Combining Two of the Most Effective Programs In Music Production Software

Use Rewire to Easily Operate Reason and Pro Tools Simultaneously

If you record, produce, edit, mix or write music, you have definitely heard of Digidesign's world-class recording software, Pro Tools. It has been around for years and is widely regarded as the industry standard for music production. Most professional recording studios (as well as many project studios) use Pro Tools as their main DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Even those engineers and producers who prefer other applications, such as Cubase or Logic, will acknowledge the sheer power and speed of Pro Tools.

Pro Tools 9

Another popular music production application is Reason by the Swedish company Propellerhead. Unlike Pro Tools, Reason is not for recording music. Rather, it is used for MIDI sequencing, sound synthesis and sampling. By itself, Reason is an amazing piece of software. With the right samples, one can compose entire symphonic productions using Reason. However, when combined with Pro Tools, the possibilities are literally endless.

Reason 5.0

There are two methods for using Pro Tools and Reason in conjunction with one another. They both involve Rewire, a built in software component that lets you sync two applications so they communicate and behave as one. For both methods, you must make sure that Reason and Pro Tools are both installed and ONLY Pro Tools is running.

Method #1

If you would simply like to add a Reason project to a Pro Tools session, you just have to create a new stereo track in Pro Tools and add Reason as an instrument insert. When the Rewire window pops up, you'll notice that the default inputs are 1-2. This is because your mixer is sending all of its output to channels 1 and 2 (left and right) of your hardware interface.

When you use this method, every device and their associated notes/sounds will play through that new stereo track in Pro Tools. You will also notice that Reason adapts its tempo from Pro Tools. This is because Pro Tools is the "master" application and Reason is the "slave". Reason's transport marker will also follow Pro Tools edit window. This is a quick, straightforward way to quickly link Reason to Pro Tools.

Method #2

The first method is very easy and quick, and it's perfect for many situations. However, if you want to assign individual Reason devices to their own separate tracks in Pro Tools, it takes a little more work. It is worth the extra effort because you will be able to mix the tracks in Pro Tools, using all of your favorite plugins. You can also convert the MIDI tracks into audio tracks, which we will discuss later.

For this method, you must delete any mixers or mastering devices that have been created in Reason and connect your instrument devices directly to the hardware interface. For example, if you have a Subtractor bass part that you'd like to mix in Pro Tools, connect the Subtractor's output to input 3 of the hardware interface. Then, just like in the first method, create a new track in Pro Tools. Make sure that you choose stereo or mono accordingly. Insert the Reason plugin (under Instruments) and choose the appropriate input in the Rewire window. You now have Pro Tools track that plays whatever you've programmed into Reason for that device.

Now, this can be a lot of work if you have many devices that you want to mix in Pro Tools (or add to your existing Pro Tools session). It can also eat up a lot of memory on your computer. So, here's a quick tip for converting all of those MIDI tracks that are rewired from Reason to Pro Tools into audio (a process called "printing"). For each rewired track, create another new audio track in Pro Tools. Name it "track print" (i.e., "bass print"). This will help you keep things organized. Route the output of your rewired track to bus, and select that same bus as the input for your new print track. Do this for all of the tracks that you'd like to print. Once you've created all of your print tracks and routed the inputs/outputs accordingly, record-enable all of print tracks, hit record, and let the song play through from start to finish.

The MIDI will be recorded as WAV audio on the new tracks. Once you have this audio, you can shut down Reason and delete (or make inactive) the rewired tracks. You can also use all of the great audio editing features that Pro Tools has to offer, such as elastic audio.

I highly recommend taking the time to learn this method. It will become second nature very quickly, and you can even save Reason templates that are all ready to be rewired into Pro Tools. When you combine the sequencing, synthesizing power of Reason with the recording, editing and algorithmic genius of Pro Tools, a whole new world of possibilities open up!