Introduction to REAPER

There are many elements that make REAPER unique. REAPER has a two-level pricing system. The company provides a free, fully-functional trial version for 60 days. At that point, you would pay one of two prices. If you are earning less than $20,000 per year from the use of REAPER, the price is $60. If your earnings exceed $20,000, you must purchase a commercial license at $225. Licenses are valid through two major upgrade versions, which tends to work out to two years or so. This is all done on the honor system, there is no password, and no dongle. The REAPER developers simply trust their customers.

Because the developers have only themselves and the users to report to, a fast and efficient update schedule is easily implemented. Generally, a new version appears every couple of weeks. And since the download and installation usually takes less than a minute (the clean code enables the entire program to stay under 15 megs), this is an effective way of keeping the software updated and bug-free.

The company has an unusually close relationship with its user base. For instance, the beta testing for pre-release versions is done by volunteers, and anyone can take part. Users regularly converse directly with the developers, who have a constant presence and maintain a high profile on the forum.

Once, while in the REAPER chat room, I requested a new MIDI feature. It had something to do with “look back” settings to pick up CC messages. Justin Frankel, REAPER’s designer, was in the chat room, and asked me a couple of questions about my request. He then said “hang on a minute”. Less than 10 minutes later, he posted a link to the new version, with my new feature implemented. I downloaded it, and had it up and running in a couple of minutes, and my session continued. The client barely knew that anything had happened, let alone something unheard of in the world of professional DAWs.

Other unique features include REAPER’s ability to run entirely from a USB stick, without installing anything on the host computer. This is incredibly useful. I can take my flash drive to any studio, mac or pc, and do a session without a lengthy installation and setup.

The built-in effects consist of around 250 plugins, with approximately 18 powerful native VST’s, and 230 JS effects (which use a scripting language that is openly accessible to the user, allowing anyone to create their own plugins).

REAPER is highly customizable. Colors, text, fonts, button shapes, etc, can all be modified to reflect the user’s individual taste and workflow. You can even make new buttons in the toolbar (with custom graphics and text). Or entire additional toolbars.