Side-chains – Ducking music using voice – Finicky and powerful use of Reacomp – Part of How to Reaper for the Blind

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Side-chains – Ducking music using voice. A finicky and powerful use of the Reacomp compressor

Note on my system: For this demo I used Reaper 6.42 and Voiceover on Big Sur on Mac.

Wait, side what? Is that something I’ll ever need?

Maybe, maybe not.
but chances are that at some point you will need to know how it’s done. If you work with spoken word production, you most certainly will need that skill.
Yes, there are other ways to accomplish the same effect as the one I will demonstrate here. Those I will demonstrate in other tutorials. There are gates, there is automation, there is manual item gain. I’ll show how to do all of those in future posts.

Here’s the deal

it’s not about one method is better than any other. it’s all about what works for you, your workflow, and your particular production and sometimes need for speed.
This approach is a really quick way of making one track control the volume of another. As long as you know how it’s done it’s a matter of a few minutes. Set it and forget it for a decent result.

And that’s the only preamble I will allow this time.

Listen to the demo

Or download the mp3. If download doesn’t start, do Ctrl Opt. M and select save linked file.

Notes:

Note that this demo is created on a Mac. It does mention all the relevant shortcuts but still assumes basic knowledge of Voiceover.
A note on demos and tutorials: Some of my demos are created quickly because someone needed a demonstration quickly or an answer to a question while in a bit of a panic. This means that production and editing can be minimal or non-existent. It also means that they don’t go into depth and do not cover all options or related issues.
For questions and demo requests, send me a note using the contact link up above.

If you love what I do and want to make sure i keep doing it, feel free to
Buy me a coffee!
Jenny K. Brennan

Get started with the compressor in Reaper. Reacomp Quick and Dirty- Part of How to Reaper for the Blind

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Getting started with Reacomp – Reaper’s stock compressor. Let’s just do it.

Note on my system: For this demo I used Reaper 6.42 and Voiceover on Big Sur on Mac.

What is a compressor anyways?

Oh, now you’re putting me on the spot.

To put it simple, an audio compressor brings the quiet up and the loud down. It can control peaks and bring out subtleties. A compressor can colour the sound in various ways. A compressor evens out performances. A compressor can be used as a gate, a limiter, a leveller, a drastic effect, a subtle touch, in a side-chain to control other tracks in various ways.

Yup, piece of cake. Couldn’t be simpler, right?

Okay, I give. Here’s the deal.

I don’t intend to explain what a compressor actually does and exactly how it does do it.
You can find thousands of blogs and videos that can do that. I’ve heard too many of those and the art of using compressors still feels like a little bit of magic sometimes.
I just want you to start using it. You need to hear it working, realize that it’s not such a big deal. That yes, it can be a complicated bit of audio magic but that if you don’t get your hands dirty you’ll never understand the power you have beneath those fingers. Theory can only take you a fraction of the way of understanding compressors.
There are guidelines and starting points and recommended settings. But no one, not even seasoned professionals, can tell you what is right for your track.
And I truly mean that. There is no magic bullet, no instant solution, no fast and hard recipe for a great sound.
The most common question I hear from beginners trying to use a compressor is:

…but nothing is happening! I don’t know what all these numbers mean. I tried all the sliders but nothing is working….

Sounds familiar?

Listen to the demo. Follow along in your own project. The best way to learn is to do!

download the mp3. If download doesn’t start do Ctrl Opt M and select save linked file.
Important: This demo assumes that you are comfortable using voiceover on mac. Few shortcuts are mentioned here. To navigate in the plugin standard Voiceover nabigation is used i.e Ctrl plus Option plus arrow keys. Reaper specific shortcuts are listed below.

Shortcuts and other notes:

Note that this demo is created on a Mac. For this specific plugin, the operation of the plugin interface is unnecessarily complicated compared to the same plugin on a windows machine. The numbers and parameter names are the same and the result will inevitably always be the same as long as all parameters are the same. Just keep this in mind. As I have no experience in using Reacomp with Reaper on Windows I am not able to explain the differences.

Shortcuts and actions:
Delta mode is not mapped to a shortcut by default. I recommend you do that. F4, type “delta”, hit the add button and add a hotkey of your choosing.
When in the track list:
P opens the parameter list.
If there are multiple plugins on a track, P first shows the list of plugins. Select one and hit enter to open the parameter list for that specific plugin.
B bypasses all plugins on the selected track.
F opens the ad plugin dialog for the selected track.
If there are plugins on the track already, F opens the plugin list, also called the FX chain., for that track.
When in theFX chain:
Shift command B bypasses the selected plugin.
F2 renames it, Delete removes it.
You can copy and paste plugins within the current track’s FX chain or even between tracks. .
And the last important shortcut to know: Shift Opt Command page up or page down moves the selected plugin up or down in the FX chain.
But don’t take my word for it. Always remember F4 and F12 for the action list and shortcut help respectively. These keys are your friends.
And for those paying attention, why not use the parameter list entirely? It seems like it could be easier to deal with.
Good question.
Honestly, I could and i should. It’s just one of those things. A habit. I forget. I’m sure you know what I’m saying. It actually took me a long time to even realize that there was such a thing as the parameter list and at that point, I had used Reacomp’s standard interface long enough to make it hard to change. lol.

A note on demos and tutorials: Some of my demos are created quickly because someone needed a demonstration quickly or an answer to a question while in a bit of a panic. This means that production and editing can be minimal or non-existent. It also means that they don’t go into depth and do not cover all options or related issues.
For questions and demo requests, send me a note using the contact link up above.

If you love what I do and want to make sure i keep doing it, feel free to
Buy me a coffee!
Jenny K. Brennan

Folders in folders on top of folders. Organising Reaper projects – Part of How to Reaper for the blind

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Folders inside folders on top of folders – Organizing your Reaper project.

Note on my system: For this demo I used Reaper 6.42 with Voiceover on Mac running Big Sur.

What are folders anyways?

A folder in Reaper is a track that can contain other tracks. It really is that simple. A folder may contain a number of backing vocals for example. Their audio is routed through the folder to where you need it to go. Add a plugin to the folder and all those tracks are being effected by that plugin. Turn up the volume on the folder and all those tracks get louder. Pan it to the left and… you guessed it, all those tracks pan to the left. Pretty nifty isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜€
In other programs something like this might be called a bus, or a sub-mix perhaps. For the most part they serve the same purpose.
How useful folders are depends on how you like to prep and organize your tracks. Maybe it can be just a way to separate production audio and music from the voiceover. Or you might use them as buses for mixes with guitars, drums, keys and all that good stuff. Folders in reaper are a utility. How you use them and have success with them is totally up to you.

Reaper’s folder function is just another tool that enables you to setup your project so that it makes sense to you. It’s a tool. Learn one tool at a time when and if you have a need for it. With time, that toolbox will bee full of good stuff.

Okay, so how do I use that stuff?

Shortcuts of note:
Shift Enter toggles a track between Track, Folder, and end of folder.
Option page up and page down navigate between folders.
Enter toggles the folder track between Open, small, and closed.
Folders can be copied, cut, and renamed just like any other track in Reaper.
They have volume, pan, and any other function that any other track has such as the ability to automate and send the signal to any other track for effects or further bussing.

Listen to the demo:

Download mp3. If download doesn’t start, Use Ctrl Opt M, then choose to Download Linked File

About tutorials on House of Imp:

Note that this demo is created on a Mac. But I will when needed explain the differences best as I can.

My reason for recording this specific demo is that
Despite their simplicity, folders can trip you up. And Plus, the thought of using folders can seem a bit daunting. I’m here to tell you they don’t bite.

Remember: Use F4 and F12 for the action list and shortcut help respectively. These keys are your friends.

A note on demos and tutorials: Some of my demos are created quickly because someone needed a demonstration quickly or an answer to a question while in a bit of a panic. This means that production and editing can be minimal or non-existent. It also means that they don’t go into depth and do not cover all options or related issues.

Listen to the demo:

For questions and demo requests, you can

About the producer:

If you love what I do and want to make sure i keep doing it, feel free to
Buy me a coffee!
Jenny K. Brennan

Custom actions creating, importing, exporting- Part of How to Reaper for the Blind

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Custom actions, how to make the darn things.

Note on my system: For this demo I used Reaper 6.34, and Voiceover on Big Sur on Mac.

What are custom actions anyways?

Custom actions is a way to string other actions together into one action. It’s as simple as that. It can however get as complicated as you need it to be. Think of it as a series of actions that you can start by using a single shortcut. It’s the ultimate productivity booster in Reaper.

To create some elaborate actions will take a fair bit of nerdy and luckily there are plenty of custom actions already created.
(These are called key-maps.)

Note that the difference between scripts and custom actions can sometimes feel a bit blurry. But for the time being, let’s just say that scripts you need to install while custom actions you create.
In this demo I am creating a simple custom action that set a few actions in motion to make my workflow faster. It’s really not complicated as long as you keep in mind Reaper’s context sensitivity.
Whatever Reaper has selected, whether it’s a track, multiple tracks, and item, or an item take, that is what Reaper will act on.
This is important when creating a custom action as the first action you add to a string of actions will need to match what you want it to do. As in any code, one faulty line will most likely break the entire program.

Listen to the demo:

or Download mp3. If download doesn’t start, Use Ctrl Opt M, then choose to Download Linked File

Note that this demo is created on a Mac. For this specific process, the procedure is similar enough to Windows that it should not pose any problems for you.
Remember: Use F4 and F12 for the action list and shortcut help respectively. These keys are your friends.

A note on demos and tutorials: Some of my demos are created quickly because someone needed a demonstration quickly or an answer to a question while in a bit of a panic. This means that production and editing can be minimal or non-existent. It also means that they don’t go into depth and do not cover all options or related issues.
For questions and demo requests, send me a note using the contact link up above.

If you love what I do and want to make sure i keep doing it, feel free to
Buy me a coffee!
Jenny K. Brennan

Reapack – Extending functionality with scripts – Finding, installing, adding shortcuts- Part of How to Reaper for the Blind

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reapack – how to use the darn thing.

Note on my system: For this demo I used Reaper 6.34, and Voiceover on Big Sur on Mac.

What is Reapack anyways?

Reapack is an extention for Reaper. It is free and easy to install and use in order to extend Reapers capabilities. It will enable you to search for custom scripts that can do anything from automatically load up a sample player with your favorite kick and snare to slicing audio into itty bitty pieces for some cool EDM or Breakbeat detail. These scripts can truly do just about anything someone might come up with. If something can be accomplished that is not built in to Reaper’s standard action list, you can bet someone created a script for it. The Reapack depository is whe all those goodies are.

(How to install Reapack post – coming as soon as I’ve recorded the demo for it. )
Note that this demo is created on a Mac. For this specific process, the procedure is the same on Windows.
Remember: Use F4 and F12 for the action list and shortcut help respectively. These keys are your friends.

A note on demos and tutorials: Some of my demos are created quickly because someone needed a demonstration quickly or an answer to a question while in a bit of a panic. This means that production and editing can be minimal or non-existant. It also means that they don’t go into depth and do not cover all options or related issues. The demo below is one of those.

For questions and demo requests, send me a note using the contact link up above.

If you love what I do and want to make sure i keep doing it, feel free to
Buy me a coffee!
Jenny K. Brennan

Install Reaper, Osara, and SWS on Mac running Voiceover – Step by step

Reading Time: 5 minutes

How to install Reaper, Osara, and SWS on Mac running Voiceover.

Last updated: July 1, 2021 at 14:28 pm

If you find something incorrect throughout these instructions, please leave a comment or use the contact link at the top of this page.
Thanks. –

Downloads

Let’s grab all the stuff we need.

Download Reaper

For the latest Reaper application, visit the
Reaper.fm/download page.
Locate the macOS heading.
For MacOS earlier than Catalina or Big Sur, click on the first available download, macOS 64-bit.
(I do sincerely hope that your system is 64bit. Just saying’)
For Catalina and Big Sur, locate the download link that sounds something like:
macOS 10.15+ Catalina/Big Sur (Notarized)
And download that.

Download the Osara extension

Next, you need to download Osara by going to the Osara Reaper accessibility page
This page has all the information about Osara that you will ever need and the instructions you need to download and install Osara. I recommend doing some reading. If you are at all interested in what Osara is, what it does, and who created it and why, learn it all here.
Remember: Good people work really hard to make Reaper work for us and they keep this honestly very complicated extension alive and in constant development. I can’t speak enough about how impressive the Osara team is. Give them the credit they are due. “OSARA has taken countless hours of time to develop but is free to use.

Next, locate the
Osara snapshots link.
Once on that page, the easiest way to find the download is to search the page for the words: “for mac”. This will bring you directly to the download link for the current version of Osara.

One thing to remember is that Osara really is in constant development and this link changes frequently. It is a very good idea to keep Osara up to date. There are no notifications to let you know that there is a new version available. Chances are that if you update Reaper, Osara will not be far behind.

Download the SWS extension

This bundle of files can be downloaded from the
SWS extension page.
On this page, locate the “macOS” heading and select the
“DOWNLOAD X64” link

Downloads are done. Time to crack open your download folder with Command Option L and continue.

Installs

Installing the Reaper application

Open the Reaper disk image file you downloaded.
Copy the Reaper Application file.
Open applications with Shift Command A and paste with Command V.
Once the copying is done, go ahead and open the newly pasted Reaper application file with Command O.
This will take you through a standard Mac installation procedure which doesn’t present anything out of the ordinary and don’t need to be explained here.
Once the installation is done, Reaper should appear in your dock and you can open it from there.
If you have plugins installed on your system, this may take a while. Reaper will scan all the usual places and it won’t necessarily tell you what it’s doing. With some VO navigation you will hear that scanning is in progress, of something like it. Either way, it’ll be busy for a bit.
Once that is done, Reaper will ask you to select an audio device. This is a good time to do that so click the yes button to open the Reaper preferences.
You will land in a tree-view, which on the mac is called a table for some reason. You are focused on devices. Navigate into that with VO arrow keys and one of the very first options you find is the audio device selection list box. Pick your preferred device and select it with return. Now hit return again to okay your changes and close the preferences dialog.
Don’t worry, you will see much of those preferences in the future. For now, there’s nothing that needs to be done.
You can shut down Reaper for now.

There are a couple of things left to do. So get back to your downloads folder.

Installing the Osara extension

These instructions are taken directly from
the Osara Reaper accessibility page:

Because OSARA is an extension (not a standalone application) and also needs to install a key map, the installation process is a little different to most Mac applications. Please follow these instructions to install it:

Open the OSARA disk image file you downloaded.
Open the “Install OSARA.command” file. On macOS Catalina and later, you have to choose open from the context menu, accessed with VO+Shift+M.
Follow the instructions. If you wish to replace the existing key map with the OSARA key map (which is recommended), answer yes when prompted. A backup of your existing key map will be made in Reaper’s KeyMaps folder.
The installer leaves a terminal window open. It can be closed with Command+Q.
Press command+e to eject the disk image.

Note that if you do forget to use the context menu to open the terminal script, you will be informed that it cannot be opened. Simply click cancel in that prompt. It will not hurt anything. Once opening the script via the context menu, you will be informed again that there is a problem but this time you have the option to choose the “open” button. Do that, all is well.

Installing the SWS extension

Open the SWS disk image file you downloaded.
Select and Copy everything in that folder with Command A and Command C respectively.

Open Reaper and go to the options menu.
Locate: “Show Reaper resource path in explorer/finder” and hit return.
In the folder that opens, hit the letter “u” to locate the “user plugins” folder. Open it with Command O and press command V to paste

Close all stray windows, close any leftover disc image volumes with Command E, and restart Reaper.

Test your Reaper

Now let’s see if this works. There are two simple tests we can perform to check this.
First, let’s make sure Osara is running. Second, we will check that the sws extension is active and running as it should.

With Reaper newly opened, you are in an empty project with no tracks. When you move the up and down arrows, which are the shortcuts to move between tracks in Reaper, Osara should say: “No tracks.” Because there are no tracks and that is the infomation we need from Osara.
This means that Osara is doing its thing.
Success!
If you hear nothing when pressing the arrow keys, something has gone wrong somewhere and Osara is not running.

Assuming that Osara is running, we can move on to test the SWS extension.
Do this:
Create a new track with Command T.
In the dialog, give the track a name if you want and hit return. This track is for testing purposes only so it doesn’t matter.
Why are we doing this?
One of the many functions that sws performs for you is to enable you to change the volume of a track and let you know what happens as you do.
Using the shortcut Shift + Option and up or down arrows will change the track volume in 1db increments. It will also speak the volume as it changes.
If the spoken feedback does not change and it keeps saying 0db when you use the shortcut, then something has gone wrong and SWS is not running properly.
However, if the numbers do change as you change the volume with the shortcut, all is well with SWS.
Success!

Limited troubleshooting, final comments and useful resources

This post doesn’t cover any real troubleshooting. First of all, I’m not really qualified. Second, the list of things that could go wrong on a system working with audio is far beyond anything I could put together or even reference properly.
All I can recommend when something doesn’t seem to work is to restart Reaper, perhaps restarting your mac as that really doesn’t hurt to do once in a blue moon, and run the Osara and SWS installations again. Or maybe just reinstall Reaper. It’s quick enough to do and it won’t hurt anything.

If it still doesn’t work, I can recommend asking on the RWP (Reaper Without Peepers) mailing list.
You can join the list by sending an empty email to
rwp+subscribe@groups.io
Most questions can probably be answered by a visit to the
Reaper accessibility wiki page

A note of caution: The Reaper wiki can become a rabbit-hole difficult to escape. ๐Ÿ™‚

Remember, have fun, don’t fear the reaper, and know that with Reaper and the Reaper community you are in good hands and the possibilities are endless.

Jenny K. Brennan
House of Imp Studio 2021