Watch: Phonix Beats on the making of J Cole's "No Role Modelz"

Posted Jan. 16, 2019, 3:44 p.m.

J. Cole’s Platinum hit, “No Role Modelz,” is the highest-charting single from his third studio album, ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive.’ Co-produced by Cole and Phonix Beats, the fan favorite peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100 and interpolates Project Pat’s 2001 hit, “Don’t Save Her.” Phonix Beats recently sat down with Genius to explain how the beat was made, in Reason.


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Soft Synth Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Synth Plugin for You

Posted Jan. 15, 2019, 10:03 a.m.

From the earliest electronic sound experiments to the digital revolution of the 1980s and beyond, synthesizers have had a hand in shaping popular music for decades. But today a new class of instruments rules the charts: soft synths. A soft synth is simply any synthesizer in software form (as opposed to a physical instrument), and they can produce sounds that hardware synths could only dream of.

The Propellerhead Shop is a sonic wonderland of synth plugins of every shape, size, and flavor. With countless Rack Extension plugins at your fingertips, any sound you’re looking for is within reach—along with some you didn’t even know you were looking for! To help you find the perfect plugin addition to your Reason rack, we’ve narrowed down the soft synths available in the shop into three broad categories: modern powerhouse synths, vintage and analog-modeling instruments, and unique, one-of-a-kind devices.



I. Modern Powerhouse Synths

    • Europa by Reason | Propellerhead
    • Expanse Hyperwave Synthesizer | Blamsoft
    • Nostromo Spectral Synthesizer | Lectric Panda
    • Solar 5 | Skrock Music

II. Analog-Modeling Synths

    • ABL3 Computer Bassline | AudioRealism
    • Synapse Antidote | Synapse Audio
    • kHs One | kiloHearts
    • PredatorRE | Rob Papen

III. Unique, One-of-a-Kind Devices

    • Complex-1 | Propellerhead
    • Resonans Physical Synthesizer | Robotic Ban
    • Parsec 2 | Propellerhead
    • Hydronexus Workstation ROM | DNA Labs

Modern Powerhouse Synths

This first category encompasses instruments that harness the most advanced synthesis technology to create the most cutting-edge, modern sounds. In addition to standard analog-style oscillators, modern synths utilize wavetable, granular, and FM synthesis (often in combination) to create complex, highly modulated tones. These flexible, ultra-powerful instruments are perfect for pop music, EDM, and currently trending genres like trap soul and future bass. Here are some of the most futuristic instruments the Propellerhead Shop has to offer:

Europa by Reason | Propellerhead

Europa is an infinitely powerful spectral wavetable synthesizer plugin capable of morphing waveforms into sounds you didn’t know were possible. With 30+ wavetables, 24 filter types, advanced modulation and powerful effects, Europa is capable of creating epic pads, huge chords, aggressive biting basses, and everything in between. Europa is included for free in Reason 10.


Expanse Hyperwave Synthesizer | Blamsoft

Expanse features 67 wavetables, three LFOs, and 32 filter modes for serious tone-sculpting power. A super-flexible envelope editor lets you add or remove stages to create your own custom envelopes, and expansive CV inputs on the rear panel let you control and modulate almost every parameter with external sources.


Nostromo Spectral Synthesizer | Lectric Panda

The Nostromo Spectral Synthesizer provides a never-ending source of auditory modulation and changing textures with a staggering 3800 waveforms and 1000 LFO shapes to choose from. Six LFOs and six looping DAHDSR envelopes give you unparalleled control over how your sounds evolve over time.


Solar 5
| Skrock Music

Solar 5 synthesizer plugin blends samples and wavetables for truly unique hybrid sounds. Five oscillators can be assigned to 15 wavetables or 23 samples, including vocals, strings, piano, brass and even digeridoo. Each oscillator has its own modulation matrix plus a global modulation matrix for infinite modulation possibilities.



Analog-Modeling Synths

Rather than pack in as many features as possible, the next class of instruments emulates the natural warmth and character of analog synthesizers with a simple yet robust set of waveforms, filters, envelopes, and LFOs. These classic sounds can fit into pretty much any genre, but synthwave enthusiasts, rock and funk musicians, and hip-hop producers will find them especially useful. Check out some of the Propellerhead Shop’s grittiest, dustiest offerings:

ABL3 Computer Bassline
| AudioRealism

The ABL3 faithfully recreates the famous Roland TB-303, beloved by the acid house and techno scene. The ABL3’s single oscillator excels at producing squelchy, in-your-face sawtooth and square tones that fit right in with pounding kicks on the dancefloor. Straightforward controls and a classic step sequencer interface (updated with a few extra features) make creating killer basses easy.


Synapse Antidote
| Synapse Audio

Synapse Audio’s Antidote combines the best of analog and digital synthesis. Its two stereo oscillator banks keep things simple, but each can be stacked with up to 50 virtual oscillators for extra-thick sounds. A unique diode ladder filter precisely models the growl and squelch of the TB-303, and a full suite of onboard effects only sweetens the deal.


kHs ONE | kiloHearts

According to developer kiloHearts, kHs ONE “was not designed to be a fat analog beast with a massive warm sound. That just happened anyway.” Two highly morphable oscillators give that analog warmth a modern edge, while chorus, delay, and a master section with an EQ and limiter add versatility. Best of all, kHs One’s streamlined layout makes crafting fat sounds a breeze.


PredatorRE | Rob Papen

Rob Papen’s PredatorRE presents deep functionality via a retro-futuristic control panel with plenty of knobs to tweak. Three oscillators offer analog, additive, noise and spectral waveforms, all of which can be used to modulate each other. An extensively customizable arpeggiator and a wide array of onboard effects make PredatorRE a powerful all-in-one instrument plugin.


Unique, One-of-a-Kind Devices

Some instruments don’t fit neatly into any one category—many straddle the line between synths, samplers, and effects; specializing in warping and twisting samples, generating abrasive noise, or creating otherworldly textures. These one-of-a-kind devices can produce some of the strangest sounds imaginable, but they can also be perfectly useable for anyone from noise artists to pop producers and professional sound designers. Below is just a sampling of some of the more exotic offerings available in the Propellerhead Shop:


Complex-1 | Propellerhead

Complex-1 is a brand-new modular synth plugin from Propellerhead that brings the quirks, freedom and sonic depth of modular synthesis to your Reason Rack. Best-in-class oscillators, filters, and modulation and sequencing modules provide endless possibilities. And of course, plentiful rear-panel I/O lets your entire rack become part of the modular system.


Resonans Physical Synthesizer | Robotic Bean

As its name suggests, the Resonans Physical Synthesizer specializes in emulating real-world sounds (and creating otherworldy textures with an organic feel). Renonans’ advanced Modal Resonator, Inharmonic String, and Frequency Modulation engines can be excited by a noise generator, onboard sampler, or live audio input for endless variety.


Parsec 2 | Propellerhead

Parsec is a spectral synthesizer that features two powerful additive synthesis engines with up to 1024 oscillators per voice. Just some of the possibilities include using one engine for the attack of a sound and one for the sustain, layering both for huge unison sounds, or linking the two for complex interactions. Parsec can even act as a vocoder!


Hydronexius Workstation ROM | DNA Labs

The Hydronexius Workstation is much, much more than a synthesizer. Beyond its dripping wet leads, basses, and pads, Hydronexius can also produce smooth piano sounds, cinematic brass and strings, realistic plucks and bell tones, and even 808-style percussion. And with highly tweakable reverb and delay sections, you can create an entire song with the Hydronexius Workstation alone.


Go Forth and Explore

Now you can get lost in your sounds instead of getting lost in the nearly endless selection of synths in the shop. Remember, it’s easy to try out Rack Extensions for free or even rent to own, so feel free to explore whatever strikes your fancy until you find the perfect fit for your rack.

Posted Jan. 15, 2019, 10:03 a.m.


Introducing Complex-1 Modular Synthesizer

Posted Dec. 18, 2018, 10:58 a.m.

2018 is almost over, but I'll be damned if we won't release just one more awesome Rack Extension. I'm happy and proud to introduce Complex-1 Modular Synthesizer!

It's no secret that some of us at Propellerhead have a fondness for modular. We've had CV and gate cables, the semi-modularity of Thor and the Combinator for a long time. Since then many, many others have realized just how liberating and exciting working with this kind of blank canvas can be.

With Complex-1 we wanted to really go all in on that feeling. It's an open architecture modular synth, inspired by the legendary manufacturers that came before. And, lo and behold, it has cables on the front! In Reason, that seems a bit crazy but for an authentic modular synth experience it's a must so we went out on a limb and did it. But we did it our way, they're there if you need them and they'll automatically show up when you want to route a signal. Hats off to the development team that came up with that!

Since both me, Andreas (visual designer) and Pelle (DSP expert) are well-versed in synths, both modular and otherwise, we decided to go a different route than an empty rack you fill up yourself. With hardware, it often takes a long time before you have a cohesive, working system. In Complex-1, we made those hard choices for you, but we did it with some goals in mind: it should be playable, it should sound fantastic and it should be able to do truly weird patches. I think we succeeded.

In fact, this is the most fun we've had making sounds in a long time! And we're not alone. Our alpha testers sent us tons of patches, people at the office who aren't into modular were floored by the sounds and we even got some amazing patches from our friends in the modular world—including Intellijel, Dwarfcraft, Peff, DivKid and more. Make sure you check out the sound examples on the shop page!

Complex-1 might not be the easiest synth to learn, but it's incredibly rewarding and it does sound truly amazing. It's both an introduction to modular synthesis and a powerful instrument for the already converted. Complex-1 probably my favorite synth we've ever released, and I managed Europa too! Now that it's released, I hope you'll enjoy it as much as we have.

Mattias Häggström Gerdt
Product Manager

Posted Dec. 18, 2018, 10:58 a.m.


Update on Reason and VST performance

Posted Dec. 14, 2018, 9:37 a.m.

The end of the year is nigh and you might be wondering how the VST performance improvements are going. The bad news is that it won't be done this year after all, but the good news is that we've entered alpha testing and we're getting great results!

To understand why this work is taking a while, we wanted to share some details on what we’re actually doing. Many VSTs use less CPU when run with larger audio buffers. Reason has always run all devices with 64 frame buffer, regardless of the user’s audio setting. Reason native devices and Rack Extensions are optimized for this so they show no difference in CPU usage when audio buffer setting changes. Other parts of Reason can still have improved performance with a larger buffer size, but this is the case with our devices. The challenge with this update is to keep existing Rack Extensions and native devices running with 64 frame buffers, as before, while allowing VSTs to run with larger buffers in the same Reason rack.

We made this technical choice because many of our users expect high performance while playing their instruments “live” and while patching, including feedback connections, which requires low latency for an optimal experience. By choosing a low fixed buffer size in Reason and Rack Extensions we were then able to optimize the whole system based on that condition, yielding high performance and a realistic result when patching audio and CV cables. The work now is to marry that world with the different paradigm of VST, providing maximum performance for all users in all situations.

As I mentioned, we're currently alpha testing our prototype with our trusted Test Pilots, a small group of seasoned Reason power users, and they're getting great results in the prototype. We also talked about and showed our prototype to Peter Kirn over at CDM, you can read his impressions in his article on CDM.

When we've gotten to a state where all parts of Reason are updated to work with these changes, we will begin a more public beta testing. With all this said, I personally want to apologize that I promised something we couldn't deliver on time. That's also why I don't want to promise a new date when this will be done, but we're working hard and it's getting closer! I hope you look forward to the improvements, they'll be worth the wait.

Mattias Häggström Gerdt
Reason Product Manager

Posted Dec. 14, 2018, 9:37 a.m.


#QuadNoteGenerator - Let's hear what you're generating

Posted Dec. 7, 2018, 1 p.m.

Quad Note Generator – our new Rack Extension Player has arrived. Quad Note Generator is the Player device that creates an endless stream of musical ideas. Melodies you wouldn’t have thought of, rhythms not yet heard and music about to be written.

We want to hear what you can do with Quad Note Generator!

If you don't already own Quad Note Generator, go get the free 30 day trial in our shop! Make some music with it, using any instrument you'd like, and share a video on your favorite social media channel, using the #QuadNoteGenerator hashtag so we can find it. We will repost our favorite pieces of music!


Here are some posts to get you inspired:


Happy generating!

Posted Dec. 7, 2018, 1 p.m.