We all have our favorite DAWs, be it Ableton, Cubase, Logic, Reason, or ProTools, however one DAW deserves a little more attention and that’s Reaper. As with all the other DAWs out there Reaper is a self-contained platform for music production offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset, but Reaper has some nice gems up its sleeve and in this feature we will provide you with 10 reasons why you should consider Reaper either as your main platform or a complement to your existing instrumentation. Just one example, before Propellerhead released Reason 9.5 with added VST support having Reaper on the side was a given, but there’s more reasons to explore the DAW that tends to fly under the radar when comparisons are made.
Important to remember though when looking at what DAW to choose all music programs in essence sound the same, they are all doing the same thing they are assembling the content that you feed it with into a digital format, ones and zeros, which will be the same output on all platforms. What really differs is what tools you get, what the workflows look like, and how creative the DAW will make you become once getting started. One thing for sure is that once you’ve selected a DAW, and spent thousands of hours to learn all its tricks and workarounds, it is utterly hard to swap to a new platform.
Just to get you up to speed before we start – this is Reaper:
The interface in Reaper is clear, uncomplicated and stripped of unnecessary bling-bling that do not add to your overall music productivity.
Reaper has a smooth and organic workflow that really feels like it is self-propelled. Of course all platforms including Reaper can always improve but all in all Reaper really has a strong differentiator in its workflow, below is a video with the workflow being discussed and how you can also take advantage of it.
Reaper is by and large very efficient and not overly CPU hungry. This is true both at startup, loading times and effects handling. Reaper is one of the most efficient multitrack applications we’ve used over the years. It can run lots of instances of heavy‑duty plug‑ins and soft synths — probably more than many of its competitors — without stuttering to a halt. The default Reaper settings work well with eight‑core CPUs and beyond, typically offering over 95 percent utilization of all cores.
To achieve this efficiency, Reaper mostly uses ‘Anticipatory FX processing’ that runs at irregular intervals, often out of order, and slightly ahead of time. Apparently, there are very few times when the cores need to synchronise with each other, and using this scheme, Reaper can let them all crank away using nearly all of the available CPU power.
Exceptions include when you’re monitoring input signals with low latency during recording, and when you’re running Universal Audio UAD1 DSP cards, which both prefer a more classic ‘Synchronous FX multi‑processing’ scheme. If you fall into either of these categories, to achieve better performance you should do the following:
- Open Reaper’s Preferences window
- Click on the topmost category, labelled ‘Audio’.
- Un‑tick the ‘Apply anticipative FX processing when rendering’ option.
- Jump down to the Plug‑ins/VST section and tick the ‘UAD1 synchronous mode’ option.
Easy to modify both from a UI perspective and in relation to the way you want to work with it.
A great selection of default out-of-the-box plug-ins, plug-ins that will easily get you started and cover most of your needs
Check them all out here: https://www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/
Reaper comes with a variety of commonly-used audio production effects. They include tools such as ReaEQ, ReaVerb, ReaGate, ReaDelay, ReaPitch and ReaComp. The included Rea-plugins are also available as a separate download for users of other DAWS, as the ReaPlugs VST FX Suite. Also included are hundreds of JSFX plugins ranging from standard effects to specific applications for MIDI and audio. JSFX scripts are text files, which when loaded into REAPER (exactly like a VST or other plugin) become full-featured plugins ranging from simple audio effects (e.g delay, distortion, compression) to instruments (synths, samplers) and other special purpose tools (drum triggering, surround panning). All JSFX plugins are editable in any text editor and thus are fully user customizable. REAPER includes no third-party software, but is fully compatible with all versions of the VST standard (currently VST3) and thus works with the vast majority of both free and commercial plugins available. REAPER x64 can also run 32-bit plugins alongside 64-bit processes.
Reaper is inexpensive. After a free trial period of 60 days you will be prompted to purchase the product to a very reasonable price and where all money goes into maintaining and improving the DAW.
Reaper development is entirely based on user-generated feedback and input on how the platform should evolve. The Reaper forum is a great place to get into the action.
If you are running out of space it is great to learn that Reaper is really small in size and thus easy on your hard drive.
Reaper has quite the best performance meter we’ve found yet in a sequencer application, offering a wide range of useful options, including total CPU use and hard drive activity, but also displaying current RAM use and remaining system memory, both of which are handy for heavy users of samples. Anyone who is about to upgrade their computer’s memory should take a look at these last two, because there’s absolutely no point in adding more RAM if there’s still plenty available when you’re running your heaviest projects! You can even see your RAM consumption drop if you disable individual plug‑in graphic interfaces in favour of a simpler generic interface, and therefore figure out which of your ‘pretty’ plug‑ins guzzle most RAM for their graphics.
Can actually be launched from a USB stick 🙂
And of course – runs equally well on both PC and Mac
Well we could have made the list longer and you most likely can think of numerous other pros and cons but at least the 10 reasons provided here should have you seriously consider Reaper as an option platform in your music production arsenal going forward.
In getting started with Reaper you can either work yourself through the manuals, browse forums, watch and read online tutorials, like the one below. The video will take you through the basics of Reaper, from setting up for use with an interface to getting your first audio recorded, using the metronome and pulling in backing tracks to record along with – as well as input monitoring so you can hear what you’re doing, and FX so you can make things sound your own!
Enjoy adding Reaper to your music production arsenal