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Reaper Tutorial

4 posts in this topic


• <a href="#intro">Introduction</a>

• <a href="#setupsc">Plugging In and Setting Up Soundcard</a>

• <a href="" target=_self>Installing VST Effects and Loading Them Into Reaper</a>

• <a href="" target=_self>Setting up ASIO Drivers</a>

• <a href="" target=_self>Setting Up Live Input/Effects Monitoring</a>

<a name="intro" id="intro"></a>


This lesson will cover the basics of setting up the recording program Reaper. As well as how to use Reaper as a guitar effects processor in realtime. In other words, you can plug your guitar into your computer and hear the effects in Reaper 'live' as you are playing just like you would if you plugged into a guitar pedal or effects unit.

Reaper costs $60 for a non-commercial license (you are not making money using Reaper), which is a steal for what this program can do. $60 will barely get you a single cheap fuzz distortion pedal, let alone a nearly infinite number of effects when used with the many free effect plugins that are available.

A list of free effect plugins that I have used are listed HERE.

<a name="setupsc" id="setupsc"></a>

Plugging In and Setting Up Soundcard

If you are plugging your guitar straight into your soundcard (without a mixer or anything inbetween your guitar and soundcard) then you will still want to plug your guitar into the "line in" on your soundcard instead of the mic input (for those using stock soundcards), since your guitar puts out more signal than a microphone it should work fine. The mic preamps those cards aren't very good and are meant for those cheap PC mics, so try to avoid them when using for anything that is music/recording related.

For those using a standard PC soundcard: See the tutorial on using the standard sound card mixer window located HERE.

For those using a multiple input recording soundcard: Open the mixer for your soundcard and press the mute button for the channel that you are going to be using. This is only for playback (not recording) so you will not actually be muting the input and the signal will be heard through Kristal. Because you can hear your guitar through your soundcard without Kristal even being open, if you don't mute the playback for that channel, you will hear a combination of the dry and wet signals when you monitor your effects through Kristal. Therefore, you want to mute the dry signal.

There should be a way to adjust the input volume on your soundcard and I have found that the Boogex works best if you have a very low input volume, so I probably wouldn't go up very far. So after you get everything setup try adjusting the sliders while you are playing to get the best tones


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Installing VST Effects and Loading Them Into Reaper

The first step for setting up Reaper is to get the VST effects loaded into Reaper, so after you haved downloaded and unzipped/installed/etc. the plugins onto your hard drive, open the folder that you installed the effects in and look for any files that have the extension ".dll" (some plugins can have several dll files) copy the dll files and navigate to Reaper's main directory (where Reaper was installed). Create a new folder and name it "VST Effects" and paste the dll files into this folder. The existing folders called "Plugins" and "Effects" are for Reapers included effects and I like to keep 3rd party VST's separate, so I use the VST Effects folder for all other VST plugins.

Then in Reaper go to the Options menu --> Preferences and select VST under plugins (if you don't see VST, double click plugins to expand it). Now next to VST plug-in paths, click the "Add" button and select your newly created VST Effects directory and press OK.

Organizing VST Plugins: As far as I can tell, Reaper does not show any folders placed inside the VST folder. Therefore the organizing tip that I suggested for Kristal Audio (See Here) will not work in Reaper.... At least, I have not found a way to change this. You can still put the plugins in folders, they just don't show up in Reaper and all of the plugins still appear in the same menu.

So the next best thing you can do to organize your list of plugins is to rename the dll files when you load them into Reaper's VST folder. This way you can add the name of company who designed the plugin at the beginning of the plugin's name. The plugins will still work fine if you rename them, this will only change how the plugins appear in Reaper's plugin menu. Since Reaper organizes all the plugins by alphabetical order, this will group all of the same company's plugins together so you won't have to hunt for odd named plugins.

Here's an example:

Classic Chorus.dll

Would become...

Kjaerhus Audio_Classic Chorus.dll

So now when you re-start Reaper, all of your effects should load automatically which you can access from within Reaper. In Reaper, there is a mixer at the bottom of the screen and at the left-hand side of the screen. To access our track plugins, we are going to look at the mixer at the bottom of the screen. On each track there is a button called FX, left-click on this button and the Add Effects box will open. Choose VST from the left menu to see only your VST plugins (and the Reaper VST's also). From here you can choose the effect you want and press OK to add the effect to the track. You should now be viewing the Effects Chain box. Here you can make any adjustments to the plugin, add or remove plugins, and re-arrange the plugins' order (if you have more than one) on the left hand side by dragging the name of the plugin up or down in the list. Once you install a plugin on a track the FX button will turn blue and left-clicking that button will bring you to this Effects Chain box instead of the Add Effects box.

The great thing about Reaper (over Kristal Audio) is that there is no plugin limit per track. So you can add as many as you want, or as many as your computer can handle. ;)

If this doesn't work for anyone, then post in the Discussions on Members' Lessons Forum and I'll try to help figure it out.


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Setting up ASIO Drivers

ASIO drivers are necessary for live VST effects monitoring. Enabling ASIO drivers is very easy in Reaper.

Go to the Options menu and choose Preferences. Then click on Device located under Audio (if you don't see Device, double click on Audio to expand it). In the Audio System box, choose ASIO. If you don't see ASIO in the list, then your soundcard probably does not support ASIO. So you'll need to download ASIO4ALL so your soundcard can use the ASIO drivers. I don't really have the ability to help with any installation problems since both my soundcards have ASIO drivers already, so you may need to post on their forum or ask someone here that uses it for help.

If your soundcard is a multiple input soundcard, you can select the range of inputs and outputs that you want to use. So make sure that the full range is chosen in this section so you can utilize all of your soundcard's connections.


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Setting Up Live Input/Effects Monitoring

(Hearing Your Effects In Realtime While You Play)

This section will explain how to use Reaper as an effects processor using VST plugins.

Once you have the ASIO drivers setup and ready to go, it is a simple task to start hearing your effects in real time. Looking at the mixer at the bottom of the screen, there is a gray circular dot just below the FX button. Left click on this dot and it will turn red, this is the button that arms a track for recording. If you were to press the record button now, it would start recording on this track. However, for now we just want to be able to hear our effects while we play (without recording). So now, right click on the red button (or gray if it is unarmed) and at the top of the menu that pops up, check the Monitor Input option. Next, choose your input. You will want to select your input from the Mono Input list (since the guitar is a mono instrument) and choose the appropriate input from your soundcard.

Now, once you arm the track so that the circular button is red, you should be able to hear your guitar as you play it. Now just add some effects as mentioned above onto this track and you'll have just turned your PC into a guitar effects processor. :winkthumb:

One really nice thing about Reaper is that it can record while monitoring the VST plugins. So you can hit the record button at any time (without changing anything) and it will start recording and you will still be able to hear the effects while it's recording. This is perfect for using as a scratch pad when you play something that you don't want to forget.

Another nice thing about Reaper, is there is no limit on the number of plugins you can load per track. You can just keep piling on plugins until your computer can't take any more. :sweating:


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