#IFuckingLoveREAPER (a listicle of why REAPER is the best DAW for music)


Our new song about the Cold War

I fucking love REAPER.

I started being recorded by other engineers in 1984….On multitrack tape.

I used to spend between $400 USD and $35,000 USD to make a record. On 8 tracks. Or one time, 16 tracks. (The $35k one.)

I started recording music on my computer in 1998, using the program ACID, and then in 1999, VEGAS (before Sony bought it, and when it was only an audio multitracking solution, not a video editor.)

Later I used the programs FRUITY LOOPS (now FL Studio), ACID, and CUBASE.

Last year I switched to REAPER.

I LOVE it, and I want to share the love.

Here’s what’s great about the REAPER DAW (digital audio workstation):
-Free to try for 60 days, full working version.
–60 dollars to buy after that.
–Requires no dongle.
–Is available for Windows, Mac, and even Linux. 64-bit and even 32-bit.
–Updated with improvements far more frequently than the expensive “big boy” DAWs.
–Has a great community online with (mostly) friendly, helpful people.
–Has a guy whose job in the company is making very clear, concise REAPER tutorial videos on YouTube. A few new ones every week, and has done this since 2014.
–Install is quick, and file size is tiny. Like 11 megs (!). A lot of DAWs take hours to install. REAPER takes about 90 seconds to install (or to update).

–64-bit REAPER can use 32-bit VSTs, much more reliably than most DAWs, and some of the coolest free VSTs are older 32-bit ones.

–Very low memory and CPU usage. I’ve run 130 VSTs / effects on a total of 41 tracks, not only with no crashes, but with only about 8% of my total CPU in use.

Also, because of this, it will run far better on older computers than Cubase, Ableton, Pro Tools, etc.

Also, because of this, REAPER almost never crashes. When it does, it’s invariable while using a poorly coded third-party VST.

–REAPER has most functions that other DAWs have, and a lot they don’t.

There’s a joke on the Reaper forum. About half the time anyone posts a feature request, someone says “Reaper can already do that”, and then shows them how.

–REAPER has near limitless extensibility. You can change almost anything about the look, layout, feel, and functionality of REAPER. You can make custom key commands. And if you can’t do it, there is a built-in easy to use scripting language where you can change anything about the built-in Fx, or even make your own. And share them. Or find free 3rd party stuff made for REAPER.

–Almost anything you can do in REAPER, you can do live, on the fly. No need to stop the program to change settings.

–Routing is simple. Want to make a master track for a group of tracks? Make a new track, and drag the other tracks into the new track. Want to control one track’s LFO with the output of another track? You can drag and drop that, too.

–You can import and export almost any audio file format…and almost any video format. While not a dedicated video editor, you can even edit video in REAPER.

Justin Frankel, the guy who invented Reaper, and runs the small REAPER team, has a hacker mentality (in a good way), not a corporate mentality.

He co-invented ShoutCast.

He invented WinAmp and sold it to AOL back in the day for $80 million in AOL stock. So he doesn’t have to work, he loves to work. And he’s a musician. He’s not driven by the bottom line, so doesn’t make the dubious choices some DAW companies make.

He also co-invented the first file-sharing program that did not require a centrally located server.

He’s also accessible, and has a website where he will answer “any reasonable question.”

Fun fact: he also popularized, and possibly invented, the concept of replaceable themes, as “skins” for software, in 1998, with WinAmp.

I’ve written to the Steinberg company (makers of Cubase) with a question before and the answer did not come from their CEO. It came from one of their lawyers. lol.

–REAPER started in 2006, way after other DAWs had been around, so they didn’t have to figure out what works and what doesn’t from ground up…REAPER started by standing on the shoulders of giants.

–Literally zero marketing or advertising! It’s all word of mouth. So you’re not paying for that. You are definitely paying for that in almost any other DAW.

Only downsides:
–Interface is bland (but I like that, and there are free 3rd party skins, or themes, to make it prettier.) The one I use, and is in use in the screenshot above, is Default 5 Dark Extended.

I’ve tried about 30 themes, and that one has the best functionality of the ones I tried. And in my opinion, the best look.

–Doesn’t come with any instruments. But comes with tons of great FX. (Well, it comes with one instrument, ReaSynth, but it’s so basic and dull I will still say that REAPER comes with no instruments. lol.)

Many good VSTs are free (including the ones I make!). And there are a lot of 32-bit-only VSTs from years ago that still run great on REAPER. And some of them have a vintage sound that doesn’t sound like everyone else using “the latest and greatest” commercial software. I get most of mine at vst4free.com.

Reaper is so cool. You can even set it up to control it remotely from a tablet or phone, so you don’t have to run back and forth from the vocal booth when recording. I use a tablet, has more room to scroll around:

That way you can actually sit in your fluffy chair across the room and record. lol.

It’s not an app, it’s a web interface, so it works on any internet connected device on any operating system.

Simple directions to do it are here.

Edit, after publication: Some people are religious about their particular DAW to the point of being snitty about any posts that are pro-any other DAW. That even happened some with this post, when shared on the social networks.

I find that an illogical position, and it’s surprising to see someone defend their DAW like they’re defending their mother….AND condemn all other DAWs, and anyone who posts about them.

This is more true about people hating on REAPER than any other DAW. It’s new, it doesn’t cater to the “It must look super duper pro!” demographic, and it’s truly disrupting the status quo. I’ve even heard of other DAW companies blaming REAPER for piracy of their own DAW…because REAPER doesn’t use copy protection, and it’s so inexpensive to buy the full working version.

This is absurd, since people buying REAPER and using it as their main DAW (as most people who truly give REAPER a chance do), will mean LESS piracy of other DAWs. Less sales of other DAWs too, but that’s truly just the free market at work, baby.

When Pro Tools jacked the price overnight recently to $599 USD PLUS $99 USD every year for updates (!), a lot of people switched to REAPER immediately.

And many of the Pro Tools users saying “REAPER is for kids, I’m a pro, I’m sticking with Pro Tools, heck, it has Pro right there in the name” have:

–Never tried REAPER with an open mind

–Are locked into a studio that caters to people who expect Pro Tools because it’s always been the one in pro studios, even as other DAWs passed it up.

Pro Tools is so old fashioned that it can’t even use VSTs without using a third-party solution to run them. (Hint: you can easily run VSTs in Pro Tools using REAPER as that solution, lol.)

And long-running expensive studios wonder why they’re having to shutter their doors.

–Michael W. Dean,

BipTunia music, Listen free here.


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