De Propellerhoofden vernieuwen

Trying 4 some James Jamerson

M’n maatjes van de Zweedse firma Propellerhead stuurden mij een nieuwe geluidenbank, Refill, voor mijn muziekpakket Reason op. Reason Electric Bass. Oude basgitaren in te spelen via het toetsenbord. Het klinkt opnieuw geweldig. Mega handig voor mensen die zelf geen basgitaar spelen, of voor musici die niet beschikken over pre-historische bassen en exotische basversterkers.

Tegelijkertijd presenteerde Propellerhead van de week haar nieuwe website. Die frisser dan ooit oogt. Een soort IKEA rock ’n roll stijl, en dat is niet denigrerend bedoeld.

De Propellerhoofden zijn dus lekker bezig. Reason is favoriet bij menig musicus. Helaas zijn de Propellerhoofden bijzonder koppig. De halve community roept al jaren dat ze een audio recorder aan Reason moeten toevoegen of een externe applicatie hiervoor moeten bouwen. Het eerste zal nooit gaan gebeuren, zo is mij duidelijk geworden. Die externe audio applicatie komt er misschien wel. Ooit. En dan, stijg ik op. Trek ik mijn t-shirt over mijn hoofd en loop gillend de straat op. Hola, hola!

Zal het ooit mogelijk zijn om gitaarpartijen, zanglijnen, baspartijtjes en andersoortige audio op een eenvoudige manier door die geweldige effecten van Reason te halen? De Propellerhoofden zijn al jaren mijn vrienden en ik werk met enige regelmaat voor hun. Heerlijke club maar totaal gesloten. Ik weet dus niets. Maar door mijn huidige ellende met Ableton Live, het gesodemieter met Logic en Pro Tools, ga ik maar weer eens bidden voor Zweden. Geef het ons! Een audio applicatie die wel deugt. Zonder bugs, eenvoudig te draaien op een laptop en met een lekker interface. Reason is stabieler dan menige relatie. En nog geiler ook! Penetreer ons nu dan maar met audio, Zweden!

Door Marco Raaphorst

maakt podcasts en muziek

11 reacties

  1. I think it’s an interesting dilemma for any software manufacturer–when one has created a self-contained “universe” for an application which functions well and offers a lot of flexibility, how much should one risk those good things in search of further features?

    On the one hand, Reason permits its users to do so many things, and we hear so many good songs and mixes done by Reason users. The Reason refills offer a lot of different palettes with which to paint.

    On the other hand, Reason could have more features, and in particular be much more inter-operable with other things like VST plug-ins. It’s a dilemma for any manufacturer of a solid product.

    On the one hand, we have software like MS Word, which “won” its word processing war by adding features to inter-operate in limited ways (examples: with web browsers, with spreadsheets) other word processors could not so easily emulate. On the other hand, the Adobe Acrobat approach sought to create a new universe for a method of capturing a document, introducing the term pdf into the English language as surely as other product words, like “Coke”. The pdf is a staple, but it is in some ways a self-sufficient universe of format. The pdf is also so stable we do not think of its stability at all, unlike even Word which can be cumbersome at times in the ways it “works with” other platforms.

    It is no surprise that for me, the issue with digital audio workstations is that they are often not simple enough. I find myself working with a simple synthesizer, a simple sample slicer, a simple VST host, and a simple softstudio, because they are all fundamentally easy to use.

    There is of course no rule that everything must be easy, and many things of the greatest worth require the greatest effort.

    Yet if I were to change Reason, it is that I’d create a version of Reason that
    an elementary schoolchild could use.
    If Reason or Acid or Cubase or FL Studio were so easy and intuitive that a child with limited reading skills could use it, then I believe that the cause of sharing culture would be advance. If Reason were as easy to use as’s sequencer, then
    a new communication which would reduce the division between non-musicians and musicians would arise. This would be good for the way music culture works, I suggest.

    Yet I am not a Reason expert, having given my copy to a pianist friend, unopened, after spending much time reading the handbook. I still have not found the perfect platform, though I have become accustomed to software that pleases me to use.

    When I read about the demand for more features, then my first thought is:
    “The key feature is simplicity”.

  2. @Robert: I totally agree about simplicity. But maybe simple on the surface but when you dig deeper something else can be achieved. Just like a guitar, a simple instrument, but when you dig deeper: heaven!

    Ableton Live used to be simple. I think ’till version 3, audio only but you could slave Reason to it. That was super. But then they added MIDI, then they added video and now it’s no longer a quick audio application but a DAW.

    If Ableton would build a simple audio tool, like Live 3, with a couple of the improved effects and stable… killer. The workflow of Live is really something. But it went from basic to a complicated DAW. Propellerheads are more focussed, so they never tried to add something to Reason which conflicts with the concept. I admire that.

  3. @Marco

    You understand just what I mean. I play the mountain dulcimer, which is so simple that a child Puck’s age could play tunes with an hour’s lesson, and yet it offers complexity and rich exploration as one progresses. I want audio applications to work like that.

    Ableton Live is a great example. It’s fine to release a Live DAW, but they could easily have released a 3.0 Ultra with the simple innovations, at a reduced costs. It is amusing that when Ableton came out, everyone raved that it is populist and easy, and now people rave that it is a specialist’s tool.

    I am always on the hunt for the DAW that does not act like a DAW. I thought that I had found it in Bram Bos’ Tunafish, a DAW/sequencer which eliminates all features but the most essential, and yet is a VST platform. Yet thus far, it has not delivered the simple experience I seek.

    I use instead a very simple set-up, based on Sawcutter 2.0, a four-voice softsynth which samples from wave files of up to 7 seconds. It is so simple to use it’s amusing–and yet, like a guitar, I am always learning some new sound or fx I can create with it.

    That’s the problem in all creative ventures–practice something one knows, to learn how to “really do it”, or expand horizons, and yet miss the wisdom of learning simple things well.

  4. The thing is: most manufacturers are imitating each other. What we need is Charlie Parker, or Hendrix. Someone Doing The Never. Live was an unique application but then they took a different direction. And now it is competing with Logic, Pro Tools etc. They are even creating orchestra soundbanks. Just like what the others are doing as well.

    There’s no perfect audio tool at the moment. But I could create one on paper for sure. I record while holding a guitar in my hands. The app should be super simple, a large button for record and then digging deeper and deeper…

  5. Regarding the english comments I will also respond in english ;)

    A few years ago I applied for Interaction Designer at the Propellerheads. I have had the honour of visiting their headquaters in Stockholm. It was a very nice experience, to meet my heroes in real life, an visit the place where the magic comes from.

    I think it is a very thin line between strong vision and stubborness. In my opinion the limeted set of devices in Reason forces you to use them creative. I strongly agree with PH to ignore the people shouting out for VST support. Compare reason to a box of lego: you can use the bricks to create anythinkg making use of what you have.

    For me, reason is a box of legos. I am still learning and discovering new ways of using it all together.

    But at some point you should be able to reconsidder choices. For instance, the rack metaphor. It still is a strong one, but in my opinion it is starting to fail. The metaphor inherits the limits we have in the physical world of space. I have seen some great examples of reason documents, stockpiling 100s of devices. In that case it becomes harder and harder respond in a creative manner, it is obstructed by lack of wholesight. During my interview I made it clear I think sticking to the rack metaphor forever is stubborn…

    Then the eternal audio question. Im a reason fan and also a guitarplayer. I WANT to record my guitar…But I’m not sure it should be IN Reason…It could be an awesome propellerhead-approached tool next to it as well. Rewired into reason. Just like the usage of Lego Technic with your other Legos. Clogging it all in one just isn’t the way.

    During the interview I was confronted with a few dillema’s the PHeads are struggling with. And i experienced the struggle as well. It is hard to keep it simple and flexible at the same time…

    In case you wonder: I didn’t get the job ;) I guess I was to stubborn on removing the rack metaphor and find a new way of organizing your devices. Hehe :)

  6. zo lang ze geen vst’s hosten zal ik nooit de moeite nemen naar reason te kijken. Overigens de meest overtuigde reason gebruiker was na de 4e editie reason enkel nog als plugin/rewire gaan gebruiken in ableton. in mijn omgeving iniedergeval

  7. @Martin K: I agree. If you’re simulating physical stuff in software things go crazy sometimes. I think software is not hardware, so I personally don’t want it to look like hardware. And a full Reason rack is not so easy to operate indeed. The GUI of Ableton is what I love.

    @thorltd: veel gehoorde klacht. Ik vind Reason 4 wel echt te gek. Sequencer is ook beter geworden en ReGroove is geniaal. Geen enkele andere applicatie kan dat. Bovendien vind ik de Reason mastering effecten helemaal top. Zelfs beter dan iZoptope Ozone 3 die ik voor het masteren gebruik.

  8. eenmaal waves altijd waves ;)

    Izotope was me mastering tool tot dat ik Waves platinum in em handen kreeg. (via school) Fl studio 8 heeft een grote slag gemaakt door externe (sampler)tools mee te leveren. SliceX is een heel erg goede tool die ik veel gebruik naast Kontakt. De thor (whats in the name ) heb ik wel even onderhanden genomen voor een paar workshops die ik gegeven heb en was best onder de indruk. Reason is en blijft een sterk staaltje software maar limiteerd zich in mijn ogen nog altijd te veel door door de vst loze aanpak. Maar als rewire kan ik de voordelen idd best inzien.

  9. @thorltd: de laaste versies van Waves ken ik niet. Ik vond Waves altijd tegenvallen, vriend van mij, studio-eigenaar, deelt dezelfde mening. Maar misschien is er het een en ander veranderd. Reason mastering effects klinken gewoon helemaal top. Wil niets anders. Wel audio in Reason zodat ik die effecten ook kan gebruiken op vocalen enzo.

  10. Als een razende roeland gecomment hier:)

    Ja ik heb de Waves bijbel moeten leren en daardoor goed in de vingers gekregen hoe het werkt. De lay out verbergt veel van de functionaliteit. De izotope is nogal robuust en visueel. Waves is licht en doeltreffend. Het is even wennen maar dan heb je ook wat!

    Ik zal is kijken naar de reason mastering tools.

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