Reason Studios freed its software from its outsider role in the new Reason 11 and lets all music producers use the tools as Rack Plugin DAW independently.
With the release of Reason 11, the Reason Studios developers decoupled the Reason Rack from the DAW environment and made it available as a VST3/AU plugin that is compatible with all major workstation. This additional part of Reason includes all best-known instruments and effects. It is divided into an instrument and effect host that can be used as a plugin in Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase & more. The well-known virtual cable system was also taken into account in this process, so it’s a real modular sound design tool.
It’s a big step for Reason but also the most important one Reason Studios former Propellerhead Software has made so far. Bye-bye Rewire, welcome a very smart and easy way to integrate these tools into your DAW. Plus, all of this has made Reason Studios, accessible to everyone at a very low price.
Rack Plugin In Every Reason Package
Every Reason 11 purchase, whether Intro, Standard or Suite contains the DAW and the plugin. Even as a buyer of the Intro version for 79€, you have access to a stripped-down version of Reason 11 DAW but also of the new Reason Rack plugin with the same features as the big ones. Very nice pricing policy and good to see that you can start using this whole for less money. Only the instruments, effects and sound content change. The 79€ entry-level (intro) version already contains an excellent Synthesizer, drum machine, and effect collection such as Europa or Thor Synthesizer which alone would be worth the price of it. I
f you want more later, you can either upgrade to a different version or expand the rack with Rack Extensions. Yepp, the Reason Rack plugin runs Reason’s own instruments and effects plus third party rack extensions, but no VSTs. Logic Pro users would have been very happy if the plugin version could also load VSTs because Apple’s DAW doesn’t support this format so far. Plus, this new version does not offer the full sequencing features of Reason, that will be exclusively available to the standalone version (DAW).
New Life For Rack Extensions
For the RE, it’s a very good news because you can find here many exciting synths, effects… from great indie developers. The best news, however, is that Rack Extensions get a second chance. This step helps developers to sell more RE and make them more popular. Previously, they could only be used exclusively in the Reason DAW, now they can be hosted in the Rack plugin in VST3/AU format. It is, therefore, a gateway to a much broader music producer user group.
From Theory To Practical
In everyday use, it simply acts like another virtual instrument or effect plugin within your DAW. Just start it and use them as all other plugins on the market. Also nice to mention is that it allows you to route those Reason sounds and effects with 16 outputs. This makes it very flexible and powerful. Loaded in the DAW, I was quite surprised by the relatively low CPU consumption. With a current computer, no matter whether PC or Mac, you get 15% on average. That’s pretty nice compared to other available software.
It is very nice that you have the plugin in two versions, one as an instrument and one as an FX plugin. So you can use it very flexibly, only as a powerful modular instrument or monster multi-fx plugin
You Get What You Pay For
How many instruments, effects or sound content you get, depends on which version you have chosen. Already in the Intro version for unbeatable 79€, there is a wealth of instruments and effects included: Europa shapeshifting spectral synth, the all-time classic Synthesizer Thor, Subtractor, Monotone bass synth, Kong Drum Designer, Redrum drum computer, NN-XT sampler, Audiomatic Retro Transformer… to name just a few who are available in the Intro. All these instruments and effects plus the modularity of patching are easily worth the 79€.
For me, the Intro version has the best price-performance factor, which gives every Reason Rack beginner a large selection at a low price. But it’s also a nice package that expands the instrument power of any DAW. Combinator, the tool with which the sound design fun actually begins is also included in every bundle. With this, you can build large layer instruments. It is remarkable what you can get here for so little money.
A bigger budget for music equipment or you just want to have more choice, choose the Standard or Suite version. There are more instruments, effects, sounds… inside but the main Rack plugin remains the same. For example, it includes the very intuitive Grain granular sampler, the classic Mallström granular & wavetable synth or the Radical Piano advanced acoustic piano Rack Extension. On the effect side, it includes the new Sweeper modulation and Quartet chorus ensemble effect but also the Echo, Pulverizer demolition unit or Alligator triple filter gate.
For 200€, you get even more like the Scenic hybrid instrument, Complex-1, a west-coast modular synth, Parasec 2 spectral Synthesizer or the Umpf Drum & Layers series. The Suite version is especially exciting to get more instruments but less for effects. This can be observed by the two additional effect processors vs. the Standard version.
If you are interested in the new creative MIDI helpers, the Suite Bundle is the right choice. In addition to the three Players that are already included in the intro bundle (Note Echo, Scale & Chords, Dual Arpeggio), it includes the Drum Sequencer, PolyStep Sequencer, and Quad Note Generator that have a value of $200.
These are nice little musical helpers with which you can quickly get new ideas. Unfortunately, the patterns you have designed inside these tools can’t be exported as a MIDI file in Ableton Live,… Also is a pity that these tools doesn’t send out MIDI like That’s a bit of pity.
Reason Studios Reason 11 Final Verdict
On the whole, the new Reason 11 Rack plugin was able to completely convince me except for small points. This step from Reason Studios was the right one for the future. With this decision, they can convince more musicians to use Reason and Reason instruments in their production. For me, it can be so convincing because Reason Rack Plugin is a modular instrument and effects host plugin with which you can do a lot. Plus, the entry with 79 € is a no-brainer, if you look at the included content.
I can say that I really like Reason 11 with the new Reason Rack plugin. However, you should also see this update from the side of existing Reason 10 users and from users who only use this DAW exclusively. In this case, the update is relatively expensive to get only the plugin version because a lot of new content has not been added.
But if you are not a Reason user or a user of another DAW, Reason 11 is very exciting and now with the Rack plugin it’s also a nice alternative to existing instrument & effect bundles (NI Komplete…) I go even further: for me, it is one of the best software products from 2019
- useable in any DAW with VST3/AU support
- modular instrument & effect plugin expandable with Rack Extensions
- acts like another virtual instrument
- an affordable introduction to Reason Rack plugin starting at 79€
- good price policy: plugin as a free addition to the DAW
- Intro version is so content attractive that it is almost a must-have
- low CPU consumption
- sound content
- missing AAX support (hope in the future)
- missing live sampling feature known from the DAW version
- no scalable UI
- no MIDI output of the Players
- quite an expensive update for existing Reason users
Reason Studios Reason 11 is available now in three versions starting at 79€.
More information here: Reason Studios
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