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.

Element

! 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.

3 ReaControlMIDI

ReaControlMIDI is a plug in for use with MIDI items or tracks which contain MIDI items. It can be used to create and send MIDI control messages in real time.

Parameter Description
MIDI Channel Select All MIDI channels or any individual channel. Separate instances of ReaControlMIDI can be applied to different channels.
All Notes Off Sends All Notes Off message – useful for dealing with any “hanging” MIDI device.
Show/Hide Log Opens and closes display of MIDI activity log: in the example shown above, the log is displayed.
Clear When the log is visible, the Clear button will clear its contents.
Enable Bank/Program Select A toggle which allows a bank and program to be selected and used.
Bank Drop down list to select MIDI bank.
Program Drop down list to select a program from the current bank.
MSB/LSB Displays MSB (most significant byte) and LSB (least significant byte) values for currently selected bank/program.
Load Bank Opens Explorer/Finder to allow you to select a bank to be loaded.
Transpose Option to transpose notes by specified number of semitones.
Snap to scale Toggles set to scale option on/off.
Scale value Select required scale (e.g. C, G).
Scale type Select as required: Scale type (e.g. Major, Pentatonic) or Chords (e.g. Major Triad, Minor Triad)

or Mode (e.g. Dorian). Scales can also be loaded from a .ReaScale file.

Enable Control Change A toggle which allows up to five control change parameters to be controlled from the ReaControlMIDI interface. In the example shown above, three of these are used, Volume, Pan and Pitch Wheel.
Enable Raw Mode A toggle to allow raw mode (0

to 127) access to all CC messages.

Edit Sysex Opens a window for entering system exclusive messages.
Re-send Resends sysex messages.
Enable Always send sysex on playback start Toggles this option on and off.
Enable Log all notes-off messages Toggles this option on and off.

Like all other COCKOS plug-ins, any of the ReaControlMIDI parameters can be used to create automation envelopes (see Chapter 1). Any envelopes that you do create in this way can be set to Write mode to record parameter fader movements and/or value changes in real time as you play the track back, and then to reproduce these movements when it is played back again. An example of this is shown above, where two automation envelopes have been written to a MIDI track, one for each of two ReaControlMIDI parameters. The first of these produces several program changes, the second produces changes to the volume.

4 ReaDelay

ReaDelay, as its name implies, is used to add delay to a track or media item. Its possible uses are many and vary from adding a few milliseconds of simple delay to a thin vocal (to fatten it up a little), to creating an echo effect to add to a timpani or other low frequency percussion instrument (to create an atmosphere of impending tension) to creating a bouncing ping pong effect. This is one effect that more than most really opens up avenues for you to be creative. REAPER's ReaDelay gives you multi-tap options. This means that you can create several discrete pages of delay settings independently of each other apply them all at the same time to to a track or media item. The default screen shows only one tap (labeled “1” above) but you are able to add more if you wish.

Parameter ! Description
Enabled Toggles enabling/disabling the currently selected delay tap.
Solo active tap Toggles soloing the currently selective tap (settings page). When any one tap is soloed, all other taps will be ignored.
Length (time) Length (musical) Use one of these settings to specify the length of delay required, either in time (milliseconds) or fractions of a note. It would be unusual to use both of these faders on a single delay tap.

The human ear will not normally distinguish a delay setting of less than 7 ms as a discrete sound. Such a setting can therefore be helpful in making a track sound “fatter”.

Feedback Feeding the delay signal back into the original dry signal can help blend the two signals together, thereby possibly making the wet signal less “echoey” and perhaps creating some interesting effects.

But beware! Too much feedback can have unpleasant consequences, both in terms of sound quality and your ears!

Lowpass filter Specifies a frequency above which the audio signal passes thru without the delay effect being applied. For example, a low pass setting of 5,000 Hz would ensure that the delay was added only to frequencies below 5,000 Hz.
Highpass filter Specifies a frequency below which the audio signal passes thru without the delay being added. For example, a high pass setting of 10,000 Hz would ensure that the delay was added only to frequencies above 10,000 Hz .
Resolution This fader can be used to reduce the bit resolution of individual taps. In the example shown above, the default setting of 24 bit matches the resolution of the recorded material. Lowering the delay tap bit resolution can emulate the sound of early digital delay effects boxes.
Stereo Width When working with stereo material on a track, bus or folder, the stereo width fader can be used to narrow the stereo image of the delayed signal.
Volume Adjusts the level of volume for the individual delay tap.
Pan (unlabeled) Located immediately to the right of the volume fader, this adjusts the pan setting for this individual delay tap to the left or right.
Add tap Adds another page of delay settings.
Delete tap Removes the current page of delay settings (but you must leave at least one page).
Reset all Resets the FX to its default settings, including restoring the same number of taps as in the default settings.
Wet Determines the output level of the mixed wet signal of all delay taps.
Dry

Determines the output level of the original (undelayed) signal, mixed in with the wet signal.

5 ReaEQ

ReaEQ is a parametric equalizer which by default contains four bands. However, you can add more bands or remove any existing bands if you wish to do so. ReaEQ is used to make adjustments to the frequency spectrum of a track or media item. By cutting or boosting any required frequency or range of frequencies you are able to change some of the characteristics of an audio signal. This can be used to compensate for existing deficiencies (such as too much bass or top end, or to remove noise, hum or rumbling), or to enhance a track's sound (such as by adding more presence or warmth). As with many effects, use ReaEQ gently, especially at first. Applying equalization too aggressively can make a track or media item sound worse rather than better.

Parameter Description
Numbered tabs In above example, there are four bands, numbered 1 to 4. Click on any numbered tab to select that EQ band.
Enabled Toggles the currently selected band between enabled and bypass state.
Log-scale automated frequencies Toggles this option on and off.

When enabled, it produces a more useable scale for frequency automation envelopes, so that the lower frequencies are allocated a larger area of the automation envelope area. This is achieved by using a logarithmic scale rather than a linear scale for the frequency envelope.

Parameter Description
Type (drop down list) Determines the type of band used for the selected EQ band. Main options are:
  • Low shelf: Applies gain or attenuation only to those frequencies below the selected frequency.
  • High shelf. Applies gain or attenuation only to those frequencies above the selected frequency.
  • Band. Applies gain or attenuation across a frequency range and centered on a selected frequency. The width or narrowness of the range is determined by the bandwidth setting.
  • Low pass. Allows frequencies below the specified frequency to pass thru, but tapering down to eventually eliminate frequencies above that specified.
  • High pass. Allows frequencies above the specified frequency to pass thru, but tapering down to eventually eliminate frequencies below that specified.
  • All pass. Allows all frequencies to pass, but changes the phase relationship between the various frequencies.
  • Notch. Allows thru all frequencies except a range centered on the selected frequency. The width of the range is determined by the bandwidth setting.
  • Band Pass. Cuts everything above and below a range centered on the selected frequency. The width of the range is determined by the bandwidth setting.
Frequency (Hz) Sets the frequency for this band that is to be attenuated or to which gain is to be added. Its value is displayed to the right of the fader both in Hz and as a MIDI note value. This can also be set by clicking and dragging the point on the graph.
Gain (dB) Determines the amount gain or attenuation (expressed in decibels) that is to be applied to this band.

This can also be set by clicking and dragging the point on the graph.

Bandwidth (oct) Determines how large (wide) or small (narrow) will be the frequency range to which the attenuation or gain will be applied. Measured in octaves.
Add band Adds another band (page) to the ReaEQ settings.
Remove band Deletes the currently selected band (settings) page.
Reset defaults Restores this ReaEQ instance to its default settings.
Show tabs Toggles between display of the ReaEQ tabs and graph only. _ Show grid Toggles display of the graph grid on and off.
Show phase Toggles this option on and off. When enabled, the graph will illustrate the extent of phase-shift caused by your EQ settings.
Context menu Right-click over any of the numbered points on the graph to display a context menu of band settings. Most commands duplicate functions already explained, such as changing band type, or adding a band. Of special interest is the option Flip all bands, which changes attenuated frequencies to gain, and vice versa.
Gain The vertical Gain fader on the right raises or lowers the volume of the overall wet output audio signal.

Note: REAPER's Action List includes the assignable action Track: Insert ReaEQ (track EQ) which can be used to insert an instance of ReaEQ in any track.