I remem­ber when I first got to use ReBirth some time back when a 40 GB hard drive was huge. That was amaz­ing. Then I was blown away by this new prod­uct called Rea­son that had a cool tab func­tion that allowed you to get to the back of the vir­tual rack and move around the patch cables until you had no idea of what was going on. That was cool. Now, I am sit­ting here with another devel­op­ment from Pro­peller­head that I never expected to see – Bal­ance, a ded­i­cated desk­top audio inter­face for use with their lat­est soft­ware (or just about any other soft­ware really).

So, now that I have the lat­est Pro­peller­head inno­va­tion in front of me, it is nice to be ‘wowed’ by them yet again, more than fif­teen years after the my first intro­duc­tion to the Swedish soft­ware man­u­fac­turer that has rede­fined the way many peo­ple write and pro­duce their music. So, Bal­ance. What exactly is it? Pro­peller­head have stepped it up a lit­tle more this time with the lat­est launch of the Rea­son range and brought us Bal­ance, an audio inter­face to use with our favourite soft­ware. It has a cer­tain Swedish charm in the design. You could be for­given for mis­tak­ing it for an item from the IKEA cat­a­logue, but that is all part of the charm. It is form and func­tion all together in a unique design and clever layout.

The rear of the unit has all the con­nec­tions (except the head­phone out­put that is located on the side for easy access). There are four line level inputs, two gui­tar inputs with pad switch­ing and two micro­phone inputs on XLR con­nec­tions both with inde­pen­dent phan­tom power but­tons. There are also two line level out­puts on 6.5mm jacks and a USB con­nec­tion hid­den under a sticker warn­ing you to install Rea­son Essen­tials before con­nect­ing the unit. So, that answers the next ques­tion. Yes, it does come with bun­dled soft­ware.
Bun­dled with Rea­son Essen­tials, Bal­ance is ready to go right out of the box. This is obvi­ously a cut down ver­sion of Rea­son 6, but do not let that dis­cour­age you. You still get audio record­ing capa­bil­i­ties and a whole array of effects and vir­tual instru­ments to get you started and if you find that is not enough, you can eas­ily upgrade to the full ver­sion with­out pay­ing the full price.

The top panel of the unit makes it all really easy. There are two large knobs for main out­put lev­els and head­phone lev­els with a Mute/Direct Mon­i­tor­ing switch to dic­tate what is heard. Above this is the gain con­trols for the two inputs and two rows of but­tons to select the inputs you want to run from. This makes it pos­si­ble to con­nect up to eight sep­a­rate devices to the Bal­ance hard­ware and leave them con­nected. Then, when you want to record from any two of these eight, you just tap the appro­pri­ate but­ton and the sig­nal flow is routed for you. It makes it very easy to stream­line you stu­dio and not have to con­stantly change you con­nec­tions around for dif­fer­ent parts.
In all, this is a really trendy lit­tle inter­face. It looks great to behold. It feels great to oper­ate. It is bun­dled with a seri­ous soft­ware pack­age and even the box it comes in looks like it should take pride of place on a shelf in your stu­dio. The Swedes don’t leave any­thing to chance.
By Rob Gee

Price: RRP $499
Dis­trib­u­tor: Music Link
Phone: (03) 9765 6565

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