Don’t Fear the REAPER

For most recording of vocals and instruments (i.e., anything not a Caustic synthesizer) I’ve been limping along with Audacity for Windows. The most it has to recommend it is that it allows me to record and edit .wav audio and it’s free. It leaves a bit to be desired, however, in the number of signal processing effects available and that they can’t be applied in real time.
So a few days ago I installed Reaper version 5-point-something and I’ve been watching tutorial videos on teh YooToobz to learn the general layout and workflow. It looks pretty sweet, being a full-featured DAW that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars like Ableton, Cubase, Reason, Cakewalk, or the like. $60 should be quite affordable by the time my birthday rolls around in July, and I’m sure they’ll forgive me going over the 60-day trial period a little bit in the meantime. The only way the trial version differs from the licensed version is a nag screen on startup, easily dismissed after a few seconds with a mouse click, reminding users that the program isn’t free.

I’m not going to be one of those cheesedicks that uses the trial version forever on the free – Cockos has been totally cool releasing an unlocked, ungimped program that a prospective buyer can really give the full workout before committing dollars, and they should be properly thanked for not treating paying customers like criminals.

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Creativity and Obsolescence

Monday (2 days ago) the same kourier driver who gifted my vocal mic to me, gave me a Creative Labs SB0490 “Sound Blaster Live!” external USB sound card to try out; if I liked it he was going to sell it to me “at cost” (eight dollars).

I tried it out that night, plugging in not just the mic but also the Chapman Stick and recording into Audacity. It seems to be okay; I was able to leave the input level higher in the software and adjust on the external box – unfortunately the headphone output didn’t seem to work. I never bothered to connect speakers to it.
So I’m going to pass on this, even for eight dollars; it’s probably fine for somebody who wants to digitize their LP or tape collection, or to improve gaming sound or music playback, but pro audio gear it isn’t.
I’m still holding out for the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB interface, which goes for a buck and a half everywhere I can find it. Hopefully around the end of the year I can have that much saved up.