Propellerhead, the manufacturer of Reason, has been around since the mid-'90s. At the time, they were mostly known for their software samplers. It wasn't until late 2000 that Reason came to fruition. The first iterations of Reason didn't have the ability to record audio from external sources. Instead, this home studio program focused on crafting a recording program that enabled its users to need nothing but the software instruments to create music. Today, Reason offers the ability to record external sources like many other traditional DAWs, but it sticks true to its internal software instrumentation prowess. The internal instruments and effects are versatile and easy to use. With the ability to record external instruments, this makes Reason a desirable piece of software.
What's Unique About Reason
The interface consists of four main parts: the arrangement window, the browser, the mixer and the rack. You'll find an arrangement window and mixer in any DAW, even though the mixer is a simulation of the SSL 9000K, a revered analog mixer in the recording world. The combination of the rack unit and the browser is what's most unique about this software.
The browser is available in the upper-left corner of the interface. It is always there, unless you decide to remove it. It's convenient that the window that holds the access to all of Reason's virtual instruments, loops and effects is available right up front.
The browser and the rack truly work hand in hand. The rack unit within Reason has been part of the program since its inception. The rack models all of its effects and instruments after pieces of physical hardware. This is especially recognizable once you press the Tab key, which flips the rack around, exposing the backside of all the effects. All of the effects and instruments have inputs and outputs like you'd expect on an actual piece of hardware. They are connected or routed with virtual cables, so you can essentially chain any assortment of instruments and effects together simply to create unique sounds and textures.
The rack caters to a variety of different types of musicians. It features low-bass synth wobble noises you hear in most dubstep, as well as crystal-clear and vibrant piano sounds you'd expect in pop music. Reason also recently switched from its licensing agreement with Line 6 to introduce Softube, a great-sounding guitar amplifier simulator, another bonus to its already stellar rack unit.
The caveat to this music studio software and its rack unit is limited compatibility. Reason is only compatible with Propellerhead's rack extension format. The good thing is that Propellerhead has a gigantic library of extensions that you can purchase to add to your sound library. The drawback is that if there is a cool plugin that you really like from a third-party supplier, you can't apply it within Reason.
When Reason was first conceptualized, the idea was to create professional recording software that let you create music all within the program. This concept is still the core value of Reason. It has been refined over the years and is now more powerful, more creative and easier to use than ever before.