yeah, as a reason user I am in a constant dilemma as to whether to abandon the software [Reason] that I have spent so long learning the ins and outs of just to see what a 'real' DAW is like; I love reason but at the same time I fucking hate it too, and its hard to tell how much is down to my own failing creativity and how much is down to the oddities of the program itself. Do other people get as annoyed with their DAWs as reason users do?
Despite what was said in the comments in Which Daw? A Beginner’s Guide pt. 2, I've used reason over the years. I remember intently waiting for Reason 1 to be released. Reason at that time was unmatched. Nothing like it existed. Imagine that for a second, a totally new way of producing electronic music. Nothing has come along since its November 2000 release to change the game as much. Well, maybe Ableton Live, wink wink, check Which Daw? A Beginner’s Guide pt. 3.
I've always found Reason to be a really fun (not to be overlooked) and immensely inspirational environment. I think Scream is the best computer based distortion I've ever heard (why has no one cloned Scream in vst form, WHY?), though Ohm Force’s Ohmicide does kick a fair amount of ass. I also love the rv7000. I think Thor and Maelstrom are really powerful synths with a lot of creative potential, but they cannot compete with the sound put out by top tier vsti's.
Now it gets even worse, the samplers are very underpowered and don't allow for the creative manipulation of samples to the extent that something like Native Instrument’s Kontakt does. And even worse, the compression and equalization in reason are extremely limited. You can do just about anything in Reason with clever patching and workflow, but you cannot patch your way out of poor compression and equalization (I suppose you can, by ReWiring, a very common practice amongst professional Reason users).
Reason just falls off for me. Great environment, great limitations, great synths, great distortion, great reverb, so so samplers, poor eq and compression, and just unspeakable metering, a very important, if nerdy, feature that is essential in proper gain staging. See future post regarding gain staging. If you are just starting out, this coming post will change your life, and shave years off of your production learning curve. I swear to you, that is no joke.
All of this doesn't really matter, though, if you are a Reason user who produces dope tracks. Whatever works for you, works. That is the bottom line. Results speak for themselves.
But, as I’ve tried to emphasize, learning a daw is a long, sometimes frustrating process. True facility in a daw is equivalent to facility with a musical instrument in many ways. It does take years to feel out all the nuances, peculiarities, propensities of an instrument like a daw. Casting that knowledge aside and starting with a new daw is a painful process, and necessitates years more of learning, and less than optimal performance all the while as the new daw is mastered.
So where does that leave us? For Reason users who have been producing successfully for years, I’ve got nothing to say to you, go for it. But for a young producer who is just getting started, I really can’t recommend Reason. I feel its inherent limitations outweigh its positives with the exception of those with severely underpowered computers and no ability to upgrade, or those who need extreme restrictions to be productive.
And for the extremely difficult case of the midstream producer who has been working with Reason for a couple of years, knows it really well, but is still unsatisfied with the music they are producing… hard choices are going to have to be made. You have to look inside yourself and really try to determine if your own musical ability is holding you back, or if your musical ability is there, but workflow limitations or the sound of Reason is the final barrier to achieving your production goals. If this proves too difficult one potential way to discern this is to demo another daw and rewire Reason into the daw.
Because all or most of the sound design and writing will be taking place in Reason, you will initially be required to learn a smaller set of skills in the new daw. This will allow you to test another daw’s sound against Reason’s, and as familiarity grows in the new daw, you can begin preliminary attempts at sound design and writing.
I have to warn you. Using a new daw will feel like you are on square one again, and square one in computer music can be very frustrating. But you have to try to learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can to really determine if the potential of the new daw exceeds that of Reason's.
I know many producers that have ReWired Reason into other daws, only to eventually abandon Reason entirely over time as they became more familiar with the new daw, but I also know others who are happy to continue in Reason and ReWire into another daw for mixing purposes (where sound is summed together, and much of the compression and equalization of sounds takes place).