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Archive for the ‘Reaper’ Category


Monday, October 24th, 2011

Last week, myself and PetersonGoodwyn ( and shared almost 100 of our top REAPER tips.

Day 1

#REAPER tip: My custom theme is based on RADO 4 with transport moved to top Get RADO:

#REAPER tip: User themes can be further customized using the track and mixer layout options (bottom of options menu) in Reaper 4.

#REAPER tip: User themes can be further customized using the track and mixer layout options (bottom of options menu) in Reaper 4.

#REAPER tip: 1 of my most used mouse modifiers is for Media Item Dbl click. I assign cmd+opt+ctrl to “open media item in external editor”

#REAPER tip: The external editor I find most useful is iZotope RX2. Assign any program from “External Editor” tab of preferences

#REAPER tip: You can drag a plugin from the FX browser onto a media item to process just that file.

#REAPER tip: Enable the “FX” and “No FX” view option for media items for easy access to item fx inserts. (prefs>appearance>media)

#REAPER tip: got a p-pop in dialog? Split the audio before and after the pop, insert ReaEQ on the item with HPF at 150Hz. No pop!

#REAPER tip: “Overlap items and crossfade items when splitting” in the Media Item Defaults preferences is essential for fast editing.

#REAPER tip: tweak “Media item peaks edge highlight” colors in the theme editor to improve visibility for editing.

#REAPER tip: (continued) I use neon green/pink or black/white (saved as different themes) depending on what I’m editing.

#REAPER tip: The esc key will close whichever floating window is active. Way faster than the mouse.

#REAPER tip: Track Folders handles subgroup routing and organization in one click.

#REAPER tip: Use the ReaInsert VST to integrate external hardware effects just like plugins, with delay compensation.


Drum Editing and 31 Days To Better Sounding Drums

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Last month I did a guest post for Travis Whitmore’s SilverLake Studio blog as part of his 31 Days to Better Drums series.

My article is below, you can read the rest of the 31 Days to Better Sounding Drums series on Travis’ blog.

The article is not meant to be a tutorial on drum editing, but an overview of the concepts and methods, reasons why you’d want to edit your drum tracks or outsource the work to a pro editor. I also go over why I prefer editing manually in REAPER rather than with the ‘industry standard’ Beat Detective in Pro Tools.

Drum Editing

drum kit

Drum editing has become an absolutely necessary part of the record production process. Out of time drums are one of those things that prevents a recording project from sounding as good as it can. Along with off tune vocals and too much reverb, it is one of the things that keeps home studio productions from sounding like pro recordings. For the past 3 years I’ve been offering drum editing services to home and pro studios worldwide and today I’ll explain a little of what goes on behind the scenes. This isn’t a tutorial.

Why edit drums?

A lot of people might think this is some cost-cutting or time saving part of recording. It’s absolutely not! Proper drum editing actually takes a lot of time and as the ancient saying goes “time is money”. Editing comes after the drummer has given the best performance possible and the best parts of each take are combined to a composite.

Engineers edit drums to achieve the following:

I have a lot of respect for drummers. The ones I work with get their parts 80-95% perfect. They get me to help with the rest. Drummers have a lot to think about, that hand and foot independence thing, plus keeping time, plus hitting the right drums in the right place, plus remembering the pattern and which ones come next… well that’s a hell of a lot of work, and is physically exhausting. The typical drum recording session for an album is two 8-10 hour days. This definitely demands some respect.

But I don’t want to sound like a robot!

To the drummers: If it’s done right, I guarantee you won’t sound like a robot! The performance will be consistent and powerful and will never fall out of time with the other instruments. All of the natural nuances of the playing are still there. It’s not about making you sound like a drum machine. We have other ways of achieving that. Beyond that, the bass, guitar, keyboards and other instruments will have a solid foundation for laying down their parts.

Phase accuracy

One of the primary concerns with editing a multi-track drum recording is phase accuracy. If you edit just the kick or snare mic tracks individually, it will be out of time with the overheads and room mics and bleed in other mics. This would be a huge problem, but is easily avoided by using the edit group function in the DAW. An edit group will ensure that when you slice it will apply to all tracks with sample accuracy.

What tracks should be edited

With the tracks grouped, the close miked kick and snare tracks are the primary concerns to get tight. The next important are the toms, after that the ride cymbal. Depending on the project I’ll do all of these to a 16th note grid.

Quantizing methods

Quantizing like with MIDI, means aligning to a grid. There are 3 methods of quantizing drums:

I’ve listed these in order of sound quality from worst to best and is also from least time required to most.

Time stretching

When I started out drum editing I was in love with Elastic Audio, a feature of Pro Tools 7.4. I could quantize drums quickly without a lot of effort. What was cool was that the audio would stretch proportionally between each edit. But often there would be glitches or things would sound weird. A bunch of time was required to fine tune. Sometimes it was good enough, sometimes it was immediately obvious that the quality just wasn’t there, and it didn’t get any better in Pro Tools 8. The same thing applies to Logic’s “Flex Time.”

Automatic slicing and quantizing

The world standard tool for drum editing is Beat Detective in Pro Tools and for good reason. It is a powerful editing tool that can analyze the transients on all or individual tracks, slice before all transients simultaneously, lock the transients to the gridline, fill gaps and crossfade all edits in just a few clicks. Some editors do the whole song at once, some do a section or a few bars at a time. Sounds like a great thing, well it’s far from perfect. My primary complaint was that Pro Tools is extremely hard on your system due to their ‘fade files’ which are tiny wave files for every single edit. With my drum editing sessions having 8,000 to 15,000 fade files, the hard drive just can’t keep up. After the bulk of the editing was finished making the fine tuning edits would take a long time because the system becomes very unresponsive trying to keep track of all these files. I dealt with this for a few years before moving to REAPER for drum editing.

Manual slicing and aligning

Manual slicing and alignment is my preference and it has been absolutely worth the extra time and effort. In a lot of cases I’ve found it to be faster that using Beat Detective. There is far less error correction required because I ensure every edit is correct from the start. The downside to this method is that it it’s entirely editing with your eyes and mouse, listening as you go slows you down by a significant amount and I’ve found it best to save the listening to the end. The key reasons I prefer the manual method is that, I select where to cut, I decide what the transient is, and I decide where the transient should be. By doing this by eye and ear rather than via algorithm I get the edits exactly how I like the first time.

Why I edit with REAPER now

After several years of editing with Beat Detective in Pro Tools I got fed up with the inefficiency. I saw a colleague editing drums in REAPER and once I tried it I was hooked. REAPER is a super light-weight but full featured DAW. Some of the editing specific advantages are:

  1. No fade files. No slowdown from making tens of thousands of edits
  2. Automatic cross fade for every edit.
  3. The mouse can be armed to split the regions on every click.
  4. Audio within the regions can be moved without changing the region boundaries.
  5. Customizable key commands and build-your-own actions

Drum editing isn’t for everyone

Honestly, drum editing is pretty boring and monotonous. It can also take a pretty big time commitment. Learning to do it well certainly was. Its not a skill you can pickup in a weekend, you can’t read a book or watch a video and learn all you need to know. It takes months, and you may hate every grueling hour of it. If you try it, hate it, or would just rather focus on other aspects of music making, you can outsource this work to an editor like me for less than the cost of an hour in a pro studio. I also guarantee my work is better than that of a typical pro studio which usually delegates drum editing to unpaid interns with little to no experience.

Photo Credit

Detecting Tempo Of Audio In REAPER

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Here’s a quick tutorial for new REAPER users. Often there are times when you want to figure out the tempo of a performance. The easiest way I’ve found is to separate 1 bar of the performance using the Tab to Transient and separate region functions. I then select this area, and right click in the ruler, selecting “create measure from time selection (new time signature)”

Check out the gif  below (click to enlarge) and let me know if there’s anything that’s unclear.


REAPER Track Template for Steven Slate Drums

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Setting up the multichannel output for Kontakt in Reaper is not the easiest thing in the world. I set it up a few times and it’s not fun. The last time I got it set up perfectly I saved it as a track template and now I can instantly open Kontakt and all the extra tracks with everything routed and named properly. This saves a ton of time!
Because it’s such a pain I’ve decided to share my template with you.

Steven Slate REAPER Template

Installation instructions:
Download file: Steven Slate Drums Track Template
Open Reaper, go to the options menu and select “Show REAPER resource path in explorer/finder…”
Navigate to the “Track Templates folder”
Move the file into this folder. Close explorer/finder
Back in Reaper, go to the “Track” menu, select “Insert Track From Template”>Steven Slate Drums Multi-Out
Note- Whenever you load a new kit, you need to push the “Reset Out Map” in the Kontakt mixer section.
Note 2 – This is made for Steven Slate Drums 3.5 and Kontakt 4.
I also have a Pro Tools template for this.

Reaper Explained by Kenny Gioia

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Last week Groove3 released the new tutorial video Reaper Explained. This is the first ever full length (4.5hrs) training video for the DAW software Reaper.


Reaper is fast becoming a truly powerful and efficient DAW, are you up to speed on it? The amazing Kenny Gioia breaks it all down for you in this awesome, in-depth series of video tutorials focusing on Cockos Reaper.

You’ll learn about project creation, templates, routing, editing, using plug-ins, automation, rendering and exporting, MIDI, markers and regions and so much more. After viewing this collection, you’ll be able to work and navigate Reaper like a seasoned pro. More and more people are switching to Reaper everyday, don’t get left behind, and don’t fear the Reaper!

Product Hightlights

I went through the tutorial over the weekend and I was thoroughly impressed by just how much is covered in a short time. I have been using Reaper fairly heavily (almost daily) for a few months now but never had any formal training. Reaper was a hard DAW to learn. This video really helped solidify my understanding of how various functions work in Reaper as well as teaching me a ton of stuff I hadn’t even seen yet (like the routing and grouping matrix). The section on Toolbar customization alone will improve my workflow immensely.

I don’t usually give ratings to products (maybe I should?) but I can’t stress enough how great this video is.

Rating: 9/10 Groove3 sets the bar high for quality tutorial videos and this one exceeded my expectations. This video is essential training for every Reaper user.

Groove3 Reaper Explained

REAPER Multiband Processing Template

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

On the REAPER forum a new user was asking how you could split the audio into various bands and process each independently. Here is a project I’ve set up to do just that.

The source audio track is sent (master send disabled) to 6 other tracks, each with a ReaFIR plugin to define the bands. Subs, Lows, Low Mids, High Mids, Highs and Ultra Highs. After that is a simple compressor for each band. You can insert any other plugins you want for each band: Saturation, stereo width etc. You may find this to be a good starting point for mastering.

Here’s the Project File:

Let me know if you find this useful or have any problems with it.