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Reason (software)

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Reason (software)

Reason 7 on OS X
Developer(s) Propellerhead Software
Stable release 8.3 / 30 June 2015 (2015-06-30)
Written in C++, Objective-C (Mac), Lua
Operating system OS X, Windows
Type Digital audio workstation
License Proprietary
Website /

Reason is a digital audio workstation for creating and editing music and audio developed by Swedish software developers Propellerhead Software. It emulates a rack of hardware synthesizers, samplers, signal processors, sequencers, and mixers, all of which can be freely interconnected in an arbitrary manner. Reason can be used either as a complete virtual music studio or as a set of virtual instruments to be used with other sequencing software in a fashion that mimics live performance.


  • Overview 1
    • Reason 5 1.1
    • Reason 6 1.2
    • Reason 6.5 1.3
    • Reason 7 1.4
    • Reason 8 1.5
  • Devices 2
    • Basic devices 2.1
    • Synthesizers 2.2
    • Samplers 2.3
    • Rhythm sequencers 2.4
    • Mastering 2.5
    • Effects 2.6
    • Other effects 2.7
    • Other devices 2.8
  • ReFills 3
    • Official ReFills 3.1
  • Demo songs 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Reason 1.0 was released in December 2000. The program's design mimics a studio rack into which users can insert virtual devices such as instruments, effects processors, and mixers. These modules can be controlled from Reason's built-in MIDI sequencer or from other sequencing applications such as Pro Tools, Logic, FL Studio, REAPER, Digital Performer, Cubase, Sonar, and GarageBand via Propellerhead's ReWire protocol in the 32-bit versions of these programs. Since the release of version 6 Reason supports ReWire with 64-bit hosts.

As of version 7.0.1, devices available include:

  • Subtractor: a subtractive synthesizer
  • Malström: a graintable synthesizer (granular synthesis + wavetable synthesis)[1]
  • NN-19: a simple sampler, which loads pre-recorded instrumental and vocal sounds
  • NN-XT: an advanced sampler, which features the option of tweaking the various modulation, oscillation, and filter parameters of a preloaded sample or patch
  • Dr Octo Rex: a loop playback device, which slices prerecorded samples
  • Redrum: a sample based drum machine with a step sequencer
  • Thor: a semi-modular synthesizer which features, among others, wavetable synthesis,[2] frequency modulation synthesis (FM), and phase distortion synthesis
  • Kong Drum Designer: a 16-pad drum synthesizer with analog synthesizers emulating the classic generators of drums like the Roland TR series, physical modelling drum synthesizers and sampler akin to the Akai MPC series.
  • Neptune: A voice synthesizer and pitch correction tool, capable of Vocoder-like polyphonic voice synthesis as well as robotic, AutoTune-like pitch adjustment and more subtle pitch corrections.[3]
  • Alligator: A triple filtered gate, sometimes known as a "trance gate". Alligator splits an incoming signal into three signals, which are then gated and filtered using lowpass, bandpass and highpass filters on each respective channel. Alligator also is capable of adding delay, distortion, phasing and stereo panning effects to each channel, and each of the filters can be modulated with a filter envelope embedded in the unit.[4]
  • Pulveriser: A multi-purpose piece of virtual hardware that combines compression, distortion, filters, tremolo, parallel signal processing and an envelope follower.[5]
  • The Echo: An echo unit based on tape echo and delay.[6]
  • External MIDI Instrument: A device which allows for MIDI output from Reason to an external MIDI instrument

Sounds from these devices can be routed via either of two mixing devices or simple merging and splitting utilities. Effects include distortion, reverb, chorus, a vocoder, and mastering effects. The Combinator device, introduced in Reason 3.0, allows users to combine multiple modules into one. Another device connects Reason to Propellerhead's (now discontinued) ReBirth RB-338.

Reason's interface includes a Toggle Rack command, which turns the "rack" around to display the devices from the rear. Here the user can route virtual audio and CV cables from one piece of equipment to another. This cable layout enables the creation of complex effects chains and allows devices to modulate one another. This offers flexibility in the way that is familiar to users of physical electronic music hardware. For example, Redrum's main outputs could be connected to a single channel of the mixing desk, or instead each of its drum sounds could be routed to a separate EQ before sending them to separate channels in the mixer, or rather than audio output the channels of the ReDrum could be used to trigger the gates of an Alligator via CV. The user can always choose where to draw the line between simplicity and precision, allowing the software to remain useful at various levels of knowledge on the user's part.

Reason 6 introduced audio recording (by incorporating Record), turning it into a digital audio workstation. It does not support third-party plug-ins, being one of the few software sequencers to lack VST support. This has been a frequent cause of criticism, although it also contributes to the product's stability. However, Reason 6.5 introduces rack extensions, which are rack instruments and signal processors that may be developed by third parties.

A stripped-down version of Reason known as Reason Adapted, which restricts the user to a limited number of devices, is packaged as bonus software with other audio software such as Pro Tools LE and ReCycle.

Reason 5

Reason 5 was released on 25 August 2010. For the first time, Reason can directly sample audio[7] with any of its sample-playing instruments such as the Redrum, the NN-19, the NN-XT, and the Kong Drum Designer.

  • Dr. Octo Rex - The Dr. Rex loop player was given an overhaul and is now called "Dr. Octo Rex"[8] and can play up to eight sample loops (one at a time), and includes many new features for editing the loops and individual clips.
  • Kong Drum Designer - This is new to the program[9] a 16-pad device that can create drum and percussion sounds using various sound production techniques, including physical modeling, sample playback (the "NN-Nano" module), and virtual analog synthesis.

Signature Patches created by well known Reason users have been added, including patches made by Two Lone Swordsmen, Vengeance, and Richard Barbieri.

Finally, a new pattern editing tool called "Blocks"[10] has been created for easier song arrangement and mixing.

Reason 6

On July 12, 2011, Propellerhead announced the release of the next generation of the Reason line, Reason 6, which was released on September 30, 2011.[11] It integrates all of the features found in Record 1.5 – such as the ability to record live sound, the mixing desk modeled on the SSL 9000k, and the Neptune pitch corrector – into its setup. The Record name has been phased out altogether.

As well as bringing all of Record's features into the Reason rack, Reason 6 is 64-bit and features three new effects units, as also audio transposing direct on the sequencer, and improved tuning and stretching algorithms:

  • Pulveriser - a combined compression, distortion, and filtering unit.[5]
  • The Echo - an advanced stereo echo unit modeled on analog tape echo machines like the Roland RE-201.[6]
  • Alligator - a pattern-based gate effect which splits sound signals into three channels, allowing for differing multiple effects on each separate channel.[4]
  • ID-8 Instrument Device - a sound module with a built-in palette of 36 preset sound banks, such as a piano, organ, guitar and drum kits. The ID-8 also functions as a default MIDI device that will play sounds when a MIDI file is loaded into Reason 6.

Reason 6 also requires a USB software protection dongle called the "Ignition Key" to prevent unauthorized use of the software. Without the dongle, Reason 6 will not open saved files, nor will it dump audio to a sound file, but is otherwise fully functional. If the key is lost, or chosen not to be used, a user must log onto Propellerhead's server for internet verification, requiring the host computer to have an internet connection.

Reason 6.5

On March 20, 2012, Propellerhead announced the planned release for Reason 6.5 in 2012 Q2 to coincide with the release of Rack Extensions (which allow the use of 3rd party designed instruments and effect modules inside of Reason).[12]

Along with Rack Extensions developed by various third parties, Propellerhead offered three optional devices at launch:

  • Polar - a harmonizing and pitch-shifter effect unit.
  • Pulsar - a dual-channel low frequency oscillator unit.
  • Radical Piano - a piano synthesizer based on sampling technology and physical modeling algorithms that is capable of creating new and unique piano sounds based on audio samples from two types of grand pianos and an upright piano.

Reason 6 and 6.5 include the features of Record and are now able to record external audio. Reason project file sizes that include audio record takes tend to be larger than for previous versions since there is currently no way to save Reason projects with the record takes as external (non-embedded) audio.

Reason 7

On March 12, 2013, Propellerhead announced the planned release of Reason 7 in Q2 of 2013, which was released on April 30, 2013.[13] New features include a MIDI Output Rack Device, audio quantize, loop slicing with export to Dr. Octo REX, native mix bus routing, and a spectrum EQ.

New Rack Extensions by Propellerhead include:

  • A-List Acoustic Guitarist - A sample-based acoustic guitar emulator that produces realistic strumming guitar sounds which can be modified by selecting various playing styles and chord characteristics.
  • Audiomatic - This is a sound effects unit that adds vintage audio quirks to music, making it sound as if it were being played back from past devices such as analog tape, a vinyl record, a crackling radio, an old television set, etc.
  • Parsec - This is described as a spectral synthesizer using additive synthesis to sculpt various sounds.
  • Pop Chords A-List Electric Guitarist - Similar to the A-List Acoustic Guitarist, this emulates realistic sounding electric rhythm guitar chords in a wide variety of strum methods commonly performed in pop rock, alternative and funk styles of music.
  • Power Chords A-List Electric Guitarist - Similar to the A-List Acoustic Guitarist, this emulates realistic sounding electric guitar power chords in various strumming styles popular in rock and metal styles of music.
  • PX7 - This rack device emulates the 80's sounds of the classic Yamaha DX series of synthesizers that used frequency modulation synthesis. The PX7 can even use patches converted from DX synths.
  • Radical Keys - Similar to Radical Piano, this emulates various electric pianos and organs such as the Rhodes Mk1, the Wurlitzer and the Hohner Pianet-T.
  • Rotor - This is a rotating speaker emulator modeled after the Leslie 122 rotary speaker of the 1940s to add realistic vintage flavors to music, especially organ and guitar tracks.
  • Synchronous - Described as a timed effect modulator, this adds various effects to a music device it is linked to such as distortion, filtering and delay which can be controlled by drawing various waveforms in the device's main display. For example, it can be used to add characteristic synthesizer wobbles and beat glitches that are popular in dubstep and drum and bass.

Reason 7 no longer requires the use of the Ignition Key USB dongle to fully function, instead, one computer can be licensed to use the software on installation. If a license holder wishes to use the software on other computers, they can purchase an Ignition Key separately for that purpose, or verify their license over the internet.

Reason 8

Reason 8 was released September 30, 2014. This version's newest feature is the improved file browser that accompanies, or optionally fully replaces the rack window. Users can easily audition sound files, loops and instruments patches in the browser then drag the files from the browser right to the rack window or the sequencer allowing improved and faster workflow. This version also comes with two free rack extensions; the Softube Amp, a guitar amplifier emulator and Softube Bass Amp, a bass guitar amplifier emulator designed by the veteran Rack Extension developer Softube. Both rack extensions are also available separately for Reason 6.5 and 7 and do not require the version 8 upgrade.


Basic devices

  • Hardware Interface – This handles the connection between software and hardware and supports up to sixty-four separate outputs. As it is integral to Reason's functionality, it cannot be removed.
  • Mixer 14:2 – Reason's mixer is used to group numerous device outputs into a stereo output. It has fourteen stereo channels with level meters, fixed bass and treble EQ and four stereo auxiliary sends. It is possible to mute or solo any given channel, as well as alter its level, pan and auxiliary output level. The console has chaining master inputs to allow several line mixers to be daisy chained together, effectively allowing for an unlimited number of channels.
  • Line Mixer 6:2 – Similar to the Mixer 14:2, and also known as the Micromix, it is a smaller, six channel mixer, with only one auxiliary send and return, no EQ, smaller level controls and limited metering.


  • Subtractor Analogue Synthesizer – This is a polyphonic synthesizer device based on subtractive synthesis, which is the method used in classic, analog synthesizers. Its two oscillators can produce basic waveforms such as square, sawtooth, triangle, and sine. Additional waveforms based on samples can also be generated. The Subtractor device can be fully automated from a controlling device, such as Reason's sequencer.[14]
  • Thor Polysonic Synthesizer – This device simulates a semi-modular synthesizer. Six filter and oscillator slots allow loading up to three different filter modules and three different oscillator modules simultaneously, allowing dialing in novel sounds. A modulation matrix gives full control over signal flow, to modulate anything within Thor. Thor also has a simulation of an analog style step sequencer with more than one twist. This step sequencer can be used as a modulation tool, trigger phrases from specific keys and create arpeggios and percussion lines.[2][15]
  • Malström Graintable Synthesizer – This device creates its sounds using Graintable technology. This technology is a cross between granular synthesis and wavetable synthesis.[1] Malström features many filtering and modulation options. It is capable of real-time waveform stretching, spectral modulation, and wavetable sweeping. Malström comes with a wide range of Graintables.[1][16]


  • NN-19 Digital Sampler – This is Reason's original sampler, introduced in the first version. All of its controls can be fully automated from a controlling device. There are two ways to get sound out of NN19: load a single wav/aiff sample or load a sampler patch. Loading a single wav/aiff file will instantly transpose the audio across the keyboard by speeding up or slowing down the playback of the sample. The NN19 can import and play mono or stereo files.[17]
  • NN-XT Advanced Sampler – This is an advanced sampler with many features. It is designed for working with multiple samples which can be assigned to different keys on the keyboard. It can be used for both sound design and instrument emulation. Useful features include alternate sample playback, auto-pitch detection, keyboard zones with individual parameters, and tempo syncable LFOs.[18]

Rhythm sequencers

  • Dr. Octo REX Loop Player – This update of the Dr.Rex device, it plays back samples created by the ReCycle (program) in the .rex and .rx2 formats. These formats allow manipulating a sample's tempo without affecting its pitch. Imagine a sample of a drum loop. The loop is 140 bpm and a track is 120 bpm. Instead of stretching the sample, which would change the sample's timbre and pitch, ReCycle slices the loop into little pieces so that each beat gets its own sample. ReCycle also creates a MIDI file with the samples played the way the loop was originally played. The 'octo' in the device's name refers to the fact that up to eight of these samples can be loaded in the device at once.[19]
  • Redrum Drum Computer – This device is a sample-playback drum module with a built in pattern sequencer. It has ten channels that plays samples loaded individually or from a preset kit. In addition to the pattern sequencer, Redrum can also be played from Reason's main sequencer or via MIDI. By combining the pattern sequencer and the main sequencer, one can easily create fills and variations to the patterns without having to create new patterns for every variation.[20]


  • MClass Equalizer – This is a 4-band, professional level mastering EQ with low and high shelving bands, two peak filters and a low cut switch. It allows making subtle or drastic frequency adjustments to the audio.[21]
  • MClass Stereo Imager – This splits the incoming audio into low and high frequency bands, and allows adjusting each independently. Increasing the width for the high band while making the low band slightly more mono gives wide, open sounding mixes with a tight low end.[21]
  • MClass Compressor – This is a single-band compressor with a sidechain input for advanced compression such as ducking or de-essing, and CV out for dynamically controlling other devices.[21]
  • MClass Maximizer – This is a tool designed to maximize the volume of Reason tracks, without crushing them or introducing other unwanted artifacts. The Maximizer features a Limiter section - with switchable look-ahead, for distortion-free brickwall limiting - and a Soft Clip section which gently rounds off the edges.[21]


  • RV7000 Advanced Reverb – This contains basic reverb controls located on the main panel, and eight separate knobs for algorithms and their parameters, which can be accessed from a fold-out remote when pressed.[22]
  • Scream 4 Distortion – With Scream 4's cut and body filters, two parameters for its ten modes including overdrive, distortion, feedback and tape damage, it can be used for digital bit crushing, or regular crushing, or for simulating adding analog warmth to audio.[23]
  • BV512 Digital Vocoder – The BV-512 is a 4 to 512-band vocoder that can modulate sound in several ways, and can also be used as an automated equalizer.[24]

Other effects

Reason also features numerous simple effect devices.

  • RV-7 Digital Reverb
  • DDL-1 Digital Delay Line
  • D-11 Foldback Distortion
  • ECF-42 Envelope Controlled Filter
  • CF-101 Chorus/Flanger
  • PH-90 Phaser
  • UN-16 Unison
  • COMP-01 Compressor/Limiter
  • PEQ-2 Two Band Parametric EQ

Other devices

  • Combinator – This is a device that allows creating chains of Reason units - instruments, effects, pattern sequencers, and then save them as Combi patches. When a Combi patch is opened, all units in the created setup are instantly loaded, complete with sounds, settings and routings. The Combinator can house an unlimited number of Reason devices, which can all be combined, controlled and manipulated in any way. The Combinator's skinnable front panel holds four rotary controls and four buttons that can all be assigned to any function on any device in a combinator chain. The back of the Combinator reveals two connectors: the Combi input jacks that allow using Combinator as an effect unit. Combinator devices are the most commonly used device for song creation due to the flexibility and also as they are easily 'compacted' for easier viewing and arrangement (visually). Typically each combinator is used as an individual 'instrument' with its own EQ and effects within the unit and accompanied by a 6:2 Mixer and CV Merger/Splitter (see below). this allows greater control of the basic parameters of the patch and allows more manipulation to create the ideal sound without complicated re-routing as the editing is done within the Combinator (pre- combinators output).[25]
  • Spider Audio & CV Merger & Splitter – The Spider Audio utility has two purposes: to merge and to split audio. Spider CV is exactly the same kind of utility as Spider Audio, but here the splitting and merging is performed on CV and gate signals.[26]
  • Matrix Pattern Sequencer – This is an analog style sequencer with a maximum of 32 steps per pattern and is the part of Reason to use for ReBirth style sequences. The Matrix has 32 patterns and each can be freely sized regardless of what time signature has been chosen in the sequencer. The Resolution selector allows playback of the pattern in a range between 1/2 notes to 1/128th notes. The playback resolution is independent of the sequencer, and the display shows the 32 steps and a little graphic keyboard on the left hand side will tell what notes are being played. A switch left of the graphical keyboard gives access to 5 octaves within the programming interface. Moving the mouse over the lower part of the display will allow change of velocity levels.[27]
  • RPG-8 Monophonic Arpeggiator – This contains a pattern section for muting selected notes in an arpeggio and a large display showing values and positions, and the 'Single Note Repeat' function engages the arpeggiator only when two or more simultaneous notes are held down. The 'Manual' mode will arpeggiate notes strictly in the order they were input for realtime arpeggio control.[28]
  • ReGroove Mixer – This applies its timing magic non-destructively and in realtime, letting users adjust its settings as music plays. Users can lock all tracks together, or can apply different settings to up to 32 musical elements in a song. Each of the groove channels feature controls for groove amount, slide and shuffle and more detailed settings. The Reason soundbank comes with a selection of groove patches, created from analyzed recordings of real musicians as well as classic groovy tracks.[29]


ReFills compress samples, loops and instrument patches into single files for simple sharing between users, and for selling commercial sample and patch libraries.

Official ReFills

Propellerhead Software has released the following ReFills for Reason:

Demo songs

These demo songs show a few examples of what can be done with Reason. [31]

Propellerhead Software has released these demo songs:

    • Olivia Broadfield — Early Hours
    • Atom — Outside In
    • Anosou — Rack Disco
    • Anosou — Mountain
    • Josh Mobley & Blackjack — What's the Reason
    • Magnus Frykberg — 700 Dreams
    • Chaka Blackmon — Purple Ribbons
    • Abiram Brizuela — Evolution
    • Nora — Recall
    • BLKMGK — Power
    • Cntrl — Metamorph
    • JB — Bajo Caida
    • Qua z mo — I Just Wanna Be
    • Van Goghs — A Simple Song



  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Reason 6 - Neptune
  4. ^ a b Reason 6 - Alligator
  5. ^ a b Reason 6 - Pulveriser
  6. ^ a b Reason 6 - The Echo
  7. ^ Reason 5 Live Sampling preview
  8. ^ Reason 5 Dr. Octo Rex preview
  9. ^ Reason 5 Kong Drum Synthesizer preview
  10. ^ Reason 5 Blocks preview
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b c d
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^

External links

  • Official website
    • Discovering Reason - Official tutorials
  • Rackwiki - Community based wiki for all related topics
  • Reason mixes, some reviewed here
  • Reviews by Sound on Sound magazine: Version 1, v2, v2.5, v3, v4
  • IT Reviews – Further independent product review of v4
  • LearnReason - The number one free Reason Tutorial Site
  • ReasonForums - The number one Forum Community - Powered by Learn Reason
  • ReasonStation - Unofficial support community and tips
  • Reason tutorial - an unofficial Reason tutorial for beginners
  • Reason Resource - Reason tips, tricks, and tutorials, unupdated since 2007
  • Reason France - reason News, tips, tutorials ...
  • Reasonexperts - Reason tutorials
  • The german Reason resources website - (Tutorials, Projects, Screencasts, ReFills and more)
  • [1]
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