When hell froze over – Ernst Nathorst-Böös on VST in Reason

”VST support in Reason? When hell freezes over.” That seems to have been the common way to express it. Now that you’ve all recovered from the shock I thought I’d give you some background to this decision of ours, and how we’re thinking about it going forward. But first I need to thank you all for the ridiculous amounts of positive feedback that we’ve received on the announcement of 9.5. I’ve been reading the comments in all the social media channels to get a feeling for how the news landed, and I must say that I blushed. We are seriously humbled and extremely grateful for your amazing support!

The reason is actually pretty simple: Because your music now requires it.

I won’t talk about how VSTs in Reason actually work, other people are better at communicating that. I just want to say something about why we did it and what it means going forward. The reason is actually pretty simple: Because your music now requires it. Musicians get inspired by a lot of things, but the instruments and effects themselves are certainly a big part, if not the biggest. There’s been an enormous explosion of cool plugins over the last few years. As a musician it’s wonderful to see so many developers unleashing their creativity in designs of all shapes and forms. And we just didn’t want Reason musicians to miss out on that. It was that simple.

As you may know, we’ve had some reservations on the plugin formats out there, VST included. The technical designs leave the host vulnerable to problems that might affect your song document. The lack of integration standards make basic tasks like finding sounds, automation, setting up remote control etc, harder than it should be. And that takes focus off what is always closest to our heart – your music making. And there are market problems too, finding the perfect EQ for your specific situation takes hours of unnecessary account registration and downloads. And purchasing a plug often means putting in your credit card on one web site and getting the actual product from another.

So, all of the above is what lead us to creating the Rack Extension format. It really does solve all of the above by cutting one giant Gordian knot.

Having said that, the VST world has really evolved too, in a very positive way. Technical quality is much better than it used to be. So is platform compatibility. The VST 2.4 standard has really gelled. And there are now integration conventions that allowed us to do what we think is the coolest VST implementation in any DAW, from a musical perspective, maximizing Reason resources such as cv and gate, the Combinator, players, browsing, etc.

But in the words of Agent Smith, “Why choose”? We now have three classes of devices in Reason, each one with its own merit, and that’s a good thing. There are the devices that come with the program when you buy it. There are the Rack Extensions that you can add after the fact. And now there’s a third category, VSTs. And make no mistake, we are committed to all three “formats” and will keep working on them all. For each one we will keep finding the optimal path forward, the path that supports you as a musician in the best way we can think of.

We are committed to the RE format and will keep working on it from all perspectives

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a word about the Rack Extension format, a word that is maybe more directed to our beloved developers, you who have supplied the Reason community with over three hundred amazing products so far. We have not stopped. As you know, we just did a serious update of the SDK this year, allowing you to create even cooler products. Next up is a serious update to the technology for building sampled based Rack Extensions. I think that shows that we are committed to the RE format and will keep working on it from all perspectives, both where it can go technically and how we can make your products available to Reason musicians all over the world. And if you’re thinking musicians are less interested in RE products, now that we have announced Reason 9.5, I can tell you that I have the data, and nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to check out what other developers have been doing really recently, look at Resonans, Arkana and the new version of ABL3 (specifically how it uses cv out). And yes, we’re all looking forward to ReSpire.

Last, I’ll take this chance to plug our yearly May Madness sales. Never before has there been so many cool Reason devices to choose from, at such amazing prices. Since we made Reason 9.5 a free update, you might just have some cash to spare. Don’t miss out.

Happy music making, and please keep the feedback coming, we couldn’t do our job without it.

Ernst Nathorst-Böös

/CEO

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