Getting the most out of Propellerhead’s Reason

Craig Anderton of Harmony Central has compiled a list of tips to help you realise the full potential of Reason from Propellerhead. Here are the best…

Better Sample Playlist

Some people erroneously believe that Reason’s sound quality can’t match dedicated hardware. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon, make sure ‘low-bandwidth’ hasn’t been checked in the SubTractor or the NN-19 and try selecting ‘High Quality Interpolation’ in the NN-XT and NN-19 samplers. You should now be able to enjoy a significant improvement in sound quality.

Compressor Sidechaining

While many Digital Audio Workstations are just starting to implement sidechaining, Reason’s MClass Compressor already has it. Simply press Tab to flip the rack around to reveal ‘Sidechain In’ jacks for the left and right channels. As an added bonus the compressor’s Gain Reduction signal is available as a control voltage.

Improved EQ Mixer
On the back of the ReMix mixer, you’ll find a switch in the lower left corner that flicks between ‘Compatible EQ’ and ‘Improved EQ’. Your best bet is to opt for Improved which will trade in a slightly higher CPU hit for much better quality and save the Compatible selection for projects created in older versions of Reason.

MIDI-to-CV Convertor

The RPG-8 can serve as a MIDI-to-CV converter when the Arpeggiator is set to Off. For example, make the RPG-8’s track active in the Sequencer, and send the RPG-8 Gate and CV outs to a SubTractor synthesiser. But instead of routing the RPG-8 Mod Wheel out to the SubTractor’s Mod Wheel in (the default), you can send it to Pitch, Filter 2 Freq (as shown in the screen shot), or Amp Level, which do not have corresponding amount controls in SubTractor’s Mod wheel section.

Bonus Equalizer
The BV512 vocoder has a bonus equalizer mode with up to 32 band. Simply turn the switch to the left from Vocoder to Equalizer and you can even do some primitive room tuning if you insert the vocoder as the last processor in the signal chain.

Signal Flow Handling

Some of Reason’s effects sum the inputs to mono before creating a stereo output, they have different capabilities and you’ll need to check them if you’re having any issues. To see how a particular effect handles signal flow you need to check the small graphics toward the left side on the back of the rack (Tab to turn around). For an explanation of what these mean, go to page 683 in the Version 5 PDF Operation Manual or page 334 for the Version 4 manual (both of which can be found in the programme folder’s respective documentation folders).

Remove Subsonics
The MClass Equalizer has a ‘Lo Cut’ switch that reduces response below 30Hz at 12dB/octave. Insert this at the output to remove any subsonics. Patching this before a compressor will also allow the compressor to work more efficiently, as its control mechanism won’t be influenced by subsonic signals.

Better Distortion and Overall Sound
Reason will run at 96kHz (sample rate can be selected by following Edit > Preferences > Audio >). To appreciate just how much difference this makes, choose a really distorted patch in Scream and you’ll notice a definite smoothness in the high frequencies that you just can’t get at 44.1kHz.

The Truth About Clipping
Reason uses 32-bit floating point math for internal calculations, yielding a virtually unlimited dynamic range. As a result, clipping that occurs within Reason itself (e.g. an effect metre “in the red”) won’t produce audible distortion. Rather, you should clip at the hardware interface. It’s a good idea to leave the Hardware Device unfolded, and check the Audio Output metres from time to time to make sure they’re not distorting.

If you Don’t Like Patch Cables
Type ‘L’ (not Ctrl-L or Command-L, as is incorrectly stated in the Operation Manual) to show/hide the patch cords on the back. Jacks that are in use have a coloured ‘hole’ with the same colour as the patch cord that normally connects to it, and you can see where it connects by holding the cursor over the jack-a ‘tooltip’ style of text appears describing the connection.

More Effective Vocoding
You’ll get the most noticeable vocoding effects if the carrier sound you use has lots of harmonics (such as a synth sound with an open filter and sawtooth waves). If you don’t have a lot of harmonics, try patching a Scream4 between the carrier source and the vocoder carrier input.

Build Your Own Rack
To copy a Reason device quickly, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac) on a device’s ‘rack ears’ and drag it into an empty space in the rack.

Act as a MIDI Guitar
Reason is a great choice for a sound module for a MIDI guitar. Because it’s easy to load up six devices, you simply need to put the MIDI guitar in mono mode (separate MIDI output for each string over its own channel), and assign each device to a string.

You can find Craig Anderton’s original tips here.

If you want to learn more about any of our Propellerhead products, give our Audio team a call on 03332 409 306 or email

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