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on 10 June 2012
This is an amazing piece of hardware and I don't think Propellerheads really do enough to market exactly what it is. It's a recording device and that's what most people stop at but it's more than that. It's also a high quality soundcard type device with its own ASIO driver which lets you record with a latency of 2ms. I use headphones primarily so I just plug them into the jack socket on the right hand side of this unit. If you want to plug in PC speakers then you could use the same jack socket with a 6.35mm to 3.5mm converter (which it doesn't come with) or you could plug in studio monitors to the left and right mono out sockets on the rear of the device.

A nice thing about this is that I could also use it on my laptop, giving it the same high quality audio capabilities as my desktop so my set-up becomes completely portable if needed. I took out my old sound card now that I have this and it replaces all PC audio, not just ASIO drivers. Obviously it doesn't do fancy surround sound or anything so you would still need your internal sound card if you have a surround set-up for playing games or movies that utilise surround sound.

For recording, I've only used it so far with a mic which worked very well. The 2x XLR mic sockets on the back provide phantom power and both have independent power buttons.
I noticed a slight buzzing sound when I first tried it out but it turned out to be my cordless landline phone base station that was too close to the Balance and caused interference. It went away completely when I moved the phone away.

It also acts as an ignition key that saves your license information so you wouldn't need this and an ignition key to authorise your Reason session.

As for downsides. The USB cable supplied is only 1m long which is barely enough to place the unit on your desk straight above the computer. I bought a longer USB cable so that I could reposition it on the opposite side of my desk. The cable must be plugged directly into a USB port on the computer and not a hub unfortunately so supplying a short cable like this did seem to be a bit counter-intuitive.
The input selector LED indication lights on the buttons could be brighter. They are elegantly subtle and good enough for my purposes but I'm sure there would be a lot of situations where others would find this a slight annoyance in brightly lit areas.

I would have liked it to come with a padded carry case also as it's quite a unique shape and isn't something you would want to knock around when on the move.

Pros:
High quality low latency ASIO recording device.
Supplies phantom power for mic sockets.
Replaces your need for a sound card (Stereo only).
Contains licensing info so replaces the ignition key.
Powered via USB so no additional mains supply required.
Gives your laptop the same audio capabilities as your desktop.

Cons:
LED's could be brighter.
USB cable supplied is too short.
A carry case would be nice - even if sold separately.
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on 17 August 2013
Firstly, if you have any version of Reason (full Reason, not Essentials) when you order this unit then you will be given a full upgrade to the latest version of Reason, in my case from 6.5 to 7. This is not obvious unless you look carefully at the Propellerhead site and it makes this unit something of a bargain because a Reason upgrade alone (best price) is £90.
Secondly, this unit is really useful. It looks great and works perfectly. I upgraded Reason (install the included Essentials software, register it with the supplied codes, then Propellerhead will automatically give you the Reason upgrade via a download), installed the latest Windows drivers for Balance (via the Propellerhead site), plugged in to a USB 2.o port, chose ASIO BALANCE as my input Audio device in the Reason config and off it went. I plugged in a guitar and Balance gave me perfect performance with good sound quality. The headphone output is just adequate but drives my Sennheisers to an acceptable volume. I will probably take advantage of the outputs to drive an amp and speaker before too long. Bear in mind that you can't use Balance AND your computer's soundcard simultaneously with Reason. It has to be one or the other.
Highly recommended!
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on 28 June 2013
Reminds me of the thrill of buying your first piece of Apple gear. The packaging, the feel of the product. The design is worthy of an award. The sound is sublime. If only Reason accepted video, it would be the ultimate DAW in the world. This replaced my Pro Tools LE set up and my recordings sound infinitely better. Clever people those Propellerhead
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on 19 November 2011
I bought this unit from dolphin music uk and was pleasantly supried to recieve it 2 days later. Out of the box it is wonderful and i am going to copy+paste a short review i did on the propellerheads forums:

I have a Dell Studio 1558 laptop with a core i5, about 3gb of ram, and a 7200rpm hdd

First looks is that it's a SWEET looking interface and sounds great aswell (i think, though not much experience in this area, so i'll just assume it does due to the price).. Have to put the input knob up to full to squeeze a good sound out of my beta 57 going straight into the mic in - but it sounds clear and like it should do.

The fingerprints show up a lot on the rubber.

Been trying to get used to reason again as it's been so long, but essentials is great too.

[rant]
I have to say moving from an mBox mini 2 & pro tools - balance & essentials has a much nicer 'workflow'. The installation was weeks before I bought it (Love this decision Pheads), and unlike pro tools, it didn't crash my computer 50 times on installation. It also doesn't stop halfway through a recording 80% of the time complaining there's not enough cpu, and this was at 512 sample buffer anyway *angry face*
[/rant]

On the subject of latency, balance kills it. On Edit->Preferences->Audio, I use 64 sample buffer size, and it displays I get 2ms Input, and 1ms Output.
I can't hear any delay when recording anything so thumbs up!
I did have a slight problem at first though, which caused the audio to glitch randomly - but I found it was due to a WLAN driver. Now that's sorted, I haven't heard a glitch since, and I can happily browse the internet while my friend records bass (hehe).

Anyway, it's kinda useful not having to switch jacks around all the time but then you end up with 8 cables lying under your desk and 6 of them never being used. I know this is a negative outlook but it's easy to forget the luxury it gives you as a little interface.

The fact you can only use 1 L and 1 R input at a time is a little restricting too, but i've never been a huge fan of recording live, so that's not a problem for me. On the subject of restriction - i think most 'singer songwriters' in which this is aimed at just use usb keyboards and the likes, so this deemed incorporating midi useless to Pheads. IMHO I think they could have sacrificed one of the stereo lines for midi, because for me they just sit there uselessly, for others with more instruments - maybe not.

This interface is expensive for what it is (a 2in 2 out with no midi) but as soon as you open the (super duper sexy) box you know this product was built by pros and I have faith in it lasting a long time for me.

Before I forget, the meter/tuner button is very handy and I use it before recording. The clip safe button is interesting, but you can't use it while recording both L and R, so it deems useless most of the time for me when recording guitar with line+mic.
The mute/direct monitoring button is also very handy and they are all so fun to press, sometimes getting in the way of productivity cause it's all so damn sexy! And finally the knobs are just.. well.. perfect.

I recorded a cover of the sad waltzes of pietro crespi with a friend in an evening, but the vocals need redoing. Any tips would be appreciated too
[...]

I'd say that balance gets a massive thumbs up from me. But I've only used a few interfaces in the past. If it had a slightly better price then I'd be even happier, but every time I look over to it, it satisfies me to no end.
33 comments|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 April 2012
This is a great device. Excellent build quality. If you are into home recording look no further. A great partner for Reason or Reason Essentials
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on 6 February 2014
I've loved Reason software for years. I use it on a Macbook Pro.
I've used a variety of USB interfaces and they've been fine.
But this is on another level - which is what I'd expect from those perfectionists at Propellerhead...
Solid, beautifully designed, very low latency.
I plug in microphones (instruments and vocal), electric guitars, electric acoustic / classical guitars / basses etc etc.
Built in tuner is useful.
I really couldn't see how they could make it any better. Cheaper yes, better no!
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on 12 September 2012
i recently purchased reason 6 hoping that i will be able to record and mix my music almost on professional level, but i must say...balance is the product, that makes the whole experience with reason complete. it works perfectly, it looks stunning. it is simply a sweet device. the price is also little more reasonable now (compared to as it was released), so definetly worth the money too.
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on 1 April 2015
Just what I wanted - brilliant..
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on 3 February 2013
This interface is an absolute beauty to behold, haptic heaven to touch. Moreover, the Propellerhead company has opened up their Reason software to third party modules in their own Apple-like app-store, safe and effective. This is now clearly for beginners and pros alike, while Balance even functions as a hardware key. Way to go, Propellerhead and Amazon!
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