ReaEffects guide

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Supplement to REAPER User Guide

The REAPER Cockos Effects Summary Guide

version 2.00 March 2016 This document is intended to provide a summary of the various COCKOS plug-ins supplied with REAPER, their broad purpose, the meaning of their various parameter controls and how to operate them. It serves to supplement the User Guide, not replace it. It is not intended to serve as a comprehensive course on the subject of audio effects and their many potential applications! For that reason, for commonly used types of effects – such as equalizers and compressors – a basic understanding of the purpose of such effects is assumed. More detailed explanations are given for those effects which are more REAPER specific, such as ReaVocode and ReaVoice. Many thanks to Nathan (planetnine) for his assistance, especially with matters technical. While every reasonable attempt has been taken to ensure accuracy in the preparation of this guide, the author accepts no responsibility for any errors or the consequences thereof. © Geoffrey Francis, December 2013, 2016

1 The REAPER FX Plugin Interface

All plug-ins in REAPER – including third party AU, VST and DX plug-ins – are displayed wrapped in REAPER's plug-in interface. The various elements of this interface are explained within the User Guide, but for your convenience a summary of these features is shown here.


! Description
Preset drop down list Displays a list of presets supplied with the plug-in, and/or added by the user.
+ menu button Displays a menu for managing presets and (in the case of virtual instruments) patches and banks. Can be used to store current FX parameters as the default settings for that plug-in.

Also gives access to Compatibility Settings menu.

Pin to top toggle Toggles keeping this FX window on top of other windows, even when not selected. By default, this is set to off.
FX bypass toggle Toggles the bypass state of the plug-in. When ticked, the plug-in is engaged: when not ticked it is set to bypass. Default setting is engaged.
Wet/dry mix control Controls how much of the signal without the plug-in applied (“dry”) is mixed with a signal with the plug-in applied (“wet”).

For example, at 0%, only the dry signal is heard: this creates the same sound as setting the plug-in to bypass. At 100% (the default setting) only the wet signal is heard. At 50%, the wet and dry signals are mixed together in equal proportions. One use for this control is to moderate an effect that sounds overdone, as can happen, for example, with delay, reverb or compression.

UI toggle Toggles display of any plug-in between its own GUI and a “vanilla” GUI.
Plug-in pin connector This is a huge topic! The pin connectors are mostly used when a track consists of more than 2 channels. They can be used to split an audio signal between several channels, or indeed to rejoin them. They are also used when sidechaining.

Audio connections can be made from the matrix that is displayed by clicking on the button. Both MIDI and audio connections can be made from the context menu that is displayed by right-clicking on this button. Topics such as channel splitting and sidechaining are covered in the User Guide.

Parameter menu This is most commonly used to create for the last touched FX parameter a track control, an automation envelope, parameter modulation or an assigned control surface control (such as a rotary or button). It can also be used to assign your own preferred name (“alias”) to any parameter. All of these actions are explained in the User Guide.

You can also (via the FX parameter list menu) assign a track control, automation envelope, parameter modulation, control device control or alias to any other of the plug-in's parameters, whether it has been touched or not.

Title bar context menu (not labeled) Right click on the plug-in's title bar for a toggle option to Send all keyboard input to plug-in.

2 ReaComp

ReaComp is a compressor. Its most common use is for smoothing out variations in volume between the louder and quieter parts of a track or folder. It can also be used to raise (or, less commonly, lower) the overall volume of the compressed output of a track or folder. The various parameters together define and determine the characteristics of the compression, such as at what level (volume) it begins to be applied, how gently or harshly it is applied, and how suddenly or gradually it is released.

Parameter ! Description
Threshold Determines the volume at which compression should be applied. In the example shown above, no compression will be used when the volume of the track is below -13.5 dB.
Pre-comp Allows the compression to gradually begin a specified number of milliseconds before the threshold is reached.
Attack Determines how quickly the compressor responds when the threshold level is reached or exceeded. A zero setting means the full compression will be applied immediately and suddenly: the greater the number of milliseconds specified, the more gradual the response.
Release Determines how quickly the compressor responds when the volume drops below the threshold level. A zero setting means that the compression will be fully and instantly released. A higher setting ensures that the release will be more gradual.
Classic attack With classic attack enabled, the compression ratio is gradually reduced as the volume increases above the threshold, gradually restoring ratio of 1:1. This allows the loudest passages to pass uncompressed.
Auto release When enabled, the auto release function will automatically adjust the release time to prevent sudden and dramatic compression changes.
Ratio Determines the extent to which the compression will reduce the track's volume above the threshold. At 1:1 there is no reduction. At 2:1, for every two decibels by which the dry signal exceeds the threshold level, the wet signal will be increased by only one decibel. At infinity:1, the volume of the wet signal will be limited at the threshold level.
Knee size The knee size determines the range of volume (rather than a specified amount of time) which the compressor will use in applying the compression ratio. For example, with a ratio of 4:1 and a knee setting of 0 dB, the full 4:1 ratio will be applied as soon as the threshold is exceeded. With a knee size of 10 dB, the ratio will be gradually increased from 1:1 at the threshold level, eventually reaching the full 4:1 when the volume exceeds the threshold by a full 10 dB.
Detector input Determines whether the audio signal used to control the compression will be the track's own signal (main) or an auxiliary input signal from another track (specified in the pin connector settings (see right).

For normal compression. This should be set to main. Use the auxiliary input for audio ducking – that is, when you want the volume on one track to be compressed when the volume of a different track exceeds the threshold. Audio ducking is explained in the User Guide.

Low pass filter Specifies the highest frequency used to control the compressor (frequencies above this are ignored for the detection). For example, a low pass setting of 6kHz on a vocal track would ensure that the compressor is not triggered on a loud sibilance.
High pass filter Specifies the lowest frequency used to control the compressor (frequencies below this are ignored for the detection). For example, a high pass setting of 80Hz on a vocal track would ensure that the compressor is not triggered on a loud plosive.
RMS Size RMS (root mean square) is calculated according to a formula based on the square roots of a moving series of values. Think of it as being conceptually similar to a moving average. If RMS is set above 0 ms, the higher the setting the more extreme peaks and troughs in the audio signal will be smoothed out in determining the compression that is applied.
Wet This fader determines the level of the wet (compressed) audio stream.
Dry This can be used to mix any required level of the dry (uncompressed) signal back into the compressed signal.
Preview filter This can be used to audition the audio signal to assess the impact of your low pass and high pass filter settings.
Auto make up When enabled, the level of the output volume will be increased to compensate for any reduction caused by the compression.
AA This can be used to apply an anti-aliasing filter to the audio signal. Anti-aliasing can be used to ensure conformity with the Nyquist sampling theorem, which requires that the maximum frequency of the input signal be less than or equal to half the sampling rate.
Limit output Prevents the output level from the compressor from exceeding 0.0 dB even after any gain is added by the Wet and Dry gain faders.

Different groups of parameter settings are more suitable for different types of instrument, and even different styles of music. For example, for a more dramatic, percussive effect (such as you might use on a rock drum kit) you would be likely to use more aggressive settings, such as a short attack and release times and a harder knee. For a vocal ballad, however, you would be more likely to allow longer attack and release settings and a softer knee.