Percussa micro super signal processor

Photo (CC) Brian Gurrola …and yes, we expect the bit on the right to come into greater focus soon.

The name gives it away: Record is a product based on a feature Reason users have long requested — audio recording. The surprise is, that need has led to an entirely new tool. Instead of just adding a requested feature, the company has revealed that they built a new application, re-examining in the process what recording really means. Internet rumors have been predicting something along these lines. The problem is, rumors can sometimes create distorted expectations. In this case, I think it’s worth taking a closer look, which we’ll be doing over the coming days.

Today, the first audiences of Reason users learned of the tool’s existence at the Producers Conferences events staged around the world. We’ll be able to talk about the details on Monday, but having spoken to Propellerhead co-founder Ernst Nathorst-Böös, I want to at least say that this really is shaping up to be something different.

Record is an audio recording program, says Ernst, but "This program has nothing to do with audio. It’s all about music… We wanted this to be about music making." Record is a piece of software designed around the musical possibilities of recording audio, he explains, emphasizing the actual act of recording and working with sound in ways that are always connected to musical time, beats and bars, and a fluid approach to tempo and tempo changes. It focuses on a single task rather than bundling together lots of tasks.

Most importantly, I am already convinced that Record is not intended to be a DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation – that is, a tool defined by bundling together different functionalities. This sometimes-muddled product category has been created after the fact to describe a certain breed of software, applications like Pro Tools and Logic. DAWs are defined by the way in which they combine a lot of different features, from audio and MIDI to plug-in hosting, mixing, and even video and notation. They’re useful and powerful for many tasks, which accounts for their popularity and staying power. But regular readers of this site are always up for new ideas, and attempts – in all varying degrees of success – to try new directions.

There are many new ideas in musical instruments and effects, but you don’t get entirely new ideas about how to put together a commercial music application very often. Actually changing the mold is a big challenge. Propellerhead’s own Reason and ReBirth, Ableton Live, Image-Line’s Fruity Loops (now FL Studio), and Sonic Foundry (now Sony) Acid all had a big impact on a wide group of computer music makers by effectively changing the mold. (And, of course, with or without big user bases, readers of this site are fans of many lesser-known tools that have done the same.)
We’ll have a number of months to begin to see what Record’s contribution might be. But whether it’s successful or not, the good news today was that, after all this time, Propellerhead isn’t using anyone else’s mold. Tune in Monday for our first look at some of those results, and then be sure to let us know what you think and what you’d like to know down the road.

Note that this is my own personal take. I did run it by Propellerhead, however, so this is not a rumor or leak. Embargo is lifted on the details on Monday, when we’ll be able to actually show images of the software.