Reason 10.3 will improve VST performance – here’s how

VST brings more choice to Reason, but more support demands, too. Here’s an update on how Propellerhead are optimizing Reason to bring plug-in performance in line with what users expect.

For years, Reason was a walled-off garden. Propellerhead resisted supporting third-party plug-ins, and when they did, introduced their own native Rack Extensions technology for supporting them. That enables more integrated workflows, better user experience, greater stability, and easier installation and updates than a format like VST or AU allows.

But hey, we have a lot of VSTs we want to run inside Reason, engineering arguments be damned. And so Propellerhead finally listened to users, delivering support for VST effects and instruments on Mac and Windows in Reason 9.5. (Currently only VST2 plug-ins are supported, not VST3.)

Propellerhead have been working on improving stability and performance continuously since then. Reason 10.3 is a much-anticipated update, because it addresses a significant performance issue with VST plug-ins – without disrupting one of the things that makes Reason’s native devices work well.

The bad news is, 10.3 is delayed.

The good news is, it works really well. It puts Reason on par with other DAWs as far as VST performance. That’s a big deal to Reason users, just because in many other ways Reason is unlike other DAWs.

I met with Propellerhead engineers yesterday in Stockholm, including Mattias Häggström Gerdt (product manager for Reason). We got to discuss the issue, their whole development effort, and get hands-on with their alpha version.

Why this took a while

Okay, first, some technical discussion. “Real time” is actually not a thing in digital hardware and software. The illusion of a system working in real time is created by buffering – using very small windows of time to pass audio information, so small that the results seem instantaneous to the user.

There’s a buffer size you set for your audio interface – this one you may already know about. But software also have internal buffers for processing, hidden to the user. In a modular environment, you really want this buffer to be as small as possible, so that patching and processing feels reponsive – just as it would if you were using analog hardware. Reason accordingly has an internal buffer of 64 frames to do just that. That means without any interruptions to your audio stream, you can patch and repatch and tweak and play to your heart’s content.

Here’s the catch: some plug-ins developers for design reasons prefer larger buffers (higher latency), in order to reduce CPU consumption even though their plug-in technically work in Reason’s small buffer environment. This is common in plug-ins where ultra-low latency internal processing isn’t as important. But running inside Reason, that approach adds strain to your CPU. Some users won’t notice anything, because they don’t use these plug-ins or use fewer instances of them. But some will see their machine run out of CPU resources faster in Reason than in other DAWs. The result: the same plug-in setup you used in another DAW will make Reason sputter, which is of course not what you want.

Another catch: if you have ever tried adjusting the audio buffer size on your interface to reduce CPU usage, in this case, that won’t help. So users encountering this issue are left frustrated.

This is a fixable problem. You give those plug-ins larger buffers when they demand them, while Reason and its devices continue to work as they always have. It’s just there’s a lot of work going back through all the rest of Reason’s code to adjust for the change. And like a lot of coding work, that takes time. Adding more people doesn’t necessarily even speed this up, either. (Ever tried adding more people to a kitchen to “speed up” cooking dinner? Like that.)

When it’s done, existing Reason users won’t notice anything. But users of the affected plug-ins will see big performance gains.

What to expect when it ships

I sat with the engineers looking at an alpha and we measured CPU usage. The results by plug-in are what you might expect.

We worked with three plug-ins by way of example – charts are here. With Izotope Ozone 7, there’s a massive gain in the new build. That makes sense – a mastering plug-in isn’t so concerned about low latency performance. With Xfer Records Serum, there’s almost none. Native Instruments’ Massive is somewhere in between. These are just typical examples – many other plug-ins will also fall along this range.

Native Instruments’ Massive gets a marginal but significant performance boost. Left: before. Right: after.

iZotope’s Ozone is a more dramatic example. Stack some instances of this mastering-focused plug-in, and you can max out the CPU quickly in Reason. (left) But in Reason 10.3 alpha, you can see the “big batch” approach yields resolves that performance issue. (right)

Those graphs are on the Mac but OS in this case won’t really matter.

The fix is coming to the public. The alpha is not something you want to run; it’s already in the hands of testers who don’t mind working with prerelease softare. A public beta won’t happen in the couple of weeks we have left in 2018, but it is coming soon – as soon as it’s done. And of course 10.3 will be a free upgrade for Reason 10 users.

When it ships, Reason 10.3 will give you performance on par with other DAWs. That is, your performance will depend on your CPU and which plug-ins you’re using, but Reason will be more or less the same as other hosts beyond that.

So this isn’t really exciting stuff, but it will make your life easier. We’ll let you know how it comes and try to test that final version.

Official announcement:

Update on Reason and VST performance

For more on Reason and VST support, see their support section:

Propellerhead Software Rack Extensions, ReFills and VSTs VSTs

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Propellerhead releases Quad Note Generator Rack Extension for Reason

Propellerhead Quad Note Generator

Propellerhead Software has announced its new Player plugin Quad Note Generator, a Rack Extension that creates endless stream of musical melodies, rhythms and harmonies. Create melodies, rhythms and harmonies you may not have thought of with Quad Note Generator. This new Player Device will help create bass lines, leads lines or other musical phrases to […]

The post Propellerhead releases Quad Note Generator Rack Extension for Reason appeared first on rekkerd.org.

Cyber Monday means still more deals on music software

If you snoozed on some deals this weekend, and you’re longing to build out your software arsenal, erm, legally, it’s not too late. Here are some of the best deals we missed over the weekend plus some Cyber Monday news.

And yes, if you think I’d do this just as an excuse to run an image of some Cybermen, vintage ones looking like BBC actors dressed in a combination of balaclavas and some combination of hardware store parts that make it look like they have an air conditioner strapped to their chest, oh absolutely I would.

Ah, back to deals.

pluginboutique.com continues the sale of the weekend with a bunch of Monday “flash” deals. That includes ROLI’s wonderful new Cypher2 synth on sale, Softube Tape for thirty bucks, and many others – plus loads of plug-ins are $1 or free meaning you can go shopping for next to nothing or actually nothing. Also, pluginboutique.com’s site is up, which isn’t always the case with some of these flash deals from plug-in developers, so they’re a good place to check out.

Some examples:
Loopmasters Studio Bundle at 90% off, or $132 for a bunch of stuff.

iZotope at 78% off (weird number, but great)!

AAS / Applied Acoustics for 50% off – I’ve always loved their unique physical modeling creations.

The beautiful Sinevibes creations for 30% off.

Harrison make wonderful consoles. Now Mixbus was already kind of ridiculously affordable – US$79 buys you a full console emulation that’s great for mixdowns and mastering and the like. But for Cyber Monday, that’s a “okay, you have to buy this” $19, which is just stupidly good. Alternatively get Mixbus plus 5 plug-ins for $39. They didn’t pay me to say that, either; at those prices, I don’t imagine they have much marketing budget!

Enter code CYBERMON18 when you shop their store.

Trakction are back with 50% off everything today only. Try entering code EPIC2018, too.

Sugarbytes have everything on sale: EUR69 plug-ins, EUR333 bundle, plus up to 50% on iOS Apps.

Propellerhead have a huge Cyber Monday sale, and with loads of big discounts on Reason add-ons and the cheapest ever price on an upgrade, it’s nice fodder for their loyal users. Euclidean rhythms, the KORG Polysix, the Parsec “spectral synth,” the Resonans physical modeling synth – some serious goodies there on sale. And €99 for the upgrade means you can finally stop putting off getting the latest Reason 10. (Not only is VST compatibility in there, but the Props have done a lot lately on usability and stability meaning now seems a good time to jump for Reason users.)

Eventide have their software on sale through the end of the month. This is really the most affordable way to get Eventide sound in your productions (short of a subscription deal).

Anthology XI for US$699 instead of the usual $1799 is especially notable. Having those 23 plug-ins feels a bit like you’ve just rented a serious studio, virtually.

If that’s too much to budget, consider also the new Elevate Bundle – makes your sounds utterly massive, and the three do fit well together, so $79 is a steal.

There’s also the excellent H3000 delay on steep discount, and the luscious Blackhole reverb for just $69. (Or for more studio reverb sounds, the ‘Heroes’/Visconti-inspired Tverb for $99.) And of course the rest of the lineup, too.

Waves had a big sale over the weekend, but for Cyber Monday they also have a new synth – the Flow Motion FM Synth. This crazy UI is certainly a new take on making FM easier to grasp, and it’s got an intro price of US$39. (I have no idea how good it is as I haven’t tried it yet, but they’ve got my attention – and NI aren’t shipping the new Massive yet, so Waves gets in here first with their own hybrid take!) And Waves are doing a buy 2 get 1 free deal, as well.

After introducing a vocal plug-in over the weekend, Waves are using Cyber Monday for a product launch, too – the Flow Motion FM synth seen here.

Output have added a 25% off discount on their software, even including their already discounted bundle, for Cyber Monday.

Steinberg have a big sale this week, including apps, with up to 60% off. That’s a big deal for fans of their production software and plug-ins, but also take note that their terrific mobile app Cubasis – perhaps the most feature-complete DAW for iOS – is half off, as is the Waves in-app purchase for the same.

App lovers, it’s worth checking the Android App Store / Google Play as a bunch of stuff is on sale now – too much to track, probably. But some top picks this week: Imaginando’s Traktor and Live controllers, iOS and Android, are all 40% off – everything.

KORG’s apps are still 50% off.

And the terrific MoMinstruments line is all on sale:
Elastic Drums: 10,99€ -> 5,49€, $9.99 -> $4.99
Elastic FX: 10,99€ -> 5,49€, $9.99 -> $4.99
iLep: 10,99€ -> 5,49€, $9.99 -> $4.99
fluXpad: 8,99€ -> 3,99, $7.99 -> $4.49
WretchUp: 4,49€ -> 2,29€, $3.99 -> $1.99

Puremagnetik have US$10 Cyber Monday deals – $20 each, then enter code BLACKFRIDAY18 for 50% off on top of that – so ten bucks for String Machines XL, Retro Computers +, and Soniq’s classic synths.

Still going… A lot of the deals I wrote up over the weekend are still on, including Arturia and Soundtoys.

Native Instruments have a 50% off sale still going. Tons of stuff in there, but Reaktor 6 for a hundred bucks – full version, meaning you don’t need a past version – that’s insane. That’s a hundred bucks to buy you what could be the last plug-in you ever need.

IRRUPT/audio have a 50% off deal on their unique sound selection if you enter code IRRUPT-VIP.

Sonic Faction have a 40% off sale on instruments for Ableton Live and Native Instruments Kontakt – enter code CYBRMNDY40

Need to learn things and not just buy them? Askvideo/Macprovideo have a deal for today only with US$75 for a yearly pass (the price that usually gets you just three months), or 75% off all à la carte training.

And SONAR+D in Bacelona has a 200EUR delegate pass sale today only.

Some of the deals are expiring, but some last through today or through Friday (with a few straggling into December), so check out previous guide and guide to other guides:

Here’s where to find all the don’t-miss deals for Black Friday weekend

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Novation’s SL MkIII has it all: sequencer, CV, MIDI, software control

One upon a time, there was a Novation keyboard called the ReMOTE SL. That’s as in “remote control” of software. Times have changed, and you’ve got a bunch of gear to connect – and you may want your keyboard to work standalone, too. So meet the SL MkIII.

The additional features are significant enough that Novation is dropping the “remote” from the name. Now it’s just SL, whatever those letters are meant to stand for.

The story here is, you get a full-featured, eight-track sequencer – so you no longer have to depend on a computer for that function. And Novation promise some higher-spec features like expanded dynamic range (via higher scan rate). With lots of keyboards out there, the sequencer is really the lead. Circuit just paid off for keyboardists. Novation gets to merge their experience with Launchpad, with Circuit, with Web connectivity, and with analog and digital gear.

Features:

  • The 8-track, polyphonic sequencer is both a step and live sequencer, it records automation, and you can edit right from the keyboard.
  • Arpeggiator onboard, too.
  • USB, MIDI in, MIDI out, second MIDI thru/out
  • Clock/transport controls for MIDI and analog, which also run standalone – route that to whatever you like.
  • Three pedal inputs
  • Eight faders and eight knobs, handy for mixing (there’s DAW support for all major DAWs, plus dedicated Logic and Reason integration)
  • Color LCDs
  • RGB everything: yep, over the keys, but also color-coded RGB on the pitch and mod wheel as track indicators. (I’m waiting for someone to release a monochromatic controller. You know it’s coming … back.)
  • Those RGB pads are not just velocity sensitive, but even have polyphonic aftertouch (more like higher-end dedicated pad controllers)
  • Cloud backup/restore of templates and sessions – a feature we saw unveiled on Novation’s Circuit

And of course there’s more mapping options with their InControl software and Mackie HUI support.

(Some notes from the specs: you do need separate 12V power, so you can’t use USB power. I don’t have weight notes yet, either.)

Novation must know a lot of their customer base use Ableton Live, as they’re quick to show off how their integation works and why those screens are handy.

Here it is in action:

We also see some cues from Native Instruments’ keyboards – the light guide indicators above the keys are copied directly, and while the pads and triggers are all Launchpad in character, we finally get a Novation keyboard with encoders and graphic displays. Unlike NI, this keyboard is still useful when the computer is shut off, though.

And wait – we’ve heard this before. It was called the AKAI Pro MAX25 and MAX49 – step sequencer built in (with faders and pads), plus MIDI, plus CV, plus remote control surface features. You just had to learn to like touch strips for the faders, and that garish racecar red. That AKAI is still worth a look as a used buy, though the hardware here is in a more standard layout / control complement, and a few years later, you get additional features.

The big rival to the Novation is probably Arturia’s KeyLab MKII. It also strikes a balance between studio hub and controller keyboard, and it comes from another maker who now produces analog synths, too. But the Novation has a step sequencer; Arturia makes step sequencers but left it out of their flagship controller keyboard.

Oh yeah, and if you just wanted an integrated controller keyboard for your DAW, Nektar have you covered, or of course you can opt for the Native Instruments-focused Komplete Kontrol. Each of those offerings also got revisions lately, so I’m guessing … a lot of people are buying keyboards.

But right now, Novation just jumped out to the front of the pack – this keyboard appears to tick all the boxes for hardware and software. And I’ll bet a lot of people are glad to do some sequencing without diving into the computer. (Even alongside a computer for tracking, that’s often useful.)

£539.99 49 keys; £629.99 61. (Both share the same layout.)

https://novationmusic.com/keys/sl-mkiii

What keyboard strikes your fantasy at the moment? What do you want a keyboard to do for you? Let us know in comments.

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Reason 10.2: “Yes, finally” to some stuff users want

Reason 10.2 is out now as a free update to Reason 10. It’s a “workflow” update – but those additions will likely be welcomed by current users.

I’ll spare you the GIFs, but the enhancements are detailed in a blog post from earlier this month:

Reason 10.2 is coming – see what’s new [Propellerhead Blog]

Basically, you get multi-lane editing (so you can finally edit multiple MIDI tracks at once, just as recently added in Ableton Live 10, also a bit overdue).

And you can adjust multiple faders at once in the mixer.

And you can snap to an adaptive grid (the grid changes with zoom level, though existing fixed grids remain).

There’s also an “Add Device” button.

The update you may be waiting for is still forthcoming. Later this year, Propellerhead promises improvements to VST integration. (It seems after years of being a holdout against plug-ins, Propellerhead did demonstrate some of what they’d previously argued – that plug-ins are tough to support and can add performance wrinkles.)

But it’s good to hear they’re working on it. Here’s what they write:

Meanwhile, work on VST performance is ongoing. The result of this work will be released as a separate free update later this year. The reason it’s a separate release is because the performance work is an extensive rewrite of the inner workings of the program and requires an expert task force.

Update news:

https://www.propellerheads.se/blog/reason-102-here

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Propellerhead’s Reason 10.2 includes multi lane editing, adaptive snap to grid functionality & more

Propellerhead Reason 10.2Propellerhead Software has announced the release of the newest update to its Reason music production software. Reason 10.2 is a free update for Reason 10 owners that introduces new features like Multi Lane Editing for MIDI, adaptive snap to grid mode, improved navigation controls and more for a faster, more streamlined flow. “Reason 10.2 represents […]

Reason Compact gets MIDI in support with version 1.1.0

Reason CompactPropellerhead Software has announced version 1.1.0 of Reason Compact, the free iOS music making app. The update comes with support for external MIDI keyboards, MIDI in from other iOS apps, and some bug fixes. Reason Compact puts an amazing-sounding powerful synthesizer right at your fingertips. Go from download to downbeat in just 10 seconds with […]

Try a free Minimoog Voyager – and get the Minimoog Bob wanted

“What would Bob Moog do” is normally a tough question to answer – but not so with the Minimoog. We know exactly what Dr. Moog thought would improve the Minimoog – and that’s all the more reason to try it for free on your Mac or Windows machine.

Robert Moog was principle designer of the 2002 Minimoog Voyager, the instrument that brought the Moog name back to life. And here’s the thing: while the original was a classic, and maybe is worth experiencing in its “pure” form, it’s possible to recommend the Voyager as a genuine improvement.

Apart from preset storage (you wimps), the Voyager maintains the original Minimoog architecture but allows deeper access to sound design. So there’s a dedicated LFO, so you have a modulation source. There are two dedicated modulation buses, allowing you to shape the sound. You get separate envelopes for filter and amplitude.

And all of these features are recreated on Blamsoft’s VK-1 Viking synth. (Available as a VST2 plug-in, compatible with macOS 10.11 or newer and 64-bit Windows XP or newer.) Now, whether this is the best Minimoog emulation ever is perhaps besides the point. It sounds great – enough so that I don’t mind just saving time doing an elaborate A/B comparison, and would get straight to music. It adds all the Voyager features. And, oh yeah, they let you set the price you want to pay.

That’s great. You can actually try this as an instrument, then support the developer with the amount of money you’ve got, not the amount of money they think you should have.

If you’re a Reason user, the VK-1 is also available as a (still very reasonably-priced) 59 $/EUR Rack Extension – which is great, because then you get all the advantages of Reason. They’ve also completed a big update, version 1.5:

https://shop.propellerheads.se/rack-extension/vk-1-viking-synthesizer/

Synth Anatomy just went through a nice video tour:

You get 228 presets, but honestly, this thing is really fun to program – thanks to the LFO and two modulation buses. You can choose drive modes for the filter, which escalates the ladder filter from kinda normal to kinda awesome. An there’s enough modeling of instability to make this thing feel alive.

Now, someone needs to make a nice iPad touch template for it – Bob unintentionally predicted the iPad with the Voyager’s X/Y modulation panel, right?

Here are a bunch of sound examples from the developer:

But if those don’t appeal to you musically, a nice little community has formed around the VK-1 with tons of other music made just with this one synth.

I’d been often returning to Native Instruments’ Minimoog-inspired synth Monark – especially now that it has a Reaktor Blocks edition, so you can break it apart and use it as modules. But it’s really nice having the architectural additions of the Voyager, and the pay-what-you-will nature of the VK-1 makes it ideal for exchanging projects with others.

http://blamsoft.com/vst/vk-1-viking-synthesizer/

And raise a glass to Dr. Moog’s various accomplishments – but also to the Voyager, the synth that made the Moog renaissance possible, and all the great Moog Music stuff that has followed since.

The Voyager, in electric blue.

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Korg Gadget updates with Stockholm Dr. Octo Rex Loop Player

Korg Stockholm by ReasonKorg has updated its Korg Gadget music production software to version 3.6, featuring the new Stockholm gadgetized version of the Dr. Octo Rex Loop Player by Propellerhead Software. KORG and Propellerhead have partnered to offer “Stockholm by Reason” to KORG Gadget users. Stockholm by Reason is a gadgetized version of the classic Dr. Octo Rex […]

Super Audio Cart available as native Rack Extension for Reason

Impact Soundworks Super Audio Cart REImpact Soundworks has announced that its Super Audio Cart is now available as native Rack Extension for Propellerhead Software. The virtual instrument features nearly 6,000 samples from 8 classic video game consoles and handhelds in a slick interface built just for Reason. The most complete set of classic video game samples ever produced. Features EIGHT […]