Old 11-11-2010, 09:20 PM   #1
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Default Reaper skilz: the missing middle class...

I'm a fairly lite user of Reaper for various reasons, but one of them has always been a sort of principled stubbornness of how complicated it is to achieve this sort of nirvana that most of the power users seem to live in. While I'm quick to point out Reaper's strengths, I think it's shortcomings mostly consist of a huge gap in usability between "out of the box" and everything else.

But, tonight I sat down and tried to actually push forward a bit. After all, I can't really throw credible hissy fits if I haven't tried to walk a mile in some kind of shoes. So, I somewhat randomly tried a few things.

First, I went ahead and installed the latest Reaper update, the latest SWS extensions, Ed's color toolbar thingee, ReaMenus, and some other thingee, a Finger? I was inspired because someone posted a thread on what they considered a "standard install".

Obviously, my first comment is "wtf?" why are all these things separate and so disparate? The install process for each of them is vastly different. From a simple click-through installer package to a fairly complicated multi-stage configuration that you have to take to the wiki to find proper install directions. Not only is it complicated and arcane, but it's ridiculously non-standard (I mean c'mon, at least drop a ReadMe.txt in the zip file!).

But, I'm nothing if not a fighter, and aside from the Finger thingee I got it all up and running after a few tries. Total time: 40 minutes (most of which was spent on the net tracking down info and self-educating). That's pretty terrible.

But okay, so that's going on. Might as well start a project and see where I get stuck. So I loaded up Battery 3 and bashed in an approximate beat. Hrm, lemme quantize that. Where's the quantize? Where o where... and still where... oh there it is: Right Click on clip->Move->Quantize. That's not as obvious as you might think. So I input my settings annnnnnnnd: nothing. No notes moved. I can see in the PRV that they're not lined up, so they should move. After a few tries I said "screw it" and moved them by hand. Hrm, what's the deal with the snap settings in the PRV? I can't bring up any options. Oh well, I'll just turn off snap and line 'em up by hand. Again.

Okay, I've got a nice clip now. So I drag it to measure 1 and try and roll out a few repetitions. Wtf? Why is their dead space at the end? After a while of mucking with the clip and the PRV I finally found some weird gray bar (which I found after manually extending the clip in PRV. Okay, that seems to be some kind of clip trim.

Speaking of which, I tried to manually "trim" the clip first. I don't know if there actually is a command to do this in the clips pane, but if there is I can't find it. And I looked. OH I LOOKED. The simple act of cropping my data to a clip I could roll out loops for took almost an hour. This includes a few minutes to go smoke a cigarette while I pondered how lame this process was.

At some point I was trying commands and there was a render to new take command I thought might be a trim, or at least some kind of bounce in place thing that would get the job done. Well, it made a new take that I could NOT ungroup from the original. It would loop right when I rolled them both out (the only option), but I could not kill the original. Hitting undo actually bypassed this effort and unloaded my synth, prompting a CRASH and having to restart. Of course, only having a simple drum loop made for few tears but if this was a real project I would've gone postal.

Okay, so I got my simple loop thingee. Dragging it back to 1 I notice when I loop play two repetitions that I'm losing my initial kick. This wasn't the strangest thing to me, I pulled up the note properties and figured data can't start on 1:00:000 so I set it to be a tick later and that seemed to work.

A brief tangent: I tried to show someone how to quickly edit a song using Reaper. Two things that killed us dead in our tracks: auto crossfades on split as the default (the stupidest thing ever if you ask me), which I disabled in the options before noticing a button for it. Props for being able to quickly and easily disable snap to grid while still leaving snap to object on, that was nice. Trying to add our own simple volume automation was a little more complicated. When the lanes opened up it was beyond the comprehension of the other user, and it took me a while to figure out how to get the envelope back in the track itself. There's gotta be a more obvious way to do that.

I tried arranging the UI a bit next. Uh, whats the deal with the TCP? Oh, the widgets don't reveal unless you drag the separator to the RIGHT. Dragging the track down (increasing its height) doesn't do squat. That seems like an oversight, is there a way to get the widgets (volume, pan, fx, etc) to populate downward?

Okee, I got some pushback on someone about how drag-n-drop Reaper is, which I think it sux at. "But there's drag and drop sends, a first!" they said (I'm paraphrasing). So I tried it. Hey, that is kind of cool! Now let me adjust that send level.... uh send level? There's NO WIDGET FOR SENDS IN THE TCP??? is that true? That is so lame. Okay, I'll open the stupid dialog box. Sheesh that dialog box is pretty homely. After adjusting my eyes and sorting it all out visually I got it adjusted.

A quick try at one last thing: I always though Reaper was very poor at basic audio quantizing. There's a stickie on tempo mapping so I started to run through it, so far so good, though it seems absurdly non-native. Then I get to this part: "You'll need the following macro..."

Uh, what? D00d, to just map a stupid audio clip I need to create/import/divine a frickin' macro? With all the billions of stupid items in the menus for things why on earth can't this functionality be made native? Okay, that's enough experimentation for today, close this program and call it a night.

You can tell as the process went on my ire started ratcheting up. I'll take a bit of that, as I do recognize that in order to achieve a degree of customization and advanced use one needs to really dive in and work with the program and not against it.

But, it still supports many of my continuing gripes about the product. Reaper has a terrific gap between dirt-simple usage and anything else. And that gap is crossed only by knowing some pretty unintuitive third-party/user configs. In order to "install" Reaper you really need to install at LEAST the SWS stuff with it, if not several other things. It's a little ridiculous.

Early on in Reaper's life I was on a thread here with someone and they commented that by not integrating many of these functions, and shuffling them all off to a magical right-click menu, that Reaper would become unwieldy and drowned in menus. Well, I can say for sure they were right. The fact that someone needs to write a third-party/user extension JUST for parsing some order out of the default menus is pretty sad. Having to become and advanced user in order to make the program usable by a novice user is a bad model if you ask me.

Finally, all the advanced stuff? Look guys/girls, I'm not a computer programmer. I can code some HTML and sort of tweak some PHP and Javascript with the best tinkerers out there, but all the interfaces and dialogs for Reaper's configs are absolutely terrible. People might be quick to dismiss making things pretty and usable and workflow blah blah, but there is a credible reason for interface design, and that should extend below the TCP, especially for Reaper, which does have some very powerful and complex capabilities. For me, just trying to trim my drum loop got me SO out of the zone and stuck in "how does this WORK" mode that it totally killed my musical boner. The "R" in Reaper is for "Rapid", right?

I searched through the Reaper manual for custom toolbars for quite a while trying to figure out how to make one. It was for naught. But, after slogging through the install for the custom color bar and finally pulling up the view for the custom toolbars I had an "AHA!" moment. It's actually all the custom bars in little floaty window, hey that's kind of cool. I like that it's always on top and can be dragged around anywhere, and I understand, though did not have the patience for, setting up one. The fact that I had to chase my own tail for an hour and then finally realizing it's a simple view command kind of summed it all up for me: once you get through it being really hard it's really quite easy. I'd like to see a version update where we can skip the really hard and get right to making it really easy by default. Not that I'm lazy, I've just got musical work to do.

Epilogue: though there was a healthy dose of venting in this, this was also an educational venture. If anyone wants to point out places I went wrong or quicker/easier/correct ways to do or fix anything I tried tonight please do, I'm pro-learning.
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:37 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fogpeople View Post
I searched through the Reaper manual for custom toolbars for quite a while trying to figure out how to make one. It was for naught.
Then please let me give you some tips that might help you next time.

1. There is a Table of Contents that includes an item "Customizing the REAPER Toolbars."

2. There is an alphabetical index that includes such entries as "toolbars, customizing"

3. You can use your PDF reader (Adobe, Foxit, whatever) to search for any word or phrase, such as "custom toolbar".

Pray tell me, good sir, what more would you like me to do to make it easier for you?
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:39 PM   #3
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1st of all-I agree......
but, here it is, my only gripe with your post.....

This is music production software....It should not be easy "out of the box"
the things you say are valid but, if someone made a install version that met your needs , someone else would be confused.....like the loop thing, I always copy paste, even in sonar, when i had options with loops(not that this was worth a damn)....this is just the way i work ...take a clip and copy and paste it. thats my brain....not every bodies.

So I agree...but what daw is out of the box " I get it" ----none

PS look at sws stuff etc ...extra and that's it, options are a good thing, not mandatory.
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:40 PM   #4
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if you could make a concise list of what your trying to achieve, then it would be a lot easier to provide some solutions,
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Old 11-11-2010, 10:16 PM   #5
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Thanks for replying folks! Sorry quotes are not inline.

@nicholas: that's somewhat true, using PDF Preview on my Mac and searching for "toolbar" didn't show all the places you listed, which is odd. Actually the results were quite lame. Oddly the main mention of the ones you list talk about customizing the main toolbar, and not the floating one (which is more often known as the "custom" one). But it does describe the process so that's cool.

As for what would make it easier, well MAKING IT EASIER would help. I realize that's a mamby pamby general statement but that's relatively central to my core comments (also see below).

@bennisixx: yeah I get that a little. No DAW is gonna write my song for me out of the box. And anything that's not copy/paste is something that needs to be learned. I acknowledge that. My Reaper-specific comments are that there's no obvious and easy middle-class pathway for this. Being such a complicated program (more so than other A/V progs I've used), there's a serious dearth in the learning curve. You can relatively easily suss out the basic mousing functions in the TCP but then everything else is shaded behind complex text-driven menus and interfaces. And that doesn't even touch on this whole add-on nature of many of the more complicated things. I think what would help is the bulk of the heavier-use items being first-level deep, with smart interface design (read: not just text dialogs). Then having your power functions accessible with click-throughs or configure commands within that. Does it move some stuff one more layer deep? Yeah, but gimme a break you can't just slap all that stuff in a menu and call it intuitive.

Oh, and in case it's not obvious nearly all the add-on stuff should be integrated into the core, even if that requires re-kanoodling how things work presently. When Reaper was young and brash and lean it made for cool chat to talk about how "bloated" other programs were. But having to go dig up third party installs just to make sense of the way over-saturated right-click menus is a bit much even for a 3.x version, you gotta admit.

@gwok: well that's my point, I'm not finding that easily possible (well, not without feting out like a drooling idiot).

Ultimately I think most users worth their salt will find this nose-thumbable. After all, they know it already. Reaper is simply very geared towards a programmer mind-set. In being such, calls to enhance it's usability and interface will not be met with universal magnamity (yeah I know that's not a word but you know what I mean). Furthermore, I suspect any effort to posit Reaper can benefit from a good housecleaning of menus and commands with regard to usability will be met with resistance cries of refusing to "dumb it down", which is far from the case.

In the end, I'm not a critic for the sake of it. I'm a user who finds much of the program unnecessarily obtuse. If powers-that-be want to take that to heart I think it would be great. If they don't, or the user base doesn't care to "stoop" then that's just the way it is. I'm not suggesting someone do the learning for me, any software worth using requires learning how to use it. My complaints/suggestions/vents are the results of efforts, not laziness.

So, seriously, no send controls in the TCP? I noticed you can put parameter widgets in there for inserted effects... no sends?
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Old 11-11-2010, 10:18 PM   #6
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A good post with a lot of points worth considering for the devs imo.
For example this:

Quote:
The fact that someone needs to write a third-party/user extension JUST for parsing some order out of the default menus is pretty sad.
However
Quote:
Having to become an advanced user in order to make the program usable by a novice user is a bad model if you ask me.
I think this is a double-edged sword.
For example, I tried Tracktion once, which I'd consider one of the most intuitive, straight-forward hosts.
However, it was very easy for me to reach the boundaries of Tracktion and I couldn't do what I wanted because of it's "streamlined" (or call it reduced) feature set.
I guess what I'm saying is, tweakabilty, customisation and lots of features (which I'm glad Reaoer has) also makes a "period of vocational adjustment" (he I looked that term up in the dictionary) unavoidable.
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Old 11-11-2010, 10:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fogpeople View Post
So, seriously, no send controls in the TCP? I noticed you can put parameter widgets in there for inserted effects... no sends?
It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

[Translation: a feature request is more likely to be productive than a whinge ]

But (even more) seriously ... no DAW has every feature you could possibly want. REAPER devs are more responsive than most. But you do have to ask!
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:11 PM   #8
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Thanks guys!

@Nofish: I'm not suggesting that Reaper needs to ditch features (that would be totally lame), but it does win the award for most impenetrable program I've tried to acclimatize to in recent memory (barring AutoCAD). I'm not a programmer, but I'm also no n00b. A good whack with the usability stick would certainly open this wonderful DAW up to far more musician and mixer minded folks, who after all are the target market, right?

@Nicholas: yes you've got a point there. I'm posting my own case-study as an example and not taking a dump on the program. If I didn't like it I simply wouldn't use it. But, I'm totally open to its potential. And, the whole sends and TCP things are actual questions. I was actually hoping someone would say "oh sure you can, just do this..." But I'm guessing that it's not possible.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
But, I'm nothing if not a fighter, and aside from the Finger thingee I got it all up and running after a few tries. Total time: 40 minutes (most of which was spent on the net tracking down info and self-educating). That's pretty terrible.
I agree with most of what you said (to an extent), but I think your statement in the quote above kind of shows what you are expecting. Being honest, 40 minutes to get a DAW installed and running smoothly is not bad when you take into account the amount of time some others can take to get hardware/software compatibility together.

I love Garageband/Mixcraft for what they are (entirely out-of-the-box music making programs), but they are definitely not DAWs with serious production value. A good DAW is going to have a sizable learning curve. Heck, most users with experience on any serious power-player DAWs (Logic/Sonar/Cubase/PT/etc.) will tell you that they stuck it out with just one of those DAWs because the learning curve is so painful on all of them.

Stick with it: Reaper really is worth getting past its short-comings.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:22 PM   #10
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You do realize that once you learn it then you will know it and all of this will be a non-issue.

I guess Cubase and Sonar are a snap for new users to get up and running at full speed.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:42 PM   #11
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@Veneteaou: Well, I had Reaper already installed and running, I just updated it to the latest version (I was only one off anyhow) and installed all the 3rd party/user stuff. And that was specifically in response to another thread which mentioned how what they consider their "default" install is actually several different things.

Other times I've asked other questions people have come back with "well did you install X (being SWS, ReaMenus, and some other things). I love extensibility and think Reaper is great for it, but you've got to admit so many of things are considered "core" now that they should really be rolled into the base install, otherwise it's not really honest to new users what they need or what they're getting into. Plus, it doesn't put everyone on the same page when it comes to troubleshooting.

I'm conversant on several other DAWs and video editing programs, and with most of them it's just learning a few different hot-keys and some basic mousing things that really make the core differences up. With Reaper it's a much larger gap and a very different animal between cutting a song up and actually having a fully-functional workstation.

@PAPT: Uh, I guess that's kind of true, if not selfish. But that's a horrible disclaimer for a product, no? Next thing you know you're gonna hand me some lube and say there's only one REAL way to become a power user and that's to bend over. ;-P

I'm a big believer in self-learning, and don't have a problem figuring things out, AND also that a DAW is not a toy (I've got a functional studio here after all). But harkening back to the subject of the thread, I think there's a very large gap in the interfacing and general workflow that makes toy-use of Reaper and serious use of Reaper a "steeper than it needs to be" struggle. I'm not approaching this from a "well I'm gonna find ways to poop on this program", I'm reporting my actual usage feedback and where I got stuck and what's not able to be deduced. I don't consider that material to be refuted, but rather legitimate problem-reporting because it's actually what happened.
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Old 11-11-2010, 11:50 PM   #12
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On further musings about this (and okay, a bottle of wine), I think maybe what I'm experiencing is that Reaper LEADS with it's tweakability and power functions. It's what gets lauded the most, it's what's top-tier in the menus, it's proudly presented as a blank slate waiting for you to build your own dream workstation.

In every other DAW I've used, what they lead with is the work. Recording, editing, and mixing sound/music. The first and main thing I want to do when I fire up my DAW is either write a song, mix a song, or do some other kind of audio production. The first thing I do NOT want to do when I fire up my DAW is tweak it or figure out how to do a certain function. That's why my suggestions would be to put the ready-to-execute and oft-used commands front and center, with a workflow/interface system that is geared as such. All the extra power-stuff? I can dig a layer deeper for that. Or, in time, build a custom toolbar or menu for it. After all, the only to become a power-user is to log some hours. Making it a pre-req is self-defeating.

Okay, more wine now...
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Old 11-12-2010, 12:04 AM   #13
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I totally agree that extension stuff should be included at least
as an option with the installer by Cockos, as a part of the installer
or a link to Cockos website with featured extensions. Some
centralization is mandatory to avoid total confusion of new
user understanding the concept of how modular reaper is.

I hope Cockos would also consider creating a forum specifically
for setting up default settings, so that people could debate on
various concepts to be improved and simplified for new users,
currently the default set up is simply a mess, and in my opinion
requires a user to spend time learning and tweaking to start doing
any serious work.

Which in a way is not bad, since people learn a lot in that process,
and directly shape their own workflow without being introduced
to another one, but for anyone that quickly needs (as you say)
"middle class" functionality, they should and could be provided in
a more intuitive way.

Luckily I had a lot of time evaluate the software when I was making
the switch, also I was looking for advanced or at least slightly more
advanced than "middle class" stuff for my own workflow, so spending
a LOT of time on forums helped me figure out Reaper. Of course,
most people who want to produce music or continue their production
process cannot afford to spend that much time.

e
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Old 11-12-2010, 12:49 AM   #14
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The op pretty much described the normal learning curve for any software, why many(including me) are reluctant to change. If I were to jump in on Nuendo, Samplitude or StudioOne tomorrow, I'm absolutely certain I'd have an even longer rant to post.
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Old 11-12-2010, 12:51 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAPT View Post
I guess Cubase and Sonar are a snap for new users to get up and running at full speed.
Sarcasm?
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fogpeople View Post
On further musings about this (and okay, a bottle of wine), I think maybe what I'm experiencing is that Reaper LEADS with it's tweakability and power functions. It's what gets lauded the most, it's what's top-tier in the menus, it's proudly presented as a blank slate waiting for you to build your own dream workstation.

In every other DAW I've used, what they lead with is the work. Recording, editing, and mixing sound/music.
That's purely an opinion, and it doesn't reflect my own. What other DAW software I've used lead *me* to is utter frustration and headache.

For example:

When I tried Logic, I could instantly see it would take me weeks of manual reading and internet search before I could just record two track and mix them. Ditched it.

Cubase? I've spent most of my trial time screaming "what a freaking stupid way of doing things". No way I'd use that.

Reaper? Was up and running in minutes, if not seconds. Granted I started on version 0.XX, but still...
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:06 AM   #17
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@bullshark: well, I disagree there. In fact, I note specifically that with Reaper there's a disparity in what I'd consider the regular learning curve. In fact, I spilled enough text specifically trying to illustrate that. Is that not apparent?

As for the other DAWs: I've used Cubase but not Nuendo, and while I personally find the UI and workflow to be terribly Germanic (well, this was several versions ago), I did not have too many problems sussing it out. I've only come across Samplitude twice I think and it certainly was more different than others, but I was able to easily follow what was going on while someone else drove. Studio One? You're kidding me, right? That DAW is so dang usable it's almost criminal. It easily combines the ease-of-use of the consumer DAWs (GarageBand etc.) with the power of the bigger ones.

I'm not surprised that some folks wanna dismiss this tome I've penned here (that's self-sarcasm), but I mostly came at it from the vantage point of the following: I've used Reaper for a while, though not heavily. There's a ton of things I like about it and I've said so quite a bit. Yet, I never have gone ahead and "crossed over" like so many other converts from other programs and I realized I couldn't put into words why that is. So, I decided to track my experience as I began to fine-tune and work through a project. I got to be excellent on my main DAW because I wrote, recorded, and mixed an album on it. (well, and did a crap-ton of sound design projects on it) But not only have I not taken something to completion with Reaper, I've never made significant head-way on any project with it. I'm just sharing the roadblocks I've run into and why I think that is. This is far from a "Reaper sux" rant, it's a semi-comprehensible account of an interested user who is finding some problems in becoming a full-time user. Is that not legitimate?
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:17 AM   #18
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Quote:
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@bullshark: well, I disagree there. In fact, I note specifically that with Reaper there's a disparity in what I'd consider the regular learning curve. In fact, I spilled enough text specifically trying to illustrate that. Is that not apparent?
Yes, but that's entirely personal, which was my point. I'm not going to dismiss your experience with the software as untrue, it would be ridiculous, or even try to invalidate it, but I will attribute it to what it is: personal experience, and not an absolute. I'm proof, if proof is ever needed, that it isn't absolute; for me, the learning curve with Reaper was less intensive than any other audio software I've ever tried, except Tracktion. And yes, including Studio One; first off, with that software i would have had to reacquaint myself with the concept of different tracks for different things, which I find counter-intuitive.
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:30 AM   #19
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Well, and obviously for people for whom Reaper "speaks" to them this topic is fairly moot. In fact, if that is the case I would hope a power user like yourself would be able to speak more specifically to the questions I had about whether certain things are possible, or why perhaps certain functions didn't work, rather than to concentrate on the more subjective comments I made to try and generalize them away, no?
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:48 AM   #20
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I don't consider myself a power user first of all, there are many on this forum but I'm not one of them. I probably use 5% of Reaper capability, if that. Things like audio quantizing? I've never done that in my life, if the take is disturbingly off, I'l just record again, or record the section that is off, simpler and faster.

For looping thought, the "split" and "glue" function are your friends. Got them mapped to "s" and "g", but might not be default.
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:51 AM   #21
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I've used Reaper for a while, though not heavily. There's a ton of things I like about it and I've said so quite a bit. Yet, I never have gone ahead and "crossed over" like so many other converts from other programs and I realized I couldn't put into words why that is. So, I decided to track my experience as I began to fine-tune and work through a project. I got to be excellent on my main DAW because I wrote, recorded, and mixed an album on it. (well, and did a crap-ton of sound design projects on it) But not only have I not taken something to completion with Reaper, I've never made significant head-way on any project with it. I'm just sharing the roadblocks I've run into and why I think that is. This is far from a "Reaper sux" rant, it's a semi-comprehensible account of an interested user who is finding some problems in becoming a full-time user. Is that not legitimate?
Fair enough. My experience has been very different but that's the point I guess ... we are all different. Personally I love the REAPER paradigm, it suits me right down to the ground ... I can take my mixes to places I could never have dreamt of doing with ,for example, SONAR.

But that's not your experience, obviously, and , equally obviously, fair enough. Changing from one DAW to another is a huge learning curve. You find yourself starting off back at the bottom of the snakes and ladders board again. If that's too much of a challenge for anybody, I wouldn't blame them.

Find the DAW that suits you best and stick with it. Heck, we're talking about recording music here, not religion! If REAPER ain't for you, then it ain't for you. I don't see it as a big issue personally ...
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:55 AM   #22
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@nicholas: that's somewhat true, using PDF Preview on my Mac and searching for "toolbar" didn't show all the places you listed, which is odd. Actually the results were quite lame. Oddly the main mention of the ones you list talk about customizing the main toolbar, and not the floating one (which is more often known as the "custom" one).
Oh come on, be fair now. The index points to the first page of a two page spread. The first of these pages talks about customizing the main toolbar, the second about customizing the floating bar! Are you really and seriously saying that that was difficult to find?

I'm not being pedantic here ... just wondering that if this describes seriously the limits you were prepared to go to in this example, I have to wonder how seriously interested you were in resolving your other questions, that's all.
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Old 11-12-2010, 02:06 AM   #23
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I read your first post and then quickly skimmed the rest. I think I totally get what you are saying, because the way you typed it out directly fits my thought processes as I work through learning this program. It seems that I keep having to hunt down little things that are intuitively easy to find in most other programs. Usually I can jump into a program and just work my way through it enough to start knocking some songs together, and then I can start working through the manual to start getting deeper into the program. I think this is the first software where I had to crack the manual open just to find basic functions. Basic to me anyway. My background is Acid, Fruity Loops, Buzz Tracker, Ableton Live, Rebirth, Reason. Over the past decade translation from program to program has been fairly simple, with the exception of Buzz which had a larger learning curve. Anyway... rambling now.

But for all the troubles, I still fell in love with Reaper and purchased a license after only a week with it. It brought back a certain feeling that I use to get with Acid back in the late 90s. The workflow just works for me, once I understand what I'm doing. And the level of personalization in Reaper is pretty astonishing. The more I learn the better it gets, and there is plenty to learn but that's not a bad thing!
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Old 11-12-2010, 02:11 AM   #24
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i agree with fogpeople 100%...BUT, the tricky thing is how to make things easier, while at the same time maintaining the high level customization that is possible right now.

or in other words: yes, reaper can definately be a bitch to figure out and set up the way you want it...but the reward of fighting to get past that hurdle on the other hand, is is a DAW that works the way YOU want it to.

the question is whether you can level the hurdle a bit, and still have the reward in the end. maybe you can...in which case i agree completely. if not...well, i would prefer it the way it is to be honest.
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Old 11-12-2010, 03:00 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by fogpeople View Post
Thanks for replying folks! Sorry quotes are not inline.

@nicholas: that's somewhat true, using PDF Preview on my Mac and searching for "toolbar" didn't show all the places you listed, which is odd. Actually the results were quite lame. Oddly the main mention of the ones you list talk about customizing the main toolbar, and not the floating one (which is more often known as the "custom" one). But it does describe the process so that's cool.
Do you by any chance have an older version of the PDF manual? :/ Because what nicholas said about searching the PDF for "custom toolbar" is all true and displays quite a number of USEFUL results...
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Old 11-12-2010, 04:57 AM   #26
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Some valid points made in the OP, but IMO installing all those extras (and all of them in one big swoop) was bound to make your experience far more difficult than it needed to be. Maybe your impression would have differed if you had used vanilla Reaper and extended one by one.

For example you can't critic Reaper's menus if you installed ReaMenu. Of course, they are meant to help people find their way, but personally I am not convinced they really succeed in that.
I don't remember how eg the "quantize items" function was labeled in ReaMenus, but in the default menu it is quite clear (by the position in the item processing submenu and the name "Quantize item positions to grid...") that this function will quantize item positions, not their content. As of now to quantize MIDI data content you have to open a MIDI editor view, it's not possible to do across multiple items from main view.

There's a general implication in the forum that people need all the extensions and 3rd party setups, but I've got the feeling that is the wrong message to people diving in. Why would someone who tries to find his ways need ED's colorbar, as nice as it is? It's just a clever means to deal with colors, it's not as if you couldn't color stuff without it. So why should someone bother with the a bit complicated install if what he wants to do is find out how to make music and sound with Reaper?

Still, as said there are enough valid points in what you write and I do hope Cockos finds the right strategy to make Reaper an (even more, some would say) intuitive experience.
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Old 11-12-2010, 05:17 AM   #27
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config presets are coming!!

soon there will be Cubase style config/menu/keymaps, logic style config/menu/keymaps, Protools style config/menu/keymaps, Tracktion style config/menu/keymaps,Ect.....

this REALLY will help new & cross over users

SWS & FNG extensions both have installers (but the Fingers stuff is currently Windows only)

in short, by next Summer With the new V4 stable & some user made conversion setups (maybe even some included in the install?) things will be much more simple

the config page can change SOOO much! i hated the default config & keymap & spent about 3 months tinkering to get my current Subz Exclusive setup

& as a result of that i now understand Reaper quite well (i'm almost a Power User )

as of the latest Pre you can exchange Config settings! so even R3 will be able to do this

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Old 11-12-2010, 05:27 AM   #28
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config presets are coming!!

soon there will be Cubase style config/menu/keymaps, logic style config/menu/keymaps, Protools style config/menu/keymaps, Tracktion style config/menu/keymaps,Ect.....

this REALLY will help new & cross over users

SWS & FNG extensions both have installers (but the Fingers stuff is currently Windows only)

in short, by next Summer With the new V4 stable & some user made conversion setups (maybe even some included in the install?) things will be much more simple

the config page can change SOOO much! i hated the default config & keymap & spent about 3 months tinkering to get my current Subz Exclusive setup

& as a result of that i now understand Reaper quite well (i'm almost a Power User )

as of the latest Pre you can exchange Config settings! so even R3 will be able to do this

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Old 11-12-2010, 05:46 AM   #29
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As for the other DAWs: I've used Cubase but not Nuendo, and while I personally find the UI and workflow to be terribly Germanic (well, this was several versions ago), I did not have too many problems sussing it out.
I have the exact opposite experience. Tried Cubase a number of times long ago, but never sussed it out enough to be able to record anything. With Reaper it was like "oh sh-t, I can do this", love at first sight. DL, install, up and recording in close to zero time. True, then I didn't have a use for the extensions or the floating toolbar etc, but I got by without that and I did two full songs right away.

Then I bought a new audio interface that came with Cubase Lite 4 bundled. Even installing that took me 30 minutes, and then up came a UI that was first so childish looking that it could have been someones first java test. And then came trying to understand how the heck it works. Too much hassle...

Many have already said this... we are all different and look at these things differently. What works for one, does not necessarily work for the other.

That said... yes, Reaper could be even more newbie-friendly right out-of-the-box. Sure thing. But I think that can be said about any moderately complex (or above) software.
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Old 11-12-2010, 06:26 AM   #30
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I've gotta chime in here as well. I agree with the OP. I've only started looking at REAPER from this current version - v3.72 and wow ... overload.

What I consider to be core functionality of a DAW is wallowing in some extension that needs to be installed separately or buired somewhere. Don't get me wrong I'm all for configurability but not at the expense of being presented with ridiculously oversized menus.

I've been a SONAR user since, well, before it was SONAR. I've used Nuendo/Cubase/Logic/Ableton/Reason/Vegas/Samplitude etc, etc ... and I've found a lot of REAPER to be *very* non-intuitive, enough to comment on even. Its as complicated to get setup as Logic was (PC version) I've posted lots of questions on here recently and had lots of good help but I was constantly thinking "hang on, this is basic DAW stuff that should be apparent".

Dealing with Envelopes in tracks is just horrid and the envelop dialog box in a track with three plugs in is possibly the most hideous dialog I've ever seen in an app.

I have, for the time being, gone back to SONAR/Nuendo which is a real shame, there are lots of things I *really* like about REAPER but it's just too conveluted for me at the moment. I've spent a few days with it now and I will revist in the future but for now I'm logging off REAPER.

I'll check back once v4 is out and see whats changed.
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Old 11-12-2010, 06:37 AM   #31
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I'd also just like to make the point that when I downloaded and installed REAPER I was in it for the long term. I've spent years working with audio and I know that changing to a new DAW app is not like changing your socks ... it's a time commitment, not a 30 second job.

I'm also a beta tester for a coule of large audio manufacturers and I have deadlines and schedules and frankly REAPER got in the way ...

Post v4 release and when I have more time I will revist.
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:13 AM   #32
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Default Some of my thoughts

Since I bought my license I tried to put my finger on this misty feeling, that Reaper is sometimes hard to learn.

But when I compare it to all the other software I had to use there is not so much difference. So what is happening here?

I think that because of the very lively forum, the huge potential of the software, the possibility to be heard by the developers,the configuration options etc. Reaper creates a certain expectation. Namely that it is perfect in all regards.

Which it is not, of course. It is a great piece of software with a few shortcomings. As always, ones strength are also ones weakness. Being able to configure almost anything often leads me away from making music to configuring the tool. Being able to route anything to anything is fun, but sometimes I should just record my guitar.

I think the OP has some valid points. My experiences were quite similar. But it seems that if we love something, we don't love "because", but we love "despite of".

It is wonderful to be able to be on a forum with so many different people who have so many great ideas and insights and, of course, opinions. It is more wonderful that there is a chance that the developers are listening and maybe implementing the suggestions.

In short: I am happy to read another interesting thread (instead of recording )
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:16 AM   #33
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maybe try making a song and see how much of the stuff you really need....

i mean why enable every feature in existance? - make a song, and if you actually need a feature, then figure out how to do it - i mean 3 or 4 half finished songs and you'll have all the tools you need (and will actually use)I'm sure
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:34 AM   #34
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I've been a SONAR user since, well, before it was SONAR. I've used Nuendo/Cubase/Logic/Ableton/Reason/Vegas/Samplitude etc, etc ... and I've found a lot of REAPER to be *very* non-intuitive, enough to comment on even.
I suspect these two things
* being used to the way other DAW(s) work, and
* Reaper not working the same way,
is the root of the whole problem...
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:39 AM   #35
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I think the OP has a fair point. It also strikes me that many of the current power users were brought along one step at a time as things were being added which is quite a different learning experience from jumping directly into 3.7x. I mean, JBM, ED, Tallisman have been here from V1 so they learn new things as new things are developed, actually being responsible for some of those new things. It's hard, from that vantage point, to view it like a new user would.

I'd suggest that if anyone doubts his impressions of a "quick start" it's fairly easy to test. Give Reaper to someone who's never used it before and don't tell them anything about it and see how long it takes them to get going.

Some may probably get it right away, some others may spend 40 minutes on installation like he did.

Just to be clear, I had the same thing with Sonar. Fired up the demo and it took me long minutes to figure out some really basic things. I think that's partly why they updated the UI and menus.

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Old 11-12-2010, 07:58 AM   #36
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The op pretty much described the normal learning curve for any software, why many(including me) are reluctant to change. If I were to jump in on Nuendo, Samplitude or StudioOne tomorrow, I'm absolutely certain I'd have an even longer rant to post.
See, I disagree. There a lot of very simple things that aren't immediately obvious with Reaper that are with other systems. Editing is great, but it's a fairly different take on the process. MIDI is awesome, but it takes a while to get used to.

Don't get me wrong, Reaper rocks, it's by far THE most flexible DAW on the market today. But anyone who wants to use it as their primary tool should know well ahead of time that it's not a simple beast to tame.

The only DAW that I've come across that is immediately useable and powerful at the same time is Studio One. The tradeoff is flexibility.

It's all give and take and what you're looking for.
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:16 AM   #37
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I suspect these two things
* being used to the way other DAW(s) work, and
* Reaper not working the same way,
is the root of the whole problem...
Word. It's not the first time we have this discussion.



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Old 11-12-2010, 08:21 AM   #38
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I am new to Reaper and cannot help notice that people in here get very defensive, very quickly if anyone even thinks of criticising Reaper. For what it's worth here is my experience.

I have been in IT for 20 plus years and playing guitar in originals and covers bands for even longer and decided earlier this year that it was time I moved into the 21st century and get a new PC, DAW etc, mainly to make electronic dance music.

I tried the trial version of Acid Pro first, easy to use fairly intuitive and a contendor with the big worry it appears it might be a product on its way out.

Next was Reason, intuitive, self-contained but I just did not like it. Part of that was the seeming inability to add standard plug-ins, but part of it was just a instinctive dislike (irrational I know but I believe in trusting instinct).

Reaper next - first impressions were that it is comprehensive, inexpensive, well supported and an active and helpful user community. I came to the decision that Reaper was for me and I am now all paid up and legal, but I still find the interface a mix and muddle of intuitive and arcane. Yes it has loads of features but why hide some of them? The Reaper interface does not draw you in and does not easily encourage experimentation which I found Acid Pro (and Cubase when I used it for a little while years ago). Yes you can find everything in the manual (and the manual is one of its plus points), but I dont feel that I should have to look up every little thing in the manual, sometimes the interface design should make it intuitive.

Dont get me wrong, I think Reaper is a great piece of software and I am committed to spending a lot of time learning and using it in the future, but I sometimes wish that the user interface was of the quality of the rest of Reaper.

Please dont ask me how it should be changed though if I could master that I wouldn't still be a code monkey!!

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Old 11-12-2010, 08:41 AM   #39
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I am new to Reaper and cannot help notice that people in here get very defensive, very quickly if anyone even thinks of criticising Reaper.
It's not about being defensive, it's about responding to people writing things as if they were universal truth when in fact they are nothing more than preferences and personal opinions.

Like someone writing about Studio being the king of intuitiveness and efficiency, while in fact that piece of software dumbfound me to the extreme. I mean, nothing is where I expect it to be and nothing function like I expect it to; yet I'm not going to claim as universal truth that S1 is hard to come to grasp with, complicated and unintuitive, all I'm gonna say is that it doesn't click with me.
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:46 AM   #40
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Like someone writing about Studio being the king of intuitiveness and efficiency, while in fact that piece of software dumbfound me to the extreme. I mean, nothing is where I expect it to be and nothing function like I expect it to; yet I'm not going to claim as universal truth that S1 is hard to come to grasp with, complicated and unintuitive, all I'm gonna say is that it doesn't click with me.
Getting past just arguing for arguments sake, can you give some specific examples of that in Studio One? Where things weren't where you expected them to be and didn't function in a intuitive way? Not to make it a vs. thing at all but it's hard to grasp relative opinions and how they may relate to the conversation without an example. The comments above are vague so I have no idea how to apply that to the discussion as it may relate to Reaper.

I do think some people tend to "elevate" certain things in a kind of fuzzy way to support a particular argument so examples always help. Not disagreeing with you, just curious.

I say "elevate" because of things like "...being the king of intuitiveness and efficiency." which I'm pretty sure nobody actually said here. It does seem to be a bit of defensiveness, your turning his comments into something far beyond what he actually said... which was (for him) "immediately useable and powerful".

Thanks.
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