The Good: Built through evolution of numerous versions, clean and functional layout, improved organization and easier access to samples and other resources, professional mixer and very capable sequencer, well optimized.
The Bad: Works best on two displays, not too many core upgrades compared to previous version of the software.
The Verdict: By far, Propellerhead Reason 8 is one of the best digital audio workstations you can buy at the moment. It's not cheap, but it offers almost unlimited versatility and functionality.
Propellerhead Reason 8 is an affordable, but very powerful digital audio workstation that was built on years of evolution. The result is an easy to use audio recording software that can do pretty much anything you would like, and gives you an abundance of flexibility. If you've used older versions of this software, Reason 8 will feel very familiar.
Reason 8 brings a number of changes compared to its earlier versions, and they really make this well known digital audio workstation reach a whole new level. The interface has been changed and now sports a more simpler and cleaner look. It allows you to organize your workspace without it ending up cluttered, and is easier to navigate. One of the noticeable new features is the new browser that makes finding samples and files so much easier. It's a typical Windows style side panel with expanding trees that contains all of your valuable resources organized by type. With this little tweak, working in Reason 8 becomes much more efficient. Having a new look, Reason 8 looks like a more complex and versatile Apple GarageBand.
The Rack Extensions (Propellerhead's version of plug-ins) available remained more or less the same with a few additions that come standard. As always, there is an abundance of 3rd party modules you can get that suit your specific needs. There is a way to use standard VST plug-ins, but it requires a workaround.
The sequencer and mixer that come in Reason 8 are complex but intuitive for anyone who has had any experience with DAWs in general. Both are powerful tools with simple layouts that are pretty straight forward. Anything you record using the sequencer is processed separately from your samples and requires several additional steps if you want to export it.
Reason 8 runs very smoothly, and won't throttle up your CPU. You would have to go to extreme lengths to feel the effect of this software on your computer's performance. Just like it was the case with some previous iterations of Reason, this version also works best on two displays. Having that extra room really makes a difference.
While it doesn't offer anything ground breaking, Reason 8 is a software that was built on a very solid foundation of numerous previous versions. It's a refined experience compared to its predecessors, and is definitely something that should be considered when searching for the right DAW to purchase.