Old 05-18-2018, 08:11 AM   #1
Taffer
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Default Interested in Reaper Themes but...

I'm interested in trying out Reaper themes, but I'm a total newb in digital audio work, and I'm wondering if it might be better to learn the stock interface from the ground up first?

My primary interest was one of the Ableton themes, because my instructor is razor focused on Ableton, so I thought there would be some issues as he learned to work with Reaper. I found a few but I don't want to risk using something that may be incomplete/lacking some of Reaper's feature set:

https://stash.reaper.fm/theme/1920/Live.ReaperThemeZip
https://stash.reaper.fm/theme/1920/Live.ReaperThemeZip
https://stash.reaper.fm/theme/1930/R...ReaperThemeZip

My instructor found the Reaper interface to be a little cluttered. In comparison to Live, it appears fairly user friendly on the surface up until you right click on something. I understand it's a different design philosophy, perhaps not better or worse. There was definitely some additional time spent on finding things vs his innate knowledge of live, but there was nothing that he couldn't figure out within a few minutes.

One of the key differences I noticed is that Reaper tends more toward hiding things away behind various buttons or right clicks. The Fx chain for example is prominently displayed along the bottom in Live, whereas Reaper separates it out into an additional window.

I'd also be open to a theme that the community finds to be universally preferable vs the stock interface. Something that wouldn't necessarily have much in common with live, but is more intuitive overall than the stock interface.
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Old 05-18-2018, 08:26 AM   #2
Larry Sheehan
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As I moved from ProTools, I kept looking for a theme that mimicked the PT interface. As a result I found myself getting very frustrated w/Reaper. When I finally committed to using the stock theme, and watched all of Kenny's Reaper 5 tutorials, I found myself completely comfortable using the default theme.


Periodically I get aggravated that the scroll bar doesn't have a higher contrast (esp. in longer projects), and look at alternative themes, but by now I find I just prefer working in the default.
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Old 05-18-2018, 08:34 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Taffer View Post
The Fx chain for example is prominently displayed along the bottom in Live, whereas Reaper separates it out into an additional window.


Quote:
but is more intuitive overall than the stock interface.
1. You really haven't explained what's wrong with the stock theme.

2. Themes can't really add any new features, just shuffle them around or hide them. Toolbars and scripts can make it easier to access tools or automate repetitive tasks if that's what you need.

3. You could have a look at my Nitpicky version of the default theme if you like the general appearance - it fixes some small useability issues, such as the hard-to-read track monitoring buttons. See the link in my signature.
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Old 05-18-2018, 08:38 AM   #4
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If you're new i wouldn't go with any of the radical themes such as the Ableton ones as that can be a bit confusing.

But i would recommend the simpler ones which make the interface nicer, i.e. NitPicky (Which isn't much difference), Rado (My fav) and Commala as not too different from standard interface.

Just remember that you can flick between installed themes in seconds though, so it's not as though you're screwed once you install one. Plus each theme has variations built in for mixer/track views too so you can get really customisable with each.

What i've found important to me is that the themes are good at handling automation lanes and folders.

What you will find with Reaper is that your use of actions and customisable controls/buttons/keyboard shortcuts will evolve based on what you want to do. So don't be too afraid of straying from the standards too much, because that's kinda the point of Reaper. Once you learn that concept you can follow any tutorial and if there's something you learn that you would like to use in future - simply pop it into a shortcut button and place wherever you want!
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Old 05-18-2018, 08:43 AM   #5
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For getting started with Reaper it might be a good strategy to use the Default Theme (or a modded version like the Nitpicky one Lokasenna mentioned) first, since the User Guide and a lot of Reaper Videos are using the Default Theme, as well:

- https://www.reaper.fm/userguide.php
- https://www.reaper.fm/videos.php
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:06 PM   #6
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Oh just play around with a bunch of 'em. What've you got lose? The price is right. There's a ton there, and you'll never understand what a particular theme's like until you see it for yourself. After being a diehard Imperial fan for years, my new favorite is Abbey Rd.
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
1. You really haven't explained what's wrong with the stock theme.
Correct, I didn't say there was anything wrong with the stock theme. I stated that my instructor has a bit more of a learning curve with the stock theme, and I stated that the fx chain isn't prominently displayed in the same window by default. You pointed out how to fix that, thank you.

Quote:
2. Themes can't really add any new features, just shuffle them around or hide them. Toolbars and scripts can make it easier to access tools or automate repetitive tasks if that's what you need.

3. You could have a look at my Nitpicky version of the default theme if you like the general appearance - it fixes some small useability issues, such as the hard-to-read track monitoring buttons. See the link in my signature.
Right, my concern is that themes may be incomplete, and may be missing features, not looking to add anything new. I'll take a look at that.
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:31 PM   #8
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Oh just play around with a bunch of 'em. What've you got lose? The price is right. There's a ton there, and you'll never understand what a particular theme's like until you see it for yourself. After being a diehard Imperial fan for years, my new favorite is Abbey Rd.
Well, money mainly. You see I'm occasionally paying someone to teach me this stuff, so by choosing Reaper over Ableton Live, I'm spending a little more in time $ as my instructor has to figure things out. So I'm probably better off picking up Ableton Live as well, I can always sell it later on, after I've applied everything I learn to Reaper.
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Old 05-18-2018, 01:06 PM   #9
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Depending on how this teaching works (organized lessons vs. a "hey, can you help me do ____" phone call, etc), if you know in advance what he'll be teaching there are probably a ton of threads here on the forum to help with the Reaper-specific part of things.
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Old 05-18-2018, 01:13 PM   #10
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So I'm probably better off picking up Ableton Live as well, I can always sell it later on, after I've applied everything I learn to Reaper.
Ableton Live and Reaper are so different though, it's hard to apply to both DAW's. If you were learning Pro Tools/Cubase/Logic/Reaper then much applies, but Ableton Live... At least from a production/creation point of view is quite different.

Are you learning how to mix, record, song write? Also what Genre, as there's a ton of online content out there which will give you specific help.

If you're learning dance/electronic genre production then Ableton Live 'may' be better longterm for you. So it's quite important knowing what you want to achieve, and in what genre while you have the DAW choice available to you (i.e. before you invest too much).

If you're doing more traditional guitar, bass, drums etc. then an Ableton Live based instructor is not ideal.
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:05 PM   #11
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If you're doing more traditional guitar, bass, drums etc. then an Ableton Live based instructor is not ideal.
Sounds a little bit subjective, what is live missing?

I'm doing a few different things, multi instrumental compositions with various instruments, both real and virtual. I'd like to eventually get into creating music for video games, but that will branch along many different genres. My instructor is big into edm, but also has a background in television/film, and records local bands, mixing and mastering entirely in Ableton Live. I'm sure there are things that are easier to do in Reaper, and perhaps even things that cannot be done in Live, which is why I'm learning both, and applying what I can within Reaper.
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:13 PM   #12
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I wish that I would've paid the guy who taught me. I'm self-taught. I'd be a friggin' millionaire by now!
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:26 PM   #13
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Sounds a little bit subjective, what is live missing?
Ableton Live doesn't encourage you to build a song across a linear path like Reaper does, i.e. laying down Multi-Mic'd drums, Bass Guitar, Electric, vocals - and comping the best takes from all of those, Ableton Live just isn't capable of comping for example.

It's predominately set up for recording in a live loops manner, that is you create clips of ideas that have no fixed point in time, and may have no relation to one another i.e. it's not linear like Reaper/Cubase/Logic, but when you want to use it linear you can stamp your clips within the timeline and see which fit together to make a song, only then does it become more traditional DAW like.

Up until that point Live is incredible powerful as an ideas machine, it's simply ground breaking to what came before. However, when you want to start things like doing vocal tracks/comps etc. and allowing for different inputs and their latency/ mic phasing it starts to fall down, because it doesn't have the facilities to do so. So when you get into the nitty gritty of mixing it's much harder than the likes of Reaper etc, and the bigger the project gets the harder it becomes.

It falls down when you start applying heavier processing plugins, more tracks and it lacks elements such as plug-in delay compensation for automation items, which can really throw a mix out big time. It cannot deal with large track numbers, no matter what you do to the settings. And so when you start putting the heavy plugins in place for your final mixing it really does start to suffer.

You can't get a nice overview of your mix in a traditional mixer view either, and when mixing you feel quite compressed using Ableton Live, because everything is too big and airy. I mean, it's simply not coming at the DAW world from that stance so that's cool.

There's many specific items when you get involved in mixing with Ableton Live vs more traditional DAW's, and it's quite subjective to the user and their genre of music i guess. But for me, and i think it's the general consensus that once you get past the creation process on Ableton your best to stem out and mix/master in a different DAW.

Quote:
I'm doing a few different things, multi instrumental compositions with various instruments, both real and virtual. I'd like to eventually get into creating music for video games, but that will branch along many different genres. My instructor is big into edm, but also has a background in television/film, and records local bands, mixing and mastering entirely in Ableton Live. I'm sure there are things that are easier to do in Reaper, and perhaps even things that cannot be done in Live, which is why I'm learning both, and applying what I can within Reaper.
Personally, i think you're best learning a linear DAW like Reaper first, and then moving to Ableton Live later you will really appreciate what it can do from a songwriting/production stance. It's pretty amazing for EDM, and i've used it for guitar/rock based stuff and i loved it.

However, there's so much more to learn and understand that you can apply to all software if you do the linear route first. If your tutor only has experience of Ableton Live then honestly they may not be equipped to fully show you the power of a DAW like Reaper, i've used software like this for more years than i care to mention and i'm still learning.

It's really very subjective, but out of all the DAW's to learn you've really picked the two extremes. Reaper isn't the most user-friendly but it's very powerful, deep and flexible, Ableton on the other hand is very user friendly and instaneous but somewhat lacks the depth required.

Not saying one can't be applied to the other of course as there's many similarities and cross-over points, i'm also not saying you must use A or B for genre A or B either, but i'm thinking from the perspective of learning, and which way i'd go about it after using a number of different DAW's, personally i'd learn the linear DAW (Like Reaper/ProTools/Cubase/Logic etc.) and then apply that to something like Ableton Live if it was of use to me.

Reading through your first post already displays the confusion your having, they are just quite different in terms of operation and ui. I hope i've not made things more confusing for you, of course i'm only one voice! :-/

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Old 05-18-2018, 02:28 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ReaperMadness View Post
I wish that I would've paid the guy who taught me. I'm self-taught. I'd be a friggin' millionaire by now!

I see what ya did there

Self teaching is fine, and there are more free training resources available than ever before, but sometimes a 1 on 1 session can save you a lot of time $. The plan is to become useful enough so that I don't have to pay anymore.

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