Cool Things You Can Do In REAPER #1: Automated Gain Riding

Okay, so just for the fun of it, I thought I’d start a small handful of posts about cool things you can do with REAPER. For all the REAPER users out there, hopefully this will not be boring, old stuff for you, but things you might not be familiar with, and stuff you can use. For non-REAPER users, maybe pique your curiosity and give some exposure to how versatile this DAW is. The depth of what it can do just floors me. The stuff you can do with its routing capabilities and skins and configuration possibilities is perhaps unparalleled. Well, at least that’s what makes it so popular. REAPER also comes with a complete library of pretty impressive plugins (“ReaPlugs”) that include pretty much anything you’d need (compression, EA, distortion, blah, blah, blah). Good stuff.

Anyway, for post #1, I’m going to link to an interesting clip that shows how you can use the included ReaPlug VSTs to actually create an automated workflow to do gain riding automation on a vocal (or really any) track. Here’s the video: “Why you’ll never have to use Vocal Rider again”

  • Briefly, you insert any plugin on your vocal track that has a gain slider (in the video he uses Waves Q10, but you can use any plugin with a gain slider).

  • Create an envelope for the volume/gain slider on that track, and open it’s parameter modulation window.

  • Create a duplicate of the vocal track and disable its send to the master.

  • Then you create a simple send from that duplicate track to the vocal track, and configure the parameter modulation window to receive input from the duplicate track, and reverse the direction of the parameter modulation (so that when the volume on the duplicate track goes up, the modulation control goes down).

That’s the general idea. A little tricky to explain in just a few paragraphs, but just watch the first three, maybe four, minutes of the video, he explains it perfectly.

I tried it and it’s pretty impressive. Works perfectly and is easy to set up. Only took me a few moments. Also, you could easily save it as a track template to set up automatically.

Feel free to ignore if you’re not interested, but I enjoy this stuff! I’m not a techno-geek kind of guy. For me it has to be practical, easy to do, sound good and (hopefully) be cheap. :slight_smile:



I like Reaper the way you can set to touch and automate anything on the fly

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Referring to the above? Or just in general?

I agree. It’s so flexible.

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YES I use this all the time now. I used to be too lazy to do tons of automation, but since I learned this trick I’m just like “yep 5 automation lanes no big deal.” EDIT: Actually… I just realized we might mean different things. I set up a shortcut to create an automation lane for the last touched param. I don’t really “write” automation because I think it’s usually easier (for me) to draw it.

I’m definitely interested in this thread. One of my goals in the near future is to improve my workflow in REAPER so that I can get annoying bits out of the way and just have fun creating. I feel like I have learned some cool stuff in that department recently, but can’t think of anything right now… most of my gains will probably be from making intelligent use of basic things like templates and shortcuts and whatnot.

I may try this gain riding trick. It sounds really good in the video. I have HoRNet AutoGain but for some reason I never got the hang of it.

What i mean is example, You have an eq and a delay direct on the lead vox track.Put the automation into touch and you can say change eq settings on the fly through verses and choruses ,automate say the feedback or wet control .Its endless and gives a mix so much movement . Same say on the bass track .high pass slightly more by holding the eq to say 70 hz then when the chorus hits just let go so there is no hp .Same with snares kicks ,all sorts as i say its endless.No messing about writing automation with drawing volumes etc. Hope this makes sense

It sounds like you’re talking about recording automation as the song plays? I’ve never had much luck with that, and just find it quicker to draw in the envelopes.

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I didn’t realize how much automation was done in dubstep and EDM genre’s until I started teaching that Ableton class. Do you happen to know if Reaper has macros? Where one automation lane controls 8 other automation parameters across different plugins?

I write a lot of automation during mixing, but mainly because I use that console, and unfortunately it doesn’t communicate with Reaper at all.

Funny thing, all of the audio classes I’m taking in college for video game design are teaching Reaper. The reason is because PT and Nuendo are still so dang expensive. Nuendo dropped $900 in price, and its still the 3rd most expensive DAW around. Reaper doesn’t have all the features that PT does, but it has a HELL of a lot more (for what I do anyway) than Logic, Ableton, and S1.

Really??? I’m surprised.

I draw for technical automation (like if I miss a sustain pedal move) or need to change the key of an autotuner to follow the modulation in a song.

I always push faders for stuff like buildups into a chorus, delay throws, or manual vocal rides.

I turn physical knobs for morphing LFO’s, wavetables, cutoff, and resonance parameters.

I like pushing physical faders to write automation because I can grab a cluster of them and there’s something kinesthetically gratifying about pushing a fader (no idea why). I live in touch mode 90% of the time. Rarely latch. If you mess up automation, you rewind, and catch it on the next pass. Just like recording!

It has macros, but I’m not sure if what they mean by macros is the same as what you mean. Is this anything like you’re looking for?

One thing I don’t like is that when you write automation like that, you end up with a bazillion little automation points that are a nightmare to adjust if I get it wrong. And I always get it wrong. Most of the time what I want is a build, or a small dip… or with REAPER you can also do automation items and very quickly have an LFO or something.

I guess one place I write automation is with my Touché SE, but that’s an instrument so to me it clicks better.

Maybe I’ll change my mind about it sometime–it certainly seems like a popular thing to do. Knobs and faders are nice in theory, and I’ve tried on more than one occasion to use them for stuff, but inevitably it’s been more trouble than it’s worth.

I re-draw them on a second pass.

And if I want to edit them manually, I switch my pointer to the pencil tool, and scribble new ones in. Automation doesn’t have to be super super precise. Little fader wobbles from a million points go by so fast your ear can’t detect the difference, unless the whole automation curve was way off.

I’ll have to try that one. Usually I’m using split and clip gain to level vocals.

Yeah, that’s what I’ve always done. Works great but takes a while. This workflow is pretty easy to set up.

The other thing I’ve found VERY helpful is the ERA Voice Leveler. That thing is just as effective and takes less than 30 seconds. Pretty amazing, actually. Insert the plugin, dial a knob in to set the threshold, you’re done. There’s another thread on that around here somewhere.

I don’t know if this would help you, but there are several SWS Action commands involving “Envelope: Reduce number of points”. It cuts down on the number of points in your automation and makes a smoother curve, where possible.