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….
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.
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