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Heavily customizable. Extremely light memory footprint. Cons No built-in instruments or loops. Uninviting, unintuitive interface. Bottom Line Reaper offers nearly all of the features and flexibility, if not the ease of use or visual appeal, of powerhouse digital audio workstations like Pro Tools at a fraction of the cost.
Heavily customizable. Extremely light memory footprint. Cons No built-in instruments or loops. Uninviting, unintuitive interface. Bottom Line Reaper offers nearly all of the features and flexibility, if not the ease of use or visual appeal, of powerhouse digital audio workstations like Pro Tools at a fraction of the cost. Reaper delivers live audio and virtual instrument recording, a full mixing console, real notation editing, and it supports scoring for video.
And unlike with many competing DAWs, you can use it to build your own menus, toolbars, and macros, as well as change up the entire look and color scheme of the interface.
Reaper is a complex program that requires study—making it perhaps the complete opposite of something like Apple’s GarageBand. But put in the time, load it up with some free or paid third-party plug-ins, and it pays real dividends in power and flexibility.
Reaper covers nearly all of the bases of a Pro Tools or Cubase-equipped workstation at a fraction of the price. Reaper is available in both PC and Mac versions, and a Linux version is currently in beta. The program is a paltry 17MB download, and just 66MB when fully installed. You can even run it off a portable or network drive, Cockos says.
Reaper is free of copy protection, and you can download the page manual in PDF format from the company website. There’s a day unlimited trial version, and if you buy it, you get free updates through the next full point version. Say you buy 5. Reaper also has a seriously dedicated online community, and it seems the developers are always hard at work providing updates, bug fixes, and notes.
All of this is very consumer-friendly. Both the PC and Mac versions seemed to work identically, and were both rock solid in testing. Interface The first time you open Reaper, you’re greeted with…not much.
The opening screen indicates what is arguably the biggest roadblock to getting started with this program; it’s essentially a blank slate. The left side shows your track list, and the main arranging window is to the right. Along the bottom is the mixer, with the transport sitting above it and to the left; so far, so good. But a large part of the window is completely empty. The transport is smack in the center, as if it were a bad cut-and-paste job.
The tiny icons at the top left resemble those from a year-old Windows 95 application. The dated feel extends further as you start digging into the menus and customization options; you’re faced with dialog box after dialog box, all of which contain system-font-like text, plenty of sliders, and extraneous white space.
The various mixer layouts all look mostly the same. The stock plugins, like the compressor and EQ, look like Settings dialogs instead of tools you use to shape sound with the exception of a few radically different-looking, bundled third-party plug-ins, which is jarring from a UI-perspective.
Naturally, the tiny installation size means there’s no room for fancy graphics. The good news: If looks matter to you or help boost your creativity, you can enhance the UI with skins and layouts.
Reaper includes plenty of layout examples in the program, and you can download free themes from the company site. Installing a new theme is just a matter of downloading a file and dragging it into an active Reaper project. I gave Apollo4 a whirl, and it’s a nice improvement over the stock look.
It doesn’t affect the built-in plug-ins, but it does change up the main UI in surprisingly thorough ways. There are themes that make Reaper look like analog mixing consoles, as well as some that come as close as possible to duplicating the UIs of popular DAWs like Pro Tools, Cubase and Logic. Recording and Editing Eventually, as you spend more time with Reaper, the fog begins to clear, and you’ll find you can get real work done.
Whether it’s for audio or a virtual instrument, you make a track, click the red button on the left to arm it for recording, and press the master Record button to begin. You can set up monitoring effects, such as if you want to hear a reverb in your headphones while recording a vocal. Unlike FL Studio , Reaper is suited for recording multiple audio channels of live instruments simultaneously, and from multiple interface inputs; recording a five-piece band is no problem with Reaper if you’ve got the microphones and enough preamps on your audio interface.
Reaper doesn’t come with any usable virtual instruments or loops, which is not only a bummer in and of itself, but further adds to the complexity for novices. There are tons of free plug-ins available on the web to stock up Reaper with sounds, and you can also buy professional-level packages like Native Komplete or SampleTank XL if you’ve got the cash.
Once installed on a track, the VSTs are hidden behind the “FX” button even though they’re instruments too, and not just effects. Aside from that quirk, it’s easy to populate your project with many virtual synths. Once you’ve recorded some material, Reaper’s tools for editing both audio clips and MIDI data are powerful and flexible. The piano roll is quite easy to use; I’m coming into this review off of a big project in Logic Pro X, and I’ve gotten quite tired of the way Logic’s “smart grid” somehow finds it appropriate to snap notes to 38 ticks ahead of the quarter note no matter what I do with the settings.
In Reaper, the grid is simple and works exactly as you’d expect. A few unusual interface conventions: You can’t quantize MIDI data until you open the piano roll. When recording, each time you stop you must tell the app to stop popping up a save dialog of course I want to save it; I need to hear it first before I decide what I think, and besides, using the delete key when necessary is faster than asking me every single time.
You must also tell it to route to stereo outputs every single time you open an instance of a multitimbral instrument; otherwise you’ll end up with 32 sends and 16 stereo outputs for a single kazoo track. Mixing and Mastering The mixer view seems inflexible at first, but as with everything else in Reaper, there’s a ton you can do with it. All the standard controls are there for muting, soloing, and panning tracks, and you can group tracks or track parameters together anywhere in the signal chain, as well as implement any complex routing scheme you can think of.
The included “Rea” VST effects are surprisingly comprehensive, in contrast to the complete lack of bundled instruments; you even get ReaTune for correcting vocal pitch and ReaVerb for realistic convolution reverb. Reaper includes full automation capabilities for tracks as well as instrument and effect parameters. While working, you can freeze or bounce tracks to free up memory and CPU cycles. There’s a powerful scripting engine underneath the surface called ReaScript that lets you code improvements to the program in three languages: Python, Lua, or EEL.
I didn’t test this last part, because my programming chops are rusty and holy cow, that’s really getting into the weeds! In testing, I built a full arrangement using sounds from IK Multimedia’s SampleTank 3, one of many great sound sources available if you need something to “fill out” Reaper with thousands of sounds quickly.
A solid free rompler alternative is Orion by SampleScience. The built-in compressor sounded good on individual tracks and across the mix bus, and I was able to get some good levels going even without a dedicated limiter added. The parametric EQ offers suitable precision as well, and at least has a prominent visual aid. This should go without saying these days, but just to be clear, Reaper “sounds” just like any other modern DAW.
The microphones, mic preamps, instruments, and plug-ins matter more than any internal differences in the summing or mix bus between DAWs, especially at Reaper’s bit level.
You can achieve fully professional results with this program, full stop. On a PC, it’s almost a no-brainer; it’s probably the least expensive way to get a full-featured DAW for recording live instruments, running VSTs, and making finished recordings without limitation. These generally have more mature interfaces, much more in the way of included sounds, and in my opinion clearer and easier workflow.
But they’re all purposely feature-limited in a way Reaper isn’t, in order to get you to spend more money on the top-of-the-line editions. And most don’t run as well as Reaper on older PCs. Reaper’s dedicated online community, combined with all the features, the lack of copy protection, and the low entry price, make this program a tempting proposition, particularly if you’re tired of the “bloat” from other DAWs or just want something affordable that realizes your creative vision.
It’s a question of how important the ability to “tune the tool itself” is before you get onto the business of making music, or while doing so; if that concept appeals to you, you’ll find a lot to like in Reaper. It’s the underdog DAW, but it’s also not much of a sacrifice at all to use it. On the Mac, Reaper is a bit less of a sure thing. Apple’s free GarageBand comes with lots of instruments, loops, guitar effects, and amp simulations, and even “smart” instruments that can play their own parts to help you get writing quickly.
GarageBand is no toy anymore, as it’s derived from Logic Pro X—the interface is largely the same, and you can record dozens of live audio tracks simultaneously with it—and it also provides a seamless upgrade path to Logic.
That said, GarageBand lacks a proper mix console view, which is a serious omission, and has little of Reaper’s UI customizability and routing flexibility. Look at it that way, and it’s still tough to go wrong with Reaper.
This software is able to record sound from multiple inputs at the same time, allowing you edit your recordings in almost any way. It also includes a wide range of non-destructive MIDI and audio processing effects. You can also use third-party effects. REAPER is compatible with a wide variety of plug-ins or software and it works with almost any hardware.
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REAPER is digital audio workstation software a complete multitrack audio and Reaper. by Cockos. Category: Audio Editors; Last Updated: ; File. The Reaper demo is available to all software users as a free download with potential restrictions compared with the full Cockos Incorporated. Download and Evaluate REAPER for Free. Download REAPER below for a free, fully functional day evaluation. No registration or personal details are.