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.

 

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