To quantize in REAPER, you can manually split and edit audio using the ‘Dynamic split’ function to separate audio based on transients. You can also stretch audio by holding the ‘alt’ key and dragging where a split occurs. You can quantize MIDI items using the MIDI editor.
Quantizing In REAPER
When it comes to producing quality music, timing is crucial.
Nobody wants to listen to a track that sounds out of time. For this reason, knowing how to quantize in modern music production is essential.
Quantizing certain track parts will help you sync everything together and create a fabulous and cohesive song.
In this step-by-step article, I will show you how to quantize in REAPER!
What You Will Need
The only things that you will need to follow this article are:
- REAPER DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
- A track to work on with audio and(or) MIDI items
Method One – Manually Splitting Audio
The first method for quantizing in REAPER that I want to show you is manually splitting and moving audio items.
Although this method can be somewhat tedious, it is pretty straightforward.
To use this method, place your cursor where you want to split an audio item and make sure that you have it selected.
Next, press ‘s’ on your keyboard to split the audio item.
Once you have made the split, you will have two separate audio items that you can now move independently.
You can use this technique to move around anything from individual drum hits to entire sections.
You can also use this method with MIDI items. However, there are better ways to quantize MIDI.
Method Two – Dynamic Splitting
The next method you can use to quantize in REAPER is the ‘Dynamic split’ function.
This REAPER feature allows you to split up an audio track based on its transients automatically. This can save you a ton of time and headaches compared to manually splitting up an audio track.
To use this method, start by right-clicking the audio item you want to split, scroll down to ‘Item processing,’ and select ‘Dynamic split items.’
Clicking this will open up the dynamic split menu to set the parameters that decide where your audio splits.
As you adjust these settings, you will notice that you get a visual preview of how they will affect your audio track. This will help you change these settings correctly.
After adjusting the settings on this menu and click ‘split,’ your audio track will split into individual items.
Now that you have split the audio track you want to quantize based on its transients, you can easily move these individual items around to fix any timing issues that you might be experiencing.
This technique works incredibly well with drums since they have such defined transients.
Method Three – Moving Audio With The ‘Alt’ Key
The following method for quantizing in REAPER that I want to share with you is moving audio or MIDI items with the ‘alt’ key.
In my opinion, this is the best method for quantizing in REAPER.
To do this, all you have to do is hold down the ‘alt’ key on your keyboard and drag audio or MIDI data to move it without moving the entire audio or MIDI item itself.
You can use this technique to edit anything from large sections of audio/MIDI down to individual notes.
I will show you what I mean in this video!
As you can see, this is an excellent strategy for quantizing audio or MIDI in REAPER.
Method Four – MIDI Editor
You can only use this next method for quantizing MIDI tracks.
To use this method, start by double-clicking the MIDI clip that you want to quantize to open up the ‘MIDI editor.’
Once the ‘MIDI editor’ is open, you can press the red-colored ‘Q’ button at the top of the window to pull up the quantization settings.
You can set the parameters in this window to control how your MIDI items quantize. You can choose these parameters manually or based off of the grid.
Using the quantize function in the MIDI editor can save you time and labor when quantizing MIDI items.
Method Five – Input Quantizing
This final method that I want to show you for quantizing in REAPER is actually used to quantize MIDI data upon input rather than after recording.
This method is easy to set up and can also spare you the trouble of quantizing later on in the music production process.
To use the ‘Input quantize’ function in REAPER, start by right-clicking on the record button of the track that you want to input quantize and select ‘Track recording settings.’
Once you have this window open, ensure that you have the box that says, ‘Quantize track MIDI recording’ checked. You can also change the settings to the right of this box to adjust how the notes that you record quantize.
Although this method can be beneficial when recording MIDI items, it is not perfect. You may still have to do a bit of quantizing after recording.
Is it easier to quantize audio or MIDI?
The answer to this question will depend on who you ask. Still, in my opinion, MIDI is easier to quantize than audio.
The reason for this is how flexible MIDI data is. Because MIDI notes are basically data you play through a virtual instrument, you can move them around and rearrange them without any consequence.
With quantizing audio, however, if you are not careful with how you edit audio items, you can experience glitches such as clicks, pops, or spots where the audio drops out.
What is the best way to quantize audio in REAPER?
In my opinion, the best way to quantize audio in REAPER is by using the ‘Dynamic split’ function to separate audio tracks based on their transients.
Once you have done this, you can then hold down the ‘alt’ key and drag audio to line it up on the grid.
Using the Dynamic split function and manual quantization in conjunction is an excellent way to quantize audio in REAPER.
What is the best way to quantize MIDI in REAPER?
The best way to quantize MIDI in REAPER is by using the ‘MIDI editor.’
Using the ‘MIDI editor’, you can either quantize MIDI data using the quantize function or by manually selecting and moving MIDI notes.
Remember that you can also use the ‘Input Quantize’ function in REAPER to quantize MIDI tracks as you record them instead of afterward.
How do you import your own audio tracks into REAPER?
To import your own audio files off of your computer into REAPER, you can either drag and drop an audio file directly from your file explorer into a REAPER project file, or you can press Insert>Media File and then select a file from your computer.
Both of these methods are very simple.
Are there any instruments that you should not quantize?
While it is vital to quantize specific instruments such as drums, percussion, and other rhythmic elements, quantizing all of the instruments in your track is unnecessary.
Leaving some aspects in your track, such as vocals, synths, lead guitar, etc., unquantized can give your track a natural flow and help make it sound more human.
Want to master link a pro in REAPER? Click here for our step-by-step guide on how to master in REAPER.
about the author
I’m Jack Oberkirsch, a film and media composer residing in Denver, Colorado. I play in several local bands and have been touring the country for nearly a decade.
Since 2016 I’ve been focusing on studio work and production and have moved into the realm of film and media composition.
I like to combine and implement many different musical instruments and styles to convey the director’s vision on any given project.
I also enjoy writing material for music libraries and sync placements.