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robbneu 2007-09-26 17:00

Empowering the laptop users (Reason)
I'm sure I'm not alone in being a "laptop musician," so a lot of what I do in Reason happens away from home, and therefore, away from any of my "home" gear. Now, I don't want to misrepresent myself here, it's not like I have a fully functional studio at home. I just have an old Oxygen 8, some speakers that work via USB, and a couple of audio interfaces. That being said, I'm sure that other people, with more elaborate setups, are dealing with some of the issues I am on a more routine basis.

So, here are some of my recommendations:

1. Allow people to set up multiple "profiles" in the Preferences, so that a computer could be set up with one set of options at one moment, then be switched to another almost instantly. So, for example, I could have a profile set up that I would call "Home" that would have my midi keyboard setup working in the "Keyboards and Control Surfaces" pane, my USB speakers or external audio box working in "Audio," and so on. When I switch to my "Away" profile, my "Audio" automatically gets reset to my headphone jack, the keyboard gets deactivated, etc. Someone might have a "gig" profile that has Reason set up for their performance devices and so on.

My needs are pretty simple, but I imagine that people who have elaborate setups, using some of the options in "Advanced Control" and such, could really benefit from this sort of option. Ideally, all of the controls in the Preferences pane could be assigned to individual profiles, so "Play in Background" could be dependent on your profile, your tuning, etc.

Obviously, this should be an optional setting, as not everyone would need it. So, maybe there's a checkbox in the Preferences that says, "Allow For Profile Usage" or something. When the box is checked, every time you start up Reason, it presents you with a drop down menus that says, "Select your work environment" or something. You click your necessary profile and you're good to go. Ideally, you should be able to set up any number of different environment profiles. If you don't need it, you leave that checkbox unchecked, and Reason just loads up, like it does now.

2. Add a crossfeed option for "better" sound via headphones, such as the one offered by Refined Audiometrics Laboratory ( I know, everyone says "you shouldn't monitor on headphones," but if you're working on a laptop, there are times when you have no choice. Adding a plug-in that would give users a more natural, "loudspeaker sound" for when they have to listen via headphones would be great.

I really doubt this would even need to be a new instrument or effect. Using the existing tools already in Reason and the combinator, it should be fairly simple to create what I'm talking about. Just drop the combi between your master mixer and the Hardware Device and you'd be set. Something like a combi would be ideal, because you could "bypass" it when you're working at home and don't need the effects. I might even give it a shot myself, but I suspect someone more clever than I am would have better results.

You could even put in an EQ that allows you to fine tune the frequency response for your specific headphones. So, maybe my crossfeed combi has a modified EQ for my SR-225s and someone else is using a different EQ for their Sennheisers, etc. Obviously, it would be up to the people using the combi to set that up.

3. Include a basic "performance mode." I think I've mentioned this before, but Logic has an option where if you press your Caps Lock key, your keyboard becomes a basic midi keyboard. So, by pressing your keys, you can play notes into your sequencer. It's not great, but it is useful for auditioning different patches while away from an actual keyboard. Something like this would be great for Reason, especially if you were performing live and needed an easy way to trigger samples in a NN-XT. Like Logic, you'd hit Caps Lock again and everything would go back to normal.

4. Add a high contrast or inverted screen mode in Reason that makes the screen easier to see in different lighting conditions. I'm imagining effects similar to what you can get from "Nocturne" or something, but even with that app, the inverted screen option doesn't seem to make the Reason rack look much better. I'm sure this would be really useful for musicians that are working in low-light or high-light situations.

5. Add a "Stop slouching" reminder. My posture isn't the greatest when I'm working on my laptop, so a stop slouching reminder would be awesome. Ideally, you could have it remind the user via speech samples. You could either sample your own mother to provide the reminder or pick from a number of nagging voices to get a close approximation of a motherly voice, a stern teacher, or even a nun or something.

Okay, so maybe I'm joking about that last one. :)

The performance mode, display options, and profile features obviously couldn't happen until Reason gets updated again, but the crossfeed combi could just be a download, then later added to the Factory Sound Bank. If someone went to the trouble of coming up with settings for specific headphones, you could offer the crossfeed as a refill.

As it is, Reason is already a great app for "mobile users." I just think that with a few tweaks, you could almost market it as being "mobile-friendly." I don't think any of the other sequencers are marketing their software like that (maybe Live?), so it could be a little edge for Reason, or at least another bullet-point.

I'm still getting my head around Reason 4 and the new sequencer, but I love what I'm seeing so far. Its really great and worth the upgrade alone. I'm looking forward to spending some time with the new devices. Thanks for your hard work!

Grumpus at Soundclick

robbneu 2007-10-09 15:57

No one else thinks these are good ideas? Oh well! :) (n/t)

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