At last, you can plug cables in the front of a synth in Reason! Complex-1 is a completely modular synthesizer Rack Extension for Reason and for the first time has brought some of that awesome Reason patching to the front panel.
Nothing has actually changed, the patching and cables are unique to Complex-1 and don’t interact with other areas of Reason. For that you’ve got to switch to the back of the rack like any other part of the software. But within its own environment this is an exciting thing to see.
Complex-1 combines West and Easy coast forms of synthesis, mixing Low-Pass Gates with filters, waveshaping with frequency modulation. There are 3 oscillators, the first 2 combined into a single Complex Oscillator with sync and cross modulation. The 3rd oscillator is simple analog with a couple of waveshapes and then there’s a noise generator. The single LFO and ADSR seem a little stingey (although the LFO has plenty of interesting waveshapes) but then you do have a pair of LPGs to play with, 3 Scale and Amp modules, a Lag module, Comb Delay and 3 mix modules. At the bottom it has its own sequencer with quantizer, a reverb/echo, a function and a scope. This is a lovely collection of bits and pieces.
There’s a row of CV and audio patch sockets along the top that allow you to connect through to sockets on the back of the rack. This allows you to patch through to other Reason devices. I’d like to see this idea more in Reason because I’ve always found the swapping between the front panel and the rear patch bay to be disorientating, or at least a little bit annoying.
Complex-1 comes with a bunch of presets to get you going and they are excellent. There’s plenty of weird bleeps and boops but also a great deal of instantly usable and tweakable patches – there are hours of fun to be had just exploring these presets. You can choose to show or hide the cabling, but when you do show cables the GUI flattens itself quite cleverly to make it appear less busy. You can also bend cables out of the way to see what you’re doing. As with all modular synths it can be initially hard to make sense of or get any sound out. But the presets help and so does a little bit of thought.
Reason is the completely modular workstation we didn’t realise we had and Complex-1 is a very exciting release because it literally brings it all to the front. It’s available now for £89 and there’s a free demo to download. If you’re a Reason use then give it a go.