How to Record Vocals with Reaper

By Eoghan McCloskey

Updated September 22, 2017

Items you will need

  • Microphone

  • Digital audio interface

Reaper is an increasingly popular audio recording software program released by Cockos. Reaper offers all the same features of industry standard recording programs like Pro Tools and Logic Pro at a fraction of the cost. Open source-style user bug fixes and support for the most popular plugin platforms like VST and VSTi make it the software of choice for home audio hobbyists and professional producers alike. If you use Reaper and need to record a vocal track, you can learn how to do so in just a few basic steps.

Download and install the software drivers for the digital audio interface you are using. This step will vary heavily depending on what type of interface you choose; interfaces range from the simple and inexpensive like the Roland Edirol UA-1EX and Behringer UCA202 to expensive studio grade units like the PreSonus FireStudio or Apogee Rosetta. The choice of which interface to use should be based primarily on your budget and on what type of recording projects you plan to use it for. In most cases, the drivers can be downloaded for free from the manufacturer's website.

Open Reaper and configure it to use the audio interface. Power on the interface before starting Reaper and then open the device configuration inside Reaper by choosing "Preferences" from the "Options" menu. Choose your audio device from the "Audio System" drop-down menu and click "Apply" to save changes. If there is no error message, Reaper is communicating with your interface.

Connect your microphone to your interface. Again, this step will vary somewhat depending on what type of interface you use. If your interface features XLR inputs, you can simply attach an XLR cable from the microphone to one of the inputs on your interface. If your interface only uses 1/4-inch or RCA inputs, you will need a patch cable--available at electronics or music equipment stores--to convert an XLR connection to either a 1/4-inch or RCA connection. Once the microphone is physically connected to the interface, you are ready to prepare Reaper for recording.

Insert a new track and prepare it for recording by clicking "Insert New Track" from the "Track" menu. If your interface uses more than one input channel, you will need to specify which input the microphone is connected to by choosing the correct input from the "Mono Input" submenu under the "In" button on the new track (if your interface only uses one input, Reaper will listen to this channel by default). Click the "Ar" button to arm it for recording (you should see it turn red), and when you speak into the microphone you should now see the signal on the track.

Record the vocal track by clicking "Control" + "R." When you are finished with the vocal track, press the stop button and a pop-up window will ask you if you want to save the audio. Here you can either save the audio or not save it in order to record another take.