For years I’ve been torn between many different computer-based recording solutions, both lightweight/economical and extensive/expensive. Until now, most software solutions have managed to cover all the basics of recording pretty well, often with one outstanding feature, like Ableton’s clip view or Logic’s bundled synths. Finally, one program seems to have combined everything a producer could want into a single piece of software: the latest incarnation of Propellerhead’s Reason.

At its core, Reason has been designed as a virtual studio hardware rack, just like the physical racks you’d find in a recording studio. Reason can take complex streams of audio and MIDI information and modify that data in exactly the manner you’d expect from your physical rack. Reason comes stocked with an extensive array of its own devices, such as the MClass Equalizer, Stereo Imager, Compressor, and Maximizer; RV7000 Advanced Reverb; DDL-1 Digital Delay Line; and many, many more. Reason also has a magnificent selection of MIDI devices and instruments, like the Subtractor Analog Synthesizer, NN-19 Digital Sampler, the Dr. Octo REX Loop Player, and the Kong Drum Designer. One of my favorite parts about the virtual rack is that you can flip your view around to the rear of the rack and see a visual representation of the audio’s signal flow as a multitude of patch cables. Any of these cables can be plugged and unplugged just like they would be on a hardware rack, so managing ins and outs is simple and intuitive.

Reason 6, the latest release to hit the market, adds four new exciting devices to the Reason arsenal: The Echo Delay, Alligator Filtered Gate, Pulverizer Demolition, and Neptune Pitch/Voice Synth. The Echo is a fascinating new stereo echo device modeled on old analog tape delay machines. The Alligator is a really cool “trance gate,” which takes your audio signal and puts it through three different gated filters to add rhythmic flair to your synth or drum sounds. The Pulverizer module combines compression, drive, filtering, and an envelope follower all into one unit. It sounds like an odd assortment of devices to smash together, but I can definitely see the Pulverizer being used for anything from dubstep to heavy metal. Finally, the Neptune module acts as both a vocoder and pitch adjustment tool, finally allowing Reason users the Phil Collins and/or T-Pain sounds they’ve always wanted.

All past releases of Reason have been limited strictly to the virtual rack functionality, and while it is possible to program a song into the built-in sequencer, true recording has never really been an option. Instead, Reason originally offered ReWire, which allowed users to exchange inputs and outputs between Reason and their favorite recording software. That functionality was truly a boon to all musicians and producers, because it allowed the augmentation of simple DAWs with a massively powerful instrument and effect rack.  With the release of Reason 5, Propellerhead also launched the Record software, designed to be used in conjunction with Reason to serve as a complete software production and recording package. With Reason 6, Propellerhead has done away with their Record software altogether and included the full Record functionality in Reason itself, making an already groundbreaking software even more feature-packed, and finally allowing users the ability to take the masterpieces they’ve created in Reason and record them without the need for yet another expensive piece of software.

With the ability to create or sample almost any sound you might desire and then capture that audio on the spot without needing to open (let alone purchase) another program, Reason 6 is a truly compelling all-in-one software package that simply must not be overlooked.

Stay tuned for future articles where we’ll take a more in-depth look at all of Reason 6’s most exciting new features.