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Review of Reason 4.0

Introducing Thor and more

Propellerhead Reason (Mac and Windows)

Reason has reached the next level. Stronger, swifter and smoother to work with, Reason 4 will alter the way you create your music. Reason's new devices and features will not only inspire you to produce great tracks, they will provide you with new ways of doing so.

Propellerhead Electric Bass Reason Refill Collection (Macintosh and Windows)

The Propellerhead Reason Electric Bass ReFill puts eight fully playable electric bass guitars into your Reason rack. Featuring selectable basses and bass rigs plus a wide selection of music style patches, this ReFill lets you add dynamic, natural sounding bass lines to your productions. All instruments in the Reason Electric Basses ReFill were recorded using multiple microphones and dedicated bass amp setups, giving you full control of your overall bass sound. Based on note for note Hypersampling, these basses come complete with bends, glissandos and fret noises, making them very responsive, and very much alive.

Propellerhead Reason Premium Edition Bundle (Mac and Windows)

Reason Premium Edition gives you the award-winning Reason version 4 together with the four Hypersampled ReFills. All at a great price.

Propellerhead Piano Reason Refill Collection (Macintosh and Windows)

Reason Pianos is the perfect piano package: 3 stunning sounding, highly realistic pianos for Reason's Combinator. Reason Pianos were recorded from multiple angles, using 6 different sets of microphones. Why Because there's no one way to record a piano.


by TweakHeadz Lab

It is probably good to mention what Reason 4 is not, just in case any newbies drifted in.  If you are new, the next paragraph is important.

Reason does not record audio; it cannot send midi to external midi keyboards or synths, though it can receive midi notes and controller data from them.  Reason is a self-contained virtual synth and drum machine studio.  Its like a big, vintage synth rack.  Its good for making all kinds of electronica, hip hop beats, material for movie scores, TV commercials.  This is definitely NOT the application to use to record your band, record jam sessions, etc.  It definitely is a great tool for exploring synthesis, creating sounds, making music beds.  Though i would not use it to write orchestral scores or piano concertos, the tools exist to make that possible.  I think its greatest strength is for creating dance music, though many hip hop composers use it as their beat machine for the instrumental tracks.

You can plug Reason into a larger recording program, like Logic, Sonar, Cubase, Pro Tools LE or digital performer through a virtual patch cable system called ReWire. This basically routes Reason's outputs to your main sequencer's outputs.  This allows you to record audio with microphones in the "host" sequencer and pipe in Reason tracks in the host sequencer's mixer.  Reason is not a plugin.  It is not a VSTi or and AU.  It works by itself as a stand alone application and can make instrumental music fast and furiously.  See my earlier articles on Reason linked at the end of this article for more on the basics.

Reason 4.0 introduces 4 major features into its award winning virtual synth rack.  For a quick overview of Reason please see the previous reviews of Reason from its original release through Reason 3. 

1. Thor

2. The RPG 8 arpeggiator

3. A revamped sequencer

4. A new groove engine called re-groove.

There also appears to be better support for midi controllers and control surfaces

Finally there is a new "Premium Edition" version of Reason 4.0 which adds four Propellerhead Hypersampled ReFill sound libraries:

* Reason Drum Kits 2
* Reason Pianos
* Abbey Road Keyboards
* Reason Electric Bass

You can add the premium bundle later on if you want by ordering the Reason  Studio Combo bundle from the propellerhead Prop Shop. 



screenshot of Thor-- click to enlarge

Thor is called a "multisynthesizer" because it can become several different synths at the same time.  Let me just tell you that this synth sounds fantastic.  There are 6 oscillators in Thor 1 analogz, 2 wavetable, 3 Phase modulation, 4 FM Pair, 5 Multi-Oscillator and 5 Noise Osc.  Right there you've knocked out all the hardware synths available today.  Only the V-synth GT could have a chance (though to be fair it does may things Thor cannot do).  But oscillators are not the whole story.  You get plenty of filters (including a truly excellent sounding formant filter), envelopes, Lfos, a complete Matrix modulation section and finally a step sequencer.  Bye bye Electribe.

The resultant sounds are wide ranging, from cheap sounding CZ101 and Yamaha FB01 like chirpy synths to rich and deep analogs, wavestation like wavetable tones and totally expressive vocoder-like patches.  You can make the thing talk if you put in enough time programming.  

Fully integrated into Reason, "everything is automatable"


The RPG-8 Arpegiator

When i first heard there was a new arpeggiator my firs thought was "so?"  But once I started playing with it, i began to realize how something so simple implemented well becomes a great tool.  Remember how great the Matrix Pattern sequencer was when you first used it?  This is a different kind of arpeggiator complete with its own randomizer.


While it first glance it may not look different it takes less than a minute to realize the sequencer is drastically improved and much easier to deal with.  Those used to using the "big" MIDI sequencers such as Logic, Cubase and Sonar are going to be pleased.  Each track automatically creates "automation lanes" as you edit on the fly.  Vector automation is now supported.  Right click menus are brilliantly executed.  Basicaly, each midi tracks is comprised of "clips" each of which can have multiple lanes, and be split, copied, cut, pasted grooved, quantized .


It looks like a little pop up mixer.  Regroove lets you apply up to 32 groove patches in a song. In Reason, groove affects not only note position, but note length, velocity, and can add a variable degree of randomness. This is just the thing we need when working midi files, dr. rex files   You can make these files that are often close but not perfect to mesh properly and give the song the power of a groove.  In the mix it can help you tighten up tracks, push some ahead and others behind.  Plenty of defined grooves are supplied, plus you can actually lift groove from any midi clips you have in the sequencer. 

More on Reason 4

Reason is a nice application for most laptop computers as it can be light on the CPU and hard drives if you stick with basic synths and effects.  The more you add, of course, the more CPU gets used.  This review used Reason 4.01 on a Mac Pro using OSX 10.5.7.  I have not had a single crash.  The program feels perfectly stable. 

It appears the Props are working on a new application called Propellerhead Record.  A beta version is out as of this writing so it won't be long.  Naturally, Record is going to integrate with Reason.  This is an area to watch.  Also a great way to get into Beta Testing, if that is your bag. 

Hats off to the Propellerheads on continuing to keep Reason fresh and interesting.


The Song below was made with Reason


Comment on this review

Other articles by Tweak on Reason

Understanding and Using Reason

Review of Reason 3


Reason Users Forum

Propellerhead Record

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