If you know anything about musicians, it’s that they hardly ever change their DAW software. If you didn’t know that already, well, now you do. I’m no exception to this rule. In fact, after my childhood years using trackers on the Amiga (and later, on the PC), and a three/four-year flirt with Cakewalk and Pro Tools, I started using ACID – and I loved it!
This was around 2000/2001, and back then it was released by Sonic Foundry – the people behind the quite excellent Sound Forge editing suite. A few years later, Sonic Foundry was bought by Sony (taking both products, and more, with them) and it was around that time that things started going tits up with the ACID suite.
Still – I kept using it. Both because I knew the program inside and out, and also because – despite frequent crashes and lots of limitations and annoyances – I could work quite fast in it. The third reason looming in the background was of course the most obvious: there wasn’t really any alternatives out there. So, I stuck with it – for 10 years.
I’m glad to say that has now changed.
A few months ago I became aware of DAW named Reaper. At the time I wasn’t really doing much music because of work and fatherhood, and I didn’t think much of it. I downloaded it, ran it, liked it fine enough and closed the program. It was about a week ago that I suddenly felt the urge to do a little composing again, and just for kicks I “forced” myself to try Reaper instead of just firing up ACID like so many times before, and boy am I glad I did. In about an hour I had learned pretty much all I needed to work both fast and efficiently with the program, and I started to feel at home in it.
Of course, I knew that the people behind Reaper (a former Nullsoft-founder (WinAMP) and the guy behind the excellent Stillwell Audio VST-plugins) had set up Reaper to feature a lot of the same shortcuts as ACID, in order to spur some conversion-wins from that camp, but there was more than that. The software didn’t crash, it didn’t lag, it loaded both softsynths and samples faster than ACID, and the ease of use was just breathtaking.
I especially liked how friggin’ easy it was to set up automation. It’s literally “right-click, pick the controller you’d like to automate, done!”
It’s sort of hard to describe how much of an advantage something like that is for someone who makes music using the computer, but it is is a really big deal. After I discovered that fantastic feature I kept delving deeper and deeper into the software and found feature after feature that I never knew I missed, but now cannot imagine living without.
At this point I should mention that Reaper runs on both Windows and Mac. For someone like me, who has a home studio with a pretty beefy Windows 7-machine and a MacBook Pro for work and travels, it’s brilliant. Not only is it cross-platform, but both versions actually work. In addition to that, I also use a USB 2.0 soundcard with a breakout-box, which also works on both my PC and my Mac. Brilliant! (oh, and I have a follow-up post with portable studio tips in me, I just have to find time to write it).
I don’t know what kind of people will end up reading this, but if you’re into musicmaking and you’re using something like Pro Tools, Sonar, Logic, ACID or one of the many other DAW programs out there, I urge you to give Reaper a try. The trial version is not crippled in any way, and if you decide to switch (something I predict you will if you just spend a few hours with the software), it will only cost you just $60 $40 to purchase a license – a bargain no matter how you see it!
This turned into more of a rant than I thought it would, but hey – that’s what blogs are for. :)