In this post I will be giving Propellerhead Reason version 8 the once over and talking you through all of it's new features. First impressions from this upgrade is that it represents another big step forward if you are a guitarist or bass player. From Reason version 6.5 onwards the software has come shipped with the Line 6 guitar and bass amp emulator offering as standard, but the Softube units are another step up from that in terms of quality.
For those of you not familiar with Softube, they have carved out a niche for themselves in the pro audio market producing hardware emulations of famous pieces of analogue and digital studio equipment from through the decades. Their product line is really high quality stuff, with a lot of work put into getting an authentic emulation of the equipment in question. I've used their FET Compressor and Trident A-Range extensively in the past, so I personally was aware of their work. As a result, I was very excited to hear about the inclusion of these new devices within Reason 8.
As good as the Softube plugins are, they tend to be quite pricey, so getting two included within the cost of Reason 8 represents a great deal in financial sense. If these devices were being sold separately you can bet the RRP would come to more than the cost of the Reason upgrade, so it is well worth considering Reason 8 on that basis alone.
Softube haven't to my knowledge explicitly said what amps these plug ins are modelled on, but they have hinted that they are based on some legendary pieces of rock hardware. You will have to be your own judge on that. Both the guitar and bass amp feature a variety of amp and cabinet models as well as both room and mic emulation. There are a variety of preset patches built into the units, but you also have the full range of dials that you would get on an amp front to play around with if you want to set your own tone up in fine detail.
|The tasteful faceplate and detailed controls of the Softube Amp guitar plug in for Reason 8.|
There are also some American sounding clean presets and a raft of high distortion, transistor amp modelled sounds for those of you that like your metal a bit more modern and heavy sounding. The Bass Amp device is similar in features to it's guitar based cousin and covers everything from smooth and low key to some rubber band style, slap bass twanging.
|The Softube Bass Amp plug in for Reason 8.|
All the other released of Reason down the years have seen gradual change between the version numbers and this release is no different. The focus this time is largely on improving the user experience. The new Browser window makes it much easier and quicker to complete tasks like cycling through patches on a device. Click on the device in question and they are all there, with folder navigation right beside them.
The Mixer, Rack and Sequencer windows are all now stacked on top of each other, which is a bit too cramped for me, but you always have the option of detaching any of them and viewing them in a separate window and/or on a separate monitor. The Transport and Sequencer windows have also had a bit of make over, with a new, smoother finish to them. That won't make your records sound any better, but it is a nice touch.
|The new Reason 8 windowing format makes it easier to get from A to B within your project.|
Reason 8 may have a user interface that is more like other DAW's on the market than ever before, but that is certainly not a bad thing. Bit by bit, release by release Propellerhead are steadily closing the gap in all the areas they have traditionally lagged behind rival platforms, whilst continuing to expand and improve upon what has always been the major advantage of Reason over it's rivals, the Reason Rack.
If you are upgrading from version 7 to version 8 then the value of the Softube plugins alone might be worth it for you. If you are upgrading from an older version of Reason though, remember it is the same price to upgrade from Reason 1 to Reason 8 as it would be to upgrade from Reason 7. That is an awful lot of software to be getting for £129 Euros!
Finally, Propellerhead have been kind enough to offer a free upgrade to Reason 8 from version 7 for anyone who registered their copy on or after July 1st of 2014, so there are no excuses for not getting onto Reason 8 asap...