Question for Cockos Reaper Users: Why Reaper?

DAW poll result

According to this poll quite a number of people seem to enjoy Cockos Reaper.

The idea behind the poll was to figure out a little bit more about readers.

I was actually expecting Ableton Live to be #1, with FL Studio, Cubase/Nuendo and perhaps Logic Pro in the top 5.

Reaper proved more popular than I thought.

So I am wondering, dear Reaper users, why do you use this software? Is it because it’s relatively cheap, the features, workflow, or something else?

Please share, thanks!

Luftrum 9 for Diva
  • duh

    Why not? Let’s elaborate a bit. I used ST’s in the 90s and had tried some sequencers back then, and eventually bought Cubase. Late 90s we all moved on to PCs, right. I mean, except yuppies in NY who got into Macs. Hehe. Then I did the logical thing and updated to Cubase for PC. Early 00s I stopped making noises until 06, not completely but almost. Personal reasons, etc… About two to three years ago, I got a newer PC with a then-big CPU and all those VSTs were looking at me with desire, or is it the other way around? Anyway, I needed a new platform for these, my old Cubase was pre-VST. So I did look for a sequencer that would fit. Tried many, demos, cracked, free/shareware for some weeks, asked people around. Many big-names sequencers users were disgusted by stability issues, including in small pro studios (and I’m not talking about cracked software there, nope). Then I found Reaper 2.x, MIDI editing inside it was poor then, but it rather quickly evolved into fully usable without being exceptional. I mean, i works but it won’t write the song for you. But I’m not after that either. Well, it’s cheap, no stupid protection, I can share it across my PCs, friends PCs (in Demo mode it works just like it would if you paid for it!!). Works with all the VSTs I use. I’m in love with many free (or cheap) VSTs I found here, even. Thank you for that.
    I guess I’m the guy who’s tired of big corporate software, loves innovative cheap or free stuff, open source. Guess what, I’m using Firefox to browse here and OpenOffice for work. If it weren’t for Reaper and some VSTs I’d be on Linux right now, probably. I’m that guy.
    Ok, said too much already, my autobiography is out next month on amazon. :)

  • Don Markovits

    After being fed up with Apple’s user/3rd party policy I was looking for some DAW to replace Logic – which I find still amazing in terms of workflow, GUI design and MIDI. Nevertheless, Reaper has some features that are more clever than those of the “big name” DAW’s; to mention routing, 64bit FP signal processing, NO useless “fashionable” plugins (like Ableton), quality time/pitch and lots and more lots of user-assignable and macro-able commands that are getting better and better each week.
    Plus a fair update policy, the best user forum around, dev’s that seem to listen at user input etc.

    i still use Logic for Midi though :)

  • Vlad

    Didn’t know about the poll, so didn’t vote, but Reaper is my DAW of choice too. Reasons:
    1) I record a lot of audio, and Reaper is perfectly suited for the task
    2) Not pattern based — so it’s not, as a friend of mine defined FLStudio, “this cool prog, which is great apart from the fact that whatever you want to compose it ends being some sort of techno” (ok, a big big smilie here…)
    3) The price is unreasonably reasonable.
    4) Last but not least: the attitude. Justin and his mates don’t treat you like you’re an ex-con with the utmost goal of stealing their stuff. I mean, it usually takes me the whole trial period to decide, whether to buy or not. It took 3 hours with Reaper — and not only because the software was great (and at v.2 when I bought it yet had to develop btw), but also because I felt like:”hey! These guys behind this software are real cool! This oughta be rewarded etc”. Might be just I’m over-sentimental though
    5) The last last: the included FX, both JS format and Cockos VST lack flashy GUIs but are top notch quality!
    6) The lastest: you get a discount for Schwa/Stillwell plugs if you buy them for Reaper only;)

  • Jonathan Wolf

    I’m an avid fan of Ableton Live. I enjoy the workflow, and I’ve found that the setup lends itself to an extreme level of creative versatility. So when I saw that Reaper beat out my DAW of choice, I figured there’s got to be something special about it.

    There definitely is, and I feel like its virtues are chiefly technical. For one, it’s extremely lightweight. I use a low-powered netbook, so a DAW that’s resource-sipping rather than guzzling is a must. Reaper is tiny, and hasn’t redlined my system yet, no matter what i’ve thrown at it. In addition, I use Ubuntu, and have found a great many of the open source DAW packages to be lacking. I also have had serious problems trying to run Windows DAWs using WINE. However, installing Reaper in WINE was a snap, and it runs smoothly. I’m impressed. It seems like Cockos is more concerned with creating a package that’s easy to use, very accessible, and platform-independent. If that’s the case, this package is wildly successful in achieving those goals.

    Ableton still addresses many of my creative needs that Reaper can’t quite yet, but what I’ve seen so far from this package makes me believe that later versions will be perfectly capable of edging out applications like Logic and Ableton from mainstream use.

    Cockos Reaper is doing it right. Period.

  • Rocco

    1 – reaper is cheap, but still full featured.

    1a – price. $500 for cubase, sonar, logic, etc is just sick. that is more than the hardware price of my pc. no software is worth that. NONE!!!

    1b – no pernicious upgrade price gouging. most companies have some annual upgrade, which is usually about 33-40% of the full price. that is pure thievery.

    2 – reaper is small (3mb). most other apps come on 1 to 4 dvd’s. the features race just breeds bloatware, and all those crippleware synths that come with the main app are just useless trash which i will never use anyway, mainly because there’s way better synths from other companies.

    3 – no retarded protection like dongles, online authentication, or challenge/response attacked to my pc hardware profile. i hate that shit and will NEVER buy software protected by more than a serial#. too many companies try to force software as a service (microsoft’s wet dream) on customers, where there is planned/forced obsolescence of their product. i want to OWN my software and do with it as i please…. even 20 years from now.

    4 – reaper is more stable. other apps crash quite a bit, and reaper runs VSTi’s more solidly than cubase. this is probably in part due to its small size and lack of extreme copyright protection schemes.

    5 – support. reaper has good support, other companies have a contentious relationships with their customers. i hate the support for sonar, for example, as they take their sweet time in dishing up yet another insulting answer.

    6 – bug fixes. reaper actually fixes bugs, other companies just ignore the bugs until a new version and then they fix things, but usually introduce a whole bag of new bugs.

    7 – reaper runs on windoze, osx and linux. i use all 3 OS platforms and it’s great to be able to use the same sequencers everywhere. i can also make it portable using thinapp, so i can carry it around on a usb stick, retaining my settings.

    – i could probably think of more things, but that’s enough for now.

  • mike maro

    In the past I’ve been trying Cubase, Logic, Live, Energy XT. At the moment I’m using Reaper mainly and when i want to lay down ideas EnergyXT2.
    What I like about Reaper, is that it can do so many things but it’s quite easy. Other Programs I know are hard to handle when they are powerful. Thats the main point for me.

    Other Things I love:
    -Applying FX to items immediatly
    -The Mixer
    -Usability of Routing
    -Reaper’s FX (JS is great!)
    -The “Find” Box in the Preferences Window!!!


  • bls

    I switched from Nuendo to Reaper because I like the workflow better.

    There’s a freedom to that program that I haven’t found in anything else. The amount that it lets you customize for your own personal approach is really a treat for me.

    They have a great forum and it’s cheap.

    I’ve never been happier.


    It’s all about price and features. Reaper surpasses everyone else. Cubase, sonar, and logic are mega expensive, and reason and FL are just useless toys that only do techno/disco.

  • Thanks for comments guys.

    Personally I love my FL Studio (an no, it’s not just for techno, pretty much all these tracks were done in FL Studio). The workflow is right for me and I can get things done fast. Ableton Live is another favorite. The session view really works well for me for laying down ideas, trying different things. Ableton is great for performing live.

    I have been recommending Reaper to people mainly because of value for money. It’s interesting to hear that some of you actually prefer Reaper over Cubase, Ableton, etc.

    The way Reaper has developed in just a little over 3 years is amazing. I have been posting about it since v0.9x and every update has lots of new features, improvements and fixes.

    Just compare version 1.0 to 3.0, quite amazing.

    The one thing that has kept me from seriously considering switching to Reaper is its MIDI features. Version 3 already has a lot of improvements in that area (I need simple things like “set selected note lengths to grid size”) so maybe it’s time for me to check Reaper again.

  • Snebenan

    I switched from Cubase SL 3 to Reaper due to:

    – Live monitoring of FX on input tracks.
    – Starts up in seconds instead of minutes.
    – No dongle!

    Since then I’ve learned to love the routing, JS, the Forum(super friendly place, love it!)


    “Personally I love my FL Studio (an no, it’s not just for techno, pretty much all these tracks were done in FL Studio).”

    I listened to only a few of your tracks and they all are monotonous loopers. They sound like techno slowed down, but otherwise they still have the same boring repetitive, ineptly arpeggiated death drone. I don’t see how you can distance yourself from techno because you are tied to its methods and use the same basic cliches techno uses. You are not better than techno, you are techno, the spawn of techno.

    Try this: use a standard sequencer (non-looping) and use a real instrument (if you can play one) to work out at least 8 bar long sections, and compose at least 8 different sections. Use a key signature not just noodling however you want, come up with an original chord sequence, develop a melody over that and then add harmony to it. DO NOT use arpeggios, or any other techno methods. Plus to make it extra interesting use a key signature like 3/4 or 5/4. If you can do that and you really put some honest effort into it, you will abandon FL and techno because you will feel what it means to REALLY create something totally from scratch, instead of stealing from sample cd’s and using arpeggios out of key.

    Creation is a process of challenging yourself and doing something you haven’t done before. With FL you are forced into your safe comfortable place where you produce the same song over and over. Sure it’s quick, but so what, it sounds quick, meaning that it sounds like not much thought went into it. Don’t forget, when you play an instrument, all notes don’t fall on a boundry like they do in FL, and that alone will make things sound different from your current songs. FL is an iron immovable train track from which there is no escape… get off the tracks and live a little. I wonder if you can.

  • Arpeggios? Nope. Techno? I don’t think so…

    I play guitar, so I recorded some in FL Studio for the first track on this page. Then I made a progression which probably sounds like loops to you, so is that techno as well?

    Jose, I think we have different opinions on what is techno and “creation” of music is or means. I’m fine with that, but please understand that FL Studio does not limit anyone to doing things with loops. You can use it as a linear sequencer if you like and create a complete track in one pattern, on the piano roll with no restrictions with regards to timing/quantization or whatever. I do music like that as well.

    I’ve had this discussion too many times and frankly I’m getting tired of the “you use loops so you make stupid techno that’s not worthy to be called music” comments. I don’t even use loops much, I create them myself from scratch because I like them in my music.

    Anyway, FL Studio, Cubase, Logic, Ableton. You can make the same music in all of those.

  • Vlad

    Oh my… As it was me who thoughtlessly mntioned “FLStudio equals Techno” here… even if I was quoting someone else…
    First of all, if it’s you who uses the software, not otherwise, you can always over-run any software limitations. Cause you’re human, y’know. I’ve heard jazzy swinging tracks made in FT2 and likes, so what would stop one from making non-4 to the floor tracks in more developed tracker derivatives (like FLStudio)?
    Second, there’s nothing wrong with techno. Or even with what most people consider to be ‘techno’.
    Odd time signatures are cool but hey — do we really want all the songs around in 11/8? I mean, I’m a King Crimson fan (among other things), but would I want to limit all the music I listen to and write myself to KC clones?
    The “DO NOT use arpeggios” advice is just ridiculous, sorry. IIRC, Mozart did use arpeggios — and wrote lots of his stuff in 4/4 btw — was he a lame techno composer then?
    “Use a key signature” — fine by me, but what should we say about modal jazz or Schoenberg then? “Useless noodling”, huh?

  • Harris Camdenthorp

    Jose –

    Is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata Techno? Two out of three movements are 90% arpeggios. I guess Bach’s C Major Prelude no. 1. is techno as well.

    Ok. Now I’m curious: What are your thoughts on the 2nd Viennese school, Ives, Boulez, Ligeti, Berio, Stockhausen, Partch, and god forbid Cage among others. I’m guessing (and I’d love to be proven wrong about you) based on the rather narrow definition of music you put forth earlier that that music would be as unappealing to you as techno.

    What’s your opinion on the music of John Williams? (I mention him bc his music does all the things you mention above)- Do you realize how much music he lifted wholesale from Strauss (compare JW’s “superman love theme” to Strauss’ Death and Transfiguration” sometime. Yeah, I guess you’d think copying wholesale is better than sampling bc it involves transcription …) and Stravinsky (ever seen Star Wars or heard “the Rite of Spring”?)

    What was the last “original chord sequence” you heard? How do you define original?

    Are 8 bar phrases “original”?

    FLS is a tool. I bet someone (even me) could make a surprising and inventive track in FL using samples of a rubber band, kazoo, a door slam and a yodeler. (or jesus – the sounds ants make – whatever – you get the point)

    Anyway, the concept of “challenging yourself and doing something you haven’t done before.” is fantastic and laudable, and I think that’s the real takeaway from your post that everyone can get behind. But, when you’re wrapping wisdom inside snarky meanspiritedness, your message gets obscured.

  • Airon

    I switched to Reaper for music and effects creation for simple reasons. Freedom and power. The freedom to route stuff anywhere. The power to process, mix and edit quickly, easily and as fucked up as I like it. I mean, just the macros you can create in Reaper to customize it to serve YOUR needs is second to none.

    And no limits.

    I post big feature requests for Reaper, because I think it hits the ball out of the park on more things the other daws ever did. It’s the sound creation and hacking tool I always wanted, that’s easy to use as well.

    It’s coolness, if you’ll excuse the 90s expression. Major awesomeness.

  • Patrick

    Harris Camdenthorp FTW.

  • Felaman

    @ JOSEMUERTA. If You’re going to preach to others about how they should make their music, then first get your terminology sorted out.
    You say: “Plus to make it extra interesting use a key signature like 3/4 or 5/4.”
    Methinks that 3/4 and 5/4 are TIME signatures. Let us hear your own work soon, made the good old hard way.

  • austin

    simple, i'm a broke teenager who can't afford software, and once i tried reaper, realizing that it can do multiple time signatures and tempos within one song (only free program for mac i've found that can do so, which i need being in a progressive metal band), works great with vst's, simple interface and the mixer is great too. i've never used the big name programs for recording anything, but to be honest, i can't think of anything i need that reaper doesn't have. also it's awesome that it runs on mac and pc since my bandmates all have PC's, but they can all have the program so we can send the files back and forth and record and mix songs without even meeting up.

  • djmaxthegreat

    the software is stable and deeep and the guys making it are incredible.never seen sumthing liek this before anywhere.mindboggingly great.

  • Cheddar Man

    Wow… you really did some digging to find this old topic!

  • Jshonuff

    For PC and Mac 64/32bit
    and you can put it on a thumb drive under 10mb

    Why i like it

    Ok this did it for me. Finally you can route (something like rewire) Audio from one program to another using this.
    ASIO driver that allows you to route audio to and from any other ASIO enabled application
    ex: run reaper run ableton live in rearoute mode and get all audio data playing in live in to reaper. Or vice versa.
    This process cant be done with Ableton Live using rewire.
    Audio Quantization in Reaper quantize your audio

    Monitoring FX Performance
    See How Much CPU power every plugin in your session is taking up


    A program to allow people to make real music together via the Internet.

    Multichannel Track VU Meters

    to visually see 2 or more tracks in the VU meter at the same time


    Make it look like Live, Protools, Sonar, Cubase, FLstudio, Studio One or make your own Examples in the Pics

    And the picture is not Protools its Reaper


    This Period gives you smoother Highs (high Freq)

    64 bit mixing

    import a song in 24 bit or 16 bit and it gets mixed in 64 bit export to whatever bit depth you want

    Unlimited tracks

    enough said

    32/64 Bit plugins

    Use either 32/64 bit plugins where you have 64 bit or 32 bit reaper

    Mouse Modifiers
    modify your mice to do what you want it to do
    Make fades, cuts, splits, turn volumes up/down, change fade curves, move, ect all without ricking or going to your tool bar.
    Almost like Protools smart tools but smarter

    Rea remote
    If you have two Computers and your plugins are draining your CPU use the other computer just for plugins and route them to your recording Computer.

    Key Commands
    You can make your own Key Commands
    Or if you are coming from another Daw you can import the key commands from that Daw

    Song File Size

    Now I dont know if this is me but I did a song 10 tracks in 9 mono-1 Stereo 24bit in Live. Exported and is was close to 500mbs.
    Did a track in reaper 36 tracks 24bit (1 stereo) (29 Mono) file size was under 400mbs (just sick)

    CPU Usage

    I did a test put 10 slate digital VCC on 10 tracks CPU usage was 35%
    Put 15 on 15 tracks in Reaper CPU 10% (sick)


    * Dragging a loop in will auto sync to time
    * to time stretch ctrl+Left Click Drag
    * files are acidized (will loop if you stretch) automatically in Reaper
    * Easy instruction Manual
    * Always updating to make it better
    * MPC Style quantization
    * Burn Cds in reaper
    * Sws Ext (Make Reaper more powerful than before) Auto color on tracks you name, etc
    * Drag and drop more than one plugin at a time on a track
    * Customize your vst collection
    * Save preset and chains (export to give to your friends)
    * super low latency
    * hardware delay compensation that actually works

    Need I say more


Synapse Audio The Legend