Propellerhead Reason takes it up a notch
Mimicking the look and feel of a roomful of high-end recording and mixing equipment, Propellerhead Software's Reason has always dazzled with its ability to turn a MIDI-enabled keyboard into any instrument or sound you can dream up. Version 3 adds an indispensable new component called the Combinator, which lets you bundle as many instruments and effects as you like into one sonic package, then save your creations as easy-access Combi patches. If it doesn't get your musical creativity going, you might not have any. It's not the perfect upgrade, though, and version 4 had better include a long-overdue sequencer overhaul and stronger audio input options to make it an all-in-one solution. Propellerhead Reason 3 comes on three CDs: one with the app itself and two with different sound banks chock-full of audio goodness. You'll need to register the program before you can use it, and after you've done so, you can download any upgrades. We immediately pulled down the 3.0.4 upgrade, which required us to trash the folder we'd just installed, install the upgraded app, then reinstall the two sound bank CDs. Hey Propellerhead, did it really need to be that cumbersome?
The Propellerhead Reason 3 interface is unchanged in this version. It offers a virtual rack where you can add mixers, audio-processing modules, and instruments (analog synthesizers, sample playback modules, loop playback modules, and drum machines). To select a new module, click the Create pull-down menu and select your device. The sequencer, which can be undocked for a larger view, sits at the bottom. As before, you can tap the Tab key to show the rack's reverse at any time, where you can easily change input and output cables. The interface is true to life, although constantly scrolling up and down in your rack is a little tiresome. To get the most out of the diversity and grandness of Reason, you should be using a large display.