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VST in Reason

Published: 2017-01-17

VST in Reason is something people have been requested a lot of times. It has been stated back in the days that Propellerhead will not integrate the VST format. Nor are there any plans regarding integrating VSTs in the Digital Audio Workstation called Reason (yes, we can call it a DAW). At some point in time when Reason 6.5 got released the program got its own unique platform for external plugins. Which is a great step forward. Most of the external plugins as Rack Extensions work seamless in the workflow of the program itself. While this has been there for quite some time there is still an outcry for VST support in Reason. For those who really want to use VST support in Reason, this topic might be for you. Since we'll be diving right in to it. We'll also discuss the different downsides with this setups and different 'work flow issues' you may need to be aware of.

VST since Reason 9.5

While this is quite fresh, vst will be supported since Propellerhead Reason 9.5. The whole rack interface contains a VST Host, and you can seamless drag and drop VST intstruments and plugins in to the reason rack as of the latest version.

VST the old Method

Before diving in to it, there is always the option of "Rewire". Rewire is a protocol which allows other DAWs (that do support VST) to run reason in the background. In this case the other DAW is the host and Reason just hangs in there in the back ground. For a complete list of daws that support the Rewire protocol you can check the wikipedia list.

There is a lot to say about this type of set up. Since in theory you will need 2 different programs to make use of it. Where Reason is used as a Synth (since in rewire mode you connect directly to the Rack while sending midi data to different devices). At the same time you using the other DAW to make music with. This may sound fine as it is. But there are some major drawbacks to this workflow.

- the user needs to have full understanding working with 2 DAWs
- the reason file needs to be saved as well as the song file. If you want to reload the session you need 2 files. One for the DAW, the other for Reason. I am not 100% sure if this is still the case, but it used to work that way.
- memory load (since your running 2 programs next to each other)
- cpu load might become an issue
- latency might become an issue

At some extend, if there is no real other alternative to get VST working with Reason. Then this might eventually be the only real solid solution there is. Sure, there are issues. But I never said this would be easy.

VST with Midi Out

Since Reason 7 there is a new way to control a VST (where VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology). In this version you have a Midi Out in Reason to control an external VST program. While original Midi Out was implemented to control external hardware, yet it works perfect to control VST instruments that allow it. And this the catch: Not every VST allows this. And not every "setup" (eg: hardware) allows this to happen. There are a few requirements for this to work. And I know there is Mac OS. I don't own a Mac, there for I cannot make any conclusion on how this works on a Mac.

Minimum requirements for this VST method:
- A Program to Loop the Midi (in this case I am using loopMidi)
- A VST that runs as stand alone
- Minimum Reason version: Reason 7
- multiple Audio Cards that support VST (not required, I will get back to this)

LoopMidi

The idea behind loop midi is to use this as a "midi bridge" between Reason and the VST. In this case it allows you to control multiple VST instruments at the same time (while using multiple midi loop interfaces). After installing to program loop midi, you will need to set up a Midi interface. Just to keep things simple, give it a solid name that would define what you are using it for.

Loop midi to control VSTs in Reason

Midi Out in Reason 7

For the next step, you will need an instrument called Midi Out. This can be added inside the Rack. The only important thing is to select the proper Midi Out channel. In my case it is a setting called "Reason Midi Out". Because this is the midi port I created inside loopMidi.

VST in Reason selecting Midi Port

Midi Input VST

Here is the 'tricky' part. Since not every VST instrument will work the same. The most important parts are:
- The VST instrument needs a stand alone version of the plugin (not every VST has this, but most instruments from Native Instruments work as a stand alone version. #1)
- The VST needs to accept a Custom Midi Port.
- Per VST the workflow may be different

As an example, I will show a screenshot from Native Instruments Massive on how the Midi Port configuration may look like:

Midi Input Native Instruments Massive

As far as most native instrument I have tested, these will have a similar set up. Under the menu "file" there is a setting called "Audio and Midi" settings. This will display the above picture after selecting the Midi Tab. When done so, make sure the Midi Port you are using in loopMidi is turned "on" (by default, it is turned off!). When done so, you can go back to reason. Select the Midi Out, and play notes. This even works with the on screen piano.

Multiple Audio Cards

In case you want to play the VST as is, you can stop here. Since it should already be working as it is. However, sometimes you may need to "sample" the input from the VST to another track. Jasper from therSitez has presented an awesome video which displays this method. It comes down to have the Audio Output from the VST going through a specific audio port. Next you create an audio track. There you will select the same audio channel as input. Hit record... and you are all set to go. At this point in time I can't display any images regarding this technique because the laptop I am writing on does not have multiple audio card, my desktop does. Since I have already tested this workflow, I therefor can confirm that it works. Only disadvantage with the audio cards: they need to work with Asio4All. Other wise... it is going to be a no-go.

VST Samples in Reason

Some VST instrument have data libraries where the sound sources are RAW wave files. I know that for instance Battery has this, same goes for AbSynth 4. At some point you are able to use the sound source from different VST  and load these up directly inside an NN-XT. Or Kong. I depends if they sound proper enough, and if the VST instrument is using raw sample data by default. In most cases, this is not the case. But I thought I would just add this option to the list of ways to get VST sounds inside the Reason Rack.

There is also the method to record every single note from a VST inside a DAW that supports it, export the sound as a Wav File and import those back inside the NN-XT. While this workflow is really time consuming, I can say I have done this method once using Legacy Cell in the past. There for I know... it is a real time consuming job to export it, load it up, layer it and so. This method also has some limitations to it (since your only using raw souns). But I am just saying, it can be done.

For now, this kind of sums up my chain of thoughts when it comes to using VST instruments in Reason. Have a good evening!

1. This is based on experimenting with VSTs from Native Instruments like Monark, Reaktor 6, AbSynth 4 and Massive

VST in Reason is something people have been requested a lot of times. It has been stated back in the days that Propellerhead will not integrate the VST format. Nor are there any plans regarding integrating VSTs in the Digital Audio Workstation called Reason (yes, we can call it a DAW). At some point in time when Reason 6.5 got released the program got its own unique platform for external plugins. Which is a great step forward. Most of the external plugins as Rack Extensions work seamless in the workflow of the program itself. While this has been there for quite some time there is still an outcry for VST support in Reason. For those who really want to use VST support in Reason, this topic might be for you. Since we'll be diving right in to it. We'll also discuss the different downsides with this setups and different 'work flow issues' you may need to be aware of.

VST and using Reason Rewire

Reason Rewire is a protocol which allows other DAWs (that do support VST) to run reason in the background. In this case the other DAW is the host and Reason just hangs in there in the back ground. For a complete list of daws that support the Rewire protocol you can check the wikipedia list.

There is a lot to say about this type of set up. Since in theory you will need 2 different programs to make use of it. Where Reason is used as a Synth (since in rewire mode you connect directly to the Rack while sending midi data to different devices). At the same time you using the other DAW to make music with. This may sound fine as it is. But there are some major drawbacks to this workflow.

- the user needs to have full understanding working with 2 DAWs
- the reason file needs to be saved as well as the song file. If you want to reload the session you need 2 files. One for the DAW, the other for Reason. I am not 100% sure if this is still the case, but it used to work that way.
- memory load (since your running 2 programs next to each other)
- cpu load might become an issue
- latency might become an issue

At some extend, if there is no real other alternative to get VST instruments working with Reason. Then this might eventually be the only real solid solution there is. Sure, there are issues. But I never said this would be easy.

VST instruments and Midi Out in Reason

VST (Virtual Studio Technology) instruments can be controlled since Reason 7. Since this version you have a Midi Out in Reason to control an external VST program. While original Midi Out was implemented to control external hardware, yet it works perfect to control VST instruments that allow it. And this the catch: Not every instrument allows this. And not every "setup" (eg: hardware) allows this to happen. There are a few requirements for this to work. And I know there is Mac OS. I don't own a Mac, there for I cannot make any conclusion on how this works on a Mac.

Minimum requirements for this VST method:
- A Program to Loop the Midi (in this case I am using loopMidi)
- A VST that runs as stand alone
- Minimum Reason version: Reason 7
- multiple Audio Cards that support VST (not required, I will get back to this)

LoopMidi

The idea behind loop midi is to use this as a "midi bridge" between Reason and the VST. In this case it allows you to control multiple VST instruments at the same time (while using multiple midi loop interfaces). After installing to program loop midi, you will need to set up a Midi interface. Just to keep things simple, give it a solid name that would define what you are using it for.

Loop midi to control VSTs in Reason

Midi Out in Reason 7

For the next step, you will need an instrument called Midi Out. This can be added inside the Rack. The only important thing is to select the proper Midi Out channel. In my case it is a setting called "Reason Midi Out". Because this is the midi port I created inside loopMidi.

VST in Reason selecting Midi Port

Midi Input VST

Here is the 'tricky' part. Not every VST instrument will work the same. The most important parts are:
- The VST instrument needs a stand alone version of the plugin (not every VST has this, but most instruments from Native Instruments work as a stand alone version. #1)
- The VST needs to accept a Custom Midi Port.
- Per VST the workflow may be different

As an example, I will show a screenshot from Native Instruments Massive on how the Midi Port configuration may look like:

Midi Input Native Instruments Massive

As far as most native instrument I have tested, these will have a similar set up. Under the menu "file" there is a setting called "Audio and Midi" settings. This will display the above picture after selecting the Midi Tab. When done so, make sure the Midi Port you are using in loopMidi is turned "on" (by default, it is turned off!). When done so, you can go back to reason. Select the Midi Out, and play notes. This even works with the on screen piano.

Multiple Audio Cards

In case you want to play the VST as is, you can stop here. Since it should already be working as it is. However, sometimes you may need to "sample" the input from the VST to another track. Jasper from therSitez has presented an awesome video which displays this method. It comes down to have the Audio Output from the VST going through a specific audio port. Next you create an audio track. There you will select the same audio channel as input. Hit record... and you are all set to go. At this point in time I can't display any images regarding this technique because the laptop I am writing on does not have multiple audio card, my desktop does. Since I have already tested this workflow, I therefor can confirm that it works. Only disadvantage with the audio cards: they need to work with Asio4All. Other wise... it is going to be a no-go.

VST Samples in Reason

Some VST instrument have data libraries where the sound sources are RAW wave files. I know that for instance Battery has this, same goes for AbSynth 4. At some point you are able to use the sound source from different VST  and load these up directly inside an NN-XT. Or Kong. I depends if they sound proper enough, and if the VST instrument is using raw sample data by default. In most cases, this is not the case. But I thought I would just add this option to the list of ways to get VST sounds inside the Reason Rack.

There is also the method to record every single note from a VST inside a DAW that supports it, export the sound as a Wav File and import those back inside the NN-XT. While this workflow is really time consuming, I can say I have done this method once using Legacy Cell in the past. There for I know... it is a real time consuming job to export it, load it up, layer it and so. This method also has some limitations to it (since your only using raw souns). But I am just saying, it can be done.

For now, this kind of sums up my chain of thoughts when it comes to using VST instruments in Reason. Have a good evening!

1. This is based on experimenting with VSTs from Native Instruments like Monark, Reaktor 6, AbSynth 4 and Massive

Published on Reason Experts
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Published on Reason Experts
Published: 2017-01-17

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hdom23
27 Aug 2017 

hdom23

Rapid Composer is a vst that exports midi; can this kind of vst be used in Reason 9.5.2?
hydlide
 28 Aug 2017 

hydlide

short answer. noas propellerhead has stated: only instrument and effects are supported
abeonis
18 Apr 2017 

abeonis

Last status:A Massive demo version can be downloaded. At the same time you do the tests, listen to Massive's sounds. They are impressive.https://www.native-instruments.com/es/products/komplete/synths/massive/downloads/Option1: Create a wave file. Hydlide tells it works. Just have to find in Massive doc how to create a wave file.Option2: Replace the sound card to support S/PDIF and have a second one or purchase a second hand Fireface 400 (from $850) as in the video above. I have more urgent investments to complete. I forget it.Option 3. The virtual cable. Softwares are really complicated to use (largely above my skill set). Don't want to adquire the necessary skills. I forget it.So, currently my set up to control Massive (or any standalone vst) with Reason sequencer and record Massive audio in a Reason track:> I keep my current sound card (No S/PDIF) attached to Reason> I purchase a Behringer U-Control Uca222 ($30) attached to Massive> I connect U-Control analog OUT to my sound card analog IN (I know, welcome latency)> Currently studying Reason mechanisms to deal with latency.> Use Reason effects to reshape Massive tracks.Total investment to use Massive with Reason:Massive + U-Control = 150 +30 = 180 $/€
abeonis
17 Apr 2017 

abeonis

The cheapest solution I found is to control the MIDI input of Massive with Reason Sequencer. Connect Massive audio output to Camtasia. Run the sequencer, create a wave file in Camtasia by recording Massive audio output. Insert the wave file in Reason. Correct the latency.I have not tested this flow yet (Don't have Massive). If someone can do the tests and document? Thanks.Another option, if I had to replace my soundcard, I will select the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 (230€) attached to Reason and the Behringer U-Control Uca222 ($30) attached to Massive (or any other stanalone VST synth), Then connect the Behringer S/PDIF out to the Audio 6 S/PDIF in.More expensive but allows to record Massive's audio output directly into Reason.A third option is to have a virtual cable between Massive Audio Output and Reason. By virtual, I mean no extra sound cards are needed, the audio link between the 2 softwares is done using soundflower (Mac) or Virtual Audio Cable (PC).See the video Using Plug-Ins With Reason (no external hardware required)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oli2t6bSYAY&t=87sI have seen very different opinions on internet from “It doesn’t work” to “It works like a charm”. Probably the group that make it work are more techy oriented. Again, I don’t have Massive, I am not too much techy. If someone did the tests, could you please document? Thx.
kaspya@gmail.com
7 Feb 2017 

kaspya@gmail.com

i got a mac and it seems that there are no simular program like loopmedi for windows usere? i kust need my audiotrack to connet to the VST plugin. arrrrrrrrrhhh
marcello66
 8 Feb 2017 

marcello66

Hi, you can try Soundflower, available for Mac. I am currently using two audio cards (Focusrite to the thunderbolt and an MAudio to the Firewire). Both connected with SPDIF. It seems to work fine, with no latency (or approx no latency….). Now I need to try to record GuitarRig in Reason. It works with Kontakt, not managed yet with Reaktor. I have not yet tested it with other standalone plugins, but will do as soon as I have some spare time. In the meantime I am waiting for Hydlide to do some testing and show us some workflows :-)
abeonis
 8 Feb 2017 

abeonis

Just had a look at R9 doc and Latency is largely adressed including the use of the Regroove mixer. SPDIF seems to be the easier way to go but the more expensive. I'd like to be sure that other alternatives have been tested by "technicians" vs "musicians" (no offense there).
redlester
7 Feb 2017 

redlester

Very interesting stuff. I'd be keen to know if any of this works with the Arturia V Collection vintage synth VST instruments. When I get time to experiment, I will let you know.
abeonis
 8 Feb 2017 

abeonis

I know it is out of scope but there is a great video tutorial (in french) on how to use Reason with the Arturia MiniBRUTE for those who want to use a true analog synth in conjunction with Reason. Tempting.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15FpHqd8mp8
newunruhe
20 Jan 2017 

newunruhe

its also possible to run a vst(non standalone) using a host like vsthost and the above mentioned method. Latency is to be expected however
hydlide
 20 Jan 2017 

hydlide

I heard something similar. By the time I wrote this, I didn't know something like it exists. Currently I am doing similar tests to figure out what works / how it works. I will update this article when I have tested them and figured out the bits and bobs.
1
RandyEspoda
 6 May 2017 

RandyEspoda

I use vsthost currently to load up a spectrum analyser to tune kicks and stuff...another purpose but works fine, and the tool is very intuitive.
Apostolis
18 Jan 2017 

Apostolis

valuable information, thanks!

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