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Update on Reason and VST performance

The end of the year is nigh and you might be wondering how the VST performance improvements are going. The bad news is that it won’t be done this year after all, but the good news is that we’ve entered alpha testing and we’re getting great results!

To understand why this work is taking a while, we wanted to share some details on what we’re actually doing. Many VSTs use less CPU when run with larger audio buffers. Reason has always run all devices with 64 frame buffer, regardless of the user’s audio setting. Reason native devices and Rack Extensions are optimized for this so they show no difference in CPU usage when audio buffer setting changes. Other parts of Reason can still have improved performance with a larger buffer size, but this is the case with our devices. The challenge with this update is to keep existing Rack Extensions and native devices running with 64 frame buffers, as before, while allowing VSTs to run with larger buffers in the same Reason rack.

We made this technical choice because many of our users expect high performance while playing their instruments “live” and while patching, including feedback connections, which requires low latency for an optimal experience. By choosing a low fixed buffer size in Reason and Rack Extensions we were then able to optimize the whole system based on that condition, yielding high performance and a realistic result when patching audio and CV cables. The work now is to marry that world with the different paradigm of VST, providing maximum performance for all users in all situations.

As I mentioned, we’re currently alpha testing our prototype with our trusted Test Pilots, a small group of seasoned Reason power users, and they’re getting great results in the prototype. We also talked about and showed our prototype to Peter Kirn over at CDM, you can read his impressions in his article on CDM.

When we’ve gotten to a state where all parts of Reason are updated to work with these changes, we will begin a more public beta testing. With all this said, I personally want to apologize that I promised something we couldn’t deliver on time. That’s also why I don’t want to promise a new date when this will be done, but we’re working hard and it’s getting closer! I hope you look forward to the improvements, they’ll be worth the wait.

Mattias Häggström Gerdt
Reason Product Manager

Read more here