section is especially for the (DUB) Reggae
producers, computer based or not. Find tips
and tricks, sample and software downloads, stuff
about Propellerhead Reason as it relates to the
production of DUB music, and much more.
For reviews of free downloadable software and
sounds, go to the Download
page at Studio Dubroom.
This website has no links to illegal
8.0: A Review For The Dub Community
October 16 2014 - It's been close to a decade
since the launch of Reason 3.0 and the
Dubroom's review of the then groundbreaking,
ultra-flexible Dub-friendly music production
software. We've promoted the software
continually ever since it was established
how it was possible to make Dub using just
one program. Just recently,
Reason 8.0 was released and arrived in the
Dubroom not much later. We went in-depth again, from 3.0
straight to eight and came back with this review exclusively for the Dub Community.
course, we don't have to re-establish how it
is possible to make DUB using Reason as a
Stand-Alone Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
We did that when Reason 3.0 had arrived and
changed the way to produce the music we all
love to produce. It's obvious that
Reason 8.0 enables you to do what version
3.0 offered, and it's obvious that we're a
decade later into the research and
development at the Scandinavian
in case, though. Yes, you can make Dub not
just using just a computer but using just
one program. The name of that program is
Reason, of which version 8.0 was released
just two weeks prior to the publication of
a way, this is not just a review of Reason
8.0, it's a review of ten years of
development at Propellerhead and in the
production of DUB Music using just a
computer. In this decade, producing music
with just a computer has become what it
should be: commonly accepted. No longer is
it considered to be avant-gardistic to
side-step snobby studio owners with
attitudes and reach your audience directly
with computer-based productions.
longer are computer-based producers looked
down upon, and Reason has played a huge part
in this wonderful development.
October 2014. Welcome to a review of Reason
8.0, software that enables you to turn that
idea in your head into sounds from your
We're going to take a deep look into
the many new features that have been added
to Propellerhead's flag ship during the last
decade. Sure, there are many new devices
that look promising at first sight. After
all, that's what we need in our studio.
Brand new in Reason 8.0 is the updated
browser, which needs to be examined too.
Will it be quicker in this new way to find
what you're looking for?
locked, all projects put on hold for more
than a week.
Reason was the object of undivided attention
as this review was written, Dubs created and
put on You Tube along with other things like
detailed screenshots taken. You can read all
about this in this extensive, in-depth
review of Reason 8.0 where all things DUB
are considered and tried.
Review For The DUB Community
more than fair to establish, how the last
decade has seen a significant rise of
computer based Dub productions. The Dubroom
receives as many hits on it's pages on Dub
production than on our free and legal MP3
reviews. Quite remarkable and surely
gives an indication about something. We're talking thousands
and thousands of people every week, looking
for info of the creation of Dub. The
hits come from everywhere in the world, even
from places you wouldn't expect!
living in a time wherein many Dub producers
trade in their hardware more and more
because of the power of contemporary DAW's
like Propellerhead's Reason and Ableton's
Live. As more and more people are getting into the
production of DUB Music with DAW's, the need
for this review of Reason exclusively for
the Dub community is self-evident.
here it is: an
independent review, aimed at helping both
the beginners and those who happened to
start a bit earlier in time. It's the Dubroom's contribution
to the online DUB producers community. When
you make Dub and consider to get Reason,
this review will provide
you with an in-depth look at the software in
sight and sound. It comes from the explicit
perspective of an acknowledged computer
based DUB engineer with an experience in
this field dating back to the late 1980's,
early 1990's and a desire to share things as
soon as they're discovered.
mek wi Reason together!
DUB Engineer's Perspective
Dub engineer and producer knows how
important it is to be able to connect and
use devices in that specific Dub set up.
Standard options are no options. We want to
know, how is the flexibility in Reason 8.0?
This question is not as obvious as it may
sound at first.
this: it can easily be established how
Propellerhead (and others) have been
instrumental in the creation of completely
new musical computer-based genres. With such
a successful enterprise, it's tempting to go
and facilitate just the computer-based
musical genres and forget about, well, Dub.
You can't make Dubstep without a computer
but you can make Dub without one. Dub is a
form of music and technology that predates
the computer. So
yes. We ask: does Reason have the
flexibility to function as a Dub studio on
top of all the Electronic Dance Music (EDM)
technologies incorporated in the software?
reviews on Reason 8.0 are written for and
from the perspective of contemporary EDM
producers. Usually, the software is reviewed
on huge machines with a whole battery of
hardware attached. That's not what we're
going to do here. This review is especially
for the (online) DUB artist community, for
the world-wide Digital DUB massive even. A
movement that is much larger then most
people assume, a movement that depends on
software like Reason because most of us are
simply not able to finance a studio life
Propellerhead know about this? Yes, they do.
We know for a fact that they very much
welcome a review from the DUB perspective.
After all, because of DUB the studio
engineer turned into a musical artist which
is the whole point of DAW's and EDM in the
first place. DUB is very much part of the
Roots of EDM, and Roots have their function.
That function will be a main part of our
this review, we used a new model of a 64bit Windows 8
machine with 8 Gigabytes of RAM and Intel
processors. That's quite a machine, in times
where 32bit and 4 Gigabytes of RAM still
form the norm. So the 32bit version was
installed, with only 4 Gigabytes available. No external
sound device was connected either, the internal Real-Tek
audio card was used with a ASIO4ALL driver.
MIDI keyboard? Nope. Mouse and computer
A minimal configuration.
Reason performs in this configuration, it
will break all sound barriers in 64bit
8.0 comes as a huge download. It's a zip
file you can download straight from your
account at the Propellerhead website. After
unzipping everything to a folder, it's
merely clicking the "Install
Reason.exe" file. Unless you don't want
the standard install options, that is.
Installation goes quick, the computer will
reset and when you launch Reason, you can
log in with your account name and password
or you can authorize your copy on the
Propellerhead website and simply start the
program without Internet connection. It's more difficult
to read this than to actually do, by the
you run a 64bit OS like Windows 8, Reason
will install it's 64bit version by default.
Adding /32 ("Install Reason.exe
/32") will install it's 32bit version
which you must do when you plan to use other 32bit software
for plug-in's through Propellerhead's Rewire
protocol. Everything is explained in the
about plug-in's, even though Propellerhead
doesn't really like using that term for
their "Rack Extensions": Reason
8.0 comes with a free Bass and Guitar Amp as
well as a "Retro Transformer".
You'll need to install them separately, but
more about that later.
off Reason 3.04 and opening Reason 8.0:
obviously, that's an overwhelming
experience. Even preparation in the form of
checking tutorials and You Tube video's from
the Swedish developers can not prevent the
effects of this virtual time travel. This is
like getting off a bicycle and stepping in a
3, you could say, is to Reason 8 what
Rebirth was to Reason 3. Where you could
hook up Propellerhead's first software seamlessly
in Reason, Reason 8 has almost all the
features of it's previous versions
seamlessly integrated with the first new
feature that draws the attention: the Master
Mixing Console. In one word: wow! This is definitely the kind of
console every DUB engineer has these
specific dreams of.
the Reason known to us here in the Dubroom
contained a sequencer and a device part,
Reason added the Master Mixing Console as a
third part of the program. You can have one
window for your sequencer, one for your
device rack and one for the extensive
console. Unlike Reason 3, your rack is not
limited to one vertical line of devices. You
can build your rack as high and wide as you
like to. Big improvement!
there were computers and programmable
sequencers, there was DUB. In essence, DUB
is the art of remixing an audio multi-track
recording of a band playing a Reggae riddim.
In a way, even using loops and drum
computers are just a simulation of that. The
best DUB is actually made from physical
what? Reason gives you this very
example: you can create your own Drum sound,
program a rhythm from start to stop and
render the whole thing to an audio track. Do
this with all your instrument sections and
you have a de facto multi-track audio
recording in just the right way for an
authentic DUB session. Or simply load
multi-track stems and off you go.
the console isn't a new feature in Reason 8.
Neither are it's audio tracks. What is new, is the
browser. That browser is quite an
improvement indeed. It gives you
context-sensitive options, while it
remembers where you have stored your
settings and files when you didn't do it in the default
manner. It finds files much quicker, too, a
thing that will please a lot of Reason
browsing and basically navigating through
the different parts is pretty intuitive.
After all, you know why you launch Reason.
You'll need a sequencer, you'll need effects
and you need a mixing board. You want to
make music. DUB music.
versions prior to Reason 6 basically had the
sequencer and the device rack, 2011 (when
Reason 6 was announced) introduced a
mixing console next to the device rack and
the sequencer. Later on in this
review we'll take an in-depth look at this
console, but the mere fact it has been given
it's own part rather than a place in the
rack is very telling.
all, for a Dub engineer the console is more
than half the work. The console is the
heart, the HQ from where all the music is
processed and all the effects are driven.
For a Dub engineer, the console is where
most of the work is done. The better the
console, the less you have to do things on
the devices themselves. Well, this console
does a lot.
fact that Reason will accept Multi-Track
audio recordings or stems should
possible to set up the DAW for a first
"quick" Dub session. Drums, Bass,
Skanks and Horns. The console gives us no
less than eight aux sends, so three
different delays, two reverbs, a phaser, a
filter and the Audiomatic effect just
because it's new. That's a total of 12
channels: four audio, eight effects. The
effects have their own channel rather than a
mere plug in to the returns, but that's nothing
new for the Dub producer.
things up for a first Dub mix reveals the
way the rack works with the console. Within
the rack, audio and console tracks have
their own little device. You link the output
from your device into the input of the
"mix track" and that's it. Again,
reading it is more difficult than actually
your time looking at the following screen
shot (click to enlarge):
the left you see the browser. It can be
scaled and minimized. Dragging devices from
the browser to the rack is easy. Just press
the shift key while you do it, otherwise
Reason will connect the device for you and a
Dub engineer wants to make his own
connections. At the bottom is the sequencer,
the racks are in the middle and the console
is at the top. All three, like the browser,
completely scalable and they can even appear
all three in their own window for maximum convenience.
just four audio tracks and a couple of
effect devices connected to the main console
should be good enough for a first Dub
session. And it is, for the four
audio tracks (channels 1-4). Reason makes an
audio channel on the main console and
automation goes smoothly. Things are
a bit different for the effect channels (5 and
beyond), since you have to make sequencer
tracks for these channels and subsequently
arm them for automation.
touching the effect devices, without
regarding a proper sound balance, just
testing the automation on the console and
some of the EQ it features. The result can
be seen and heard in this next video, while
you can read some spontaneous first
8.0 REVIEWED VIDEO 1: DISCOVERING
DAW has their own specific ways of dealing
with automation. Using them in your own way
requires time, practice and study. In this
first impression of Reason 8.0 at work, it
was not really clear that audio channels are
armed for automation automatically while
other channels at the console are not. A
minor issue that was solved very quickly
after posting a question on the
Propellerhead website's forum.
works friendly. When tracks are properly
armed automation is recorded smoothly. Reason picks it up and
everything works the way you connect it and
the way you touch the buttons. This
is really important for Dub mixing since
most of the Dub action takes place on the
console's channels. Dubs have some heavy (un)muting
of different channels at the same time, while effects are layered on
top of each other. This all needs to be
recorded in automation without problems,
while the console should do what is says it
console needs to be examined first.
way of mixing music prior to Reason 6.0 was
of the 14 channel line mixer. This can still
be done in Reason 8.0, but the real power is
within the main console. It's patterned
and built after the Solid
State Logic 9000 (see picture right,
click to enlarge), a
console that can be found in some of the
theory, the console can have as much or as
little channels as you want. You can use
channels for fine-tuning and others for
mixing, but that's not even necessary. The
many functions on the thing work so exact
and audible that it can and will do
everything it takes to get a good Reggae
sound and subsequent Dub mix.
it's technically possible to completely
ignore the console and go for the line
mixers, it would be an enormous mistake to do so. Yes,
it requires more work than the line mixers
but more work gives more fruits which in the
case of the console is self-evident when you
take a look at the thing even before hearing
what it can do.
look at just one channel strip reveals it (see picture left, click to enlarge).
top is the gain. Completely absent in
Reason's line mixers and oh so useful.
Increasing or decreasing gain also changes
the very sound of the input signal. Playing
with it certainly adds a thing or two. In
the same time, when you want to prepare for
a heavy Dub session and you do not want to
care too much about the right slider
settings, just put the gains in effect while
you have all channel sliders full open. You
get the point.
to the gain is a nice compressor. Get these
peaks out of the mix, warm up the sound,
change dynamics. It has all the main
features to (slightly) change the sound of
the input of your channel.
very high quality and essential part of this
console, especially when it comes to the
production of Dub music, is the EQ section.
The EQ section on this console is very
flexible. It can indeed be used to fine-tune
that incoming signal but even better: since
the console is fully automatable, using the
EQ for example on a Reverb channel gives
very good results. You can set Hi Pass and
Lo Pass filters to set strict boundaries in
the frequencies, tweak with the Hi, Mid and
Low and everything in between to create
manual phaser like effects.
room for channel specific insert effects,
too. For example, you have that phaser on
your horn section and it's just for the horn
section. Insert a phaser in the channel of
the horn section et voila, there it
is without bothering anything else in your
a look at the right (click to enlarge),
before we continue to discover the channel
strip. There's a "master
compressor" and according to some
sources, this particular compressor could be
the difference between a catchy sound and a
boring noise. This obviously depends on your
ear and knowledge when it comes to
compression in the first place but the
feature should not be underestimated.
the compressor you can set the master output
for the aux sends on the channel strip.
Reason gives you no less than eight
different effect sends. There's room for
some inserts in the master mix as well, and
below that there's the most useless item on
every mixing board.
least, when it comes to Dub producing.
these are basically nothing more than very
primitive input channels without any
flexibility, it is best to ignore them when
you want to make Dub. After all, you can
route your effects back to a channel input,
giving you full control and flexibility to
layer effects during your mixing
control and flexibility?
Consider the fact that this
console has no less than eight FX sends (see
left), with their own master volume on the
master strip (right) as well. You can
connect one, or a chain of effect devices to
the FX sends before you route them back to
the console. You could like reserve four FX
sends for mastering and fine tuning where
you use the other four for the actual Dub
can set each FX send separate to post or
pre. Post is when the volume of the output
corresponds with the slider's position,
selecting pre will give you full control
over the volume of the FX send. It's muted
when the channel is muted, but when the
slider is down and the channel unmuted,
selecting pre on your send will work,
resulting in an all-wet sound. But you
probably knew this, maybe because you saw
it in action in the Dubroom's tutorial
on making Dub with computers.
you want to route and use the effects, fact
remains this console give you the
possibility to layer 7 effects over one
effect, any effects. That's like countless
of combinations you can create just by switching
FX sends on and off. A little bit of smart
routing will enable you to create the most
mysterious sounds, just by some layering of
channel strip has the obvious slider and
(stereo) level meters, mute and solo
buttons. There's an interesting feature next
to the pan worth mentioning. It's called
"width" and it gives you a more
detailed control over the pan itself. Really
interesting to hear.
is the kind of console that lets you do
anything you want a console to do. As a Dub
producer, you want to have full control and
flexibility over your mix, while realizing that there is a post-mix stage where
you have to really fine-tune things. This
console lets you do everything in the same
time, which is marvelous.
simply more than fine console serves
your every need when it comes to getting
just the right sound for your final
works very pleasantly both in the fine
tuning and in Dub sessions. It lets you go
wild in your mixing, while compressors and
everything else you can think of will keep
an eye and ear on the final sound of your
mix. It has more than enough FX sends and
the possibility to route everything in the
exact way you want it. For a Dub engineer,
this is simply a basic need.
might be so that the console is not new to
Reason 8, but it deserved our undivided
attention. Not everybody buys the new
version of their favorite software, simply
because if there's nothing broken, there's
nothing to fix either. However, when you own
a version of Reason that predates version 6,
this console alone is a reason to consider
purchasing version 8.
that's not the only niceness you'll
the console brings everything together into
a stereo sound and the sequencer drives
everything from behind, the actual sounds
and effects are created in Reason's device
Rack. That's where you place your devices,
where you connect them to each other and to
Roughly, there are three types
devices in the rack is a matter of browsing
for devices or patches. Opening a reverb
patch will create a reverb device in the
rack. When you don't hit the shift button
while you create a device, Reason will
automatically connect the device for you.
You might want to keep that shift button in
In a real
studio, you sometimes have to be like an
athlete or acrobat to get to the back of
your console and devices. In Reason, you can
just sit and press "tab". The rack
has a front side and a back side. When
you're into connecting devices in your own
way, the back side is definitely important.
Pressing the tab button will let you look at
the side of your preference. Take a look at
the screenshots below (click to enlarge):
are screenshots from the set up of the Dub
mix earlier in this review. On the left side
you see the console channels as devices, you
see the FX sends from the console as well in
the Master Section device. On the right you
see a number of effect devices. You can see
how they are connected to the console by
looking at the back side of the rack.
3 would let you have the rack in one row.
Reason 8 will let you have the rack in as
many rows as you want, so they can fill up
your screen completely, giving you a much
better overview of your devices. Important,
because things can get very complicated in
final thing, before we'll dive deeper in
Reason: The graphic art is crucial,
especially in the rack. Sometimes, powerful
DAW's lack a little visual niceness but
Propellerhead puts a lot of effort in there.
It might not be the most important aspect,
but it is simply better for the inspiration
and creativity to remind yourself you are
working with actual devices even when
they're in this digital environment.
is not just powerful when it comes to
mixing. That's the first thing you see when
you take a look at the actual devices. Next
to the obligatory instruments and effects,
there are some extraordinary pieces of
equipment that will enable you to -when you
know what you do- design your own sound
on a professional, even university
a combination of instruments, effects and
utilities can provide you with your own
created drum sounds, synthesized voices and
other stuff you've been hearing in your head
but never from a speaker or headphone. The
power of Reason when it comes to sound
design, it might just bring a Dub Nerd to
create that special, definitive effect or
sound. When you realize Dub Masters like
King Tubby and the Mad Professor know their
way with electronics, it's well worth
considering improving your own skills in this
field by trying the sound design devices.
you're more into using real recordings like
samples, loops and stems, Reason has the
devices for that too. Drum computers and
samplers where you load real recordings, an
intelligent loop player capable of handling
8 loops, and of course the audio channels on
the main console.
are a couple of completely programmable
synthesizers, a very nice sound module
called the ID8 and some very fine effects
next to the standard ones. Later on in this
review we'll take a closer look at the devices.
riddims and recording automation, it's all
done in the sequencer. Initially in this
review it wasn't really clear why console
automation wouldn't automatically be
recorded, but (again) after asking
a little bit at the Propellerhead forum,
things became clear.
channel at the
console is also a device in the rack, but not
automatically a sequencer track. Making
a sequencer track for the device, and arming
it for automation solved the mystery.
to know how to mix a Dub from the console,
but that's not the only thing we'll need the
sequencer for. Usually, this is where you
make your riddim (others would say:
you create your set up by adding devices to
the rack, the sequencer will create tracks
for instruments as well. It won't do that
for (all) effect devices, though. Once you're
ready with your set up, you can start to
play or program your riddim into the
Riddim creation in Reason's sequencer is as
easy as you can come up with a riddim.
Programming a drum and bass line, inserting
the skanks and adding a little
"pucking" guitar is pretty easy to
sequencer works with "blocks".
Initially, it will open in the arrangement
view. Simply double-clicking on a bar will
create a block. You can set start and end of
the block, double-click on the block and
subsequently add notes. Drum computers will
open drum lanes, musical instruments will
open the piano roll, et cetera.
to Reason 3, the sequencer in this version
has grown significantly in it's features. It takes a while before everything looks
as logical as it really is, but when it does this is actually a very
fine sequencer that will let you do exactly
what you want it to do.
every channel at the console is armed for
automation in it's own dedicated track in
the sequencer, recording automation on the
console is done in a way that is perfect for
the Dub engineer.
Just take a look and
listen at the following Dub mix, again
completely done from the console:
8.0 REVIEWED VIDEO 2: Mastering Console Automation and Reviewing Work flow for the Dub engineer
pre-Dub phase, wherein you set up your
studio and do sound checking, you'll make
heavy use of the browser. As you select your
instruments and effects and hook them all up
together and to the console, as you audit
patches and samples, you do not want to
navigate like in the early days of Windows.
devices and loading patches wasn't one of
Reason's strongest features, but that has
changed quite dramatically in Reason 8.0.
Propellerhead makes quite a big deal from
Reason's new browser, and not without any
really is a huge improvement.
can now easily find the device you need, and
after you've dragged it into the rack you
can use the browser to select patches. Or
samples, for example in the Redrum.
to see the browser in action?
Just take a look at the following video,
wherein a Redrum and a RV7000 are loaded and
patches are selected:
8.0 REVIEWED VIDEO 3: The Browser
hold the SHIFT button while you drag devices
to the rack, Reason will auto-connect them
in Reason's way. As you build your studio
set up and things get more and more
complicated, you will increasingly learn to
appreciate the browser. It might not be the
most exciting thing to do in the production
of Dub (or any other) music, but without the
right devices and patches you won't really
is not just an improvement, it's also a
special request by popular demand. People
have been complaining about the slow browser
and Reason's new browser is fast as a
Ferrari compared to earlier versions.
two more "missing features": the
first is the absence of the possibility to
include VST effects/instruments in Reason,
the other being that although Reason
communicates perfectly with other DAW's
through the REWIRE protocol, it only gives
it's audio signal and does not receive any
audio from any DAW. Officially, that
the "missing links". Linking with
plug-in's and/or receiving audio from
another DAW through the REWIRE protocol is
often requested but it looks like
Propellerhead doesn't make a move in that
an alternative and it's called...
Take a look
at the two browser screenshots left (click
you browse Effects, Instruments and
Utilities you will see that you can make a
choice between "Reason Devices"
and so-called "Rack Extensions".
There is and there is no difference between
kind of devices will work in exactly the
same way: you can drag them in the rack,
connect them in the way you like and place
them wherever you like.
though you will get a few Rack Extensions
with your copy of Reason 8.0, the bulk can
be found in Propellerhead's web
shop. You'll have to install them
directly from the Propellerhead erbsite, the process
goes automatically. You basically click
"install" and it's there a little
right, you could say that Rack Extensions
are Reason's very own internal Plug-In's.
are a few free Rack Extensions in the shop,
the most have to be bought. There are some
really cheap ones, and others are, well,
can try them all out for free for 30 days,
though people are requesting the possibility
to include (VST) Plug-In's, it's not very
likely that Propellerhead will answer this
popular demand. Their rather huge catalogue
of Rack Extensions gives more than a hint
towards this not-so-speculation. Add to that
the fact that Reason remains to be one of
the most popular DAW's and rightly so.
doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure
out the Swedish Soundware developers are not
in any urge to open up their software
directly for the effects available in VST
land even though this could be done without
a problem through the Rebirth Input Machine,
a thing you'll find out about a little
further in this review.
you want to use Reason with VST Plug-In's,
you will (still?) have to do this through
another DAW using Propellerhead's REWIRE
protocol. More about that later too, after we've
taken a look at the devices Reason 8.0 has
to Reason 3, Reason 8 has some very
interesting effects available for the rack.
Some may not directly be of interest in the
creation of Reggae and the mixing of DUB,
but Reggae is a very absorbent form of music
because it's more a rhythm than a specific
genre. There will be DUB producers of the
more digital variety that will take a lot of
interest in some of the more exotic effects
available in the DAW.
quick glance over the effects (see right,
click to enlarge) reveals that next to the
RV7000 Advanced Reverb/Delay, there's the
original Reason half-rack effects,
Original Reason Effects
been reviewed before, but let's re-examine
them just a little (click to enlarge):
half rack devices are little useful tools.
There's a chorus, flanger and phaser that do
a pretty nice job, a filter and a mean EQ.
some more, too.
RV7000 is one of the most
important basic effect devices for the
creation of Dub music. This is a very
powerful reverb, fully programmable with all
the necessary Reverb parameters like Gate,
Hall/Plate, EQ et cetera. Although it's
quality is not of the kind you can buy for
the price of several Reason programs, it is
definitely a top device comparable to 500$+
also Reason's well-known Vocoder and it's
Scream 4 Distortion Unit. Plus the mastering
tools: compression, a detailed EQ and a
stereo expander. Since every channel on the
console has all of these mastering tools,
well, you can make your choice.
take a look at some of the newer effect
devices. Well, they're not actually effects
but since they have to be connected in the
same way, they're in this category: the Amps
(click to enlarge).
goes like this: You connect the Amp between
your instrument and let's say the a console
channel device. This way it works exactly
the same as "real" amps. And, yes,
it works. We've already heard a very fine,
nice and warm bass sound.
course you can also connect drums or other
instruments you would not normally run
through an amp, but then this has everything
to do with being creative, finding ways to
make a special sound.
Line6 devices, by the way, are Reason
Devices. They're scheduled to retire in a
future version of Reason. The other two are
created by a company called Softube, and
come as free Rack Extensions with Reason 8.
Rack Extension effect device you get for
free with Reason 8.0 is created by
Propellerhead and it's called
"Audiomatic" (see right, click to
Audiomatic device doesn't have any patches
to load, it just gives you 16 different
options and four parameters: gain, dry/wet,
volume and "transform".
it does? Well, it transforms the input and
sometimes adds a sound. Ranging from hardly
noticeable to an all-wet total
transformation, the Audiomatic can -next to
adding a very nice vinyl effect- transform
the input to make it sound like it's in a
tube, or comming out out a speaker, or as a
very lo-fi MP3 sound.
reason to utilize this? It has already been
done in the second Dub of this review. The
sound of the drums was directed to the
Audiomatic, who ran the PVC transformation
in full-wet mode. This sound came back to
the console and subsequently fed the reverb
and echo's. This gave a very special touch
to especially the rimshot.
used in the Dubs done for this review is
"The Echo" (see left, click to
a versatile device: you can make it sound
like your typical Space Echo, make Ping Pong
Delays and everything else echo-related.
browsing or making your own patch will give
you some thing, but the real fun is in live
tweaking on the filters and other buttons
while you're mixing your Dub track. Play
with speed and pitch, add wow and flutter
tape effects: with The Echo this is as easy
as it with a hardware Space Echo type
device. This is perfect for spontaneous, intuitive
you create this device, Reason will
automatically create a sequencer track for
You have to play notes in this
effect's sequencer track. It will then
process the input signal, which is usually a
voice. After all, change the "nep"
in Neptune for "auto" and you'll
probably know where this device is all
this is Reason's very own Auto-Tune device
even though that term is probably registered
as a Trade Marked name somewhere and
therefore not used.
theory, this is the kind of device that lets
you correct false notes in singing, or even
change the complete melody line, add harmony
voices or make special sound effects like
the singer "Cher", or closer at
home Michael Rose. It's highly
controversial, as it's image is that of
the magical machine transforming every voice
carrying individual into a skilled singer.
Dub, you'll find a way to integrate this
device. Or not. It can provide you with some
mystical vibes, though. An example can be
heard towards the end of this review.
"Triple Filter Gate", the
Alligator is a pattern-based filter with
built-in echo and phaser. You can choose to
filter Hi, Mid or Low frequencies, or a
combination, and let the signal pass
through, well, basically everything
possible to tweak the device completely to
your need, as the pattern follows the rhythm
in the way you choose to. Use it's built in auxiliary
echo or LFO. Even though this device is one
of these more EDM-specific effects, it can
-like everything- be applied somehow
somewhere in a Dub mix.
can use the Pulveriser as a "distortion
extraordinary", but it's also possible
to turn the device into a filter.
Using the right settings, that is. It gives
you gates and rates, filters and can very
likely turn that guitar into a Metal thing
which goes beyond the scope of this review.
Effects For Dub
at all the effect devices together, Reason
offers the obligatory ones in the right
quality. The RV7000 and The Echo are two
must-have effects in Dub, where effects like
phasers and the console's EQ are included as
well. The Neptune, Alligator and Pulveriser
are intelligently designed: they offer
possibilities unheard of in earlier
most effects are fully programmable while
Reason lets you connect things the way you
want it, it is very much possible to create
your own effects out of a chain of devices.
Using automation, you can tweak the effects
live in the mix as far as the console itself
won't let you.
effects work very responsive, they do what
they are told to do. They're of the kind of
quality you can expect.
more? Get Rack Extensions or use Rewire
(more further on).
take a look at the devices that make the
music that we want to run through the
effects. The devices that let us build a
riddim from scratch in Reason.
there was Reason, there was Rebirth: Two
drum computers and two monophonic
synthesizers in one program. Wow! Yes,
remember, this is the 1990's we're talking
about. Rebirth was at the forefront of what
we now know as DAW's when they released
this, well DAW that could run on the typical
pre-2000 computer. Quite an achievement!
"pre-DAW DAW" combined Drum Computers and
Synthesizers with a -primitive- sequencer,
then the Swedish geniuses continued to build other
instruments like Samplers and Loop Players
and released Reason 1.0.
that first humble release, the people at
Propellerhead have been and continue to be
developing new instruments. When the Dubroom
reviewed Reason 3.0 about a decade ago, the
DAW had then been updated with a new sampler
called the NN-XT and the RV7000 Reverb, for
example. Both devices are now classic in
this review, we jump from Reason three
straight to eight and that means a lot of
new instruments. Interesting instruments.
Powerful little gadgets and extremely
complicated machines that let you design
sound on a beyond-professional university
a look at the right (click to enlarge). On
top are the classic Reason instruments,
under that is the updated Dr Rex Loop Player
and below that "Dr. Octorex" are
the new instruments. Drum computers,
Synthesizers, Samplers and a very nice
take a look at the instruments, in a
short: this is a pattern and sample-based
drum computer. You can draw the rhythms in
the sequencer or go old fashion and indeed
use the patterns.
room for ten different samples to trigger,
you can set 8&9 as "exclusive"
(for Hi Hats) and the volume, length and
pitch of each sample. Some channels have
different options, especially when it comes
to bending effects.
don't just have to use the ReDrum for drum
sounds, though. Think about loading the
device with vocal samples (ad-lib's for
example) and place notes at the right times
in it's sequencer track. Or load guitar
skanks and there's your Reggae
small and quickly overlooked: The ID8 Sound
Module. This little device gives you
piano's, organs, synths, drums, just like
any other sound module will do. Every
instrument comes with some effects you can
put in (like a chorus), and the sound is
really, really good.
ID8 is perfect when you start up with
Reason. All these complex instruments you'll
find described later on in this review
require a lot of study before something can
be done. Building a Reggae riddim quick? You
get the ID8 for everything but the drum and
bass and you're on your way for sure.
NN-19 and (introduced in Reason 3) it's
bigger brother the NN-XT are Reason's very
own samplers. You load one, two, three,
hundred samples in the device or use a
patch. The sampler will become a guitar, a
piano, an organ, a whatever.
to the ID8 and the ReDrum, the NN devices
will help you quick-start when building a
riddim from scratch.
machines have fully automatable parameters
like filters and vibrato's. Wheels for
pitching and other purposes are there, too.
Everything is fully programmable even though
simply loading a patch will give you the
sounds you can't find in the ID8.
you buy (professional) Sample Packs, like the ones you can
find reviewed here in the Dubroom, chances
are huge you will find NN-XT patches in some
folder. A sign that yes, the NN samplers are
professional in their kind.
to WAV, AIFF and -of course- it's device
patches, the NN-XT will also read SF2 files.
You're probably happy when you know what
this means. When you don't, don't worry
about it. It's an old sample-bank format
used in ancient days.
possible to open an extensive program window
on the NN-XT. That's where you load samples,
assign keys to them and a whole lot more. In
other words, you can create your very own
patches with your very own samples.
very own loop player, successor of the Dr.
Rex, can handle up to eight loops and is
therefore now called the Dr. Octorex. This
comes in handy, especially when you're using
a set of (drum) loops to construct a full
Dr. Octorex works with it's own file
formats, it won't load a standard WAV file.
However, you can load a WAV file in the
sequencer, open the Audio Editor and save
the loop in the rx2 format on your hard
drive, then open the loop in the player. In
the same time, you can simply drag Dr.
Octorex files directly to an audio track,
bypassing the whole device.
loop player has some powerful features, next
to the pitch and tempo changes it handles
very nicely. It has a very effective LFO
filter you can set to different rates and
amounts, while different waveforms give you
the choice between several ways the filter
treats itself. Whether you run horns or a
bass line, this filter will definitely speak
to your imagination.
The Kong Drum
Kong. Drum designer, sampler, loop slicer,
sound generator, effect device, drum
computer. No, don't get too impressed by all
of this. When you're just looking to use a
drum computer that does a bit more than the
ReDrum, you should load the Kong in your
lets you configurate 16 pads with either up
to four layers of samples per pad, or use
synthesis to create a sound on-the-spot.
Every pad is fully programmable seperate
from the other pads. It lets you load up to
two effects per pad, too. It has a couple of
standard effects built-in, but you can also
use other Reason effects.
can even use the Kong as an effect device,
so that you can run instruments through the
internal Kong effects.
is a central device, and not just in the
creation of your own drum sounds. It's a
giant-sized drum computer, and able to build
a drum kit on acoustic drums sounds or
Subtractor, the Malström and the Thor,
Reason offers three different synthesizers.
You can see them in the picture right (click
to enlarge) in order of appearance. The
Subtractor is the oldest synth in the rack,
followed by the Malström that was
introduced in Reason 3.0. The one named
after a Scandinavian god is the most recent
and the most extensive one.
use one or more forms of electronic
technology to generate sounds. That's
about the shortest definition of
synthesizers and the triplet in Reason altogether
make use of all these forms.
all three comes with a set of patches. This
means that even without any knowledge about
the generation of sound using the countless
of different parameters, you can get these
specific sounds in your music.
lot of reviews on Reason are written for the
producer of EDM. Electronic Dance Music.
Synthesizers are the obligatory form of
instrument in EDM, and a lot of expertise on
the synthesizers can be found just by
reading the reviews on Reason from the EDM
this review, let's just establish these
three synthesizers will provide you with
some of the best forms of synthesis
available. All three make use of different
ways to generate and process sound -you can
even use the Malström as an effect device-
so when you're planning to include
synthesizers, of course Reason has them.
Instruments For Dub (Reggae)
drum devices, samplers, loop player,
synthesizer and -once again, excellent-
sound module form the catalogue of internal
Reason instruments. There is enough to suit
can use samples and loops for a more
old-skool vibe like the Dubs in this review,
grab the synths and go completely Eurodub,
anything in between and beyond will go
your own sounds is as easy or as difficult
as you want to make it, but Reason
definitely provides the tools for the
autodidact with devices like the Thor and
still one more instrument in the instrument
section of Reason, and that's...
External MIDI instrument
this device integrates any MIDI enabled
piece of hardware you (still) might have
into Reason. Drag the device to the rack,
connect your hardware's MIDI cables to the
MIDI interface at your computer's sound
device, do the same with the audio from your
hardware and create an audio track in the
console to hear your hardware in perfect
sync with the rest of Reason's internal
a way, it's a bit debatable whether the
External MIDI Instrument should be part of
the Instrument section in Reason. Perhaps
the third category of devices would have
been a better place.
possibility to connect instruments, to
record audio input, you can't do much.
That's why there is this third category. A
couple of devices that lets you connect the
dots and record what you're doing.
you create your set up, things can get
complicated. Things can also get so good
that you might want to use specific elements
of your set up in another project.
Combinator lets you join specific devices
you connected together into one device. Good
for transportation from one project to
another, from one producer to another, or
for sharing on the Net.
arpeggiator creates little MIDI notes and
sends them to a device, like a synthesizer.
It can randomize chords and drum patters or
mess up things in other ways. The thing is
often used in EDM, in fact has been used
since the early days of what was then called
Acid House back in the previous century.
use of it in the construction of a Reggae
riddim is questionable, but there will be
producers very interested in this little,
Splitters and Mergers
with cables at the back of the rack: a DUB
Studio makes heavy use of unorthodox and
alternative ways to connect devices. In
fact, routing is an essential part and
that's where the splitters/mergers come in
do exactly what they claim, just look at
their backsides (click to enlarge).
the main console was introduced, most of the
Dub action in Reason took place on the 14-2
Line Mixer. It has four FX sends, 14
channels and a primitive EQ. No gain. The
6-2 Line Mixer has one FX send, 6 channels
and one volume controller.
Line Mixers can still be used to make your
DUB, but it would be ignoring the real power
in this DAW, the main console. However, it's
perhaps better to look at them as a form of
Splitters/Mergers with lots of extra
ideal for the use in a Set Up as part of a
Channels are your gateways from the rack to
the console. We discovered very early in
this review, that automation at the main
console can only take place when channels
have their own device in the rack and their
own track in the sequencer (armed for
automation). Connect your device to the Mix
Channel's input, insert effects when you
want, create a sequencer track and that part
of your set up is ready for Dub mixing.
Mix Channels are for rack devices, are Audio
Tracks for anything audio. For loops you
load directly in the sequencer instead of
using the Dr. Octorex, for full-length
multi-track stems. The Audio Track device is
a channel on the main console, automatically
armed for automation.
Rebirth Input Machine
last Reason utility connects Propellerhead's
first music production software to Reason.
Rebirth contains two drum computers and two
monophonic synthesizers you can program with
a pattern based sequencer. The program is
discontinued, but Propellerhead offers it
now as a free download for all at the Rebirth
load Reason, drag the Rebirth Input Device
to your rack, Start Rebirth, and everything
Rebirth Input Machine establishes
communication between Rebirth and Reason
through the REWIRE protocol. This is
developed by Propellerhead and Steinberg.
Currently, many DAW's support Rewire. Most
usually, Reason will function as a slave and
the other DAW as master.
fact, the Rebirth Input Machine is the only
way to get audio from another DAW directly
into Reason. It seems that when you run the
ASIO4ALL driver with a little extra thing
there are other DAW's that will feed their
output through the Rebirth Input Machine.
This has not been tested for this review,
but getting audio from another DAW through
REWIRE is a much coveted and requested
feature that is currently unavailable in
Reason. Officially, that is.
way things are now, Rewire lets you connect
any audio output directly to another DAW. A
much used combination is Reason as a slave
and Ableton's Live as a master. You open
Ableton, open Reason and the two programs
will work in perfect sync. This way, you can
use audio from Reason and run it directly
through for example a VST effect.
Reason 8.0 ships with two huge Sound Banks.
They have the file extension
"rfl", which stands for ReFill.
These two are not the only ReFills you can
use. You can find loads on the Propellerhead
website and elsewhere on the Net, the
Dubroom including. There are free and
commercial ones, everything you can think
Refill file contains files Reason can read.
Sound files but also Reason Song Files,
Instrument and Effect patches, loops, you
name it. A free program called ReFill Packer
will let you create your own ReFill to share
offers more than enough devices and features
to ensure that all necessary ingredients for
a good Dub mix can either be imported or
created in the program itself. We've got a
crucial console, a whole contingent of instruments and effects where the utilities
make sure everything is connected and
seen a browser that significantly helps to
find the right thing pretty quick, too. That
browser is broadly announced by
Propellerhead as significantly increasing
the quality of the work-flow. In fact, the
word "work-flow" itself seems to
be the key word for this release, at least
where Propellerhead is concerned.
up the devices and the sequencer, creating a
riddim, making a Dub: three different
phases, each one requiring another way to
work with the DAW. Yes, the browser plays a
huge role and we've established how indeed
it is a true joy setting up sounds and
devices through the browser. For a nice work
flow, though, there are more things to
and preferences, for example.
would like to hear tones when they are
created in the piano roll, others don't.
Some would like to hear sounds in the
browser, others don't. Or perhaps they do,
but not in every situation. Some want tracks
automatically armed for automation, others
don't. Reason 8.0 give the use many options
and preferences, in several menu's at
several places. There's a Tool Menu and
on-screen music keyboard for quick editing
or auditing, while the sequencer and devices
have different levels of entry.
comes with a set of standard settings.
Probably they will suit the needs of the
beginners very well. The real work flow is
the work flow that you feel comfortable in.
Options and preferences as well as overall
responsiveness of the program enables you to
create your own flow as you discover the
program deeper and deeper. No problems
should be expected there anytime soon.
nothing better than to hear and see Reason
8.0 in action for yourself. For this, a
third Dub Mix was made. Again, a riddim was
built from scratch with some of the new
effects and instruments incorporated. Again,
the Dub was mixed completely from the
console with the exception of some tweaking
on "The Echo" and an automation
loop on a filter's frequency range for a
sample was taken from Ras Kitchen's Rasta
Vocal Sample Pack that you can download for
free from the Dubroom, for the drums open
source samples were used that you can also
find at studio.dubroom.org. Ras Kitchen's
vocal sample is run through the Neptune
device with a Vocoder-like result. A horn
loop from Mad Professor's Reel 2 Reel Reggae
(reviewed in the Dubroom) goes through the
Dr. Octorex, the bass goes through the bass
amp and the guitars through two different
the effects, "The Echo" was used,
a phaser and a filter, two RV 7000's and one
8.0 REVIEWED VIDEO 4: A Final Dub
Eight Straight Out...
$450 question: Should you buy Reason for Dub
production? The answer would definitely be
Yes. Prices may vary, but in Propellerhead's
Press Release about Reason 8 they suggest
a price of $495 or EUR 405. That's for
people who do not own any previous version
of Reason. When you do not own Reason yet,
and you want to make Dub with your computer:
get it! Without apology.
We can ask
the same question for 129 dollars or euros,
too. That's the price for an upgrade from
any version of Reason (including 1.0). Since
version between Reason 3.0 and this version
8.0 fell outside of the Dubroom's scope, the
answer could be less definitive. The console
was introduced in version 6, so everyone
owning Reason 1-5 should upgrade as soon as
they can afford the 130 euros/dollars.
bought Reason 7 on or after July 1 2014 get
a free upgrade to Reason 8, so that leaves
pre-July 2014 buyers of Reason 7 and owners
of Reason 6. Hopefully, our review of the
main features has given you enough insight
to make a decision for yourself. If not,
feel free to comment on our blog or forum or
write us an email and we'll do our best to
find the answer for you.
well over a week to complete this review.
Two brand new original riddims were created,
which is a creative process and therefore
requires inspiration. This inspiration came
and the way Reason is constructed with the
Console, Rack, Sequencer and Browser played
part in that, too. Just taking the ID8 out
of the browser into the rack for the first
time, then hit a chord on the piano, for
example. The superb sound that comes out of
the little sound module is illustrative for
the enormous quality of instruments and
surely played another part in the
inspiration for the two original riddims.
much longer then a week to discover the
deeper Dub realms of Reason, though.
Something that's done in studio.dubroom.org/reason.htm,
where you'll find that following our tutorial
on making Dub with computers goes much
better when your choice of DAW is that of
the Dubroom: Reason 8.0, without apology.
Messian Dread (WWW, October 16 2014)
"GET" to go to the product page at
the Propellerhead Website. You'll have to register
yourself and be logged in at PROPELLERHEAD.se
in order to use the software the first time
you run it. A free fully functional Demo
is available too.