We knew Reason 12 would finally solve high-resolution support – now we get a glimpse of what else is coming, and when.

Reason Studios promised it would offer new functionality via subscription with Reason+. But those of you who prefer pay-to-own licenses and upgrades, so far that’s still available with Reason 12.

The big news – not just high resolution support and greater UI scalability, but also a new sample manipulation device, an overhauled Combinator with new customization for panels, and an improved Browser.

For those of you who do opt into the subscription path, the difference is that features roll out sooner. I’ve certainly heard music developers promise that – see also iZotope – but here’s a chance to see it in action with a popular program. At least so far, that means there’s some added incentive for going subscription, in getting things gradually rather than lumped into omnibus subscriptions. (My only real bugaboo is software constantly needing to take time to load and check licensing online, because I don’t particularly want to see status bars when I want to make music – will follow up on exactly what circumstances trigger that and if they can make it faster and more reliable.)

Anyway, for now – either way, subscription (Reason+) or conventional Reason license, you’ll eventually wind up with the same feature set by fall as a landmark roughly called Reason 12.

And so onto what’s in it:

Release date (for everything) 1 September 2021

High-resolution scalable graphics. We talked about this already, but the key is – yes, this not only means high-resolution display support, but also enhanced UI scaling, so it should improve viewing the UI for pretty much everybody. And it works out-of-the-box with every Rack Extension ever made, because RE developers had to include the higher-res assets with submissions from the start. Overdue, but welcome.

A new sampler. They’re holding their cards close to the deck for now, but they say it’s designed to make it easy to work from any source (your sound library, something recorded on the fly, or a track in your session), works with existing time stretch, and uses “brand new ways to play your samples.” New as in … dunno, AI machine learning-augmented granular synthesis in VR? Guess we’ll find out.

A streamlined Browser. This one is also beyond overdue – all the pieces are there, but maybe this will become more easily usable.

New Combinator. This one they’re being clearer on, and already it sounds promising. The Combinator is just about the most-used part of Reason, but it’s showing its age, and it’s pretty rigid and hard to discover for newcomers. What they’re promising in words, at least, is something far more customizable, with:

  • More CV inputs
  • More controls
  • More patches
  • Customizable interfaces with custom layout, macro controls, panel size, and custom images

It’s clear this is partly there to support new Packs – which is part of the Reason+ pitch – but frankly I’m excited to see that it appears to be intended to be friendly to end user customization, too. This isn’t easy even in tools like Ableton Live without digging into Max for Live, which sometimes is overkill if you want to make just an easy macro for yourself.

I am still curious, though, how they’ll support third party content creators when Reason+ is already providing subscription content, and if that will kill the ecosystem for content creators and Rack Extention makers outside of Reason Studios. (That question is an open one for other industry makers, too.)

But will the Combinator changers be useful to hard-core Reason users? Well, since they’ve been asking for it forever – even Reason Studios says here it’s one of the most-heard feature requests – I’ll put that down as a yes.

Impossible to judge without seeing this, so stay tuned.

I do hope this also makes the workflow between Reason and the Reason Rack Plugin easier. (Also, full VST3 support everywhere rather than just one and the other?) No details on that yet. You know I’ll be asking.

I’m ready to do a little more Reason patching this summer, though, especially with some track deadlines coming up. So see you in the Rack.