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.