52 Reason and Record Tips by James Bernard Week 1 from James Bernard on Vimeo.

I’m writing this from the wintry wonderland that is Stockholm, Sweden. How geeky is this country? Geeky enough to use their entire nation’s terrain to construct the world’s largest scale model of the solar system. And they’re the home of music software developer Propellerhead, with whom I’m talking a stroll in just a few minutes. In the Props’ honor, here’s a round-up of some handy stuff for Reason and Record users, plus a link to my most recent reviews.

The timing couldn’t be better. Propellerhead product specialist James Bernard has already begun a terrific blog full of tips and tricks for Reason and Record, and just yesterday, he kicked off a 52-episode series of video tutorials. The first installment has a look at how to construct a rhythmic gate using the dynamics section of Record. Of course, you could very easily apply this to another tool (even Props’ own Reason, with a little work), so it’s potentially worth a glimpse even if you’re not a Record user.

James also has a nice example on using iPhone TouchOSC control with Reason on the Mac. I expect the musical style of James’ work may not appeal to everyone, but this is worth a look: he definitely knows his stuff, and it’s great to see him sharing.

Propellerheads Substance: Product Specialist

Propellerhead in general have done a much better job in recent months of getting more how-to content on their site. The whole Substance site has a round-up of materials from learning the basics of recording technique to artist profiles. There is, naturally, a bit of a commercial bent, but I wound up reviewing some of the tutorials while learning Record myself. It’s funny: we spend so much of our time and energy on reviews, but I find users generally use what they like. The area that really has endless potential is talking about how to actually use stuff.

For more video tutorials, check out the PropellerheadSW YouTube account, including micro-tutorials on Record, like the sidechain compression example here.

PropellerheadSW @ YouTube

For a non-Props-produced tutorial, Audiotuts has an in-depth look in one of the most interesting new features in Reason and Record, a grove tool that uses a mixer as the interface metephor:

An Introduction to Propellerhead’s Groove Engine [Audiotuts.com]

It starts with the absolute basics if you’re just starting out, it covers a tool that may not be immediately intuitive in its potential, and it’s (cough) better than the included documentation.

Reason’s user community keeps on plugging; you can find a new free or cheap ReFill of sound content nearly each week, it seems. The best I’ve seen recently is a terrific free ReFill of retro, chip-based drums:
Free ReFill Features “Filthy & Nasty” Chip Drums [Synthtopia]

Sir Sedric’s ChipDrums Reason ReFill/ WAV Pack – Filthy Chip Drum Delight

There’s some creative sound design in there. I’m definitely taking it as inspiration, as I’ve just begun working on some new drums with the deep Plogue Chipsounds collection, trying to produce some sets that push the chip sounds in unexpected directions.

Chipdrums Demo Track by SirSedric

Finally, Macworld recently published my reviews of Record and Reason. They’re equally relevant whether you’re a Mac or Windows user (having finished those reviews, I’m currently using both primarily on my PC).

Record 1.0: Turn your Mac into a fully equipped virtual recording studio

Reason 4.0: Virtual rack of music toys sports new modules, a Nordic God synthesizer, and a grown-up sequencer

The magazine took some flak in comments for running a Reason 4.0 review late, but I think it’s actually more appropriate to consider Reason 4 now in the context of the release of Record. Writing reviews is always a funny thing: I believe you have to judge a tool on its own terms and merits. You may discover a product is really fantastic, and still decide it’s not actually for you in your workflow. But I’m finding myself toying with Reason and Record, returning to Reason a bit in my own work after a long time away. They are marvelous pieces of engineering, and whether it’s common knowledge or not, I know a lot of producers and developers alike who have respect for the tools.

In fact, my biggest complaint about Record remains that it’s not a ReWire host; loading Ableton Live (among other tools) into Record as a mastering/mixing tool, for instance, seems like a no-brainer. If you agree, leave comments, and maybe we’ll see this feature in a future version.

I know one “review” CDM has gotten is not running enough tips and production tutorials, so I’m on it. There are a lot of tools out there, so let us know which are more important to you. (Pro Tools? Csound?) I’ll rest up here in Sweden and come back refreshed and ready to tackle that next week. Enjoy!

  • Jaime Munarriz

    Csound and Python would be nice, thanks!

  • Reason and Record are a great combo! I am in the process of creating some video walkthroughs for nosiemakers.info right now. I find that the workflow is excellent and that without the clutter of a lot of other pieces it is actually easier to create. The sound quality of Record is great too. The presets they give you in the mixer are great! If your a Reason user it's almost a no-brainer to upgrade to Record with all of the enhancements and added features.

  • s ford

    I think tutorials for specific progs would be best avoided in favour of tutorials which would have impact across the line, irrespective of DAW etc etc, eg tutorials on things like compression, EQ, other effects including chorus, reverb. A mastering tutorial would be nice too, as would some on mixing down tracks too….

  • @s ford: Definitely – depends on the topic, really. There's a need for app-specific tutorials when an app has a particular workflow; I'd say there's a need for each of the tutorials above. But I agree, and particularly with the software devs themselves often making their own tutorials, there's a void for more general tutorials – as well as software that lacks a vendor (like the open source stuff).

  • ed

    There needs to be more advance technique's, how many times does someone need to explain side chain comp on the internet, and then to post some big article on it. there should be more sound design and synthesis techniques on thor and combinator…. especially combinator since its the most powerful thing in reason, but hey lets talk about stuff that pretty much everyone already knows about or could find on you tube instead.. @ MICHAEL CHENETZ as a reason owner i would never buy record since ableton live is a way more powerful program and with max for live…. LIVE and REASON is a way better setup, so any of you reason users want to buy record..dont ableton live makes record look like a toy

  • Okay, time for a shameless plug of my own site, well it's not a site that promotes anything to do with me, it's more focused on the music platform I use and the user community that surrounds it. The Re-Wiki site is a Propellerhead themed collection of tutorials and resources that show some of the techniques that some of the more hardcore Reason users have been developing in the darkest depths of the user forums and the far corners of YouTube. Really the site is a just a glorified links site but it is organised in a way that will hopefully make it easy to find information on specific topics all in one place.

    The site was set up as R+R is often underestimated and I think that a most people are unaware of what can be done with this platform alone. Have a dig through and feel free to add comments, links or anything else that will make this resource more useful for people. There are a lot of great tutorials and resources out there for Reason users and hopefully the Re-Wiki site just makes it a little easier to find them.

  • Rob Snyder

    I would second the recommendation to check out dioxide's re-wiki site–I get a lot of good tips there. If readers are interested in new and interesting ways to make strange sounds and sound design with reason/record, I would also recommend Phi Sequence's Reason 101 site (http://www.reason101.net). It's on my daily reading list, along with CDM.

  • @ed

    I plan on much more sound design/synthesis to come.. this is the 1st go. If you have specific topics you would like to see.. then let me know!

    And as far as suggesting that Reason users buy Ableton instead of Record.. it's really a matter of their production needs. Record and Live are two completely different programs.. both are unique and have their own merits. People who love Reason and want to add audio/better functionality/SSL mixer/incredible timestretch can get it all for a much less cost then Live by getting the Record for Reason owners upgrade ($149).

  • would LOVE some tutorials on interesting uses of cSound. I'm currently learning csound, but am wondering what big scale things you can do with it. the possibilities seem endless, but I don't have time to read every object and genroutine and figure out what's worth looking into.

  • @ed

    you say "LIVE and REASON is a way better setup" (than with RECORD) – but the truth is that anyone rewiring Reason into ANY DAW now will have far superior performance upgrading to Record and not just for audio recording – Record/Reason runs FAR lighter and faster than Reason alone and will give any user more tracks and devices – that combined with the Mixer and countless enhancements to the Reason side of things makes it a GREAT upgrade to Reason. ANYONE rewiring Reason now should consider upgrading to Record for the performance lift and new Reason features.

  • aje

    +1 for Rewire host feature in Record 🙂

  • @ed

    Since it was directed at me, I will gladly answer… I review a lot of apps all of the time and I have come to the conclusion that all apps have their pros and cons. I obviously run max4live.info, so I definitely like Live a lot and appreciate it's workflow. However, that does not mean that I do not appreciate how other programs function and approach the creation of music.

    I have been spending a considerable amount of time with Reason and Record and I find the combo just as interesting as Live. They definitely have two different approaches to creating music. But, I wouldn't say one is better then they other. When it comes down to it, the question remains can I create professional sounding music on either app and the answer is yes…

    As I said, I am working on some walkthroughs and tutorials of Reason and Record as we speak. I hope to illustrate some of the new features that can perhaps let users make intelligent decisions on whether it's right for them. Remember that the two products do not have to compete. You can use them together rewired or export audio out of one and into the other,

    When it comes down to it, just use what you like and what you feel the most creative using.

    Just my two cents…


  • nail


    Record is a toy indeed. A toy I cant keep my hands off of. Live on the other hand is a buggy piece of____. You said it not me.

  • s ford

    @ Peter Kirn,

    Thanks for the reply. I think that it would be a great idea to have specific tutorials for specific progs, and I reckon that if anyone who reads this and is an expert with a particular prog then they should go ahead and make a tutorial video or something for their prog of choice, which I then hope would be be able to be posted up here afterwards.

    I'd love to see some tutorials where common aspects of music production which have multi prog support and stuff, eg granular/additive synthesis, as in some ways it's nice to see things which are inclusive opposed to being exclusive….


    As for endless explanations of Sidechain compression and stuff, yes there are quite a lot of things about them and a quick search into google will yield results. The pitfalls of having complex tutorials which are more in depth is that they will only appeal to those who have really got into the progs in question, a situation where the laws of diminishing returns apply. I'm sure people who take the effort to make their work be applicable to as many people as possible….

  • ed

    I disagree, sure both record and live can give you professional sounding tracks, and they both do have a completely differn't way of approaching music, BUT Ableton live w/max has infinate possibilities with sound design, stuff that record could never accomplish…. point is that live can do whatever record can do and then some. its pretty clear why artist's like pnuma trio, and big gigantic, eoto, glitch mob (the list goes on) use programs like ableton/max and even reaktor, there's just way more possibilities, SAVE UP UR MONEY AND BUY THE GOOD SH$%

  • @ed,

    I am really not trying to debate the merits of one app or another. I remember, not too long ago, Live was considered to be a non-professional app and only DAWs like Logic and Protools were consider pro. I really believe that creativity is in the person working the tools and not in the tools themselves. Again, I have used and evaluated many tools throughout my years and I think you just have to find a way to work within the confines of those tools. I personally find that the tools that you learn the best are usually the ones you will get the best results with.

    I am a recovering gear addict. At one time I purchased a new piece of hardware or software every time i got paid. I found that I never really learned the pieces I already had as well as i should have because I kept expanding what I had. Instead, what i should have done is just really dug into the pieces of gear that I already had and learned how to use them so that i can picture the sound i wanted in my head and then create that sound in my gear.

    Again, creativity is in people not in gear. I know people who can consistently make crappy sounding music in Pro Tools and others that can make Fruity Loops sound like a polished studio track. I have learned not worry what you use and just to use what works for you. You can spend a lot of time worrying about what other people consider professional and is this stuff I am using good enough.

    Just make music and have fun doing it…

  • s ford

    @ Michael Chenetz

    Gear addiction is more dangerous than one might think!! It leaves one confused and with more gear than one can learn to use and more gear than one needs!

    DAW v DAW arguments are pointless. Currently the most celebrated 'electronic' producer in the UK, Burial makes all his music with a wave editor (Sound Forge). The fantastic DJ Format used a Atari and two Akai S900's to make some of the most enjoyable hiphop albums of the last decade. Any DAW around is more powerful than the few things I've just mentioned which I reckon is testament than a particular DAW is better or worse than an another.

  • @s Ford

    Agreed… I made some of my best music when i used my ASR-10 and opcode vision in the early days… Very simple and i knew every feature. You just made it work.


  • Jim Aikin

    Hey, Peter — are you able to pay for those tutorials? Not saying I won't work for free, if the topic interests me, but incentives are nice.

    OTOH, most manufacturers seem to have video tutorials these days. Does anyone even read print?

  • Jim Aikin

    @Michael — it's not "Fruity Loops," it's FL Studio. And it's a no-compromise DAW, not a toy. It's still rather peculiar in certain respects, but so is Live. Live is arguably better for gigging, but for studio work … I'll go out on a limb here and say I think FL has a better suite of tools.

  • ruh ruh! Looks like another DAW war is ON!!! lol… haven't you guys figured it out yet? People use whatever software they specifically like to use. It's not because they're the "best" or "most advanced" they can tell themselves that but they're just full of it.

    The truth is we all use what we like most and what makes us comfortable the most. You can talk about feature this and whatever but usually you'll have someone who uses the DAW you're slaggin pop up an be like, "Umm, I can totally do that same thing with *insert DAW of choice* so there!"

    I use Ableton cuz I've been using it since 5 and I'm really comfortable using it. I also use Reason for the fabulous keyboards. I've tried using Logic & Pro Tools & FL Studio, none of them make me as comfortable as Ableton but that's just me. Doesn't mean someone else can't use the shit out of those programs and make something great, somewhat easily.

    I tell you what, if someone came out with something where I felt more comfortable using it and saw more possibilities using it than I see with Ableton, I'd probably switch to it and hope Ableton stepped it up.

    On a side note, how do you do sidechain compression?!? lol, jk… Had to =P

  • @Jim Aiken

    I think you missed my intent in the message I was trying to get across. I know there is FL Studio now. The point I was trying to make is that one persons toy is another persons Pro app. Software has got to a point where there are so many great options. They all are very competitive in terms of sounds and features. My point was not to single out any one application, but rather to give examples of peoples perception.

    As I said, I review a lot of apps and I like to evaluate them on their own merits rather than compare them to other apps. Just use what works for you and allows your creativity flow to the surface.


  • s ford

    @Mike Chenetz

    Heard the ASR-10, is an incredible tool. The hiphop producer Blockhead just uses one of them. He's the chap he produced Aesop Rock. Music By Cavelight (his solo debut) is pretty much the finest instrumental hiphop album I have had the honour to hear. His new album, which was still made with a ASR10, is also immense.

    For the record, I'd love to read a feature about some of the tools of yesteryear (which are still used by a few today)eg Akai S950, Yamaha TX81Z. These digital beasts are digital pre CBS Fenders of sorts….

  • Ed


  • @Ed

    Nobody here has said anything to indicate that one software is better than another. You seem to be on this kick of "gotta have the software with the most options to make good music" so I wonder… what kind of music do you make and how many releases do you have? From the sound of the software that you are touting fanboy style, it seems to me that you are into Glitch/IDM/Experimental Electronic.. now don't get me wrong.. I enjoy those music genres and have many releases myself in those genres.. but that is a very small community as far as people who listen to/buy the music. And IMHO the best years of those genres have since past.. the majority of the stuff that I hear today is lacking any sort of melody/structure (one major exception would be Murcof… he can do no wrong in my book).. it seems that it is more style over substance.. more "look what I can do" rather than an expression of some emotion and desire to share that with others… which is what music should be at the core.. at least that is what it is to me.

    And honestly.. those three that you mention (max/Reaktor/PD) while being very capable of making unusual sounds etc are not very user friendly…. how much time are you spending making music as opposed to coding/wiring/geeking out on capabilities? If you say lots then you are the exception to the majority…

    Not hating on those 3.. I use them for the esoteric/strange stuff… but that is probably about 10% of any composition.. any more that that, and just like my wife would say "it sounds like something is broken.. change the song" 😉

  • mr doom

    yo J.Bernard.

    Don't waste your time. Some ppl will never get it.

    p.s. : hope 2010 will be a much better year for you and your familly.

    thx for the good work!

  • aidan


  • aje

    Great to see James Bernard give such a good response and be willing to engage positively with people, whether Propellerhead users or not. Can't imagine many reps from the big software houses being willing to do that 😉

    Kudos 🙂

  • ed

    @james Bernard, lol so go use your user friendly programs. while us geeks are making original sounding music… and by the way the track you posted is weak! so dont bash other people man, and maybe i dont care about releasing albums and making money off music! SO GO POST MORE TUTORIALS THAT REASONS WEB PAGE ALREADY HAS… Im done with u..have a beautiful day

  • @ Ed.

    You obviously are not doing your research on who you are slagging. You judge my musical skill/abilities by a demo video which in only intended to be helpful and easy to understand? You don't care about releasing any albums/music? Ahh.. I get it.. now I know what I'm dealing with… I'm also done with trying to "reason" with you.. pun intended.


  • My pleasure in seeing this entry on the site is doubled by seeing Mr. Bernard kicking ass and taking names in the thread. 😀

  • TO follow up- there is nothing more absurd than kit wars imho- let alone slagging other people off- the people accusing James of doing that are

    A) not yet linking their own material- put your money where your mouth is since you feel the need to have a pissing contest


    B) Being elitist for no visible good reason.

    If your rig works for you- great. There is no "supreme system" or else the ruling would be made and everyone would have locked in ages ago. What works best for you is what works best for you.

    And yeah, I love propellerhead stuff- and I have ableton and I have PT. I don't care for PD or MaxMSP as building devices ain't what I wanna do and I am quite happy to build stuff up in reason/record and sound design all day as it is- more options would just slow down productivity- but I would hardly go around telling other people their system or their material sucks. It's a waste of time and breath and really only indicates personal dissatisfaction with one's on work.

    Aaaanyways… let the web rage continue- but just thought I would contribute. Bring on the rage fits.

  • on = *own

    comment fail

  • phattfoniks

    just to chuck it out there..

    did anyone here ever hear any of

    "hamster alliance's" demo's for buzz tracker??

    incredible sound and production.. and he was demoing buzz. i love elitest gear fanboys..

    what about dj shadow and his mpc-60?.. theyre all just tools.. all good in theyre own ways..

    also im not a fruityloops uses but it irks me when people crap on it.. its a great prog! have any of u guys that diss it actually sat down and tried it in the last 2 years??

  • H-man

    lots of respect for reason, great programm for people moving away from hardware but as an amateur it seemed a bit overwhelming for me. I am comfortable with FL studio now, such a fun DAW to use. same with ableton. Im getting a bit sick of this DAW war cos u feel embarrassed to say if ur a fl studio user, cos of all the logic snobs out there. its because apple and ableton do a lot of promotion and sponsor music tech courses which makes people think theyre more professional. each to their own and just make the tunes! there is no industry standard, that is marketing bullshit!

  • @phattfoniks and H-man-

    go for it dudes- if it (be it FL studio, reaper, Dr. Johns Wild Looping Zebraphone or a tascam relic) works for you it works. End of story. A few years ago the high and mighty DAW wars types were feeling like they got shit on by all the analog only tape machine devout types. So funny to see how quickly people become what they abhorred.

    It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools and good work speaks for itself- if you're making music- you're making music. There is no wrong way.

  • To me it comes down to this when choosing tools in music…

    1. Can you do what you want with the tool?

    2. Is the tool easy enough to understand that it wont impact workflow? Or, Have you familiarized yourself to the tool enough so that it wont impact workflow.

    3. Can you consistently get the sound you are looking for with the tool?

    4. Are you able to make the music you want with the tool?

    Ok, there are probably a few other questions and I might modify the ones I have up there. But, You get the point. Forget marketing and hype… Use the stuff that works for you. Everyone is different and we each have our differing opinions. The key is to use what we like to use in order to create the music and share that knowledge if they ask for it. If they decide your way is not the way they work then that is totally fine and respectable.

    Again, just my two cents…


  • zenzen

    Thanks Peter and James and everyone. It's easy to get caught up in holy wars (check *any* tech blog comment thread), but I'm for people using whatever the heck moves the electrons from their brains and hearts into mine. Dictaphone & a casio organ? Hey, why not?

    Something about Propellerhead's approach has hooked me since Rebirth landed in my lap in 1998. I beta'd Record and liked it a lot; will definitely sidegrade. I'll still keep stuff like Live and EnergyXT for those days when I need a fresh approach. With my new Win7 build, I recently fired up a friend from the past: Tracktion v1 NFR: still inspiring after all these years!

  • Some awesome tips in this video, even a few which I could use as a Sonar user ^^

  • Jacob

    I won't bother with any of this which DAW is better stuff, let me just get a point across which have been bothering me about Reason & Record. I've been a royal Reason user for 4 years before Record came out, and still use it heavily for sound design and production – Thor was a very welcome addition to the arsenals Reason have to offer – but I still do most of the finalizing in Pro Tools.

    I'd like to do the mixdown in Record, but the biggest beef I have with Reason to date is the lack of effects. Scream4 does have its limits, believe it or not.. no matter how many I stack up or switch wiring of. I make dance music (yeah, bring on the flame.. yawn) and would really appreciate having more things to change sounds with. I usually end up doing the mixdown after I apply some VST to the Reason tracks dumped into PT. So my pristine copy of Record sits quietly in the corner of my harddrive, mostly unused. And I dare say, I am more than capable when it comes to designing synths. I use Live/Max/Pd as well for this purpose. It's just, well, Reason is a really fun program to use. Logical and elegant. So I'd very much rather use Record if possible, than PT/Live/whatever.

    Are you guys going to release instruments for Reason/Record in coming future? I do realize it's not happened very often in the past (except in forms of Refills) but it sure would be awesome to have more dramatically different effects.

  • Week 2 is up now!


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