I came from FL, I hated FL’s workflow. You had to select which tracks to record, select a range of the track, click on some menu, and bounce the selection to an audio track. It would appear right at the bottom, not grouped with the track you were recording. It actually put me off bouncing sounds because it was such a pain. In Reason, right click on a clip, bounce, and bam, there it is right underneath the track from which it was recorded.
I recently upgraded to Reason 11 (from 10), and they’ve made some decent changes. I agree the sequencer isn’t ideal, but once you’re used it, it is actually quite powerful. Version 11 now has cross-fading audio clips on the same track. But it is still missing some kind of playback speed automation. There is an official rack extension that allows real-time, automatable, pitch-shifting +/- 2 octaves, though. However, Reason also has the ability to stretch/compress audio clips and keep pitch. Depending on the sound, it usually sounds very good. But if there are a lot of frequencies going on, it’s going to struggle.
Reason 10’s last major update patch massively increased efficiency. That was a major problem for me in FL, it was limiting my tack complexity because of performance issues. I dreaded the process of bouncing stuff, and disabling all of the mixer channel effects to speed it up. This is on an overclocked i7 7700k, too.
A big part of that I think is that many of the plugins in FL were 32-bit, and had to be bridged in order to communicate with 64-bit FL. Perhaps they’ve fixed that now. I recently wanted to use Gross-beat, and just on the off-chance searched for a 64-bit version, and lo and behold, I downloaded it from their website, and it just worked straight out the box in reason. No license or trial. I wonder if that’s a bug or intentional. Either way, that made me happy.
I can literally use thousands of effects and it never start lagging out The only time it lags out is when you enable automation on some knob, or add a new track. I think there’s some algorithm that runs in linear time that has to iterate the tracks and do something or other internally. But when using anything that’s already initialised, it is scaleable smooth operation. My rack has grown so big at times that scrolling up and down it takes ages with the mouse-wheel. I don’t have to bounce a single sound unless I need to, like when the sound is dependent on it’s horizontal position in the sequencer, and I want to move some stuff about but preserve the sound it had.
Another thought about the Reason sequencer, I think it benefits progressive/non-repetitive music best. In FL each clip copy is a proxy to the same midi sequence. That’s great for very pattern based music, but a fucking pain in the arse of constantly evolving music.
And, if you think about what Reason is trying to achieve, then the way it positions the rack, the mixer and the sequencer, is perfect for that purpose. It is trying to emulate the experience of hardware, including hardware’s idiosyncrasies. It makes it easy to work out how to use it without referring to a manual (have never had to do it), because everything that is meant to be connected is correlated in some tangible, obvious way. Like a wire. The most disconnected and abstract you get is a label that is the same wherever any aspect of the thing it is representing is.
I don’t actually use Reason’s mixer shelf anyway. I prefer adding an actual EQ and compressor to each mix channel’s effects slot. Like how it used to be in the days of Reason 5, as I do prefer all mutually relevant aspects of a sound to be grouped together as much as is practical.
Reason 11 also have a the master bus compressor and channel EQ’s as rack plugins now. I don’t know whether it is placebo, but it seems to do a better job. I guess the thing that can differ between compressors is the shape of curve if you were to graph out the change in gain according to the settings on the compressor. Perhaps that curve actually matters a lot, and is what differs between them. I don’t know purely speculating now. It also has a new phaser/flanger plugin which sounds REALLY nice and clean. There are a bunch of new plugins within, now.
But anywho, there’s my stream of disconnected thoughts about Reason and FL. I’ve really not used Ableton or Bitwig enough to really say anything of value about them.