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The Swedish software manufacturer Propellerheads makes some of the most stable and inspirational music creation applications on the planet. Last week they slowly trickled out information about upcoming version updates to their flagship products, Reason and Record. The new versions are still in beta, but if you purchase the current versions from B&H, you'll get a free upgrade once they're ready for prime time. Here's a breakdown of the hot new features...
Blocks offers a new way to arrange in Record 1.5. It enables you to switch between Song Mode and Block Mode. When in Block Mode, you can build specific sections of a song. If you're working on a chorus, you can define it with instruments, notes, and automation. In Song Mode you can pencil in different sections, and manipulate the Blocks for more variety. You can lay down audio tracks in Song Mode to tie it all together.
Kong is a new drum machine that is included with Reason 5. It combines 4 analog synthesis modules, 3 physical percussion modeling modules, a sample player, a REX player, noise and tone modules, and 9 effects modules. The idea is to give you all the sounds and routing capabilities you need to quickly bring the ideas in your head to life.
Sample Players Become Samplers
In Reason 5 all of the sample players (Redrum, NN-XT, NN-19, etc.) become full-blown samplers. You can select an audio input source (from an external microphone to your entire mix in Reason) and pull sounds into the samplers for manipulation. The people at Propellerheads felt that since samplers became totally computer based, the creative instinct to sample live sounds for inspiration was lost. Now you're free to experiment with the outside world and all of the sounds within.
Dr. Octo Rex
This update is sure to please power users of Reason's Dr. Rex loop player. Dr. Octo Rex replaces Dr. Rex. The new version allows you to load and manipulate up to 8 unique Rex loops (as opposed to the limitation of a single Rex loop in the old player). This greatly simplifies using multiple Rex files for building pattern sequences inside of Reason. It also makes it easier to route slices to effects, reverse sections, and to play the files on a drum pad MIDI controller.
Neptune is a new pitch correction tool, a real-time audio transposer, and a voice synthesizer for Record 1.5. It can detect and correct flat notes in real time, and create vocoder-like effects that are so popular in music today. It can be used for everything from a tune correction tool to a new device to explore sonic experimentations. Even if this kind of tool isn't really necessary for the music you currently make, you may some day want to fool around with something new. It's pretty nice that it comes standard in Record 1.5, so you can dig into it without having to purchase a separate plug-in.
If you're a new user, it's a great time to start getting into Reason and Record. As mentioned earlier, if you purchase Reason 4 or Record 1 from B&H, you're entitled to a free upgrade to the new versions when they become available later this summer. There's also the option of Record Reason Duo, which gets you both pieces of software at one low price.
What new addition to Reason and Record are you most excited about? Personally, I'm looking forward to digging into the drum synthesizers in Kong. I can never seem to get enough of that.