Monthly Archives: January 2017

What's Wrong With Reason 9.2

My thoughts on Reason 9.2 Update

Propellerhead just released the most recent update to their Reason DAW, version 9.2. You can find my full Reason 9 Review here. Version 9.2 adds powerful back end tools for rack extension developers, allowing them to create powerful new synths and effects.

So that sounds pretty cool, right?

My first reaction was that it’s awesome, but on second thought, It troubles me slightly.

Why I Worry About Reason 9.2

First of all, while some developers have updated there Rack Extensions to take advantage of these new features, there’s no guarantee that any other developers will. This means that existing users of Reason 9 might not really see any benefit unless they buy more Rack Extensions from the Prop Shop.

Historically Propellerheads have been very good about rewarding their customers. There are probably upgrades coming for Reason 9 users.

So it’s not the end of the world. But as I noted in my Reason 9 review, there are some more pressing issues with reason that I’d prefer to see fixed first.

Reason 9.1 gave us the ability to sync with other instruments over wireless. Cool but not essential.

Reason 9.2 gives developers more power, but I’m unclear what it means for users.

I’m worried that developers will now stop creating rack extensions backwards compatible with Reason 7 and Reason 8.

Think about it for a second. As a developer, if earlier versions of Reason don’t support your RE, are you going to spend the time to develop to different versions of it?

It is going to be more cost effective to just develop for Reason 9.2+.

Similarly, if developers start upgrading their rack extensions to use the new features, will they stop supporting the older versions of the REs?

It’s really too soon to say.

Reason 9.2 is good for active users of Reason 9, but Propellerheads are really nudging users of older versions of Reason to upgrade.

What do you think about Reason 9.2? Would you upgrade to Reason 9 for it?

Use send fx the right way in propellerheads Reason

How to Use Send FX in Reason (The Right Way!)

If you don’t already know how to use send fx in Reason, then this is the tutorial for you. But even if you’ve been using send fx in Reason for a long time, I guarantee I’ve got a better way of doing things.

This simple method involves creating mix channels for you send fx, and then bussing them to a send effects buss. You get tons of instant flexibility around eq, compression, ducking, stereo width, phase and volume, plus it can be much easier to manage.

I’ve mad this video on how to use send fx in Reason, for those of you that are visual learners.

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

How to use send fx in Reason

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the whole set up is rather cumbersome and takes a few minutes to get ready. That’s why this routing is part of my default template that I load into every song.

You can download it for free here.

Reason allows a total of 8 send fx, so you’ll want to create 8 mix channels.

Then you’re going to route fx send 1 to the first mix channel, fx send 2 to the second mix channel, etc.

How to use send fx in reason routing

Just the sends, not the returns


HOWEVER —- you do not use the effect returns anymore. Each mix channel outputs sound into the SSL console, so you do NOT need to setup fx returns.

From there, you can insert whatever send effects you like for each channel. Reverb, delay, distortion. Whatevs.

The send buttons and knobs still work for each channel. So in the example below, if you hit send button 1 on the Kong channel, it will send the Kong to the reverb that lives on the Reverb 1 mix channel. The green knob on the Kong channel will determine how much signal is sent to the reverb.

How to use send fx in reason send buttons still work

The send buttons and knobs still work


However, the send return knobs on the right NO LONGER work. Instead, you control the volume of each individual channel with their faders on the SSL mixer.

The benefits of using sends as mix channels are huge.

Instead of having to create unwieldy chains of effects, you can instantly tap into the SSL channels for:

  • EQ,
  • filters,
  • compressors,
  • noise gates, and
  • stereo width functions

If you wanted do use eq and compression using the traditional method of sends in Reason, you’d have to add separate eq and compression to each effect channel. Not only would that use more of the signal processing power, it also becomes an unwieldy clutter.

But wait. There’s more.

As the final step, I buss all of my send effects to a master effects bus. This lets me be able to mute all of the effects at the click of one button instead of having to turn each track off. It also lets me control the overall effect volume easily. Plus you can apply compression, eq, filters, etc.

How to use send fx in reason master effect buss

Don’t forget to create a bust for all your send fx!

There you have it.

How to use send fx in Reason, the right way. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Let me know if you’ve got any suggestions for taking this to the next level!

Making Hip Hop Beats in Reason pt 1

How to Make a Hip Hop Beat in Reason

This is a quick and dirty guide on how to make a hip hop beat in Reason. If you’ve never made a beat before, don’t worry, I’ll walk you through how to make a hip hop beat in Reason easily.

If you’ve made beats before, I think there’s some tips here that will help take your hip hop beats to the next level. I’m going to show you how to tighten up your beats, and how to mix them so they full of punch and bang.

Before you start recording and mixing, though, you’ll need to know what type of beat you want.

How to make a hip hop beat in Reason: Step 1 – Deconstruct Your Favorite Beat

One of my favorite techniques is to simply listen to loops or songs you like. Here’s a list of some of the best places for free loops and samples! Once you’ve found a beat you like, deconstruct it and add your own spin to!

After you have deconstructed enough beats, you’ll start to understand what goes into a beat, and it will become easier to build your own beats from scratch.

To do this easily, create a track in Reason and import the beat you want to imitate. Alternately, if it’s a Dr. OctoRex loop, you can load one of those up and compare to it.

First try to imitate the drum beat itself.

Open up Kong, Dr. OctoRex, an NN-XT or whatever other device you want to use to play the beat.

You want to build up your beat starting with getting the kick drum correct in its placement. Then add the snare. From there, you’ll work on the hi-hats, and any accent cymbals.

Be sure to include a few variations in the patterns. Maybe just a little difference in timing, or double up a kick or snare somewhere. You can also try adding fills at the end of every few measures.

Once the groove of the beat is pretty solid, you’ll want to compare the individual drum samples you’re using to those in your reference track. That is if you’re trying to imitate the sounds. But don’t be afraid to experiment.

How to make a hip hop beat in Reason: Step 2 – Tighten Up

From here, you’ll want to tighten up your beat. This is time consuming, but one of the most important parts of creating a dope hip hop beat in Reason.

To do this, you’ll need to go into the Reason sequencer and zoom in on the notes. You’ll want to make sure each one is in the right spot. Unless you’re going for a programmed boom-bap sound, you’ll want to avoid quantizing. Otherwise, things will sound stiff and inhuman.

You’ll have to do this the old fashioned way. Note by note. But it pays off.

The other important thing to do at this step is to vary the velocity (aka volume) of your hits, to make things sound less mechanical. You can select all the notes, hit F8, and bring up the tool menu. Got to the “note velocity” sub menu, and select “random.” Try a setting of about 20% and click apply. This will randomly make all the notes increase or decrease in volume by 20%, creating a more human feel.

How to make a hip hop beat in Reason

Use the “random” tool to create more human grooves.

Then, if you feel like there’s certain parts that need more emphasis, you can manually edit the velocity to bring those parts out, like drum fills, for example.

How to make a hip hop beat in Reason: Step 3 – Mixing Punch Hip Hop Drums

This step is perhaps the least understood. I’d really recommend watching this video first. It covers how to use parallel compression, reverb, eq, and saturation to create loud punchy drums.

I think hearing the examples is the best way to demonstrate this.

5 How to Use VST Instruments in Reason

Solved! How to use VST Instruments in Reason

For more than 10 years, I didn’t know how to use VST Instruments in Reason. But I recently learned how to access my virtual instruments, and it’s amazing! The possibilities that open up by being able to have full access to my Native Instruments Komplete killer synthesizers like Monark and Massive, through Reason are incredible.

I’d heard so many people say: You can’t use VSTs in Reason that I took it as a given.

My method of how to use VST Instruments in Reason should work in versions of Reason 7 and up.

While this guide for using virtual instruments in Reason sounds complicated, once you do it a few times, it can be done in less than a minute.

It’s really pretty simple!

You should watch this video of how to use VST Instruments in Reason first, then follow the steps below, just to be sure.

First, you want to download a free program, Loop Midi on Windows or create a virtual port on a Mac. Loop Midi essentially creates a virtual patch cable between your audio programs.

Then you’ll want to hit the “+” button and add a channel. You can call it whatever you want, but let’s call it “Reason Send.”

The next step in how to use a VST instrument in Reason requires you to launch Reason. From there, you want to create a new instrument: the External Midi Instrument.

On the External Midi Instrument’s interface, select “Reason Send” from the red drop down menu in the middle.

Next, you will want to open up your virtual instrument program, like Kontakt. In the Kontakt player, you open the “Options” menu, and make sure that the midi input is set to “Reason Send.”

Now, select a virtual instrument in Kontakt. If you switch over to Reason, any midi you play/record, will now go out of Reason as Midi data  into Kontakt, where it will then go out your speakers as audio!

However, you still don’t have an actual way of recording the audio in Reason!

So what you want to do is record your midi performance in Reason. Record yourself playing the notes, chords, etc and in Reason.

You need to be VERY careful with the next few steps, because it is easy to cause feedback and even blow out your speakers!

So turn the volume of your audio interface all the way down. However, you can use your headphones. Just keep the volume low to avoid blowing out your ears.

Mute EVERY track in Reason.

Connect the outputs of your audio interface to inputs on your audio interface.

For example, if you have multiple outputs on your audio interface, with your monitors connected to outputs 1-2, you would connect outputs 3-4 to inputs 1-2 with cables. If you have outboard hardware, like eqs, compressors, etc, you can also insert them in the signal chain. This can add even more warmth and punch to the use of VST instruments in Reason.

Next, you’ll want to create and audio channel in Reason. Mute it. You want to select inputs 1-2 as the source (and put it in stereo, if you want).

Now, when you hit play, you should not hear anything. The midi is going to the virtual instrument, but because the volume on your audio interface is all the way down, nothing is coming out of your virtual instrument and into the audio input.

SLOWLY turn the volume of your audio interface up. You’ll see the levels of the new audio track you created in Reason slowly fill up. You do not need this to be very loud, because you can crank it up digitally with clip gain and trim once it’s in Reason.

The main point now is to avoid feedback. After doing this a few times, you’ll develop a good sense of the levels when recording VST instruments in Reason.

Now go to the beginning of your song, hit record, and Reason will record the output of the virtual instrument. When the song is finished, hit stop.

Mute the midi track. Unmute all your other tracks.

Voila, there you have it. The simple steps to follow for how to use VST instruments in Reason. Now that the virtual instrument is recorded, you can delete the midi track, if you’d like!