The short answer is no. REAPER on its own is not a very good digital audio workstation for EDM production, especially compared to others such as Presonus Studio One, FL Studio, Logic Pro, etc. However, you can produce electronic music in REAPER with plugins, drum samples, and virtual instruments.
EDM Production In REAPER
With the popularity of electronic music on the rise, now is a better time than ever to expand your skillset as a producer and get into EDM production.
With so many DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) to choose from, all with different features, it can be hard to know which one to use to produce which genre.
In this in-depth article, we will take a close look and see if REAPER is good for producing electronic music.
Producing Electronic Dance Music In REAPER
In my opinion, REAPER is not the best DAW for producing electronic music. This is because REAPER does not come with audio samples or virtual instruments other than one low-quality synth called ‘ReaSynth.’
ReaSynth is a very basic synthesizer engine and has little to no use in trying to produce modern electronic music.
Making electronic music relies quite a bit on these modern audio production tools. Therefore, REAPER is not a good digital audio workstation for EDM production.
However, you can produce incredible electronic dance music using REAPER if you plan on using third-party plugins and virtual instruments.
In fact, other than the lack of drum samples, virtual instrument plugins, etc., I think REAPER is a fantastic DAW to produce any type of music, including EDM.
Since DAWs like Logic, FL Studio, and Presonus Studio One are more geared towards electronic music production, producers using REAPER will have to be a bit savvy to create EDM.
So although REAPER is not the best DAW for EDM production, as long as you are willing to invest in some quality samples and virtual instrument plugins, you can still use REAPER to produce EDM.
How Do You Make EDM With REAPER?
I make an EDM track in REAPER by using a combination of drum samples, loops, bass, synths, sound effects, vocal samples, etc.
Because you can use third-party plugins, audio tracks, and virtual instruments in REAPER. It is quite possible to put together a quality electronic music track. Let’s give it a shot!
Making EDM Drums
We will be dragging, dropping, and looping drum samples to put together the backbeat for our track.
Check out this article on using drum samples in REAPER for an in-depth look at how to use drum samples in REAPER to help you build an awesome drum track!
Keep in mind that the drums are a vital aspect of any great electronic music track, so take your time crafting a captivating and engaging rhythm.
Don’t spend all of your studio time endlessly scrolling through kick and snare drum hits on your computer. Just because you have tons of drum samples on your computer does not mean you need to listen to them all before you start on a track. Just pick a good one and get to work!
Now that we have a drum beat laid down, we can move on to the next element of our track.
Making EDM Bass
With our drum beat finished, the next thing for us to focus on is laying down some bass on our track.
To do this, I will be recording a bass synth part using my MIDI keyboard and a synth engine called ANA 2.
I’m keeping my bass line simple to leave room for other synths and instruments for this track.
Synth Pads In EDM
Now that we have a healthy rhythm section to hold up our track let’s add a little atmosphere by recording a synth pad.
I’ll be using the synth pad to play chords under our track.
If you want your track to sound super immersive, try using multiple synth pad patches and panning them left and right, so there is some variety in your song
Pro tip: If you want your track to sound super immersive, try using multiple synth pad patches and panning them left and right, so there is some variety in your song.
Using a synth pad or two is a great way to add some vibe and ear candy to your electronic music track.
Using Loops When Making EDM
At this point, I realize that I want to beef up my rhythm section a little bit.
To do this, I will drop in a couple of loops.
I’ve decided to use a few hand drum type loops to add a bit of ethnic flair to my track. Also, I’m going to pan each of the loops opposite each other to help widen my track.
Using loops is a great way to add some pace and extra rhythmic elements to your track.
Our track is starting to come together and has a solid foundation to begin recording on top of.
I think it’s time to add some wubs to our song.
I’m using a synth patch and my MIDI keyboard to do this. Notice how I’m also doubling up the track and using two synth patches to record my part.
This will add some extra flavor to the track because I have not one but two awesome wub synths.
This is a crucial part of making a great electronic music track so try to record a part that will captivate your listener.
EDM Lead Synths
The next element I want to add to the track is a lead melody with a new synth patch. In this example, I’m using a bell-sounding synth patch. This will help to add some presence and top-end to our track.
To keep your listeners engaged throughout your song, consider changing up the melody and the lead instrument you use to play it as the song progresses.
This will help add some variety to your composition and make it sound much more professional.
Your lead melody can make or break your track, so take some time crafting a great one!
EDM Vocal Samples
One of the last things we’ll be adding to our track is some vocal samples in certain sections.
I feel that it’s best not to overdo it here, but adding some well-placed vocals in an electronic music track can undoubtedly make your tracks soar.
Now that we have a few vocal lines in our track, we’re well on our way to completion!
Sound Effects And Ear Candy
The final thing that I want to add to this track is a few sound effects.
I want to place a riser that leads into the track and a ‘bassy’ brass kind of hit that comes in on the drop.
Using some sound effects and ear candy in your track can really help with your track’s transitions and keep your listeners entertained.
What Else Can You Add To EDM?
With our track pretty much finished up, you might be asking yourself, “can I add anything else?” and the answer is yes!
EDM is a very experimental music genre, and lots of EDM producers find success by stepping out of the box. I’ve shown you how to start making an EDM track in REAPER, but you can always take it to the next level!
You could add some guitar, horns, other percussions, etc. The possibilities are endless when working in specific genres of music.
Do not be afraid to try new things and step out of the box!
Is REAPER Good For Mixing?
Yes, in my opinion, REAPER is excellent for mixing!
Over the years, I have mixed and mastered countless tracks in REAPER.
REAPER is good for mixing because it is a very organized and customizable DAW that you can manipulate to suit your workflow. Not only can you customize REAPER’s visual display, but you can also rearrange your toolbars and hotkeys to your preferences.
Another thing that makes REAPER great for mixing is that it is compatible with almost all plugin types and its own collection of stock plugins.
REAPER not only has your standard mixing and mastering plugins such as EQ, compression, gating, reverb, delay, limiting, saturation, etc. It also has several more interesting plugins.
Check out this article for an in-depth look at stock REAPER plugins.
Can You Use Serum In REAPER?
Yes, because Serum is a VST plugin and REAPER supports VST plugins, you can definitely use Serum in REAPER.
However, keep in mind Serum is a 64 bit only plugin, so make sure your operating system can handle this.
I have also heard of people having issues using Serum in REAPER, but this will mostly depend on your operating system and the power of your computer.
Why Don’t More People Use REAPER?
In my opinion, more people don’t use REAPER because it is relatively new compared to the industry standard DAWs. Established music producers used other DAWs long before Cockos developed REAPER. Therefore it takes time for a new digital audio workstation to catch on.
In most DAWs, you can send a project file for a track you are working on to another producer, making it easy to collaborate on rather than sending separate stem files and re-build a track.
With so few producers using REAPER these days, it is not ideal for collaborating. You will often have to re-build tracks instead of simply receiving a project file.
I believe that in due time, more people will start using REAPER, and it will gain popularity amongst the audio production community.
Is Cockos REAPER Used By Professionals?
While a few professionals in audio production use REAPER, it is not nearly as common as other digital audio workstations such as Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase Pro, FL Studio, etc.
Even though REAPER is quite powerful and easy to use, it has not been around for all that long compared to the more established DAWs.
This is probably why REAPER is not very commonly used by professionals. However, I feel that REAPER will become a more popular DAW as time goes by.
Does REAPER Support Video File Formats?
Obviously, REAPER is mostly for audio production, but it can also support video file formats.
For example, you can use REAPER to synchronize music to video.
Which DAWs Are the Best for Electronic Music Producers?
In my opinion, some of the best digital audio workstations for electronic music production are Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and FL Studio.
These DAWs come with built-in samples, virtual instruments, and plugins that will help you produce great electronic music.
Keep in mind, because of the samples and plugins that come with them, you can also use these DAWs to produce other genres such as hard Techno, Hip Hop, etc.
How Long Does It Take to Learn REAPER?
This answer is different for everyone and depends on how many hours you can put in. Still, in my opinion, REAPER is a pretty straightforward DAW that is easy to learn.
Can You Make Money Producing in REAPER Without A License?
No, if you have not paid for the full version of REAPER and therefore do not have the license, you cannot be making money from producing using REAPER.
The same is true for any other digital audio workstation unless it is a free one.
How Do I Know Which DAW is Right for Me?
The way that you can figure out which DAW is right for you is by doing your research.
Every digital audio workstation has different features and specifications, so the best way to know which one is right for you is to determine what DAWs are best for what genres. Then you can start to narrow it down further from there and make an informed decision.
In my opinion, REAPER is not a great DAW for electronic music production since it does not really come with any of the necessary resources to make it.
Still, if you acquire the tools you need separately, you can produce an incredible EDM track using REAPER.
Check this article to see our best plugins for 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.