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Plug-ins, Part 1

posted by Record Blog 2009-06-30 at 10:07

I thought it might be good to share some thoughts on one of the questions that seems to be making the rounds: “Record doesn’t support plug-ins? Are you guys crazy?”

Well yes it is true. Record doesn't support the standard plug-in formats—neither VST nor AU. [BTW Record does have seamless support for the best plug-in collection in the world – Reason! IMHO]. And yes, we may be crazy, too, but for other reasons than this.
Let me start by saying we thought long and hard before making this decision. There are a number of factors that finally tipped us in the direction of keeping Record a closed system like Reason. So I thought I share some of those factors with you. There ended up being so much to say that I’ll divide this into three posts to try to keep them digestible.

First of all flow. If we want to stay true to the statement that Record is really for musicians and it's all about getting the song down and turning it into a great-sounding production, then adding plug-in support would actually be throwing a virtual spanner into the works. I know it doesn't seem so at first, but bear with me.

In Record we wanted people to move around effortlessly between the areas involved in production flow, recording editing, sound sculpting and mixing. Just an example, adding an insert effect is one mouse-click, literally. It appears right in your face and you can start tweaking it directly. Those of you who use plugs know that is not the case in other systems. Bringing up multiple windows on the screen, each that work differently and that are from a user interface standpoint only loosely connected to the track in question, is a dead certain flow breaker. In Record, you mix in the mixer and your gear is in the rack. Nothing hidden, and all work the same way. No inconsistent interfaces. No screen sets. No separate preferences for each device.

Having the devices as part of the application means smoother operations in unforeseen ways. Parameters and automation behave in a well-defined manner across all devices Take for instance the undo command. As an example, in Record if you turn a frequency knob on an EQ you can just undo—no need to set A/B versions, or when you do undo, the app undoes the last edit you did to your audio several moves ago. It sounds basic, but other audio applications can’t undo in plug-ins.

Screenshot of
undo in Record
Look you can undo a parameter change in an effect device like the decay amount in the RV-7000 reverb. Also notice that you and cut, copy and paste devices and tracks in one operation.

Another example of device integration is that you can copy tracks and device chains—in fact, even multiple tracks at once—in a single command and paste them into another document (oh and you can have multiple documents open at once). Everything including all the signal chains, track information, automation, devices, settings and audio comes right along without any pre-setting up of a file or template creation.

Complete integration of all parts means you never have to worry about latency compensation or other timing issues. I still struggle making latency compensation work in most hosts. It requires a lot of finagling—not what keeps musicians in their right brains creating music. We take care of all the internal timing to deliver audio in sync, on time in real-time. In Record there are no settings for delay compensation. There’s just no need.

Consistency, Reliability, Portability
Music is collaborative. Musicians write music with partners, perform in bands, need to send tracks to others for overdubs or editing, and take their songs to other places and systems for all sorts of other reasons. We’ve worked hard to make exchanging ideas and files really easy.

One way to simplify exchange is to have a single song file where all the setup info, arrangement, audio, cross fades, etc. are stored. Record’s closed system really makes this work. With confidence you can take that file to another Record user’s system and know it will playback and sound exactly the same as on your system no matter what OS/computer/installation is being used. Your friend will have all the devices necessary for the file to sound right and to make any edits or changes. No glitches or bugs due to varying versions or missing plug-ins. Automation behaves exactly as written. No missing audio. No crashes or data corruption due to altered signal chains or absent settings. No surprises.

Thanks if you got this far. In my next thread I’ll talk a bit about how our closed system really improves performance and let you do more…

/Timothy Self

.plan comments

Comments (25)

Comment posted by: joakimnisse - 2009-06-30 10:33

Your last statement regarding portability is flawed, you have not taken refills into account. If my buddy has a refill that I don't have, it WON'T sound the same... sorry.

Comment posted by: mcatalao - 2009-06-30 11:58

Not at all, if you're talking about record per se...

Comment posted by: matias - 2009-06-30 17:22

yeah, that's rigth ... stablelity first! i'm almost shure u can do any audio processing/effect in the rack.. there is some thing u can't get it like a vst plugin but u have the certain if u can rout suceffuly once what u get, never ever will crash changing. i agree with joakimnisse, that's right even with self-contain settings (that's the same in reason).
About record.. there isn't any bugs (that i saw) but there is a few things i sugest: a variable slope for lpf and hpf in mixer, give some utility to audio input's (i don't get how to record, for example, a thor audio output to an audio track), the possibility of resizing clips with timestrech, and a mono/poly switch in ID8 (for basses or flute)... good audio quality beside the pc i'm using... xD
hoping to be a beta ;)
keep the good work

Comment posted by: TJBrodeur - 2009-06-30 17:52

Thanks for addressing this topic. Since I will always likely be using ProTools to some extent, the appeal of Record is this smooth, seemless workflow (that I love so much in Reason).

However, to bring up a question from a previous thread, since Record does have the Line6 software integrated, can we use the iLock version of Amp Farm rather than having to use one of Line6's interfaces. If not, this seems to fly in the face of the portability argument as it would require us to move around with an entire extra interface rather than a simple iLock key.

Just some thoughts.

Comment posted by: coachxm - 2009-06-30 20:04

Pro-tools user with multiple plugs in. Listen guys, if it ain't broken don't try to fix it.

I moved from Fruity loops because of plug in issues and version conficts. It was a nightmare having to upgrade fruity loops because some VSTs I was using would crash the app. Every release of a new plugin or production software version called into question the integrity of all of my projects. In fact, I lost some projects to issues related to integration of Waves diamond plugins as well.

I moved to Pro-tools and experienced the same issues in relation to plugins. One day I loaded a project of mine and found that after an upgrade of protool's software, most of the plugins were disabled. After several days of troubleshooting (not making music), I got the plugins reinstalled but the project never sounded the same. I had inconsistent delays related to plugins on multiple tracks so I disabled all of them and kept the raw project.

To the above you have to add the headache associated with licensing on all of the individual products.

I turned into a computer software analyst and all I was trying to do is make my music professional grade. I am a techie, in fact I work in IT field.

When I installed Reason 3.0 for the first time on my computer until today, I have never had to return to being a software analyst. I'm just making music these days and that's money.

Comment posted by: mnieuwhof - 2009-06-30 20:44

Reason has never crashed me...

I wonder what it would do when enabling plugins (wich can be written in a bad manner, memory flaws etc...).
I stand behind the choice of stability from Propellerheads..

Comment posted by: royburr - 2009-06-30 21:09

I agree with the decision to not have VST/AU support. I also run Cubase 4.5 and have lost count of the number of times that has crashed. Reason has never crashed since I started using it at version 2. I now run it (version 4) on my iMac and under XP, also on my Mac, and ASUS Eee pc. Try running Cubase on an Eee PC! Reason really does work better than any other app. Sure, I will still use Cubase for the VSTi's that I love, but for getting tracks done, or just started, then Reason really rules. Can't wait to get Record!

Comment posted by: cloudrunner - 2009-07-01 00:52

No plug-ins is a great idea. It still impresses me that Reason is the only piece of software I have ever used that has never ONCE crashed or frozen on me - not one glitch or lock-up in 5+ years of use. Reason also has, by far, the smoothest, most efficient workflow of any softsynth/beat sequencer by a mile. I for one don't want this to change.

Thor may be the most versatile, powerful softsynth around - the only other one I've used that could compare is Native Instruments Massive, and using that completely drains the cpu. Having lots of instruments and fx is nice, but most of the time in Reason, not being able to get the sound you want is more likely to be a lack of ability or patience than resources.

Comment posted by: Aliton - 2009-07-01 05:38

"Your last statement regarding portability is flawed, you have not taken refills into account. If my buddy has a refill that I don't have, it WON'T sound the same... sorry."

Actually, that isn't much of a problem, since your buddy could simply render out those tracks that have refills into new audio tracks before handing the session over to you, since that is a feature that's directly and smoothly integrated (seemingly), and works with Reason tracks, from what I can tell.

If they're giving you sequence data only, then yeah, that'd be a problem, but otherwise it's not a severe issue.

Comment posted by: pro68 - 2009-07-01 09:38

A minimum of Pitch control in audio track is a must in a closed system.

Comment posted by: djxhale - 2009-07-01 10:17

Unfortunately right.
An audio sequencer definetely needs the possibility to edit, cut, pitch, and stretch audio within the application... Otherweise you have to use other tools again :(

Comment posted by: Koshdukai - 2009-07-01 13:04

First of all, thank you for finally addressing this officially. It's good to be able to exchange ideas about this subject.

I agree that a closed system is always a better candidate for a stable and efficient system. That's why Apple is Apple, iMacs were iMacs and the iPhone is the iPhone.

The problem with closed systems isn't what the do best. Its what they can't do, and how one can't add to it in any other way.

I also must say that I like Reason like it is, Record like it is but they still miss some basic features not possible to complement through add-ons (pitch shifting comes to mind). I'm not an "extremist" of either side (pro vs agains plug-ins). I just try to understand the reasons of either "side".

Addressing your points:

I can get the same flow by embedding a plug-in inside a container device, like a Combinator with more exposed and mappable knobs and with as many audio in/outs at the back the plug-in needs and at least gate+note PolyCV in/outs too.

All the undo/redo are applied to this container device that will map accordingly whatever is mapped in the modulation matrix equivalent to what Combinator has.
All these settings "plug-in ID, exposed parameters mappings" could be saved in a patch file.

I think the VST API is bidirectional where something done with the GUI is synced with what is being presented to the VST host/container, so this device would always have access to do/undo history even if not done through its GUI by through the plug-in's own GUI.

So, if needed, the user could indeed ask to see the plug-in's GUI external window, but that's a user option.

Some software wizardry could even accomplish something even better, simulating a "screen" below this container device, that would show the plug-in GUI, with scroll bars if needed (like when we open the Combinator)

This would depend of the way it was implemented. One could have a consistent GUI and way of working if that mini-host container device existed and was done right, IMHO.

That's the problem with VST's. And that's also the user choice to do. Use unreliable plug-ins, suffer the consequences. Stay out of any plug-ins if you don't want to deal with these issues. But, it would always be a users decision.

ReFills... exactly the same problem when colaborating with others. So, as already mentioned here, you can't use this argument against plug-ins when the ReFills cause exactly the same problem and have exactly the same solution in Record: Bounce it to an audio track.

I know this is a very long comment, but instead of listing a bunch of links to forum posts where this was already discussed, I decided to simple say it again here.

sorry, but I just had to take the opportunity :)

Comment posted by: nickmorgan19457 - 2009-07-02 06:48

The only plugin I could see being "needed" for this type of rig is pitch correction. I don't see this being too big of a problem, however, as Antares could license a Record plugin (like Line 6 has done) for the next upgrade.
I would love a few more effects, though. I'm not a huge fan of the chorus or the phaser in Reason.

Record looks awesome and if it's as stable as Reason has been, I could see it becoming a very popular DAW for tracking. Keep it up.

Comment posted by: Koshdukai - 2009-07-06 11:41

Adding an automation controlled Pitch Shifter device in Reason 5 could be the last drop in the bucket to make Record 1.0 users upgrade to a Record+Reason 5.0 combo ;)

Comment posted by: IIbnBliss - 2009-07-08 17:22

Pitch correction is a concern. from a "project studio" standpoint...I don't know many that are tracking perfect vocalists. ha ha. There is absolutely no question at all that pitch correction will be needed for most all project studios. that's not even really debatable.

AS it stands, I will be exporting vocal tracks that need correction to Logic. and then back in. That's a bummer.

I will say though...the imposed limit of plugins is actually a plus for someone like me that gets easily distracted by new toys and plugins. And to be honest...I do in fact prefer stability over a massive library of crap I'll hardly ever use.

That said though....analysis tools, editing tools and Pitch correction would be three HUGE tools in regards to audio.

Comment posted by: Koshdukai - 2009-07-08 17:59

"analysis tools, editing tools and Pitch correction"

Comment posted by: Koshdukai - 2009-07-08 18:00

"analysis tools, editing tools and Pitch correction"

yup, needed.

I'm only buying Record 1.0 as a statement of a approval of the direction its heading, not because it does all I thought it should.

Talking about distractions... I got distracted (but then gave up) with all the free ReFills available right on this site the day I bought Reason 4. But after checking the first couple, I understood the time killer that task was going to be and I gave up.

Now I have 2.08 Gb of free ReFills that I don't know when I'll have the chance to check or use :P ...but I'm not complaining, just stating a fact!
(I thought it would be as easy as checking free VSTi's)

I rather prefer to have those 2Gb of ReFills to check in the future than having none to test when in need of something new made by others :)

Comment posted by: Koshdukai - 2009-07-08 18:02

sorry for the duplicated comment, but I had a < char (less than) in there and the comment system cut out every word after that

Comment posted by: IIbnBliss - 2009-07-08 18:55

I do like the "plug-in" effect/instrument rack unit idea. even at that, if resources and stability is a concern, you could a.) have "reason/record approved" plugins only, and/or b) impose other limiting parameters such as memory use allowable, that insure a quality product with dictated functionality while giving project enthusiasts just a BIT more flexibility.

I think the Propellerhead approved idea is full of win because you can partner with companies you trust and increase markets at the same time.

There are people that are dead set on using Antares for pitch correction....they will always be faithful because of how good that product has been for them. Those people would be less inclined to buy Record.

Comment posted by: Koshdukai - 2009-07-08 22:06

I "wouldn't mind" (as in, "I would love!!!") to see a license deal of Propellehead with Celemony so Melodyne DNA would get embedded into Record :P

(or Propellerhead's own technology derived from the time-stretch algorithm, for monophonic pitch-shift, that would work too, at least that!)

Comment posted by: sigurani - 2009-07-24 12:59

Hello Propellerhead ,
Can you help me understand and Destructive recording(done so adding EQ and so on ..) and Nondestructive recording (is done with no EQ and so on )OR does both do not apply for Record Reason ??
Like i have set the Microphones on my Drum-set but i want to do some tweaking (EQ) (Compression) before i have recorded(which is Destructive)which i like doing but dislike because the fact is i am unable to go back and change it again with out losing the track .
This might sound to elementary for you all at Propellerhead but hope to get a feed back .
Just want to understand Record more even the very very basic.
Than You for creating a Awesome Artful Program .

Comment posted by: sigurani - 2009-07-24 16:15

i meant virtually

Comment posted by: antimateria - 2009-08-04 19:24

We are aware of what you are saying, but slicing loops, real-time stretching and pitch correction directly from Record is what is needed to make this app fully functional. Maybe I'm not aware of it, but can I just drag a kick or snare(any sample) to an audio track in record and then stretch it to match my tempo? No, right?

Comment posted by: davidchapman - 2009-09-26 05:11

You mention "no screen sets" as though that is a GOOD thing? User defined screensets are essential to customised workflow. At the moment I find the program very slow and "clunky" to navigate and the preset key commands simply don't work for me.

Comment posted by: nikolafeve - 2009-10-05 03:51

dear Timothy Self
i'm totally agree with you and the way of propellerheads. i hope that you never change your mind.
NEVER, NEVER, plugins in reason-record!!!!
peace ;)

PS: for the next version my wishlist:

pitch shifting (record)
'auto-tune" device
MIDI out


PARADISE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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