What the heck is Project Tonic?

The idea of this project came about from a general frustration of using this really amazing music creation software called Propellerhead Reason. It’s one of those programs, like I imagine Photoshop or Excel is for some, that becomes such an indispensable tool, that it feels like a extension of your brain, and the way you think.

However, there was always something that got in my way of composing and recording music–that is the context switching between moving from a deep creative concentration of listening to a music mix, vs looking at a computer screen to modify a mix.

In other words, moving between a heavy creative mindset and a heavy technical mindset often during a creative session is a mental cost that wears me out.

I want physical, tactile control of Reason’s mixer. I don’t want to mix with a mouse.

So the goal of this project is to create a hardware controller that is useable and comprehensive enough that one using it should never have to touch the mouse or keyboard when mixing a song in Reason. (For the other typical uses of Reason, namely composition/writing of music, and sound design/programming of synthesizers, there are better hardware controllers for that–I don’t want to replace those.)

I frequent a particular Reason forum, and on there I thought I’d drop the idea of this hardware controller to see if other Reason users might find this useful. Turns out, there is a pretty solid interest. Instead of repeat the thread here, I’ll just point you to the link so you can read it directly.

Project Tonic is the working name of this full-featured Reason SSL hardware mixer hardware controller project

How will it work? What size will it be? Can I buy one? How much will it cost if so? Will you make me one? When will it be ready?

So. many. great. questions… With so many unknowns. Truth is, I don’t know the answers to any of those questions yet. I’m trying something much differently with this product design, in that I’m forcing myself to not make assumptions about its design until people other than me use it.

With Reason.

For actual mixing.

This is a slow process, because there will be folks who come back and say “I like it this way”, and another group will say “I don’t like it this way”, and then what do you do? Well, you make the best decisions you can given the info at hand.

But in general, I’m super excited to co-develop this with a whole host of Reason users. :)