Propellerhead Reason 7 review

Price when reviewed

Propellerhead Reason has never struggled to stand out from the crowd. Its virtual rack of synthesisers and effects makes it the best-looking music-production software around. We’re tempted to say its synthesisers are the best-sounding, too. Although it started life as a virtual synthesiser suite, it’s steadily becoming a fully fledged production environment.

Until recently, it couldn’t record audio and didn’t support third-party plugins, but that’s changed. In Reason 6, it merged with its audio-recording sibling, Record, allowing live instruments to be recorded alongside Reason’s synthesisers. Multiple takes are handled elegantly, and the Record mixer is a massive improvement on the old Reason mixer, both for features and sound quality.

Propellerhead Reason 7

Rack Extensions arrived in version 6.5, allowing third parties to develop devices for Reason’s rack. Choosing a proprietary format over VST was surprising, but on reflection it was the right decision.

Rack Extensions fit the rack cosmetically and functionally, with full access to Reason’s flexible modulation routing. They’re purchased via the Propellerhead website and linked to the user’s Reason licence, which should make future upgrades easier than with other recording software.

Reason 7 includes one new effects module, Audiomatic, which is available as a free download from the Rack Extensions shop. It’s inspired by retro photo apps such as Instagram, and has 16 presets for giving audio a similarly grungy, retro feel.

It draws on a broad range of underlying effects processes, but with cute graphics, evocative names – such as VHS and Circuit – and minimal user control, it’s all about the results. The various tones it produces are suitably atmospheric, too, and it performed superbly in our mixes.

Propellerhead Reason 7

Other new features in Reason 7 consolidate its status as a general-purpose production environment. It now supports MIDI-out for triggering external hardware, and the mixer gains bus channels, so instruments can be grouped into sub-mixes for additional processing. This was possible previously, but the new approach is much more elegant.

The mixer also adds a Parallel Channel type, which allows chains of insert effects to be applied in parallel to a single track. EQ settings can also be viewed and edited using a pop-up graphical display; it’s a shame the compressor and gate modules aren’t given the same treatment.


Software subcategoryMedia software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?no
Operating system Windows XP supported?no
Operating system Linux supported?no
Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes
Other operating system supportWindows 8

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