this section, we're predominantly if not stricktly
focusing on the producer of (DUB) Reggae Music.
You'll find in-depth reviews of buyable software
and loops/samples necessary for the construction
of (DUB) Reggae music in a digital environment.
For reviews of free downloadable software and
sounds, go to the Download
page at Studio Dubroom.
has a special section for owners of Reason.
Find sounds, settings, stuff. It's there
because the Dubroom shamelessly promotes the
possibility of making Dub just with
computers and Reason does the job very well!
Click on the
picture above to download the three reason
files created for this review.
8.0: A Review For The Dub Community (Part
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 website, 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
"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.