In the world of DAWs, there are a few names that 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.
Both of these DAWs are capable of recording, editing, and mixing your audio files into a professional-sounding podcast episode.
But what’s the difference between the two? And, most importantly, which one is better? We decided to answer these questions once and for all!
Below, we’ve broken down every detail and feature that both Reaper and Pro Tools has to offer to declare a winner.
So, if you’ve been torn between the two for a while still can’t decide which would work best for your podcasting needs, keep reading, and you’ll soon know the answer!
Table of Contents
What is Reaper?
Reaper is a relatively new DAW, but it hasn’t had any issues with gaining a dedicated following. The name “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, and it has a few tricks up its sleeve that separates 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.
It’s not just a simple feature of changing colors or layouts, though. With Reaper, you’re given the power to create customer toolbars, menus, mouse actions, macros, and a whole lot more.
This is beneficial in a couple of ways. First of all, if you’re changing from another form of software, you’re able to customize Reaper in a way that replicates the program you’re already familiar with. Secondly, it can take a lot of time out of the learning curve, so you’ll be able to start working with it much sooner.
Reaper is also written incredibly well. This makes it highly efficient and makes sure that it works seamlessly with your computer’s operating system. While we’re on this subject, it’s also worth mentioning that Reaper is universally compatible with operating systems so that 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 too, and it also provides a wide range of MIDI and audio features. There are loads of plugins included too, 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’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 by the fact that 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 first 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 it can be paired with analog and digital converters, so it’s a highly versatile option.
Before we start looking at its advantages and disadvantages, we thought you might be interested to learn a fun Pro Tools fact.
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 take a 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. This doesn’t only make it a straightforward DAW to navigate but means it’s an excellent choice for anybody new to recording and producing.
Pro Tools was initially created as recording software, and it’s lost none of its power in this field over the last 30 years. You can record in multiple modes, quick-access to punch-in settings, and 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 in audio production.
Pro Tools’ mixing features are also simple to navigate through, and there is a well-organized plugin area that allows you to save presets for easy selection next time you need them.
With that being said, it doesn’t have a feature that allows you to save a chain of plugins, but this is lacking in pretty much any DAW.
Pro Tools’ Bad Points
If you thought that Reaper was an expensive DAW, it pales compared to Pro Tools’ cost. This is an expensive DAW and, although there are stages of pricing to it. The cheapest option is Pro Tools First, and this is free to download and use. However, it’s a very basic package.
To get full access to all of the features, you’ll be looking at a price tag of $299 for a one-year, paid-up front subscription.
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 a 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 run the risk of losing individual files or previously stored settings.
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. To figure out which would work better for your needs, you’ll need to first think about a few things.
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 are 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.
Are Pro Tools worth the extra money, though? Again, that depends on what you’re looking to achieve. High-quality audio and excellent editing tools are right at your fingertips.
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 for you.