Category Archives for "Reviews"

How to save $20 on your Reason 10 Upgrade

How to Save money on musical instruments (guitar center discount)

Here's a super easy way to save about $20 on your Reason 10 upgrade. 

If you're like me and buy thousands of dollars in gear a year, this trick really adds up!

It involves using cashback sites, which are awesome. Basically, the way the whole internet works is that major retailers like Amazon and eBay pay websites like this one a referral fee if someone clicks a link and makes a purchase. 

Note: this article may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase through them. Nonetheless, these are my honest, unbiased thoughts on products I really use.

Cashback sites flip this on its head, by passing most of the referral fee to YOU, the consumer, in exchange for them getting more clicks, and therefore more commissions. 

So here's how you start saving on music gear...

First, if you've got a plugin that disables internet cookies, you need to temporarily turn it off, so that you can get credit for your purchase.

Then click on this link to go to Be Frugal, which is a cashback site that I know and love. If you use my referral link, you will get $10 in cashback once you create your account and make a purchase

Third, you want to search BeFrugal for Guitar Center. Guitar Center will show up, and it will inform you that you'll get a 6.3% (as of 10/27/17) in cashback.

Click on the link, head over to Guitar Center and purchase the digital download or hard copy and you're good to go! 

You've saved $8.12 through clicking the link and $10 from the referral. 

2 Output Exhale Review

Output Exhale Review: A Great Kontakt Player 5 Synth

Once VSts were added to Reason 9.5, I knew I'd have to do an Output Exhale review. Plain an simple. The Exhale Modern Vocal Synth by Output is just too much of a beast to ignore. Note: Output provided me with a free review copy for this article, but that did not influence the content of the review. 

Exhale can do everything from warm, lush pads to glitched modern pop vocal hooks.

And it makes it all incredibly easy to do with a simple but powerful interface.

In short, you can skip the rest of this Output Exhale review and just go buy the damn thing. It's that good.​

But for those of you still reading,  this Output Exhale review features 3 videos and is going to cover the following topics: Exhale's sound, how to use Exhale, and then offer a quick demo of making a song with Exhale.

Output Exhale's Sound

Output's sounds are incredibly high quality. The samples it works with are ​warm, lush, and full of character. Some have been delightfully processed, while others sound nice and warm.

On top of the sample layers, what make Exhale really powerful is that the engine gives you so many options for tweaking things, but in an intuitive, musical way.

It features two main engines, an LFO that can modulate plenty of characteristics, powerful macro knobs for quickly morphing the key presets of your sound, and about a dozen built in effects that can be modulated and shaped to make natural, evolving sounds.​

Here is an Output Exhale​ review I did on Youtube where you can really here the richness of the sounds.

How to Use the Exhale VST

Exhale is instrument made for Native Instruments free Kontakt Player 5. Users who've spent time with the Kontakt Player 5 will instantly feel at home, but most people should have no trouble adapting.

The Exhale VST interface features two pages. Novices can get most everything they need on the first page, which features four macro sliders mapped to the synth's main parameters, the ability to select which mode Exhale is in, and the preset browser.​

output exhale review page 1

More experienced gear heads will want to go to the second page, where they can tweak the engines that go into shapping each sound, apply effects, and choose how those effects are modulated by the LFOs.

The second page is also where you can go to change the key of the samples, which is an incredibly helpful feature.​

output exhale review page 2

Exhale features 3 main modes: note, loop, and slice. In note mode it works like any other synthesizer, the notes you play can trigger the synth to play ​notes or chords.

The second mode triggers a loop each time you press a key, and there are all sorts of incredible sounds that come with Exhale.

The third mode, slice mode, features the ability to trigger individual slices in special loops ​for really far out, processed sounds.

Here's a video overview the main parts of Output's Exhale VST.​

So what's the verdict of this Output Exhale review?

I love it. ​

This is one of those synths that just inspires you to make music the minute you hit it. 

Here is literally a video of me making a song on the spot with Exhale in like 10 minutes. It's that inspiring.

So what are you waiting for? You can buy Output here.​

Have you tried Output? What did you think? Do you have any links to any songs you made with it that you'd like to share?

Propellerheads Reason 9.5 Review (Time to Upgrade?)

The biggest question any Reason 9.5 review has to answer is: how well do the VSTs work in Reason? Well, they work pretty damn well. And they’re a joy to have in the software.

I think that Reason is now, hands down, the best DAW for musicians. You can buy your copy here.

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Reason, and I though Reason 9 was great (here’s my original Reason 9 review).

Review: Using VSTs in Reason 9.5

Many VSTs in Reason 9.5 work perfectly, have no performance issues, and integrate tightly into key Reason features like CV control and automation.

But they certainly are not implemented perfectly.

First of all, there seem to be some performance issues with certain VSTs. It’s unclear whether this is on Propellerhead Software’s side (does Reason need to be better optimized?) or on the VST plugin manufacturer’s side. But performance could be a bit better.

The second issue is consistency. Some VSTs allow you to easily create “Images” so you can see them in the rack, but others don’t. And some VSTs respond weirdly when you click to close certain sub windows. Now, this inconsistencies don’t massively detract from this Reason 9.5 review, but they do exist. I appreciate though, the Propellerheads chose to give us Reason 9.5 now instead of waiting for everything to be perfect.

The third issue is stability. I have had one full blown crash in the few weeks on Reason 9.5, which is as many as I’ve had in other versions of Reason over 15 years. But mostly Reason 9.5 limits VST crashes to within the VST plug in themselves. So it doesn’t create a huge problem. You just need to restart them. It would be great if Propellerhead software would give us the option of how frequently Reason auto saves now that crashes may be more common, though.

From a philosophical standpoint, I think too many people are going to think that VSTs are world changing. They’re not. Many things are still easier and cleaner to do with a rack extension. I think the VSTs will have a major place in the Reason ecosystem, but there is still a lot more work that Rack Extensions will be called on to perform.

Review: Automated Delay Compensation is a Godsend

The other brilliant change that this Reason 9.5 review can’t ignore is the addition of automated delay compensation.

Honestly, if that was the only update, it would have been enough for me. Automated delay compensation gets rid of the phase issues cause be plugin lag. In the past if you had a parallel channel with a bunch of effects on it, it might sound awful and phase, and the only way to fix it was to put those same effects, on bypass on the original channel. This was a pain in the ass and it took up additional system resources. But now, you can fix that with the flick of the compensation switch.

Of course, this Reason 9.5 review would be worthless if it glossed past all the little minor distractions that affected Reason 9 and still haven’t been resolved. These are things like having a sequencer window that is not synchronized with the mixer and rack view, which affects Reason’s browser, mute, and solo buttons and a few other things. It also includes short comings like the lack of preset automation curves and the inability to control multiple faders simultaneously.

For a full list of things that could be fixed, here’s a video.

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.