Making a Synthwave track in Reason 10

Posted Jan. 15, 2018, 12:46 p.m.

Over the last few years, a new retro music genre has emerged, bloomed and taken on a life of its own. Synthwave, or Retrowave is an electronic music genre heavily influenced by the sounds and aestethics of 1980s movies and its soundtracks (think John Carpenter, Vangelis etc) and video games. This nostalgia-induced style of electronic music pays tribute to the style, feel and sound of the 80s. Musically, Synthwave music often draws inspiration from bands that build their musical foundation on drum machines and (nowadays) classic synthesizers.

Emerging in the late 2000’s, Synthwave acts like Kavinsky, College and Com Truise were among the first to make the genre widely known and loved. Both Kavinsky and College were featured in the Synthwave-heavy soundtrack for the movie Drive, which definitely helped many discover the sounds of Synthwave and bring the genre into the mainstream. The Netflix hit show Stranger Things also features Synthwave music in its soundtrack and the whole series could of course also be considered an homage to 80s movies.

Synthwave music is often inspired by and based around 80s style components such as drum machines (such as the Linn Drum) and analogue synthesizers like the Roland Juno and Jupiter 8, mixed with more modern production techniques like creative use of sidechain compression.

With its rich plethora of drum machines and analogue inspired synthesizers, picking Reason to produce a Synthwave track is a perfect match. Here to show you how it’s done is producer and musician Paul Ortiz of Synthwave group ZETA.

Producer, musician and Reason producer Paul Ortiz (Chimp Spanner) is a member of Synthwave group ZETA, along with Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT) and Katie Jackson. Together they fuse the retro synth heavy decade of the 80s with futuristic and breath-taking imagery, bringing past and future together in a Cyberpunk-esque package that is ZETA.

Follow ZETA on YouTube, Facebook, Spotify, Bandcamp.

Make a Synthwave track yourself with Reason's free trial!





Posted June 20, 2017, 9 a.m.

Over the last months we've been posting these #ReasonQuickTip videos on our social media channels and due to popular demand, we've now compiled them in one space. This YouTube playlist will be updated whenever a new #ReasonQuickTip gets posted so be sure to bookmark this page!

If you want to share your best tip with us, just tweet us or write to us on Facebook or Instagram! Maybe your tip will be our next video?


Finally Understanding Levels and Clipping

Posted April 14, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

Over the years I've seen a lot of confusion out there about levels and clipping during mixing - but only recently I came to realise that the confusion was so deep that people were altering their mixes to avoid clipping that wasn't even really happening! Once and for all, I thought I'd lay out for people in highly technical terms, but hopefully still keeping it fun too, everything they need to know about digital audio and clipping so that they can finally realise how little they really need to know. If your the type of person who has found themselves worriedly watching the meters more than your listening to the sound, this tutorial will put your mind at rest and your concentration back to the fun part: making music.




Liquid Drum n' Bass: Super Neat Beat Cheat Sheet

Posted Nov. 19, 2015, 2:56 p.m.

Saying "Drum n' Bass" is practically as vague as saying Rock n' Roll. There's a world of difference between Jerry Lee Lewis and Gwar - even if they share some common heritage. Similarly, Liquid Drum n' Bass is a popular variant of the original Drum n' Bass styles coming out of the UK in the 90s. Liquid DnB fuses modern EDM production with the essence of classic DnB for an increasingly popular result.

Here, Ryan shows you how you can put together your own Liquid DnB drum sounds and perhaps most importantly, how you can tap into the Pro potential of Reason's mixer to get some seriously punchy drum sounds.


Welcome McDSP to the Reason rack!

Posted Jan. 16, 2014, 3:56 p.m.

McDSP Rack Extensions

Pro Tools users will surely know the name McDSP.  They've been producing plugins for Native and HD systems that are some of the most respected and desired out there. And when you hear them it's easy to see why. McDSP's attention to fidelity and sonic character is second to none. Now the legendary McDSP sound joins the Reason rack with three new Rack Extensions. We spoke with Colin McDowell, the McD in McDSP, to learn about what brought him over to Reason and what he's got in the works.

McDSP has been known for making high quality plugins for Pro Tools systems. What was it about the Rack Extension format that interested you to expand McDSP’s devices into the Reason Rack?

We've been excited about the Rack Extensions format for a while. The Rack Extension plug-in format is very cool - a hardware based user interface design coupled with the amazing power of today's host computers. Dang sorry we did not get it done sooner.

Our entire code base had to be re-written for Avid's AAX spec, so we made sure all the cool things we'd do in Pro Tools could be used on other platforms as well. The Moo Tube, C670, and FRG-4RE are the first products to leverage our new code base in this way, and we're just getting started!

Given your varied collection of EQ, Dynamics, Specialty FX, and Mastering Tools how did you decide which devices would be your first Rack Extensions?

Compressors are like potato chips.   Folks always want more.  The modules from the 6030 Ultimate Compressor plug-in are very popular in Pro Tools, and they seemed like a good fit for the Reason customers.   Additionally we felt if we could make some of our more complicated algorithms work on Reason, that would be a good measure of what we could do going forward.   And let me tell you, it measured up really well...!!

The Moo Tube, the C670, and the FR 4RE come from dynamics modules in the McDSP Ultimate Compressor bundle.  Can you tell us a little bit about them, how they differ, and why they stood out to you guys as the ones to port?

We selected modules from the 6030 with lots of character and utility. The Moo Tube is a highly stylized version of tube based compressors, the C670 is an ultra-vintage multi-stage compression topology, and the FRG-4RE is a feed-forward reactive gain (FRG) design. All three have a variety of music production uses, sound great, and are easy to operate.

McDSP Mootube

The Moo Tube is the most gentle of the three compressors we've released. Its great for vocals, bass, a bit of fader riding. It also has a nice tube character to help you milk your tracks as much as possible.

McDSP C670

The C670 is the old guy in the group - classic gear modeling at this best. But the C670 is flexible in its own right and can handle a wide range of material - from an orchestra to a rock band.


The FRG-4RE (aka 'The Frog') is the true 'utility compressor' in the group. It can be a good touch-up compressor, crush tracks into submission, and many things in between.

McDSP’s heritage clearly comes from the shared love of vintage hardware that we all have. The look of McDSP plugins aim to resemble real hardware in their own right. How is it to see your hardware inside a virtual rack such as Reason, now able to cable together and interact with other "hardware."

Seeing McDSP plug-ins in the Reason virtual rack is mighty cool.  The 3D modeling techniques required to bring a Rack Extension plug-in to life have enabled us to step up our own graphic designs and create really good looking plug-ins for the Reason platform.  The way users interact with the plug-ins in Reason is closer to the 'hardware experience' than any other DAW.   Good stuff for those of us afflicted with 'gear lust'!

We say the Rack Extension platform allows for devices to be "full citizens of the Reason rack." Most notably that means Rack Extensions are able to include CV routing between devices that isn’t possible on any other platform. Can you tell us how you’re using CV on the McDSP devices?

McDSP Rack Extension compressor plug-ins provide CV output of the gain reduction signal to other devices in 'the rack'.   Such a signal could be useful for modulating a filter frequency, the input threshold on some other level dependent device, or adjusting the output level of another device.  Reason folks tend to experiment - I bet they'll come up with some pretty cool uses.

Looking forward, what excites you about the Rack Extension format and McDSP’s future presence in the Reason Rack?

The folks at Propellerhead did a good job with their SDK and appear to be on the cusp of improving it even more.   We're excited to bring more of our Pro Tools plug-ins heritage to Reason, and develop new products for Reason customers.

Looking forward we've got a great product road map and are looking forward to delivering more Rack Extensions plug-ins in 2014 and beyond!

Posted Jan. 16, 2014, 3:56 p.m.