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Posts Tagged ‘REAPER’

Yeah, I know… but…

May 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Happy May Day! I’m trying to post more, so I thought this warranted a few words…

I’m not a fan of contradicting myself, especially publicly, and in writing, but I’m breaking my own self imposed moratorium on plugin purchases. Yes, I continue to live and exercise my “keep it simple” mantra, but hell, a sale is a sale.

Slate Digital dropped the price of their Virtual Buss Compressor to an obscenely low level – one that even I, Mr. “I don’t need any new plugins-high-horse-guy”, couldn’t avoid. After about a minute of justification, I hit the “Buy Now” button. After all, I got that mixing gig I posted about recently, so I have a legitimate reason.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway…

Wow, is this plug-in stunning? (that was rhetorical). For the last few years, my buss compression mainstay has been Cytomic’s The Glue, but this thing is in a different league. Don’t get me wrong, The Glue is awesome for it’s price and capabilities (and it will continue to be, for those reasons), but the Slate stuff just has THAT sound. It’s a premium plug.

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I put it on the “audition mix” I just did, and yeah… Smile inducing, smooth, tight and round, yet simultaniously open are all words I’d use. Even though my buyers remorse is running wild, this was a good decision, and it’s never a bad decision if it’s used for paid work. At $99 bucks, this will pay for itself many times over.

Ok. I’m done. No more plug-ins. That’s it. I can do this…

until the next sale…

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Shakin’ Stuff…

November 4, 2011 2 comments

After months of concentrating on video production, as well as trying pick a new DAW, I’m happy to say that I’m making music again.

The song “Vampires” was born out of usual frustration with the people and things that suck the life out of others on a regular basis, and NOT the crappy movie types with bad skin and tons of hair gel that women in their 40’s fantasize about.

But I digress, and that’s another rant filled blog entry all it’s own…

I realized that my approach to writing and production hasn’t changed much in awhile. With the exception of guitars, I normally do everything “in the box” (drum programming, bass lines, keys, etc) and that gets old. Just because one has 2000 drum samples, doesn’t mean you have to use ’em all the time. And with that, the urge to stretch out and experiment with different mics and recording techniques took hold, and I figured the best place to start was with percussion.

There’s nothing like adding a little live percussion to a sterile programmed track, but the only percussion instrument I have is my Prince tambourine (and I’m not pulling that trophy off the wall), so I had to dig through my kitchen cabinet.

It’s amazing what you can do with a container of Sea Salt…

I’m now a believer. Playing it live (whatever it is) beats the hell out of programming it any day of the week. So grab something, put a microphone in front of it and shake it, strike it, or beat on it. Trust me…

BTW – Although Reaper is featured in the video, my DAW of the moment is Studio One by PreSonus – at least until Logic X comes out. 🙂 In all seriousness, Studio One is worth taking a look at. One of my heroes, Teddy Riley, gave it an extremely enthusiastic endorsement, and is largely why I picked it up. Teddy produced and mixed Michael Jackson’s posthumous album with it, and he likes it better than Pro Tools. That’s all I needed to hear. I’ll post my thoughts on S1 soon.

Now I have to get back to the business of slaying vampires…

Decisions, Decisions…

May 3, 2011 2 comments

I’ve been conducting my own personal digital audio workstation shootout for months, and I have to say that there is no clear cut winner. Logic, Pro Tools, REAPER and Live all bring something unique to the table – making it hard to pick just one app to work in exclusively.

Amongst the four, I find Ableton Live to be the “utility” player. I would never mix a song in it (sorry Ableton junkies), but it’s unique session view layout and workflow make it a good songwriting app. If you’re suffering from writers block, it’s hard not to get the juices flowing in Live. It shines when paired with Logic, Pro Tools or REAPER via rewire – if your into that.

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Logic has been my main app since 1999 (after leaving Sonar) and what can I say? I love it. It was difficult to learn, and after all these years, I only truly know about 60% of the program. I’m constantly learning new ways to work in it, and am amazed when I do. As I’ve said before, it’s the most bang for the buck out there – with it’s sample library, quality effects, scoring and mixing, it’s the full monty. Are the built-in effects Waves quality? Nope. Would anyone other than a qualified mix engineer be able to tell? Nope. Can you make a high quality out of the box recording in Logic? Yep – if you know what you’re doing.

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Pro Tools…. Ah, the de-facto industry standard. I would guess that 10 out of 10 songs you hear on the radio were mixed in it. I didn’t say recorded – as any program can be used for that, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that it was FINISHED in Tools. It’s hard to be taken seriously if you do not own it, or have a firm grasp of how to use it. I love it for editing. There’s nothing better. I even like mixing with it – not as much as Logic (which I find more intuitive), but Tools is hard to beat. That’s why it’s the Gold standard.

Midi composition is where it falls short, and while version 9 has made incredible strides in this area, it’s still a bit cumbersome. Again, Logic wins here. Another strike against PT in my world is stability. I get loads of errors when I run the hardware buffer lower than 256 samples, and the RTAS engine can be flaky with some plugins. PT can sometimes have a mind of it’s own. One day I can record a song from start to finish with 40+ tracks, and the very next day, it struggles to play back 3 tracks without errors.

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After all of that, I will say that REAPER has really stirred something in me. I have that same love/hate that I had with Logic back in ’99. Let’s be frank – it’s a convoluted, overly techie, laborious, monster of a program. There’s probably a key-command to defrost a pot roast, bake it at 350, and serve you on odd Sunday’s of each 3rd year after a quarter rotation around the Sun. It’s that deep. However, it’s the most bloat free, quality piece of music code that I’ve ever seen. Weighing in at only 36.6 MB (OSX version) installed, it’s footprint is so small that you can run it from a SD card or thumb drive. That’s crazy. Logic is 6 DVD’s worth of data, and can take 2 to 3 hours to install (depending on your computer). Heck, a typical Pro-Tools install download is 5 Gig (zipped).

REAPER doesn’t include samples or loop libraries, scoring features or a ton of effect presets. It’s not a suite per se, but it is a very capable no-nonsense DAW who’s rapid development is driven by it’s loyal user base. It’s not uncommon to submit a feature request (or bug report) today, and see it implemented/fixed days (even hours) later.

If I had to describe the app in only a few words, I’d say: kludgy, clunky, immense, customizable and powerful. The fan boys will tell you that the customization is the key. You can make REAPER behave the way you want it to. Don’t like the menu structure? Change it. Mixer layouts? Yep. Track and Project Templates? For sure. I spent an hour customizing and creating templates, and can go from launch to recording in 2 mouse clicks. The other hosts don’t come anywhere close to that. REAPER is also skinable, and a huge array of user created themes are available – even one that makes REAPER look just like Pro-Tools. I’m currently using the REACTION v4 alpha theme, which is similar to the Logic experience. Maybe that’s why I’ve been “getting” the program in recent weeks. I’ve also made good use of the Groove3 training videos by Kenny Gioia. They were instrumental in explaining the quirks and more esoteric features of the app.

So what does it all mean?

If I got a paid songwriting gig tomorrow – I’d reach for Logic. It’s what I know, and there’s not much I can’t do with it. Experience with the program counts.

If I had to edit/mix a huge project – I’d reach for Tools. Compatibilty is the name of the game, and the project will transfer to any studio in the world – just bring a hard drive with your files. A caveat: The HD version is 1000 times more stable than the native version. If I could afford the HD option, PT would be my DAW of choice.

If I had writers block or was hired to do live tour support – I’d reach for Live. Period.

For every other scenario, there’s REAPER. I’m learning it, and having a blast. The first few months caused me to pull my hair out, but now that I’ve streamlined the app, it’s fast becoming my go to. Who knows how I’m going to feel 6 months from now. There are grumblings that Logic 10 could be just around the corner.

As I stated at the top, there is no clear winner here. Each has their place, and I’m glad I have them all. At the end of the day, they’re all just tools.

Now, it’s time to go make some music….

Here’s vid of a potential bug in the v4.0alpha that I submitted to the dev team:

Don’t Fear the REAPER…

September 5, 2010 Leave a comment

I need another DAW like I need another hole in my head, but I’ve been playing with REAPER, and I have to say that I like it. It drives great with audio, but the MIDI is so-so. The biggest gripe I have is that there are too many choices. That’s why I find a program like Garageband wonderful – it’s straight and to the point.

Anyway – I test drove it for the last 48 hours, and here’s what I came up with…

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