Propellerhead never misses. ReBirth,
ReWire, ReCycle, REX files, Reason,
excellent expansion packs, stable operation,
free stuff for registered users—
what’s not to like?
But when I first heard about Record,
I wasn’t all that excited. I assumed
“Reason ReWires into it so that all the
people who complain about Reason
not recording audio will shut up.”
Wrong. Very, very wrong.
Record is to recording as Reason is to
a synth rack: A brilliant, economical reexamination
of a process most take for
granted. And like Reason, it’s a self-contained
universe where VST or AU plugins
need not apply. However, again like
Reason, Record can be a ReWire slave—
thus allowing it to become one pretty
amazing “front end” for other programs.
There’s nowhere near enough space
to do justice to Record’s many talents,
so we’ll do what we always do under
the circumstances: Zoom out, and
cover the gestalt of the program rather
than the details.
Record is the first Propellerhead
product with a dongle, but it doesn’t
really get in the way. Installation is
just a matter of inserting the distribution
DVD and following the
directions. You can run Record in
demo mode, or authorize it so you
can run it anywhere as long as you
have the USB key. What’s more,
even if you don’t have the key, if
there’s an Internet connection the
Propellerhead website will verify that
you’re registered, and let you access
Record has three main sections: Mixer
(modeled on an SSL mixer), Racks
where you have instruments and
processors, and Sequencer, where you
do your recording and editing. You
can have a section basically take over
your screen, or drag boundaries of the
windows so you can see the sections
you want, in the proportions you want.
Furthermore, the Mixer and Racks can
be detached, which is handy for those
with multiple monitors.
Propellerhead claims that Record is
intuitive, and while that’s a muchoverused
word, in this case it’s accurate.
Within minutes of opening it for the
first time, I was recording and editing
tracks, inserting instruments, and feeling
very comfortable with the environment.
And why not? It basically
virtualizes a studio, and I’ve worked in
plenty of studios. For example, the
mixer looks and feels like a mixer, and
subscribes to the analog philosophy of
one function, one control—don’t look
for hidden menus, because you won’t
find any. And if something is confusing,
the online help is excellent.
The Racks section resembles Reason
(yes, you can hit the tab key and
play with the patch cords!), and
Record includes some Reason modules
(Scream overdrive, RV7000
reverb, mixers, the MClass effects,
various half-rack effects like the Spider
merger/splitter and DDL-1 delay,
and a few others). It also adds a new
instrument, the ID8 Instrument
Device, which is basically a synth
module designed to provide essential
sounds for arrangements; and
thanks to Line 6, you’ll find Guitar
Amp and Bass Amp modules. Unlike
Reason, you can install units side by
side in the rack, as well as on top or
on bottom of each other.
If you have Reason installed on your
computer, Record recognizes it and
makes its instruments (Thor, Dr. Rex,
SubTractor, etc. etc.) available to the
rack. This all happens automatically; you
don’t even have to play with ReWire.
The Sequencer section is very much
like Reason’s, although it includes the
option to add audio tracks. Granted, I was
already tuned in with the Reason way of
doing things, so it made sense to me; but
I don’t think people coming into it cold
would have a particularly difficult time.
Plenty of people who have a favorite
DAW also have Reason as either a
useful stand-alone app, or ReWired
into said DAW. Will they flock to
Record as an alternate way to
record? Actually, it wouldn’t surprise
me—use Record to get tracks down
fast, and if you really need to access
particular features of other programs,
use ReWire. There’s even pitch
stretching, for those situations where
you record something late at night
when you’re tired, and upon listening
the next day, you realize you should
have recorded it a bit faster.
Indeed, Propellerhead doesn’t miss.
They define a goal, then implement it
with smooth workflow and a clean look.
I’m not sure if this is a program that will
turn the masses with zero experience on
to computer-based recording; it’s not
that intuitive. But if you have a passing
knowledge of audio software, you’ll feel
right at home with Record’s take on the
creative process. In fact, you might even
fall in love with it.