In the world of digital audio workstations, a few names have gained popularity over the years. And, if you were to conduct a survey of which is best for podcasting, the two names that would keep coming up would be Reaper and Pro Tools.
These DAWs can record, edit, and mix your audio files into a professional-sounding podcast episode. But what’s the difference between the two? And, most importantly, which one is better?
If you’ve been torn between the two, keep reading! Below, we’ve broken down the features of both Reaper and Pro Tools to help you decide which one fits your podcasting needs.
Table of Contents
What is Reaper?
Reaper is a relatively new DAW but hasn’t had any issues gaining a dedicated following.
“Reaper” is an acronym for “Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording.” Although that sounds quite impressive, it’s everything that a DAW should be able to do. That’s not to say it’s the same as all other DAWs, though; it has a few tricks that separate it from the crowd.
Let’s take a look at these below.
Reaper’s Good Points
One of the most significant advantages Reaper offers is that it is entirely open from end to end, which means that you can customize it to work in a more comfortable, natural way and fine-tune it to your tastes. With Reaper, you’re given the power to create custom toolbars, menus, mouse actions, macros, and much more.
Reaper is also written incredibly well. This makes it highly efficient and makes sure that it works seamlessly with your computer’s operating system. It’s also worth mentioning that Reaper is universally compatible with operating systems, so it can be downloaded and used with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.
The editing tools offered by Reaper are some of the best you’ll find in a DAW. It also provides a wide range of MIDI and audio features. Loads of plugins are also included, which gives you the scope to get even more creative with your editing.
You can also work on any size project with Reaper, so there’s no need to worry about cutting files down and then stitching them together again. Instead, you can work across one file in its entirety.
Reaper also allows you to open and work on multiple sessions simultaneously, which is a great feature.
Reaper’s Bad Points
The first thing to note when looking at Reaper’s bad points is that it comes at a cost. At the time of writing, the annual fee of Reaper comes in at $60 for a non-commercial license or $200 for a commercial license. However, this is still fairly reasonable, and if you’re an established podcaster with some advertising revenue behind you, you should be able to afford it.
It would be best if you also exercised a little self-control when you’re using Reaper. The fully customizable interface means that it’s easy to get carried away with creating menus and actions, and, as such, things can soon become a little messy or crowded.
While Reaper is a powerful DAW, it’s also one that could be difficult for somebody new to audio editing (or someone who is a little technophobic) to navigate. This is made even more evident because it doesn’t include any telephone technical support, so if you become lost, you’ll need to turn to the internet for advice.
What is Pro Tools?
Pro Tools launched over 30 years ago, and since then, it’s held its place as a popular DAW. It can run as a standalone system or be paired with analog and digital converters, so it’s a highly versatile option.
Before we look at its advantages and disadvantages, here’s a fun fact about Pro Tools! Its claim to fame is that the song “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin was the first number 1 single to be entirely recorded, edited, and mixed using this DAW! Whether you’re a fan of the song or not, it’s undoubtedly a testament to the power of Pro Tools.
Now, let’s look at it in a little more detail.
Pro Tools’ Good Points
The first thing to note is that Pro Tools is super consistent and produces a seamless workflow for recording, mixing, and editing audio. You can record in multiple modes, have quick access to punch-in settings, and have a myriad of other fantastic features.
The editing features offered by Pro Tools are awe-inspiring, too, and include tools such as Elastic Audio and Beat Detective. These, partnered with the other basic editing features offered by Pro Tools, are more than sufficient for any podcaster’s needs.
The Elastic Audio feature will soon become the greatest weapon in your arsenal as it allows you to fix any timing issues without having to re-record entire sections of your podcast. This saves a lot of time and helps you achieve that professional finish.
The Beat Detective tool remains pretty much unrivaled to this day and is revered as a ‘swiss army knife’ of audio production in terms of what it can achieve on the drums. Of course, this isn’t necessarily an important feature when producing a podcast, but it does offer you the versatility to branch out into audio production.
Pro Tools’ mixing features are also simple to navigate, and a well-organized plugin area allows you to save presets for easy selection the next time you need them. That said, it doesn’t have a feature that will enable you to save a chain of plugins, but this is lacking in pretty much any DAW.
Pro Tools’ Bad Points
If you thought Reaper was an expensive DAW, it pales compared to Pro Tools’ cost. Pro Tools First is the cheapest option, which is free to download and use. However, it’s a very basic package. You’ll be looking at a subscription price tag of $299 for a year, paid upfront to get full access to all the features.
You can also purchase Pro Tools as a ‘Perpetual’ package, which means you’ll own it forever and won’t have to pay an annual subscription. However, this comes with a hefty price tag of $599.
Such a price tag should guarantee flawless performance, but Pro Tools certainly isn’t without its issues. Sure, it’s easy to navigate and offers a wide variety of recording, editing, and mixing features. But it can run into crashing issues when paired with Windows operating systems. This can also affect your computer’s hardware, and you risk losing individual files or previously stored settings.
Regarding user experience, Reaper seems to have the upper hand over Pro Tools. One user says Reaper is more powerful, but you don’t have to dive deep into its features if you don’t want to. Additionally, it has free plugins, and you can use VST files – unlike with Pro Tools.
Perhaps the most significant difference is that Reaper is the more customizable of the two. Users can tailor the program to their specific needs and preferences, making it a more personal experience.
Users also noticed that Reaper is better at handling latency than ProTools. This is important for users who want to avoid dropped audio or other problems associated with latency. Some users who tried Reaper also experienced crashing issues, so make sure to autosave your work as often as possible to avoid losing anything.
So, in the battle of the DAWs, which is the better of the two – Reaper or Pro Tools? Well, it’s fair to say that one doesn’t necessarily come out on top. You’ll need to think about a few things to determine which would work better for your needs.
Your budget will be the most significant factor to keep in mind when looking at Reaper and Pro Tools. Unlike DAWs such as Audacity, neither of them is free. However, Reaper is the least expensive of the two and costs between $60-$200, while full access to Pro Tools will cost you at least $299 for a one-year subscription.
High-quality audio and excellent editing tools are right at your fingertips.
Is Pro Tools worth the extra money, though? Again, that depends on what you’re looking to achieve.
There are also a few functions that will save you from having to re-record entire sections of your show, and if you’re incredibly skilled with audio editing, you could even use some of them to branch out into freelance music production. However, if you’re after a DAW that is suitable for simply creating a fantastic-sounding podcast and can be customized in a way that’s easier to navigate, Reaper could be the best option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Reaper good for beginners?
If you’re looking for a great digital audio workstation (DAW) to get started with, Reaper is an excellent choice. Thanks to its logical layout and excellent video tutorials, it’s easy to learn, yet it’s also fully featured for more advanced users.
Best of all, Reaper is very affordable, stable, and has low computing requirements. In other words, it’s the perfect DAW for beginners.
How much RAM do I need for Reaper?
Reaper will run just fine on a machine with 16 GB of RAM. However, Pro Tools would require more than that to work smoothly.
Is Pro Tools better on Mac or PC?
Pro Tools runs equally well on both platforms, so choose what’s more comfortable for you. Also, ensure AVID-recommended system optimizations and remove any redundant programs/files for optimal performance.