Propellerhead Software: History
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Subjects: Others

Reason Studios (formerly known as Propellerhead Software) is a music software company, based in Stockholm, Sweden, and founded in 1994. It produces the studio emulation Reason.

  • emulation
  • propellerhead

1. History

Propellerhead Software was founded in 1994 by Ernst Nathorst-Böös, Marcus Zetterquist and Peter Jubel, who still hold prominent positions within the company.[1] Their first release was ReCycle, a sample loop editor that could change the tempo of a loop without affecting the pitch. The export medium was Propellerhead's own REX format. ReCycle was launched in conjunction with Steinberg, who marketed it as a companion to Cubase, as it brought a simple way of gaining control over tempo and timing of audio loops.[2]

In 1997, Propellerhead released ReBirth RB-338, a step based, programmable sequencer which emulated classic Roland instruments commonly associated with techno: TB-303 Bass Line Synthesizer and the TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines. It was hailed as an affordable alternative to buying old, unreliable hardware devices. Roland Corporation requested that an acknowledgment be added to the ReBirth packaging and splash screen; the unofficial endorsement became a marketing boost for Propellerhead, and they have retained a close relationship with Roland ever since.[3]

ReWire was developed jointly between Propellerhead and Steinberg for use with their Cubase sequencer. Released in 1998, it provided a virtual audio and synchronization connection between Cubase and ReBirth. In January 1999 the protocol was opened for general use by third parties without any license fee,[4] to allow communication between different sequencers.

Propellerhead soon focused their attention on their new product, the award winning[5] Reason, released in 2000. Reason was an entire studio emulation complete with virtual cables and representations of a subtractive synthesizer, sampler and drum machine, alongside a REX file loop player, a pattern step sequencer and a multitude of effects units. Making Reason's appeal even greater was the ability to create as many of each device as a computer could handle and a simple sequencer for notes and device automation. Additionally, Reason could run on average spec computers and was extremely competitively priced.

In May 2009, Propellerhead announced a new product, Record.[6] Designed for recording, arrangement and mixing, Record is made along the lines of Reason and continues the tradition of emulating hardware and the rack.

Record emulates a recording studio, with a mixing desk, a rack of virtual instruments and effects, and an audio sequencer (similar to traditional MIDI sequencing.) It is also made to work alongside Reason; if Record is installed on a computer with Reason on it, the modules from Reason will be usable inside of Record.[7]

Released 9 September 2009, Record has been praised for its stability, seamless integration with Reason, and sound quality,[8] and has received a number of awards, including Future Music's Platinum Award,[9] Computer Music Editor's Choice and Performance awards,[10] and the MusicTech Excellence award.[11]

In April 2010, Propellerhead released their first app for mobile platforms; a remake of their ReBirth RB-338 software for the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Developed together with Retronyms,[12] it's a 100% port of the original with added functionality for sharing song files with other iPhone users, zooming and panning.[13]

In July 2011, Propellerhead announced plans for Reason version 6 which includes all the features of Record 1.5. This allowed Propellerhead to discontinue Record and create two different versions of Reason.[14]

In March 2012, Propellerhead announced Rack Extensions and the Rack Extension store, a software architecture that will allow 3rd party developers to use their own instruments and effect devices inside of Reason. This technology was announced to appear alongside Reason 6.5 as a free update. Rack Extensions will be sold in an app store similar in a fashion in which Apple Inc. sells applications for the popular iOS platform. Hosted by Propellerhead Software, developers are free to use their own DSP and existing code to develop instruments and effects for use in Reason. When purchased, the Rack Extensions appear in Reason as a native Reason instrument or effect module and are privy to all of the features that Reason offers in its native instruments and effect devices.[15]

In April 2017, Propellerhead announced plans to support VST plugins in Reason, starting from version 9.5 [16]

1.1. Name

The name propellerhead comes from the pejorative term used to deprecate science fiction fans and other technophiles, who are stereotypically drawn wearing propeller beanies. The company is not related to the British big beat musical ensemble Propellerheads.

On August 26, 2019, Propellerhead announced they would change their name to Reason Studios to have a name more closely tied to their core product: Reason.

2. Use of the Internet

From early on, Propellerhead used the Internet as both a marketing tool and as a method of ensuring they could communicate with their user base. An alpha version of ReBirth was made available for free download on the Propellerhead website in December 1996, and the company even searched the internet for active users of the TB-303 and sent them invitation emails to try the new software.[17]

The user forum has always been at the forefront of the Propellerhead community, with many employees checking them every day.[18] Allowing users to make requests and suggestions directly to the developers led to the first downloadable ReBirth update in 1997, and still today registered users of Propellerhead software can download updates and much additional content online. In November 2013, the forums were shut down indefinitely due to security concerns with the forum software. On 17 December they were resurrected with 4 new forum categories: Beginner, Advanced User, Rack Extensions and Post Your Music.[19]

On 16 January 2014 Propellerhead Software announced that they will close down the 15-year-old Reason community forums, shifting online customer interaction to their social media accounts instead.[19] The unofficial new forum, run by Reason users rather than by Propellerhead, is Reason Talk.[20] Though this is an independent forum, some Propellerhead employees have posted there and the forum hosted the official Reason beta test forum for Reason Version 9.

3. Current Products

  • Reason
  • Reason Essentials/Intro/Lite - an entry level version of Reason with fewer devices
  • Reason Suite - the full Reason package plus all rack extensions form Reason Studios. Available since version 11.
  • ReCycle
  • Reason Adapted - a cut down version of Reason distributed as part of various software bundles
  • Figure - an iOS app that utilizes some technology from Reason's Thor synthesizer and Kong drum machine. It allows users to compose short loops by drawing figures on a touch screen device.
  • Rebirth for iOS - an iOS app that brings almost all of the functionality of the desktop version of now discontinued ReBirth RB-338.[21]
  • Reason Compact - an iOS app that combines some of the devices from Reason, most notably the Europa synthesizer
  • Take - an iOS app for recording song ideas
  • Thor - an iOS app version of the powerful synthesizer that was introduced in Reason 4

3.1. Rack Extensions

  • A-List Acoustic Guitarist [22]
  • A-list Classic Drummer [23]
  • A-list Power Drummer [24]
  • A-list Studio Drummer [25]
  • Beat Map Algorhythmic Drummer [26]
  • Complex-1 modular synthesizer [27]
  • Drum Sequencer [28]
  • Fingerpicking Nylon A-list Acoustic Guitarist [29]
  • Layers [30]
  • Layers Wave Edition [31]
  • Parsec [32]
  • Polar [33]
  • PolyStep Sequencer [34]
  • Pop Chords A-list Electric Guitarist [35]
  • Power Chords A-list Electric Guitarist [36]
  • Processed Pianos [37]
  • PX7 FM Synthesizer [38]
  • Quad Note Generator [39]
  • Radical Keys [40]
  • Reason Drum Kits [41]
  • Reason Electric Bass [42]
  • Rotor [43]
  • Scenic Hybrid Instrument [44]
  • Umpf Club Drums [45]
  • Umpf Retro Beats [46]

3.2. Rack Extensions that are Now Included in Reason

  • Audiomatic Retro Transformer [47] (included in Reason 9)
  • Pulsar - Dual LFO [48] (included in Reason 9 [49])
  • Radical Piano [50] (included in Reason since version 10 [51])
  • Synchronous [52] (included in Reason since version 10 [51])

3.3. Technologies

  • REX2
  • Remote - a communication protocol for use between control surfaces and software applications, first incorporated into Reason 3.
  • Rack Extensions - a software platform that allows the use of instruments and effects developed by 3rd party companies for use inside of Reason.

3.4. Reason ReFills

ReFills compress sounds, settings and instrument configurations into single files, and are the only way of mass importing additional sounds into Reason.

  • Reason Pianos
  • Reason Drum Kits
  • Reason Soul School
  • Reason Electric Bass ReFill
  • RDK Vintage Mono ReFill
  • ElectroMechanical 2.0 ReFill
  • Strings ReFill
  • Abbey Road Keyboards - discontinued, developed with Abbey Road Studios[53]

4. Discontinued Products

  • ReBirth RB-338 - now reworked as an iOS app
  • Record (incorporated into Reason as of version 6)
  • Europa - a VST implementation of this synthesizer that was introduced in Reason 10. Discontinued with Reason 11 as Reason 11 can now be used as a plugin in other DAWs.
  • ReWire - discontinued since Reason 11 as it can now be used as a plugin in other DAWs

The content is sourced from:


  1. Reason Studios. 2007. Quick Company Facts. Propellerhead Software - A Company on a Mission. Available online: [1] accessed 23 August 2007.
  2. Propellerhead Software. 2007. Interview Man of Reason. Available online: [2] accessed 21 January 2010.
  3. ReBirth Museum. 2005. The Roland Seal of Approval. The Debut. Available online: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 April 2007. Retrieved 2015-04-04.  accessed 23 August 2007.
  4. Walker, M. November 1999. ReWired for Sound. Sound on Sound. Volume 15, Issue 1. Available online: [3] accessed 23 August 2007.
  5. Musikmesse International Press Award. 2002. Software-Instruments. MIPA 2002 - Winner. Available online: "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-23. . Accessed 23 August 2007.
  6. "Latest News". 
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  9. "Record reviewed in Future Music (Platinum Award)". 
  10. "Computer Music front cover and Editor's Choice Award for Record". 
  11. "MusicTech Magazine give Propellerhead's Record 10 out of 10". 
  12. [4]
  13. "Archived copy". 
  14. "Reason 11: Music Production Software | Reason Studios". 
  15. "Propellerhead unveils Rack Extension technology for... | Reason Studios". 
  16. "What's New in Reason 11 | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  17. ReBirth Museum. 2005. ReBirth for the Masses. The Birth of ReBirth. Available online:"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-23.  accessed 23 August 2007.
  18. Johnson, D. October 2005. Beta-testing Reason. Sound on Sound. Volume 20, Issue 12. Available online: [5] accessed 23 August 2007.
  19. "The forums are closed | Reason Studios". 
  20. "ReasonTalk". 
  21. "Music production with Reason Studios". 
  22. "A-List Acoustic Guitarist | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  23. "A-List Classic Drummer | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  24. "A-List Power Drummer | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  25. "A-List Studio Drummer | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  26. "Beat Map Algorhythmic Drummer | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  27. "Complex-1 | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  28. "Drum Sequencer | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  29. "Fingerpicking Nylon A-List Acoustic Guitarist | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  30. "Layers | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  31. "Layers Wave Edition | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  32. "Parsec 2 | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  33. "Polar | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  34. "PolyStep Sequencer | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  35. "A-List Electric Guitarist Pop Chords | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  36. "Power Chords A-List Electric Guitarist | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  37. "Processed Pianos". 
  38. "PX7 | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  39. "Quad Note Generator | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  40. "Radical Keys | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  41. "Reason Drum Kits | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  42. "Reason Electric Bass | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  43. "Rotor | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  44. "Scenic | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  45. "Umpf Club Drums | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  46. "Umpf Retro Beats | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  47. "Audiomatic | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  48. "Pulsar | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  49. "Propellerhead Releases Reason 9 Music Production So... | Reason Studios". 
  50. "Radical Piano | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  51. "Propellerhead Releases Reason 10 Music Production S... | Reason Studios". 
  52. "Synchronous | Reason | Reason Studios". 
  53. Abbey Road Studios. June 2007. Abbey Road and Propellerhead Software announce "Abbey Road Keyboards" for Reason. Abbey Road News. Available online: [6] accessed 23 August 2007.
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