Nektar has almost announced Panorama, a new keyboard MIDI controller with its eye on providing Propellerheads Reason a tangible interface. Nektar claims that their new controller meets the “criteria of operating the software, as if it’s hardware.” Although it’s a cool value proposition, seeing, or in this case, touching, is believing…
Panorama uses a communication protocol that has been custom designed for Reason 6, putting every control at your fingertips. Reason 6 brings across the acclaimed Mixer section from Record featuring powerful EQ, dynamics and compression on every channel, as well as has a dedicated Master mix channel featuring an impressive compressor, 8 FX Sends, Master Inserts, FX Returns and control room output, Panorama allows direct access to each one of these attributes.
Panorama allows you to gain access to Reason’s mixer at the touch of a button. Here you see the Reason mixer channels assigned to be operated by each of Panorama’s controls. The display gives you an accurate overview of what parameter each control is assigned to as well as current value state. Let’s look at the display screen in some more detail.
Top left corner shows the currently selected track in the Reason sequencer “Track 3: Subtractor”. Because Track 3 (or Channel 3 in mixer terms) is visible in the display, its highlighted in white. Top right shows the parameter and value of the last control operated on Panorama. In this case the parameter operated is the Filter 1 frequency on Subtractor. Below the red line, you see the assignment and parameter values of 8 encoders. In our example, that whole row is assigned to Pan. Next you see 8 faders, volume values for each and actual physical position of the fader. The 9th fader is assigned to the Reason mixers Master Volume. Below the faders you see the status of the LED buttons and what they are assigned to. In this example, they are controlling Solo.
The hardware looks pretty much identical to the display screen, and that’s the idea behind Panorama. You are never confused about what each encoder, fader or button does or what current status is. It’s all right there in the display. There are two buttons on the hardware that are not graphically represented on the display. Above the 9th fader we positioned a toggle button which allows you to toggle through assignment options for the 8 encoders. This is how you gain access to each of the FX send parameters in the Reason mixer. Press the button once and you assign all 8 encoders to Send 1, press again and they are assigned to Send 2 etc. Below the 9th fader, there is also a toggle button. Press it and you step through the assignment options available for the 8 LED buttons. Options include Mute, Solo and Select track. The bottom row is dedicated to menus accessible by pressing the buttons below the display.
The mixer channel strips in Reason are comprehensive and like the real world hardware. Again, Panorama breaks the channel strip down in to manageable localized sections, accessible at the push of a button. From the mixer menu described above, you have access to EQ, Dynamics, Inserts and Sends across the buttons below the display. The encoders to the right of the display map to the targeted channel strip in the mixer. If a track is selected in the sequencer, the corresponding mixer channel becomes targeted. Alternatively, you can target a mix channel using the 8 buttons when set to select mode.
The Reason 6 mixer not only feature comprehensive channel strips but also a vast master section that handles routings to final mixdown as well as insert points for mastering tools to optimize the overall mix. Here we describe how Panorama handles control of the master section and becomes the master of the master.
No pricing or availability has been announced, but expect more information at NAMM 2012.