Chapter 7: Editing Tracks and Items

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7 Editing Tracks and Items[edit]

Note: Some of the arrange view illustrations used in this chapter use the REAPER 4 default theme and color scheme. The information and instructions, however, are still accurate and correct for REAPER 5.

7.1 Using an External Editor[edit]

You can specify up to two third party programs (such as Adobe Audition, Audacity, Wavosaur or Sound Forge) which you wish to integrate with REAPER for editing your audio media items. To do this:

  1. Choose the Options, Preferences command, then External Editors.
  2. Click on the Add button
  3. Use the Browse buttons (shown right) to identify and select your preferred wave editor or editors.
  4. Click on OK, then OK to close the Preferences window.

Notice that you can specify different editors for different file types, e.g. WAV, or MP3.

To use your external wave editor:

There are two main ways you can access your preferred external editing program from within REAPER:

Select the media item and press Ctrl Alt E.

Within a REAPER project, right click over the media item that you wish to edit. From the menu, choose either Open Items in editor then, from the sub-menu, select either the option to open the item itself or to open a copy of the item.

Unlike versions of REAPER earlier than 4.0, by default double-clicking on an audio media item will no longer open it with your primary editor. This behavior can be changed thru the Preferences, Editing Behavior, Mouse Modifiers page if you wish. This topic is covered in Chapter 15.

If the external editor works destructively on your files then the safer option is to open a copy. This copy will then be inserted into your track when you save it, close the editor and return to REAPER.

7.2 Editing Items in REAPER[edit]

The topic of editing items in REAPER is a big one. REAPER features a comprehensive range of editing techniques for managing the items within your projects. If you have worked with other audio software, you might find REAPER's ways a little strange at first. The first question you might have when you look at the screen is, 'Where are all the editing tools?' The answer is ' there aren't any! At least, there aren't many the first time that you use REAPER! But as you are about to see, that doesn't mean that REAPER isn't up to the job. You just get the wave editing features that you need, but without the screen clutter. What's more, you can create and add as many editing tools of your own as you like. We'll get to this in Chapter 15.

There are some basic concepts that you need to understand about REAPER's design philosophy and structure before learning individual editing techniques. For example:

Item Editing in REAPER is non-destructive. Edits made to items are unique per item and do not alter the content of the source file. You can experiment knowing that your original recorded files are safe.

Item Editing in REAPER basically consists of selecting an item, or a portion of an item (range), then doing something to it ' such as splitting it, deleting it, copying it or moving it.

Sometimes a number of steps might be required to achieve an editing task. If so, you can assign a single keyboard shortcut to the entire sequence. Just how to do this is covered in Chapter 15.

If you really miss having editing tools, then fear not. You can quite easily create your own tools and toolbars for this (or any other) purpose. This topic is covered in Chapter 15.

To a very large extent, you can customize REAPER's editing behavior thru the Editing settings within your Options, Preferences window. We'll get to this later in this section.

In a moment, we'll be working thru REAPER's many editing facilities and features. Before we do, don't forget that when you are editing you have available not only the Edit, Undo command but also the Undo History window (covered in Chapter 2). Remember that if you get into trouble, this Undo History window can be used to restore a project file to any earlier state. How to enable these various options is explained in Chapter 2.

7.3 REAPER's Smart Editing[edit]

REAPER's smart editing features enable you to do many of the most commonly required editing tasks quickly and easily. In this section, we will look at smart editing techniques for moving, copying and deleting media items, selections of media items and parts of media items. To use them, make sure that the option Loop Points Linked to Time Selection is disabled.

The table below shows REAPER's default behavior for various mouse actions. You can change any of these by selecting the context Media item and Left drag on the Mouse Modifiers page of your Preferences.

To do this with the mouse ' You need to do this ' Move item or selection of items ignoring time selection Drag and drop.
Move item or selection of items ignoring snap and time selection Shift drag and drop.
Copy item or selection of items Ctrl drag and drop.
Copy item or selection of items ignoring snap Shift and Ctrl with drag and drop.
Move item contents (within item) Alt drag and drop.
Adjust item pitch fine Shift and Alt drag and drop.
Render item to new file Ctrl and Alt drag and drop.
Copy item, pooling MIDI source data Shift Ctrl and Alt drag and drop.

Shown right is an example of how you might change any of these. In this example, we are in the process of changing the default click and drag behavior from Move item ignoring time selection to Move item: just move. This will enable us to move any selected area of an item just by dragging and dropping it. You'll find more of that in Chapter 15.

Tip: If you accidentally move an item it can be restored to its original position by choosing Item processing then Move item to source preferred position from the media item right-click context menu.

7.4 Standard Windows Editing[edit]

Many of the basic editing tasks that you will be performing in REAPER involve the use of fairly intuitive standard Windows procedures for selecting and manipulating items. There are also some extra ones. Here is a summary.

Select Items

Select an item by clicking on the item.

Select multiple items by using Ctrl Click.

Select adjacent items by using Shift Click.

Select groups of items by right-clicking and dragging a marquee around the items. It is not necessary to marquee the whole of an item to select it (see above right). The marquee feature can, however, be made to behave differently by using any of a number of modifier key options (see Marquee Modifiers table below).

These techniques can be used in REAPER in several contexts ' for example, Ctrl Click and Marquee can also both be used to make multiple note selections in the MIDI Editor (see Chapter 13).

Split Items

Splitting items is used in several REAPER editing functions. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the following:

If no item is selected, pressing S will split items in all tracks at the edit cursor position.

If item(s) are selected, pressing S will split all selected item(s) at the edit cursor position.

If there is a time selection current, pressing Shift S will split all selected Item(s) at the beginning and end of the time selection.

If an item with any FX is split, then both the resulting items will contain the FX. This can be changed in your Options, Preferences, Media page by disabling the option Duplicate take FX when splitting items.

Heal Split Items

To reconnect media item that have previously been split:

Select the media items in the track.

Right click over any media item within the selection and from the menu choose Heal splits in items.

Heal is different from Glue. In short, heal restores items to their original state, whilst glue renders them to a new file. Glue will be discussed later in this chapter. Note also that if a number of previously split items each containing an FX chain are healed, then only the FX Chain of the first of the items is retained.

Cut/Copy Items

Apart from smart editing (see previous section) there are other ways to copy or cut items in REAPER. These are based on standard windows techniques

Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl C to copy or Ctrl X to cut any selected item(s) in its entirety. Note that if a time selection is current, Shift Ctrl C/Shift Ctrl X will copy/cut only that current time selection, not the whole item. You can use the Actions Editor (Chapter 15) to change this behavior if you wish.

Right-click on an item and select Copy items or Cut items from the menu.

Select an item, then select Edit, Copy items/tracks/envelope points ignoring time selection or Cut items/tracks/envelope points ignoring time selection from the menu.

Note: Copying MIDI Items in Arrange View: Special considerations that need to be taken into account when you are copying MIDI (rather than audio) items in arrange view. These are explained in Chapter 13.

Paste Items

Use Ctrl V to paste an item at the cursor position. If a track is selected, the item will be pasted into the selected track. If no track is selected, the item will be pasted into the last track that was selected in the TCP. If you give focus to the main arrange view window before pasting, a new track will be created.

Select a track and use Edit, Paste to paste the item at the current edit cursor position.

Copy or Cut Part of an Item

For those times when you prefer not to use smart editing you can use the Windows clipboard.

Select the item then make the time selection.

To copy or cut the selected area, first make sure that focus is on the main arrange view window, then to copy use Edit, Copy items/tracks/envelope points within time selection or right-click on the item and select Copy selected area of items from the menu, or press Ctrl C, or

To cut the selected area, use Cut items/tracks/envelope points within time selection or right-click on the selected area and select Cut selected area of items from the menu, or press Ctrl X.

Select a track in the TCP, position the cursor in arrange view and choose Edit, Paste from the menu.

Delete Items

Delete completely removes the item from the track. Note that it does not remove the media file from the project directory. There are several ways to delete items. Where an item has several takes, any of these actions will delete all takes, not just the active one. See Chapter 8 for how to deal with individual takes.

Use the Delete key to delete selected item/s.

Right-click on a selected item and select Remove items. This will delete any selected items.

Select Item, Remove items from the main menu.

Show Overlapping Items In Lanes

You might wish to place several overlapping media items on one track. If so, consider whether or not you wish to crossfade them. Crossfades can be applied manually, or automatically, by enabling the Auto Crossfade tool on the toolbar. Crossfade behavior can also be managed using the Crossfade Editor which will be examined later in this chapter. You might also wish to enable Show overlapping media items in lanes on the Options menu. The maximum number of lanes to be used can be set on the Appearance page of your Preferences.

Move Items: Special

Shortcut keys exist for moving items in ways that might be difficult to control with the mouse. For example:

Default Shortcut Key Purpose Num Pad 1 Slide item a little to the left
Num Pad 3 Slide item a little to the right
Num Pad 4 Move item a little to the left
Num Pad 6 Move item a little to the right
Num Pad 8 Move item up one track
Num Pad 2 Move item down one track

Note: This feature is often referred to as 'nudge'. With REAPER, nudging is relative to the screen display. For example, if you are zoomed in very closely on an item, then nudging left or right will move or slide it backward or forward thru a much smaller unit of time than if the view was zoomed out to the full project.

Tip: Double click on a track's index number in the Track Control Panel to select all the items in that track.

Marquee Modifiers

Modifier keys exist for changing the marquee behavior when you right-click and drag. By default, these are:

Modifier Key(s) Purpose Right-click drag (no modifier) Marquee select items.
Shift Right click-drag Marquee add to item selection.
Ctrl Right click-drag Marquee toggle item selection
Alt Right click-drag Marquee select items and time
Shift Alt Right click-drag Marquee select items and time ignoring snap.

You can change any of these modifiers and/or add others of your own choosing, using the Mouse Modifiers page of your REAPER Preferences. More information about how to do this is given in Chapter 15.

7.5 Editing Behavior Preferences[edit]

Familiarise yourself with REAPER's main editing behavior preferences and how they work. If you do, you will find life getting a lot easier! They are displayed on the Editing Behavior page of the Preferences window. These are explained in Chapter 22, but in short, some of the most useful of these include:

Whether to move the edit cursor when performing various actions ' e.g. changing time selection or inserting media.

Whether by default to link loop points to time selection.

Which focus point to use as the center when zooming horizontally and vertically. These two important options put you in control of REAPER's zoom behavior. Selecting mouse cursor allows you to simply point and zoom with the mousewheel.

The option whether to move the edit cursor when selecting a media item is no longer on this page, but can now be set using the Media item left click context on the mouse modifiers page. The default behavior for this is Select item and move edit cursor but this can be changed to just Select item.

7.6 Separating Loop Selection From Time Selection[edit]

The setting Link loop points to time selection (on your Preferences, Editing Behavior page) determines whether by default the loop points are linked to your time selection. When linked, this means that when you select a time area other than that currently selected, the loop selection changes with it. At any time you can override the default behavior by using the toggle command Loop points linked to time selection on REAPER's main Options menu. Even when this option is disabled (i.e. not ticked), you can still use the Alt key while you click and drag along the timeline to set both the time selection and the loop selection together.


For this example we will be assuming that Loop points linked to time selection has been turned off.

In this first example, we have dragged along the timeline to create a loop.

Now we have dragged within the track area, just below the media item.

A new time selection is made within the loop area, but the original loop selection remains.

Next, we have right-clicked over the area and chosen Split items at time selection from the menu. We now have a separate item (for example, to be muted, or to which we could add FX), but the original loop area is still selected.

Here we have added FX to the newly split item. We could now make a different time selection, which we could also edit as required.

Notice that we can carry on working with different times selections, but our original loop area remains intact. You can play this looped area over and over again while working on different time selections within it.

7.7 Snapping with Combined Snap/Grid Settings[edit]

You have already learnt (Chapter 5) how to define grid settings. These determine whether or not a grid is displayed in your track area, and if so how that grid appears. The Snap/Grid Settings window (shown below) can also be used if you wish to ensure that various actions (including time or loop selection) and/or items are automatically snapped into position according to your settings. This, for example, might be to the nearest beat.

The Snap/Grid Settings dialog box is accessed by choosing the Options, Snap/Grid Settings command, or by the keyboard shortcut Alt L, or by right clicking on the Grid button on the REAPER toolbar. The keyboard shortcut Alt S is used to toggle the Snap feature on and off.

Grid snapping can be applied in a number of ways, including: Swing grid: Option to use swing grid, adjusting all or only selected items when changing swing. There is also an option to Use the same grid division in arrange view and MIDI editor. For more information about swing, see Chapter 13.

Cursor: Can optionally be snapped. Media Items: at start, start and the end, or current mouse position. Option to Snap media items to nearby media items. Options to Snap automation items to automation items or media items. Cursor to edge of media items on any track: Good for navigating to item start, end, splits, etc. Snap to project sample rate: Enables items to be snapped to items samples, cursor, markers, loop points and envelope points to snap to samples. Notice the Snap Distance settings. These enable your snapping to be more flexible. For example, you might set your grid spacing at, say 50 pixels, specify snap distance of, say, 5 pixels and turn off the option to Snap to grid at any distance. This will ensure that snapping to grid will occur only when you click the mouse within 5 pixels of one of the grid lines. Otherwise, the cursor will be positioned at the exact place where the mouse is clicked. Notice that you also have the option to make snapping Relative to Grid.

7.8 Snapping with Separate Snap and Grid Settings[edit]

In the above examples, REAPER was set up to use the same set of snap parameters for grid display as was used for snapping. In other words, the snapping would take place to the nearest grid position.

Let's now see what we can do if we disable the option Grid snap settings follow grid visibility.

We have also changed the minimum pixels setting for grid line spacing, in this case to 20 pixels, whilst still specifying (at the point where the cursor is shown on the screen shot) a grid snap spacing of one sixteenth beats.

This produces a less cluttered display on the screen. Provided you have zoomed into your project sufficiently, gridlines will be shown for every quarter beat but snapping will take place between as well as on the gridlines, at every sixteenth beat.

Notice also the Media items snap to option. This can be set to Snap both start/end, Only snap at start/snap offset or Mouse position dependent (that is, at whichever position the mouse is nearer at the time, the start or the end).

Tip: When snapping is enabled, this can be over ridden when selecting a loop along the timeline by holding down the Ctrl key while you make the selection.

7.9 Trim Behind When Editing[edit]

The toggle command Options, Trim content behind media items when editing can be used to ensure that existing material is effectively replaced by new material which as a result of some editing action is placed over it. This option is also available by right-clicking on the Auto Crossfade icon on the main toolbar.

The easiest way to understand what this feature does is to look at an example of what happens when you move one item onto another with 'trim behind' disabled and enabled. In this example, we are assuming that auto-crossfade has been turned off.

Let's first recall how REAPER behaves with trim behind disabled (the default setting).

  1. Shown here are two guitar tracks.
  2. We drag and drop the item from the second track over the top of the first.
  3. If we now enable free item positioning on the track and increase the track height, by dragging the item on top below the original media item, we can see that both the original and the new item are now stored in this track.

Let's now see what happens if we repeat this exercise, but this time with the option Trim content behind media items when editing enabled.

Steps one and two would appear to be the same as before. But look what now happens at step 3:

This time, when we allow free item positioning and drag the new item down, there is nothing behind it! The original item has been replaced with the new one.

This example has been included only as an illustration and an example. It does not mean that you have to make use of free item positioning if you wish to work with 'trim behind' enabled.

7.10 Item Take FX[edit]

REAPER allows you to apply FX not only to individual tracks but also to individual media item takes within a track. Suppose, for example, that you wish to add an effect (such as reverb or delay) to just part of a track. You can split the track media into several items and apply the effect only to those items where it is wanted. If you have selected the option to display the Per take FX and No FX item icons (Options, Preferences, Appearance, Media) you can click on any item take's FX button to open its FX window. This topic will be explained in more detail later in this chapter. Otherwise you can select a media item and use the default keyboard shortcut Shift E.

To add a plug-in to a media item:

Select the Media Item.

Click on the FX button or press Shift E to open the Item FX Chain. The Add FX to Item window will be displayed.

Double-click on the Plug-In.

Adjust the parameters. then close the FX Window. If you now hover the mouse over the item's FX button, you will see a tool-tip showing the FX chain.

If you find this method too 'fussy' then try this. You can simply drag and drop any FX from the FX Browser window straight on to any media item. You can drop the FX anywhere on the item. When FX have been added to an item, then the FX names will be displayed in arrange view together with the item name (see above).

Important note: Where an item has more than one take, be careful to make sure you have selected the correct required take before opening the item FX chain. This is because FX are assigned to individual takes.

Tip: You can also add recently used FX to an item, or open an existing effect for editing, by right-clicking over the item's FX button to display a context menu (see above).

Managing Item FX ' Summary Table

To do this ' You need to do this ' Add a plug-in to an item's FX chain Press Shift E to open the item's FX window. You can then add FX in the usual way.
Delete an item's FX chain altogether Select the first item in the chain then hold Shift while selecting the last item. This will cause all items in the FX chain to be selected. Then press Delete.
Copy an FX to another item Ctrl drag and drop the FX from an item's FX chain to the other item. If the FX button is visible, Ctrl drag and drop from the FX button to the destination item to copy the entire FX chain.
Move an FX from one item to another Hold Alt while dragging and dropping the FX

Shown here are the settings which determine if and how the various buttons are displayed for individual media items. We'll return to this in detail later in this chapter, but for now just notice that available item icons (buttons) include its lock and mute status, its FX chain, its notes and properties.

If you enable the option Draw labels above the item rather than within the item then the buttons will be displayed (with the item name) above the item. You can, however, also specify as an exception that When media item height is less than label height the label should be moved to inside the media item. If you disable these options, the labels (if displayed) will always be superimposed on the media item itself.

7.11 The Nudge/Set Items Window[edit]

The Nudge/set items window can be opened from the media items right-click context menu. You can use the Actions List editor to assign this action to a keyboard shortcut, or the Customize Menus/Toolbars editor to assign it to a toolbar. The use of both the Actions List editor and the Customize Menus/Toolbars editor is covered in Chapter 15.

Once opened, this window stays open until you close it. You can select any item (or a number of items) and use this window to nudge or set a position. Exactly how this behaves will at times depend on your other settings (for example, snap settings, and whether or not the item is loop enabled). The main options and parameters in this window are described in the table below, moving from left to right.

Item Explanation Action Choose Nudge or Set. Which of these you choose will determine how REAPER will interpret the Unit information. If you choose Nudge, the item will be moved according to the unit specified by the amount specified. In the example shown above, the item position would be moved 10 ms to the left or right (depending on which Nudge button is clicked. If you choose Set, the item will be moved to the position specified. Determines exactly what will be nudged or set. Your choices are: Position Whole item: the whole item will be physically moved Left Trim The item is trimmed from the left Left Edge The left edge is moved Right Edge The right edge is moved Contents The item itself remains static, its contents are moved within it Duplicate Creates duplicate item(s) Edit Cursor Moves edit cursor Whether the movement is left or right will depend on which button is clicked. If Duplicate and Nudge are selected, you will be able to specify number of copies.
Nudge/Set Definition

Determines exactly what will be nudged or set. Your choices are: Position Whole item:

  • the whole item will be physically moved
  • Left Trim The item is trimmed from the left
  • Left Edge The left edge is moved
  • Right Edge The right edge is moved
  • Contents The item itself remains static, its contents are moved within it
  • Duplicate Creates duplicate item(s)
  • Edit Cursor Moves edit cursor Whether the movement is left or right will depend on which button is clicked. If Duplicate and Nudge are selected, you will be able to specify number of copies.
Unit Value Determines the number of units by which the item will be nudged. This information needs to be interpreted together with the Unit Type selection. In the example shown above, the unit type is milliseconds and the unit value is 10.
Unit Type Options include milliseconds, seconds, grid units, measures/beats, samples, frames, pixels, item lengths, item selections and notes. If notes is selected, an additional drop down list offering various fractions of a note (from 1/256 to whole) is also displayed.
Snap to Unit Whether to enable or disable snapping.
Nudge Left Nudge Right These buttons are displayed only if Nudge is selected. They determine whether to nudge the item(s) to the left or to the right.
Get Cursor Apply Move These buttons are only displayed when Set is selected. Get Cursor returns the current cursor position and writes it in the 'to:' box. Apply Move moves the item according to the various options and settings, including the position specified in the 'to:' box.

7.12 Media Item Properties[edit]

All media items have a page of property settings which help determine the behavior of that item. Often, editing in REAPER consists of selecting an existing item (or creating a new one) and then changing its properties.

To display an item's properties, select it then press F2, or right click and choose Item Properties, or click on its properties button (if visible). For audio (but not MIDI) items, you can also double-click on the item to do this. The Media Item Properties box will stay open until you close it. If you leave it open, its contents will reflect the properties of whichever item or items is/are currently selected at any time.

You don't need to understand every single one of these properties before you get started, just to know where this information is accessed and changed. The main properties contained within this dialog box are:

  • Position: entering a precise figure here will move the start of this media item to that position.
  • Length of media item (Position and Length can be shown in time, beats or HMSF).
  • Fade In and Fade Out: you can define both the length and the shape of these.
  • Snap offset: The amount of offset from the default snap position if snapping is enabled.
  • Item timebase: Defaults to project timebase but can be changed (time, beats, etc.).
  • Item mix: Effectively whether to replace or mix when an item is placed over another. Defaults to project default.
  • Loop source: whether item is a loop.
  • Mute status: whether or not the item is muted.
  • Item lock status: whether or not the item is locked.
  • Whether or not to apply autofades at item start and end.
  • Whether or not to play all takes. Obviously, this only applies where two or more takes exist.
  • Active take file name.
  • Active take name. By default REAPER will use the media item file name, but you can change this.
  • Pitch adjustment.
  • Start in source: sets start time.
  • Playback rate. For example, type x2 to double the playback rate of all items currently selected.
  • Whether to preserve item pitch when the playback rate is changed.
  • Adjust Volume and Pan, Normalize.
  • Channel mode: this is discussed shortly.
  • Whether to invert phase.
  • Add or remove Take envelopes.
  • Which algorithm is to be used for pitch shift and time stretch.
  • Stretch marker default fade size and whether to optimize for tonal content.
  • The option to use only a section of the media item.
  • Options to reverse the item.
  • Examine the media item source file's properties.
  • Choose a new file to replace the existing source file.
  • Rename the source file.
  • Access the Nudge/Set dialog box for this item.
  • Open the Take FX Chain window for this take/item.

After making any changes, use the Apply button to apply them and leave the window open, or OK to apply them and close the window, or Cancel to close the window without applying changes. There is also an option (right-click on title bar) to Apply changes after 2 seconds of inactivity that you can enable if you wish.

Some of these options ' such as Loop Source and Channel Mode ' are also available on the Item Settings menu. In addition, for many of them Keyboard Shortcuts either already exist or can be defined. You will be shown how to create your own keyboard shortcuts in Chapter 15 when we examine the Actions List Editor.

Tip: To change a property (e.g. playback rate) of several items at once, simply select all of the items then, with the Media Properties window open, make whatever changes you require.

7.13 Media Item Icons[edit]

For several of the settings in the Item Properties dialog box there are icons (buttons) available that can be used as a quick way of accessing these commonly used features. The display of buttons is turned on and off in the Appearance, Media page of the Preferences settings.

The icons are listed in two rows. Ticking options in the first row means that the icons will be displayed only when the item has been enabled (by a keyboard shortcut, the menu, or the Item Properties dialog box). Ticking options in the second row means that the icons will be displayed whether the feature is enabled or not.

For example, if you tick the Mute option in the first row but not the Not muted option in the second, then the mute button will be displayed only when the item is muted. The button indicates the track's mute status and can also be used to unmute it.

If you choose to tick this item in both rows then the mute button will always be displayed (provided there is sufficient room) on all media items, and can be used as a toggle.

Enabling Properties (resampled only) means that this button will only be displayed if an item is resampled.

In the example shown (left) we have two media items, both with lock status, notes, mute and FX buttons displayed. The first item is muted and the second item is locked.

Whether your icons are displayed above the media items or superimposed upon the media items will depend on your preference setting (on the same preferences page) for the option Draw labels above item rather than within item. Note that even if you have this option enabled, it will only be applied if there is sufficient track height. You'll find more information about other settings on this Appearance, Media page in Chapter 22.

7.14 Item Notes[edit]

The Notes button (or the Item settings, Item notes ' command from the right-click menu) can be used to open a text box that can be used to enter any text notes for that item. When notes have been entered, a small Notes icon will appear on the item. Hovering the mouse over this icon will cause the notes to be displayed as a tool tip. Click on the icon to open and edit the Notes window.

Within the Notes window, click on the Load button to load any .PNG or .JPG image file. The option Use as item background can be selected to display that image with the icon. Optionally, you may also choose to Stretch to fit item. An example of a media item displaying an image is shown here. Icons can also be inserted into media items by dragging and dropping from Explorer/Finder.

7.15 Coloring Individual Items[edit]

You can change the colors of individual media items (or selections of media items) by first selecting the items and then displaying their context menu and choosing Item and take colors, then Set items to custom color or Set items to random colors or Set items to one random color. Various options to tint media item waveform peaks and/or backgrounds with Item colors can be found on the Appearance, Peaks/Waveforms page of your preferences (see above).

Some themes (including the default) disable user control of these options, in which case you will not be able to change them. One way to make these options available would be to use a different theme (see Chapter 11).


In the example below, our vocal track is split into several individual items. Suppose that these include two verses and two choruses, and that we wish to easily identify the choruses. We can select the chorus items, then right-click over any item in the selection and choose Item and take colors, Set items to custom color from the menu. (These commands are also available on the main Edit menu). We can then select any color we wish from the Colors dialog box and click on OK. These items are now shown in the selected color.

Other similar commands include Set items to random color and Set items to one random color. To remove a custom color, choose Set items to default color.

7.16 Adjusting Item Volume[edit]

Besides using envelopes (which we'll get to in Chapter 18) there are three main methods available to adjust the volume of individual media items. They are:

  • Using either the item volume handle or the item volume knob.
  • Using the volume fader in the Item Properties box.
  • Normalization.

7.16.1 The Item Volume Knob/Item Volume Handle[edit]

The Appearance, Media page of your Preferences settings includes the option to use either an Item volume knob or Top edge of media item (item volume handle) as a quick and easy way to adjust the volume of individual media items.

The Item volume knob is shown here (right). Click and drag on this, up or down to increase or decrease item volume. Double-click to reset to 0.0dB. To adjust several items at once, select the required items then adjust the knob on any one within the selection.

The Item volume handle is a horizontal bar that sits across the top of each of your media items. Initially it will not be visible until you hover your mouse over the top of the media item to reveal a double headed vertical arrow. You can click and drag with your mouse down to lower the volume level (see first illustration). To pick up the handle from the top of the media and increase the volume from there, hold down the Shift key while dragging (see second illustration).

Use the Control key while adjusting either the item volume knob or handle for fine adjustments.

Tip: If you want the item volume handle when set to 0.0 dB to appear half way up your media items (rather than at the top edge), choose the Options, Preferences command, then on the Media page set Media item adjustment range to -inf...+6 dB.

7.16.2 The Volume and Pan Faders[edit]

The Item Properties dialog box includes two horizontal faders (Volume and Pan) to the left of the normalize button. These can be used to raise or lower an item's volume and adjust panning. After setting the level, click on Apply to apply it to the item. This method is useful especially if you are making adjustments to both volume and pan settings together, or if you do not wish the item volume handle to be displayed.

7.16.3 Normalizing Items[edit]

The term normalizing refers to adjusting the volume of an item (or selection of items) to a standard level. This can be especially useful if some of your tracks have perhaps been recorded at too low a level. To do this:

  1. Select any item (or group of items) to be normalized.
  2. Right click over the selection.
  3. Choose Item processing then either Normalize items or Normalize items (common gain) from the menu.

Use the common gain option if you want the level on all items to be raised by the same amount, or relative to each other. This will be the amount by which the loudest of the items can be increased without clipping.

If you want every selected item to be normalised independently do not select the common gain option. This can be expected to result in a greater increase in volume for some items than if common gain had been selected. Any individual item can also be normalised by clicking the Normalize button inside the Item Properties dialog box. This is especially useful if you need to make changes to other item properties while you are normalizing.

7.17 Changing Item Channel Mode[edit]

Right clicking over any Media Item and choosing Item settings from the context menu causes a sub-menu to be displayed. Notice in particular that for stereo media items, you have a number of channel mode options (also available in the Item Properties dialog box). These include:

Normal: maintains or returns the stereo item to its original channel state.

Reverse Stereo: swaps left and right channels.

Mono (Downmix): combines both left and right channels into a single mono channel.

Mono (Left): produces a single mono channel using only the output from the original left channel only.

Mono (Right): produces a single mono channel using only the output from the original right channel only.

For multichannel items (see Chapter 3) you have also the option of mixing down in mono or stereo to channels other than 1 and 2.


Some examples are illustrated below. Note that these changes are non-destructive. You can switch an item between these different states as often as you wish. For example, to convert a stereo media item to two mono items quickly and easily, you can simply duplicate it, then set one to Mono (left) and the other to Mono (right)

Mode: Normal

Mode: Reverse Stereo

Mode: Mono (Downmix) (i.e. mixed to as single mono track)

7.18 Take Source Properties[edit]

The Take media source section of the Media Item Properties dialog box can be used to view the properties of the currently selected take, or to change or rename its source file. Where the media item consists of only one take, then the terms 'take media source' and 'item media source' become synonymous To change the media item contents click on Choose New File, or to rename it use the Rename File option.

You can click on the Properties button to display information about the format of the original Audio file or MIDI recording which is the source of the item. In the case of MIDI items, you can also modify some properties, such as restricting which channels are played. Examples are shown below:

7.19 REAPER Editing and Auditioning Example[edit]

Most new users of any digital audio software struggle with editing at first, especially if they are used to another program which uses different techniques. The best way to understand what's going on is to work thru some examples. These examples assume that you have the option to Link loop points to time selection enabled.

Open the file All Through The Night.RPP. Use the File, Save Project As command to save it as All Through The Night EDITS.RPP.

The examples that follow are designed to help you to learn and understand the use of REAPER. They are not intended to cover every possible feature ' you can explore these for yourself ' nor is it suggested that they represent a particularly good arrangement of this song.

By way of preparation, set pan the two guitar tracks 33% left and 33% right respectively.

  1. We are going to make a copy of the Bouzouki track and then play around with the sound. In the Track Control Panel, right click over the Track name or number for this track, then from the menu choose Duplicate tracks.
  2. Change the name of this new track to Bouzouki Copy. Press Ctrl S to resave the Project File.
  3. In the Track Control Panel, click on the track number for the first Bouzouki Track then hold the Ctrl key and click on the track number for the second track. Both tracks are now selected.
  4. Click on the Solo button for either track to solo both.
  5. With both tracks still selected, use the mouse to lower the volume fader on either track to around '7dB ' both tracks will be lowered. As you get near to the '7dB mark, hold the Ctrl key down for more precise movement.
  6. Holding down the Shift key, move the Pan fader for the first Bouzouki Track to around 55% left, and, again holding the Shift key, move the Pan fader for the second Bouzouki track to around 55% right.
  7. Right click over the Media item for the second Bouzouki Track. Choose Item properties from the menu. Change Start in Source to - 0:00.007. Click on Apply then OK. This causes this item to be nudged 7 milliseconds to the right. This adds a very small delay effect to make the instrument sound fuller.
  8. Press Ctrl S. Play the Song.
  9. While it plays, hold down Ctrl and click on the Solo button for either of the Bouzouki tracks. This clears both the Solos.
  10. Right click just beneath the Track Control Panel area and choose Show master track.
  11. Adjust panning and volume for the various tracks to get a reasonable mix. You might end up with something similar to that shown above. Press Ctrl S.
  12. In the example shown, you might be happy with the overall balance between the different tracks, yet the overall volume of the Master might be just a tad too loud in parts.
  13. Open the FX bin for the Master and insert into it the JS/Utility Limiter. Set the maximum volume of the limiter to '0.5. Close the FX window, and make sure the Volume Fader for the Master is set to 0dB. You can now play the song without clipping.
  14. Notice there is an extended period at the end of the song that we might wish to remove. Position the Play Cursor at around the position shown (right). Make sure that no track is selected, then press the letter S to split all tracks at the cursor mark.
  15. Note that whereas before each track consisted of one item, each now has two items. The items (to the right) that you have just created by splitting should still be selected (as shown here). If they are not, right-click and drag over them to marquee (select) them.
  16. Press Delete to remove these items. Press Ctrl S to save.
  17. Now we're going to mute part of an item. We first need to make a separate item containing just the area to be muted.
  18. Select the media item for the Vox track. Position the Edit Cursor round about the 56 second mark.
  19. Press the ~ key (Shift `) to maximise the current track. Press Ctrl Alt Up or Ctrl Alt Down until the Vox track is displayed. At this level of magnification you can see that some unwanted sounds have been recorded during a passage when the singer is not singing. As likely as not, this is probably headphone bleed. We're going to get rid of it.
  20. If you want to hear it first, you can Solo that track and play it. Don't forget to Unsolo when finished.
  21. View the Big Clock. With the edit cursor near the 56 second mark, repeatedly press the + key, until the area we want to deal with occupies a large part of the screen.
  22. Click once on the media item to select it.
  23. Click and drag just below the timeline to select the region that we wish to work with (see below).
  24. Right click over the media item and choose the command Split items at time selection. This creates a new item, and this new item is still selected. Press Esc to clear the time selection.
  25. If the item's mute button is visible, click it. Otherwise, right click on this new item and choose Item settings then Mute.
  26. Press the ~ key to return the whole of your song to the display. Adjust track heights as you wish.
  27. Play the song. Notice that the Vox track is now muted during the passage that we have been working on.
  28. Press Ctrl S to save. We'll be returning to this example shortly.

7.20 Editing Multiple Media Items[edit]

You can use REAPER's various item editing and manipulation techniques (including smart editing) on selections of multiple items. Just make your item selection and then carry out the required action (delete or move, etc).

  1. You can do this with more than one adjacent track at a time by using the marquee method (right-click and drag) when making a selection.
  2. You can also do this for media items in non-adjacent tracks. Make the time selection, then select the first item, then hold Ctrl while you click on each of the other items. In the first picture (right), tracks 1 and 4 have had an area selected in this way. In the second screen shot (below), the same selected area has been cut from both media items.

This is an example of where you may wish to customize REAPER's mouse settings to change its default behavior. For example, you might wish to ensure that even when multiple items are selected, only the one item is edited. This can be done on the Mouse Modifiers page of your Preferences window, a topic covered in Chapter 15.

7.21 Slip Editing[edit]

You can slip-edit unwanted passages from the start or end of a media item by following this sequence:

Hover your mouse over the lower part of an item's left or right edge so that the mouse appears as a double headed horizontal arrow with a square bracket (as shown right). The direction faced by the bracket will depend on whether you are at the start of the item or the end.

Click and drag to the right or left (as appropriate), then release the mouse.

Slip Editing Multiple Items

To slip edit several items in different tracks, simply select all the media items required (for example, hold the Ctrl key while clicking in turn on each item, or use the marquee method), then slip edit any item in the selection. The change will be applied to all items in the selection (see left).

This is another example of where you may wish to customize REAPER's mouse settings to change its default behavior. For example, you might wish to ensure that even when multiple items are selected, only the one item is slip edited. This can be done on the Mouse Modifiers page of your Preferences window. This topic is covered in Chapter 15.

Take care when slip-editing adjacent items, especially when they are touching each other. If you click and drag on one of the items so as to create a space between the two, then slip editing will take place in the usual way. However, if you slip edit in such a way as to overlap the items, you will create a crossfade. Both items will be heard when the overlapping portion is played.

This is illustrated here, where the end of the first (further left) of the two adjacent items has been slip-edited to the right, overlapping the other item. This behavior can be modified in two ways. Disabling auto-crosssfade (on the toolbar) will stop the crossfade, but both items will still be heard. Enabling Trim content behind media items when editing (Options menu) will ensure that only the slip-edited item (the item on top) will be heard during the overlap.

Another technique is to use slip-editing to move the boundary between two adjacent items (perhaps when an original item has been split). Select both items and hover your mouse over the boundary between the items to see the symbol shown here. You can then click and drag left or right to move the boundary.

7.22 Adjusting Fades[edit]

If you select any item in a track and zoom in close enough, you will see that there is a fadeout curve at the end of that item. You can change both the shape and duration of this curve, either using the mouse, or thru the Item Properties dialog box.

  1. Select the rightmost item on one or more tracks. In the example shown (right) two tracks have been selected. In this example the items selected are vertically aligned: this does not need to be the case.
  2. Hover your mouse over the vertical white line that marks the start of the fade. The mouse changes to display a curved shape.
  3. Click and hold down the mouse button. Drag left to increase the length of the fadeout (see below left) then release the mouse. Notice that the fadeout curve is now more gradual. If you were to slip edit any or all of these items, the fadeout would keep its shape and duration ' it would just begin sooner.
  4. Make sure that your media items are still selected.
  5. Right-click over the vertical line that marks the start of the fadeout. A menu of different fade curves will be displayed (see right). You can select any of these.

If you prefer, instead of using your mouse, you can press F2 (with the items selected) to display the Items Properties dialog box. You can make your changes there.

Notice that your REAPER Options, Preferences dialog box includes an area on the Project Media Item Defaults screen where you can specify default fade and crossfade length, overlap, and shape characteristics. See Chapter 22 for further information.

In addition, the Preferences Mouse Modifiers page gives you additional functionality by using modifier keys with your mouse when working with fades and crossfades.

For example, holding Shift while dragging the mouse left or right will move a crossfade left or right. Other default settings are shown here, but you can change them. For information about customizing your mouse modifiers, see Chapter 15.

7.23 Crossfades and the Crossfade Editor[edit]

Typically a crossfade might be used to transition gradually from one media item on a track to another. In the example shown (right), two media items overlap each other with a crossfade. Alt X toggles on and off auto crossfade mode. When enabled, this ensures that dragging the start of one media item over the end of another will automatically create a crossfade. Default crossfade parameters (including fade and crossfade shapes) are set in the Media Item Defaults page of REAPER's preferences.

Various crossfade elements (such as shape, start and finish) can be edited with your mouse in much the same way as you might edit a simple fade. In many cases this might be all you need to do. However, if you need it the Crossfade Editor gives you more precise control over the shape and sound of the crossfade. The Crossfade Editor is opened using the View, Crossfade Editor command, or by double-clicking on a crossfade.

Below you can see the same crossfade as before, with the crossfade editor open. The crossfade area has been selected (by click anywhere on the crossfade curve). The crossfade editor displays the fade parameter information for the selected media items.

It might help to use a copy of your project at first, until you become familiar with how the controls work. The following should help you to understand the controls and options and how they can be used:

The fader units (top right) can be set to your preference, either time (seconds) or beats.

Any of the seven shapes shown can be selected for fade out, fade in, or both. After choosing a shape, you can use the mouse directly on the crossfaded media items. Drag left/right on either curve to adjust the fade itself, or at the intersection to move just the point where the fades cross. The dialog box controls can also be used to edit the fades and crossfade (see points below).

Mouse modifiers can be used to customize mouse behavior (see next page).

Optionally, you can select Equal gain or Equal power. Equal gain settings include linear fades (the top shape). Equal power includes logarithmic fades (second from top). Equal gain might be preferred when both items contain similar material. Equal power might be chosen when the crossfade is between two different types of sound or different instruments.

Adjustable parameters are curve, center of crossfade, start and end locations of fade-out and fade-in, length, position of contents (the crossfade media items), and volume of fades. Most of these are self-explanatory. The curve setting will adjust the shape of the left, right or (if linked) both curves. Depending on other settings, this may cause the fades' intercept point to move left or right. Note also that when adjusting the length you can specify which position should be preserved ' center, start, or end. The contents rotary can be used to move either of the media items left or right. The volume control can be used to adjust the volume of the crossfaded items.

Parameter values can also be typed directly into the edit boxes.

Left/right values of the different parameters can be linked or mirrored. Except for start and end, link and mirror are mutually exclusive options. For example, if shape is linked then changing the shape of either fade will cause both to be changed in the same way. If mirrored, selecting a shape for one fade will cause an opposite shape (if one is available) to be applied to the other fade. If start and end are linked and mirrored, then adjusting either of these controls will change the crossfade start and end length equally, keeping the center point constant. If length is linked, adjusting the length of either fade will change the length of both fades equally. If mirrored, lengthening one fade will cause the other to be shortened by an equal amount. If contents are linked, that control will move both media items left or right together. If mirrored, it will move them in opposite directions. If volume is linked, then adjusting either control will raise or lower the volume of both items together. If mirrored, then raising the volume on one side will lower it on the other.

You can choose whether your edits should apply to all grouped items.

You can set the position of audition points before and after the crossfade. Enabling audition will cause the crossfaded area (together with the pre-roll and post-roll) to be looped when play on the mini toolbar is engaged. Any other existing loop settings in the project will be retained.

There are also options to solo the track and mute either left or right side of the crossfade.

Right-click over the Crossfade Editor for a context menu.

The mini toolbar at the foot of the window can be used to play, pause and stop playback, and enable/disable loop audition.

Previous and Next select the previous or next crossfade.

The + button (top) can be used to save the current crossfade editor settings as a Preset. Optionally, you can include crossfade length within the preset. Saved presets can be recalled from the drop down list to the left of this button.

If several crossfades are selected, the crossfade editor will by default apply its settings to the entire selection. For mouse edits, this can be changed in your mouse modifiers.

Fade/Crossfade Mouse Modifiers and Actions

Both media item fade intersection and fade/autocrossfade mouse modifiers (right) can be defined separately for left click, left drag and double click actions. In many cases the left drag modifiers are likely to be of most interest.

These modifiers can be used when working with fades or crossfades, e.g., to enable or disable various options, (such as whether to ignore snap and/or selection/grouping, and whether to stretch items) or to assign actions (such as adjusting the fade curve). There are also options which enable you to adjust the fade curve with the mouse.

Left click and double click modifiers can be used to apply any of a number of additional fade intersection or auto crossfade actions from REAPER's Actions list. These include actions to change fade/crossfade shapes, to adjust curves horizontally only or both horizontally and vertically, and to adjust fade curves in various ways. Search the actions editor to see the full list. For more general information about using both mouse modifiers and the actions list see Chapter 15.

Note also that the Appearance, Fades/Crossfades page of your Preferences includes various options which determine how and when fade/crossfade edit handles are displayed (see Chapter 22).

7.24 Grouping Items[edit]

Provided that Grouping is enabled Options, Item Grouping Enabled command, or Alt Shift G ' items can be grouped together to facilitate working with them. For example, you can move them together, set them all to a common color, mute and unmute them, and so on).

Select the items and use G to add them to a group. If you prefer, you can use the Item grouping button on the REAPER toolbar to toggle grouping on and off.

In the example shown below, three of the six items have been grouped. For grouped items a Grouped icon will be displayed if this has been enabled in Preferences, Appearance, Media. Even when this preference is disabled, you will see a thin colored bar above and below all items that have been grouped (see right).

Further items can be added to a group. Select any item in the group, then press Ctrl G to select the entire group. Hold the Ctrl key while you click on those items that you wish to add to the group, then release Ctrl and press G. Note that U removes a selected item from a group. You can also use the Group commands on the right click item menu to manage groups.


Here is a simple example, using the file All Through The Night EDITS.RPP and save it as All Through The Night GROUP ITEMS.RPP

  1. Select the Vox track, and use the editing techniques that you have already learnt to cut this track into several media items, so that it resembles that shown above. There are a number of ways you can do this ' one is to position the cursor at the point that you want to split, then select the item, then press S. Repeat this as often as necessary. To remove unwanted items, select them and press Delete.
  2. Check your Options menu to ensure that Item Grouping is enabled. If it isn't, turn it on. Notice that by default, the keyboard shortcut Alt Shift G can be used to toggle Item Grouping on and off.
  3. Select the second of the items in the Vox track. Hold down the Ctrl key while you select in turn the fourth and last items for this track.
  4. Press G to bind them into a group. Select any item in the group and press Ctrl G to select them all.
  5. If item icons are visible, click on the Mute button for any item in the group. Otherwise, right-click and choose Item Settings, Mute from the menu. Repeat this to unmute them.
  6. With all items in the group still selected, right-click on any of them and choose Item and take colors then Set items to custom color. Select a color and press Enter.
  7. Now select the first of the items drag and drop to the right a little. All items in the group will move together. Press Ctrl Z to undo this.
  8. Now click on any other media item not in the group. This deselects the group. Save the file.
  9. Click again on any item in the group and press Ctrl G. Again, all group items are selected.
  10. Press U. These items are now ungrouped. Save the file.

7.25 Storing and Recalling Item Groups[edit]

Different groups of items can be saved and recalled using the Item Groups tab of REAPER's Project Bay. The Project Bay will be explored in more detail in Chapter 12. For now, notice that you can open it using the View, Project Media/FX Bay command, and then select the Item Groups tab. To create and save multiple groups, simply use this method:

Open the Project Bay and select the Item Groups tab.

Select the items for your first group then right click over one of them and choose Group then Group items from the menu. A group will automatically be created in the Project Bay. You can right click over the group name and choose Rename group to give it your own name.

Repeat this step to create subsequent groups. The example here shows a project with two item groups.

To select all items in a group, you can now right click over its group name in the project bay and choose Select group from the menu. To remove a group, use the Delete group, keep items command on the same menu.

Tip: To adjust the volume of all items in a selected group, hold Ctrl and Alt while adjusting the item volume button or item volume handle of any one of the items in that group.

7.26 Glue Selected Items[edit]

When you have a number of items in a track that you wish to permanently treat as one, you should consider using the Glue items command. When you glue items, they become one and a new media item is created. For example, two MIDI items glued together will automatically and always open together in the same MIDI Editor window. Two audio items glued together will now share one common set of Item properties. Items that have been glued together can be later split up any way you wish. This can be useful if you later realise that you need to adjust one or more properties of a portion of a glued item. To glue together a number of adjacent items in a track, follow this procedure:

  1. Select all of the items that you wish to glue. The easiest way to do this is probably to right click and drag the mouse across the items.
  2. Right click over any item in the selection and choose Glue items from the context menu.


In the example shown below, a track is made up of six separate media items (as in the exercise above). By positioning the mouse initially over the first item, then right clicking and dragging to the last item before releasing the mouse, we ensure that all items are selected.

We then right click over any of these items (where the mouse is shown above) and choose Glue selected items from the menu. As a result, the items are joined into one, as shown below.

One application for gluing items is to join several items together into a new loop source. You'll learn more about working with loops in Chapter 9. Another use for glue is to render an item, for example, incorporating item gain and item take FX into the new media item and setting the FX to bypass. When a selection of two or more items are glued in this way, the FX and so on will be applied to the appropriate sections of the new item.

Note 1: When MIDI items are glued, any item that includes take FX such as a VSTi synth is rendered as audio.

Note 2: Actions are available in the Actions List (see Chapter 15) to ensure that when an item is glued, its channels will be increased if necessary to accommodate the output of any item FX. For example, if the action Item: Glue items (auto increase channel count with take FX) is applied to an item with FX which use two channels for output, then that item will be rendered in stereo (two channels) when glued.

7.27 Creating and Copying Items in Pencil Mode[edit]

REAPER includes an optional pencil mode that can be used to create new media items or make copies of existing ones. How the feature works is determined by your Track left drag settings on the Mouse Modifiers page of your Preferences window.

In Chapter 15 you will learn how to change these settings to suit your own custom requirements if you need to. For example, you could assign the Shift modifier to be used to draw a new item. For now, we will be looking at the default settings. These default settings are shown here.

By default, the following modifiers can be used when clicking and dragging in an empty area in Arrange view:

Ctrl ' draws a copy of currently selected media item. Snapping will be applied if enabled.

Ctrl Shift - draws a copy of currently selected media item, will not snap.

Ctrl Alt - draws a copy of currently selected media item pooling MIDI source data with snapping (if enabled).

Shift Ctrl Alt - draws a copy of currently selected media item pooling MIDI source data, will not snap.

The illustration above is an example of this. The first of two existing media items on a track has been selected. By holding Ctrl while clicking and dragging further along that track, a copy of that media item is made.

7.28 Propagating Items[edit]

Two media item context menu commands, Propagate item to similarly named items on track and Propagate item to similarly named items (all tracks), can be used to copy the settings and features of one media item to other items on the same track and which share the same item name. Let's look at two examples:

Example 1

  1. In this example, we have imported a sample into our project and placed it on a new track:
  2. Next we have copied it as required across the track:
  3. Some time later, we decide to make some edits to the first item. These include an adjustment to the item volume handle, some FX, and a fade out.
  4. Finally, we right-click over this first item and choose Item processing, Propagate item to similarly named items on track to copy these edits to the other items. Any instances of this item on other tracks will not be affected.

Example 2

  1. In this next example, the original item has been copied to create several media items across two tracks. Notice that each track has its individual settings, such as different panning and FX on one track but not the other. As well as this, the original media item has its own FX, volume envelope and pitch adjustment.
  2. The Item processing, Propagate item to similarly named items command has been used copy the features of the original item to all other similarly named items in the project.

Tip: You can assign one name to several media items all in one go. Select all of the items, press F2 to open the Item Properties dialog box, type the name in the take name edit box and click on OK.

7.29 Implode Items To One Track[edit]

Where you have built up a number of items that belong together but are spread across several tracks (as shown top right) you can select them all, right-click over any track in the selection and choose Item processing, Implode items across tracks into items on one track.

This will collect them together on to a single track (bottom right).

7.30 Insert Space in Selection[edit]

The command Insert, Empty space in selection can be used to create a gap anywhere in a song. Make your time selection before using this command. The space is applied to all tracks (as shown here). Existing material is moved to the right. You could then create additional material on any or all tracks in the space that you have opened out.

7.31 Ripple Editing[edit]

The simplest way to describe ripple editing is this: usually, when you delete part of a media item, a gap is left on the track where the deleted item used to be. With ripple editing, the material on the track is moved over to fill that gap. This is illustrated in the three screen shots below.

This first picture (left) shows a media item selected with a time selection highlighted.

With ripple editing off, deleting the selected area of the selected media item has the effect shown here.

With per track ripple editing enabled, deleting the selected area of the selected media item has the effect shown here.

Two ripple editing options are available on the Options menu, or by right-clicking on the ripple edit button on the default toolbar. These are Ripple edit per track and Ripple edit all tracks. By default, both of these are off. Either one or the other (but not both at the same time) can be turned on from this menu.

Both off: This is the default mode. Items will not shift when you edit a track.

Ripple edit per track: If this is enabled, ripple editing will be applied when you are editing the currently selected track(s) but not to any other tracks.

Ripple edit all tracks: If this is enabled, all tracks will be subject to ripple editing. This means any editing you do to any of the items on any track will also be applied to all other tracks. This can be used, for example, for deleting entire sections of songs.

The keyboard shortcut Alt P can be used to cycle between the three ripple editing modes, as can the Ripple Editing button on the default toolbar. The right-click menu on this button also includes the options Ripple edit all affects tempo map and Add edge points when ripple editing or inserting time.By default both are disabled.

In this mode, markers and automation are locked to the items that they relate to, so as you move items the associated markers and automation move too. Using this mode on multiple tracks is very useful for editing multitrack recordings of live material - everything that belongs together stays together in sync as you edit.

For instance, if you split the item at a couple of places (so you now have three items) then delete the middle piece, the remaining pieces join up, but unlike with a normal stereo editor, you can adjust the join by dragging the ends of the items appropriately. If you want to move material from one place to another, you can split at the insertion point, drag the material to the right of the insertion out of the way, then make the insertion and drag the displaced material to join it. All items to the right of the dragged item will stay together and markers and automation will move correctly too.

Here is shown an example with ripple editing on all tracks. Ripple Editing, all tracks is enabled. In the first picture the silence before the music starts is selected. The command Cut selected area of items is then applied. The selected area is cut from all tracks, and the remaining material is moved to the project start.

Note: Complications can arise if locked items are included in the selection that is to be ripple edited. In particular, REAPER needs to know whether the ripple editing should be applied to the locked items. The Editing Behavior preferences page includes options for dealing with this ' see Chapter 22.

Tip: Shortly in this chapter you will be shown how to use mouse modifiers to determine how REAPER behaves when an item or selection of items is dragged. This includes options to select and apply any of the three ripple editing states when the item(s) is/are being dragged,

7.32 Trim to Selected Area[edit]

If you want to trim a media item or track from both the start and the finish at the same time you can do so. Just follow this sequence:

  1. Select the media item (or items).
  2. Click and drag in the track background area to select the area that you want to keep.
  3. Right click over a selected media item and choose Trim items to selected area.

If Ripple Editing is turned on, the area that is trimmed will also be removed from the timeline, otherwise some empty space will be left. If your Snap/Grid Settings are set to include Media Items, then provided that snapping is enabled, snapping will be applied when you select the area to be trimmed.

7.33 Free Item Positioning[edit]

Choosing the option for free item positioning enables you to move your media items around freely within a track or tracks. This can be helpful, for example if you want two or more media items to play simultaneously or to overlap on the same track. To turn this feature on:

  1. Select the track (or tracks) for which you wish to allow free item positioning.
  2. Right click over the Track Control Panel and choose Enable track free item positioning from the context menu.

These illustrations demonstrate an example of how this feature might be used. In the first screen shot we have a Lead Vocal and a Harmony Vocal on different tracks. We might find it convenient to place these together on the same track.

In the second screen shot we have enabled Free Item Positioning for the Vox Main track. Notice that there is a small handle (shown by the mouse cursor) which can be used to adjust the height of this media item.

In the third screen shot (below) the media item for Vox Hmy has been dragged and dropped into the Vox Main track.

When this track is played, both media items will play together. In fact, in this example, Track 3 can now be deleted.

Each item is independent of the other. Either or both can be muted and unmuted, have FX added to them, have changes made to pitch and/or playback rate, and so on. You can use the Media Item Properties dialog box (F2) and/or the right-click context menu for this purpose.

Tip: As you move items around in free item positioning mode you can sometimes find that items are placed on top of each other: this can make editing difficult. If this happens, select the items, right-click and choose Item processing, Auto-reposition items in free item positioning mode.

7.34 Mouse Modifiers[edit]

You have already encountered many examples of how REAPER uses the mouse with and without modifiers to perform a whole range of tasks. These have so far included making loop and time selections, copying and moving media items, slip editing media items, using item pencil mode, and so on. In Chapter 15, you'll learn more about how you can modify any of these if you wish, and even create your own. Meanwhile, you can find out more about the various Mouse Modifier default settings by browsing thru the Editing Behavior, Mouse Modifiers section of your REAPER Preferences.

From the Context list, select a topic, such as Media item click, Media item edge drag, Track click, Ruler, click, Arrange view right-click, etc. A summary list of all default mouse actions relevant to that context will be shown. You can then double-click on any entry in the Modifier column to assign an action to that modifier.

Shown here (below) is an example of the default actions associated with the various mouse modifiers for when you are dragging media items. For example, by default, clicking and dragging a media item will move it, ignoring any time selection. Holding Ctrl as you do so will copy it ' and so on.

There are many more for you to choose from. For example, you could define Shift Win as a modifier to restrict item movement to vertical only when moved or when copied. You could use Ctrl Win for adjusting an item's volume, and so on. To do either of these, you would need to double-click on the modifier in the list, then make your choice from the list of commands and actions offered.

The Context drop down list includes the following entries that can be relevant when you are working with media items.

Media item (left click, left drag and double-click)

Media item bottom half (left click, left drag and double-click)

Media item edge (left drag and double-click)

Media item fade/crossfade (left click, left drag and double-click)

Many contexts have an option associated with them: where present, this is displayed below the table, just above the OK button. In the example here, you have the option whether or not to treat the label area above the item as empty track space.

Notice too the Import/export button. This can be used for saving and recalling your mouse modifier actions, either for the currently selected context or for all contexts.

There's a lot to explore here, and how you use these options will very much depend on your own personal needs. The examples that follow should help to get you started.

Media Item Left Click Modifiers

Shown here are the default mouse behaviors when you click on any media item.

Notice that the default behavior for a simple click is Select item and move edit cursor. On the other hand, Alt Click will select the item ignoring grouping.

If you wish, you can swap these assignments over, so that a simple click will select the media item without moving the edit cursor.

To do this, just double-click in the list on the item that you wish to change, then select your preference from the list (see right). You will find more information about customizing mouse modifiers in Chapter 15.

Media Item Edge Left Drag

Shown here (right) are the default mouse modifier settings that are used when clicking and dragging on the edge of any media item(s).

Chapter 15 includes a step by step example showing how you can change these.

Other Options

Notice that you can assign different modifiers to be used when clicking on the bottom part of media items from those used when clicking on the top part.

In the example shown here, the default action for a simple click on the bottom half of a media item is being changed to Toggle item selection.

Note: When the context Media item bottom half is selected, an option is displayed to Disable targeting of bottom part of media when take lane height is less than xx pixels. By default this is set to 44. You will need to change this if you want to be able to use these context actions with media items less than 44 pixels high.

These are just some of the many possible examples of how you can use mouse modifiers in different contexts when editing media items. It's up to you now to explore the many other options for yourself, depending on which aspects and options are most important to you!

7.35 Dynamic Splitting - Remove Silent Passages[edit]

REAPER's Dynamic Splitting is a powerful feature which can be used for all sorts of purposes. Many of these are designed to help you with tempo based composition, but it has other more widespread applications. One such use is to clean up a track and remove those passages that should be silent. This can be handy, for example, with a vocal track, to auto4matically clean up the passages between verses which might contain unwanted background noises such as breathing or shuffling sounds.

Suppose that you have recorded such a vocal track. With dynamic splitting you can effectively tell REAPER to go thru the track and take out all of the passages where the vocalist isn't singing. These are the passages where you want the track to be silent and which otherwise might contain various breathing or other unwanted sounds.

To do this, you first select the media item then right click over it and choose the Item processing, Dynamic split items' command. You then need to select the required parameters before splitting.

You are given immediate visual feedback before executing the command. Each split point is indicated by a colored vertical line and those areas marked for removal are shown as darker.

Dynamic splitting will be examined in more detail in Chapter 9, in the context of tempo based music production, but when applied to this particular task it can be used as explained in the table below.

Start with settings similar to those shown here and adjust then as necessary.

Summary of Dynamic Splitting Parameters

When used in this way, dynamic splitting basically employs a noise gate to tell REAPER how often and where to split your media items and which areas are to be removed.

Dynamic Split Parameter Setting to Remove Silent Passages
At transients Deselect this option when using dynamic splitting for this purpose.
When gate opens
When gate closes
You would be unlikely to select one of these options without the other. Both of these options need to be turned on, so that REAPER can work out the beginning and end of each passage that is to be removed.
Reduce split In most cases, when using dynamic splitting for this purpose this item should be deselected.
Min slice length This sets the shortest length for any slice. You will probably need to experiment to get it right. Usually, this should be set to a low value. Happily, REAPER's dynamic splitting interface gives you immediate visual feedback.
Constrain slice length Options are left to right and best to worst. In many cases for this particular application this setting should not matter. If in doubt, try both and be guided by the visual feedback.
Gate threshold This setting is important, but usually has a reasonable range of acceptable values. If made too low, unwanted sounds might pass thru the noise gate. If set too high, you risk deleting quieter passages of the recorded material. Start around -50dB and make any necessary adjustments from there.
Min silence length This is another parameter that will require fine tuning. Set too high it will fail to catch all the periods of silence.
Hysteresis This setting can be used to adjust the level at which the gate closes relative to that at which it opens. In the example shown above, the gate will close at -62.5 dB and reopen at -50 dB. Raising the hysteresis figure closer to or even above 0dB will have create more splits.
Action to perform

For this application you would choose Split selected items or Split selected and grouped items. Other options are:

  • Write stretch markers to selected items, or to selected items and grouped items: stretch markers are explained in Chapter10.
  • Add transient guide markers to items: this option causes transients guide lines (vertical broken lines) to be added to the selected item(s), without the items being split.
Remove silence This option should be enabled.
Fade Pad Enabling fade pad can help ensure a smoother transition.
Other settings Leave them as shown here.

Note: Another method of removing silence is to use the Auto trim/split items action. This is essentially similar to the above method, but also includes some additional options. This is discussed later in this chapter.

7.36 Auto Trim/Split Items[edit]

REAPER's action list contains literally hundreds of commands and actions, many of which are not shown on any menus. Actions are covered in more depth in Chapter 15. Two actions worth looking at here are Item: Auto trim/split items (remove silence) and Transient detection sensitivity/threshold (adjust). These two actions can work together. Actions are run by first choosing the Actions, Show actions list command from the main menu, then selecting the required action and clicking Run. Two points to note are that the Actions menu includes an option to Show recent actions on menu, and that within the Actions list you can use the Filter box to help find an action.

Auto trim/split items is similar to using dynamic splitting to remove silence, except that it supplies you with some additional options. Selecting an item and running this action opens the dialog box shown here.

Threshold and Hysteresis control the noise gate to determine the level below which passages are removed, and the degree of sensitivity applied ' the same as with dynamic splitting. Similarly, the controls Ignore silence..., Make non-silent clips no shorter than..., Pad controls and Auto adjust snap... all work in the same way as their equivalent dynamic splitting options.

The main item of interest is the Mode drop-down: this has four options ' Split and remove silent areas, Split and keep silent areas, Split only before non-silence and Split only before silence.

If working with a selection of grouped items, you have the option to Split grouped items at times of selected item splits.

You can also set the gate to be applied post-FX by enabling the option Run signal through track FX for detection.

If you also run the action Transient detection sensitivity/threshold a pair of faint horizontal lines will be displayed to give you visual feedback on your gate settings (as shown, right).

Another useful option is to Use zero crossings when splitting. This can prevent audio clicks on playback.

7.37 Rendering a Group of Tracks to a Single Track[edit]

This example uses the Render to File dialog box, which is explained in detail in Chapter 21.

You can apply stem rendering to a group of tracks, so that they will be mixed down to a single audio file. To do this:

  1. Put the required tracks in a folder.
  2. In the Track Control Panel, select the folder. No other track should be selected.
  3. Choose the File, Render command.
  4. Make sure your selected options include Stems (selected tracks) and Channels Stereo or Mono (as you wish) as shown on the right. If you wish, also select the option to Add rendered items to new tracks in project.
  5. Select your output format (e.g. WAV) and format specifications (e.g. 24 bit).
  6. Click on Render 1 file...

In the example shown below, the output of the Guitars folder has been rendered to a single stereo track. This has been added to the file and the folder has been muted.

When working with multichannel tracks you can also render your output in multichannel format. You will need to select the required number of channels from the Channels drop down list in the Render to File dialog box.

You'll learn more about file rendering, including multichannel rendering, in Chapter 21.

7.38 Spectral Peak Display[edit]

By default, audio media items in arrange view are displayed as waveforms only. You can change this to a spectral display in which the media item is colored so as to reveal information about its audio frequencies, and in particular the most dominant frequency as it changes thru time. An example of this is shown below. Before looking at the nuts and bolts of how to use this view, it is worth taking some time to consider just what it is and what it can (and cannot) be used for. First, it is a diagnostic tool, designed to help identify and resolve issues in your mix. It is not a silver bullet, nor does is it offer an instant fix for all your problems. Nor is it intended that your eyes should replace your ears! By viewing your waveforms as a range of colors, you should more readily be able to identify critical frequencies, especially where your ears are already telling you that you have a problem, or at least a decision to make. A simple example is shown below. Tracks 6 and 7 are a single acoustic guitar which has been set up with two mics. You can visually identify the frequency differences between the two tracks. Spectral peaks can be helpful in recognizing content. For example, the lower and upper registers of a clarinet will show as different colors. A flute will be different again. Some other possible uses are:

  • To identify and pinpoint

precisely unwanted noise (such as low end hum), or frequency spikes that you can hear in a track, or a particular event in a track, such as a percussion hit.

  • To identify the precise

location of a note where this might otherwise not be obvious (e.g. when a distorted guitar has been recorded).

  • To check the frequency at which a track's sounds are peaking for possible conflict with other tracks, or

tp identify precisely where there are frequencies that may need to be EQ'd.

  • To check (for example) bass instruments for notes that are individually quieter or louder than intended.

You can find more detailed information about these concepts here Use the Options, Peak display mode, Show spectral peaks command to turn the display of peaks on and Options, Peak display mode, Normal peaks to turn them off. Another peaks display mode option is to Show spectrogram: this will be considered in the next section. Use the command View, Peaks Display Settings to open the window shown here. image

  • You can use the Display mode dropdown to

select Peaks, Spectral Peaks, Spectrogram or Spectrogram + Peaks. Note that the setting is global and will apply to all open projects.

  • The Display gain slider can be used to increase

or decrease the height of the peaks displayed, but will not affect the volume.

  • The Opacity fader can be used to increase or

decrease the degree of visual color contrast shown in your track media item spectral peaks.

  • Right-click on the color display to open a context

menu. The option to Fade non tonal content to theme peaks color will by default be on.

  • All settings in this window can be reset by choosing Reset to defaults from the context menu.

Be aware that enabling spectral peaks will roughly double peak file size and that generating these peaks requires considerable RAM. RAM usage may double if spectral peaks are displayed while recording. Spectral peaks can be enabled/disabled on a per track basis via a Track performance option (Prevent spectral peaks/spectrograms) on the right-click TCP context menu. Peak Display Controls In order to use this tool effectively you will need to understand and master its various controls. For example, if you are focussing on low end rumble you will probably want the display to focus on the lower end of the frequency spectrum. If dealing with high end resonance, you will wish to concentrate on higher frequencies. Here is a summary of the controls available, in many cases by clicking and dragging your mouse. Getting to grips with them all can be a bit tricky at first … you always have the Reset to defaults option! Remember that the media item will be made up of a whole range of frequencies (as can be seen, for example, if you place, say, ReaEq in a track's FX chain). Spectral peaks are used to identify only the most dominant frequency at any point in time. The Frequency Range (20hz to 10khz) The display is divided into seven frequency bands. To adjust how the frequency range is divided between these bands, click and drag the mouse left or right on the border between any two bands. Dragging right helps you focus on higher frequencies, left on lower ones. To adjust all colors used in the display, click and drag left or right over the color display.

To adjust only low colors, click and drag on left edge of color display. To adjust only high colors, click and drag on right edge of color display. By default, the color spectrum occupies the whole frequency range. You can change this, for example, to use the entire color range for each individual octave: this can help you to focus on much smaller variations in frequency. These options are available on the right-click context menu (shown right). A Reverse spectrum option is also available. As an example, both of the images on the left depict the same media item. The first (top) example uses Set range to full spectrum. The second example uses Set range to full spectrum every octave. Variance and Noise Threshold Click and drag up or down on the Variance (HSV color mapping) and Noise Threshold settings to adjust these. The noise threshold determines the degree of sensitivity applied in making color changes at different frequencies. Presets The Save spectral view and Load spectral view commands allow you to save and recall up to ten configurations as presets. The first five of these can also be loaded using actions (and therefore can be added to custom toolbars and/or menus, and/or be assigned keyboard shortcuts.) Preferences A number of options affecting spectral peak behaviour are included on the Media page of your Preferences. These include an option to Always generate spectral peak information. Be aware, however, that enabling this option can considerably increase RAM usage.

7.39 Spectrogram View and Spectral Editing[edit]

Spectrogram view shows you a visual representation of all of an item's sound frequencies as they vary through time, that is, throughout the length (or duration) of that media item. The most obvious difference between this and spectral peaks is that the latter displays only the dominant frequency as that changes through time. Spectrogram view can be turned on globally either by choosing Show spectrogram from the Options, Peaks display mode menu, or by selecting Spectrogram from the Peaks Display Settings window. Using this global option can, however, be resource intensive. You might wish to consider leaving this off, instead turning the option on only for media items as required, by choosing Spectral edits, Show spectrogram from the media item's right-click context menu. Spectral editing allows you to make edits to selected frequencies within an item, for example to remove breathing sounds or sibilance, whilst leaving other frequencies intact. Shortly, we'll look an example of how this can work in practise: first, a summary of its basics (insert or convert image shown here).

Defining an area within a media item for spectral editing. Make a time selection in the usual way, then right click on the item and from the menu choose Spectral edits, Add spectral edits to item. A box will be drawn around the selected area of the item, as shown on the right. Click on the edge of a spectral edit item (or on the shaded bar that runs left to right across its center) to make its rotary controls visible. Drag the edges of the box left or right to increase or decrease the time selection. Drag up or down from the top or bottom to increase or decrease the frequency range. This can be done from the sides or the corners. An example of this is shown above left. Holding down Ctrl over any part of an edit item's top or bottom edge changes the mouse cursor into a pencil. You can then make freehand changes to the item area by clicking and dragging. An example of this is shown on the right. Holding Alt over any part of an item's edge changes the mouse cursor to an X. You can use this (by dragging) to remove any freehand drawn edges, replacing them automatically with a straight line (or lines). Drag from the center of the item in any direction to move the selected area up or down (change frequency range) and/or left or right (change time selection). Let's now look at the eight rotary controls that operate on the selected area, located around the the box.

  • High frequency fade: fades up or down the high frequencies. Works in conjunction with the Spectral region gain knob.
  • Spectral region gain: fades up or down the gain level for the selected region.
  • The next two knobs together act as a compressor on the selected area: threshold (left) and ratio (right) Moving threshold down to the left of the 12 o'clock position changes it into an expander.
  • The next two knobs act as a gate on the selected area: threshold (left) and floor (right). Below that, the Spectral region fade out knob lets you control the rate at which the spectral edit item settings are faded out..
  • The knob at the bottom controls the Low frequency Fade, and the knob at 9 o’clock the rate of fade in for the spectral edit item settings..

All buttons: Right-click over any button (or on the center bar) for a menu of options which include Delete spectral edit (removes the spectral edit box, does not delete the media), Bypass spectral edit and Solo spectral edit (for comparison purposes). There is also a submenu to select FFT size. There is also an option in the Peak Display Settings to view both the peaks and the spectrogram, in parallel, as shown on the left.

Note: If you find the number of controls and options intimidating, don’t worry. Not every job requires all of these controls to be employed. Start simple!

Example This picture (left) shows the vocal at the end of a line that ends with a “T” sound. The rightmost small shaded area represents an unpleasant “TT” where the singer has not let go of the word. If we mute or remove the whole area, we will create a hole. The trick is to find and remove only the unwanted part. First, add a spectral edit to the problem area. Next, adjust the area and lower the gain until it sounds about right. Introduce fades to both time and frequency selections, for a smoother transition. Throughout this process, we make use of the Bypass spectral edit and Solo spectral edit options during playback, for comparison purposes.

Stereo and Multichannel Items

When a spectral edit is added to a stereo or multichannel item separate edit items are added to every channel, each with its own set of controls. By default, these edit items are linked: any change made to one will be made to all. However, the context menu allows you to select a single channel, thereby leaving only the item on that channel. You can then right-click again (shown right) and copy this item to all or any other channel. Each item can now be independently edited. Tip: When you are 100% satisfied with your spectral edit, you can Glue the item to make the change permanent and remove the spectral editing box. Remember that glueing creates a new media file but does not remove the original file from your hard drive. You can later go back to it if you need to. Tip: Spectrogram display can be enabled/disabled on a per track basis using the Track performance options, Prevent spectral peaks/spectrograms option on the right-click TCP context menu.

Note that several peaks display options can also be found on the Options, Peaks display mode main menu. These are:

  • Show normal peaks Scale peaks by square root (toggle)
  • Show spectral peaks *Rectify peaks
  • Show spectogram Peaks *display settings Show spectogram and peaks


  1. Spectral display is pre track FX but post take settings. For example, it reflects changes in pitch from the Item Properties dialog box or from a take pitch envelope, but not from a VST plug-in such as ReaPitch.
  2. Overlapping spectral edits on the same media item are allowed.
  3. When working with spectral peaks or spectrograms displayed, there may be times when you will want to rebuild your peaks. These are some of the actions available to you. Search the action list to view them all:

Peaks: Build any missing peaks Peaks: Rebuild all peaks Peaks: Rebuild peaks for selected items Peaks: Remove all peak cache files Peaks: Decrease peaks gain (Shift Down) Peaks: Increase peaks gain (Shift Up) Peaks: Toggle spectral peaks Peaks: Toggle normal peaks Peaks: Toggle spectrogram Peaks: Toggle spectrogram and peaks. Track: Prevent spectral peaks/spectrogram Spectrogram: Toggle show spectrogram for selected items Any of these can be assigned to shortcut keys or toolbars if you wish – see Chapter 15.