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Introducing PolyStep Sequencer – A Word from the Product Manager

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xo4YmEGlxY

I’m very happy to announce that PolyStep Sequencer is now available in the Propellerhead Shop. It’s another great co-op project between Propellerhead Software, who did the product design, and Lectric Panda who did the development work.

For years, Reason users have been asking for more sequencing options. Some people simply want a polyphonic upgrade to the Matrix sequencer while others have craved a more musically gifted sequencing companion. At the same time, we are always exploring ways we can help people make music and the idea of a highly adaptable, jam-friendly phrase sequencer is something we’ve been toying with for some time.

And now it’s here! PolyStep Sequencer can be all of the above, depending on what you need at the moment. At heart, it’s a great little step sequencer that lets you record in step time (obviously) that has a ton of interesting features that’ll invite you to try new things with your music. New chord progressions, new chord voicings, new rhythms and anything else you can think of  (or can’t think of).

Somewhat related to what Quad Note Generator can do for your music making, we love these devices that can act like that super sweet band member that listens to your song and says “great, but what if you try a D#13 on that?“, and PolyStep Sequencer can certainly do that.

Another favorite part is the real time transpose from MIDI, meaning you can trigger sequences based on the keys you play on your keyboard. It’s one of those hour-eating features, for sure.

We really hope you’ll enjoy PolyStep Sequencer as much as we’ve enjoyed it while developing it and we can’t wait to hear what music will come out of it.

Lukas Lyrestam
Product Manager

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Reason Compact 2.0: A Product Manager's reflections

After months of testing concepts, designing and implementing, we’ve finally released the first major upgrade to of Reason Compact. We’ve added two new instruments—a drum machine called Rytmik and a bass synthesizer called Monotone.

As you might remember, the first version of Compact was released last year in August. We were happy to see it was picked up by so many and thrilled to hear lots of great tunes made with the app.

We always wanted to have more of a compact version of Reason with more than one synth. However, when we first moved Europa onto iOS, we felt it was too good to not share and made it available right away rather than wait for the other stuff.

As you might guess, reactions were strong and varied. Some Reason users were disappointed that it contained only one synth. New people to Propellerhead and the Reason world gave us lots of love for putting such a great sounding instrument and sketch pad into their hands.
 


A few of the many design iterations that led up to the new drum machine – Rytmik.
 

Many users asked for drums. We wanted to build the best drums for iPhone while also enabling users to easily continue in Reason. Unfortunately, due to technical reasons, existing drum machines in Reason couldn’t be used. We contemplated using Umpf but thought it should to be free for those jumping between platforms. So ultimately, we decided to build a completely new drum machine. Our Product Designer Johannes worked hard to make a drum machine that is fun and easy to use for new music makers as well for more seasoned. Try it. I think he got it right.

Now we had Europa synth and Rytmik drum machine. We needed a great bass synth to complement those two instruments—a synth easier to use than Europa, consuming little CPU and of above all great sounding for basslines. We gave Pelle, one of our founders and a downright DSP and sound genius, free reign to concoct such an instrument. Monotone was born. Monotone has quickly become one of our absolute favorite synths for basslines around the office.

Both Monotone and Rytmik are new Rack Extension for Reason Desktop come included free in the Reason 10.4 upgrade release.
 
Our app should work whenever and wherever you want to create music, so therefore iPhone has always been a priority for us—on the device you always have in your pocket. However, we’ve been surprised by how many iPad users have adopted Reason Compact. Today around 25% of our users use Compact on iPads. We’ have many enhancements in this release to improve their iPad users’ workflow—examples are easier access to more synth parameters and that the sequencer is rotated in landscape mode.

Our dream is that everyone who feels like making music should be able to pick up Compact and just get going.
 

Happy music making!

Hanna
Product Manager

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Running Reason Rack Extensions on the web

https://youtu.be/-GaD0RCp-Q0

Here at Propellerhead we are not just passionate about music-making, but also technology in itself. When we originally designed our Rack Extension architecture, we sought to build a plugin system that would decrease the need for maintenance of released software and instead enable companies to focus on better things, like adding features or building new cool products.

I remember literally being in an elevator pitching this technology to a potential Rack Extension developer, saying that if you build a plugin this way, it could potentially run in a web browser in the future without you having to do anything extra. Needless to say, he did not believe me. I admit it, it sounded crazy to outsiders at the time as this was 2012 and web standards and browsers were far from where they are today. But even then we knew there was a big overlap in philosophies between the web and what we were trying to achieve. 

Fast forward to today, and the web has caught up. Naturally, as the tech lovers we are, we couldn’t resist trying to prove we were right in our original assumptions.

Last week I talked at Google I/O, the big Google developer conference in Mountain View, about this. Watch the video above (jump to 33:50) to if you want to see Rack Extensions on the web in action.

One direct example of this technology in use is you being able to run the full Europa synth from our webpage by clicking the “Try it now in your browser” link. Not only can you try Europa before you buy, but if you are bored, you can do sound design from anywhere without having Reason installed and save the patches for later use. Technology at your service 🙂
 

Magnus Berger
CTO

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Rigs 4 are here

https://youtu.be/0syuOVEjxAs

Today we are launching the fourth installment of the top-selling Rigs series. Packed with 90+ of the best-selling Rack Extensions from the Propellerhead Shop, Rigs 4 introduces an array of powerful new plug-ins for songwriters, producers, and engineers all for a fraction of the price. 

The Backline Rig introduces an ensemble of realistic-sounding organic instruments and effects, such as ProjectSAM Orchestral Sampler, Shimmerverb, A-List Acoustic Guitarist, and Softube Spring Reverb. We’ve added a powerful collection of versatile synths and signal processors to the Synthetic Rig, including Umpf Club Drums, Super Audio Cart, Euclidean Rhythms and more. New plugins from Red Rock Sound and Selig, as well as classics from Softube make the Mix & Mastering Rig more powerful than ever.

Each Rig comes with 30+ products, nearly three hours of custom-made tutorials from the industry professionals at AskVideo, and hundreds of presets from top sound designers and pro mix engineers—all bundled together for just $299. And if you already own one of the Rigs 3 bundles, you can upgrade for just $79.

There’s never been a better time to stack your Reason Rack with dozens of powerful new plugins. Download Rigs 4 today!

Learn more

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Reason 10.3 is here!

I’m happy to announce that Reason 10.3, a free update to Reason 10, is now available. Just launch Reason 10 and there’ll be an auto-update waiting for you.

Reason 10.3 is the much anticipated “performance update”, a big rewrite changing how Reason handles buffer sizes to work how VST plugins expect a host to work. There’s now a setting in Reason’s audio preference to “Render audio using audio card buffer size setting” that is on by default. But what does that mean in practice?

When making music, your computer can now handle more VST plugins before experiencing issues (like clicking and popping) on buffer sizes higher than 64 samples. Depending on the plugins used, the improvements you’ll see can vary a lot. In our testing we’ve seen improvements from a measly 10% to well over 200% when using a buffer size of 512 samples. You might see even bigger improvements on larger buffer sizes, but of course a larger buffer size has other downsides like latency.

Now that we’ve had a month of beta testing I can also say for certain that even if you don’t use VST plugins, you’ll see performance improvements using Rack Extensions and internal devices too. As an example, the Reason 10 demo songs run 10-50% better on our testing machines using a buffer size of 512 samples.

While this is all good news, some things might actually sound different with these rendering changes and that’s important to understand. When automating or CV controlling parameters in a VST, it will use the same resolution as the buffer size. This is also true for any feedback connection, for example sending a signal out of a device and then back in to the same device.

In Reason 10.2 and earlier, the buffer size was fixed at 64 samples and thus had almost no noticeable delay. Now, with larger buffer sizes you might hear a difference when controlling a VST parameter or hear a delay when creating a feedback loop. In most cases, you probably won’t notice it, but for full compatibility with your older songs you can either bring the buffer size down to 64 samples or untick the new option in the preferences.

With all that said, we’re very happy with the improvements in Reason 10.3 and that we can finally share it with you. We’ve also reset all Reason trials so anyone curious about the improvements can start a 30-day trial. I personally want to say thank you for all the feedback and testing help we’ve had from the Reason users out there. Now it’s time to make more music!

Mattias Häggström Gerdt
Reason Product Manager

 

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More ways to make music on your mobile

Whether you want to sing, hum, make a groovy beat on your bus ride, or learn more about synthesizers and play on one of the world’s best synths on iOS — we now have an app for you!

With our apps we want people to capture their musical idea when inspiration strikes, or simply become inspired by playing with the music.

Do you have any questions about Figure and Take? Below I try to answer some of them. If you have more questions, don’t feel shy, just go to our forum and post your question.

So Propellerhead is taking on Figure and Take from Allihoopa?

Yes, we’ve acquired Figure and Take from the now defunct Allihoopa. We’re releasing them as Propellerhead apps and will be bringing them into the family of Propellerhead music making tools. Exciting, isn’t it?

Didn’t Propellerhead create them at one point?

Well, yes, we originally developed both Figure and Take. When Allihoopa split off from us, those apps went with them. After Allihoopa closed down, we couldn’t let those great music making apps die, so we brought them home to the Propellerhead family.

Are there changes to the apps?

Since the Allihoopa sharing service no longer exists, we had to remove dependencies to Allihoopa inside each app‚ e.g. no browsing Allihoopa or dropping to Allihoopa.  As we progress, we intend to fill some of these holes in other ways through a series of updates.

We’ve also asked users to sign up with a Propellerhead account, so we can keep you up to date as the apps grow and improve.

Do I have to do anything to get them?

If you have Figure and Take already on your iOS device, you can update them (if you don’t have auto-updates turned on for apps already). If you don’t own Take or Figure or have deleted them, just go to AppStore and download them. They are still free.

What about the Allihoopa service?

Unfortunately, the Allihoopa service remains closed. However, we are designing these apps to work as great stand alone music-making tools without the need for the Allihoopa service. We also have tricks up our sleeve on how to make them full members of the Propellerhead Reason family.

Do I use my Allihoopa account to sign in?

No, Allihoopa accounts have all gone away. If you have a Propellerhead account, you can log in with your existing Propellerhead username and password. If you don’t, you’ll be prompted to create an account when you launch the app.

What else do you have planned?

First and foremost, we just wanted to get Figure and Take out to you as soon as we could so you could get back to music-making.

We want to make the apps work well with our applications, so you can expect to see some updates that integrate Figure and Take better into Reason and the like. We plan to find ways to get you more sounds, backing tracks and inspiration directly in the apps. There are a bunch of other things coming as well, so stay tuned. Expect to see these changes roll out over the next few months.

I don’t own Figure or Take or iOS for that matter, is there anything me as a former Allihoopa user?

For everyone that has been using Allihoopa and do not already have a Reason license, we give away a free license of Reason Lite. Then you have the possibility to take your music further in our full-fledged music production tool for PC and Mac.

Happy music-making!

/Hanna, Mobile Product Manager

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Reason 10.3 now in beta!

I’m happy to finally announce that the beta testing of Reason 10.3 is here! As you might know, this upcoming free update for Reason 10 is all about improving Reason’s VST plugin performance. And as a nice bonus, it improves performance if you’re not using VSTs too! Read on for the details…

When VST support was first added in Reason 9.5, we received a lot of great feedback: “finally, VSTs in Reason”. However, after a while we also started getting feedback about “poor and erratic” performance when using some of your favorite VST plugins. That’s when we started investigating.

We eventually came to the conclusion that to fix the problem, we had to essentially rewrite big parts of Reason’s audio rendering code. As many of you know by now, that took some time. But now we have a version to share with you and I think you’re really going to like what you see!

In Reason 10.3, VST plugins work as expected and Reason’s VST performance is on par with other DAWs on the market. How much of an improvement you’ll get varies depending on which plugins you use and your set-up, but it’s been improvements across the board. During alpha testing we’ve tested many of the most popular plugins on the market and we’ve seen improvements range from a measly 5% to a staggering 260%, and that’s when using a buffer size of 512.

Why do I mention the buffer size? Well, performance testing is very complex with many moving parts so it’s important to test properly. When comparing things, we’ve tested identical situations on the same machines with the same settings where we can turn our changes off and on. We’ve set up “average” song documents as well as tested number of instances of many different plugins.

What we’re defining as “bad performance” is when you start hearing audible artifacts, like clicking and popping, or experience issues that keep you from making music. In other words, we’re not looking at the CPU meter in the OS, but rather we’re testing where you’d have issues in a real-life music making scenario.

With that in mind, we found that Reason 10.3 improves performance even when not using VSTs too! It will differ a bit depending on your setup, but we’ve seen up to a 30% improvement. In other words, you’ll be able to build your rack even higher and wider now without worrying too much. I hope you’re as excited about that as I am!

We are planning to release Reason 10.3 in April as a free auto-update to Reason 10. Until then we need your help putting the beta through its paces, especially if you have encountered VST-related problems in the past. To join the beta testing, sign up now!

Sign up now
 

Mattias Häggström Gerdt
Reason Product Manager

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The return of Reason Drum Kits

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du-p270v5GU

Yes! Your favorite Reason Drum Kits are back! This time as a mean, lean, simulated-drum-recording-session-in-a-super-easy-to-use-Rack-Extension-machine. We’re happy to announce Reason Drum Kits. Again.

Following the success with the re-release of Reason Electric Bass, here’s another darling instrument from the past getting a new lease of life. Reason Drum Kits was the best-selling ReFill library we ever did at Propellerhead Software, and it’s easy to understand why. The samples are great, the drum kits sounded just like live played drums and the concept of Hypersampling (which was born with this product) made all the creative decision of a truly drum recording session available to the Reason user.

With the Rack Extension version, we could add a customized user interface to these great samples, and make Reason Drum Kits much easier and faster to use. Now, all the controls and settings are readily available and the click of a button or turn of a knob, whereas in the ReFill version, you’d have to dive into huge, complex Combinator setups and know exactly which of the stacks of NN-XTs to tweak for that perfect rim shot.

The Rack Extension version retains the fantastic sound and live feel of the original. For the tweak-happy producers, there’s the back panel with separate outputs for each instrument so you can mix your drums using any signal chain you can dream up.

If you already own Reason Drum Kits, you can upgrade to the Rack Extension version at a much better price. Use the voucher code below at check-out in the shop. This is regardless if you registered your ReFill version or not.

Code:
RDKSAVE

Apply this voucher at checkout to get your discount. Offer lasts until April 30th, 2019.

And if you’re feeling a bit of Reason Drum Kits nostalgia coming on (we sure did when working with this project), here’s the introduction video that we did a long time ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIOK6XQJhDI

 

/Lukas Lyrestam, product manager

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Introducing Complex-1 Modular Synthesizer

2018 is almost over, but I’ll be damned if we won’t release just one more awesome Rack Extension. I’m happy and proud to introduce Complex-1 Modular Synthesizer!

https://youtu.be/KJaVtEaFyUc

It’s no secret that some of us at Propellerhead have a fondness for modular. We’ve had CV and gate cables, the semi-modularity of Thor and the Combinator for a long time. Since then many, many others have realized just how liberating and exciting working with this kind of blank canvas can be.

With Complex-1 we wanted to really go all in on that feeling. It’s an open architecture modular synth, inspired by the legendary manufacturers that came before. And, lo and behold, it has cables on the front! In Reason, that seems a bit crazy but for an authentic modular synth experience it’s a must so we went out on a limb and did it. But we did it our way, they’re there if you need them and they’ll automatically show up when you want to route a signal. Hats off to the development team that came up with that!

Since both me, Andreas (visual designer) and Pelle (DSP expert) are well-versed in synths, both modular and otherwise, we decided to go a different route than an empty rack you fill up yourself. With hardware, it often takes a long time before you have a cohesive, working system. In Complex-1, we made those hard choices for you, but we did it with some goals in mind: it should be playable, it should sound fantastic and it should be able to do truly weird patches. I think we succeeded.

In fact, this is the most fun we’ve had making sounds in a long time! And we’re not alone. Our alpha testers sent us tons of patches, people at the office who aren’t into modular were floored by the sounds and we even got some amazing patches from our friends in the modular world—including Intellijel, Dwarfcraft, Peff, DivKid and more. Make sure you check out the sound examples on the shop page!

Complex-1 might not be the easiest synth to learn, but it’s incredibly rewarding and it does sound truly amazing. It’s both an introduction to modular synthesis and a powerful instrument for the already converted. Complex-1 probably my favorite synth we’ve ever released, and I managed Europa too! Now that it’s released, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we have.

Mattias Häggström Gerdt
Product Manager

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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

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