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In 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.






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Reason In Studio Dubroom
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!


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Click on the picture above to download the three reason files created for this review. 
REASON 8.0: A Review For The Dub Community (Part Three: Features)

The Mixing Console

Full Strip Of A Console Channel In Reason 8.0The way of mixing music prior to Reason 6.0 was by way of the 14 channel line mixer. Click to Enlarge 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 best studios. 

In 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.

While 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.

A look at just one channel strip reveals it (see picture left, click to enlarge).

On 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.

Next 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.

A 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. 

There's 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 mix. 

The Master SectionTake 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.

Below 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. 

At least, when it comes to Dub producing. 

Since 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 sessions. 

Full 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 mixing. 

You 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.

However 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 effects. 

The 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.

This 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.

This simply more than fine console serves your every need when it comes to getting just the right sound for your final production. 

It 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.

It 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.

But that's not the only niceness you'll engage...

The Rack

Where 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 the console. 

Roughly, there are three types of devices:

  • Effects
  • Instruments
  • Utilities

Getting 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 mind. 

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):

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

These 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.

Reason 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 the rack.

One 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. 

The Devices

Reason 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 level. 

Click to EnlargeMaking a combination of instruments, effects and utilities can provide you with your own created drum sounds, synthesized voices and other stuff you've been Click to Enlarge 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.

When 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.

There 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.

The Sequencer

Click to EnlargeCreating 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.

A 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. 

Click to EnlargeNice 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: beat).

As 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 sequencer. A 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 do.

Reason's 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.

Compared 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.

Once 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:


REASON 8.0 REVIEWED VIDEO 2: Mastering Console Automation and Reviewing Work flow for the Dub engineer

The Browser

In the 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. 

Click to EnlargeSelecting 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 justification. 

This really is a huge improvement.

You 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.

Want 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:



Unless you 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 reach far.

Two Missing Links

The browser 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.

There are 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 is.

Call them 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 direction.

They've got an alternative and it's called...

Click to EnlargeRack ExtensionsRack Extensions

Take a look at the two browser screenshots left (click to enlarge).

As 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 the two.

Both 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. 

Even 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 bit later. 

That's right, you could say that Rack Extensions are Reason's very own internal Plug-In's. 

There 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, costly. You can try them all out for free for 30 days, though. 

Even 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. 

No, it 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. 

When 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 offer.


Press "GET" to go to the product page at the Propellerhead Website. You'll have to register yourself and be logged in at in order to use the software the first time you run it. A free fully functional Demo is available too. 







Yesus Kristos



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