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Audacity vs Reaper: Two DAW Compared

Whether you are a musician, podcaster, or sound engineer, audio recording software is a must. It can be difficult to figure out which software to use, but luckily there are some great programs out there. In this post, we talk about two of the more popular programs: Audacity and Reaper. Audacity was designed by a group of volunteers as an open-source program that is free for any user to download and use. Developed for Windows and Mac OS X, it is a powerful audio workstation with a lot of features. 

Reaper is a cross-platform digital audio workstation with an affordable price tag. If you need powerful music production or audio editing abilities without spending a lot of money, this might be the software for you!

The choice between these two programs can be difficult. They both have their pros and cons. Keep reading for a comparison of the two programs to make your decision easier!

Table of Contents

Audacity vs Reaper: A Quick Comparison

Multitrack Recording and EditingYesYes
MIDI EditingNoYes
Audio Interface SupportYesYes
Audio Plugins SupportOnly for audio effects. Instrument audio plugins are not supported.Both audio effects and instrument plugins are supported.
PriceFreeFree for non-commercial use. $60 and $225 licenses for commercial use are available.

Difference Between Audacity vs Reaper

The first and most obvious difference between the two programs is the price. Audacity is available for free, making it a great choice for those without a lot of money to spend on software. Reaper is a paid digital audio workstation, but the licenses don’t cost nearly as much as other DAWs.

The second biggest difference between the two programs is in their capabilities to edit and mix sounds. Audacity is easier to use but lacks some of the capabilities that Reaper has, like editing and mixing options. This can be a deal-breaker for some professionals who need these specific abilities. For others, though, it might not matter as much.

Another difference between the two programs is that Audacity has fewer keyboard shortcuts than Reaper does. This makes it more difficult to work with Audacity since you have to rely more on your mouse to make changes as opposed to your keyboard.

There are a lot more points to consider between the two, however. Keep reading below to learn more factors.

What Is Audacity?

Difference Between Audacity vs Reaper

Audacity is an open-source program. It was designed by a group of volunteers as a free audio workstation for Windows and Mac OS X. Audacity offers a lot of features to users who aren’t looking to spend too much money on editing software.

It is cross-platform, meaning you can use it on multiple operating systems. It is free for anyone to download, but there are also paid packages you can purchase if you want more features.

The software is easy to use and the interface isn’t confusing at all. You can even add effects to your audio if necessary and edit your recording however you want. Audacity is great for someone who wants a simple program that they don’t have to spend too much money on but still has some useful features and functions.

What Is Audacity?

Advantages of Audacity

  • The user interface is easy to use and has many helpful menus.
  • It supports popular sound files formats, like WAV, AIFF, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, MP2, MP3, or AAC/M4A/MP4.
  • You can do noise reduction or change the speed of your recordings easily with this program.
  • You can edit audio, make cuts, and fades with ease.
  • You can extract audio from video files using the software.
  • One major pro of Audacity is the fact that it is free to download, which makes it an attractive option for people on a budget.
  • The installation process is very simple and straightforward.
  • You can download plugins for free on the Audacity website to add more features to the program.
  • There are many different tutorials and guides available online.

Disadvantages of Audacity

  • Audacity does not come with any preloaded sound effects.
  • The free version only allows for a maximum project size of 2 GB
  • There is no support for multi-track editing and it only records in stereo.
  • If you want to make music with Audacity, it may not be the best program for that purpose since it doesn’t support MIDI or audio plug-ins.
  • Audacity doesn’t support full-editing and mixing capabilities that are naturally present in other more professional DAWs.
  • Other than simple audio editing tasks, Audacity is very limited when compared to its professional competitors.

How Can I Download and Install Audacity?

You can download Audacity here. The installation process for the free software is pretty simple and straightforward. Also remember to take a look at the Plugins page, since there are a lot of free plugins and extra packages offered by Audacity for download. 

What Is Reaper?

What Is Reaper?

Reaper is a digital audio workstation that has powerful audio production and editing abilities. It makes it easy to create professional-quality recordings with the plugin system, which is highly customizable. Reaper has a built-in audio mixer that can take on a lot of tasks for you, including audio routing and mixing. You can also use external hardware with the audio interface, or use your computer’s built-in audio capabilities.

Reaper also has a flexible plug-in system that allows you to use third-party effects and instruments. The built-in effects are highly customizable, and they include processors like reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, and more.

Reaper also has an extensive library of VST plugins from many different manufacturers and some of them are included with the program as stock plugins.

Advantages of Reaper

Advantages of Reaper

  • Built-in piano roll editor that lets you enter notes with ease.
  • Over 20 plugins available in the Reaper package.
  • Full audio-editing and mixing capabilities. Unlike Audacity, there are fewer limitations.
  • Compatible with external audio devices such as audio interfaces and MIDI controllers.
  • Reaper has a feature called Record to Track that allows you to record a single instrument or voice track without needing to configure the software for each individual recording. This is convenient, and it makes it easy to create multiple tracks at once with different sound sources.
  • More in-depth MIDI recording, if compared to Audacity.
  • You can download it for free for non-commercial and personal use.
  • The discounted license and the commercial license costs $60 and $225, respectively. At the same time, it is considerably cheaper than most paid DAWs.

Disadvantages of Reaper

  • May take a little bit of time for beginners to get familiarized with the software since it is very complex.
  • CPU heavy, especially on Windows operating systems.
  • No pop-up window for recording.
  • Fewer stock plugins if compared to other DAWs such as Logic Pro and Ableton.

How Can I Download and Install Reaper?

You can download Reaper here. Reaper is available for free for non-commercial productions so you can begin recording right away. There are two options of license available for commercial use, however:

Discounted License: The discounted license costs $60 and allows individuals or business with yearly gross revenue that doesn’t exceed $20,000 to use the software commercially, as well as educational and non-profit organizations.

Commercial License: The commercial license costs $225 and allows full commercial use of Reaper.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you Connect an Audio Interface to Audacity and Reaper?

Yes, both software support connecting an audio interface for recording purposes. With an interface connected, you can record audio both from instruments and microphones.

Which One is Better for Voice Overs?

If you are just starting out in the voice-over industry, Audacity is probably the best tool for you. It is free, easy to learn and use, and it supports a wide range of audio formats. It also has a large community that can help you learn how to use it properly.

However, if you want more control over your recordings and mixing capabilities, then Reaper would be a better choice. It is more expensive than Audacity but it comes with a lot of advanced features that can make your voice recordings sound better than ever before.

Which One is Better for Music Production?

Reaper is a much better option for music production than Audacity. It has a wide range of features that can be useful for both new and experienced producers. For example, the ability to work with instrument plugins and full midi editing, something important for music production; As well as lots of shortcuts and time-saving features.

Does Audacity Support Third-Party Plugins?

Audacity allows you to load VST effects, but not VST instruments. This is a huge downside if you’re a music producer or beatmaker since MIDI editing is a must if you’re a music producer.

What Operating Systems are Audacity and Reaper Compatible With?

Both are available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

What Are Some Other Options for a Digital Audio Workstation with Advanced Features?

Other professional DAWs available on the internet include Logic Pro, Ableton, Pro Tools, and FL Studio. If you want to learn about other DAWs please check our Best DAW Software article.

Which One is the Best: Audacity vs Reaper

Both Audacity and Reaper are great software for producing audio if we take into consideration their own functionalities and limitations. While it has fewer features, Audacity works just fine for simple tasks such as quick audio editing, efficient recording audio, noise removal, and voiceovers, but is not the best option for music producers or anyone looking to do complex work.

On the other hand, Reaper is a professional software. It offers more advanced features than Audacity such as the ability to record multiple tracks and support for virtual instruments. It is definitely the best option for music production, recording, mixing, and mastering.

We always suggest that you download both and see which is the best for you. Audacity is a free software and Reaper has a free-of-charge version too, so there are no excuses to try them for yourself.

Overall Winner: Reaper

Due to its advanced functionalities, we choose Reaper as our winner. One of the best digital audio workstations out there, the software has the only drawback of being a bit hard to use at first, but if you dedicate enough time to learning the software, your audio projects will certainly benefit from it.


We hope you liked this article and it was useful for you to choose the best software for your audio project. As we said before, we recommend you test both DAWs before committing. Share this post with your friends and feel free to ask us any questions we could help with!