Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My thoughts on REAPER (DAW)

Dear readers,

Few months ago, I was looking for a new Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). Back then I was using Nuendo 4. I was unable to rapidly scribble ideas and jot down even simple takes without waiting for the system to load everything.

I was first introduced to REAPER in January 2009 when we were tracking our second full-length. Rahul, the resident engineer in the studio used REAPER to track all the takes. I did not pay much attention to the DAW. Eventually the rest was recorded in my room on Nuendo 4 and finally the projects were mixed in Nuendo. Nuendo is still a good software for doing organised project but is a songwriter's nightmare.

REAPER is an acronym for Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording. That should explain what I was looking for in the first place. This seems like godsend for any writer who wants to rapidly prototype a song.
  • The loading time is ultra fast compared to any DAW I have used before.
  • There is no distinction among tracks. Any track/channel can hold any data - Audio/MIDI/Group/FX - and send/receive stream from anywhere! This actually helps when you want to swap sections and experiment with a different FX chain.
  • The way REAPER handles "takes" is amazing. I wish Nuendo had this.
  • The export stem feature in render. This is especially helpful if you are working across a geographical barrier or jump from one DAW to another.

Things that work in favour of the rapid prototyping philosophy are the same ones that kill it for people who have used analog mixers (unless they adopt).
  • The traditional DAWs like Cubase, Sonar, etc. focus on replicating behaviour of analog machines. They have dedicated Audio/MIDI/Group/FX strips. Traditional engineers often expect that in a DAW.
  • Solo "punch in" and solo "punch out" is not available. One must punch through a zone. This means that both punch in/out are (de)/activated simultaneously.
I have not used REAPER for any full fledged project. I prefer using a very handful (10-15) of third-party, VST plugins as opposed to a whole library of them. So I wouldn't be missing on anything if I jumped to REAPER from Nuendo. 


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