REAPER (Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording) is a complete digital audio production application for Windows and OS X, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering too...
"...I learned a lot touring with Alt-J and seeing their setup. Their production was beyond anything I've ever encountered as a musician and it was really inspiring to see such a complex system and so many people working to bring it all together and present a seamless performance each night. That's what initially got me thinking about rebuilding our set and the loss of the laptops and a month off seemed like a good opportunity to make it happen. For the benefit of any other musicians out there I thought I'd outline the basics of the new system. For the audio portion we're running two Macbook Pros, each with a set of [RME UCX](http://equipboard.com/pros/tycho/rme-ucx) interfaces running in tandem via ADAT connected to them (we were previously using 2 single RME Fireface 800's). The ADAT tandem mode allows for more inputs and outputs per computer in one rackspace. The first machine handles playback of automation, SMPTE timecode for video sync, MIDI sync, and our in ear monitoring system (Sennheiser G3 IEM). The second machine is linked to the first via MIDI sync and handles all input channels, virtual instrument hosting and effects processing. Both machines are running Reaper with each project in its own tab. We were running into a lot of resource limitations when the entire set was on one computer so the only way to open things up and allow us to expand the set was to distribute the load across multiple machines. I also just switched to an API 3124+ for the front end of the input laptop as it fits 4 preamps into one rackspace, and it sounds amazing. We run the bass, guitars, and synths through it which lessens the amount of plugins we have to use to get a good tone inside the box."more
REAPER (Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording) is a complete digital audio production application for Windows and OS X, offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset. REAPER supports a vast range of hardware, digital formats and plugins, and can be comprehensively extended, scripted and modified.
Rather than following a specific layout or interface, you can decide exactly how you want to do things. While it's not pick up and play, for those who value absolute control this is unbeatable.
I started off recording on PC before it was even popular using TwoTrak freeware on a 486 (and god that was a PITA to get working), then using QuartzAudiomaster Freeware for awhile, and then when Quartz went belly-up in 2007 and their website disappeared, I needed to look for a new DAW, and I found REAPER and it has stayed mine ever since.
I've seen REAPER as an excellent DAW both for beginners and pros alike. I'm kind of a "savant" of sorts with this stuff, I never studied mixing, I never learned how to master or how to even USE a DAW, but I figured out REAPER on my own enough to recreate the functionality of Quartz AudioMaster Free years ago and have used it ever since to the point that I've actually learned a lot through using it making demos, recordings for YouTube and elsewhere, and whatnot.
I did have some problems using it at first because my computer was older (an eight year old Pentium III with half a gig of RAM running WIndows 2000), but I found out that switching to a better soundcard caused the metronome and tracks to sync properly.
And even then, I had a period using a Pentium-D using Windows 7 x64 and 4GB of RAM with it where it would go out of synch but was easy to fix everything so no biggie there.
But since about 2012 I've been golden. For awhile I even used an even older PC with it (Pentiium 4 2.8GHz w/3GB of RAM and an SSD) and it performed well there too. Currently I'm using a custom home-built box for it now where hardware is not a concern.
And $60 to use it commercially is a real steal TBH. When a guy who was learning from a major producer tells you he's amazed how your demo tracks you bring to the band sound like actual album production tracks, you know you're using the right DAW.
Ugly, gray-greenish thing that DOES EVERYTHING! Its cheap, versatile, messy but elastic (midi, mono audio, 5.1 audio on one track? no problem). It has tone of features in almost every department, well, besides samples and instruments... but there are tons of those free lying around. Reaper works with every vst you can find (vst2, vst3 both x32 & x64. And its STABLE, and its a really important and often overlooked feature.
I'm in some producer circles where Reaper is just considered a meme, but honestly, it's a great DAW. The stock plugins are meh but it's well worth the 60 dollars. I highly recommend it.