Propellerhead Reason 6.5 Now Available – Here Are The Details

Propellerhead today released new versions of Reason, Reason 6.5 and Reason Essentials 1.5. The key feature in the new versions is the introduction of Rack Extensions.

Rack Extensions is a new format for creating instruments and effects that work in Reason.

Rack Extensions are full Reason rack citizens, delivering the same ease of use and total integration as all other devices in the rack, including automation, unlimited undo and cables on the back as well as integration with Reason’s patch browser.

The addition of Rack Extensions transforms Reason’s closed virtual studio into an open, expandable one.

Here is the official intro video for Rack Extensions:

“Rack Extensions combines all the things that musicians love about Reason with the creativity and inspiration that comes from having tons of instruments and effects at your fingertips. And it manages to do all that without any of the drawbacks of old plug-in technology. It really is the best of both worlds,” says Ernst Nathorst-Böös, Propellerhead CEO. “Reason 6.5 is an incredible update to Reason, changing the world of music making on computers, again.”

53 thoughts on “Propellerhead Reason 6.5 Now Available – Here Are The Details

  1. Yeah… I’m just wondering what level of idiocy would be required for somebody to buy a “DAW like” software which doesn’t allow you to send midi to external instruments, and doesn’t allow you to use external plugins, ok, there’s always rewire, but wouldn’t you be better off with some proper DAW software and some other cheaper plugins? I mean, Reason instruments sound good, but the world is bigger than Sweden. This rack extenstions thing also just seems like a way of not releasing the whole software in a package but getting more money from the aforementioned idiots a bit at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I love Reason’s interface, and I think Propellerhead has made amazing things in the past, I just think it should be rethinked bottom up, imho it doesn’t make much sense in 2012. Who want so be a musician closed in an Ikea box? And since when instability is such a problem? instability is something the best things have been dealing with forever; an analog synth, a tonewheel organ or even just a real tube amp are inherently unstable, but that’s the real thing. This is a toy, it’s YOU locked in a sandbox, not the software. Forgive the rant.

    1. Yeah, I hope there will be proper MIDI support someday (maybe it’s already here and I did not notice because I have not had a good look at Reason in the last two years or so).

      The reactions from the developers make me curious. Perhaps the Rack extension API is really nice for programmers. I cannot comment on VST but AudioUnit is somewhat clumsy to work with at times and Apple keeps breaking things, there is no decent documentation, etc. The sandboxing sounds interesting from a technical point of view. I wonder how they do it in such a way that it works well on Windows and Mac OS. Seems like you have to contact Propellerhead directly if you want more information on the API and perhaps get an SDK. With VST and AudioUnits you can get the SDK and free hosts to try things out. You do not even have to buy a specific piece of software and your products run nearly everywhere. I wonder what Propellerhead has to say about musicians who want to write plugins for themselves. That’s perfectly possible with VSTs, AUs, Max/MSP/Jitter externals and so on.

    2. What makes Reason appealing is that they haven’t tried to match the features on other DAWs, and have instead focused exclusively on the idea of being a virtual studio. This makes it an ideal platform for people that want to work ‘in the box’ and Rack Extensions solidify that.

      1. Allowing 3rd parties to expand on your product is what has been part of most DAWs for quite some time now. So I’m not too sure I agree here; it seems to me as if Reason starts to move into the same direction as other DAW’s have been following for quite some time.

    3. I am one of those idiots.

      I still have a couple of sound modules laying around collecting dust.
      Midi out would be a big plus.
      Video sync would be a big plus.
      Scoring would be a big plus.
      I have bought and sold dozen of sound module when I was a big Cubase fan.

      Your point of view makes perfect sense to you. That is why what you use now to be a creative human being make sense to you, because you are not an idiot. You have needs others don’t and your workflow is perfect. You never miss an idea or the opportunity to capture it. Because you are not an idiot.

      I have to admit. Not only i am one of those idiots but I am selfish with my music too. I never cared about sharing my music or my tools with anyone. I don’t waste time scanning cubase’s, ableton’s and other DAWs forum and check them with what I have or don’t have. I have 4 bookmarks I check everyday: Reason’s website, Matrixsynth, Synthtopia, CreateD. I do have a gearslutz link just after my sonic state’s but it is getting lonely…

      Now I am not a electric engineer but it seems there is a difference between the fluctuation and the “randomness” through an analog circuitry and and bug while coding C++ . I believe it is not the same “instability” and in some cases everything could come crashing down, unlike when you decide to crash your guitar for your fan after an amazing shredding, while wiping your face from the sweat with your own bleached long hair.

      But what do I know: I am an idiot because I love Reason…

      1. I’m sorry my comment wasn’t very politically correct;
        My workflow is nowhere like perfect, I’m an idiot and an ignorant like everyone else out there, I suppose the world of music production is so big that pretending to know is foolish anyway, BUT, I have a bunch of precious plugins I’ve been using forever, and I’ve spent in the last 20 years quite a bit of money on hardware, some of which is now crap collecting dust, but some is packed with sounds I’ve created with love and dedication, and carry an interface I’ve built familiarity over the years, a precious familiarity, that reflects in the sounds and the music I can make with them.
        Only an idiot would give all that up for a cool interface that promises not to crash.
        As I said I agree; reason is cool, I used to be a reason 3 user, at a time when I had never heard of Ableton Live, and Reason obviously annihilated Cubase and similar traditional DAWs as far as interface comfort goes.
        Oh besides, as somebody else pointed out, they’re making a sort of closed app store, they’re creating their own apple-like market, full of religious aficionados. Closed in technology is a bad thing in general, it’s a horrible thing imho, there are plugins that work only in FL, as some that work only in Cubase, as of course you can’t use Ableton instruments in any other DAW, but you can load external instruments in any of the above or use them to control external hardware, none of which can be done with Reason.
        They’re unhappy with the VST or AU standards? Fine, they might have done like all the world usually does, create a new standard, let it open so that any other DAW can build support for it and any plugin can be released in that new more efficient (according to them) standard. I don’t understand why there’s people that are so happy to shackle their own creativity like that.
        About the instability, you’re right of course, there is something good in analog gear instability, while there is nothing good about software crashes, at the same time, if you’ve ever been gigging around with some analog gear I’m quite sure you don’t think analog instability is something you like, just a price you know has to be paid.
        Back to my point, Reason is a nice toy, not a music production software, could be good to learn some of the basics, understand signal flow, and if you have a decent controller, maybe also for learning synthesis, what pisses me off is that it does have the potential to be the best DAW around, and just because of the greed of these raindeer eaters, ready to embrace this apple like policy it isn’t, they’re making their good ideas less good for all the musical world just because they think they’re getting more money this way, another idea which btw I believe to be completely wrong.

        1. Tom Middleton among others would disagree with you. I am not a Reason Fan, I like the interface etc… but it DOES work as a full fledged DAW for people who are making very serious commercial music. We can argue about it’s technical merits, ( and yes, I don’t like the walled garden aspect ) BUT, no one can deny that there are people out there using Reason to excellent effect and that it is for all intents and purposes a legitimate tool to create music with.

    4. Its nothing but a app store for Reason. I agree with you 100%, but if you use Reason you already know the limitations. I personally use different software and hardware to make music because I get bored of using the same thing over and over. IMO its cool to use from time to time as a all in one beat box. I export to PT after and use whatever I want with the tracks there. It is what it is.

  2. I used Reason in the early days. It was something that seemed ahead of it’s time. I looked forward to what each year would bring. By the time Reason 5 came to be and I saw it still had no VST support I literally threw my disks away and deleted the 100+gb of refills I thought were worth something to me. If propellerhead ever wakes up, it is already way too late to get many customers back.

  3. it is always good to see other way to make music on computers. more tools more diversity. thats nice for me.
    plugins that runs only in a specific software is not a new idea, i think. fl studio been doing that since ages and i like it. most of all native plugins that only run on fl studio are not heavy for cpu and barely crash.

  4. If you’re mad at Propellerhead for not adding VST support, you’ve completely misunderstood what Reason is. Propellerhead has never promised VST support. With Rack Extensions, it’s obvious that they didn’t want to duplicate what you can already do with VST and AU’s in other applications, they wanted to do something much more powerful.

    I think that once people have had a chance to try out what Rack Extensions can do, they’re going to be wondering why they can’t use Rack Extensions in other DAWs.

    1. Pardon my ignorance, but what is the practical difference beween a Reason Rack and VST/AU plug-ins? (I have never used Reason, BTW)

      1. The biggest difference is that they are patchable, like a modular synth or like individual hardware modules. For example, you could modulate the filter cutoff of one synth with the LFO of another.

        I like the try before you buy feature, too.

      2. If I use the image of an analog mixer (hoping you are familiar with any of those) Vst/AU are the stuff you plug as inserts or send or returns, etc. The concept is to recreate what you could do in a real studio with real gear. Forget about VST being stable or not. It does not really matter. What the whole concept of Reason is to, not only recreate what goes on in a recording studio but at the same time making all those tools you would see around you and plug then in and out as a giant modular system. Let’s say you love your lexicon PCM42’s LFO and the way it moves. Why not using it to pilot the panning on channel 12 while inversely controlling the send on reverb 1 while another patch would control an EQ on channel 3. All from the LFO from one module, the PCM 42 that you can STILL use as a delay on channel 16. Maybe you like patch 39 of your Korg triton, patch 12 of your DX7 and a sub on your minimoog. What if I could bag everything and save it as one simple patch I could recall in any new project I want and play it as one new instrument while adding a delay from that lovely PCM 42?
        Those are, among many other things what you can do with Reason and now even more with Re as each new module makes everything else more fun to use and try.

    2. I might have misuderstood a lot of things, but there is one I can’t understand at all… “much more powerful”? How? Where? On a DAW I generate sound wherever I like, however I like, from an external piece of hardware, from a plugin or some sample, I process it with the built in effects of the DAW, or any other effect plugin, OR, though it might be a pain in the butt,. reroute it out and process it through whatever piece of external hardware I happen to own, steal or borrow, and I could theoretically combine all these things together, HOW is this rack thing more powerful? What is there that I can do in Reason that I can’t do anywhere else? I do wonder already why I can’t use the Rack Extensions in Live, and I think Propellerhead programmers should wonder the same thing, this makes no sense at all, unless as I said already, the purpose is creating a nice shiny lure frustrated technologically impaired people.

  5. It looks to me that they are trying to replicate the walled garden of the Apple App store. Since the prices aren’t all competitive ($49 for bitspeek Reason Rack vs $29 for VST/AU) I gather they are going for quality over quantity. This will obviously appeal to existing Reason users (look, my world just grew!), but it doesn’t look like any reason to consider switching over. I wouldn’t mind seeing a custom rack store connected to Ableton, though. Perhaps with pricing similar to the Apple Appstore, and maybe a player for max-for-live plug-ins for so non-programmers who don’t have Max can access them? Overall, I think this is reasonable direction for the plug-in market to go. There is definitely value in making excellent plug-ins easier to find and access for DAW users.

    1. The cheaper the better of us consumer. But have you seen the kind of routing you can do with bispeek? I am sure a powerful DAW like reaper and some focused mind could maybe do the same tricks, but I don’t know. Check this out

      Again capitalism and the free market will eventually adjust between the developers and the consumers.

  6. this is great news for people (myself included) who use Reason as their primary production tool. if Propellerheads were ever going to add third-party plugin support it was going to be done like this. people talking about VST support must not see how support for VST/AU support would break the rack paradigm, something which makes Reason unique.

    only time will tell if this is successful (the whole idea of the rack extension store…) but I for one think it’s great that more choices, and different methods of working are being offered to consumers.

  7. How about letting Reason be a ReWire master and let programs like Live be slaves. Then this dumb ass rack ext idea wouldn’t be needed. Oh wait, that doesn’t get more $ in the wallets.Lets all go and rebuy our fav vst plugin as rack ext now.

  8. The biggest benefit of VST is that you can use one instrument with many DAWs.

    For most people, though, the big benefit is useless. Most people work in one DAW, because they’re complex and hard to learn. If you use a bunch of DAWs, you can’t be using them on a very deep level.

    That’s also a big drawback to VSTs, because you’re stuck with a lowest common denominator standard.

    Propellerhead is smart to head in a different direction. It can’t excell by copying the compromises other companies have made.

    1. I’d say for many people it’s the opposite of what you say. Like if you know all the Native Instruments stuff inside and out and then if you want to one day switch from Logic to Ableton or Ableton to Bitwig or whatever then you just have to memorize some new key commands and get used to a new workflow. All your patches and sounds will come with you. I think it’s only hard learning you first DAW because you’re also learning production. Once you know what everything does it’s just a matter of memorizing where it is in the new DAW.

  9. I like the concept – but unfortunately, the sequencer that you are forced to work with is still in elementary school. That’s my biggest issue with their concept. If they had a sequencer I could use for scoring, for the detailed editing in the latest styles of EDM music, then I’d be excited.

    PLUS – I already own all of these plug ins – I have paid the price for the VST, AU, AXX and RTAS versions in one download, but this new version is going to cost even MORE than the original one I purchased? More money for plug-ins that already work in Ableton, Logic, Cubase but I have to spend more for it to work here? In a sequencer I don’t like?

    The Swedes are asking a lot of us….

    1. Yeah, but on the other hand the plugins are cheaper than buying the full VST/AU version and you don’t need to get an iLok. The two I compared to regular VST price were half price: ABL2 and Trident A-Range. The FXPansion one seems to be an RE exclusive and only 50 bucks is cheap for FXP stuff. So if you use Reason only or are ok with rewiring it then it’s actually cheaper to get it from them from Propellerhead.

      Still one of my favorite things about Reason was that there weren’t any plugins and you just had to figure out ways to get the most out of what you had…now it’s like any DAW.

      Oh, and what was up with requiring those soundbanks to be pre-installed? All that did was add extra steps to the install for no reason. I was like “Cool, now can I toss these old Reason boxes?” but then saw on the install notes if you don’t have those files from the CD it won’t run. What is the point of that? Annoying but whatever.

      1. ABL2 is just the synth engine and some cv inputs to control the filter and a few other knobs. The VST version has twice as much because it does more and is better than this v1.0 rack ext version. Hopefully, users will get free upgrades.I would just use Reason Subtractor instead of getting the first edition of the ABL2 rack ext.

      2. The plugins aren’t necessarily cheaper, and saving $40 on an iLok isn’t much of an argument when the flipside is that you can’t take the plugins anywhere else.

  10. I like reason very much, and I like the fact that it’s stable. If the sequencer would have midi out I would use it even more.
    I’m curious to see how the future rack extensions will sound.

  11. I have always enjoyed playing with Reason, i like it, but when it is time for serious recording i have to turn to Cubase to finish what i want. I have many hardware synths which i love to play/record and some specific VSTs that i simply cannot abandon. When audio recording was added to Reason, i felt like “now we’re getting serious”, but still … i cannot integrate my external synths fully. With Rack Extensions, one question: why should i pay AGAIN for the same VSTs when their companies make then available as Rack Extensions, IF they ever decide to do so? Will i ever see Omnisphere, Reaktor and Kontakt as Rack Extensions? So, until the above are covered, i’ll stick with Cubase and my favorite synths (hardware and software) and Reason will always be my favorite “toy” …

  12. still no official word on the repurchasing issue or am i missing something?
    if the vsts need to be rebought it would be a deal braker for many which plan jumping ship.
    also it would be very unfair since porting is reportedly such an easy process.

    imo this needs a clever hardware controller and propheads are king.

  13. holy crap i have the “consumer sweats”!!
    I have ableton and have reaktor and try to patch stuff in Pd and i say that the modularity of Reason is so appealing to me and now that they are adding more stuff its just going to get insane.
    I understand the point of view from people that use Cubase or Logic or Pro Tools only complaining but its because they really need to understand that “ONCE YOU FLIP THE RACK, YOU NEVER GO BACK”

  14. Logic is cool it has lots of instruments and sounds but the bundled plugins are really hard to use (i find) but sound great) Protools is awesome for Audio post production and sound design and working with videos and pro studio environments and Audio Suite functions are a must for many workflows in that world. can’t beat ableton live for creative routing and interesting approaches to creating and dealing with music but its not so good on the Audio post production, Max for live is good, lots of fun to be had, creating a custom Library for Ableton is fun. Lots of good sounds. FL Studio is also fun, lots of nerdy options to be had. Reaper (which i would use if it’s media library would search deeper and had the same functions as RTAS offline processing and rendering out to regions) is also pretty solid, Studio one is much of the same. Cubase and Nuendo are pretty good for Audio Post production but its all too elitist or something. Reason is good with it’s virtual gear and racks and own setups but its designed around 90’s electronic bands such as the chemical brothers or “insert other big electronica live act from the 90’s” that had to tour with large amounts of gear to get good results. I guess my point is, that each of these companies making all these different tool sets for the users out there are only really variating in small feature sets but they all do the same thing really. To arrange wave forms and pattern data in emotionally or technically pleasing ways to vibrate the air particles with sonic frequency.

    All reason is doing is tapping into other feature sets in all the other programs to give more of a palate in the creation of audio content. “WE” as artists have so many options…perhaps to many options but it’s bordering on counter productive, it’s the same as a Visual Artist amassing a large collection of paint brushes, but spending so much time cleaning the bristles, arranging the different sizes. getting another paint brush that is the same as the other one but made by someone different having 10 different paintbrushes that all do the same thing and not actually painting anything. Reason is making the point that this is all the “Paintbrushes” you need. And if you are a reason user then it’s a good day for you ! I started in Audio at a time where we recorded on to 8 track ADAT through a mixing desk and outboard effects and playing whole takes and getting it right and used computers as simple sound creation devices or drum machines. Sometimes, I would love to go back to that world and just play around with everything for real. I do really miss that way of creating music. Even in the iOS audio creation space, it’s all just virtual really. It’s pretty much virtual reality for the ears.

  15. To each his own on how they feel about Reason, but for me and other die hard Reason users it works for us! So bottom line if you don’t like it use what you’re use to. As for the Rack Extensions I think personally that it’s a great idea, especially if you took advantage of the “name your price deal” they were offering, There are a few Rack Extension that arouse my curiosity and will test the trial versions, but for the most part I can work with what Reason has to offer NOW!!! When I say now I mean the audio in features and capabilities that have been enhanced throughout the series. But when it comes to my Arsenal of music this is what I use.

    Reason 6.5

    Synthstation 25 / iTouch / music apps

    Akai MPD24


    Samson Gtrack USB mic

    That’s all I need, at least for now.

    In closing just want to say that I myself even ventured into other VST (Alchemy) and Audio software (Cakewalk, Audacity). Love Alchemy, and Audacity is cool for basic recording. But when it comes to Cakewalk Sonar I was totally disappointed, mostly due to the lack of customer service on there end. Had major problems using Alchemy in Sonar and was having Driver problems. Kept reaching out Cakewalk Support and they were no help out all. Was totally let down by a company that had a good reputation. Abelton on the other hand is awesome when it comes to VST pluggins and praise the company for what they do.

    For all the others, use what best suits you, Reason or not.

  16. Reason’s rack was pretty sexy when it came out more than ten years ago, but these days it’s looking a bit flat compared to the increasingly well-endowed competition. Rack Extensions could prove to be a very attractive augmentation to Reason’s already popular platform.

  17. I often wonder why there is so much snobbery around which DAW to use. I am suspicious it reflects a general lack of inspiration and creativity within the electronic music community (a bad workman blames his tools or in this case someone else’s tools). I currently use Reason, Live and more and more often my iPad to create. I have never felt the need to diferentiate and question what it would achieve if I did. There is no doubt that each tool will influence the creative process but surely that is the most fun part of electronica.

    TLDR; Everything is cool in its own way.

  18. The way I see it is that Reason can do about 8 million things that nobody could have imagined when I first started playing music.

    Maybe Logic and Cubase and all those other ones can each do 10 million things. But it seems like overkill to me. Reason is probably overkill too, at this point, but maybe a bit less so?

    Anyway, Reason has way more than I need for making and experimenting with music. There are still thousands and thousands of possibilities I haven’t tried.

    Don’t forget that The Beatles made incredible music with many, many fewer tools than each of us have in our phones. And Glenn Gould made beautiful music with just 88 keys, and Itzschak Perlman makes incredible music with just 4 strings.

    My point is, If you use the merest tool, and push it to the limits, and really become expert at it, you can really, really make something. Look at what Michelangelo did with just a chisel and rock!

  19. That’s great that in 2012 they are stepping up to 1998 technology. My only complaint is that reason just sounds like crap period. The audio quality i not there at all and it takes way too much hoop jumping to pull off amazing sound quality. Great tool to play with, terrible tool to actually produce real music with.

    1. Every piece of software has a learning curve. If you learn how to use Reason well, it’s not hard to create great-sounding music with it.

    2. maybe your just not very good… whinge whinge audio quality.

      They audio quality fallicy is always brought up by those lacking in skill.

    1. I would love a freely scalable view of the rack. I have the hi-res 15″ MBP and I couldn’t hit Reason’s tiny buttons anymore. So I went with Ableton but would love to have both if they introduce scaling in the future.

  20. Propheads needs to make a rack extension that replaces Recycle… having 2 separate apps goes against the whole reason vibe… i absolutely HATE that workflow (having no non-destructive rex editing of slice points in reason is really annoying).

    I didn’t upgrade the last 2 times. This time I will.. I just hope the 3rd party REs will keep coming. Reason sorely needs better instruments and fx. Ideally, I’d hope Yamaha/access/korg/etc. would find a way to port the motif sounds to a RE… That way, people like myself would buy them rather than use the readily available illegal refill versions. It would make everyone very happy. 🙂

    1. It has always seemed a bit like nickel-and-diming to me that ReCycle is a separate program and not simply included with Dr. Octo Rex. Without ReCycle, it’s a much less interesting module to me and I basically never use it and instead just load longer samples, grooves and song snippets into Live.

  21. When I look back with a little bit of perspective on the whole thing there is something funny happening and I just realized that: every time there is a Reason thread for some new announcement you always get that same visceral reaction from Reason lovers or haters. I am not saying it is not the same thing with other DAWS, but if you go back in time on synthtopia alone, every time there was some news the same hysteria happens, over and over again. Reminds me of what I see on engadget every time there is a an Apple news post. People just freak out and you get loooonnng threads about nothing really…

    This is fun I have to say and a good subject for anyone studying sociology.

  22. The thing which I do think is disturbing is that the PHeads are losing their touch when it comes to presenting new stuff.

    That rack essential video is IMO horrible from a marketing point of view. I mean; 4.5 minutes in the video and you still don’t get a clue as to what this new feature actually is or does. All we see are a lot of people applauding the Reason concept and the way it works. I don’t need to see how well a feature works for others; I want to know how well it’ll work for *me*.

    And after having to wait 4 minutes without any information you simply lost my attention and I’ll be moving onto something else.

    So without commenting on the product itself I do think the PHeads need to get their act together when it comes to presenting stuff.

  23. (From Jeremiah:) “…Reason is good with it’s virtual gear and racks and own setups but its designed around 90?s electronic bands such as the chemical brothers or “insert other big electronica live act from the 90?s” that had to tour with large amounts of gear to get good results…” I think Reason started out that way, but with the inclusion of audio recording/editing and the new Rack Extensions, it has evolved beyond that. Just sayin’. Otherwise I agree with everything in your post, good overview of tools and their strengths/weaknesses. Also true that with so many different and feature-rich tools to choose from, it’s difficult to really say which is “best” (each reader will no doubt insert here their definition of “best” in this context). It’s more a matter of opinion than anything these days …

  24. I love how in every interview scene the interviewee is surrounded by hordes of wicked hardware synths bristling with knobs.

    Not screens.

  25. I am surrounded by very little hardware–only a laptop, an Oxygen 8, some instruments, two turntables and a dynamic microphone. I no longer use the Mackie mixer. I no longer use the tape decks. I sold my guitar amp. Interview me and you will see mostly empty walls, a few puppets, and my dad’s Korg MS-20 that is horribly out of tune.

  26. The one thing I lie about Reason/Record is how stable the program runs and how little it stresses the CPU. I have used SONAR, Pro Tools, Performer, Logic and Reason always runs great and has maybe crashed a couple of times due to a audio driver issue that once fixed never happened again.

    Have not had Reason crash on me in the last 2 years! I can get composing done and not go into “Tech” Repair” mode and snap me out of the moment.

    I have had various issues with VST plugins and I understand their value, but aside from maybe some odd effect plugins, I can pretty much sonically do whatever I want with what Reason has to offer.

    I really would like to see support for MIDI out so my couple dozen synths can be played through MIDI instead of me having to either do a real time performance or slave Reason to SONAR or some other DAW for control.

    Reason allows me to quickly and intuitively start composing or jamming without switching from left brain to right brain and back.

  27. I guess I’m confused about the “controversy” over Reason not using plugins. If I want use plugins on a sound, I open it in Sound Forge or Wavelab, process it & then use it however I want.

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