If the REAPER quantize features aren’t working, you probably need to change some settings. Whether you are trying to quantize an audio file or MIDI data, there are settings that you must adjust based on the timing of the track (¼ notes, ⅛ notes, etc.) as well as other parameters.
REAPER Quantize Troubleshooting
Nowadays, there is no excuse not to have perfectly quantized audio and MIDI tracks in your music.
REAPER users are in luck because although they might take some time to figure out, the quantize features within REAPER are top-notch!
After working in REAPER for a few years now, I have come to love REAPER’s quantize features for both audio and MIDI tracks.
In this troubleshooting guide, I want to help you work through any issues with your REAPER quantize not working.
What You Need For This Tutorial
Here is a list of what you will need to follow in this tutorial:
- REAPER DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)
- A transient rich audio track to work with (drums or percussion will work best)
- A MIDI file to work with
What Is Quantizing?
Quantizing is the process of correcting the timing issues of already performed musical notes in digital music production software.
Although quantization is not always necessary depending on the genre of music you are working on, it is essential to know as a modern music producer.
Does REAPER Have Quantize?
REAPER has quantize functions for both audio items and MIDI tracks that you can use to correct the timing of instruments in your track.
Today, we will go over the different REAPER quantize methods and what to do if they are not working for you.
Why Is REAPER Quantize Not Working?
The details are of the utmost importance when it comes to quantizing in REAPER.
Whether I’m working with audio or MIDI, I find that the only time REAPER’s quantize features don’t work for me is when I have entered the incorrect type of notes to quantize to (½, ¼, ⅛, notes, etc.).
To quantize correctly in REAPER, you must enter the correct denomination of notes to quantize to.
The type of note you should quantize will depend on the timing of the track you are working on.
Method One – Alt Drag
The first method for quantizing/editing the timing of audio or MIDI tracks in REAPER is relatively easy.
All you need to do to utilize this method is just split the audio track that you want to adjust the timing of into sections (press ‘S’ to split), hold down the ‘Alt’ key, and drag the audio waveform to move it onto the grid.
This method is not the most efficient, but I wanted to include it in this article because sometimes, all you need is a little nudge here and there rather than a fully quantized track.
Method Two – Dynamic Split/Quantize
This next method is the best way to quantize audio in REAPER.
We will split up our audio track based on its transients and then quantize it.
The first step is to split our audio track up using REAPER’s ‘Dynamic Split’ function.
To do this, right-click the track you want to quantize and select Item Processing>Dynamic Split Items.
From here, you need to enter the settings that will allow for the right amount of transient splits on your audio track.
Too many splits, and you will have sections of blank audio for no reason.
Too few splits, and you will not be able to accurately quantize your track.
The goal here is to have each individual transient split up.
Remember, though, that you can’t always get it perfect.
The main settings to adjust here are ‘Reduce splits,’ ‘Sensitivity,’ and ‘Threshold’ to control your dynamic split.
Now that we have our track split up how we need it to be, we can start quantizing each section of our audio file.
To do this, go through section by section (a few bars at a time) and click Item Processing>Quantize Item Positions To Grid and select between ½, ¼, ⅛ notes, etc., depending on the track that you are working on.
If you are having trouble with the REAPER quantize not working, it is likely because you have split your tracks up incorrectly or selected the wrong denomination of notes between ½, ¼, ⅛ notes, etc.
The reason that I quantize section by section is so that I get more accurate quantization results.
Trying to quantize your whole track at once might not give you the best results.
Once you have quantized your tracks, you will have to go through and cross-fade them together so that they flow smoothly into each other without any clicks, pops, or drops.
There you have it, my favorite way to quantize audio in REAPER.
If you want to see how to take this method a step further, check out this article and video where I show you how to emulate the Pro Tools Beat Detective feature in REAPER (this method also features a much faster way to cross-fade everything together).
This technique is great if you want to quantize your drum track especially!
Method Three – MIDI Quantize
I want to show you the following technique: how to quantize MIDI data in REAPER using the MIDI editor AKA the piano roll.
Start by opening up the MIDI editor window by double-clicking the MIDI item you want to quantize.
Once the MIDI editor is open, press the ‘Q’ icon to open up the MIDI quantize settings.
From here, you have a few options.
You can quantize based on the grid, or you can quantize manually.
Off Of The Grid
To quantize based on the grid, start by clicking Option>Use The Same Grid Division In Arrange View and Editor (in the MIDI editor window) so that you can quantize your MIDI track based on your grid settings.
Next, right-click the ‘Grid lines’ box on the top left toolbar and enter the note value you want to quantize based on.
Set this value based on the timing of the track you want to quantize.
Now, when you go to quantize your MIDI track, it will quantize to the grid based on the grid settings.
Keep in mind that this method gives you less control than the next.
To quantize MIDI data manually, select the option for ‘Manual’ quantization in the MIDI quantize menu and enter your ‘Grid’ settings.
You can choose quantization settings for ‘straight,’ ‘triplet,’ ‘dotted,’ or ‘swing‘ for your grid. This is helpful for some genres, but most producers will want to stick to ‘straight.’
You can also choose for your MIDI notes to move left/right and shrink/grow to designate how you want your MIDI notes to quantize and use the ‘From’ and ‘To’ toggles to control your quantize range.
These settings give you extra control for quantizing your MIDI track. But the main settings to focus on if your REAPER quantize features are not working are the ‘Strength’ and ‘Grid.’
The grid settings are essential because they determine where on the grid your MIDI notes quantize.
If you correctly enter your MIDI quantize settings, you will have a well quantized MIDI track.
Remember that you will sometimes have to manually scoot one or two MIDI notes even after quantizing, but this is no big deal; it’s hard to get it perfect.
What Is an Audio Transient?
A transient is an audio waveform that is not continuous and has a visible burst of sonic energy at its beginning.
For example, if you look at a kick or snare drum waveform, you will notice a very defined audio transient, especially when compared to something like an electric guitar track which looks more like a long continuous bar of audio.
How Do You Change The BPM In REAPER?
There are a couple of ways to change the BPM of your project in REAPER.
To change the BPM of your track in REAPER, you can either input your desired BPM in the BPM box (located to the right of the record button), or you can open up the ‘Project Settings‘ menu in the top left-hand toolbar and enter a new BPM here.
Should You Always Quantize Drums?
This depends on the type of track that you are working on and the groove/rhythm you are trying to achieve.
For example, suppose you are working on a hard-hitting rock song with big drums. In that case, you will probably want to quantize them for maximum impact.
However, if you are working on an experimental jazz track, you might not need to do any quantizing.
For more top tips, check out this guide on using the Tap Tempo feature in REAPER.