- Band Management
- Home Recording
- Live Sound
- Best Instruments
- New Music & Video
Offering new devices for melody building, improved pitch editing, and workflow enhancements, Reason 9 from Propellerhead moves closer to competing with more popular DAWs. Here’s what to expect.
Reason 9 introduces Players which work with MIDI to efficiently create melodies or effects while expanding creative opportunities. Fitting perfectly with Reason’s Eurorack setup, Players are stackable, so they can be used together in several different combinations.▼ Article continues below ▼
Note Echo is the most straightforward player to use; playing one note translates into an instrument as being played several times. Offering more control than a traditional delay, each “echoed” note’s velocity, pitch, speed, and more are adjustable. Stacking it with one or both of the other players is highly recommended and where this player’s simplicity shines.
Scales and Chords offers two modes in one device – Scales corrects each MIDI note played so it never ventures outside of the chosen key and scale, of which there are many – no need for music theory! Paired with the adjacent Chords setting, a note becomes a chord, with settings to make chords as simple or as dense as needed. House music stabs become addictively easy. Make chords too complicated and some odd notes may appear, so for myself I found it best to keep it simple.
Dual Arpeggiator builds off of Reason’s classic RPG-8. As the name suggests, two arpeggiators can be used simultaneously. The amount of control available within each arpeggiator independently of the other is where this player shows its strength. Combined with Scales and Chords, notes in a chord can be broken down in one arpeggiator while the second can be set in reverse, slowed down, or spaced out with just one note or two, creating interesting polyrhythm.
By far my favorite new feature, Reason 9’s Pitch Edit moves closer to what industry standard Melodyne offers in terms of vocal editing. Reason’s logarithm maps vocals in a graphical piano-roll setting, where finely correcting and editing vocals with a few tools can keep vocals sounding natural or completely auto-tuned. While editing a vocal track, I ran into some trouble with how Reason split up the phrases. Who pitch corrects the pitch corrector? (The razor tool comes in handy in this case, but takes some finesse.)
Bounce in Place allows you to highlight a MIDI clip with its effects to render it into a separate audio track right below, while muting the MIDI clip above, clearing resources. To be honest, I had no issues with CPU usage while running Reason 9, but ran into issues bouncing vocals with effects, as the audio track clipped off the ends of phrases.
Reverse MIDI and Automation easily with a simple click. Who doesn’t love reversing clips?
Two visual themes are now available to change the entire look of Reason. The dark theme reminds me of FL Studio’s layout, and I imagine more themes will roll out in the future.
Patches exclusively released for Reason 9 offer signature sounds and are one of Reason’s main strengths. I find their patches surpass the quality of Ableton’s and spent a lot of time exploring.
When out of Edit mode, visualizing the whole song clearly with all of its tracks seems impossible.
Reason still functions on a one license, one machine basis when other DAWs allow for several uses of a license on multiple machines. In a small, budget-conscious home studio setting, purchasing several licenses for Reason doesn’t make sense. Reason’s workaround is a simple authorization/de-authorization button on their website, which produced an error for me when I tried it, which led me to…
…the dismal customer support process. It took two weeks to get a one-line command for troubleshooting. Checking out forums, it seems several people had similar experiences to mine. Given how great & personable I find Propellerhead tutorials, this felt odd and will hopefully improve. It seems there is an authorization bug which is currently being addressed, which I would keep in mind if you need to authorize or de-authorize your machine.
Overall, if I were an existing Reason user, I would recommend updating to Reason 9 and imagine more Players eventually rolling out. I wouldn’t recommend Reason in a small or home studio setting due to the license limitations and customer support, but the excellent patches, improved pitch editing, and Players almost make up for it.
Denise Orxata is a guitarist and singer/songwriter based out of the greater Boston area, and a proud owner of a Realistic Concertmate MG-1. You can find D online at www.orxataspace.com or on Twitter @orxata_. You can also read her guest article, 5 Things Every Synth Novice Should Know from our recent Synth Issue.