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Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

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Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jan 11, 2021 9:41 am

I’m working on a new album that’s going to be composed entirely of little 3-4 minute sequenced tracks, I’ve started one already, and I’m using a method I’ve used before, but it’s seems a bit cumbersome.
I’m using a soft synth on a Reaper track set to record Midi, I then duplicate that track as many times as needed, normally four times, and the sequences are always 8 steps.
I define the loop by setting a time selection using the yellow marker arrows, press loop, and hit record, I repeat this for additional tracks.
It’s not reliable though, for some reason even though I’m playing all the parts in time, there seems to be timing errors, and pitch errors on some notes, which means lots of MIdi editing.
Also it’s critical when I start recording, I have to start exactly right on the beginning of the sequence, otherwise the track won’t record at all.
I’m just wondering if there’s an easier more straightforward way if doing this, also, it’s very plug-in hungry the more tracks I build up, I’m wondering if there’s a way of using one instance of the plug-in to record multiple tracks?
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:25 am

I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to do, and I've never tried any looping stuff in Reaper so couldn't help if I did, but...
This bit:
Arpangel wrote: also, it’s very plug-in hungry the more tracks I build up, I’m wondering if there’s a way of using one instance of the plug-in to record multiple tracks?
Could you put the plugin on one track and then send the output to multiple tracks that are set to record that output? (plus a send to the master obviously so that you can hear what you're doing)
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Arpangel » Mon Jan 11, 2021 10:42 am

blinddrew wrote:I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to do, and I've never tried any looping stuff in Reaper so couldn't help if I did, but...
This bit:
Arpangel wrote: also, it’s very plug-in hungry the more tracks I build up, I’m wondering if there’s a way of using one instance of the plug-in to record multiple tracks?
Could you put the plugin on one track and then send the output to multiple tracks that are set to record that output? (plus a send to the master obviously so that you can hear what you're doing)

Thanks, imagine four tracks, all set to loop record, one at a time, all with their own VSTi set to record Midi.
I record a sequence on track one, turn record off, monitor, and record on track two, simple Midi multi-tracking, no sequencer involved, just looping Reaper tracks.
I could record them all as audio, but it doesn’t work, it’s really hard to get a smooth loop transition, it works much better with Midi.
I can’t see a way of using just one VSTi to record multiple separate Midi tracks, the host track would have to have a VSTi to record Midi data to that track.
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:23 pm

Maybe use a single instance of the VST and record each pass on a separate MIDI channel? (If I'm understanding the issue correctly)
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby FrankF » Mon Jan 11, 2021 1:43 pm

Wouldn't "Snap to Grid" fix the timing errors? Or does that only work for MIDI and not audio?
I watched a Reaper Mania clip about STG some time ago, and it seemed a pretty powerful feature.
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby manwilde » Mon Jan 11, 2021 2:34 pm

Try creating as many copies of the same track as you need, all sending MIDI to the same track, the one hosting your VST instrument. This hosting track has to stay record armed with the option "Record: disable -input monitoring only" enabled (right click on the record button of this track).
By right clicking on the record button of each one of this "MIDI sending" tracks, you can assign the input, and also tell Reaper to quantize your incoming MIDI.
To record a clip shorter than your Time/loop selection, CRTL+left drag over will cretate an empty MIDI item. Give it the desired length and position, select it and use "Recording mode: autopunch selected items" (right click on the global "record" button).

Hope this helps!
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Ramirez » Mon Jan 11, 2021 3:43 pm

I'm pretty I've read/seen something somewhere about using Reaper as a loop recorded. I'm not sure if it was a SOS artice, a Reaperblog video or something in one of the extension packs. I'll try and find out.

EDIT - This is what I was thinking of. Might be useful? - https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/loop-recorder
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jan 12, 2021 9:29 am

Ramirez wrote:I'm pretty I've read/seen something somewhere about using Reaper as a loop recorded. I'm not sure if it was a SOS artice, a Reaperblog video or something in one of the extension packs. I'll try and find out.

EDIT - This is what I was thinking of. Might be useful? - https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/loop-recorder

Thanks everyone, and thanks for that interesting link Ramirez, I’ll digest later.
Manwilde, I think I’m doing something similar to what you recommend, but not quite.
I’ll give it another go this morning, I’ve tried using snap to grid, but I must be doing something wrong, as it doesn’t seem to work.
I’m also going to investigate Ableton today, that actually may be a better DAW for what I want to do.
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Ramirez » Tue Jan 12, 2021 9:57 am

Maybe give Bitwig a spin too. It’s in the Ableton mould, and excellent in its own way. I use it a lot although Reaper is my ‘main’ program.
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Arpangel » Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:02 am

Ramirez wrote:Maybe give Bitwig a spin too. It’s in the Ableton mould, and excellent in its own way. I use it a lot although Reaper is my ‘main’ program.

Haven’t investigated Bitwig, I’ve got Ableton, but rarely use it, I find it a bit intimidating, but it may be more suited to looping, after all, that’s its main selling point I guess.
It has some truly amazing effects, I know that, and and I love the way you can automate them.
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby manwilde » Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:46 pm

I’ve tried using snap to grid, but I must be doing something wrong, as it doesn’t seem to work.

Just to clarify, do you mean snapping the items to the grid, or quantizing the MIDI notes?
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Arpangel » Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:25 am

manwilde wrote:
I’ve tried using snap to grid, but I must be doing something wrong, as it doesn’t seem to work.

Just to clarify, do you mean snapping the items to the grid, or quantizing the MIDI notes?

Pilot error, I needed to "select all" :blush:
I must admit, I’m getting very frustrated with all this, what I want to do is very simple, but seems extremely complex to do.
I used to do this live, playing the parts manually a repeating ostinato as many times as I needed it, imagine the piano riff from Tubular Bells, same type of technique, I then ad layers over and over until I build up complex harmonies, basically a multi-tracked loop.
But that was tedious, and it’s very challenging to play a five second riff for five minutes without any timing or playing mistakes. I used to do this on a four track portastudio, just playing, and then rewinding and starting again.
But now we have MIDI, and computers and life should be easier, but I still can’t find a really easy intuitive way to achieve what I used to do.
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Ramirez » Wed Jan 13, 2021 7:54 am

Arpangel wrote:
manwilde wrote:
I’ve tried using snap to grid, but I must be doing something wrong, as it doesn’t seem to work.

Just to clarify, do you mean snapping the items to the grid, or quantizing the MIDI notes?

Pilot error, I needed to "select all" :blush:
I must admit, I’m getting very frustrated with all this, what I want to do is very simple, but seems extremely complex to do.
I used to do this live, playing the parts manually a repeating ostinato as many times as I needed it, imagine the piano riff from Tubular Bells, same type of technique, I then ad layers over and over until I build up complex harmonies, basically a multi-tracked loop.
But that was tedious, and it’s very challenging to play a five second riff for five minutes without any timing or playing mistakes. I used to do this on a four track portastudio, just playing, and then rewinding and starting again.
But now we have MIDI, and computers and life should be easier, but I still can’t find a really easy intuitive way to achieve what I used to do.

That really does sound like a job for Ableton/Bitwig style programs.
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby dbfs » Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:30 am

Are you sure just making a time selection, then on one track only setting that one track to record overdub mode is not what you need.

I do that and just keep recording additional parts on each pass. If I make a mistake I just hit conrol z to undo.

I do not have any timing issues, or pitch issues. I just seems to work.

If you really need the parts on separate tracks then you could use takes, or create several tracks, press record. Then without stopping the recording , just select different tracks for recording by hitting their record enable button when you want to record a pass to that track.

That also works works for me, but maybe you need something different.
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Re: Best way to record looped sequences in Reaper.

Postby Arpangel » Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:47 am

dbfs wrote:Are you sure just making a time selection, then on one track only setting that one track to record overdub mode is not what you need.

Trouble is I need to mix the separate tracks.

dbfs wrote: If you really need the parts on separate tracks then you could use takes, or create several tracks, press record. Then without stopping the recording , just select different tracks for recording by hitting their record enable button when you want to record a pass to that track.

That’s more or less, what I’m doing, there’s a knack to it, so maybe I need to practice a lot more.
Another frustrating thing, is when I’ve finished a Midi loop, there’s no way to bounce the mix down in Reaper, you have to convert the MIDI to audio first, and that doesn’t work, as audio doesn’t loop the same way as Midi.
So, yet another workaround, I’m having to "record live output to disc" as the loop plays and I have to mix and record in real time.
All this isn’t good, and I’m definitely going to try and use Ableton today.
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