Propellerhead have announced the arrival of the landmark version 10 of their Reason synthesizer workstation and DAW. The mantra is about having “more everything” and it’s about bloody time.
It’s 10 years since Propellerhead last released a new synthesizer instrument for their synthesizer workstation. Back with the release of Reason 4 we got the awesome Thor semi-modular synth. Since then every release has brought in cool new stuff, but the sound palette has remained the same. Of course, there have been plenty of 3rd party Rack Extensions to play with for extra cash. With Reason 8 the grumbling started to get quite loud and with the release of version 9 last year I joined the chorus of “wot no new synths?” It seems bonkers to me that it’s taken this long for Propellerheads to understand that we like the format and the workflow but we need new things to play with. However, they seem to have got the message. Is this the version that’ll finally silence the critics?
So yes, there’s a “rackload of new synths” – hooray! Well, actually there are two. There’s the Europa Shapeshifting Synthesizer (sounds a lot like Brexit negotiations to me) and the Grain Sample Manipulator. Europa is a wavetable synth designed for “huge, epic sounds”. It has a wide range of modulation possibilities, advanced spectral filtering, harmonics processing and you can even draw your own waveforms. On the Grain side it’s all about granular stuff, messing about with tiny slices of samples and pulling out algorithmic movement and manipulated possibilities. They look and sound excellent. Not exactly innovative in design but solid and workable and very very welcome.
Just the two then? Well, there are also some sampled instruments. A bit like Kontakt instruments where you have a load of multi-sampled content stuffed into a helpful interface tailored for the source material. These come from sample produces Soundiron and cover three areas. First, there’s Klang Tuned Percussion which brings the plink and plonk of glockenspiel, music box, wind glasses and those kinds of organic sounds. Next, there’s Pangea World Instruments which broadens the horizons into a more eclectic sonic palette. And finally, Humana Vocal Ensemble which is a bunch of oohs and ahhs that never sound quite right in any situation.
Yes, they’ve thrown in the popular Synchronous Effects Modulator (it’s an LFO) and the Radical Piano Rack Extension which is a blend of a few pianos merged in new and interesting ways. Then they’ve beefed up the library with 3GB of new sounds, samples and patches for everything.
Other than that it appears to look about the same. There’s no news on any workflow enhancements, graphical or routing changes. There doesn’t seem to be an overhaul of the interface or the sequencer. Propellerheads are staying true to their course and vision which they pretty much decided on a decade ago. To be fair there’s been some great updates to Reason. Lately, of course, it finally got its VST support making it a more complete recording environment.
Reason has been one of my favourite bits of music making software. And the less glamorous improvements and additions that have gone on over the last couple of version have all been worthwhile. Since the VST thing is finally put to rest, along with vocal comping and pitch correction, I had hoped that it would be time for Propellerheads to innovate. Doesn’t look like they have from what I’ve seen so far. New instruments are awesome – we’ve been waiting so long for these! But that’s just new sounds, where is the visual for the future of music production?
Reason 10 is pegged for release on 25th October. Upgrade price of $129 or $399 for a first timer.
- Propellerhead product page.