reaper sound editor interview Asbjoern Andersen


Excitement for the REAPER DAW continues to build, and in this special two-part guide, Anne-Sophie Mongeau shares her insights on how to make the most of it as a sound design tool – based on years of working with it for sound design:


Written by Anne-Sophie Mongeau



 

Over the last few years, Reaper has gained exponential popularity among audio professionals. It is indeed a powerful sound design tool which allows great flexibility and rapid workflow, provided that you familiarize yourself with some of its atypical functionalities and develop good habits from the start.

I have put together a series of workflow tips which I have come to develop over some years of working with Reaper. They are meant to provide some insight on how to get started, developing good habits and taking advantage of Reaper’s unique features. In this first article of a two parts series, I will go through the setting up process. In the second article, I will explore the Reaper workflow as well as some useful features.

There is of course more than one way to work with this DAW, and more than one set of shortcuts. If you already work with Reaper, you may take some of these tips as suggestions rather than instructions. However if you are just getting started, I strongly recommend following these simple guidelines.

Getting started

Set the Reaper Project Settings

Setting up the Reaper Project Settings (File > Project Settings or alt+ENTER) to your liking at an early stage will allow you to save a considerable amount of time. By clicking ‘Save as default project settings’, you will only need to this step once. Given the use I make of Reaper (mostly for sound design), this is how I usually like those settings:
Reaper project settings

Under the Project Settings tab
• Project sample rate: 48000 Hz
• BPM: 120
• Time signature: 4/4
• Timebase for items/envelopes/markers & Timebase for tempo/time signature envelope:

This is relevant mostly if you are working with tempo changes (for example if you are composing music and/or working with video). It determines how those different elements will behave when you change the BPM (overall or per section). It also matters if you are working with sound files or MIDI. You usually wouldn’t want to stretch your sound files when changing the project tempo, as this might generate unwanted artifacts. However, MIDI files can be stretched in order to match your tempo change and the virtual instrument will adapt accordingly without affecting the quality. Hence, I usually leave the Timebase for items/envelopes/markers to Beats (position only) and the Timebase for tempo/time signature envelope to Beats.

However, I strongly suggest setting the appropriate timebase for each relevant track when/if necessary. (Right-click on a track > Set track timebase > Time. This is very useful if you have both midi and audio files within your project, or if some items/tracks are beat sensitive and some others aren’t.
 

Reaper project media settings

Under the Media Tab
• WAV bit depth set to 24 bit PCM
• Set a Path to save media files.

This will create a subdirectory within your project directory to store media files. It is very useful to keep project directories clean, especially when working with hundreds of files. I name this path ‘Audio’, it could also be named ‘MediaFiles’ or something equivalent.

I usually leave the Video and Advanced tabs options to their default state, and change them per project when/if necessary.

The Notes tab can actually be quite useful when sharing sessions. For instance, you can write something about your latest changes or incomplete tasks to let your coworker(s) know, and tick the Show notes on project load box to make sure it appears when the session is opened.

When you are happy with your settings, click the Save as default project settings button to make sure these are remembered for every subsequently created Reaper session. You can always go back and modify them per project.
 

Set the Reaper Preferences

In addition to the Project Settings, you can use the Reaper Preferences window to set various paths, device and appearance settings, and so on. One of Reaper’s great strengths is its customisability; the Preferences give you a tremendous amount of options to personalize your workflow. It would be impossible to go through the entire Preferences in one article, but the following are some of my favored settings:

General > Paths
Tick Store all peak caches (.reapeaks) in alternate path and set path.
This will save all the reapeaks files in an alternate directory which will leave your project directory much cleaner.

Project
Tick Prompt to save on new project.
I find it extremely useful to be prompted to save when creating a new session: it avoids ending up with sessions saved in the wrong places, or work in an unsaved project for a while (which is risky). I find it’s a disciplined way of keeping my Reaper sessions neatly organised.

Audio > Device
Select appropriate audio drivers & system
This is where you set which Audio system and drivers you wish to use, according to the equipment you are working with (audio interface). It is as straightforward as it is important: not setting the Audio system properly will result in errors when trying to playback or record audio.

Audio > MIDI Devices
If a MIDI device is not detected automatically, this is where you should see any connected device and be able to right-click it and select ‘enable input’.

Appearance > Media
I like to personalise the Media item buttons displayed on the items within the project. I find that the most useful ones are

Locked, Not locked (will allow you to quickly be able to click that button whenever an item needs to be locked);
Muted, Not muted (same with Mute button);
Per-take FX (will only show if an effect is present on the item);
Automation Envelopes (same with envelopes);
Notes (same with notes);
Item Properties only if resampled media;
Pooled MIDI;
Grouped items.

Plug-ins > VST
You can set one or more VST plug-in paths here and simply hit ‘Re-scan’ if you acquire new plug-ins and VSTs to update your database.

There are many other features you can customise, such as the scroll and zoom functionalities and anything appearance related, but I find that at least with those quick additions you are in a good place for an efficient workflow. Those settings will be remembered for all subsequently created Reaper projects.
 


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
  • Vehicles Skate on Board Play Track 112 sounds included, 22 mins total $49.99

    Skate on Board is an SFX library with the purpose of bringing alive the hidden sounds of skateboarding. This library has 65 stereo recordings with the best sound quality of actions such as jumps, pass by, and grinds over different surfaces like concrete banquets, and rail tubes. Furthermore, this library contains 47 mono audios of P.O.V perspectives which were reordered with different microphones attached to the skateboard to capture the full maneuvers and details of skateboarding.

    Add to cart
  • The west is still wild.  A collection of clean and loopable natural ambient atmosphere elements – each 3 minutes long. This collection represents my best content and works great in multitrack layers.

    The core of this collection are natural sounds captured in the wilds of Oregon, USA – Western North America. The wildlife in the forests, streams, lakes, coast, and deserts of Oregon are a good substitute for most US and Canadian states west of the Rocky Mountains, including Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, British Colombia, Alberta, Alaska, and Wyoming.

    These recordings are from a pristine environment that avoid any human caused sounds.

    22 %
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    Ends 1566943200
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  • Animals & Creatures Broken Robot Play Track 87 sounds included $12.99 $6.99

    This library is a small “utility” collection of sounds great for use as Robot/Machines but also great for UI and Weapon design elements.  Servos, various metal objects and analog synths were recorded as source material to create this library.  The library includes raw servo recordings and meticulously performed or designed robotic/machine-like sounds.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

    46 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Electricity Electric Arcs and Energy Play Track 266 sounds included $39.99 $19.99

    Electric Arcs and Energy is essentially two separate collections of sounds.  The first, Electrical Arcs are more raw.  These arc sounds can be manipulated and mangled to be used as design elements in your project.  They are highly flexible and can easily be pitch-shifted -48 semitones or more.  They remain remarkably useful and clean giving each sound multiple “dimensions”.

    The Electrical Energy collection is a series of more specified design elements that I created – Impacts and Powerups.  Meant to be used in Weapon or UI design they should be flexible enough to be used as stand-alone effects or layers in more complex sounds.

    Recording and Editing

    This library was designed from scratch by recording highly unconventional metal sources with a cello bow and processing them (see one example in video). Great care was taken during the recording and editing process to ensure maximum flexibility of these sounds.  The recording was done at 24/192kHz using the Sennheiser MKH 2050 mic which captures frequencies up to 50kHz.  All processing and design was then performed at 192kHz.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

     

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Whooshes liftFX Play Track 275+ sounds included $89 $71.20

    AWE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH RISERS, BUILD-UPS, DROPS AND MORE.
    Risers, build-ups, drops, breaks, downlifters, swells, sweeps, falls – it has never been so easy to hype your audience. Forget samples, just turn the knob or let liftFX even do that for you, automatically, in beat sync at the length you need it to be.

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Playable in real-time with instant auditive and visual feedback
    • Any length, tempo, pitch range and root note possible
    • Tempo sync or time (s) duration
    • Control key parameters independently or automatically (+ reversed)
    • Automation and modwheel (cc1) support for each parameter
    • 275 nifty presets included
    • Optional time lock and control lock to try different presets with current setting
    • High cut and low cut filters, reverb and delay
    • Lightweight plug-in, as it relies on synthesis
    USE CASES:

    • Build captivating uplifters, downlifters, drops, rhythmic, percussive builds and more effects out of the box
    • Any electronic genre such as EDM, Trap, Dubstep, Pop, Hip Hop, Drum’n’Bass, House, Techno, and more
    • Cinematic and experimental sound design
    • Beef up your synthesizers with tonal layers or harmonic overtones to achieve a fat, rich sound
    • liftFX requires a free iLok account (click to learn more)
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567116000
    Add to cart

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Saving a Reaper session

When saving a new Reaper session, you should always:
• tick Create subdirectory for project
Copy all media into project directory.

reaper file names
This allows the Reaper session to be completely independent and non destructive to original files. It will create a folder containing the Reaper session file along with copied media files. The ‘Audio’ Path to save media files created earlier in the Project Settings will create a subfolder within the directory for all media files. If you don’t do these steps, you will encounter issues when moving the project and could be modifying original files.
 

More reads on REAPER
Want to know more about REAPER? Here are some more A Sound Effect stories about it:

The Rise of REAPER – with Justin Frankel
5 useful tips for making the most of REAPER – by Jon Tidey

 

Set and use shortcuts

In Reaper (as in any DAW really), keyboard shortcuts are your friends. Many of them will be set by default, you may like them or want to change them according to what you are used to from a previous DAW workflow, or simply adjust them to what makes more sense to you. You can access all actions and shortcuts through the Action list window: Actions > Show actions list…
reaper shortcuts

• To find an action (per type or per name), use the Filter (for instance split, glue, nudge, etc);
• To find out what actions are performed by specific shortcuts, use the Find Shortcut button;
• To set custom shortcuts for existing actions, use the Shortcuts for select action section at the bottom left. Simply select the action in the action list, click the Add… button and enter the desired shortcut. If the shortcut is already used, Reaper will prompt you to decide if you wish to override it or keep the original one.
• To create custom actions click on Custom actions: New > drag desired actions. You can then assign a shortcut to your custom action. This is very handy and can greatly increase your workflow speed when you need to perform some repetitive task.
 

Get the SWS extensions

They can be downloaded here

The SWS extensions are a collection of features which integrate directly and seamlessly into Reaper as additional functionalities. It is entirely free and extremely simple to install, you can find a full list of their actions here.

This concludes how to get set up using Reaper. Keep an eye out for the second article of this two part series to know more about the Reaper workflow and some of its useful and unique features.
 

A big thanks to Anne-Sophie Mongeau for her REAPER insights! Part two of this guide – covering workflow and some of the unique REAPER features – is here

 

Please share this:


 

 

About Anne-Sophie Mongeau
Anne-Sophie Mongeau is a game audio engineer at DIGIT Game Studios, and has a great blog about sound here. You can also meet her on Twitter here.

 


 
 
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    With DATA sound library Sound Response brings you high quality collection of meticulously designed data processing and readout sci-fi sound effects!

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  • Environments Autumn Forest Vol. 01 – Ambiences Play Track 209 sounds included, 499 mins total $86

    This library contains more than 200 natural ambience clips with embedded metadata. They´re mixed and cut into: loops, transitions and variations to be ready to use inside your project.

    The metadata precisely points out any bird species, the specific environment and acoustic properties, the current day-cycle, weather conditions and any foreground or background events that are audible in the clip. To enhance the ease of use, I decided to structure the library as a modular toolbox for ambience sound design.

    It has been recorded in some of the oldest, quietest and most pristine forests all over Germany and offers a large collection of active and quiet nature ambiences featuring a variety of different natural environments and wildlife.

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Vehicles Skate on Board Play Track 112 sounds included, 22 mins total $49.99

    Skate on Board is an SFX library with the purpose of bringing alive the hidden sounds of skateboarding. This library has 65 stereo recordings with the best sound quality of actions such as jumps, pass by, and grinds over different surfaces like concrete banquets, and rail tubes. Furthermore, this library contains 47 mono audios of P.O.V perspectives which were reordered with different microphones attached to the skateboard to capture the full maneuvers and details of skateboarding.

  • The west is still wild.  A collection of clean and loopable natural ambient atmosphere elements – each 3 minutes long. This collection represents my best content and works great in multitrack layers.

    The core of this collection are natural sounds captured in the wilds of Oregon, USA – Western North America. The wildlife in the forests, streams, lakes, coast, and deserts of Oregon are a good substitute for most US and Canadian states west of the Rocky Mountains, including Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, British Colombia, Alberta, Alaska, and Wyoming.

    These recordings are from a pristine environment that avoid any human caused sounds.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Animals & Creatures Broken Robot Play Track 87 sounds included $12.99 $6.99

    This library is a small “utility” collection of sounds great for use as Robot/Machines but also great for UI and Weapon design elements.  Servos, various metal objects and analog synths were recorded as source material to create this library.  The library includes raw servo recordings and meticulously performed or designed robotic/machine-like sounds.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

    46 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Electricity Electric Arcs and Energy Play Track 266 sounds included $39.99 $19.99

    Electric Arcs and Energy is essentially two separate collections of sounds.  The first, Electrical Arcs are more raw.  These arc sounds can be manipulated and mangled to be used as design elements in your project.  They are highly flexible and can easily be pitch-shifted -48 semitones or more.  They remain remarkably useful and clean giving each sound multiple “dimensions”.

    The Electrical Energy collection is a series of more specified design elements that I created – Impacts and Powerups.  Meant to be used in Weapon or UI design they should be flexible enough to be used as stand-alone effects or layers in more complex sounds.

    Recording and Editing

    This library was designed from scratch by recording highly unconventional metal sources with a cello bow and processing them (see one example in video). Great care was taken during the recording and editing process to ensure maximum flexibility of these sounds.  The recording was done at 24/192kHz using the Sennheiser MKH 2050 mic which captures frequencies up to 50kHz.  All processing and design was then performed at 192kHz.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

     

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Whooshes liftFX Play Track 275+ sounds included $89 $71.20

    AWE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH RISERS, BUILD-UPS, DROPS AND MORE.
    Risers, build-ups, drops, breaks, downlifters, swells, sweeps, falls – it has never been so easy to hype your audience. Forget samples, just turn the knob or let liftFX even do that for you, automatically, in beat sync at the length you need it to be.

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Playable in real-time with instant auditive and visual feedback
    • Any length, tempo, pitch range and root note possible
    • Tempo sync or time (s) duration
    • Control key parameters independently or automatically (+ reversed)
    • Automation and modwheel (cc1) support for each parameter
    • 275 nifty presets included
    • Optional time lock and control lock to try different presets with current setting
    • High cut and low cut filters, reverb and delay
    • Lightweight plug-in, as it relies on synthesis
    USE CASES:

    • Build captivating uplifters, downlifters, drops, rhythmic, percussive builds and more effects out of the box
    • Any electronic genre such as EDM, Trap, Dubstep, Pop, Hip Hop, Drum’n’Bass, House, Techno, and more
    • Cinematic and experimental sound design
    • Beef up your synthesizers with tonal layers or harmonic overtones to achieve a fat, rich sound
    • liftFX requires a free iLok account (click to learn more)
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567116000
 
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