Update: We recently updated our review to include a star rating and gave it 4.5 start based on its extensive features, plugins, compatibility, and of course Reapers incredible price point.
1. The Price Point
The price tag alone is reason enough for everyone in music production to own a copy. At $60 USD, you can own the discounted license for the complete version of REAPER with regular free updates in perpetuity. Let me repeat, $60! Be honest, most of you are going to burn through at least that much cash in about a month at Starbucks or insert other frivolous vice here________. You get the point. On top of that, Cockos, the company who manufactures REAPER allows you a 60 day free trial to use and abuse, I mean, test, at your full discretion.
To be eligible for the discounted license you have to meet three criteria taken straight from the Cockos-Reaper website:
- You are an individual, and REAPER is only for your personal use, or
- You are an individual or business using REAPER commercially, and yearly gross revenue does not exceed USD $20,000, or
- You are an educational or non-profit organization.
I think the majority of us fall into at least one of the categories which makes it a very attractive option for novices, amateurs and seasoned engineers alike. For the outliers, those of you actually turning a sizeable profit and/or running a commercial studio, fear not, the commercial license only runs $225 USD which is still literally less than half of what you would be paying for the full version of ProTools and the majority of other leading DAWs, minus maybe Logic, but we’ll save that discussion for a different time.
2. Capabilities and Features
REAPER delivers high quality recording, editing, mixing and mastering capabilities. This can be experienced the first time you lay down that sweet guitar lick for your newest single or those killer pipes with your after-school-boy-band-acapella-group. Whatever your musical predilection, goals or tastes are, you can rest assured REAPER will capture it in real-time without latency and deliver pristine recordings. Here are some, and by no means, all of of its capabilities, that would take you eons to read and even longer for me to summarize, so let’s just get to some of the main features:
- professional quality multi-track recording, limited only by the amount of physical inputs of your hardware
- powerful non-destructive editing options like splitting, moving, time stretching, trimming, pitch shifting, fading and crossfading all accomplished without ever having to switch tools
- very extensive options for automating volume, panning and effects plug-ins
- ReaScript, an amazing feature for those who are coding geniuses and want to customize REAPER even further-supported languages are Lua, EEL and Python
In addition to the features described above, REAPER lends itself as a powerful audio editor and mixer for video production work. The options to clean up problematic areas of the original audio, lay down new audio and voice overs and film scoring are possible with this beast-no expansion packs or additional software necessary.
3. What Sets It Apart
REAPER comes loaded with so many free plugins it will blow your mind. The people at Cockos were very generous when they decided to load this baby with an abundance of great stock plugins, especially the ReaPlugs VST FX Suite, which supplies high quality options for the basic staples necessary for modern audio production:
- ReaComp-A highly tailorable compressor
- ReaxComp-Unlimited band compressor
- ReaFir-Don’t get weird, it’s an FFT based dynamics processor
- ReaGate-perfect for isolating snares and kicks
- ReaJS-Remember earlier when we talked about having the ability to rewrite code for those effects to get them exactly like you want or build entirely new ones? This gem is a script editor and if you don’t know how to code it’s time to make friends with the Comp-Sci majors, an important life skill anyway, amiright???
That’s only the tip of the iceberg, ladies and gentlemen, at the rate FREE VST plugins are being created by many amazing software companies, you’ll never have to spend your weekly allowance on expensive plug-in packs again. A quick Google search will turn up more FREE effects than you can comprehend, there are entire websites and blogs dedicated to rounding these up for you into super-easy to handle, consolidated lists with links to download immediately as your heart palpitates in anticipation to use that new tape saturator or let’s be honest, the MeowSynth, whose sole purpose is to create oscillated cat meows; Im not even kidding, its real, here’s the link
So, there you have it, an extremely affordable, high powered, ridiculously customizable DAW that rivals or exceeds the leading platforms on the market.