The Reason Behind Propellerhead Record

propellerhead-recordThere’s been a lot of confusion surrounding Propellerhead’s introduction of Record.

It’s a new application for recording and mixing audio, but its creators want to make clear that Propellerhead Record is not a DAW. That’s left a lot of people scratching their heads and wondering what Record is, then.

Propellerhead CEO Ernst Nathorst-Böös has shared his thoughts on the reasoning behind the creation of Record at the new Propellerhead development blog:

When we designed Record we went back to our original roots, the drive that made us create Reason a long time ago. In 1998, when the Reason design came to life, there were already incredible synthesizers. You could already make music with your computer. There was immense power in the solutions that existed.

The problem was on another level, in that you spent far too much of your time with left brain stuff, just making things work, even getting any sound out of your equipment at all! With Reason we really tried to solve that, put everything you needed in one powerful solution that made people create more and better music.

We have long felt that music recording and production have been plagued by problems similar to those we experienced with instruments ten years ago. Music recording on computers lacks the flow that musicians deserve. It’s unfortunate but has natural causes. Recording has classically been the engineer’s domain and most of the solutions we have today were designed from that standpoint and are more then ten years old. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to start anew, with another perspective.

It has to be admitted that some great initiatives have been taken lately in getting new users to start recording, but these then fall short in terms of power. To make a really nice professional sounding production you need powerful editing, a great mixer, great effects, great amps – great sound and lots of it!

So Record is an attempt to take the musician’s perspective. Your perspective. But at the same time we wanted to create a really serious recording application. We just want to provide the tools you need and then get out of your way, letting you do what you do best: play, record, produce and mix. And we want you to sound fabulous.

Nathorst-Böös makes clear what Propellerhead is trying to create: a computer audio workstation designed to minimize the need for analytical thinking, one that gets out of the way and just lets you Record.

There’s a lot of merit in that. Today’s full-featured DAW’s have tons of power, but steep learning curves. And, based on what we’ve seen so far of Propellerhead Record, it looks like Propellehead has succeeded in creating a recording app that will appeal to fans of Reason-style music production.

Where Does Propellerhead Record Fit In?

It’s less clear, though, what role Nathorst-Böös and Propellerhead see Record playing in music production.

They’ve made it clear that they don’t want Record to be viewed as a digital audio workstation. They know that a lot of musicians are put off by the complexity of DAWs.

Record avoids this complexity by presenting you with a limited set of options.

What about all those other things that DAW’s do that Record can’t do, though? What happens when you run into those walls?

That may be the key question raised by the introduction of Propellerhead Record, and it’s one that a lot of people don’t know the answer to yet.

Propellerhead Record is one of the most interesting introductions of 2009, a year that’s turning out to be a very interesting year for electronic music production.

Do you see Propellerhead Record becoming part of your future music production?

22 thoughts on “The Reason Behind Propellerhead Record

  1. The idea that DAWs are 'too complicated' is a false one. They're only as complicated as you want to make it. If the idea is just to record and mix some audio, it's as simple as arming a track, recording it, and then assigning effects as needed, and setting levels in the mixer window. What is complicated about that? The nice thing about this is that you have room to grow from this basic standpoint once you learn more and need more complexity. With Record, you're at a dead end.

    To me, this only makes sense as an extension of Reason. Ironically, if what they wanted was to keep things simple, they could've simply added audio tracks to Reason and called it a day. As it is, though, this is just an overpriced, stunted DAW that most musicians will out grow eventually. (And if Reason users needed audio recording, I suspect most of them are already using a full DAW via ReWire… why bother learning a new one that has less features?)

  2. I agree 100% with Tom. I think this is a stunted DAW.

    I understand the stability issues they claim you get from NOT having plug-ins, but really…that was true when reason was made but not so true now. I cant remember the last time I had Live crash because of a plug-in problem.

    Its puzzling. Propellerheads want their products to be different, and they accomplish this by forcing you to work only within their world. I will never understand it.

  3. As a user of Reason 3.0, I agree wholeheartedly with you, Tom. We Reason users have been complaining for years that it's a simple matter to include audio recording within Reason itself, yet its makers have continually denied this is so, for some strange reason. Consequently, as you've suggested, I eventually searched out a fully capable solution as a replacement for Reason and have never looked back since. For almost two years, I've used Acoustica Mixcraft, instead. It is both a MIDI and audio recorder, with drag-and-drop clip and looping capabilities that make it far more flexible than Reason has ever been, and it's also easier and quicker to use than Reason – plus, at $79.95 ($69.95 for the downloadable version), it beats Reason hands down where price is concerned. It also has full effects, a library of loops and samples that comes with the program, and you get free updates and upgrades for life. I find Mixcraft to be a complete solution to all my recording needs, whether it's composing and recording electronic music or recording a podcast. It is a highly versatile product that I would recommend to any musician, composer or songwriter.

  4. Tom, have you worked extensively in Logic for years? That is some dense crazy DAW.
    I bought it a couple years ago when it still cost a grand for the full featured one… and then promptly got tired of it. It took forever to load, I had to manage the dongle, there were no readily available tutorials, and it just wasn't fun to use. Reason on the other hand was shallow and quick and most importantly fun.
    Record? I'm not sure. It seems like it's priced out of range for what it does. But then again maybe it'll be fun. I think if they can get software pirates to accept and use it then Record might have a chance.

  5. Strip out specific references, and it sounds like how Ableton Live was described in its early years (!).

    But really: Propellerheads, like Native Instruments, is very clever about bundling together various products to combine strengths. (This extends to their logo design too, and I like Record's icon.)

    It seems like Record will appeal most, at least first, to people who've already opted into Reason. Very likely there'll be tight integration, too. But they'll have to market clearer to get across the benefits beyond this.

    There are still holes in the market, and I await more details here.

  6. Torley, of course Record is aimed at Reason users as its primary market. It is meant to address the years of complaining we've done about the lack of audio recording in Reason. It will have no real appeal to anyone not already using Reason, as there are far better solutions readily available for less money (like Acoustica Mixcraft, which I mentioned above).

    The problem is, Record is a stand-alone program and is not integrated within Reason, as Reason users have long been hoping for. I believe this will only disappoint those who have wanted audio recording in Reason, and rightly so.

    Gary

  7. your band plays korg,ludwig,gibson
    their band plays yamaha,tama,fender
    everyone just uses what they like, no big deal.

    and to reply to Garys comment :

    """""The problem is, Record is a stand-alone program and is not integrated within Reason, as Reason users have long been hoping for. I believe this will only disappoint those who have wanted audio recording in Reason, and rightly so.""""

    I think youre wrong.
    They Integrate seamlessly NO REWIRE
    Refills supported, all Devices from Reason in there, with you and your voice, guitar, etc…
    How is that not audio in?

  8. Well, admittedly, I haven't seen Record, yet, though I will say that's not what I got from the rather feeble product descriptions I've read. If, as you say, it contains Reason and all it's devices and Refills, then I guess it is something different from what I had read it was. That would, essentially, make it a new version of Reason, then, with audio recording features included.

    On second thought…I've just watched the Record demo video on Propellerheads's website and I didn't see Reason "in there" at all. Yes, it does have a "rack" with some Reason-like components in it, but this is NOT Reason itself. Where is Thor, for example? The narrator makes no mention of Reason being included in the program at all. So, again, it's a another stand-alone program, just as I said.

    Gary

  9. Well let's face it. Record IS a DAW. (don't kill me, propellerheads, I still like you)
    I appreciate what p-heads is trying to steer away from the "its to complicated for musicians" paradigm. They decided that the words "easy to use" and "DAW" can't be used in the same sentence.

    So they claim not to be a DAW in an attempt to excite prospective buyers.
    Admittedly it works. When I first saw the "record" headline I thought, ah well, P-heads finally added audio and created a DAW.
    I only got excited about reading more when I saw their bold claims that it isn't a DAW.

    Marketing aside, will I use it..?
    Probably not. I'm using cubase with more vst plugins than I can get my head around and a change will be too much effort.
    But I will probably check it out. Two things that attract me to the Record idea are:
    * robustness and stability in a software world that seems to be ever less stable (btw, I have confidence in their claims about performance and robustness)
    * limitation on choice and workflow

    The last point is an ironic one. I find that the availability of 100s of plug-is with 10000s of patches just slows me down. A lot has been written about the subject that limitation enhances creativity. Knowing that I only have a couple of synths to choose from may just help me work faster. Silly… but true.

    Finally, I think the target market will not be us hardcore logic/cubase/protools/sonar/live users.
    P-heads is trying to target the non-techies.
    The guitarist that is always high and never shaves and NEVER rtfm.

    Perhaps it may just work, I'll watch this space.

  10. Seems to me like they're almost marketing it as a competitor to Garageband – like something that not-so-DAW-friendly performers can wrap their head around easily. I'm sure it will be fun and inspiring in the way Reason is, but for someone who's familiar with something like Live the limitations will probably be too great. I don't think they'll be winning anyone over from their Logic or Live or anything.

    Live may have much steeper of a learning curve, but once you get comfortable with it, you can do just about anything you can think of, and quickly. And I understand the concept of it being robust and not 'bogged down' processor-load-wise, but like Tony mentioned above, I haven't really seen this as an issue with Live lately. Seems to run pretty quick and smooth, no matter what plugins and such are stacked on there.

    Overall, I think the "not a DAW" thing is a little disingenuous. It comes off as a thinly-veiled marketing ploy, at best. It's kind of obvious that it's lacking compared to most popular DAWs, and so they don't want the comparisons to be made.

  11. How many of you are long-time Mac users and had to put up with years of, "Why would you want to use such an expensive, limited computer when you could have a powerful, upgradable, customizable PC for half the price?"

    Well, the argument against Propellerhead software is very similar, and the answer is the same too: It's the user interface. Some people just find Reason very straightforward, intuitive, elegant, and fun, and they like that. Why else?

  12. Well, now that I've had a look at the promo video a couple of times, I realize that Record IS, basically Reason (though not much like Reason 3.0, which is what I have), so, never mind what I said earlier.

    I agree Reason is intuitive and easy to use, which I what attracted me to it, to begin with. However, since discovering Acoustica Mixcraft, I have to say that Mixcraft is even more so than Reason. Add to that the fact that Mixcraft does audio and MIDI both, has its own instruments, not unlike Reason, and the fact that it also is a VST host, and it STILL beats Reason – or Record – hands down, especially when you consider the difference in price.

    Nevertheless, would I upgrade to Record? Maybe. I do still use Reason, from time to time, and being able to upgrade from 3.0 to Record for only $149 isn't bad.

    Gary

  13. I think the simplicity/flow marketing approach is viable. I'm constantly rewiring Reason into Logic Pro or Live!, and the hit to creativity and the completion of an idea while you do those things is huge.

    I'm a songwriter. I normally use Live! with Reason rewired in to write, and if the tune needs to be master ready, I pull it into Logic Pro to do vox and comp.

    Reason's mastering suite is the bomb.. now to be able to use for vox and live instruments… great news.

    I NEED melodye, though. I'll need to have that option, and I'm not crazy about using it as a standalone.. VST or AU would be a big plus.

  14. Gary Pull your head out! Reason and Record work all together in the same rack. Completely integrated with each other. ITS AWESOME!!! Not sure what the hell you are talking about saying they are not integrated with Reason?

  15. I’ve been using Reason for years and wishing it had recording capability. Now it does, and it’s painless, easy to use. Record works on Mac and PC unlike almost all other “DAW”s except Reaper for example, and I use Mac and PC (XPsp2) for different projects. Record shows you CPU usage and mixes down in faster-than real time. You can split views like the mixer off onto another window on another screen if you’ve got one, like most DAWs. Neat stuff. Control room feeds, mastering compression, the EQ is very good although I’m a minimalist with that. A very useful product.

  16. Look, say what you want about Record, it's meant to fit in with a DAW and it has proven to me to be an unbelievable post-production tool. I like to do my recording with ProTools, export individual tracks with minimal processing and then do the mix in Record. It provides a fully featured mixing and mastering console that is probably the best software option out there. Obviously, it doesn't have the detail-oriented sound editing tools of ProTools or Logic but it can easily be fit in with a workflow that includes these tools. Until I can afford to purchase an SSL console, Record is my option to do the final mixes of my music!

    -Jim Nastix
    http://www.jimnastix.com
    Check out my EP entitled "The Reason I Record"!

  17. Look, say what you want about Record, it's meant to fit in with a DAW and it has proven to me to be an unbelievable post-production tool. I like to do my recording with ProTools, export individual tracks with minimal processing and then do the mix in Record. It provides a fully featured mixing and mastering console that is probably the best software option out there. Obviously, it doesn't have the detail-oriented sound editing tools of ProTools or Logic but it can easily be fit in with a workflow that includes these tools. Until I can afford to purchase an SSL console, Record is my option to do the final mixes of my music!

    -Jim Nastix
    http://www.jimnastix.com
    Check out my EP entitled "The Reason I Record"!

  18. I've just completed a switch from Sonar on a PC to Record + Reason on a Mac. Record does almost everything my Sonar setup did but with Reason it actually does so much more. I actually like the graphic interface as I can see what's going on – gimmicky, sure, but works well for those of use who have worked with a real rack. The modular aspect of Reason added to Record allows my to build pretty much whatever I need.

    The most important part is that Record just sounds great. I'm up and running quickly and recording good sounding tracks without having to buy additional plug-ins. And that's basically the same reason for switching to a Mac – PC's get more unstable over time. When you end up spending $2500 for a solid studio grade PC why not simply go with OS X?

  19. I've just completed a switch from Sonar on a PC to Record + Reason on a Mac. Record does almost everything my Sonar setup did but with Reason it actually does so much more. I actually like the graphic interface as I can see what's going on – gimmicky, sure, but works well for those of use who have worked with a real rack. The modular aspect of Reason added to Record allows my to build pretty much whatever I need.

    The most important part is that Record just sounds great. I'm up and running quickly and recording good sounding tracks without having to buy additional plug-ins. And that's basically the same reason for switching to a Mac – PC's get more unstable over time. When you end up spending $2500 for a solid studio grade PC why not simply go with OS X?

  20. I've just completed a switch from Sonar on a PC to Record + Reason on a Mac. Record does almost everything my Sonar setup did but with Reason it actually does so much more. I actually like the graphic interface as I can see what's going on – gimmicky, sure, but works well for those of use who have worked with a real rack. The modular aspect of Reason added to Record allows my to build pretty much whatever I need.

    The most important part is that Record just sounds great. I'm up and running quickly and recording good sounding tracks without having to buy additional plug-ins. And that's basically the same reason for switching to a Mac – PC's get more unstable over time. When you end up spending $2500 for a solid studio grade PC why not simply go with OS X?

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