Podcast editing requires a reliable digital audio workstation (DAW), and Reaper is Podigy’s DAW of choice. Created by Cockos Inc., Reaper may look daunting at first glance, but it’s proven to be a remarkably stable and customizable platform, and even after working with it for several years we’re still surprised by how flexible a workstation it can be. Since installing and configuring Reaper requires several steps and a little technical know-how, we’ve assembled this guide to get you up and editing ASAP.
In order, this standard operating procedure will cover:
First up, you’ll want to navigate to Reaper’s download page and select the platform of your choice. Regardless of what kind of computer you’re working on, there’s a version for it.
Double-click the installation executable that’s been dropped into your Downloads folder and proceed through the setup process step by step. Make sure that Reaper installs to your default drive (C:\ on a PC), that the portable install checkbox is left blank, and that under the Choose Components panel you’ve selected “Associate with RPP (Reaper Project) files”—you’ll become very familiar with the .RPP file extension over time, so it’s wise to make Reaper the default program for it.
Reaper comes with a 60-day free trial that gives you access to all of the platform’s functions. Once that period is up, you’ll need to purchase a license for $60 USD, though you’ll be happy to know it’s a one-time payment. The license comes in the form of an alphanumeric key, which you can copy and paste from the email into the license tab under Help -> About REAPER from the menu bar at the top of the screen. Be sure to favorite/star the email containing the license key and download the attached file to your documents folder so you have it on hand in case you ever install Reaper on a new machine.
Once Reaper is installed and licensed, we’re going to go about configuring the workstation so that it’s a little easier to navigate. This section involves hopping from one menu to another and making a bunch of small yet vital adjustments, and once you have it set up you’ll never have to worry about them again.
Our first adjustment is setting up Reaper’s autosave function, which you can access from Options -> Preferences, and then by selecting the Projects item from the list on the left. From here, tick the “Timestamp backup” checkbox, specify an autosave interval (5 or 10 minutes is best), check off “Save to timestamped file in additional directory” and ensure it’s saving to a directory with plenty of space in the field below. Hit “Apply” or “OK” at the bottom to finalize. Now, a “Reaper Back ups” subfolder will be created in every Reaper project file you save, and in case of a crash you can simply navigate to this subdirectory and double-click the most recent file to resume your project with only a few minutes of work lost.
As mentioned previously, Reaper is a very stable platform, but the occasional crash, sudden computer shutoff and/or power outage can still occur, so this little configuration will save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Afterward, select the Media Item Defaults menu under this very same Project tab. This panel sets up crossfades, which are very important to the edits we make and keep them sounding smooth and seamless rather than abrupt, but Reaper’s default approach to these crossfades isn’t ideal for our podcasting purposes. What we want to do here is ensure that both “Create automatic fade-in/fade-out for new items, length” and “Overlap and crossfade items when splitting, length” are left unchecked, but that the adjacent fields are set to 0:00:010 and 0:00:050, respectively. This way, we turn off Reaper’s default crossfades while setting up timecode parameters that the SWS extension will later pull from. If it seems overly technical now, you’ll understand more once we go about installing SWS and setting up custom actions in the following sections. Click “Apply” or “OK” to approve the changes.
Let’s skip down the menu on the left to Audio -> Device and confirm that “Request sample rate” is set to 44100. The reason we’re setting it to 44100 specifically has to do with digital audio/signal processing theory but why this is useful and practical to a new podcast editor such as yourself is that it will help prevent odd issues like tracks slowly desynchronizing or voices sounding lower-pitched than they’re supposed to be. Next to it is “Request block size”, a setting that determines how frequently Reaper updates the audio, as well as its latency. The smaller the block size, the less latency you’ll have, though this can be taxing on your CPU and may result in audio drop-outs. For our editing purposes, let us set it to 512 and click “Apply.”
Before we leave the Preferences menu, we’ll want to set up our mouse behaviors so that we can simply right-click and drag to select what we want to edit out. To that end, scroll down the menu on the left to Editing Behavior -> Mouse Modifiers and select “Arrange view” from the drop-down “Context” menu and then “right drag” from the drop-down next to it. You’ll want to double-click on the “Default action” modifier in the list below and and select “Marquee select items” -> “Set time selection”. Click “OK” or “Apply” to finalize the change.
There’s one final adjustment that you can implement with just a single click: navigate to the main editing toolbar in the upper left-hand corner and make sure that the grid lines in the editing pane are turned off (you can also use ALT+G to toggle on PC). These grid lines come in handy when editing music, but when editing podcasts we’ll want them switched off to allow ourselves a little more fine-tuning when dragging around and adjusting audio items. Otherwise, those items may “snap” to the nearest grid line. You’ll know the grid lines are properly turned off when the button is black instead of light grey and the faint vertical lines are no longer visible in the editing pane.
Goodness, that was a lot of settings to navigate, but the long-term upside is you’ve made Reaper a little easier to use with some adjustments that you have set and can now forget—though if for some reason they’re ever altered due to an update or mistake, you can check back here for reference!
With initial configuration out of the way, we’re going to download and install some additional tools that enhance Reaper’s capabilities.
It may not be immediately apparent why we’ve installed these extensions and libraries, but you’ll quickly understand their purpose once we create some custom editing actions.
Now that we have access to the above extensions, we can really start to make use of them by chaining together custom actions that will make every single cut and edit a breeze to execute.
To edit efficiently, we want an action that 1. removes a section of highlighted audio across all tracks at once, 2. automatically moves up the following audio to where the cut is made so we don’t have to manually drag the items every time and 3. is capable of doing all this in a single keystroke. It sounds like a tall order, but the custom action list and the SWS extensions you previously installed make this so, so easy.
After you’ve completed all of these steps, you now have three, single-keystroke custom actions (well, two keys at once in the dead air script’s case) that will serve as your go-to edit buttons for any podcast you take on. In time, you’ll become more used to the ins and outs of the action list and may end up creating a few of your own!
It’s been a fairly technical, multi-step journey, but by this point Reaper is set up with the vast majority of the tools and tricks you’ll need to edit podcasts with relative ease. In the process, you’re now a little bit familiar with the DAW’s many menus and settings, and you’ll only become more comfortable with the platform moving forward.
Share Post on: