Musicians, here's another reason to take a Mac to your next gig. Propellerhead Software's Reason 1.0 is the latest application to join a crowded bandstand of programs that simulate music and audio hardware (see " Make Some Noise ", August 2000). More than a software synthesizer, Reason is a virtual recording studio encompassing instruments, rhythm-pattern generators, effects units, a multitrack sequencer, and a mixer. And it has one of the most appealing user interfaces I've seen.
The hub of Reason's virtual studio is an on-screen version of the equipment racks that dominate recording studios and strain musicians' backs. To generate a tune in Reason, you add instruments to the rack, route them through effects boxes to add audio effects, create drum and bass patterns, and then arrange your final product using Reason's built-in sequencer.
Reason's instruments include the Subtractor, which has rich sound reminiscent of analog synths of the seventies. The program also includes a sampler that can play back recordings of anything from music to barking dogs, and it comes with 500MB of sampled audio. A virtual drum machine called Redrum-styled after legendary beat boxes such as Roland's TR-808-lets you program drum patterns and assign almost any sound to them. And the Dr. Rex loop player, which plays and modifies audio clips that have been sliced into their component beats, lets you perform feats such as changing the tempo of a recorded drum beat without altering its pitch.
The Bottomless Rack
One of Reason's most powerful features is the ability to handle as many instruments as your Mac's memory and processor can accommodate-just create a sampler and add it to your rack.
When you press the tab key, the rack rotates to expose each component's rear panel. Dangling cables show connections, which you can customize by dragging the cables from one jack to another.
You can save songs in a variety of formats, from AIFF audio files to self-contained Reason files for Web distribution. Reason can also stream audio directly into a sequencer.Rack 'Em Up: Reason's rack holds virtual instruments and other components.