Mike Propst User Experience

Reapin'

In the quest for audio perfection, I've found myself trying yet another tool. This time it was thanks to a mastering project — at the end of the day I still ended up doing mastering in DSP-Quattro, an unreliable piece of software that nevertheless is a dedicated mastering DAW. When you need things like crossfades, effects on regions, and DDP export... you need them. It's another 300 bucks to upgrade Studio One to the version that has a mastering workflow, so guess who isn't doing that? I'm continually frustrated by DSP-Quattro's odd workflows and constant crashing, but it does the job eventually.

In the meantime, though, I gave REAPER a shot at it. If you're not familiar, Reaper (it's an acronym but I get really tired of capitalizing it) is a constantly-developing DAW that carries a $60 price tag for amateurs and $225 for pros. My impression of Reaper has always been that it's a technician's tool or "computer person" version of a DAW. That is to say, kind of the opposite of Pro Tools's heavy mimicry of a console-based workflow. One thing that its proponents are always fond of pimping is the customization. Reaper can, within reason, work any way you want it to, but there's a massive learning and setup curve to get there.

Or maybe not. Turns out, it isn't that hard to do a lot of the customizations that force Reaper to work the way you want to work, from tool behavior to making F3 toggle the mixer like Pro Tools.

It also sounds at least as good as Studio One, and has a much cleaner, more native-feeling interface than it used to. And I think that the the "computer-like" focus of the UI as opposed to slavish console worship is actually a strength. There are no audio or MIDI tracks, just tracks, and there are no groups, VCAs, or busses. Every track can be anything, so it supports an "as you go" creative workflow. Takes and playlists work easily.

The shortcoming that most DAWs run up against versus Pro Tools is always audio editing, so that remains to be seen.

I'm going to continue any client work that comes along in Studio One, but try the next An Empty Room recording with Reaper and see how it goes.