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!