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Reason: Hardware MIDI Integration

Propellerhead Reason Tips & Techniques
By Simon Sherbourne

Screen 1: The External MIDI Instrument device lets you output MIDI to any port on your machine.Screen 1: The External MIDI Instrument device lets you output MIDI to any port on your machine.

Reason may be a self-contained studio, but it can still play nicely with others.

Reason is often perceived as a self‑contained software studio, but it's perfectly capable of working with hardware MIDI instruments. As with VST instruments and audio tracks, Reason treats external instruments slightly differently to most DAWs, making sure that your MIDI gear is integrated into the device Rack as well as the Sequencer. This month we'll look at how this works, and learn how to monitor and record your synths without latency issues.

The External Instrument Device

Most DAWs base their functionality around tracks, relying on multiple types of tracks to manage different situations. They have audio tracks for recording and playing audio, MIDI tracks for sequencing MIDI data, and instrument tracks that combine MIDI sequencing with an audio input route.

In Reason, each MIDI track in the Sequencer belongs to a module in the Rack. Internal instruments have their own MIDI track plus an audio Rack module for connection to the mixer and insert effects. This may seem complex but it means the instruments in your project can interact freely in the modular environment instead of being contained in separate tracks.

To work with external MIDI instruments, Reason uses a dedicated device called, sensibly enough, External MIDI Instrument (EMI). This is the last device in the list of built-in Reason devices in the Browser. An EMI device has its own MIDI track, and provides a conduit to route MIDI out of any MIDI ports on your computer. The device also has gate, note, and CV connections so that you can sequence or control external devices from Rack modules rather than (or in addition to) the Sequencer. Note that the EMI device is only used for MIDI output from Reason. MIDI inputs from external sources are managed like...

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Published April 2019