As an addendum to our first look at Propellerhead’s new Reason 6 announcements (including incorporating Record), Propellerhead points us to a promo video of their new Balance audio interface. We’ve seen efforts before to make software more appealing to newcomers by bundling an audio interface, so this is, on the face of it, hardly “stop-the-presses!” sort of news for digital musicians. But there’s some evidence the Propellerheads may have hit on a new formula.

One, Balance doesn’t look exactly like every other audio interface on the market. The design is distinctive, and the wedge-shaped form would appear to make it friendlier to use. Two, they’ve really focused on metering, which in computer recording – absent an integrated piece of hardware on which you’re tracking – has been a sticking point. You both get some protection against clipping if you set the gain wrong and an easy way to watch level without hunching over either your audio box or your computer screen; there’s one place to look on-screen and it’s very large.

Propellerhead also promises Balance fits in your laptop bag. Wait… how do they know how big your laptop bag is? (Well, they know how big mine is, as I’ve been to Stockholm, but as for the rest of you…) And as I noted earlier, it’s class-compliant so it works with things like Linux and iPads and not just Mac and Windows.

The design looks really, really nice, and since you asked, you will be able to get this USB2 interface standalone. A 2×2 interface is something you’ve probably already got, but this one comes complete with I/O that lets you connect everything into what amounts to a matrix. The remaining question is how it all sounds; everyone claims things are “high-quality” and “low-latency,” but that’s where we do have to test.

More on Balance:
Balance Product Page

  • this unit and the original Apogee Duet are both 24bit/96k but no midi. (Duet originally was a firewire unit and the new version has 24bit/192k with USB 2.0) not having MIDI is not a deal breaker for me but i liked my older ProFire610 because it was 192K and had MIDI. i dumped the ProFire because it sounded odd to my ears when i recorded live instruments compared to an RME fireface which had a more neutral sound. for traveling however, the ProFire was nice to compared to the FireFace. i'll definitely be awaiting a shoout out between this and the Duet (v1 and v2).

  • genjutsushi

    Looks simple, and well designed. Exactly the sort of item i could have done with in 2001 when i started writing. 

    Big clincher in my mind is the built in ignition key. This has been a bit of a bind for me in the past. I have a 2 USB port Macbook, so using Record on the move required a USB hub to plug into when using my soundcard and midi controller. Et voila – all in one portable solution. I can see this finding its way into my laptop bag (which is also big enough…. well done propellerhead) 

  • Dan Pat

    I sort of did a double take when I saw that this elaborate video was about an audio interface. On further examination it does look like a good product. The clip safe feature and input matrix are very handy and I'm glad to see Reason Essentials come out. Propellerhead really had a gap in their software offerings in the entry level audio-and-synths DAW market that they just filled. I've messed around with Reason 4 and didn't really dig it, but I might give it a second chance with this new version with audio.

  • Askananswer

    So if i buy the balance / essentials bundle @ 499€ do i get a special discount price for reason 6 , because propellerhead don't sell the hardware without reason essentials but i only need the hardware and reason 6 …like a reason 6 balance bundle

  • Leslie

    This is from Props website:

    "Is Balance available separately?Balance is only available as a complete music making system with Reason Essentials. Reason, Record, and Reason + Record users who purchase Balance with Reason Essentials will receive an upgrade to Reason 6."

  • 808taste

    I've been reading that too on the Propellerheads forums all day (that Balance will be available with Reason Essentials). Although Propellerheads are offering a free upgrade to Reason 6 if you already have the Reason + Record combo, it still seems a bit odd that Propellerheads will not be offering Balance by itself, without Reason Essentials. 

    It's not like this is like an extremely crippled version of Reason or anything. They plan on retatiling Essentials at 299USD which is pretty steep for a "lite" version of a product.

    I am actually in the market for a new audio interface so I can work at 96khz. But like many Reason+Record owners I am left wondering how much of the 499 retail price is actually for Balance and how much is for Reason Essentials (which is essentially useless if you already own Reason+Record). 

  • Stewart

    Just wondering how this will work with iPad since it's a usb powered device? When do you think we'll see an iPad version of reason?

  • Genjutsushi

    An iPad version of reason would be stunning…. Portrait orientation as the rack then turn it to landscape to access the sequencer!

  • It's a pity it does not have midi I/O…

  • phattfoniks

    really like the look of this but i already own reasonrecord duo.. so is this really worth the 400 dollar price gap between the upgrade? i reckon i could get a nicer card for 400 right?

  • Askananswer

    It seems the bundle is for newcomer reason users….

    @Leslie Thank you for the answer…

    On CDM preview, Peter wrote

    "Pricing: US$449 for Reason 6, US$299 for Reason Essentials (without the hardware), or US$169 for an upgrade from any Reason version or Reason Essentials to Reason 6."

    If i understand this correctly, when i buy the bundled "balance/essential" i could upgrade to reason 6 for 169$ / 149€-199€, although I don´t own any other reason product? That would be great…
    But the information on the Prop page is distinguished from the information on CDM oO

  • Brian Stone

    Other than the obvious PD, how is this really differentiated from all of the other products out there? The Reason 6-only clip protection is a neat idea, but won't effect other applications.

    I dunno, seem like a relatively expensive product if you don't need Reason Essentials or plan to use it with Reason at all.

    If you use Live, what would the advantage of this be over something like a Duet 2, which is $100 more and requires software to switch input type?

  • Chipping in also on the "no midi i/o" disappointment. 

  • What? The Duet 2 needs a software to switch the input type? I thought that´s all done via the touchpadlike buttons on the front?

    However…i like the Balance Bundle with Reason…but why with Reason? Is Record no longer a single product? It would make more sense to bundle it with Record, wouldn´t it? At the end, i agree with Peter…it all depends on the sound. It needs to sound at least as good as an Apogee or RME…especially for that price…

  • Oh…ok…i got it…Reason 6 is fusioned with Record…guess it didn´t sell well…

  • why does it say you'll be able to get the 2×2 usb interface stand alone at the end of the article?

  • no midi

    They really missed a trick not including midi.

  • Carew

    they didnt include midi because there aiming at a bigger pot of artist and musicans that only have a guitar bass or etc, u only really need midi if you syncing other harware, nowadays everything is usb midi, im sure they'll make another product that has midi, for pete sakes its there first piece of hardware give the props a break

  • Carew

    what i ant to find out is "clip protection"….is tyhat only availible with the Balance interface or did the incoporate this into reason 6, somebody let me know whats up!!!

  • my understanding is clip-safe works in both essentials and reason 6.

    interesting that so far the dealer discount is only 20 bucks (499 list, 479 from dealers).