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BOXING CLEVER: COCKOS REAPER Martin Jerram offers an overview of Cockos Reaper, a user-friendly DAW that offers a relatively easy

and very affordable pathway to recording your own tracks…

possible exception of treating audio in the elastic way of something like Ableton Live there really is nothing you cannot do. You can split, move, slip, stretch, shift, and rejoin audio items seamlessly, and confi gure auto-cross fades and auto-overlaps when splitting clips. When recording audio

Compact, professional and effective: Cockos Reaper

Following on from last month’s look at Cakewalk’s popular Sonar DAW, we thought this month we’d introduce you to something a little different. Cockos’ Reaper DAW has been slowly gaining popularity over the last few years thanks to its solid feature set and its very competitive price! Recently updated to version 4 the fi rst thing that strikes you is that the price is still the same lowly $60 (approx. £40) it was for the last version. Even better is that the fact that your 40 quid will see you through all updates, major or otherwise up to version 5.99. If only all DAW makers would follow suit!

What’s the catch? I can hear what you are thinking already... If it’s that cheap, where’s the catch? Well, to be honest, I am still to fi nd any! It would be all too easy to think that like other less expensive or so called ‘lite’ DAW versions, Reaper would be missing out on things like track count or processing ability but as we’ll see later it’s pretty much all there. Cockos Reaper is only available as a

download from ( and having stumbled across Reaper almost by accident it may be fair to suggest they don’t spend a fortune on marketing either; although this probably helps to keep the overall costs down. One thing that sets Reaper apart from the big players in the market is that it doesn’t include any sound libraries. Depending on your viewpoint, this may or may not be a deal breaker; if you already have access to sound libraries this may not matter, but if you’re looking for an all in one solution, Reaper may not be the way to go.

Once up and running the new Reaper 4 looks great and features the same single screen, multi- function docking that most other DAWs are just beginning to latch onto. It can be a busy screen but doesn’t take too long to get to grips with it. Also, Reaper allows you to change the screen layout to a level I’ve not personally come across before.

Mojo working… Working with audio really is Reaper’s forte, and with the

40 

performances, Reaper feels slick and almost tape like with the easy application of old fashioned tricks like varispeed, even! On previous versions the rather simple MIDI recording implementation, while functional, never felt truly smooth but version 4 feels much more elegant and whilst it probably doesn’t match the likes of Sonar or Cubase quite yet, it is still more than capable of achieving anything you need it to. I have already stated that Reaper contains no sample libraries and (despite a very rudimentary synth and drum synthesizer) includes no Synths either. However, it is fully compatible with all the instrument formats (VSTi, AU etc) so you won’t be left high and dry. Reaper does come with a full suite of VST plug ins, many of which sound pretty good despite looking uniformly dull. Some would argue that they are perfectly usable

(which they are) but after spending many hours staring at a screen it’s nice to look at a bit of plug-in eye candy now and then. The plug-ins themselves cover all the usual compressors, EQ’s and reverbs but also include a great multiband compressor and a useful, if clunky looking auto/manual pitch corrector (not exactly Melodyne standard, but it does work!). In use Reaper does feel a little

different to some of the major DAWs but nothing too diffi cult to get to grips with. Overall, the learning curve is maybe a little steeper than some DAW software but not by much. The PDF manual is excellent and the Reaper forum is the friendliest online forum I’ve visited and I’ve never waited more than an hour for an answer to even my most simple questions. For a DAW that costs less than

£40 it’s amazing that we’ve been discussing it in comparison to DAWs costing 10 times the price... It really is that good. It is compact, professional and effective, and you really owe it to yourself to check it out. You can download a fully functioning demo, which is completely unrestricted, so there really is no excuse not to dive in straightaway. PM


Reaper is a refreshingly small program (under 10mb) and can actually be stored and run from a USB stick for a truly mobile solution. Reaper can also run on pretty much any machine: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, Mac OSX 10.4/10.5/10.6/10.7 and even Linux (although it might be wise to download the demo to check compatibility with your chosen Linux distribution). The same level of flexible compatibility also means that virtually all the popular plug formats are covered (even the old DX format) and the list of readable file formats (Wav, MP3, Flac etc.) numbers over 20!

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