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Item Properties


An item is a container that can hold audio among other things, either a section or the entire media file that was imported. How much of the file is contained within a particular item, how fast and at what pitch the item plays, whether it loops and how, as well as many other parameters are all configured from the item properties dialogue.

While it is possible to access many of these parameters via shortcut keys, a good knowledge of the item properties dialogue is very important. To change the properties of one or more items, select the items you wish to affect and press shift f2. The explanation of the dialogue that follows will assume you have selected one item.

Dialogue Breakdown

When opening the dialogue, the field with the item name in has focus.

Next comes the okay Button.

"Position". This is an edit box with the time-line position of the item in your project.

"Length". This edit box contains the item length. Configuring this value with any value up to the length of the item source will stipulate how much of the source the item will contain. The implications of values exceeding the length of the item source will be discussed later.

Next comes a radio button that controls the units in which item length and position are displayed. The three options are time, which is the default, beats and HMS.

"Fade in". This governs the length of time it takes for the item to fade in. Depending on how the "Media Item Defaults" section of your preferences is configured, when you split items, automatic fade ins and fade outs of 10 milliseconds each will be created.

"Curve" this governs the shape of the fade. A curve of 0 means that the fade will be linear. A curve with a value between 0 and 1 will mean that the fade in starts slowly and speeds up towards the end. A curve value of 1.0 will mean that most of the fade happens very close to the fade-in length's end. The exact reverse is true for values between 0 and -1. A curve of -1 will mean that most of the fade will happen at the very beginning of the fade in length.

There is then a button, which, if pressed, brings up a context menu containing preset fade curve shapes. The labels for these are inaccessible, so there is no way to tell which curve shape is which.

There are then similar fields governing item fade out length, curve and preset curve shapes.

Item snapping is inaccessible so the next field, "Snap Offset", doesn't help us.

"Item Timebase". By default, this combo box is set to the project's default timebase as defined in project properties. If the timebase is changed, the value here will override the project or track timebase.

Timebase determines what happens when the project tempo is changed.

  • "Time means there will be no effect on the item.
  • "Beats, Position, Length, Rate" means that the item rate will change with the tempo.
  • "Beats, Position Only" will change the item's position relative to other items when the tempo is changed.

"Item Mix Behavior". By default, this combo box is set to the project's default item mix behavior as defined in project properties. Changing the mix behavior here will override the project default.

Different mix behaviors define what will happen when items overlap. As long as that is understood, the different settings are self-explanitary.

the "Active Take" combo box that follows provides an alternative way to switch between the takes the item may contain. Remember that an item may contain part or all of more than one media file. This is particularly useful when recording and comparing multiple versions of a musical performance.

"Loop Source". If this checkbox is checked and the value in the length edit box exceeds the length of the item source, the item will start to loop. If you have a two second media file, check the "Loop Source" box and set the length to 1:00.000, the item will play for a minute, looping 30 times.

Remember that trying to increase the length of an item that contains only part of a media source so that the length is greater than it was when you split the item but less than the whole source length, will not make it loop. More of the item source will play.

"Mute" this mutes the item.

"Lock". this means that an item cannot be moved or affected by ripple. The exact interaction of a locked item with ripple editing is defined in Reaper preferences.

"No Autofades". checking this box means that, if this item is split, there will be no fade in and fade out at the item's beginning and end. Any fades that have already been created, either mannually or automatically, will be unaffected.

"Play all takes". When checked, this means that all takes within an item will play simultaneously.

The next fields control take properties.

"Start in Source". This regulates where the take enclosed within the selected items begins. Enter any value less than the source length and the take, when active, will play from there. If the length of time between the start in source value and the end of the item is greater than the amount of source file that can play and loop source is checked, the take will begin playing again from the beginning of the source file.

"Pitch Adjust (Semitones). this will adjust the take pitch in semitones. to six decimal places.

"Playback Rate". this will adjust the rate of the take to six decimal places. By default, the pitch will be unaltered. Remember that, if you decrease the playback rate of the take, it will take longer than the item length for whatever was contained within the item before you decreased the rate to play. You will have to grow the right edge of the item out to accommodate the slower-playing contents. this will have an effect on the way other takes within your item will play.

Remember that the settings within this dialogue affect the active take. There are actions bound to the number row of the keyboard combined with the shift key that control pitch and rate, but they control item pitch and rate, not that of the active take.

"Preserve Pitch When Changing Rate". By default, this checkbox is checked, meaning that increasing or decreasing rate will not change pitch. To achieve tape-style pitch changes, i.e. vary-speed, uncheck this box.

Next come sliders to adjust take volume and pan. the volume slider goes between +20 DB to -Inf DB and, unlike other sliders, can only be manipulated with the cursor keys.

After this, there is a button whose label will be different depending on the setting that is currently active. It brings up a context menu from which you can select your desired take channel mode. Choose from:

  • Normal stereo
  • Reverse stereo, where the channels are swapped.
  • Mono mix L+R, which sums the left and right channels to mono.
  • Mono left, which creates a mono mix using only the left channel.
  • Mono right, which creates a mono mix using only the right channel.
  • Mono 3-64 is a sub-menu, which allows you to create a mono mix using any channel between 3 and 64.
  • Stereo 1-64, which allows you to make a mix of any adjacent pair of channels between 1 and 64.

"Invert phase". When the next checkbox is checked, the phase of the take is inverted.

"Normalize". This increases the take volume so that it peaks at 0.

"Take Pitch Shift/Time Stretch Mode". this combo box defaults to the project pitch shift/time stretch mode. Other modes are available, which are beyond the scope of this article.

After two fields that pertain to stretch markers, which are beyond the scope of this course, there is a read only edit box that contain information about the source, which includes its file name.

"Section". Check this box if you wish to loop or reverse only a section of the item source. Looping sections of an item source will be discussed in depth in another article.

"Reverse". checking this box will reverse the item source. If you check this box for an item containing only part of a media file, say the first part, you will hear a corresponding amount of the end of the file played backwards before the rest of the file, assuming it's there, will play forwards.

If you reverse an item that contains part of a media file with the section box checked, the contents of the item will play backwards in the more intuitive way.

"Properties". This button brings up the properties of the media file including sample rate and bit-depth etc. This dialogue can also be accessed directly by pressing control f2 once the desired item has been selected.

there is then a button that allows you to choose an entirely new file to contain within the item. Say that you decide you don't like the cork pop sound you're using for a scene in a drama. You could replace it with another one without needing to delete and replace the whole item. All the other item properties would remain intact.

"Rename File". This option might be particularly useful when dealing with media files that Reaper has created, as they don't have very memorable or simple names.

"Nudge/set". This button opens the nudge/set dialogue, which will be covered in depth in another article.

"Take FX". this opens the fx dialogue in the same way as shift e would.

the cancel button follows, which is followed in turn, finally, by the "Take Envelopes" button, which brings up a dialogue in which take envelopes can be exposed and armed and the automation mode for the item can be designated. Automation and envelopes are discussed in other places in the course material.

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Page last modified on March 27, 2017, at 11:45 PM