Nov 192009

Let’s just say Reason and Record together constitute one of the best all-in-one music creation and sequencing packages. I’ve tried out most all of the major DAWs out there, and I keep coming back to Reason and Record because of a few things: a) it’s easy and intuitive. This is the biggest draw for me. b) it allows me a wide latitude in sound creation. Sure some of the FX are a little lacking, but nowhere else can I create my own setups in such a simplistic way without having to know any programming or high level math. c) It’s instant and quick. Yes, I’m a little ADD, and I just love the fact that Reason and Record caters to me. I can jump in and add midi and audio tracks in a snap. I can go with an idea and get sidetracked into all kinds of wonderful tangents. It’s great. d) Finally, it’s stable and light-weight. My computer isn’t struggling unless I have an insane amount of Thors packed into a project. Sure I’d love access to VSTs but not at the expense of stability. Besides, I could spend a lifetime alone exploring the factory soundbank alone (not to mention all the great refill packages out there). So why go further.

All that being said, here is my wishlist of items I’d like to see in future versions of the software, in no particular order. I’m sure there are lots more that could be added, and this list is not meant to be exhaustive. It’s just a few of the major things I’d like to see in future versions.

For Record:

  1. Automatic Routing of the Reason mixer channels to the Record Main Mixer. Right now you can bring Reason songs into Record, but there is no mixer routings set up. You have two options: delete the mixer in Reason and then open the song in Record so that all devices get their own channels, or you can manually reroute in Record once your song is brought in. A user preference or dialog which opens and allows you to select the mixer you want to automatically route to separate channels should be available so that bringing a completed Reason song into Record maps all the Reason channels to new channels on the Record main mixer. Maybe in the next version PLEEEEEEZE!
  2. Comping for Midi as well. The new Comping Feature is great. Love it. However, it is reserved for Audio Lanes. If you want to do something similar in Note Lanes you have to use the New Dub / New Alt features. Overall, these two concepts are very similar. I’m wondering if there is a way to be more consistent with implementation. Why can’t we implement comps, for example, in note, and even in parameter automation lanes, and then do away with the new dub/new alt features altogether. This would make recording in loop mode in a Note Lane so much easier and workable. When you’ve laid down 4 or 5 takes in a note lane, you go into comp mode where you can have all the note lanes right there automatically waiting for you. The only real difference would be that in note lanes, you can have overlapping takes (audio and parameter automation can’t do this). But everything else would be pretty much identical for all types of track lanes. Seems a little clunky to have different methods which essentially do the same thing.
  3. Split Performance Controller Data into Separate Lanes. Would be nice to have the ability to split performance controller/note data from each other into two different clips on two different lanes. Right now it’s a tedious process of copying clips, deleting notes out of one clip and then deleting performance automation out of the other.
  4. Record Performance Controllers as automation. Would be nice if you can elect to record the “Performance Controllers” (Pitch Bend/Mod/etc) as automation instead of performance. Currently you have to record once for the notes, and once for the performance to get them on separate lanes OR you have to draw in the performance controller data. There is no way to click a button to record performance controllers as automation lanes (opposite to the “Automation as perf ctrl” button).
  5. Tempo automation/changes on a per-track basis. In the documentation on Page 161, it says “Automating tempo is done much in the same way as with other parameter automation. You record the tempo changes by changing the Tempo value on the Transport Panel. When you later play back, audio clips will automatically be stretched to follow the tempo changes (unless you have disabled stretch for the clips – see “About disabling Stretch for audio clips”). Note clips and automation clips will always follow tempo changes.” It woud be nice if you could opt to leave note lanes at the current tempo, thereby being able to change some note lanes or clips to a different tempo, and leaving other note clips / lanes as they are. This would be a nice advance in both Reason and Record.
  6. Display Masked Audio portion in the Audio Clip. In the documentation on page 169: Nice touch showing whether or not a clip has masked notes/areas! Nice improvement (Having this same feature added to audio clips would be nice as well). What would be even nicer is if masked areas were displayed the same way muted clips are displayed in the Arrange view, as there is really very little difference between the two. In fact, if you take this idea a step further, when you resize a clip (making it smaller) so that a masked area is created, it should automatically create the masked area as a new muted clip separate from the “active/visible” clip. When you resize back, it should automatically join the clips again. I think that would make sense, but I’m not sure if this would have undesired consequences in other places? But off the top of my head, it’s a suggestion. The benefit is that you would then be able to visualize how far the masked area goes in a given direction. Right now, there’s no visual indicator to show how far and wide the masked area is. It’s worthwhile to note that this is already pretty much implemented in the audio comp tracks. Now if we could bring that into the main arrange view, we’d be golden.
  7. Synch Reason / Record Favorites. I wish there was a way to automatically import your reason favorites into the Record Favorites and synch them together. I don’t like having to recreate all my favorites over again. It’s one of those time-wasters.
  8. Cut Note Events in the Clips. It might be nice to have the option when cutting clips, to cut the note events in the clip as well (if the note goes between split clips). This should be a toggle button on every track. Sometimes you DO want to split the notes, and it’s easier than going into edit mode for each clip and cutting them manually one by one (especially over several tracks). By doing this, you could select which tracks split notes and which don’t. Would be ideal if you are cutting several clips along multiple lanes, or inserting bars between locators.
  9. Scale Transposition of Notes. This is imminently more useful than chromatic transposition of the notes. Having both in the software would be a wonderful addition.
  10. Multiple Left and Right locators. When using Record to master a series of tracks, it would be nice if you could set things up with L/R locators and bounce all the tracks at once instead of bouncing them one at a time.
  11. More Training/Tutorials and videos included in the user documentation. At 850+ pages, the manual is getting absurd. Time to start moving with the times. More creative and advanced documentation please!

For Reason:

  1. Adding some new Effects, especially a glitch box such as “Glitch
  2. Having the ability to Randomize the entire Matrix or Redrum device with one click of a button. Currently you have to create random patterns in each and every slot in all the banks, and then (if you want), you need to randomize the Steps AND Resolution. Having a button, which when clicked, allows you to select what you want to randomize on the matrix or redrum (steps / resolution / how many patterns, notes, curves, both notes and curves) AND also providing the ability to randomize percentage-wise (for example, randomize 10% gives you less randomization than 90%). This would turn a very tedious process into a simple one. Same thing in the automation lanes. How about random automation? This would be a godsend for glitch music.
  3. Combinator updates: In the Programmer, subdivide the right-click context menus into submenus (a la Thor modulation matrix menus). Also, adding an option for step increments for the Rotaries would be welcome. In cases where steps are needed, you could switch the Rotary to use steps. If you need the rotary as it is, you could switch it back. Also, give the user the ability to choose how many steps are required (up to 16 or 32 would be nice).
  4. Integrate ReCycle into Reason (or Record). Yes, Reason and Record are not considered DAWs, but when most other DAWs have slicing capability built in, it makes for a good justification to integrate this capability into the software.
  5. The ability to reverse midi and audio for backward playback. You can reverse a small sample in the NN-XT, but it would be nice if you could reverse the midi notes (and in record if you could reverse the audio) within the sequencer.
  6. Tap Tempo. This is important on so many levels.
  7. When in edit mode in the sequencer, providing the ability to move notes from one clip into another. Right now you need to combine the two clips, then move the notes around, then cut them up again. It’s very finicky to do this. Further to this, having the ability to see all the tracks while in edit mode is important if you’re trying to line up one set of notes or automation with another track. You can get around this somewhat by using the L/R markers, but it’s limiting.

Do you agree with these points? Is there anything in your wishlist that isn’t here? Anything else you want to see improved in Reason?

  31 Responses to “My Reason/Record Wishlist”

  1. +1 for MIDI track comping. At the *very* least – an automatic new note lane (and mute previous note lane) once the playhead reaches the right marker. Complete MIDI comping would be key though.

    +1 on tap tempo. Extra marks for “more accented” beats helping to define a time signature.

    I’d also like audio to midi events, so I could control a Thor (for instance) with my bass and optionally record my bass at the same time on an audio track.

  2. Thanks Tony. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement, but I’ve also been very impressed with the amount of work that has been done by the props (especially in the way of Record). I’m sure we’ll see at least a few of these items knocked off the list with the next versions of their software products.

  3. I would like to see mouse buttons and keyboard shortcuts be user assignable. It would be a real improvement in my work flow.

    I would also like to see ReCycle convert audio to midi. That would really make ReCycle a must-have program.

  4. Hey Kevin,
    As for the mouse buttons and keyboard shortcuts, the way Adobe Photoshop implements this is definitely the way to go. Basically, they have a table outlining all the user shortcuts. You can edit the table and assign all the shortcuts you like in any way you like (so long as it doesn’t override default Microsoft or Apple shortcuts).

    As for converting Audio to Midi, I would like to see Propellerhead partner with Melodyne, Cycling74, and Illformed so that they could bring in all the functionality of Melodyne, Max, and Glitch. How sweet would that be! As far as I know, Melodyne allows you to access the separate notes in your audio. It used to be that they could only convert monophonic parts. but according to their website page here, they now support polyphonic parts. I haven’t tried it yet, but if it works the way they say, you basically have your Audio to Midi (though I can’t fathom how they’ve done it — this has always seemed like an impossibility to me).

    Slicing capability in Reason / Record would be most welcome by so many people, including me.

  5. I’d like to see a CV ‘function’ device, where you can create a CV output as a function of the input. Imagine a simple X/Y chart with a line through it. For each value of X (input), move vertically until you hit the line, then horizontally to the Y (output) axis. Then the user to draw the line in any way they wish (piece-wise) to create a custom function.

    This would allow creation of arbitrary CV ranges and open up a HUGE range of possibilities.

    Would also like to see a way to record a CV signal (say, from an LFO) as an automation track. This would help in creating more interesting automations rather than having to draw them in manually or rely on a cyclical LFO.

  6. Oh, and of course, the obvious – support combinators inside combinators.

    Not being able to create proper hierarchies to build up a complex combinators from a combination of other combinators is really annoying. The current “workaround” where two combinators are merged is at least usable to some degree, but it destroys the combinator programming.

  7. I used to think that I wanted nested combinators, but now I’m not so sure. I mean you don’t need to merge the combinators. You can stack them on top of each other and route them through each other. So it’s somewhat uneccessary. The only problem is the “external routing” issue, so you’d have to save your setup as an .rns file if you want to save and share your creations.

    I’m still on the fence about wanting those nested combis. It would certainly make things more compact. But at the same time, it might make things even more complex. And I’m all for anything that makes the software easier to use.

  8. Drawing CV automation. I can see the benefit to doing this. I think I even suggested something on the Props feature request forum about this at one time. However, there are some nice things you can do with the Matrix which gets you most of the way there. Connected up to any CV destination, you can draw some pretty complex sets of patterns using it, then automate the patterns in the sequencer. Voila… CV automation on steroids.

    The one thing that isn’t automated, which I would like to see, is the pots on the back of the rack. If you could automate those, it would make CV automation easier and quicker. But again, there’s even some workarounds for doing this.

    No doubt the software could be much simpler, but since the props have chosen to try to closely emulate the real-world hardware, they’ve also brought along with it some real-world limitations in my opinion. I don’t fault them for it. But at the same time, it can cause you to get frustrated when you come across these issues that could easily be solved in the virtual world.

  9. On the nested combinators thing – I’ve been working on a “special project” that involves a library of several simple devices that are wired together in different ways. This leads to massive stacks of combinators and I’d argue it’s more complicated like this. With nesting, you could add layers of abstraction and build up more and more detailed and complex devices without creating the stack from Hell.

    There’s a concept in Software called “encapsulation” that makes functionality easier to use by hiding the details. This is what nested combinators would do for me. It would make my designs much simpler from a user’s point of view, since each design would be simply a single combinator, rather than a big stack of them with external routing.

    Anyway I’m an engineer first so this is how I think :)

  10. I can see the benefit to nesting the Combis. You save yourself from creating a huge stack. In my very limited software programming experience, nesting is a must and is such a fundamental rule of good coding that when it’s not there (in Reason), it feels awkward. So believe me, I feel you.

    When you get your combis up and running for your “special project,” I’d love to take a look. That is, if you can share them openly or in private. I’ve seen some very elaborate creations by some very talented people and it never ceases to amaze me what people can do with Reason’s modular approach.

    All my best!

  11. I don’t have Record, but for Reason:

    +1 for automation of the pots on the back of the rack. I mainly do minimal drone/ambient stuff, using multiple combined modulation sources running through the Spider CV merger/splitter, and the ability to automate CV levels would make my life so much easier. I would have thought that this would be very easy for Propellerheads to implement.

    You mention there are some workarounds for this – can you tell me about them, or point me to sites that explain how to do this?

    +1 for tap tempo, for midi track comping, and for new effects ala Glitch!


  12. Oh – and another wish: constrained randomisation of the Matrix. So that you can select for the randomisation to be in only one octave for example, not spread across the whole note range. Even better if you could also constrain it to a particular scale or chord.

    I know Fruity Loops had this feature (I don’t know if it’s still available in FL Studio). You could just select from a drop down list of a huge range of scales and chords, select your root note, and keep clicking “random” till you came up with something interesting. Worked well.

    And +1 for step increments on the rotaries in the Combinator.


  13. outback,
    Actually, you can constrain the randomization of the matrix. . . to a degree. If you randomly place a series of notes all within a one octave range, then use the “alter notes” command from the right-click context menu, you’ll randomize the notes within the confines you’ve set up. For example, place a random collection of notes btween c2 and c3, then click “alter notes” a few times. Your notes will never jump outside the C2-C3 range. Use the “Randomize Notes (Ctrl/Cmd+R)” command and all bets are off. That may help a little.

    The “Randomize chord” feature — like Fruity Loops would definitely be helpful though. I completely agree.

    All my best

  14. Outbackyak,
    I’ll have to give this some thought, and perhaps create a separate tutorial for how to do this. But essentially it would work like this: let’s say you are automating the level of a sound source via the reason mixer’s fader, which is set to 60. You then plug a CV source from a matrix curve CV out to the level CV in on the back of the mixer. Set the Curve on the matrix to around 30. If your pot is dead center, then the volume coming out should be an equal mix of both: 45. Simple enough. Turn the pot all the way left and you get 60 (fully controlled by the fader). Turn the pot all the way to the right and you get 30 (fully controlled by CV). But as we all know, you can’t automate the pot to do this in the sequencer (ie: in this situation, you can’t automate going from 60 – 30 or 30 – 60). Of course you don’t need any CV to do this. But this is just an example.

    You can, however, split the audio and CV to two separate channels and then crossfade between the two, so that one channel has the pot fully right, and the other channel has the pot fully left. If you then crossfade between the two channels, you’re essentially crossing from a channel which is fully controlled by the CV, to the other channel which is fully controlled by the level fader. Crossfading between the two will give you the same results as moving the pot from fully left to fully right.

    This is a simplistic example, but it should work in most CV situations. Check Peff’s article on Building Crossfaders. And especially pay attention to creating an equal power crossfader. It’s one of the most important Reason tricks you will ever learn (IMHO).

    Of course if you could automate the pots, there would be no need for this kind of a setup. And I’m just thinking out loud. There may be a much easier way to do this than the one I’m outlining above.


  15. Thanks for that info about constraining the Matrix – I’d never thought of using the “alter pattern” function this way. And of course, since it only rearranges the time position of the notes you’ve already selected (not the pitches of the notes) it means that you can constrain the Matrix to create quasi-random sequences in any particular chord or scale you enter. So this gives a (rather kludgy) way of doing the Fruity Loops “Random chord” function.

    I haven’t had a chance yet to try the crossfader examples you suggest, and while they are obviously useful, I’m not sure that they will do what I’m hoping to do. What I really want to do is to be able to control the relative amounts of (say) 4 LFOs (set to different speeds, and/or waveforms) combined through the Merger, so I can mix and automate the influence each LFO has on the modulation target. That way I could create complex changing modulations which vary in rhythm and depth over time. Great for weird drone stuff.

    But since it’s each individual CV amount that needs to be varied I can’t see how I could build a crossfader to do this, since the crossfader has to be directed to a front panel target, like a mixer slider or a a filter frequency knob, not to the CV levels. (Unless I’m missing something really obvious here.)

    I thought I’d be able to do it by connecting each LFO CV to the CV ins of Rotary 1 to 4 on the Combinator, and then setting the target of each Rotary to the desired target (say, Filter Frequency on a Subtractor), and then using the Rotaries to mix the level of the CVs, but this doesn’t work. Instead of combining all the LFO CVs into one complex mix of CVs (which is what I get if I combine them with a Merger) only one of the Rotaries has any effect (the other three don’t function at all). The highest numbered Rotary gets priority over all the others.

    Obviously, if I was able to automate the CV level rotaries on the back of the Merger this would be dead easy to do, but you cant :( . I’m wondering if there is some technical reason why Propellerheads haven’t implemented this function, because it seems to me it would have a lot of creative uses other than the one I describe here.


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