Old 04-16-2018, 12:41 PM   #1
balparmak
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Default Reaper Stock Plug-Ins vs Free Plug-Ins/VSTs

I've been using Reaper for about a year, been generally appreciative of the stock plug-ins, but I haven't really used any other DAWs, so I'm not sure whether I'm missing something here. I can't afford any paid plug-in packages, that said, abundance of free stuff often leads me to choice paralysis, I don't have the time to really dig in and try dozens in each category, also at this level, I don't even trust my ear that much. Hence I'm all ears for recommendations from experienced users, what do you like, especially in comparison to Reaper's stock plug-ins? Currently I'm going through free software offered by known brands (IK, NI, Mercurial etc.), and I'm always hearing good stuff about VoS plug-ins, so will try those next. I feel lacking especially at mastering department and while I usually keep things separate and add warmth through mild saturation (using the stock plug-in), stock delay and compression sounds a bit too sterile. I'd appreciate if the recommended plug-ins were easy to use, my main complaint with Reaper plug-ins was (and is) that while their plug-ins were very versatile, abundance of parameters and lack of guiding presets made it challenging for a beginner to learn by experimenting. I'll be dealing with indie/rock/metal music, if that's any help. Thanks!
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Old 04-16-2018, 02:08 PM   #2
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This could turn into a lengthy thread.

For a free 64 bit compressor with attitude, check out Rough Rider.
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Old 04-16-2018, 02:11 PM   #3
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Ah, the unending question of great but free plugins - and not drowning in them at the same time. I'm a hobbyist myself, which means I'm a professional at looking for free stuff which I think will make me sound professional. Alas, the thing that really helps is practice ... and decent monitoring.

The stock plugins are excellent and most instances in my projects are stock - and indeed not a varied bunch.

I don't use anything other than ReaEQ unless I need a dynamic or linear phase EQ. TDR Nova is a good dynamic free one, but I'm not sure you need it. I say stick with ReaEQ!

ReaComp is also excellent. If you need something simpler, have a look at MJUC from Klanghelm or the Modern Angel (LA-2A) from Antress.

To properly kill bad noises I use ReaFIR.

ReaGate is excellent also.

Reaper comes with a reverb plug that takes impulse responses. You can look online for some truly great ones which are completely free.

Over to the "moar plugins"-department ...
keep your eyes open for great deals on things that used to cost money and on sales (Black Friday, Easter, Summer sales etc.) There are REALLY good deals sometimes if you are willing to wait and put a few dollars in when the getting is good. I check in here regularly: bedroomproducersblog.com You can find some really nice stuff there, and sometimes great news like this pops up: Tube Saturator from WaveArts used to cost around 150 dollars and is now free: http://wavearts.com/products/plugins...rator-vintage/

Here are some of my favourite freebies:

Limiter: I used to toy around with ToneBoosters Barricade, but now I'm really digging Sonic Anomaly's "Unlimited".

Widening etc. A1 Stereo Control

Lo-Fi E-phonic lo-fi

Saturation/Tape/etc. Ferric, Saturation Knob from Softtube

B3 organ NuBile

TremoloPechenegTremolo

Metering Voxengo Span, YouLean Loudness meter

Leslie EmptySquare SpinnerLE

De-esser Lisp from SleepyTime

Distressor-ish, LA-2A-ish and more Check out the old Antress plugs

Vocal rider Steady from Terry West (not sure if it is free, though).

Packs Melda, Blue Cat Audio, Variety of Sound, Tokyo Dawn Labs, Klanghelm (great free compressor and saturation).

Tube preamp check out phi-L Audio Tube Preamp

Beyond the above, I really don't use much else than VST-instruments. Some of my favorite VSTinstruments are free ... (like daHornet, Synth1 etc. are great). Check the aforementioned site as you may be looking for very different stuff.

Over the years I have bought a few plugins, but - critically - I only bought the things I did not find satisfactory freebie stuff for. That includes a couple of reverb plugs from Valhalla (cheap, good), Sonimus Satson, EzDrummer (later Superior Drummer crossgrade on supersale just before 3.0 came out... I can live with 2.0), EzKeys (grand piano and mellotron) and some stuff from Klanghelm. Speaking of mellotron, there is one out there called RedTron400, I think. It sounds awesome, but I had some stability issues with it which is the only reason why I transitioned to EzKeys.

My Focusrite interface gives me access to some other sweet deals from time to time on my Focusrite account. Perhaps you have something like that also.

The only thing I'm really missing at this point is good percussion. I think I've listed most of the things I bought.

Hope that helps a bit, but this is just my opinion! 10 gazillion more to follow .... I suspect.

Last edited by Kvebbs; 04-16-2018 at 02:19 PM. Reason: Tidied up my mess a bit.
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Old 04-16-2018, 03:03 PM   #4
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It's a very personalized subject. IMHO, it's important to learn your tools intimately and how to use them, and more importantly, where and why to use them.. That's a lot easier to do with 20 tools than with 200.

Collecting lots of tools doesn't make your life better or your work easier or improve your mixes. It just clutters your workflow.
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Old 04-16-2018, 03:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Philbo King View Post
It's a very personalized subject. IMHO, it's important to learn your tools intimately and how to use them, and more importantly, where and why to use them.. That's a lot easier to do with 20 tools than with 200.

Collecting lots of tools doesn't make your life better or your work easier or improve your mixes. It just clutters your workflow.
yepyepyepyep.

Guitarists often get G.A.S: Gear/Guitar Acquisition Syndrome.

10 REM here we go again
20 "THIS piece of equipment will FINALLY unleash my creativity!"
30 creativity != unleashed
40 goto 10

I've downloaded many softsynths, probably more than 50, but even the ones that are easy to use are still more capable than I am at programming. The same is generally true of other plugins too.

Generally you'll spend money or time, so you need to decide which is more valuable.
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Old 04-16-2018, 04:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philbo King View Post
IMHO, it's important to learn your tools intimately and how to use them, and more importantly, where and why to use them.. That's a lot easier to do with 20 tools than with 200.

Collecting lots of tools doesn't make your life better or your work easier or improve your mixes. It just clutters your workflow.
Truth.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:04 PM   #7
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- reads replies
- nods in agreement at the "more free plugins won't make you a better artist"
- immediately downloads WaveArts free saturator plugin mentioned in the replies
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:09 PM   #8
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LOL. I almost did the same thing with that Waves plug.

On a related note, I recently discovered that my collection of reverb impulses is almost 1.5 Gigs. Ridiculous.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:29 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balparmak View Post
I've been using Reaper for about a year, been generally appreciative of the stock plug-ins, but I haven't really used any other DAWs, so I'm not sure whether I'm missing something here. I can't afford any paid plug-in packages, that said, abundance of free stuff often leads me to choice paralysis, I don't have the time to really dig in and try dozens in each category, also at this level, I don't even trust my ear that much. Hence I'm all ears for recommendations from experienced users, what do you like, especially in comparison to Reaper's stock plug-ins? Currently I'm going through free software offered by known brands (IK, NI, Mercurial etc.), and I'm always hearing good stuff about VoS plug-ins, so will try those next. I feel lacking especially at mastering department and while I usually keep things separate and add warmth through mild saturation (using the stock plug-in), stock delay and compression sounds a bit too sterile. I'd appreciate if the recommended plug-ins were easy to use, my main complaint with Reaper plug-ins was (and is) that while their plug-ins were very versatile, abundance of parameters and lack of guiding presets made it challenging for a beginner to learn by experimenting. I'll be dealing with indie/rock/metal music, if that's any help. Thanks!
First, the "lacking especially at mastering department" part.
Don't fall into the weirdness that is assuming further processing happens in mastering as SOP. ("Fix it in the mastering" from an unfinished mix as it were.) Make your mixes as complete and perfect as you can and do NOTHING in your "mastering" of them perhaps save some volume balance from one to the next when you assemble the album as needed.

As far as plugins go...
Some analog compressors and eq's had saturation elements and other quirks. Some of the specialty plugins duplicate this. Before you get caught up into that, learn the "meat & potatoes" of eq and compression with Reaper's plugins.

Listen to mixes/albums you like the sound of and start identifying how to do what you hear in your head with your mixes. When you run into a wall, ask more specific questions about how to do whatever it is.

There are no magic plugins that suddenly turn your work into a great mix.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:46 PM   #10
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Thanks all!

@Kvebbs

Great list, thanks a lot! I tried out the Klanghelm compressors, they sound quite good. It seems you really need to pay up for good reverbs, thankfully I have a zoom multi-fx with good models, while I use a less-than ideal method of re-amping, it still sounds decent.

@Philbo King

I agree, that's why I haven't felt the need to explore others until now. The aforementioned multi-fx box played a role in this, after using it like an outboard gear I noticed that Reaper's delays&reverbs felt lifeless in comparison. I'm sure you can get any sound you'd like from them, as they are infinitely tweakable, but I think having plug-ins simpler & more focused than something that could do anything like ReaComp is also a good way of learning the basics.

@Reason

I wish, but I can't properly gas 1) I'm poor and live in a third-ish world country, no gear for me except the bare minimum, 2) I'm very short on time right now, so I can't even go hunting for freebies

@serr

I appreciate the advice but nowhere in my post I asked for plug-ins that would make my mixes sound great. Rather the question was how Reaper plug-ins stood in comparison to others -a question which had been asked on the forums before but mostly in relation to other DAWs, hence my need to ask for specific comparisons with free plug-ins. I see now that I could've worded it a bit better, but by focusing on mastering I meant plug-ins mostly reserved to that, like limiters and stereo enhancers, as I wasn't satisfied with what Reaper offered for those. While on the subject, Izotope gives a pretty cool stereo enhancer upon registration, if anyone's interested in that.
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Old 04-17-2018, 02:45 AM   #11
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Can't really help much because I deal with very different music, almost entirely synth based so I do much of the sound fixing in the synths before they get anywhere near mastering or even mixing. I do use reverb but I haven't really felt much need for anything more than ReaVerb + Samplicity's Bricasti M7 IRs.

But I would suggest that you have a look at Dead Duck Software's freeby Effects Bundle which contains some useful stuff. I like the Channel Strips and a couple of the others. http://deadducksoftware.blogspot.co.uk/

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Old 04-17-2018, 08:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balparmak View Post
I've been using Reaper for about a year, been generally appreciative of the stock plug-ins, but I haven't really used any other DAWs, so I'm not sure whether I'm missing something here. I can't afford any paid plug-in packages, that said, abundance of free stuff often leads me to choice paralysis, I don't have the time to really dig in and try dozens in each category, also at this level, I don't even trust my ear that much. Hence I'm all ears for recommendations from experienced users, what do you like, especially in comparison to Reaper's stock plug-ins? Currently I'm going through free software offered by known brands (IK, NI, Mercurial etc.), and I'm always hearing good stuff about VoS plug-ins, so will try those next. I feel lacking especially at mastering department and while I usually keep things separate and add warmth through mild saturation (using the stock plug-in), stock delay and compression sounds a bit too sterile. I'd appreciate if the recommended plug-ins were easy to use, my main complaint with Reaper plug-ins was (and is) that while their plug-ins were very versatile, abundance of parameters and lack of guiding presets made it challenging for a beginner to learn by experimenting. I'll be dealing with indie/rock/metal music, if that's any help. Thanks!
For a curated list of most of the best free plugins go here:
https://bedroomproducersblog.com/free-vst-plugins/

There are free FX that will compliment or replace the stock reaplugs. I also like to keep my plugin list minimal as I am easily paralyzed by excess choice.

FWIW, Serr's post is right on. I cant count the wasted time I spent early on downloading and aimlessly testing freebies, demos or cracked plugz looking for "the silver bullet" that would make my mixes better. Knowing HOW to use a compressor and EQ is much more important than WHAT plugin you use. Even more important is the intent behind using any plugin at all. Being able to hear a track and basically know what it needs before you do anything is something that only experience can bring. That experience is ongoing and your ears will only get better over time to the point that you should be able to get the desired result with fewer and fewer moves.

That said, Here are some of my favorite freebies:

Para EQ - Melda MEQ. Its worth it for the spectragraph alone.

Analog style EQ - TDR SlickEQ and PTeq-X (pultec)

Dynamic EQ - TDR Nova which also doubles as a De-esser

Track Compressor - Reacomp is OK but I like character: Molot, DC1a2, MJUC jr. and S.LA.X

Buss Compressor: DCAM free and VOS Density MK III

Limiter: LoudMax (tracks) and Unlimited (master)

Clipper: Gclip

Transient designer - Transpire

Reverb: Samplicity Bricasti M7 impulses for Reaverb, Oril River, Sanford and Ambient. Free verb has come a LONG way in the last couple years. These are all quite good.

Delay - Hy-Delay 3 and FreqEcho. Readelay doesnt do proper ping pong delay or freaky sound design echo.

Stereo widener - A1 stereo control, JST side widener

Modulation - Azurite and Acon multiply chorus, Pecheneg Trem

Saturation - Saturation knob, IVGI, Wavearts tube Sat, VOS FerricTDS and Tessla Pro.

Distortion - Camel Crusher, Softamp PSA, Tritik Krush

Analyser - Span

Metering - Stereo channel(VU), Youlean Loudness meter

Monitoring - ISOL8

Last edited by Magicbuss; 04-17-2018 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
I don't even trust my ear that much. Hence I'm all ears for recommendations from experienced users, what do you like, especially in comparison to Reaper's stock plug-ins?
The most important things to consider are usually...

1. Workflow
2. Does it scale?

Paid, free, stock or otherwise, I've found it comes down to the above, even the best paid plugin becomes a problem very quickly if it is slow to use or becomes a problem using in large projects due to whatever reason. In many cases, that's what paid may provide, quicker workflow (including additional features), scale and so on.

How something like digital EQ sounds (not including analog emulations) is really at the bottom of the concern list in the real world and irrelevant proportionally, it's far more about how it hinders (or not) in larger projects aka "at scale'.
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:03 PM   #14
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Default Dead Duck Suite

I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned the recently released "Dead Duck Suite" .. a set of basic VST tools which describe exactly what the OP is looking for. Effective but not highly complicated, the Dead Duck Suite is the perfect set of audio tools for the newbie to work with and learn basic audio skills.

Maybe not the highest quality in the lot, (I'm still not too happy with the HF in the EQ), but it'll get him started, and without too much 'parameter overload' as it were ...

http://deadducksoftware.blogspot.com/

Give it a try ... it's free


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Old 04-17-2018, 07:16 PM   #15
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There are some wonderful free plugs out there, no doubt about it. Just be sure to spend time with each one, and don't be shy about drleting those that don't do magic. It's a lot like digging through a dumpster looking for diamonds
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Old 04-17-2018, 07:43 PM   #16
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There is no reason to buy more plugins if you can't actually hear any difference. Take your time comparing freebies, pick your favorites stick to them for a while until you are comfortable with them then compare to paid versions demos. The paid versions are not always the best sounding for the situation but like mentionned in this thread they usually offer a better worklow, more options and look better.

If I was to start from scratch after losing all my plugins for paid plugins I'd go for MJUC and DC8C from Klanghelm and SlickEQ from TDR. Great sound, great price no hassle installation.

For surgical EQ Soundbyte free version of DDMF would be my first choice closely followed by Melda's freebie :
http://www.audiopluginsforfree.com/s...ddmf-iieq-pro/

Also if you get a copy of latest Computer Music Magazine you get 70 plugins coming with it. That's right, IMO the first thing anybody starting should pay for plugins. There is a lot to go buy and a great starter pack to compare other plugins to:
https://www.musicradar.com/computermusic
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:54 PM   #17
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Also if you get a copy of latest Computer Music Magazine you get 70 plugins coming with it. That's right, IMO the first thing anybody starting should pay for plugins. There is a lot to go buy and a great starter pack to compare other plugins to:
https://www.musicradar.com/computermusic
Yeah, I tried that with the last issue... still don't have the plugin working...

EDIT: Not that my experience should keep anyone else from trying, though...
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Old 04-18-2018, 01:23 AM   #18
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For a curated list of most of the best free plugins go here:
https://bedroomproducersblog.com/free-vst-plugins/
+1
Fantastic resource. The entire blog, actually.

Quote:
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There are free FX that will compliment or replace the stock reaplugs.
complement
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Old 04-18-2018, 04:12 AM   #19
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The stock plugins are on par with most free and paid options.

ReaEQ - clean, easy to use, three parameters per band automatable (gain,frequency,bandwidth)
Some other free EQs might give you more or one thing or another, so it's a question of workflow and desired sound.

TDR SlickEQ and TDR Nova offer more sound shaping options and automatable controls, but fewer bands.


ReaComp is a beast. Pipelineaudio once described it as a box of transistors. You can shape it in to a wide range of different sounding processors.

There's nothing free out there like it. The least expensive option I know of is Klanghelm DC8C (20 Euros). That offers more.


ReaVerb. Now that's an interesting one. I use this kind of thing for convolution mostly, but there's more in it of course. That too has no equal in the free world, just for the large amount of options included. Liquidsonics makes some good convolution processors that put it above ReaVerb in many respects, but of course that's not free.
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Old 04-18-2018, 07:47 AM   #20
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No discussion of stock, free Reaper plugins would be complete without including the world of JS effects. Syncing Reapack is a must. A little overwhelming, and the typical downside of zero presets or starting points beyond their defaults. But spending some time going through them is an eye opener.

There are problem solvers for problems I didn't even know I had : ) Create some presets. Send in donations. Before any Reaper user starts looking at commercial plugins (besides toneboosters, of course : ) ) they should go through all the available JS plugins.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:17 AM   #21
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I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned the recently released "Dead Duck Suite"
I tried those and some were quite good but some didn't do anything at all. For example, with the exception of the input and output volumes, none of the controls on Channel or Channel2 did anything on my system. I quite liked the mono delay, chorus and tremolo though.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:37 AM   #22
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I tried those and some were quite good but some didn't do anything at all. For example, with the exception of the input and output volumes, none of the controls on Channel or Channel2 did anything on my system. I quite liked the mono delay, chorus and tremolo though.
Did you make sure to turn on the individual elements at the top? The default is off.
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:43 AM   #23
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No discussion of stock, free Reaper plugins would be complete without including the world of JS effects. Syncing Reapack is a must. A little overwhelming, and the typical downside of zero presets or starting points beyond their defaults. But spending some time going through them is an eye opener.

There are problem solvers for problems I didn't even know I had : ) Create some presets. Send in donations. Before any Reaper user starts looking at commercial plugins (besides toneboosters, of course : ) ) they should go through all the available JS plugins.
If I were starting today, I'd probably not feel like I needed much beyond stock Reaper. Knowing what I know today and all that. I still have the Waves and Universal Audio plugins I bought... wow, just realized it was 20 years ago! Back when they had the only decent compressor plugins. Some of them are still decent and comfortable to use. But my current thinking is to not be so lazy one day and demo some workflow with ReaComp and then clean house of some of the old.

If some plugin has a useful combination of features and controls that lead to good things, it's hard to argue. But there's not much you couldn't do with Reaper right out of the box and that holds true for any fidelity preserving discussions as well. (eg. mastering quality plugins)
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Old 04-18-2018, 10:49 AM   #24
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I'll still preach workflow and scale. It's the first thing I noticed when I joined a couple of the mix contests here that require reaper only plugins, they were completely capable (mostly) but the speed/ease/scale was reduced considerably and it took me far longer to achieve what I would have using my plugins of choice that are mostly based on those same criteria. Think in sweat equity terms.

Most any plugin can do the job if you just open it up once for a single track or few, and set some params, but do that with 60 tracks and more complex stuff and you might just work yourself to death comparatively. That applies to all plugins regardless of whether they are stock/free/built in - meaning there isn't much to worry about sonics wise, it's far more about how much work it is getting the job done.
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Old 04-18-2018, 02:50 PM   #25
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Did you make sure to turn on the individual elements at the top? The default is off.
No, I hadn't noticed that. It's black when it's off and red when it's on whereas the 'Bypass' switch is red when it's bypassed and black when it's live. My bad but I feel that perhaps standardising red for on and black for off for all the switches may be a better idea.
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Old 04-18-2018, 02:52 PM   #26
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I'll still preach workflow and scale. It's the first thing I noticed when I joined a couple of the mix contests here that require reaper only plugins, they were completely capable (mostly) but the speed/ease/scale was reduced considerably and it took me far longer to achieve what I would have using my plugins of choice that are mostly based on those same criteria. Think in sweat equity terms.

Most any plugin can do the job if you just open it up once for a single track or few, and set some params, but do that with 60 tracks and more complex stuff and you might just work yourself to death comparatively. That applies to all plugins regardless of whether they are stock/free/built in - meaning there isn't much to worry about sonics wise, it's far more about how much work it is getting the job done.
To play devils advocate... whether you use Reaplugs or 3rd party plugs you should have defaults for all your most used processors saved as presets. Even though I dont use ReaEQ very often I do have a 6 band preset based on Kenny Gioia's default preset. I also save common combinations of FX as FX chains. And finally I'll setup up Aux FX and VSTi's as track templates so I dont have to do any setup to get a reverb, delay, synth or EZ drummer track going. This saves LOADS of time.
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Old 04-18-2018, 04:10 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Magicbuss View Post
To play devils advocate... whether you use Reaplugs or 3rd party plugs you should have defaults for all your most used processors saved as presets. Even though I dont use ReaEQ very often I do have a 6 band preset based on Kenny Gioia's default preset. I also save common combinations of FX as FX chains. And finally I'll setup up Aux FX and VSTi's as track templates so I dont have to do any setup to get a reverb, delay, synth or EZ drummer track going. This saves LOADS of time.
I agree but I don't completely buy it.

I do the above but it's after the plugin is loaded where the slowdown of "fiddle factor" reveals itself. I'm not specifically speaking of Reaper plugs but trying to get across that in 2018 overall, how a plugin sounds (which isn't a color plugin), should be at the bottom of the list so to speak; it's far more about how fluid working with them in general is, that will make the day shorter or longer. That doesn't really show up when grabbing one and throwing it on a couple tracks, but it can add up as project size and complexity grows, which is sort of what I'm trying to differentiate when deciding on plugins.
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Last edited by karbomusic; 04-18-2018 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:08 PM   #28
insub
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
I'll still preach workflow and scale. It's the first thing I noticed when I joined a couple of the mix contests here that require reaper only plugins, they were completely capable (mostly) but the speed/ease/scale was reduced considerably and it took me far longer to achieve what I would have using my plugins of choice that are mostly based on those same criteria. Think in sweat equity terms.

Most any plugin can do the job if you just open it up once for a single track or few, and set some params, but do that with 60 tracks and more complex stuff and you might just work yourself to death comparatively. That applies to all plugins regardless of whether they are stock/free/built in - meaning there isn't much to worry about sonics wise, it's far more about how much work it is getting the job done.
The problem is... the only way to really know what fits your workflow to scale is to have a lot of experience.

After 4 years with REAPER, I'm only now understanding what I might desire from a paid plugin vs REAPER stock/JS or the awesome free VST FX available today.

For those that don't know me around here, I spent over a decade with Cubase SX2 prior to coming to REAPER. Back then, I used the Waves Gold Bundle, all DX plugins. I left Waves behind when I switched to REAPER. The only Waves plugin I ever missed was the Renaissance Compressor.

I was really grated by the look of the ReaPlugs at first. But, once I got to understand them more, ReaEQ, ReaGate, & ReaComp are my go-to's almost every time. Definitely, ReaGate is the only gate I use.

IMO, ReaGate, ReaComp, and ReaVerb are unrivaled in the Free VST FX realm. Of course, you can get characterful compressors for free which are fantastic, but that's not the point of ReaComp.
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