Propellerheads Reason programme has been at the forefront of music technology for years now, providing a self contained electronic music package that has been used by millions of home producers as well as a host of professional artists and producers. With its intuitive interface and powerful synths and samplers, Reason set the standard that other DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) had to meet. This was great for dance music production especially, but if you wanted to record audio on your tracks, this would have to be done using another software package, as Reason could not support this. They got round this by creating the Rewire system, allowing you to synch Reason with your audio recording software (such as Cubase, Logic, FL Studio and Adobe Audition). This seemed to work fine, but you would still have to flick between programmes, or bounce your tracks down and transfer them, which is not ideal for the creative music producer.
But now, Propellerheads have released Record, a multitrack audio system with both audio and MIDI capabilities which allows you to record, edit, mix and master your music. Like most DAWs available today, this has a host of effects, EQ’s, filters, compressors, and supports both audio and MIDI recordings. Record is, however, a self contained programme, so is not compatible with 3rd party plugins. This seems to be part of Propellerheads ethos, and works in cutting down on your CPU and it also means everything seems to work well together, with few glitches.
There are three main pages to Record – the sequencer page, the effects rack and the mixer. Each track you create (whether audio or MIDI) will show in each of these pages. Like Reason, you can flip to the back of your effects rack and rewire your set up as desired. As its all based on the old rack set up, with each track having its own channel in the mixer, it is extremely easy and logical to use.
Looking at the MIDI instruments it provides, Record itself comes with just one synth, the ID8 workstation which has just a few preset sounds that you would expect such as bass synth, piano and percussion. And as it does not support 3rd party plugins, your only option to build on your MIDI instruments is to add Reason to it, making it (you guessed it) Reason Record. Reason will run as normal, and you can open all your old projects providing they were made on version 4. You will then get all the same synths, samplers and MIDI editing tools that are available in Reason, which are extremely versatile and intuitive to use. You can build on your soundbank by purchasing some of the Refill packs that Propellerheads provide. Abbey Road Studios, for example, gives you all the vintage keyboard, melotron and piano sounds sampled directly from the studios, which can be loaded into one of their samplers. MIDI editing is very similar to that of Reason, in that you are working with clips, and there are plenty of editing tools allowing you to chop, copy, paste your clips.
Recording audio is made very easy with Record, and shares some similarities with Logic particularly with its comping facility. Set the section you want to record on a loop, press record, and it will create a separate file for each take, which you can then piece together to get that perfect take. Like their MIDI editing, the audio editing works in clips. Again, you can chop, copy and stretch your clips.
The effects that comes with Reason will provide the music producer with pretty much everything they could ask for, and these same effects are included with Record. One of my favourites is the Scream distortion unit, which has 10 different types of distortion available, all of which can be tweaked to your liking. For you guitar players, Record have also included guitar amp simulation pods for both bass and guitar, provided by guitar emulator specialists Line 6. You can choose your amp, cabinet, drive level and EQ, and you can even assign a MIDI pedal to be a wah for example. Finally, there is something called the combinator device, which allows you to combine several different effects into one device providing much better control over your sounds.
The mixer they use is based on the SSL’s 9000K, and its simple layout makes it very easy to use. Each channel has 8 effects sends, with some precise Eqs and filters you can apply on each. Routing your tracks to buses is extremely easy, in the same way that wiring your devices is. Simply press the tab key to see the back of the rack or mixer and you can wire up pretty much any input to an output.
Pretty much every parameter you see on record you can automate, and this is again done using clips on which you can draw your automation. Again this can be copied, pasted and edited to your liking.
If you are looking to record mainly audio, Record will do everything that most DAWs can, and when combined with the effects rack and editing, this is an extremely versatile suite. Combine it with Reason and you get a full music production programme with some of the best software instruments about. Bugs and glitches are common for brand new software packages which tend to get ironed out as they upgrade versions. But as a self contained programme, Propellerheads have minimised this, and very few problems have been reported. As its interface is based on a hardware rack set up, Reason is easy to use and nothing is hidden from the user. This makes things simple and easy to use and also allows the user to get creative with routing and combining devices together. Record have maintained this easy to use interface and so the user can make projects as simple or as complex as they like. For someone who is new to computer music, this is definitely a good package to start with. Reason is taught in many music colleges around the country because it is based on hardware, and once you grab the basic concepts, other DAWs will make much more sense.
Now the prices. Record itself (without Reason) costs £169. If you are a Reason owner already, you can upgrade to Reason Record for £99. (If you are on an older version of Reason, this upgrade package will upgrade Reason to version 4 anyway). The full Reason Record package costs £332.92.
But don’t take my word for it. You can download a demo version from the Propellerheads website for free and try it for yourself at www.propellerheads.se/download.