Really loving Reaper, what is your workflow?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by omlove, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. omlove

    omlove Tele-Meister

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    Discovered and having been learning Reaper 5 for a week now. Really loved it. It's simple, intuitive but seems to have a lot of potentials through plugins.

    The fact that there is a great series of video tutorials put out by Kenny Gioia really helped the starting process.

    I am a hobbyist guitar player and wanting to perhaps learn to put together my own version of backing track, for instance. I have guitar, amp and PC but nothing else.

    I am wondering what the minimum setup you would recommend? I can think of the following:

    0. Audio interface. I think this is a must. Cheap and popular one seems to be Focusrite solo.
    0a. Then Kenny recommend using mic for guitar amp and mic for vocal. This will add to the cost a lot.
    0b. Line out from amp.
    1. MIDI keyboard, for keyboard input, mimicking piano, drum and bass. I already tried piano and drum VST recommended in Kenny's videos by using computer keyboard, but it's kind of hard to play.
    2. On the software side, there are many plugins come with Reaper 5. I am wondering what others are must have.

    I already researched a lot but decided to post because I think there is always new information available and would like to hear your latest thoughts. For instance, the "Piano one" VST recommended in Kenny's video is no longer free and I had to search for older version to use it. I just saw recently Focusrite Scarlett Solo is 3rd generation now. Technology evolves so fast...
     
  2. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I use MIDI for drums, bass and keys, but I don't use a keyboard. I write my stuff in sequencer software and import the MIDI data files into Reaper. It is possible to do it all in Reaper, but the score editing isn't quite up to it except for small projects.

    The VSTs that come Reaper will do just about everything you need. For drums try https://stevenslatedrums.com/ssd5/
     
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  3. kLyon

    kLyon Tele-Meister

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    Reaper is a great choice; there isn't anything better (or arguably, as good... but that's a can of worms, for sure))

    Yes, you need an interface. The Focusrites are great value for the money. And you need mics. You can't lose starting with the old classic Shure SM57, as others will testify, though eventually you will likely want a condenser as well.

    MIDI keyboards are cheap; if you play at all you'll want one. Otherwise you can just enter the notes graphically. Get the demo version of Addictive Keys: it's a great piece of software and the free version comes with a very usable acoustic piano (the demo version of Addictive Drums is also very usable).

    The plugins that come with Reaper are surprisingly complete (especially when you toss in the treasure trove of JS plugins). What they lack in interface glitz, they make up in solid functionality: you could mix a record with them if you had to.
     
  4. simoncroft

    simoncroft Tele-Meister

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    For my sins, I have bought shed loads of plug-ins over the years, often because I was seduced by the manufacturer's demo. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but now I know my way round the plug-ins better than I did 5-10 years ago, I'm amazed how much more I can do with the ones that came with Logic Pro! The sounds I wanted were often in there, I just had to learn how to get them. I'm sure it's the same with Reaper.

    One high-quality mic, on the other hand, will repay you on every recording you make. :)
     
  5. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    The only thing Reaper doesn't have is virtual instrument plugins, you have to find your own.
     
  6. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

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    i've been using Reaper for quite a long time. I really like it. my problem is that i go through long spells of NOT recording anything, so whenever i come back around to it I spend a lot of time relearning how to do stuff. the tutorial videos you mentioned are great, but they do take a lot of time to get through.

    i use a focusrite scarlett.. the one that allows 2 inputs at the same time. i would not be happy with a single input.

    i mike acoustic and electric guitars and play bass and keys direct. i use ez drummer for drums.

    my normal workflow is to record a vocal and an acoustic guitar at the same time while listening to a click track, and then i build my song out from there. my stuff is pretty basic, nothing fancy.
     
  7. Suproman

    Suproman Tele-Meister

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  8. simoncroft

    simoncroft Tele-Meister

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    Reaper is remarkable value for money, so I suppose the developers had to prioritise on audio processing, and leave the instruments to others. Logic Pro, on the other hand, costs almost £200 and I very rarely use the included instruments!

    It's another area where it's worth shopping carefully, and learning to get the best from what you eventually buy.

    To answer the 'workflow' question, rather than the gear to work with, I don't have a fixed routine. I have one song in development that started with a bass line. Other times, people send me audio files to see if I can add anything. Usually, the first thing I'll do is check what the tempo is, and whether it's 100% consistent. After that, I'll start sketching out parts on a MIDI keyboard.

    Often, I'll spend a lot of time in the Piano Roll section of Logic, where I can build a whole arrangement from whatever I've input on the keys.

    Other times, I'll start with guitar – but I always play to a click if there is no pre-existing song. That makes building an arrangement that can be edited any way I choose a lot easier, meaning I don't spend long periods manually locating the starts of bars, then checking the edit points are in just the right place.

    As for mixing, that's a whole topic in itself. I'm sure we all go back to things we recorded when we were less familiar with our setup, and wince a little!
     
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  9. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    Drums and piano take me longest, so I usually record a simple rhythm track with click, then work on those. Bass and guitar should be the easy parts, so they are usually last.
     
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  10. simoncroft

    simoncroft Tele-Meister

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    Ah yes, drums. I used to spend ages creating all my own drum parts from scratch, usually playing everything on either keys or drum pads. The advantage of this is you can do it on any MIDI sequencer with a plug-in software sampler that has some drums. Also, you end up with exactly what you want.

    The downsides are: it takes a long time, and there are 'real' drummers out there who can spontaneously play parts that are better than the ones I've spent all night writing.

    These days, I use fxpansion's BFD3. Although it will read MIDI, and you can certainly use it to create original parts, the bit I use most is the library of premade patterns, which you can chain together to create the arrangement. It's a bit like using some of the classic drum machines, but the result sounds very like a top class drummer playing fantastic drums in a world class studio, which is basically how the patterns and samples are created.

    Unfortunately, it's now £279 (US $338). From what I can see, the Steven Slate Drums you linked to above does something similar for $99, which makes it something of a bargain.
     
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  11. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    It does.

    https://www.powerdrumkit.com/

    Does it for free, though it is a bit limited in it's choice of "grooves".
     
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  12. simoncroft

    simoncroft Tele-Meister

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    That's really good, and I can't argue with the price! My God, if someone had given me that in the 1980s, I would have been totally knocked out. My friend Clive was in a signed band back then, and his demos were based on cassette recordings of the band's drummer, with the keys layered on top. It was all four-track tape, so making a coherent mix was hindered by the fact there were different parts cropping up on the same track. (I know: I digitised it all for him, and I'm still mixing it...)

    Working round the lack of grooves wouldn't be too hard. I have thousands of MIDI files of famous songs and most of them have authentic drum parts. Not too hard to edit up into something new.
     
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  13. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    I don't know anybody else that does that... :lol:
     
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  14. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Poster Extraordinaire

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    You have the option to record your tracks on a stand alone device or a computer.
    I like the Apogee Jam for an interface but also use a Tascam interface at times.
    A MIDI keyboard can be had for under $100 (if you need one).
    A good condenser mic along with a dynamic vocal mic are good to have.
     
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  15. bigbandtele

    bigbandtele Tele-Holic

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    I use Reaper to create backing tracks with click for the show I do at seniors homes and on cruise ships (on my principal instruments - woodwinds.)

    I write the arrangements in Finale, then export MIDI files to Reaper. Drums are done with Addictive Drums 2, though I have used a live drummer as well. I track woodwinds, guitar and bass myself, then hire some friends to track the trumpet and trombone. Keys are done using Addictive Keys.
     
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  16. Ben Harmless

    Ben Harmless Friend of Leo's

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    omlove, I'm glad you're catching the bug.

    Reaper is the way to go. Other DAWs have big communities, but none have the range of experience and mutual support that Reaper does, hands down.

    For rhythm, in my own songs I usually use weird samples or record odd sounds and mess with them. If I'm demoing something for my band, I use my ooooooold copy of EZDrummer I. There are much newer things out there, but I've practiced my craft, and it doesn't hold me back from what I'm going for. I use the Reaper JS MIDI Velocity and Timing Humanizer often. Not a drummer, but it's better than most ego-trip professionals want to admit. It would help if I were a drummer...

    I have two MIDI controllers that I don't use. For keys and similar parts, I've always just gotten lazy and clicked on the MIDI roll. If I knew how to play the piano, that would be a different story. I think my first Focusrite interface came with a free download of a fantastic piano VST.

    On interface choice, I'm going to pull out my "I used to be an audio professional" card here and say that the Focusrite Scarlett interfaces are much more than adequate. There's zero about them that would stop a good song from going #1 across all the charts, so unless we're building a multi-million dollar studio, don't sweat the small stuff on those. Okay, If you'd written Old Town Road you might want to take it to a bigger studio to make sure the highs and lows are perfect, but in general:
    • Solo if you really won't be recording more than one mic at a time. Instrument input could also work for a mic, but not as functional.
    • 2i2 if you want to mic in stereo or doing live vocals/guitar at the same time on separate channels.
    • Older 2i4 or the new 4i4 if you want an extra set of outputs and want to use an outboard effect or two while mixing - including guitar pedals.
    • 18i20 if you're me or you have a time machine and know you're going to want to eventually run multiple outboard devices and don't want to spend your money on a 2i2 and a 2i4 first... I love my 18i20. I don't NEED it, but I use a lot of guitar pedals and flea-market finds to distort my sounds and mixes. Ooh! The MIT flea market is tomorrow! Thanks for the reminder!
    The best part? Focusrite stuff is plentiful used, and they just released a 3rd gen - and the differences between the 1st and 2nd gens were a couple of milliseconds of latency and better instrument inputs. 2nd and 3rd gens look like a similar difference - i.e. not huge. If it were me, I'd drop $55 plus shipping on a used Solo at guitarcenter.com and then go big later if I liked it.

    *Note that Reaper actually does include at least one VST instrument in ReaSynth, but you have to have some synth experience. I really don't. It's also got ReaSamploMatic5000, which is really powerful for a free VSTi, but you need your own samples. Many good tutorials on that one.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
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