As a keyboard player, I have to admit that I have a bias towards pianos in a mix. I also appreciate the nuances of sound from different pianos and how those pianos were recorded in the studio. The right piano can truly create magic in a mix. In true Propellerhead form, Reason Pianos was released in 2006 to bring three powerhouse pianos to the Reason rack. Years later, Reason Pianos still provides one of the best piano solutions in a DAW that I've ever heard.
Control and flexibility is so abundant with Reason Pianos that there's little doubt that you'll be able to find the perfect piano.
Propellerhead chose Reason Pianos' three instruments purposefully for their distinct sound. To create the ReFill, Propellerhead used four stereo microphones and two mono microphones for each piano. Ribbon mics, floor mics, close mics; all were used to create the beautifully rich and complex sounds of Reason Pianos. When you add a patch from Reason Pianos to your rack, you'll discover that a Combinator was used so that you can adjust anything and everything to your liking. Each microphone has its own mixer channel so that you can use only the mics you want, and you can control the mix to get just the sound you need. Control and flexibility is so abundant with Reason Pianos that there's little doubt that you'll be able to find the perfect piano.
While you certainly can customize everything in Reason Pianos, you don't have to. Reason Pianos comes with a large number of predefined patches for particular needs. Patches are arranged in folders for each piano (the Steinway D, Steinway K, and the Yamaha C7) and are named with descriptive names so that you can tell at a glance which mics are used and so forth. If you want to use your own mic combinations, you easily can by adding patches for individual mics to a Combinator.
The options are essentially endless, with each small tweak offering an auditory reward we've come to expect from Propellerhead.
Propellerhead has mapped the Combinator's rotary knobs to many effects for each piano. For example, you can dial in a little more or less hammer sound, compression, ambience and so forth. If these are the settings you want to control with the rotary controllers, you're all set, but you don't have to settle for what Propellerhead provides. You can easily change any of these controls to modify any parameter you choose. Because Reason Pianos uses the Combinator, you have an incredible degree of customization available to you. The options are essentially endless, with each small tweak offering an auditory reward we've come to expect from Propellerhead.
The high-quality of the pianos in Reason Pianos is no accident. Propellerhead recorded each of them in recording rooms with hardwood floors. Each was recorded at multiple velocity levels and from multiple angles. Propellerhead calls the sampling process it used hypersampling, and the end result shows the obvious attention to detail that went into sampling each of these instruments. With that said, what you hear is heavily reliant on the quality of your equipment. If you are using a lower-quality keyboard amp in your setup, you're obviously not going to hear what Reason Pianos is really capable of. My advice is to use a good set of headphones if you don't have good monitors or a good amp. It's critical to have good sound equipment when you're playing piano parts, and that necessity is even more relevant when you're dealing with the high-quality samples in Reason Pianos.
Some of you might be wondering how Reason Pianos compares to Radical Piano, Propellerhead's excellent Rack Extension. Both offer high-quality pianos and are loaded with options to allow for customization, but in my opinion, Reason Pianos excels when you want a top-quality concert piano in your mix. I find the pianos in Reason Pianos to be slightly fuller and more true to their physical counterparts. However, in cases where I want a production piano lower in my mix or when I want to have some piano sections to a rock mix, etc., it's hard to beat the ease of dropping Radical Piano onto the rack. Radical Piano also has some really cool "radical" pianos that you can pop onto your rack with a click, many of which would be really difficult or impossible to recreate with Reason Pianos.
Don't let the age of Reason Pianos to sway you away from adding this ReFill to your Reason toolbox. Reason Pianos is just as impressive today as it was 9 years ago when it was released for Reason 3! If you need a piano in your mix, you owe it to yourself to check out Reason Pianos. You can check them out and listen to Reason Pianos in this YouTube video from Propellerhead. Once you do, I'm sure you'll agree that Reason Pianos is a great choice for pianos in Reason.