Prior editions of Reason were made for beat production as opposed to full recording studio software. Since the introduction of the Reason mixer, which is modeled after the SSL 9000K mixer, the production value of Reason has risen to new heights, allowing users to multitrack live instruments and incorporate them into Reason's powerful set of rack effects. Reason Essentials allows you to create as many audio tracks as you need for your session, and lets you record an unlimited amount of tracks at the same time.

Reason Essentials' layout is put together unlike any other music production software in our review. There are three main pieces to the layout of Essentials – sequencer, rack and mixer. While the sequencer and mixer are common pieces in other music recording software, the unique rack gives you the look and feel of real-life hardware that you hook up to your equipment. Through the rack you can add all of your track plugins, equalizers, compressions and more.

You can switch between the front and back of the rack by hitting the tab key on your keyboard. The back of the rack is where you can wire and chain plugins together as well as create group channels and busses. Essentials does not have traditional bus or group channels. Instead you have to insert a separate mixer into your rack and route individual channel strips to the rack mixer. This process is a bit confusing and not as intuitive as other home recording software.

The SSL 9000K mixer introduced into Essentials features a two-band equalizer (high frequency and low frequency), four FX sends and a unique master compressor at the end of the mixer chain. The SSL master bus compressor is one of the featured tools within Essentials. When you apply the master compressor to your recorded mixes, instantly the audio will sound punchy, warm and thick. This is a quick and convenient way to glue the overall sound together and create thick-sounding mixes quickly.

One of the downfalls of Essentials is its incompatibility with plugin formats outside of the Propellerhead manufacturer. When you use any Reason product, you are locked in to only using Propellerhead's plugins and expansion packs. You begin Essentials with 14 total plugins, along with three virtual instruments and multiple MIDI plugins.

Reason Summary:

Reason Essentials gives you a new look at how recording studio software should look and operate. The rack unit and SSL mixing console are powerful tools that give you a real incentive to use Essentials rather than other software. If you choose this software, you may never look back.


Reason Essentials 2.1

The master compressor with the SSL mixing console in Reason is a fast way to make your mixes sound bigger and better.

When you record with Reason, you are locked in to using Propellerhead plugins and extensions.

The Verdict
: 8/10

This software's realistic rack unit and SSL mixing console make it fun to use.