Hands-On Review:Propellerhead Record® Brings a Revolutionary Approach to Recording
By Gerry Doheny
Propellerhead Product Specialist
Propellerhead Software is on a mission. Their quest is to provide recording musicians with the tools they need to maximize their time making music and minimize the time they spend playing engineer, dealing with CPU overloads, figuring out audio file hierarchy, navigating audio driver incompatibilities, and so on. Sound like a tall order? Read on.
Think about your own experience: When you’re recording with your DAW, how much time do you spend actually making music? How much time do you spend crafting a song compared to the amount of time you spend just answering questions in dialog boxes? The ratio of music-making to technical operation probably isn’t what you’d like it to be.
Record®, the new audio-recording platform from Propellerhead Software, answers the call with a fresh approach to recording that is planted firmly in focus, stability, efficiency, musicality, power, and unsurpassed sound quality.
Put simply, Record gives you unlimited audio tracks, world-class effects and mixing gear, and an intuitive and straightforward interface. To quote Ernst Nathorst-Böös, the head Propellerhead, "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."
Getting around Record is really simple. There are three main screens: the mixer, the rack, and the sequencer. Choose each one by pressing the F5, F6, or F7 keys, respectively. Pressing any simultaneous combination of the three keys will give you a corresponding split-screen. There are no screensets to worry about setting, saving, and then forgetting what you created.
The mixer is modeled after* the legendary SSL® SuperAnalogue XL 9000 K series, which is one of the most popular analog mixing boards ever made. Faithful representations of the superb compressor/limiter and gate/expander, the beautiful four-band parametric EQ, and even the radio-ready master bus compressor, beg to answer the age-old question: "Is mixing a musical activity?" It is now.
The easy-to-use rack offers a familiar experience to Reason aficionados. Drop in virtual instruments and effects and Record automatically configures the patch cables for you. (If you like to tweak, just flip the rack around and repatch the cables to your heart’s content.)
Record’s sequencer, which is based on the sequencer in Reason 4, lets you freely arrange audio tracks and virtual tracks with multiple lanes for comping, overdubs, and alternate takes. It also features streamlined recording/editing of parameter automation.
Recording with Record
Propellerhead Record minimizes distractions by taking care of many things that other recording apps force you to do before you can even hit the record button. Sample rate conversion, for example, takes place in the background. (Within one song you can record one track at 24-bit/96kHz and one at 16-bit/44kHz and Record won’t even slow down to think. All recordings are stored in their original formats without any conversion, but Record always plays them back correctly.)
There are plenty of other benefits, as well. Record keeps all tracks, audio, clips, crossfades, and other data for each song within a single file. This means you never have to worry about what folder contains what data. (And it makes it easy when it’s time to send your song to your collaborator.) Also, very few commands are located in the menus; almost everything you need to record and modify your music is visible, or easily available within contextual displays.
Starting to record with Record can be as simple as a three-step process: Create a new track, choose an audio input from your interface, and click the speaker icon to activate record monitoring. Want a count-off? Set that in the transport. Then just hit the record button and play!
New instruments and effects
ID8, the songwriter's toolbox, is a new instrument included in Record. It gives you an incredibly wide palette of sounds including realistic drums, basses, guitars, keys, horns, and more that are optimized for songwriting.
Also included are two virtual POD® devices from Line 6, one for guitar and one for bass. Each virtual POD comes with a perfectly distilled collection of essential amp, cabinet, and preamp models that were hand-crafted by the amp modeling pioneers. Want more models? Connect a compatible Line 6 interface, like a TonePort®, POD Studio™, or POD® X3, to your computer to "unlock" that interface’s models for use within the virtual POD devices.
The interface may be focused on simplicity but what lies underneath is a dead-serious audio tool. What’s behind it? 64-bit floating-point processing in the mix bus coupled with a gear-lust-inspiring mixer; 32-bit internal processing for an exceptionally low noise floor; 15 years of experience, and true craftsmanship in creating meticulous emulations of analog gear. Need I say more?
I think it’s safe to say that all Reason users, at one time or another, have dreamed of being able to record audio along with their instrument tracks (without having to use ReWire and a host audio program). The solution is the "Record for Reason Users" package. Reason users can open their sessions in Record and see that the connection between Reason and Record is beyond mere integration—the two programs behave as one.
Just as Ernst said, Propellerhead gets the engineer-type stuff out of the way so you can focus on making music!
Record now, not later
Recording music is all about seizing the moment. Propellerhead Record lets you capture a perfect performance, or just nailing that idea before it floats away, with tools that are ready when you are. Simply plug in, breathe out, and you're ready to go.