Propellerheads recently launched Reason 8 and whilst it brings some nice new features, and I’m a huge fan of the software in general, I must admit it did feel as though it fell slightly short of the mark.
First up I think it’s best to have a quick look at what Reason 8 brings in way of new features, then we’ll compare that with what came in the Reason 7 update. Finally I’ll show my own little wishlist for features that I think are crucial.
Reason 8 Features
Drag and drop with new inline/integrated browser
The biggest new feature is the drag and drop functionality. Definitely a nice feature which does add some speed to the general workflow, and the new browser approach is also much welcomed – although I would love to see ‘find-as-you-type’ functionality for the browser search.
New Amps from Softube
I’m sure these amps alone would justify the upgrade price for some users, but sadly I have rarely found guitar/bass amps to really suit my needs. I’ve played around with them and may try to use them, but I have a feeling they won’t crop up that often in my usage.
I’m always happy to see design tweaks, if for nothing else to give my eyes something fresh to look at! Some nice subtle adjustments and changes, but I didn’t feel it was fundamental enough to be more than a footnote in the feature notes.
Sequencer note editing improvements
Double-click to add/remove notes, drag note length from the start of a note as well as the end. These sort of features feel as they should be the footnotes rather than in a major feature list.
Option to have sequencer clips/mixer channels follow track colour
This is very nice to have as it does speed up project management for me.
For me, I don’t believe the new features really justified the price tag. However, it’s important to note that for someone that will benefit from the new amps, then it can be viewed as getting 2 amps at €55 each plus all the other tweaks for only €19 – bargain!
I was part of the Reason 8 beta programme, and after using it for a while I had made the decision that I was going to pass and await Reason 8.5 or Reason 9. It would have been my first upgrade skip since I purchased Reason 3.
However, then I discovered that all the tracks I’d been working on in Reason 8 wouldn’t open in Reason 7, and laziness got the better of me. I impulsively decided to upgrade rather than trying to back track… I probably could have worked around it but didn’t want to waste my time as it was the weekend and I was starting to mix the upcoming Ebauche album!
Comparing to previous updates
Perhaps Propellerheads have spoiled us, but I did feel that this update was somewhat lacking in comparison to some of the previous upgrades.
Reason 6.5 – 7
- Midi Out
- Imported audio auto-sliced
- Import more audio formats (mp3, wma, aac)
- Spectrum EQ
- Mixer busses
- Parallel channels
- Audiomatic RE
Personally I look at that list and see some much more profound features for using Reason as fully-fledged DAW, and all of these features first gave me the sense that I could abandon my old mixdown approach which was: bounce out Reason tracks, open in Cubase, mixdown. For the first time I am now doing the full mixdown in Reason, which is quite exciting for me. In addition midi-out, mp3 import support, spectrum EQ and the quite tasty Audiomatic plugin made this upgrade feel well worth it.
Reason 6 – 6.5
Memory fails me but I’m pretty sure this was a free upgrade and brought us the most wonderful new feature of Rack Extensions! Something I’ve been enjoying extensively ever since (although perhaps my wallet doesn’t appreciate me for it..)
Reason 5 – 6
Another upgrade that felt good and juicy – primarily due to the excellent new plugins (which were the precursor to Rack Extensions in 6.5), but the merging of Reason and Record were a nice plus as well.
- Record and Reason merged – everything in its right place!
- Three sumptuous and awesome plugins: Echo, Alligator, and Pulverizer
- Better audio stretching/transposing algorithms
- Full 64-bit support (allowing ReWire into Cubase 64-bit)
Final thoughts and my wishlist for Reason 9
My guess is that implementing drag and drop functionality and the overall codebase changes required to make it happen were probably quite a big undertaking for Propellerheads. I’m a web developer and I know all too well that there are no small changes. I continue to hold the Propellerheads developers in the highest regard.
I just thought it would be beneficial to share my feelings as a producer, and also have the opportunity to cheekily push out my wishlist for the next upgrade..
- Variable fade in/out types on audio tracks
- Simple crossfading in sequencer (without having to go into comp edit mode)
- Sequencer markers (although I did see a tip recently on using ‘blocks’ as a fudge for markers)
- Track freezing – this is a big one for me
- Groups/folders for both sequencer and mixer – this would be a huge boon to session organisation
- Minimize mixer channel/group – that SSL mixer can start taking up a lot of horizontal space and I often have tracks which I’ve grouped and don’t need to see all the time
- Expanded functionality in the analyser – stereo image, zooming, ability pinpoint frequencies
I actually had a few more items in my wishlist but have recently discovered (by actually RTFM), that they’re already available!