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Cubase vs Reaper for composing. Is the grass greener?

thevisi0nary

Active Member
I’ve been using reaper for years now and am fairly comfortable with it, although not a pro by any means. I use it primarily for midi composition.

I have always heard that reaper is “bad for midi work”. I personally do not really have problems, but I do run into little things that annoy the hell out of me and confuse me.

I am just curious, what would I stand to gain by moving to something like cubase? Is it really that much better for midi? If so in what way?

I plan on doing the demo with the E licenser, I figured it can’t hurt to ask this as well.
 

fretti

Senior Member
Well I never used Reaper, only Logic before so I can’t tell you directly how different everything is there...
For me though the most advantage was the ease of using the instrument rack and with that being able to load multiple instruments in one Kontakt instance.
But if you already are comfortable with Reaper I‘d really go for the trial version before buying, because there are always things (key commands, where things are „hidden“, Mixer etc.) where you first have to get used to. E.G in the beginning it was „really“ hard for me to get used to the whole routing thing in Cubase as there are no effect possible for Midi-Tracks, in Logic I always only used the „normal“ instrument tracks where you can just add effect how you like. On the other hand I have now built my perfect setup for my workflow where everything is layed out, routed etc. How I like it. In Logic I Never even began to build a setup as it would have taken me probably a year to load everything in...
No DAW is perfect for everyone so it could be (like in my case) a huge step forward in terms of speed and usability. Can be though that you first need a couple of days with frustration and YouTube videos so you find everything (was for me the case with Midi-Tracks as I had no idea how to load a Kontakt patch there and it wasn‘t really a plug and play situation in the beginning, like Logic really is). The midi editor itself is great as you have „infinite“ possibilities, but for a real comparison of the differences between Reaper Midi and Cubase Midi there should answer someone who recently used/uses both, as this was more a general thought of switching DAWs...
Maybe watch some Cubase Midi Tutorials on YouTube first now to get a general overview of what you would get into and how different everything works to how you are used to (could be you don‘t want Cubase after the first 15min; or that you want to switch as soon as possible;)) all a matter of personal taste there:)
 

gregh

Senior Member
I’ve been using reaper for years now and am fairly comfortable with it, although not a pro by any means. I use it primarily for midi composition.

I have always heard that reaper is “bad for midi work”. I personally do not really have problems, but I do run into little things that annoy the hell out of me and confuse me.

I am just curious, what would I stand to gain by moving to something like cubase? Is it really that much better for midi? If so in what way?

I plan on doing the demo with the E licenser, I figured it can’t hurt to ask this as well.

What sort of things are annoying you in Reaper? There may be simple workarounds or add-ons that could help. For example it might be cheaper and easier to pay someone to script something you really want rather than buy Cubase
 

joebaggan

Member
I have Cubase and Reaper. I use Cubase for all things Midi because it is so full featured in that area. The Midi menu has tons of functions for manipulating Midi, the Expression Maps are key for orchestral work, the Logical Editor and Project Logical Editors allow you to manipulate just about any Midi element in a query/batch sort of way, Note Expression gives you CC control on each note if needed, and the Score Editor is as full featured as you're going to find in a DAW.
 
OP
thevisi0nary

thevisi0nary

Active Member
I have Cubase and Reaper. I use Cubase for all things Midi because it is so full featured in that area. The Midi menu has tons of functions for manipulating Midi, the Expression Maps are key for orchestral work, the Logical Editor and Project Logical Editors allow you to manipulate just about any Midi element in a query/batch sort of way, Note Expression gives you CC control on each note if needed, and the Score Editor is as full featured as you're going to find in a DAW.
This sounds awesome.
 
OP
thevisi0nary

thevisi0nary

Active Member
What sort of things are annoying you in Reaper? There may be simple workarounds or add-ons that could help. For example it might be cheaper and easier to pay someone to script something you really want rather than buy Cubase
I am sure that at least some of it I could find solutions for. My two main things is finding that the midi handling in general is a little finicky (One example being issues with perspective with the piano roll, which becomes EXTREMELY annoying), and the other being a lack of envelope style CC editing within the midi editor. Yeah you can add an insert and control CC through automation, but I don't like doing this separately from the midi editor window.
 
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thevisi0nary

thevisi0nary

Active Member
Well I never used Reaper, only Logic before so I can’t tell you directly how different everything is there...
For me though the most advantage was the ease of using the instrument rack and with that being able to load multiple instruments in one Kontakt instance.
But if you already are comfortable with Reaper I‘d really go for the trial version before buying, because there are always things (key commands, where things are „hidden“, Mixer etc.) where you first have to get used to. E.G in the beginning it was „really“ hard for me to get used to the whole routing thing in Cubase as there are no effect possible for Midi-Tracks, in Logic I always only used the „normal“ instrument tracks where you can just add effect how you like. On the other hand I have now built my perfect setup for my workflow where everything is layed out, routed etc. How I like it. In Logic I Never even began to build a setup as it would have taken me probably a year to load everything in...
No DAW is perfect for everyone so it could be (like in my case) a huge step forward in terms of speed and usability. Can be though that you first need a couple of days with frustration and YouTube videos so you find everything (was for me the case with Midi-Tracks as I had no idea how to load a Kontakt patch there and it wasn‘t really a plug and play situation in the beginning, like Logic really is). The midi editor itself is great as you have „infinite“ possibilities, but for a real comparison of the differences between Reaper Midi and Cubase Midi there should answer someone who recently used/uses both, as this was more a general thought of switching DAWs...
Maybe watch some Cubase Midi Tutorials on YouTube first now to get a general overview of what you would get into and how different everything works to how you are used to (could be you don‘t want Cubase after the first 15min; or that you want to switch as soon as possible;)) all a matter of personal taste there:)
This makes sense. I think I am ultimately going to have to try the demo before knowing how I will really feel about it.

So wait, you can't add ANY fx to a midi track?
 

fretti

Senior Member
This makes sense. I think I am ultimately going to have to try the demo before knowing how I will really feel about it.

So wait, you can't add ANY fx to a midi track?
You can but you have to rout it to an Kontakt output track (wich have to be activated in Kontakt and then again in the instrument rack in Cubase, and the midi tracks have to be routed to the correct output-track) so at least for me in the beginning a little complicated because I never really worked with those things. But now for me actually works better...
 
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thevisi0nary

thevisi0nary

Active Member
You can but you have to rout it to an Kontakt output track (wich have to be activated in Kontakt and then again in the instrument rack in Cubase, and the midi tracks have to be routed to the correct output-track) so at least for me in the beginning a little complicated because I never really worked with those things. But now for me actually works better...
I meant you can’t add fx directly to a track that has midi?
 
OP
thevisi0nary

thevisi0nary

Active Member
Routing-wise Reaper is just so much better than Cubase, it's not even a contest.
I definitely wouldn’t doubt it. Reaper feels incredibly flexible in most ways which I’m surprised doesn’t completely apply to the midi editor. Would really just like a midi editor that feels a little bit more rounded if you will since it’s what I’m working with now 80% of the time.
 

Parsifal666

I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
I don't know f#$% all about other DAWs. I just know I've loved Cubase for twelve years...it just seems right to me.

I wouldn't doubt there are terrific DAWs besides...I'm just perfectly happy with what I have.

That said, I'm still on 8, never cared much about the upgrades.
 

Rasmus Hartvig

Active Member
I agree. Reaper's midi editor lacks a few nice things that Cubase has. For me it's mostly down to CC editing that feels clunky. The rest of the stuff I missed I've been able to customize and script myself out of.

On the other hand, Reaper has some stuff that you just don't get with any other DAW. The fact that a track can hold both midi and audio makes it incredibly easy to bounce, say, a pre-recorded string run. The item will stay exactly in place on the same track the midi was on, have the same routing and fx as the midi on that track, and is now a snap to timestretch to sync perfectly up. In Cubase doing something like that is incredibly cumbersome, and involves multiple tracks and takes many more mouse clicks to accomplish.
Timestretching a group of midi notes in the piano roll is another thing that I love that Reaper can do. In Cubase you can't (only in a very cumbersome way in the arrange view).

I'm still hoping for refinements to Reapers midi editor, but I think I'm at the point now where the productivity boost of using Reaper definitely outweighs the few gripes I have with it.
 

MrLinssi

A glorified bedroom musician.
When I started making music in my bedroom I tried Reaper, didn't like it and I've used Cubase ever since. FYI, the composer for the new Call of Duty used Reaper so it's certainly good enough for professional work.
 

DS_Joost

One day I'll fly away!
Routing-wise Reaper is just so much better than Cubase, it's not even a contest.
I would agree, and yet I've tried both programs and have settled on Cubase. Because, when I'm composing, I'm not using that kind of complex routing. I just use instrument tracks and sends and FX returns, so nothing crazy.

I find that from time to time Reaper offers me some function I can't find anywhere. Like Audio Event FX with the automation on the event itself. Beautiful. Or the fact that I can select a portion of a clip in the browser and only import that.

When you are doing Sound FX work on a movie, those features are enormous time savers.

But for composing with midi, I find the workflow in Cubase so much more rounded and streamlined than Reaper.

Reaper can do everything that Cubase can, but not as fast and intuitive, at least on the midi front. The fact that I have to install dozens of scripts to even get that midi editor up to par speaks volumes for me. I was trying to get the midi editor to behave easily and intuitively but I always felt that I ran into walls with scripts all the time. Like, there's a script that can subtract -10 from CC7. But then you need another script for CC11. And another for CC1. And three others for +10. I got a headache from trying to manage and update all the scripts, putting them in the appropriate contextual toolbars, having them working in the right context, troubleshooting, messaging with script creates because of errors and bugs...

I'm sure that, if you take the time to customize it, Reaper can be heaven. But for me, for serious composing work, I just like Cubase more because it offers me a brilliantly thought out workflow that is easy to learn, deep to master, and once you master it, it is pure bliss.

The only program that kinda offers the same streamlined workflow when it comes to midi that I know of is Studio One (it might be even more streamlined). But alas, Studio One can't handle very large disabled templates and I'm sure as hell not going back to VEPro anymore.

So right now I'm on Cubase. And loving it. I'm keeping a side eye towards both Reaper and Studio One, but both need the following to really get me to switch:

1) Reaper's CC editing needs to become more intuitive. Those scripts need to become native, and have to become much more integrated to the point where the same command applies to all CC's instead of having multiple scripts for CC1, 7, 11, 21, 2, and so forth. I want to be able to copy and paste CC's using CTRL+C, CTRL+V, no matter what CC, no matter where. I want handles on the sides of selected CC events to visually stretch, compress, expand and increase or decrease them. Julian's scripts come very close, but a likewise solution needs to become native, and much more streamlined. And not 20 different scripts for different functions. That is, for me, the number one thing keeping me away from Reaper. In my opinion, Reaper needs to be much more consistent instead of feature rich. It may have almost all the features in the world for everybody, but as a MIDI composer, for me it lacks where it matters the most.

2) Studio One needs a timeline to cut up video (I can already see the use with those sweet, sweet scratch pads).

3) Studio One needs to be able to handle massive disabled templates. It chokes after a certain amount of tracks.
 

aaronventure

Senior Member
How so? (Genuine question)
Every plugin has a pin connector for routing.
upload_2018-5-4_12-35-27.png
Swapping channels, having only one channel and multiplying output is incredibly easy. Sending different channels is all done in the "Send" window. It's like analog routing with cables.

One of many, many examples: there's no such thing as an insert reverb without an EQ in Reaper. Insert your reverb, have it output to 3/4 only, add whichever EQ or processing you want and have it only process 3/4 -> 3/4, then mix it back down into 1/2.

Or you have a general reverb on receive, and you want to send your violin but with extra high end. Drop an EQ on the violin, adjust high boost, click on routing, remove 1/2, add 3/4 and send channels 3/4 to the reverb. Violin dry plays normally, but it sends to the reverb with extra highs.
 

EvilDragon

KSP Wizard
How so? (Genuine question)
Well anything can route to anywhere without any special track types and somesuch shit which limits you. You can pick which channels from which track to route into which channels on other track(s), which is great for multichannel work obviously. And any track can become multichannel ANYTIME without you needing to create a new track with a different track type, etc. You can even create feedback loops if you want. You can load an effect directly on a track that has MIDI, no need to create sends for that if you don't want to, etc. Folders operate as both summing busses and organizational tools, it's great.
 

FriFlo

Senior Member
I would like a DAW that has a developer team with the spirit like the reaper guys have with the aesthetic, features and focus on midi composition like Cubase combined with a deep custmizability integrated into the program. I love max/msp, so max for live is what I would love, but Reaper seems to be pretty deep there, too.
Unfortunately, no existing DAW does fulfill all of those whishes. Cubase and Reaper both come close, but fail in different aspects. Let's face it: there is not a single DAW around that really make composing with samples as easy as it actually could be. There is no boldness to create standards for working with these kinds of DAWs. No integration of tablets to control all paramet for example. There are ways of course, to do that yourself, but you always realise there are some limitations that actually prevent you from getting what you want to do.
In terms of editing, Cubase is pretty much perfect. I looks like a mess, to start with. Editing has to do with looking ar something, so, while I don’t care little for design, it has to be a functional design you don’t get eye cancer by looking at it for a long time. Every time I tried reaper the midi editing bothered me, although I have looked into the customizability. It just seemed like a big step back from Cubase in spite of the sympathy I have for Reaper in regards of their business model and company spirit.
 
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