Now that Reason 9.5 gets VST support, time for an analysis!

The Props announced that version 9.5 of Reason will support VST plugins. What!? Yes indeed! Time for an analysis.

It’s funny how many times Propellerhead has said “we will never do that”. It takes them a bit of time, often a couple of years but eventually they will add it to Reason. Simply because the users can’t be ignored, they want these features, they NEED them! MIDI out, audio recording and VST support, anyone could easily predict that one day the Props would add these features to Reason. It was just a matter of time.

Reason 9.5 gets VST support

And that time is now: today the Props announced that version 9.5 of Reason will support VST plugins. Including latency compensation for using effects in parallel (on parallel channels) without phasing issues for example.

Tight VST integration with the Reason rack

The VSTs will live in a new Plugin Rack Device that sits in the Reason rack, which seems like a super tight integration. It allows you to route audio any way you want and even has 8 assignable CV controls! So any VST device will have more audio routing possibilities and CV options than many of the native Reason devices and REs, including the Combinator which only has 2 audio ins/outs and 4 CVs!

In my opinion the Combinator needs a MKII version as soon as possible with additional audio routings, more CV ins/outs, a metering system on the front panel showing peak and RMS levels and a way to lock the device (so the device can’t be opened) for developers who want to make money creating boutique Combinator patches.

Bad news for RE developers, good news for Reason users

The RE format is often causing CPU issues, using too much power compared to their VST counterparts. In general Reason uses more CPU power than the DAW systems of the competition. Will version 9.5 fix this? And how will the VST versions compare to their RE counterparts? Something to find out about soon…

This is really good news for all Reason users. But bad news for RE developers and for the Props in general because I am sure many people will prefer the VST versions over the RE versions. So if this means the Props will sell a lot less REs why did they add this to Reason? Because if not users would start using another DAW someday soon I believe. The SDK for VST is simply a lot more advanced than the RE version. Native Instruments Kontakt is the killer format for disk streaming sample libraries. So anyone doing film scoring will use a different DAW than Reason for that. But thanks to VST in Reason 9.5 people will be able to use these libraries in Reason now for the first time. Propellerhead simple HAD to do that or else loose a lot of users which would end up buying a more advanced DAW.

And let’s face it: many more musicians will be seriously interested in buying Reason since it now supports the plugin standard everyone is using.

I have had many discussions about the RE format with many expert users. Its tight integration in Reason is really nice but I feel it wasn’t a wise decision that the Props developed their own plugin format. The RE SDK is still rather limited. And the amount of plugins in RE format is tiny and often not as cheap as its VST counterparts. But most importantly: why do the Props put so much of their precious time into developing something that is already working perfectly fine for so many users? The VST format has been the golden standard for years. THE industry standard. Wake up Sweden! Well they did now.

The VST support in Reason includes multi-channels and CV. The SDK for an IDT RE only offers stereo audio in/out and a single CV in and out.

Propellerhead has lacked a strategic vision for many years. Anyone with brains can predict their future innovations because it is so super obvious. What’s next? Video support in Reason? Without a single doubt, of course!

The business solution: Combinator MKII

There’s a huge business challenge the Props have to tackle. They have to find new ways for patch designers and developers to make money because the Propellerhead Shop needs to be filled with great stuff Reason users want to buy. A locked Combinator MKII device is in my opinion the killer idea I am having for so many years. It would allow many patch designers like myself to create super devices and patches for Reason. It should use a little scripting language using XML for choosing controls and switches.

To sum it all up, I hope the Props will focus on this for Reason 10:

  • Develop a Combinator MKII device which has an option to lock it so the Combi cannot be opened (closed box like any RE or VST but much easier to create!).
  • Develop half rack devices for all kinds of famous Reason features so they can be used in the Combinator MKII in a modular way (the Combinator MKII could use some of the tricks Thor uses, for swapping panels, routing, Shaping audio etc).
  • Put an oversampling switch (1, 2, 4 & 8) on the back of every EQ, saturation and instrument device of Reason.
  • Add video to Reason in exactly the same way like Ableton Live does.


But first Reason 9.5! Beta testing starts tomorrow.


One idea i had was an update to the midi-out instrument.

Make it so people can make an editor for their MIDI synth.. smashing combined with cv possibilities.

Locking combinators would be terrible, the whole point about any combinator in reason is that you can “open it up to see how it works” and learn… all patches are open-source in a way.

I am not saying that all Combinators will be locked, but it could be an option for those who develop Combinator patches can decide.

I am not sure if I would lock it myself, even when selling Combinator patches. I am pro open-source. But I guess for developers they want a closed option. Like RE and VST are 100% closed too.

A musician that’s into skins is not a musician. focus on manipulating waveforms, not creating cheesy guis or midi outs that look like hardware synths…cheeseball. BTW i like to ditch the combinator backdrops from patch librarys like my Orange 4, but you want it locked. I know you want to keep you keyboard loop player a secret but locking combinators it terrible. I should be able to steal your KLP and mangle it to my liking if I want. RE is not dead, you cant do what blamsoft did with Viking VK-2 did in VST format with it’s some thirty or forty cv and audio jacks on the flip side and send those wires like a mad scientist throughout the reason rack

For a while I’ve felt a bit alienated by Reason – it’s just seemed in the last two years or so, all their development efforts have gone into Allihoopa and veered slightly away from creativity. It’s impossible to please everyone, but for me this is Reason back on track. I love the environment and workflow, VST integration has made it my perfect DAW again. No more damned rewire, woohoo!

Hey Marco, I don’t expect Reason will be concentrating on its desktop/laptop development very much after 9.5 and video. If you look at Ernst in the 9.5 announcement video, he looks like he just got beat up. I don’t think it has to do with the Verdane take-over, that’s a big infusion of cash and management expertise. I think it is what he said, there was an unexpected “explosion” (his term) of great VST plug-ins recently. He did not expect that, in fact he predicted the technological death of VST. He expected Rack Extension technology to be the de facto superior alternative worldwide. He was seriously wrong about that. But there is another explosion going on right now that Propellerhead will have to deal with, and is starting to. That is the mobile music world. Have you seen how many music apps are available for iPhone right now compared to a year ago? And the quality, complexity, ingenuity, and musician appeal have risen dramatically (and not just the Boss tuner). My wife got me an iPhone a few years ago to keep in touch with me working in electronics in several San Francisco hospitals. Now I use it to write songs in the car, video chat with nieces, and play Parsec/Thor combinators in my home studio with AC Sabre. Cubase is now on iPad with Audiobus. This is the other explosion that R10 and R11 will have to deal with.

I don’t think there’s an explosion of VST plugins. The market is saturated. But I know Ernst is impressed by what Output has been creating the last few years. That simply needs disk streaming so it can’t be done in Reason. But it also needs top sound designers doing patches. Like anything NI has put out: the patches are the most important part of the product. The patches make you feel the devices are incredible, which they are not, they are ok, but the sounds are incredible.

The mobile market is the way to go indeed. What would be really interesting is an interface on iPhone/iPad to control Reason. Control over input (setting recording levels), an easy way to record from a vocal booth. And use the controller as an addition to the desktop/laptop. Maybe even offer a way to trigger parts of the songs as clips from the iPad. Why create Figure or Take when you can create something any Reason user would like to buy?

I guess they are struggling. Like we all are in a way 🙂

I agree, there wasn’t an “explosion”, but I think it finally hit Ernst that way and somebody convinced him Reason had to change. And thankfully he did.

I should clarify that I absolutely cannot do without desktop Reason. It is the center of my music world. I expect it to improve over the years and I love it.

Erm… this locked combinator thing you allude to which provides developers a way of producing protected content.

Doesn’t that exist already in the form of the IDT?

I get that a Combinator revamp would be a good idea but not as per your proposal.

“Anyone with brains can predict their future innovations because it is so super obvious. What’s next? Video support in Reason? Without a single doubt, of course!”

Maybe that’s already solved by adding VST support as well? There is VidPlayVST:

Before VST there was also a couple of apps to, supposedly, have video synced with the music we’re working on in Reason’s sequencer. ReasonSync and ReSync are some examples. And it does the job, more or less. But the fact is that none of those apps are meant for professional purposes. When you work on a movie score, you want accuracy. You want to start at a very precise video frame, not at a sequencer bar.

I spent money for nothing. [Well, the guy from ReasonSync was kind enough to refound me, I must say). And after spending money for nothing I always went backwards: Ableton Live and Reason in Rewire (consuming more CPU, having a boring process with two different DAW running, breaking my workflow rhythm.).

I would try this VidPlayVST…. but when you’re scoring a 120 minute movie, which conclusions can you get with a demo that only plays 20 seconds of a video?!?! I won’t lose my time on it for sure.

Video Support in Reason would be, definitely, something something huge. For that reason and because I don’t feel I’m alone on this will I made a petition for who may be interested in having such feature in reason! Take a few minutes to read it… and sign it!

It would be a nice feature for people who value self-education.
Reaper also has one 😎

Absolutely. I made a comment above about the importance (in my opinion) of Video Support in Reason.
In case you didn’t read it, there’s a petition I’ve made to unite people that, just like us, want that feature so much. I believe it can’t be that hard for PH to had that feature in a near future and it would be just awesome.

In my opinion, the lack of video support is (now that VST are about to come) the only reason to keep a second DAW installed in our computer. As you said, Reaper has it. But also Cubase, Pro Tools, Ableton Live and Logic. Resuming, all major DAW can play a video for scoring purposes (and not for editing, has some users wrongly believe). And even worst: those who really need to have a video playing synced with Reason, must continue to rewire with another DAW, but by doing so, they will be no able to use any VST (because VST in Rewire Mode will not work at all).

In the case you’re interested, here is the petition link:

Also, the “Reasonistas” Facebook page has very interesting a poll running called “Reason Feature Request Poll”. There’s a lot of great ideas there and Video Support is also included and right now it’s in the 5 more voted features. It would be nice if you could help it to climb a little higher in the poll. Here’s the link: 😉

In my opinion your analysis is often off !! How can you analysis thing when you not into the business on the simple basis of appearance ?!

Unfortunately, MIDI VST’s (like VST sequencers) are still (even after the release of Reason 10) not supported in Reason.
To me this is very very important.

The thing i always face with Propellerhead Software; they release something that works only half. Same story to their Rack Extension format, especially their SDK v1 was just a joke with too much limitations even developers complained about.
They released a monophonic pitch editor in Reason 9 short after Melodyne released a polyphonic pitch editor.
In other words, the products or modules work half and is already “obsolete” because the competition is 2 steps ahead

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