I am a long-time Reason user. I bought version 1 in 2001 and am still using it more than 20 years later. And as a Test Pilot, I am still involved in the development of Reason. From time to time I create Reason Packs and sounds for Reason.
Most of the time these days I use Reason as a Rack plugin. Mostly in Reaper, which is my favourite DAW these days. For man years I have been a fan of Ableton Live for recording and editing audio, but when I became a professional podcaster a few years ago I ran into problems with Live, it just lacks so many of the features you need to do complex podcast editing.
Editing podcasts in Reason is not a serious option either. In general, the Reason DAW is missing a lot of features. But it does have its own sparkle, I have to admit, but I’ll get to that later.
As I am not an employee of Reason Studios, I have no power to express my opinion about Reason. Reason does listen to what the Test Pilots have to say on their forum. But I felt that if I put this message on my blog, it would be seen by a lot more people and might have more of an effect.
In this article I want to focus on what I consider to be the unique features of Reason that could be expanded upon. And also the things that Reason Studios should leave alone.
Reason as a modular Rack device
Because Reason uses a virtual CV that can be found on the back of the units, most people think of Reason as a modular tool. And I think they are right. But in my opinion it should be extended.
I think that Reason should focus on creating small rack units, half size or one unit height, that offer a single function. For example, a level device, a mid/side device, modulation device, saturation, oscillators, filters and so on.
These modular units could then be used to create larger devices that could be bundled together in a Combinator. So we also need a better Combinator. It needs more features so that you can just build any kind of effect or instrument out of the small rack units in a Combinator.
Will this compete with the RE format? It certainly will, but the RE format should only focus on small modular devices in my opinion. The Combinator is less complex than programming a RE device, so why not focus on allowing anyone to build Combinator devices? And it will be a huge business opportunity for many people.
The ReFill market has almost disappeared. The RE market cannot compete with VST, so why not focus on the Combinator instead? And revive the ReFill format!
By the way, Reason focuses on Combinator because all Reason + packs contain only Combinator patches. Which I totally agree with.
Reason DAW RIP?
In 2001, it was super cool that you could automate almost any parameter in the Reason DAW in a very simple way. But today I find that automating things in Reason is a bit problematic. Reason’s audio parameters are not displayed in dB values and it is difficult to draw any sort of automated lines. Other DAWs do this better.
Reason was very late in admitting that it needed audio. For many years it stubbornly insisted that it was fine to be a MIDI-only DAW. Although Reason can be used as an audio recorder, it lacks many of the features you can find in Live, Logic and Reaper.
In my opinion, Reaper is the best DAW out there, fully customisable and offering so many features that it can be overwhelming to switch from a more basic audio DAW like Reason.
In short, Reason will never be a mature audio DAW like Reaper. Because of this I believe that most professionals use Reason as a Rack plug-in.
It must be hard for Reason Studios to focus on two completely different use cases of Reason. So why not let the Reason DAW die and focus on Reason as a rack only device?
Reason 12.6 and later versions support Apple Silicon, so if the Reason DAW was to die, users will still be able to open old songs. But there might be another option you can think of ….
Reason Rack Next Gen
Why doesn’t the Reason Rack include the SSL mixer and the sequencer? Why can VST plug-ins not be loaded? Why can’t it load audio tracks?
Or to put it more simply, why is Reason Rack not the same as Reason? Does this situation look like ReWire? A little, but with full automation and communication back and forth between the DAW and the Reason Rack.
It would make sense that a full-blown Reason Rack would be able to load Reason songs. So Reason Rack just becomes Reason.
This way, Reason Studios isn’t competing with other DAW systems, but it’s creating the most fully-featured modular Rack plugin in the world.