Hardware controllers for Reason 3 Reason 3 can be operated externally by knob-fiddling a real hardware controller instead of tiny mouse movements! Here are some of the best ones that work great with Reason 3 along with some tips and tricks.

Controlling Reason 3 Externally

Twiddling real physical knobs is always infinitely more satisfying if compared to using a mouse - You have more control, can work much quicker plus, more importantly, you can remain "in-the-groove" and play-to-the-vibe.

Reason v3 now comes shipped with Propellerhead's new Remote technology making it even more of a breeze to integrate with external hardware control units... note the plural use of the word, units!

That's right! Reason 3 makes it dead easy to use several hardware controllers at once! Each controlling different areas of Reason. For instance, one controls a synth and another Dr Rex, for example.

No more building your own templates and assigning controls to different parameters. Propellerhead's Remote technology gets "in-between" the signal traffic of the software and hardware controller and intelligently routes the information around Reason itself.

Connecting Reason 3 to a Controller

  • Plug your controller in (probably USB).
  • In Reason; Preferences » Control Surfaces and Keyboards (from options).
  • Hit the Auto-detect surfaces  button.

Reason 3 Controllers - Top-Rated

Behringer BCF2000

The Behringer BCF2000 is superb value, truly!

It has 8 faders, knobs and buttons plus a row of 8 rotary encoders (with red LED's to show their position) and a further 2 rows of 8 buttons allowing loads of flexible functions which need not be mixing-related.

But wait... Those 8 faders are long-throw faders and they are... motorised! That's right, they move in direct response to movements made within Reason.

Installation is painless and is recognised by Reason's Auto-detect procedure, firing-up as soon as Reason is started.

If you're in the market but the budget is severely restricted, the Behringer BCF2000 certainly punches above its weight and thus receives The'Post's top-value buy recommendation.

Buy or read more about the Behringer BCF2000 hardware controller

Behringer BCR2000

Another top-value control-surface from Behringer and at virtually the same price-point as the BCF2000 (above).

The Behringer BCR2000 is different, though. Having 32 rotary knobs, each with their own LED display to show position, it also has a healthy array of additional buttons to assign. The 'push to set' function offers even more scope for the control of parameters.

It fully supports the MIDI specification.

The Behringer BCR2000 is probably a better choice for the sound designers amongst us as it lends itself very well to a wide range of synthesizing tasks. In fact, it becomes quickly obvious that virtually all of the parameters in both the Malstrom and Subtractor synths can be programmed from this controller alone, which is a huge timesaver and very rewarding.

Installation: Again, no problem. Each control is logically mapped to the instrument currently in use within Reason. (Be sure to have the latest firmware installed on either of the Behringer's featured here).

As the BCR2000 only has encoders, using it for something like mixing is pretty limited and so definitely rests more comfortably in the hands of synth abusers, for whom this controller will be hard to beat at this, quite frankly, amazing price-point.

Buy or read more about the Behringer BCR2000 MIDI hardware controller

Edirol PCRA-30

Edirol are heavyweights in the hardware controllers game, so can't be ignored.

The PCR-30 is slightly more expensive than the Behringer's but not by enough to start quibbling over.

The Edirol PCRA-30 has 32 velocity sensitive keys and can be powered by either USB or from an external power supply with standard MIDI connection sockets.

With 8 knobs and sliders, along with a variety of buttons, octave selectors and a pitch/modulation joystick, it offers a total of 27 assignable controls within a finely-built and "reassuringly-weighted" sturdy unit that would gladly suffer a few knocks. If you're a fair-weathered keyboardist you just might like this one.

Before installing the Edirol PCR-30, a quick-tip you shouldn't ignore (for once!) is to glance at the included documentation for a couple of pointers on correctly setting up the keyboard first.

... it's a minor adjustment but once done, Reason should auto-detect and work comfortably without further problem.

The Edirol PCRA-30 has enough control options to cater for all but the most demanding uses. It's a solid little workhorse and is offered at a price that represents good value.

Buy or read more about the Edirol PCRA-30 hardware controller

Evolution UC33e MIDI Control Surface

This one rocks... still!

You could say this was built for Reason, equipped as it is, with several Reason overlays having ready-built templates for the Malstrom synth, the NN19 sampler, Redrum plus the DrRex loop player too. With these you can just drop them onto the buttons whilst using a specific instrument and tweak away knowing exactly what you're twiddling with - So close do the template-layouts match that of the Reason instruments.

The Evolution UC33e controller has nine faders, each with its own LED, 24 knobs and a panel of buttons that, put together, equip it for maximally "man-handling" Reason.

It has no keyboard but if you already own a keyboard controller, working together, you can experience the unbounded pleasure of probing new sounds whilst tweaking the nipples of musical notes and perform martial art edits right from this control surface.

The UC33e is a wicked controller shipping with arguably the best default mappings for Reason available.

At approx 50 bucks dearer than the Behringers (above), it sits at the lower-end of the mid-price-range of hardware controllers.

If you're looking for a dedicated control surface for Reason - This gets The'Post's Best Choice rating.

Buy or read more about the Evolution UC33e MIDI control surface

M-Audio Radium 61

With a 61-key keyboard, this will be more attractive to the "players" amongst you and is the biggest controller unit featured.

But what you gain in keys, you compromise on control options. The M-Audio Radium has only 8 programmable sliders and knobs, the obligatory pitch and modulation wheels, as well as a single slider. However, for the dedicated studio player, these controls will be sufficient for most operations.

By the time you read this, Propellerhead should've released a revised Reason Remote driver to accomodate a painless installation of the Radium 61. Manual installation however, is pretty straightforward nonetheless and the guidelines of how to do it are provided by Reason.

There are no problems playing the keyboard with Reason and the playing action itself is very nice as is the build quality.

OK, you're sat there detecting a lack of entusiasm but the real fact is, is that this controller does what it's designed for, and that is, it allows you to play on a full-size keyboard as well as affording a handful of useful control options.

The M-Audio Radium 61 doesn't break any moulds, it just does what it was built for, well!

Buy or read more about the M-Audio Radium 61 USB hardware controller

Evolution MK-425c

The Evolution MK-425 will appeal to the laptop musician on the move. It has a solid build quality, yet is still relatively lightweight for carrying around.

The Evolution MK-425 has 25 full-size velocity-sensitive keys, 8 assignable rotaries, 10 buttons, pitchbend and modulation wheel plus 10 memory locations for storing template settings.

Installing the MK-425 requires a little teasing. Although it is auto-detected by Reason, to get the 10 buttons to control MIDI parameters, you will need to set them on the keyboard. However, it only takes a few minutes to setup and once done, operation is smooth.

With its size, comes limitations; it's evident when using the Malstrom for example, that, compared to the Evolution UC33e, parameter-tweaking is lacking. But let's not forget the old adage, 'horses for courses'. This keyboard is space-saving and ideal for the portable musician.

The MK-425 performs well and is reasonably priced.

Get the latest price or read more about the Evolution MK-425c hardware controller

Mackie Control Universal

The Mackie Control Universal hardware controller

The Mackie Control Universal is the beast of the bunch... if you have the budget!

The Control Universal connects to your computer via 2-way MIDI. It's packed with functionality including:

  • 9 motorised faders that respond fully to feedback from Reason.
  • Full transport controls for playing and moving around your tracks plus a jog-wheel for cool navigation!
  • Loads of rotary knobs are available for use with Reason's effects.
  • A plethora of freely assignable buttons for maximum control.

Perhaps best of all, the Mackie Control Universal has a cool array of truly informative LEDs which display exactly what's going on with a chosen parameter or track. In fact, they're so good you'll find yourself hardly referring to your monitor to check what your playing with at all!

Being at the top-end of the market you'll expect the build-quality and components to be exceptional... well you won't be disappointed!

This is a control unit in the pure sense of the term, ie... it doesn't have a keyboard. But it does man-handle Reason in superb fashion, so if you have the budget, the Mackie Universal is the ultimate control surface to own.

If the budget doesn't stretch, but the Control Universal still appeals, then TheWhippinpost reckons the Behringer units would make a reasonable replacement at a lower price-band.

Check out the best price or read more about the Mackie Control Universal hardware controller at zZounds.