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Reason’s appearance has remained pretty consistent over the last decade, but as it approaches its tenth birthday, Propellerhead has chosen to give it something of a visual makeover. Nothing has changed enough to disorientate anyone - it’s more a matter of the odd nip here and tuck there.
For example, the little magnet icon with waves emanating from it that represented the Snap function has been replaced by the word ‘Snap’. It’s such a simple tweak that even seasoned users might not notice the change right away. New or occasional users, however, will undoubtedly find it more intuitive.
Interestingly, the main exception to this seems to be the floating Tool window, which now uses symbols instead of text to title each tab. Thankfully, these symbols have taken on the same high-res look that the rest of Reason has inherited from Record, and each is completely clear and obvious at a glance, even to new users. So obvious, in fact, that like many aspects of the modified GUI, we probably wouldn’t have noticed if we hadn’t been so taken with the pleasing design and scale of the symbols.
Some of the device interfaces have also been subtly enhanced, with slightly darker colours, more ‘mature’ and clearer fonts, and extra delineating borders between sections. These are all very subtle differences, but they undoubtedly give an enhanced sense of sturdiness, modernity and clarity to Reason 5.
The transport bar now sports a more streamlined, contemporary look. It’s not just window dressing either, as the transport now also features a tap tempo button, as well as a large, inviting button labelled Blocks, which is simply an on/off switch for the fabulous Blocks mode.
Also new are the audio input and output level meters, giving you an instant and constant visual reference to your incoming and outgoing signals. And lying on the other side of the new-look vertical DSP usage meter is a handy indicator that lets you know when Reason is loading samples or running background calculations, reassuring you that all’s well if it stops responding for any length of time. As Reason users already know, crashes aren’t a regular occurrence with Propellerhead’s software, but this innovative feature is welcome all the same.
The Loop and ReGroove mixer buttons have both been upsized and made easier to spot too. Even after a few minutes of composition, you’ll appreciate the difference.
Meanwhile, in the arrange/sequencing window, the tool selection buttons have been moved from the top of the sequencing pane to the top of the device list on the left.
In summary, we’d say that all of the GUI and interface updates that we’ve noticed so far have been positive. They give a fresh new feel to established features, serve as a great backdrop to new ones, and generally give the unmistakable air of a DAW that’s continuing to mature nicely.