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Old 2011-07-05, 00:02
jkheal jkheal is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,576
An Open Letter to Dissatisfied, Restless or Otherwise Less Than Happy Reason Users

First a Disclaimer: Even though I have been toying with Reason on and off for more than three years, I am for all intents and purposes, still a noob. I am not a musician in the traditional sense — I have no expertise with any traditional instruments. Furthermore, I have no personal experience with hardware synthesizers and/or studio equipment. I came to this pretty much cold. So, I don’t pretend to have much “street cred.” When I post on these forums, it's always with a bit of trepidation; in most cases there is a degree of guessing in my posts. I do know a fair amount about computers and if I add any value to these forums, it is probably in that arena.

With that said, I want to comment on the flurry of Reason/Record lamenting that I’ve been reading lately, perhaps spilling over from the Feature Request Forum: It’s missing key features … it’s not competitive ... It’s old. For my part, I feel that I have so slightly scratched the surface of Reason (let alone Record) that I find it hard to believe that anyone has truly plumbed its depths, even if some of those depths have stood unchanged for several years. But by the same token, I recognize that using software is a personal experience, and that each user has certain expectations of how they wish software to behave. If a Reason/Record competitor offers a feature that a user considers important, e.g. robust drag and drop, then Reason/Record’s lack of said feature will stick out as a glaring deficit for that user. It’s a legitimate complaint — for that user. And if that user can garner enough support for that feature, then I reckon Propellerhead starts taking notice. After all, while I’m guessing their software is a work of passion at Propellerhead, they’re also in business. And all businesses (unless sales and profits are for some reason not an issue) are market-driven. So if you feel features are missing, particularly UI features, by all means, suggest away.

This brings me to a pet peeve, however, this harping on Propellerhead’s one to three year update cycle which many users apparently feel is positively glacial. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, quality takes time, especially for a small shop. Maybe the fact that I am a geezer has something to do with it, but I do not understand the obsession with “newer, newer, newer … now, now, now!” Good God Almighty! Slow down and smell the roses. Propellerhead has done an amazing job evolving Reason and Record, adding new features while at the same time maintaining a cohesive interface that behaves pretty much just as it did from the beginning. I’m in IT and I’m also a designer of sorts. I understand the complexity of software development and I can also appreciate a good user interface. Reason/Record has one of the slickest, most tightly integrated and just plain fun to look at interfaces out there. Personally, I think it’s pretty magical.

I had a recent experience with another company’s offerings with which I can draw a comparison. Native Instruments recently lowered the price of Komplete Essentials, their stripped down version of Komplete to 50 bucks. For that kind of money, I said, “What the heck.” Not the end of the world, but even for only $50, I was disappointed. You see, using Reason, I had grown complacent with music software, taking for granted an interface where everything meshes and UI elements behave uniformly and predictably. A UI where every pixel is in place. Komplete Elements taken as a whole is kind of a mess. At least in ways that bug me: Buttons in different places and different shapes from program to program; browsers and option windows that behave differently; etc. Unlike Reason/Record, there is a lot of UI variation between NI’s different tools. Reason/Record’s UI on the other hand is impressively uniform.

Finally, I want to address one final line of griping, that being that Reason’s instruments are at best, long-in-the-tooth, and at worst, pitifully inferior and incapable compared to “modern” tools like OmniSphere. As usual, I am going to step out on a limb here, because I’m a noob and also because I’ve not personally used other tools like OmniSphere. But I have a sneaking suspicion that Reason is capable of creating possibly any conceivable sound. Crimeny! Just load up the simplest instrument, Subtractor, with the default patch, Bass Guitar. Tweak the knobs and the range of sounds you can coax from that one patch alone treads close to infinite. If you can’t get the sound you want from any one particular instrument, then load two or three — or ten — into a Combinator and the options explode exponentially. What you may be faced with, however, is work. And perhaps that what some users are really complaining about. For some, it’s the destination and for others it’s the journey. I have a feeling that Reason/Record’s conceivers and developers fall squarely into the latter category. By their own admission, they are all lovers of old hardware. The imaginative cable patching; the tweaking of knobs — I imagine that’s the joy of music production for the Props, not the quick selection of a ready made patch from a dropdown list.

I wish someone would post some of the most “current” and complex sounds offered by other packages and then challenge some of the more Pantheonic Reason users to duplicate the sounds. Unfortunately, there would be copyright issues, I reckon.

Well, enough harping; like everyone else’s, my opinions are just that, opinions. In my opinion, Reason/Record is not the worst piece of crap music software to fall off the back of the truck. If it doesn’t get updated for another 15 years, I’ll still be fiddling with it. YMMV.
Jon Heal
Reason 7.0.1 • A computer • A few boxes that do something or other • Virtually no talent and/or skill

Ye Olde FishCAM

Last edited by jkheal; 2011-07-05 at 00:16.