Propellerhead’s virtual‑studio package, Reason, and their DAW, Record, have just been updated to versions 5 and 1.5, respectively.
Though still a new player in the DAW game, Record has won many over with its SSL‑like mixer, intuitive operation and tight integration with Reason, and the latest version incorporates a few other features designed to further tempt potential users. First up is Neptune, a vocal processor that not only corrects wonky pitching (a la Autotune), but can also generate harmonies on the fly, using a MIDI keyboard or other such controller to determine which notes to use. This new effect uses formant shifting to keep the results sounding natural, though as with most pitch‑correction tools, it can also be used to create deliberately unnatural sounds — or, as Propellerhead put it, to “take your vocals into outer space”!
Another highlight of Record 1.5, which also makes an appearance in the latest version of Reason, is the ability to arrange your songs in a “block‑based” manner, allowing you to move entire sections of a song (such as verses and choruses) and change their order. Propellerhead say that you can easily switch between the new block and traditional linear styles of arranging in both Reason and Record, quickening the process of building up a complete track.
Propellerhead Record 1.5 costs £235, though owners of previous versions will get access to this latest incarnation for free. Reason owners, meanwhile, can buy Record while at the same time updating their version of Reason to v5, for just £141.
On to the Reason updates, then, starting off with Kong, which Propellerhead describe as a “drum designer”. Kong combines sample playback, physical modelling and traditional drum‑synthesis techniques, as well as a range of custom effects modules, to allow you to create your own unique drum sets, which can be triggered using its 16 built‑in percussion pads.
Dr OctoRex, meanwhile, replaces Reason 4’s Dr Rex REX‑file player, adding some highly useful extra functionality. Dr OctoRex is capable of loading eight different REX files at the same time and switching between them, thus avoiding the cable tangle previously incurred when using several REX files in one project. It also features per‑slice editing, so you can adjust the volume, filter properties and panning of different slices, as well as reverse them, using the new Slice Edit tool. Furthermore, slices within a single REX file can now be sent to multiple outputs for individual processing of kick and snare hits (for example).
As with most sequencer updates, there are numerous tweaks to the software engine (Propellerhead mention “sci‑fi‑grade multi‑core optimisation”, which sounds more exciting than it probably is), but no doubt you’ll be much more interested in Reason’s newfound recording abilities. In true Propellerhead style, however, they’ve approached this feature somewhat laterally: instead of DAW‑style audio tracks, all of Reason’s sample players can now actually sample audio — an unusual ability in the world of so‑called ‘software samplers’. Single‑click recording has been added to both NN‑XT and NN‑19, and audio, once recorded, can then be edited within the samplers’ built‑in editors, as you would with any imported sample. This neat new feature cleverly answers calls from Reason fans to make the music‑production package more self‑contained, but without encroaching on conventional DAW territory. No maximum record time was given at the time of writing, but details should be much clearer by the time you read this.
Reason 5 is set to sell for £299, though if you already own a previous version of Reason, then v5 will set you back just £88. If you want to buy both Reason and Record, they are available as a pair for £352, while anyone who purchased either Reason or Record on or after 24th May will get a free update to the latest version. YouTube videos of all the major new features can be found at the Propellerhead web site.