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?

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!

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.