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Old 2003-04-10, 16:40
waynegee waynegee is offline
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 205
Project 5 vs. Reason (Long ramble alert)

Wellp, I got a copy of Project 5 yesterday and after putzing with it all day, I have to say this: First of all, it's only OK. I was very underwhelmed, to say the least. And actually, the competition isn't Reason...IT'S ACID! P5 is like ACID with some kinda-cool synths, ReWire and a truly wack interface and workflow. Actually, it's in-between ACID and Fruity. And between me and's kinda ugly.

To use this baby, you'll have to totally re-adjust your way of thinking about sequencing and composition in general. I think that's one of the major flaws of P5. I wanna open it up and go. You WILL spend time with the manual but the problem is the payoff isn't worth the time, IMHO. I kept saying "Yeah, so?". I can do incredible things with Reason, Recycle, ACID and Cubase so why do I (or anyone, for that matter) need this. And why would anyone pay the dues to learn it. The paradigm is SO foreign to how most people are used to working. They say it's intuitive...IT IS NOT. ACID is intuitive. Reason is intuitive.

They got so much shit crammed on this interface, it'll give you seizures. The type and icons are so small you HAVE to lower your resolution to read 'em altho they say you should use a 1280 X 1024 res. Ooof.

And the color scheme...who designed this thing? Ray Charles?

How does it sound, you ask? Well, it doesn't suck. It's got a little hyping in the midrange frequency. And it slightly normalizes the audio when you render a file.

It's got a 'central' workarea called SYN.OPS where each synth/drum interface will appear. This is where you'll do most of your tweaking and so on. There in no have to do most of your mixing in the track window, off of the module itself or in SYN.OPS. Automation and seqeuncing is done in the P-SEQ window. This is kinda weird as you'll create patterns in P-SEQ and then store 'em in the 'Pattern Bin'. Loops, wavs and other patterns are also stored here. You drag 'em up to the track as needed, kinda like ACID with the loop paradigm. You can record 'normal sequencing-style' in the Track view as well. But I had problems getting P5 to play what I had recorded correctly. Even at different snap and grid resolution settings, there was some off notes placement and the overall feel was very stiff. Could not get this thing to swing. The closest it got was when I disabled the quantize totally and recorded "freehand". It was close but still not perfect. In contrast, I opened Reason and nailed it first time out. I finally got a reasonable (no pun there) version in P5 by tweaking every note in the P-SEQ piano roll interface. Got no time for that.

It was pretty stable altho the interface was a little sluggish repainting cuz' of all the graphics, no doubt. P5 does have the ability to change time signatures by clicking on the time ruler above the track view, which was nice. It also had ACID loop support via the 'Groove player' which is a module that you put on a track and it plays the loops in time and stretches them as you expand or contract the tempo. But like Reason's Dr. Rex needs Recycle to truly shine, P5 needs a program to ACID-ize the loops as it does not do this internally.

The no mixer deal is a drag. NO matter how hip they think the design is, it needs a mixer or some sort ot central point for audio/fx/busses, etc. There is no place to EQ your audio or set up a mix. You have to use the two-band EQ FX module they give you on each track. You have four aux busses you can use for group FX but once that's used up, it's over. Unlike Reason, you can't create another bus config.

Even though I thought (think) the lack of VSTi/DXi support in Reason is ok, it was pretty cool to be able to pull up Kontakt, or any of my other synths (that I am in the process of sampling so I can use them in Reason) and and use them. And the VST implementation was solid...there wasn't a huge CPU hit and it didn't crash once.

The synths and drum modules are the best thing about P5 (and yes, I will sample all of them for Reason). The PSYN analog synth is fat, boy. They've got a built-in Rebirth (nPulse); a built-in Battery (Velocity); Cyclone, which will allow you to take a loop and slice it, re-arrange or replace the slices at will and will playback 16 different loops in time with each other and the main project tempo. That's cool.

It also supports DX and VST effects as well so you can use all of your amassed collection if you so desire for additional signal processing. The included FX are serviceable, they'll do the job. Nothing like the RV7000, though.

It has a cool tempo map which worked like a charm. P5 has no audio recording (yet) and MIDI output is for syncing ONLY...oof. Cakewalk says this will be addressed in the future. The big snafu: the "one synth, one track" concept. This means that you cannot create a new track for an additional part and route it to an existing module. EX: if you have a kick and snare track and you wanna add hats, you can't create a new hat track and send that to your drum machine handling the kick and snare... you have to place it on top of the already existing track.

All in all, I guess P5 will find a space where it can co-exist with others. I think the saving grace for it it the infinite expandability and integration it has with existing products. With VST/DX support and ReWire it can connect with anything. But I don't feel ANY pull to it or any desire to switch. It is TOTLALLY counter to how I work and it adds nothing.

Just my .02 -

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