For those who fear we might live in the End Times, I have some really terrible news. Propellerhead is adding VST plug-in support to Reason.

Yep, that’s Propellerhead who for years had sworn they’d never add plug-ins because of concerns about stability, compatibility, and even simple features like undo implementation – and because conventional plug-ins don’t integrate the way that native devices in Reason’s trademark rack do.

So what happened? Well, first, Propellerhead found they had something of a hit in their own Rack Extension format and accompanying store. Based on conversations I’ve had with developers, the business opportunity there isn’t quite what you get from the plug-in or mobile app markets in general, but the format is reasonably easy to develop for and the sales have been nothing to sneeze at. And this got Reason users – and Propellerhead – into the idea that Reason was something users could extend.

So now, Reason gets VST. And that’s a big deal. Reason remains a hugely significant production tool for a lot of people. And not having to go elsewhere just to run a plug-in like Serum might well keep more of the Reason user base inside the tool. (Really, there’s no reason you couldn’t use Reason for all your production tasks now.)

The news gets its own dramatic intro video, complete with gushing developers (well, it’s been a long wait, and a lot of us do really like Reason):

VSTs in Reason both work the way you’d expect in other DAWs and (more or less) the way you’d expect in Reason. So on some level, this is what all other music production tools with plug-in support work. VSTs installed to a special folder on your Mac or PC appear for use when you run Reason. (One slight concern there: they’ll clutter up your choices of devices, it appears; I have to see if you can hide them easily.)

VST UIs appear in a separate window. So they don’t appear side-by-side in the rack the way Rack Extensions do, though that also means they can take advantage of GUI functionality that would otherwise be impossible. (And they can take up more screen real estate, especially.)

reason95-screenshot-2-dbe3021ad885

Propellerhead being Propellerhead, though, they’ve added some extra features. You can route CV (control “voltage”) and audio signal to and from these plug-ins the way you can native devices. That means there’s a reason (sorry) to use this environment in place of another tool – modularity. And since the plug-ins appear inside a device loader in the rack, they still feel more part of your project. You also get Reason’s preset management. (This does break compatibility if you’re exchanging files and collaborating, though, we should point out.)

serum_back

The patching thing I believe is really cool – maybe cool enough to give Propellerhead a break for the many sound arguments they made over the years about the problems with plug-ins. Environments that have opened up that kind of open patching paradigm – like Sensomusic Usine – have proven really useful. So it makes loads of sense in Reason.

Frankly, the only thing that’s a bit disappointing here is that Reason supports VST 2.4 but not the newer VST 3.0. In any other environment, that wouldn’t be much of a demerit, but it’s a bit odd given that they’ve just done ground-up plug-in support.

Could this slow the development of Rack Extensions? Well, I think on some level the calculation doesn’t change at all from a business perspective. If it made sense to develop for the Reason user base separately before, it still makes sense now. If it didn’t, it still … doesn’t, only now at least those users can access your plug-ins.

But if you’re surprised when people make a big deal about this, well, the thing is — when you’ve not done something for a long time, it becomes news when you finally do. Apologies to all the other DAWs who have always had plug-in support.

Actually, speaking of prophecies of the end times, the Bible has a bit about this whole thing. Apologies to Christians here for slightly mangling the King James Bible, but … there’s a teachable lesson, I’m sure.

And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.

And he answering said to his father, “Lo, these many years do I serve thine VST SDKs and provide thee with mine plug-in support, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment but for the occasional bug okay or perhaps an errant system crash but yet did I continue with thou plug-ins comport: and yet thou never gavest me a YouTube video with dramatic piano music as a kid, that I might make merry with my friends and increase mine subscriber count.

But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with his proprietary ecosystem and those ridiculous patch cables and lived the good live up in Stockholm with the eating of Swedish treats and herring and whatever those cinnamon roll things are called, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.

And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. And thou still make let’s be honest the industry-leading DAW by market share.

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. And also, I really want to run Serum, and make God’s children’s dance to my new EDM track, even thou mine enemies think it’s the devil’s work.

I’m really, really sorry. You should probably go read Luke 15:11-15:32 now.

But yes, the parable still kind of holds.

And Serum in Reason. Enjoy.

A beta is out now; full release comes end of May:

Announcing Reason 9.5

  • no comments? guys, really?!

  • Gunboat_Diplo

    Addictive Drums in Reason! Kontakt in Reason! Chromaphone! I’m more psyched for the new instruments than the effects.

  • Jakoba

    If you can get CV out from VSTs that would definitely be a game changer! Can’t imagine how they’d get that to work though.

    • itchy

      propellerheads are smart dudes. they started a lot of shit . let us not forget.

      • itchy

        just thought this may eventually help them make the rack extensions available to other daws as a universal platform. that would be very cool

    • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

      VSTs can output MIDI to the host, so why not? I’m really interested to know if this is implemented

    • foljs

      > Can’t imagine how they’d get that to work though.

      If it’s not already possible (CV is just another name/protocol for MIDI automation parameters), it could just be a matter of talking to Steinberg to add it to an upcoming revision to the VST standard — or perhaps taking advantage of some extension potential of the existing 2.4 or 3.0 VST standard that plugins can optionally use.

    • usine does that since years, everey parameter can be pined in or aout or both to something else

  • Noah Siekmann

    I’ve been using Reason as my primary production daw since v3. I’ve also been struggling to incorporate Komplete into my system for years. Currently I run Maschine with Komplete on a laptop with audio routed into my interface. Midi is all controlled through my Pryamid sequencer. For years my two wish list features for Reason have been VST support and the ability to send clock out to multiple midi devices simultaneously. Looks like one of my wishes has just been granted. So freaking excited for this! Props to propellerheads.

  • eshefer

    I got a chance to meet with Matias from PH (reason’s PM, and the guy who demos the VST integration in the video) at their booth at Superbooth. the first this he asked me, as a reason user, was “any feature request?”, I guess he was just trolling me.

    (my answer was, btw, video integration…)

    • foljs

      That’s probably the second most requested feature after VST support.

      So I think that might come soon-ish…

    • Louis-Pierre Baudry

      Hi eshefer, just out of curiosity, what would be for you the purpose of using video within Reason?

      • eshefer

        we live in a world when video is more and more important. For me personally most of what I do is scores – just putting a video timeline on reason would be useful to me, but this is not what I mean.

        looking at where the future is, visual mediums are more and more important as the tools of producing them and distributing them are in everyones pocket (and this is actually the present).

        I can sort of see how reason can become a video production and processing suite, in a similar way to the Jitter part within max/msp, for example, only utilising reason’s workflow. I feel musicians need a video production tool that has editing, processing and compositing tools, with a workflow that they already are familiar with, propellerhead may have an opportunity here.

        if you look at what teenage engineering with the op-z, you’ll get an example of the kind of direction this may go in.

  • Max

    What’s the point of rack extensions now?
    Nobody sane will come up with them anymore.
    Why waste development time with that now?

    • itchy

      this may be a move to further find ways to port a vst to rack extensions . which is a great format.
      there will be blurry lines soon. but any floating windows suck in my opinion.

    • Pop

      Agreed. Although the RE format still has advantages over VST’s (like easy no nonsense cross patching of inputs and outputs), so there is still a future for them. I hope…

    • Daniel

      It depends on where you’re coming from. As a user, the unified shop, the one click sync and having all the licenses collected and easily downloadable is actually a great convenience, and of course the way REs fit in the rack paradigm. For the developers the copy protection, the way RE’s are future proofed, etc might also be a plus – esp for smaller indie developers who are just starting out or trying the waters. At any rate I don’t think it has to be an “either/or” question, but more of a “best of two worlds” scenario. 🙂

    • foljs

      Obviously that they’re more integrated and can work with any internal Reason features the Propellerheads expose that VSTs can never use. The shopping experience is also better and more convenient than managing tons of VSTs and different copy protection schemes.

      In the end, it’s about the sound, flexibility and/or usability of a plugin, not whether it’s VST, AU, RE, AAX or whatever.

  • dubrobot

    OMG!!!! Amazing

  • Armando Cajide

    Haven’t touched this stuff since v1.5

  • djhokey

    Using this together with the Reaktor 6 VST will keep me busy for next few months…..

    • it wont work with reason 6 idiot

      • Pop

        You might want to read the post again.

      • Alex Lee

        he did not say reason 6 idiot.

        • ScrewBot

          Won’t work with Reason 5 either, dumbo.

          • Alex Lee

            No mention of reason, twit.

  • This reminds me of how much fun I had with Reason and how sometimes it’s useful to go back to where you started.

  • Aiki

    Lol, and only about a decade too late 🙂

  • Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte

    Nice headline, I think you can use it again when FL Studio is released for Mac.

    I grew up on Reason, and I always really loved the sequencer. This could make me go back. I remember rewiring Reason into Logic so I could use Logic’s effects and VSTs for mixing.

    Does Reason now have some way of encapsulating a collection of interconnected rack units together and saving them as a set?

    • Yeah, it’s called a Combinator

    • foljs

      Has had such a way for like 15+ years now, it’s called a Combinator.

      That said, they could really add some more features to that err, feature, as Combinators still work exactly like they did 15 years ago. Some more outputs or control options would be welcome.

      • Stephen Riddle

        I agree – a way to add more than 4 rotary knobs would be good…

  • Best title.

    • Pop

      oh.

  • David Coffin

    Really “cool” news, esp. considering hell is already frozen. WhIle searching for my old Reason info, found this email subject line, from the PropHeads, May 27/13:

    Hell Freezes Over: Get MIDI Out in Reason 7

  • ippocardio

    Reason 9 was released on June 21, 2016. 9.5 (vst support) is expected around May 29th 2017. When is Reason 10 (paid) update to be expected ? They now have an annual (somewhere in 2017) or biannual (around 2018) release cycle ?

    • foljs

      Perhaps around Xmas 2017 time? The VST support development should have been going on for some time already (even before 9.0 was out, which explains the lackluster features), and just landed now. So 8+ months should given enough time to polish a new release.

      • ippocardio

        Thanks – what you suggest makes sense. I wanted to use Ipad music apps with Reason and now with vst support it will be possible.

  • Gesslr Gesslr

    I think this is fantastic news. I also think the top tier REs will continue to do well, but we will see a number of the more “marginal” REs die away as they are replaced by better VSTs. This change could also have the effect of reducing the number of REs developed, but the ones that are will be of higher quality as anything less won’t make it. This reinvigorates my interest in Reason tremendously…

    • itchy

      if you think about it all the vst’s will sit in a rack extension wrapper that gives you access to more cv control. its just another way to look at it

  • Jeff Cross

    Will they offer undo for individual plugin parameter changes?

    • itchy

      that is the million dollar question , i was wondering that as well

    • Mattias Häggström Gerdt

      Yes, as far as it’s possible. If the plugin properly reports a parameter change, we’ll allow you to undo it with cmd/ctrl+Z like any other parameter change.

      • Dopamine Addict

        Great job! That was the answer I was waiting to hear. Thank you.

  • Tony Scharf

    Ive used Reason for years, but mostly as a sound design too rather than for arrangement and composition. This just makes it that much more useful since Ill be able to create combinators with Massive or Absynth in them and be able to work with those in a ‘reason’ sort of way. I’m really excited to see how well Maschine runs here, since I’ve never liked *any* of the drum machines Reason’s thrown out there over the years. This is a really huge development, and one that’s as surprising as it is overdue.

    • Noah Siekmann

      I can’t wait to see how Maschine VST works. Maschine and Reason are my two favorite workflows. I’m also excited to see if/how Overbridge works with Reason.

  • Tony Scharf

    Also, how long before Propellerheads opens a VSTi Store similar to what Roland or those other companies have built? One of the great things about Reason’s rack extensions is the ease with which I can get my setup on another computer. Having a one click ‘install everything’ option that would apply to my VSTi collection as well would be fantastic!

  • chaircrusher

    This is one of the reasons (there I did it too) that I never upgraded Reason from whatever version it is that I bought.

    At this point I am married for better or worse (and richer and poorer) to the Ableton Live workflow, and don’t really feel like going to another music program without a REALLY compelling reason. But I’m glad that’s available. I imagine that there are people who really like the sequencing and modularity workflow of Reason and have some kludgy workaround to use the VSTs they can’t live without.

    If you are a Reason user though, it behooves you to trawl through all the free VSTs listed on kvraudio.com and see if anything really inspires you. Then go to madronalabs.com and buy their stuff 😉

    PS: I never really liked those skeuomorphic swinging cables. I have the same problem with them that I have behind my in-the-real-world rack: when I turn it around, it’s a mess of dangling wires and it’s hard to see what’s connected to what.

  • Goodbye Live!

  • kokorozashi

    Any idea whether each VST instance gets isolated in its own process? I hope so.

    • Mattias Häggström Gerdt

      There is a version of crash protection, but it’s not complete isolation/sandboxing. Rather, Reason tries to catch errors and crash the host instead of letting it crash Reason.

    • Zak McKracken

      Works pretty well for me so far – had Omni2 crash out a few times – didn’t touch Reason at all.

  • Graham Brinkert

    Peter is an apologetic mood today?

  • partofthepuzzle

    Certainly interesting news. For me though, it’s several years too late. I loved Reason and Propellerheads deserve major credit for their innovations at the time it first came out. But I eventually grew weary of having to use complex Rewire setups to compensate for the lack of audio and VST support. I even bought a pivoting monitor just so I wouldn’t have to scroll so much to see the Rack. It took them YEARS to implement a second column for it. Just one of their inexplicably short sighted gaffs.

    I left Reason behind years ago and haven’t looked back. I did give Reason 6 a try for a bit but having to flip back and forth from the Rack to everything else was just too tedious. The 3rd party store approach, where they wanted me to buy Reason specific devices that duplicated VST plugins that I had already invested in, was a major turn off for me.

    If I was still a Reason user, I’d be overjoyed but for me, it’s just too little, too late from a company that IMO, was just too stubborn for it’s own good.

    But let’s also give them MAJOR credit for ReCycle, which was one the most critical innovations in electronic music. ReCycle deserves a thorough write up of it’s own.

  • GRDEC

    i’ve never heard of a single professional musician claiming they use Reason.. i think this is a move borne out of desperation, more than anything. as they are trying to revive a dying platform..