What is Balance? Balance is, quite simply, a two-in, two-out audio interface, paired expertly with Propellerhead's Reason Essentials package -- add a computer, headphones or monitor speakers, and a microphone or two, and you've got a full-featured recording studio. Let's take a look at what's behind the Balance package.
An Introduction to Balance
Reason has a legion of followers who won't use anything else -- and it's no surprise that Reason's smaller brother, Reason Essentials -- included with Balance -- is equally as powerful as the interface it's bundled with.
Reason Essentials comes with various guitar models, drum machines, loop samplers, effects, and much more. Reason Essentials also includes a built-in virtual guitar and bass amp modeler, courtesy of Line 6's POD series. Using Essentials, you'll be able to mix, master, and track just about anything.
Balance In Use
One of the most interesting features of Balance is the anti-piracy feature IgnitionKey. Your software licenses for Reason Essentials is stored within your interface -- eliminating the need for an extra iLok -- allowing you to bring Balance with you to work on other computers, software and all.
How does Balance sound? When used with high-quality microphones, Balance's preamp sounds excellent -- silky smooth, musical, and able to deal with extended frequency response and high SPL with ease. Misusing the preamp stage is protected by Propellerhead's Clip Safe procedure -- allowing you to record your audio to two channels, one pre-set to a lower gain setting; if one channel clips, you can instantly substitute the other, non-clipped channel.
Balance also has a very nicely done meter, which doubles as an instrument tuner on the TRS inputs; this allows you to tune instruments before recording direct, saving time overdubbing failed takes later on due to tuning issues.
Overall, Balance -- combined with Reason Essentials -- works beautifully. Even on my modest-spec'ed Macbook Pro, I had very little issue using Balance full speed ahead; at no time did I experience a slow-down due to overworked system resources. Such a powerful package in such a small footprint, along with the included software, offers new recording engineers an extremely powerful product. And, with a retail price around $450 for the total package, an easy way to start not just recording, but actually creating, on a budget.
Balance with Reason Essentials is available now for around $450.