Category Archives for "Reviews"

Use VSTs in Reason 9.5!

Reason VST Support (and automated delay compensation) Coming Soon!

Reason VST support, the long awaited, holy grail of music production was announced last week. This is huge, huge news. Using VSTs in Propellerheads’ Reason DAW will open up an entirely new world for producers to create huge, professional sound tracks.

It will unleash waves of creativity, I bet.

Using VSTs in Reason will not prevent you from controlling them with Reason’s super flexible CV routing structure, which means that you can get all sorts of powerful effects from VST instruments and effects that may not have been easy to do in other DAWs.

Reason VST support also promises to easily find your VST files (we’ll see). Not only that, they claim that crashes will be localized to only the “wrapper” containing the VST, and will not spread beyond to affect the Reason app itself.

Which plugins are you most looking forward to?

For me it’s going to be using the great tape, tube, saturation, and compression plugins from Waves, getting access to Massive, Monark, and Analog Machines in Native Instruments’ Komplete Ultimate.  Oh, and exploring SoundToys’ Echo Boy and Decapitator.

While we can debate whether VST should have been there all along, I think this is going to be a great new frontier for Reason. And it doesn’t mean the death of Rack Extensions (at least not the existing ones). They are still going to be the most tightly integrated and stable way of doing things in the Reason ecosystem.

Automated Latency Compensation

And as an added plus, it also looks like Propellerheads is adding automated latency compensation, which is absolutely huge.

It’s always been frustrating to see that Reason creates phase issues when you start using different plugins on sends or parallel channels. There used to be work arounds, but it was cumbersome. Now we should just be able to fire up our songs and make great music.

What do you think? What are you looking forward to most?

Warm Audio Tone Beast Review

Warm Audio Tone Beast Review (TB12)

The bottom line of this Warm Audio Tone Beast Review? The TB12 is an amazing value, with great sounding, vintage tone.  Retailing for around $599, it’s got good build quality, a ton of flexibility, and is very easy to use.

For those visual learners, here’s a video review of the TB12 Tone Beast.

To begin this Warm Audio Tone Beast review, the TB12 features, from left to right, the input control section, the tone control, and finally its output section.

The input control is incredible, and one of my favorite features that Warm Audio added. It can take an xlr mic (with or without phantom power), a line level instrument, or an hi-z instrument like a guitar. You can pad down the instruments if they’re too loud (which allows you to use more of the TB12’s tone shapping), and add a decent sounding high pass filter.

From there, the real power of the Tone Beast comes out. With two discrete signal paths made with high quality cinemag transformers, as well as multiple tone shaping options for each signal path, you have a ton of flexibility in shaping your sound.

Sometimes these changes are very subtle. To really hear a different, you need to start cranking up the saturation knob on the output section. As the different signal paths get gained up, you can really start to hear the differences.

No Warm Audio Tone Beast review would be complete without digging into the sounds, though. With the x18 sounding a little brighter and “present,” while the 731 has more of a vintage, warm sound. Just be careful not to overdue it with the saturation. It is absolutely possible to get full on saturation and distortion effects on the unit, but it’s also possible to clip, which sounds decidedly un-musical.

But of course, tone is notoriously difficult to describe. So you can listen to a Tone Beast demo recordings here.

If you can only afford one preamp, I’d recommend the TB12 Tone Beast. Warm Audio did a great job in creating a high quality, affordable preamp that provides a ton of flexibility to the recording engineer.

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?

Reason 9 review

Propellerhead Reason 9 Review – Time to Upgrade?


This Reason 9 Review will explain why Propellerhead’s Reason 9 is hands down the best installment in their legendary Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) line up.

As someone who was coming from Reason 7, upgrading to Reason 9 was an easy choice. However, if I was going to upgrade from Reason 8, I’m not sure that Propellerhead Software added enough to make it worthwhile, as I’ll discuss.

[update see my thoughts on the Reason 9.2 update patch here.]

Reason 9 Review – What’s New

There are several great new features in Reason 9.

No Reason 9 review would be complete without pointing to the biggest change is: addition of the new “players.”

Now I’ve heard that playas gonna play, and in Reason 9, they do.

These players are three special rack extension-style devices that open a whole new world of performance and arranging options.

My favorite player is the “scales and chords,” which let’s you either select a key to play in (with all notes outside of the key being converted to the scale) or to play all sorts of chords with the touch of one note. My music theory training is real rusty, so while I know a lot of these concepts, I often find Scale and Chords to inspire my with interesting, jazzy chord inversions or weird scales that take me out of my comfort zone.

Next up is the Dual Arpeggiator. If you use a lot of automated arpeggios, then you’ll love this, because it allows much more complicated arps than the RPG-8. Most of my music doesn’t revolve around arpeggios, so I don’t use this a ton, but it allows for some really interesting, evolving patterns.

Finally, there’s Note Echo, which allows you to create cool 80’s style sampled chords and some very interesting glitchy sound effects. I haven’t used it a ton, but really do enjoy it.

Reason 9 also includes a great pitch editor for tuning vocals, a fair number of useful new sounds, a bunch of minor tweaks under the hood, and the ability to convert audio to midi, which is really powerful.

Reason 9 Review – What’s Wrong With Reason 9

There are still a dozen or so minor problems with Reason 9 that consistently annoy me.

I’m a little OCD (ok, a lot), so some of these might not bother every one: for example, the way that that many features don’t synchronize between the sequencer and the rack/mixer.

Other features are more significant: plugins don’t automatically update (or let you know that they need to be updated), you can get into situations where buss channels get permanently bypassed, and I think performance has taken a slight hit.

Reason 9 Review – Final Verdict

At the end of the day, I love Reason 9. As a musician first, I find that Reason’s interface is way more intuitive than most DAWs. It’s easy to use, it makes sense, and I can move around quickly in it.

It comes standard with all the sounds, synthesizers, effects, and tools you need to make professional recordings. And you can expand these through buying Rack Extensions. While it is not compatible directly with VST instruments, there are plenty of good workarounds that allow you to use things like Kontakt virtual instruments.

If I was coming from Reason 8, I’d probably hold off on this upgrade, however. I don’t think it adds enough to the party to justify the cost.

If you’re a musician looking for a new DAW, I’d highly recommend it. Now, my Reason Review is obviously tempered by the handful of small problems. But at the end of the day, I’d give it a 9/10.

However, if you’ve already got a DAW that you’re happy with, you should stick with it! The most important thing is being able to do what you want quickly and capture your ideas before they get lost – so don’t change just because of the buzz.