Propellerheads Reason software is incredibly complex, but the inclusion of a lot of great keyboard shortcuts will really accelerate your workflow! I use these shortcuts to speed up how quickly I can make my songs, and I also use it to make things easier to manage when my hands are full with instruments.
If you're still trying to learn your hotkeys in Reason, I'd really recommend getting an overlay for your keyboard (affiliate link). This affordable plastic keyboard cover shows you all of the shortucts, and you can quickly use it to master the keyboard hotkey workflow. Once you feel really comfortable with, your hotkeys, you can remove the overlay and start using Reason like a pro.
Here are my favorite shortcuts in Propellerheads Reason DAW. You can download a free reference PDF by signing up below.
F5: Mixer F6: Rack F7: Sequencer F8: Editor Q: Arrow W: Write E: Erase R: Razor T: Mute Y: Zoom U: Hand Tool Alt+drag: Duplicate Tracks/Notes; Time-Stretch Shift: Create unwired effects Shift+Drag: Automatically rewire effects Tab: Flip the Rack around Command/Control+Mousewheel: Zoom in vertically Shift+ Command/Control+Mousewheel: Zoom in horizontally C: Turn on Click L: Turn on Loop Command/Control+S: Save Command/Control+Enter: Record Command/Control+Z: Undo
Propellerhead’s Reason is loaded with different compressors. But knowing which one to use, when, can be a bit tricky. And learning how to use a compressor is also hard. That’s why I’m here to show you about how to get the most out of each compressor to make your mixes sound great.
This is a great all around compressor with a straightforward design. It’s got a pretty fast attack (which is variable) with the ability to dial in a long release, plus the ability to select soft-knee compression. It also allows you to apply makeup gain.
This is the most surgical of the compressors in Reason, and is the one you should reach for if you really need to sculpt the envelope of a sound. The variable attack allows you to either clamp down on a signal hard or let most of the attack through.
For smoother, more subtle effect, you can also enable the soft knee knob which will make the initial onset of the compressor less pronounced. Finally, it ability to adapt the release can help the compressor pump in time to the song more musically.
Not only is this a great surgical compressor, it’s also the number one tool in Reason for using side chain compression. Simply flip the rack over and insert a side chain key.
You’re off to the races!
The Mixer Compressor
Every channel in Reason runs through the mixer, and every mixer channel includes a built in compressor (under the Dynamics section). While the Reason’s mixer compressor doesn’t allow as much control (you can’t dial in the attack speed, chose a soft kneed, or adapt the release), it sounds nice and gets the job done.
This is the compressor you want when you just need to tame the peaks a little bit. It’s a workhorse that shouldn’t be ignored when compression you tracks. It’s not particularly musical or precise, but that’s often not needed if you’re just looking for a couple of dB of compression
The Mix Bus Compressor
The grandad of Reason compressors! I use this on almost every song to really glue the mix together. The most important thing to note about this compressor is that EVERY channel flows through it, so a little bit goes a long way.
Here’s how I use the mix bus compressor in Reason 99% of the time: set the ratio to 2, the attack to 30, and the release to Auto. From there, I dial in the threshold until it’s doing 2-3 dB of gain reduction on the peaks. Then I adjust the make up gain to compensate, usually setting it at 2-3dB.
Now You Know How to Compress in Reason
There you go, you’ve learned how to get started using compression in Reason. With these tips, you’ll always be able to grab the right compressor for the job in Reason, and dial it in just so.
There are a couple of other compressors in Reason as well, but they are much more specialized. Start out learning how to use these compressors, and once you feel comfortable with them, then you can start exploring!
Did you know that there are extra sound effects processors hidden in the nooks and crannies of Propellerhead’s Reason software?
For example, on the Kong, there are a series of unique effects (transient shaper, ring modulator, rattler, and more) that appear like they can only be used within the Kong. But actually, you can route any instrument through a Kong to take advantage of the effects!
Or that you can use the Pulveriser and tremolo or a compressor? Or that The Echo makes a damn good overdrive?
Watch the video below to see a selection of some of the best hidden and non-traditional effects nestled within Reason (affiliate link). The secret to unlocking all of these awesome effects loaded into Reason revolves around its creative routing options.
Here’s a whole other group of suggested effects in Reason to play with once you get bored of what’s in the video! These were suggested by Loque (Soundcloud link).
The Echo * Limiter, Overdrive, Tube and so on * Frequency (pitch) Modulation * Auto-Bending
The Pulverizer: * Has a FM and AM input on the backside ^^
Malström * Wave-Shaper * And some kind of stereo spread (not the best, but yea, it is there…) * Comb Filters * AM
Thor * chorus and delay are really good * The filters including comb and Formant * Bunch of audio modulation…
And a few others: * Alligator as a band splitter * Often ppl forget how many modes the Scream4 has including a LoFi and RM which sound very good * Neptune as a pitch shifter * Radical Pianos resonator * BV512 as a frequency shifter (ok, sounds quite bad, but its there and make some happy accidents…) * Neptunes pitch shifter (yea, well, same as BV512
* All the many RV7000MKII reverb, delay, spring, convolution,… modes. Such a little device with so much power inside. Happy accidents with the spring reverb and modulation…