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:  
  • Foley Switch Play Track 124 sounds included $20

    124 recordings of various switches and buttons, flipped, pressed and clicked. This collection contains household light and lamp switches, radio buttons and a variety of other activate and click presses.

    Recorded in 2018 and 2019 with a stereo shotgun microphone.

    All sounds were recorded and edited at 24-bit / 96Khz resolution and mastered to broadcast quality, with only the best final sounds selected for this collection. Each audio file includes embedded meta-data.

    Add to cart
  • Whooshes Effective Trailer Risers Play Track 106 sounds included, 26 mins total $34.99

    Over 100 cinematic riser effects and epic buildups featuring distorted synths, eerie whispers, sci-fi glitches, hardcore guitars, dramatic reverses, drilling leads, and profoundly evolving textures. This original library is from the personal collection of trailer music composer Federico Soler Fernández (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” – “Halloween – 2018” – “The Predator 2018”)

    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Botswana Play Track 49+ sounds included, 136 mins total From: $60

    Botswana Faunethic sound library is a unique collection of 49 sounds recorded through several national parks of the country (Okavango, Chobe,…). All these sounds has been recorded and produced with high quality equipment in multichannel.

    This collection offers a wide diversity of soundscapes and animals sounds such as:

    -Bush, savanna and forest soundscapes.
    -Hippopotamus grunt and vocals.
    -Elephants vocals, showering and drinking.
    -Zebras and impalas fighting.
    -Lion chasing an elephant during one night.
    -Birds and insects at different perspectives.
    -Villages

    If you want to hear more about this field recording trip, feel free to check this post.
    The multichannel version contains 40 tracks in native 4.0 and 9 tracks recorded in stereo only.

    This library provides authentic and interesting sounds, recorded with DPA, MBHO and Neumann mics powered by an Aeta 4minX.
    All Faunethic tracks includes metadata carefully edited, compatible with Soundminer, Soundly and Basehead.

  • City Life Shenzhen Play Track 53 sounds included, 266 mins total $39.99 $19.99

    Shenzhen is the first ever sound library of the Silicon Valley of China. Jzoo Sound invites you on the first ever audiological journey to the unique locations in Shenzhen that only locals know.

    This is a unique collection of sounds captured of various atmospheres at different times of the day. From energetic local farmer’s market, to howling subway tubes, to local middle school performance day, to old alleyways of a forgotten part of town.

    The library also contains many rhythmic elements, such as meat chopping, construction hammering, and ominous beeps. Not to mention the echoing Chinese announcements between two schools, and the cacophony of crying and construction in a forgotten alley. I hope this library will even meet your sound design needs, and ultimately show you a local and unique side of China.

    All recorded in 24 bit/96 kHz. Some recordings contain detail information above 20khz. The library is passionately described emotive words, and all the recordings are fully tagged with metadatas compatible with Soundminer, Basehead and Soundly.

    Gear Used: Roland R26, four channel built-in microphones (OMNI and XY), four channels merged down to a stereo file.

    Shoot me an email if you have any questions: shiheng_xu@emerson.edu

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1561845600
    Add to cart
  • Twisted Reality – Drones & Other Worlds, brings you 50 dark, twisted, ominous and magical drones / underscores for all your sound design needs. Perfect to create that unworldly atmosphere in your theatre show, film or game. Made from original field recordings and twisted into something quite different, the styles vary from monotone drone to full soundscape. All styles covered from, the condemned man's last walk, to the Snow Queen's, Ice Palace, and with most of the files over 3 mins, there should be plenty there to cover your scene.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1561845600
    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.

 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Mechanical Gizmo Play Track 2500+ sounds included, 244 mins total
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $125

    Gizmo is a mechanism library for designing mechanical actions in machinery without the engines. This library covers the gambit of steam, ronks, clicks, clanks, clunks, servos and all sorts of mechanical actions from various props.

    Unlike most libraries, this one was recorded at 192 with a stereo pair of Sanken CO100k microphones for extreme lossless pitching, so you can take something small like a typewriter, and make it sound like a massive printing machine.

    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Animal Hyperrealism Vol II Play Track Over 2000 sounds included
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $170

    Animal Hyperrealism Vol II is a library containing sounds themed animal vocalisations, from real to designed creatures totaling more than 2000 individual sounds in 283 files.

    The sounds were partly recorded with animals trained for media production, partly recorded in zoos and wildlife centers. The asset list includes but is not limited to: amur leopards, bottlenose dolphins, californian sealions, pacific walruses, red ruffed lemurs, owls, parrots, dwarf little fruit bats, hamsters, guinea pigs and many more.

    The content has been recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K plus a Sennheiser 8050 for center image and a couple of Sennheiser MKH8040 for stereo image.
    A special section of the library features samples recorded at 384KHz. For these sounds an additional microphone was employed, specifically the CMPA by Avisoft-Bioacoustics which records up to 200 KHz. This microphone was actually used to record most of the library but the 384KHz format was preserved only where energy was found beyond 96KHz not to occupy unnecessary disk space.
    All files are delivered as stereo bounce of these for mics, though in some instances an additional couple of CO100K was added to the sides.
    The resulting ultrasonic spectrum is rich and allows for truly extreme manipulation of the content.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • “Old Cars – Short Passby” is a library with a lot of classic cars: Ford, MG, Jaguar, Porsche, Triumph, Cobra, Austin, Alpha and more.
    You will find 45 files with single car Pass Bys. The files are not named after specific cars/manufacturers.

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Foley Switch Play Track 124 sounds included $20

    124 recordings of various switches and buttons, flipped, pressed and clicked. This collection contains household light and lamp switches, radio buttons and a variety of other activate and click presses.

    Recorded in 2018 and 2019 with a stereo shotgun microphone.

    All sounds were recorded and edited at 24-bit / 96Khz resolution and mastered to broadcast quality, with only the best final sounds selected for this collection. Each audio file includes embedded meta-data.

  • Whooshes Effective Trailer Risers Play Track 106 sounds included, 26 mins total $34.99

    Over 100 cinematic riser effects and epic buildups featuring distorted synths, eerie whispers, sci-fi glitches, hardcore guitars, dramatic reverses, drilling leads, and profoundly evolving textures. This original library is from the personal collection of trailer music composer Federico Soler Fernández (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” – “Halloween – 2018” – “The Predator 2018”)

  • Animals & Creatures Botswana Play Track 49+ sounds included, 136 mins total From: $60

    Botswana Faunethic sound library is a unique collection of 49 sounds recorded through several national parks of the country (Okavango, Chobe,…). All these sounds has been recorded and produced with high quality equipment in multichannel.

    This collection offers a wide diversity of soundscapes and animals sounds such as:

    -Bush, savanna and forest soundscapes.
    -Hippopotamus grunt and vocals.
    -Elephants vocals, showering and drinking.
    -Zebras and impalas fighting.
    -Lion chasing an elephant during one night.
    -Birds and insects at different perspectives.
    -Villages

    If you want to hear more about this field recording trip, feel free to check this post.
    The multichannel version contains 40 tracks in native 4.0 and 9 tracks recorded in stereo only.

    This library provides authentic and interesting sounds, recorded with DPA, MBHO and Neumann mics powered by an Aeta 4minX.
    All Faunethic tracks includes metadata carefully edited, compatible with Soundminer, Soundly and Basehead.

  • City Life Shenzhen Play Track 53 sounds included, 266 mins total $39.99 $19.99

    Shenzhen is the first ever sound library of the Silicon Valley of China. Jzoo Sound invites you on the first ever audiological journey to the unique locations in Shenzhen that only locals know.

    This is a unique collection of sounds captured of various atmospheres at different times of the day. From energetic local farmer’s market, to howling subway tubes, to local middle school performance day, to old alleyways of a forgotten part of town.

    The library also contains many rhythmic elements, such as meat chopping, construction hammering, and ominous beeps. Not to mention the echoing Chinese announcements between two schools, and the cacophony of crying and construction in a forgotten alley. I hope this library will even meet your sound design needs, and ultimately show you a local and unique side of China.

    All recorded in 24 bit/96 kHz. Some recordings contain detail information above 20khz. The library is passionately described emotive words, and all the recordings are fully tagged with metadatas compatible with Soundminer, Basehead and Soundly.

    Gear Used: Roland R26, four channel built-in microphones (OMNI and XY), four channels merged down to a stereo file.

    Shoot me an email if you have any questions: shiheng_xu@emerson.edu

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1561845600
  • Twisted Reality – Drones & Other Worlds, brings you 50 dark, twisted, ominous and magical drones / underscores for all your sound design needs. Perfect to create that unworldly atmosphere in your theatre show, film or game. Made from original field recordings and twisted into something quite different, the styles vary from monotone drone to full soundscape. All styles covered from, the condemned man's last walk, to the Snow Queen's, Ice Palace, and with most of the files over 3 mins, there should be plenty there to cover your scene.

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1561845600
 
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