – Malström and NN-XT. Here’s where it gets more exciting. The descriptively-named Malström is a so-called graintable synthesizer with lots of interesting new sounds. It is polyphonic, and has two oscillators, two modulators, two filters, a waveshaper and plenty of modulation and routing options. The NN-XT Sampler, like NN19, lets can load samples to create a multi-sample key map and can modify the sound using LFOs, envelopes and filters. The NN-XT can also create layered sounds, and features velocity switched key maps. Velocity switching sorts out which samples in a layered key map actually sound – according to how hard or soft a MIDI keyboard is played. The Sequencer window has also been improved a lot. You can open this in a separate window from the rack so that it’s in view at all times, and you can resize and position it wherever you like on-screen. Along with the Factory CD-ROM, you now get the Orkester Sound Bank CD-ROM with Reason 2.0. This is full of patches and samples of orchestral instruments for the NN-XT. Several of the demo songs use these to great effect – letting you know just how good they are.


At the asking price, Reason has to be one of the best bargains around – whether for stand-alone use or as a rack of virtual instruments to use with your favourite sequencer.

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