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:  
  • City Life Venice Play Track 27+ sounds included, 53 mins total $38.38 incl. vat

    Get a rich collection of Italian ambiences captured in legendary Venice / Venezia. The library features lots of pedestrian ambiences

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  • Sci-Fi Digital Dust Play Track 128+ sounds included $48 incl. vat

    Digital Dust delivers 128 tracks of pure digital bit-crushing distortion, deep atmospheric drones, and ear-piercing interface sounds.
    Digital Dust is not your usual clean and modern computer command sound effects library. All sounds have been designed from real world electrical or organic recorded sounds.

    Granulated, stretched, pitched and mangled in endless chains of plugins and hardware, for very different and almost apocalyptic kinds of rogue computer command sounds. The samples can easily be stretched or processed even more, for even weirder sound fx.

    The library contains:

    26 Drones/atmospheric beds. All are minimum 1 minute long, and are easily loopable.
    61 Glitchy, bitcrushing FX.
    41 Otherworldly signal FX.
    Please Note!

    Till Sunday January 20th, this set of sounds is bundled with the Flight Sim Button & Switches SFX library. This way you can trigger the weird interface sounds with your favourite analog button and switches sounds!
    Add to cart
  • Mechanical Alarms & Warnings Designed Play Track 104 sounds included $30 incl. vat

    ‘Alarms & Warnings Designed’ is a collection of 52 alarm sounds suitable for the science fiction genre. This library includes ‘one-shot’ audio files that are ready to be placed in a sampler as well as 30 second loops of those same files. All sounds are ‘dry’ and ready to be processed.

    This library goes well with ‘Fully Charged Vol.1’

    Add to cart
  • Industrial Lifts & Elevators (EDA) Play Track 350+ sounds included, 140 minutes mins total $54 $43.20 incl. vat

    This library contains a collection of sounds sourced from 22 different elevators found in the following locations:

    • Apartments
    • Car Parks
    • Libraries
    • Offices
    • Theatres
    • Universities
    • Warehouses

    Each elevator has its own unique characteristics featuring creaks, groans, impacts & rattles. All elevators feature roomtones, buttons, doors opening & closing (both interior & exterior perspective) and in motion using the Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6, Sennheiser MKH 416 and Sennheiser MKH 8020 stereo pair at 24bit/96khz for all your sound design needs.

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  • The Renault Master 2.3 dci diesel van sound library is a go-to pack for many transportation-related scenes. It features 102 96kHz files, more than 130 minutes of audio covering different aspects of using the van. Inside you’ll find engine sounds recorded under the hood, stereo recordings from the cabin during driving, exterior passes and different maneuvers and foley recordings.

    The library contains:

    • 6 engine under-the-hood onboard recordings while driving (38 minutes)
    • 10 interior cabin recordings, 6 in sync with engine (54 minutes)
    • 70 exterior passby / driving files
    • 18 foley sound effects

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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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:
 
 
  • City Life Slush And Wet Streets Play Track 34+ sounds included, 92 mins total $36 $24 incl. vat

    “Slush and Wet Streets” is a library that contains 34 tracks (92 minutes total) that are recorded in winter urban environments. You will hear sounds of passing cars and people on slush, wet or snow-covered streets.

    Atmospheres are recorded at different times of the day and night and at various locations. There are ambiences in the collection that track urban traffic at varying intensities, from an almost empty street with 1 or 2 pass by cars to busy traffic on a wet boulevard. Also, microphones are placed in different positions, from 2m to 30m from moving cars.

    You will encounter sounds of people who walk in slush and snow, voices and other sounds typical of the winter urban environment. The library was recorded in Sofia, Bulgaria. All files are meta-tagged in Soundminer.

    Gear used: Neumann KM184st, Rode NT4, Edirol R4pro.

    Enjoy the winter streets.

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  • Horror Mutation Play Track 200 sounds included, 40 mins total $24 incl. vat

    “Mutation” is a collection of 200 mutation sound effects aimed to be used in horror/sic-fi productions.
    The pack is focused on bloody and creepy transformations where you can hear how the flesh, blood and bones of the subject are being transformed and reshaping into something else.

    Uncommon sources like plastic and scrap movements, dry leaves and metallic guitar picks were used to create this collection.

    The library contains 20 files (WAV, 24 Bit / 96 kHz), 10 variations each, summing a total of 200 sfx.

    As a bonus I included the sources (32 sfx) used to create the sounds in the library.

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  • Game Audio Packs & Bundles Mobile Game Play Track 578 sounds included, 30 mins total $58.80 $51.60 incl. vat

    Need sound for a mobile game? With Mobile Game you get 578 files of musical stabs, modern & retro pickups, crafting essentials, tonal and organic game trinkets and upgrades, power ups, a variety of coins, bubbles, UI and so much more mobile game fun. ​It’s a pack that will bring instant familiarity to the users of your game or video productions.

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • City Life Venice Play Track 27+ sounds included, 53 mins total $38.38 incl. vat

    Get a rich collection of Italian ambiences captured in legendary Venice / Venezia. The library features lots of pedestrian ambiences

  • Sci-Fi Digital Dust Play Track 128+ sounds included $48 incl. vat

    Digital Dust delivers 128 tracks of pure digital bit-crushing distortion, deep atmospheric drones, and ear-piercing interface sounds.
    Digital Dust is not your usual clean and modern computer command sound effects library. All sounds have been designed from real world electrical or organic recorded sounds.

    Granulated, stretched, pitched and mangled in endless chains of plugins and hardware, for very different and almost apocalyptic kinds of rogue computer command sounds. The samples can easily be stretched or processed even more, for even weirder sound fx.

    The library contains:

    26 Drones/atmospheric beds. All are minimum 1 minute long, and are easily loopable.
    61 Glitchy, bitcrushing FX.
    41 Otherworldly signal FX.
    Please Note!

    Till Sunday January 20th, this set of sounds is bundled with the Flight Sim Button & Switches SFX library. This way you can trigger the weird interface sounds with your favourite analog button and switches sounds!
  • Mechanical Alarms & Warnings Designed Play Track 104 sounds included $30 incl. vat

    ‘Alarms & Warnings Designed’ is a collection of 52 alarm sounds suitable for the science fiction genre. This library includes ‘one-shot’ audio files that are ready to be placed in a sampler as well as 30 second loops of those same files. All sounds are ‘dry’ and ready to be processed.

    This library goes well with ‘Fully Charged Vol.1’

  • Industrial Lifts & Elevators (EDA) Play Track 350+ sounds included, 140 minutes mins total $54 $43.20 incl. vat

    This library contains a collection of sounds sourced from 22 different elevators found in the following locations:

    • Apartments
    • Car Parks
    • Libraries
    • Offices
    • Theatres
    • Universities
    • Warehouses

    Each elevator has its own unique characteristics featuring creaks, groans, impacts & rattles. All elevators feature roomtones, buttons, doors opening & closing (both interior & exterior perspective) and in motion using the Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6, Sennheiser MKH 416 and Sennheiser MKH 8020 stereo pair at 24bit/96khz for all your sound design needs.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1548457200
  • The Renault Master 2.3 dci diesel van sound library is a go-to pack for many transportation-related scenes. It features 102 96kHz files, more than 130 minutes of audio covering different aspects of using the van. Inside you’ll find engine sounds recorded under the hood, stereo recordings from the cabin during driving, exterior passes and different maneuvers and foley recordings.

    The library contains:

    • 6 engine under-the-hood onboard recordings while driving (38 minutes)
    • 10 interior cabin recordings, 6 in sync with engine (54 minutes)
    • 70 exterior passby / driving files
    • 18 foley sound effects
 
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