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Applying Effects in Reaper


an effect is any plug-in that will modify audio, either on the selected track, the master track or for an item take. Reaper comes with a selection of its own effects, both in VST format and Reaper's own JS format. Reaper can also use third-party effects - either JS effects written by independent developers, other VSTs or Direct-x effects. This article assumes that you have all the effects installed that you need. It will cover the layout of the effects chain dialogue, which looks the same whether you are adding effects to item takes, tracks or the master track. The layout and accessibility of the dialogue does vary depending on the format of the effect used.

  • To apply an effect to the master track, either press shift f or highlight the master track if visible and press f.
  • To apply an effect to the track of your choice, highlight it using the up and down arrow keys and press f.
  • To add an effect to an item take, select the desired item by pressing control and cursor left or right and press shift e. Note: if the selected item contains multiple takes, only the currently active take will be affected. Also note: it is not possible to select multiple items and add an effect to all of them at once in this way.

The Effects Dialogue

Depending on your preference settings, when you open the fx chain dialogue by one of the three methods described above when no effects have yet been added, either you will find yourself in an edit box into which you can type the name of the effect for which you wish to search, or you must press a for add before being placed there.

type the name of the effect in that edit box. If you wish to search for a particular category of effect, type a term such as "verb", "delay", "comp", "eq" or "rea", which is the prefix for Reaper's stock effects. Leaving this edit box blank affords the possibility to browse all effects.

Tabbing past the "clear filter", "Okay" and "Cancel" buttons, you come to a tree view that enables you to filter plug-ins by broader categories such as plug-in format and recently used effects. By default, the option selected is "all plug-ins".

Tabbing once more brings you to the list of effects that results from the combination of the search terms in the filter edit box and the effects category selected in the tree view described above. press enter on the one that you want and it will be added, at which point the layout of the dialogue will change. The following description assumes that you have added a VST effect. Adding other types of effect will yield the same options, just in a different order, as well as effect specific parameters.

Buttons and checkboxes in this dialogue must be activated by pressing shift space because space will still toggle playback. Control space will still pause playback as well.

The effects chain, once it has at least one effect in it, will be the first thing to have focus, both when an effect is added and when the effects dialogue is opened. Using the up and down arrow keys navigates through the effects in the chain. they can be deleted, copied, cut and pasted by using the traditional windows key strokes from here.

Tabbing once puts you in an edit box into which you can write comments to help you when you come back to the project.

Tabbing twice more will bring you to the list of presets for the effect, assuming there are any. some effects have many presets and it is possible to type the name of the preset you want. This is particularly useful if you wish to navigate to a preset you have made yourself because there can be difficulties navigating between manufacturer and user presets.

At the time of writing this article, it's worth noting that the presets for some plug-ins manufactured by Izotope are inaccessible.

Next in the tab order comes a "Plus" button, which brings up a context menu containing options pertaining to presets. You can save presets from here when you have configured an effect to taste.

Next comes the "Param" button, which, when activated, brings up a context menu containing settings regarding automation and parameter modulation. Details of how to expose effect parameters as track envelopes are provided in the article on automation?.

the label for the next button may vary according to circumstance, but is usually "2 in 2 out". It is possible to route the input and output of an effect to different channels. A detailed explanation of the reasons and means to do this is beyond the scope of this course. To activate the button, press shift f10 or applications key

Next comes the "UI" button. Activate this with Reaper stock plug-ins and the effect parameters will appear in the tab order of this dialogue.

The checkbox that comes next enables or disables the effect. It is basically an effects bypass switch, although you uncheck it to turn the effect off.

The "Add" and "Remove" buttons pertain to the effects chain. The add button will bring up the effects search again. The "Remove" button will remove the selected effect.

Adjusting Parameters

the parameters of most VST effects are not accessible from the effects chain dialogue as they are to sighted users. We can access them from a simple, alternative dialogue. To access the parameters for an effect applied to a selected item take or track, press p. To access the parameters for an effect applied to the master track, press shift p. If there is more than one effect to choose from, a context menu will appear allowing you to select the effect you want to configure. If there is only one, the configuration dialogue will open straight away.

As soon as the configuration dialogue opens, you will be in the list of available parameters. The last two in every list are always "Bypass" and "Wet", which are put there by Reaper itself. Bypassing an effect turns it off, the "Wet" parameter adjusts the wet-dry mix. By default, all effects are 100% wet at this stage.

Having selected the parameter you wish to modify you can tab once to a slider, where you can adjust the values either with the up and down arrow keys, page up and page down or home and end if you wish to set the parameter to its extremes. Any change you make will immediately effect the output of the effect.

alternatively, tabbing once more will place you in an edit box where you can write precise values.

There is no apply or okay button in this dialogue. Simply press escape or tab to the "Close" button to leave the dialogue and all your changes will remain.

Final Tips

  • Pressing b will toggle bypass for all the effects for a selected track.
  • Pressing shift b will toggle bypass for all effects on the master track.
  • Pressing control b will toggle bypass for all effects on all tracks.
  • Remember that adjusting the volume on a track adjusts volumes after effects have been applied. This is particularly important when considering effects such as compression and limiting.
  • Highlighting an effect in the chain and pressing f2 will allow you to rename that instance of the effect in that project. This can be useful if you need to use the same effect in different places in the chain and wish to be able to distinguish between them for example.
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Page last modified on November 08, 2016, at 11:28 PM