Reaper is a one-time purchase digital audio workstation (DAW) that sells for $60 and offers great customization options, supports a vast amount of plugins, has powerful built-in tools, exports in all main audio formats and is suitable for both voice overs and music production.
Reaper is probably the best value for money DAW available in the market and is among a rare few DAWs that sells with a one-off purchase.
Reaper is the best value DAW for professional use
Considering what it packs Reaper is in my opinion the best value for money DAW for professional use and nothing even comes close. You can purchase a commercial version of Reaper for $225, but if your annual revenue doesn’t exceed $20,000 you can get Reaper for $60. That’s significantly less than what you would pay for a 1 year use of any popular DAW.
The purchase also covers the next huge update. As of now, the latest version of Reaper is 6.25. If you bought Reaper now, you could still update it until it reaches version 7.99 so that’s probably at least a couple of years and after that, you can keep using the version of Reaper you have.
Lots of features
Reaper is packed with loads of built-in effects and you can use it as it comes without ever installing any additional plug-ins although you have that option.
Reaper offers non-destructive editing, effect chaining, MIDI controller, remote editing within another computer, all the good stuff you need from a DAW which makes it eligible for any kind of audio editing
Reaper is suitable for music production. It has a built-in MIDI and effect chaining. Also, with Reaper, you can edit multiple tracks at the same time. The default display is optimized for music production and has a grid and a ruler to measure beats with.
It seems that Reaper was developed to be suitable for any kind of use such as music production, voice overs, TV, radio and so on.
Reaper is completely customizable. You can dock, undock and resize any part of Reapers display and you are able to add new panels.
The toolbar menu is editable allowing you to add or delete various tools and select buttons for them. The timeline is also editable, you can customize it for music, voice over or any other kind of work.
If you are into voice over there’s a great tutorial on how to set up Reaper for voice over artists by Booth Junkie.
It may seem unimportant, but having a nice fade in the timeline and being able to reach it without selecting tools is bliss. It saves so much time and frustration. Considering how often I am using fade I love that Reaper has this feature.
Exporting in many formats
Reaper is capable of exporting in multiple formats such as:
- OGG Vorbis
- OGG Opus
- Video (ffmpeg/libav encoder)
- Video (GIF)
- Video (LCF)
- WavPack lossless compressor
You also have an option to export WAV at 64 bit FP (Floating point) bit depth which is not available at many DAWs.
Multiple plugins supported
Reaper supports the following plugins:
- AU (Audio Units)
- DX (Microsoft DirectX)
- JS (Jesusonic)
Reaper already has a ton of VST plugins built-in and for the most part, VST will cover all your needs.
Reaper has a timeline editing tool called envelope which works as a keyframe editor. You can use effects and set up keyframes to automate changes within an effect. It’s a very useful tool and adds even more options when editing audio in Reaper.
Steep learning curve
The biggest drawback of Reaper for me seems to be the steep learning curve. Reaper is very customizable and pleasant to use once you set it up, but as you begin all these options make the DAW hard to use and you feel overwhelmed with all the things you need to set up.
In addition, as Reaper is not among the most popular DAWs it has significantly fewer tutorials available on Youtube making it even harder to learn.