Do you crave a tightly integrated and
user-friendly music production environment,
or do you need a program that will do
everything? Unless you have an unlimited
budget, it’s a tough choice. If you prefer
tight integration and ease of use,
Propellerhead’s new Record software is
aiming right at you.
1. The mixer expands to the left as you add tracks.
2. The channel strips have so many features they’re
too tall to view completely.
3. Grab the blue rectangle in the mixer thumbnail
to scroll up or down to the control sections.
4. Record’s rack houses synthesizers, effects, and
mixer channel access modules.
5. Standard editing tools (move, pencil, razor, etc.)
6. Sequencer tracks have the usual mute, solo, and
automation display controls.
7. Clips containing audio and MIDI data live side by
side in the sequencer.
8. A thumbnail display lets you scroll and zoom horizontally
in the sequencer.
Click image for larger version with numbering.
Seamless integration with Reason.
Excellent mixing and automation.
Superb time-stretching of audio. Don’t
have your dongle? Not a problem.
Doesn’t host third-party plug-ins.
No audio pitch correction. No video
$299 list/approx. $250 street; $149
for current Reason owners,
TWO KINDS OF USERS
For current Reason owners, Record is a
powerful step forward. Record does audio
multitracking, which eliminates the need to
run Reason alongside a DAW via ReWire,
save separate files for the two programs,
and so on. Reason and Record integrate
seamlessly, all of Reason’s virtual instruments
becoming instantly available in the
same rack as Record devices. Your Reason
chops will get you up and running with
Record in almost no time, and you’ll be
able to use Reason devices’ virtual CV outputs
to modulate Record’s insert effects in
all sorts of stimulating ways.
Record will also attract band musicians
who aren’t necessarily Reason users, but
who want to lay down multitrack audio
without getting lost in complexity. Record’s
mixer looks and feels exactly like a big
hardware console (it was modeled closely
on an SSL), audio recording is as easy as it
ever was on a tape deck, the included
effects are high-quality, and the fullfeatured
audio track editing and automation
are just what the doctor ordered.
On its own terms, Record succeeds
brilliantly. However, a few functions musicians
may want or need are absent. Like
Reason, Record doesn’t host third-party
plug-ins. The synths included in Reason have
plenty of power, so Record-plus-Reason
users won’t miss anything unless they need
a drawbar organ or a specialized, modeled
synth such as Arturia Brass. Propellerhead
and third-party ReFills (these aren’t plugins;
they’re sound packs for Reason
devices) provide hosts of sounds including
synths, vintage keys, orchestral
instruments, and loops, but nothing in the
piano department competes with a
program like Synthogy Ivory. Record’s
effects are more than good enough for
sweetening your tracks, but you can’t host
third-party plugs for stuff you may care
about — say, convolution reverb or pitch
correction — though you can certainly
ReWire Record into a DAW and host
those plug-ins there.
All this said, I found Record a joy to use.
Record’s main window is sensible and easy
to get used to. There are three main work
areas: mixer, rack, and sequencer. Your F5,
F6, and F7 keys show or hide them in any
combination. Usually you only need to look
at one at a time, so screen space is not an
issue. In place of scrollbars, Record uses
navigation thumbnails, which take up a
little more room but make it much easier to
find devices and parts of tracks in a complex
environment. The detach button for
any section pops it into its own window,
but unless you have two or more displays,
using the F5, F6, and F7 keys is better.
Reason’s rear-panel graphical patch cords
are retained, but in Record, you can also
position several racks side by side.
The Mixer module from Reason is on
hand for submixing, but it’s now subservient
to the all-new Record mixer.
When you create a synth in the rack or
record a new audio track, a mixer channel
device is added to the rack. A difference
from Reason is that here, no visible patch
cords run from the rack to the mixer
itself. Instead, instruments are patched
into the channel devices that live in the
rack. What’s extremely cool about these
devices is that they’re based on Reason’s
Combinator module. Each has four
Rotary knobs with rear-panel CV inputs,
space to add insert effects, and a programmer
panel for assigning rotaries to
insert parameters. They also have CV
inputs for volume and pan control, plus a
sidechain input to feed the corresponding
mixer channel’s compressor.
The mixer itself (click image at left for larger version) has six sections: input, dynamics, EQ
with four bands plus high- and lowpass
filters, insert controls, aux sends, and a
input section has a gain control (though of course this can’t adjust
the analog input level on your hardware), an invert switch, and a
couple of buttons for changing the order of devices in the signal path:
inserts can be pre- or post-dynamics and EQ, and dynamics can be pre-
The dynamics section has a compressor and a noise gate, and
the compressor does sidechaining.
The EQ has low and high shelving
plus four bands. The low and high bands are semi-parametric, while the
two mid bands are fully parametric. The insert section has four knobs
and four buttons, all of which duplicate the functions on the mixer
channel device in the rack. This gives you a convenient way to operate
the inserts directly from the mixer using whatever macro controls
The eight sends in the channel strip
have pre/post-fader switching. The send modules themselves are housed
in the rack, where they’re patched into a Master Section device.
One of the coolest features in
Record’s mixer has to be the handy little
buttons labeled SEQ and RACK. These
bring up the sequencer track or rack
device corresponding to the mixer channel,
which smooths workflow considerably.
Another nice extra is that the insert
setup for a channel strip can be saved or
loaded as a preset.
The mixer’s master section has its
own compressor — an homage to SSL’s
hallmark bus compressor — which can
glue a mix together nicely. There’s also a
separate control room output, which you
can patch to any physical output. As with
any large board, the Record mixer is a bit
intimidating at first glance, but it’s nicely
laid out and has exactly the controls you
need for precision mixing.
Tracking with Record is about as easy as
can be. Create an audio track, choose an
input, decide on mono or stereo, and
click the big red button. You can turn the
metronome and countoff clicks on or off
as desired. No need to select a folder to
record audio to — in fact, you can’t. All of
your tracks are stored in the same big file
as the rest of the song. You can decide
where this project file will live, e.g. on
your audio drive as opposed to your system
drive. The one-file approach greatly
simplifies archiving and sharing songs
with your friends.
If the transport is in loop mode, you
can record a number of takes without
stopping. Comping a keeper by slicing
up takes is very nearly painless — just
grab the razor blade tool. You can adjust
the levels of individual takes so that they
match, slide the audio forward or backward
in time, and so on.
Record can change the tempo of
recorded audio with amazing fidelity.
After recording a cello solo, I soloed the
track and found I could
boost or drop the master
project tempo by as much
as ten bpm without affecting
the cello’s tone or
rhythm in any way. A few
very quiet pings were
added with this much
tempo shift, but nothing
that wouldn’t be masked
completely by the rest of
the tracks. The fact that
you can settle on a tempo
after tracking is extremely
Since pitch correction
involves code that’s not
too different from timestretching,
it’s a good bet
that Propellerhead is planning
to add pitch correction
in a future version of
Record. At the moment,
your only option in case of
pitch problems in a vocal
or solo instrument track is to bounce the
recorded track to disk as a separate file,
correct it in another program, and reimport
it. Fortunately, this is easy. To fix a
few out-of-tune notes, I used the
freeware audio editor Audacity, which
can pitch-shift short regions within a file.
A couple of minor gripes I’ve had about
the sequencer in Reason 4 are addressed
in Record. When notes are dragged up
or down in the edit view of a MIDI clip,
they now send audible MIDI notes to the
corresponding synth, which makes editing
much easier. And if you click-hold on
the zoom-in or zoom-out button, the
zooming will continue — you no longer
need to click again and again.
New effects include a pair of
amp/cabinet simulators from Line 6, one
for guitar and one for bass. Users who
have a Line 6 USB audio interface (with
its associated software) hooked up can
load more simulations, but I found the
included five each of amp and cabinet
models to be inspiring. The guitar amp
has inputs, which can be MIDI- or CV-controlled,
for volume and wah-wah, and
the bass amp has a
you two ways to
online will authorize
the included USB
dongle. If you lose
or forget your dongle,
you can enter
password online to get authorized on a
one-off basis. In fact, you can record an
entire multitrack session with Record in
demo mode, with neither the dongle nor
Internet access — but after saving the session,
you can’t open it again until your
copy of Record is authorized.
If you don’t own Reason and all the
cool soft synths that come with it,
Record’s new ID8 preset synth (click image at left for larger version) is extremely useful. It’s not
programmable, other than via a pair of
knobs that make various tweaks depending
on the current preset. The 36 presets
are in nine categories — piano, electric
piano, bass, strings, percussion, and so
on. They all sound plenty good enough
for pro-quality songwriter demos. ID8
responds to pitchbend and mod wheel
moves, but unlike Reason instruments,
has no rear-panel CV input jacks.
Without Reason, Record gives you more
than half of the effects you may want. The
RV7000 reverb is included, as are the
Scream 4 distortion module and MClass
mastering effects (EQ, stereo imager,
compressor, and maximizer). However,
you won’t get the BV512 Vocoder or the
phaser. The Matrix pattern sequencer and
RPG-8 arpeggiator require a copy of
Reason, but fortunately the ReGroove
mixer is included in Record itself. Without
Reason, Record is short of modules to
generate CV (virtual “control voltage”)
signals, but Scream has an envelope follower
output and the MClass compressor
has a gain reduction CV out.
Too many times, I’ve had plug-in issues in
my DAW. Most were minor and quickly
resolved, but some glitches inevitably
remain. So Propellerhead’s decision to
steer clear of third-party plug-ins makes
sense: You use the program and it just
works. Some plug-ins are also CPU
hogs, but because Propellerhead is in
control of all code that runs in Record,
they can optimize theirs to let you pile up
more instruments and effects. The tradeoff,
of course, is selection, and whether
it’s an acceptable one is a question each
musician will answer for him- or herself.
If you don’t own Reason, consider
the combined Reason/Record package
($629 list/approx. $500 street). There’s
a lot in it to like. At this price point,
though, Reason-plus-Record has some
stiff competition: Logic Studio on Mac,
FL Studio 9 on Windows, and Ableton
Live 8 and Pro Tools M-Powered 8 on
either. Record’s lack of a video window,
a feature found in many DAWs, will be a
negative if you want to do a soundtrack
or dub a recorded mix into your band’s
video. But if you want to track and mix
songs quickly, with a minimum learning
curve and a bunch of proprietary soft
synths that have stood the test of time
at your fingertips, the dual package is
If you already use Reason and don’t
have (or want) a DAW, Record adds the
audio recording you’ve always wanted
and will lift your musicmaking to a whole
new level. You’ll love the seamless integration,
the visually impressive, handleslike-
an-analog mixer, the Line 6 guitar
amp models, and the assorted user interface
improvements. Then there’s the
price for registered Reason users: $149.
That makes it a virtual no-brainer.
NEED TO KNOW
What is it? A multitrack audio
recorder that stands on its own or integrates
seamlessly with Reason.
So I can use Reason’s soft synths
in it? If you have Reason installed,
they’ll show up right in Record’s
familiar-looking (but expanded) rack.
What effects are included? Reverb,
distortion, guitar amp models, delay,
chorus/flanger, EQ, compression,
stereo imaging, and audio maximizing.
How easy is it to write automation?
Go into record mode, grab a knob or
slider, and move it. All automation data
is fully editable.
Can I record multiple takes in loop
mode? Yes. They’ll show up in multiple
sub-lanes for that track.
Can I track a whole band at once?
Up to 64 simultaneous inputs can be
recorded, if you have enough inputs on
Maximum audio resolution: Up to
24-bit/192kHz, depending on your
Does it export MP3 files? Nope.
But you can export any audio clip or as
a WAV file, which you could then convert
to MP3 in another program.
Copy protection: An either-or system
(hardware dongle or online password)
makes life easier.