To handle the audio outputs there’s a Mixer in the rack, based on the popular Mackie 3204 rackmount model. This has fourteen stereo channels, a basic two-band EQ section, and four effect sends. You get a bunch of effects units as well, including the RV-7 Digital Reverb, the DDL Digital Delay Line, the D-11 Foldback Distortion, the CF-101 Chorus/Flanger, the PH-90 Stereo Phaser, the COMP-01 Compressor/limiter, the PEQ2 Two Band Parametric EQ, and the ECF-42 Envelope Controlled Filter. The latter is a synth-style resonant filter with three filter modes, and you can use a drum machine or the Matrix sequencer to trigger its envelope to get some “nasty” sounds. You can always start out with an empty rack and add devices as needed, and the default song opens with a useful selection of devices already there for you to work with. But what if you want to change the routings? Just press the Tab control on your computer keyboard, and the rack “turns around” to reveal the back panels of the equipment. Here, you can see the connections between devices indicated by virtual patch cables. Connections between instrument devices and mixers use red cables, connections to or from effect devices use green cables, and CV connections use yellow cables. Simply make your connections by clicking and dragging from one socket to another on the back panels. It’s easy to get plenty happening right away with the sequencer. Just hook up a MIDI keyboard and record into any of the sequencer tracks. You can use up to seven MIDI inputs if you have a multi-port MIDI interface. This makes it possible to use several MIDI controllers, and play and tweak each device independently. The left part of the sequencer area is the track list, showing the names of the sequencer tracks. The columns in this list allow you to connect tracks to devices, route MIDI and mute or solo tracks. The right part of the sequencer area has two main modes: the Arrange view and the Edit view. With Arrange view selected, you see the tracks lined up vertically with recorded events indicated as coloured bars (red for notes, yellow for pattern changes, and blue for controllers). Here you can cut-&-paste patterns to arrange your Song. The Edit view offers more detailed control for editing notes, pattern changes, controller data, and so forth. And you can have several Reason Songs open at the same time. Each will appear in a separate Reason window, complete with rack, sequencer and transport bar areas. When you’ve created a complete song, you can record your mix to a tape, CD or DAT recorder – or mix down to an audio file using Export .
Reason has to be the best value for money around when it comes to software for synthesizing popular MIDI and audio devices. The sounds are great, and you can incorporate your own samples. You can also control external devices or sync up with a conventional MIDI+ audio sequencer. OK, so it isn’t really going to replace hardware racks overnight, but it does mean that just about anyone can now afford to get a game started with their own hi-tech MIDI rack.