With Live 5 on its way, it’s a good time to consider Reason, which many people like to pair with Ableton’s host for additional instruments. Macworld has a review I wrote of Reason 3 available online in its entirety. The initial release date for the new Reason caused quite a stir here on CDM — Reason haters and aficionados alike had plenty to say about this program.

Of course, the hardest part about evaluating Reason is figuring out what it is, exactly. Is it a bundle of soft synths? Well, no, that does no justice whatsoever to some slick effects and powerful routing options, not to mention the handful of people who use it as an all-in-one performance/production tool. Ah, that’s it — an all-in-one workstation. Nope again. There’s still no external audio recording or effects hosting, and its MIDI sequencer still comes across as afterthought.

Beginner’s tool? Er, only if you use the presets as-is: the Combinator is for power users, and the real fun of Reason requires that you know about Control Voltage routing, hardly light stuff. Competitor to Arturia Storm? Again, not quite, and I still can’t track down anyone who uses Storm, let alone overlaps with the Reason user base. (If you’re there, drop me a line.)

All of this brings us back to where we started: Reason 3 makes a great companion to Live or another DAW/host; it’s in a product category all its own. Check out the Macworld review, and let me know what you think of this tool in your work.