Understanding Loudness, Why the Fuss about LUFS – RT14

In this session I take a look at measuring and normalising to a LUFS value in Reaper.
The first part of the episode covers what LUFS actually represents and how it is calculated. I start with discussing what Peak and RMS represent and how they are measured and the issues with normalising to each of these values when applied to Loudness.

In short LUFS is calculated by taking the RMS, through a EQ filter that approximates the bias of human hearing and gates out any quiet content, or non foreground content, from the calculation. It is an attempt to put a reproducible value or measure on Loudness, which is inherently subjective. At this time it is the best way of doing this.

I look at two dialogs available in Reaper thanks to the SWS Extension. The first is a tool to normalise either Items or Tracks to an LUFS value. This dialog is not currently bound in the OSARA key map and I have bound it to Shift+U. Normalize loudness of selected items/tracks.
The LUFS analysis dialog available in the Extensions menu or with an action I have bound to Command+Shift+U is also covered. I discuss the various data it provides including the Integrated, Range, True Peak, Short-term, and Momentary values.

I look at some White and Pink noise examples as well as some more real world values when analysing a track from a podcast. The potential issues of simply normalising a file without considering the overall dynamic range of the file is discussed. One limitation of using the analysis tool on a track is that it does not take into account any dynamic compression or effects placed on the track. However if you place the effects on an item and than measure the track, the impact of the effects will be calculated in the values.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Command+Shift+K SWS: Analyze and display item peak and RMS
  • Command+K Custom: Move to item peak and report the position
  • Shift+U SWS/BR: Normalize loudness of selected items/tracks…
  • Command+Shift+U SWS/BR: Analyze loudness…

Reaper’s Nudge Set Dialog – RT13

The Nudge/set items dialog is another extremely useful feature within Reaper. You can open it with N.
As the name suggests, it allows you to either nudge the position of an item or set it to a specific location. Nudging the position is extremely useful however you can do far more than this. For example, you can nudge the right trim set the position of an item, or duplicate an item a specific number of times placing each item on a beat, or every second.
There are a number of combo boxes within the dialog. Firstly, you can choose to either Nudge or Set. Nudging moves the selected parameter relative to it’s current location, and set will move the parameter to a specific location.
The second combo box lets you choose what you are moving. Choices include, position, left or right trim, end position, left edge, duplicate, or media contents.
The item position is the most straight forward, and is exactly as it sounds, the position of the item on the track in it’s current state.
If you choose the left or right trim, you are saying you want to change where the left or right edge of the item starts. It is the same as growing or shrinking the edge of an item. So, nudging the right trim right by one second makes the item one second longer.
Another option is setting the position of the end point or right edge of the item. So if you need an item to finish at a precise location in your project, than this is an easy way to achieve it.
Rather than moving the item you can move the position of the edit cursor, either nudging by a certain amount or setting it to a specific position.
The dialog also allows for very precise positioning of your chosen boundary/item edge. A combo box gives access to seconds, milliseconds, measures and beats, along with samples and frames. There is also a button that will return the current position of the edit cursor to the text field.
For more details check out the podcast and explore the dialog in Reaper.

Thanks go to Justin MacLeod, @SkyCladSound for this Session.

ReaConsole – Get Geeky, Get Productive with Reaper – RT12

The SWS ReaConsole

Basic Usage

Use Option+C on Mac, or Alt+C on Windows to open the console. Type the command and press Enter to commit the command, leaving the console open for another command.
You can also press Command+Enter to commit and close the window, which is Control+Return on Windows.
Escape will close the console without performing the command.

A ReaConsole command can have up to three parts.

Firstly, the command, which is a letter that denotes what is to be done. eg M for mute or V to set the volume. ,

Than,, an optional text string to specify which tracks are to be adjusted. This can be the track numbers, and/or the track names where * is a wild card. Eg. 2,4–6, which would specify tracks 2, 4, 5, and 6. Or, voc* which would specify any tracks that started with the letters “Voc”.

The final part is the parameter value where relevant. Eg, dB of volume change or in the case of mute, not relevant.

If no tracks are specified in the command, the function will be performed on the currently selected tracks.

Additional Syntax

You can just use a space to separate the track selection from the parameter value, however if you need to be more specific, you can use a semicolon when necessary. One example is where you are renaming a track, you may have multiple words in the text to select the track and than need to use a semicolon to designate where the new track name is to start.

For the toggle commands, using lower case will toggle the current state, prefix with a dash will force to off, prefix with a plus to force on for the selected/specified tracks, leaving the other tracks at their current state.
An upper case command letter will force on for only the selected/specified tracks and off for all other tracks.
If you place an exclamation mark, after the command, the action will be performed on the unselected tracks, as though you have inverted the selection.

If you follow the track specifier with a slash, than the command will also be performed on any child tracks, that is tracks within the folder specified.

List of ReaConsole Commands

  • v Trim volume
  • V Set volume
  • p Trim pan
  • P Set pan
  • s Select
  • o Solo
  • a Arm
  • m Mute
  • h Phase
  • f Enable Effect (Bypass)
  • n* Name Selected Tracks to *
  • b* Name Selected Track with prefix *
  • z* Name Selected Track with suffix *
  • c Change colour on Selected Tracks
  • i Set input on Selected Tracks
  • l Set # channels on Selected Tracks
  • x Add effect to selected tracks
  • ! Add action marker at edit cursor
  • / Send local OSC message

Links

Official ReaConsole Documentation
Derek Lane
CAVI Audio Giveaway

additional Details and Examples

ReaConsole is a very quick way to adjust volume, panning, adding/renaming a track, the status of such things as the mute and solo state, and the input (if any) the track is to record from.

Adjustable track values and the command needed to change them are as follows:

track volume:

type v, followed by a number that the volume should increase in DB. Add a – to subtract the value.
Example:
v10 increases the track volume by 10DB.
v–10 decreases it by 10 DB
Using an uppercase v sets the number entered to an absolute value.
So, lower case v will adjust the volume relative to the current value, but upper case V doesn’t care about what was, it just sets the track to the volume you specify.

Track Pan:

type p and a percentage to adjust the relative track pan from –100% (hard left) to 100% (Hard right)
A value of 0 = centre. Just as with volume upper case P makes the pan value you enter absolute; Again, it doesn’t care about what was, it just sets the value to what you want it to be.

set track input:

i followed by the number of the input
example: i2
sets the track input to the second input on your audio interface.
Upper case letters are ignored, so check your capsloc.

To select a stereo pair of channels, use the s after the channel number. For example:
i1s
This creates a stereo track containing the first 2 inputs of your interface.
Again, check capslock.
To cascade inputs, that is, to set track 1 to input 1, track 2 to input 2, etc. create and select the necessary amount of tracks, enter the reaconsole, type i followed by the first track you wish to use, followed by – (dash). So, lets say you created 10 tracks, you could select them with the reaconsole, said command written about in a bit, or use the reaper/osara interface to make the selection.
Cascading inputs would look like this:
i1-
what if you wanted tracks 1–10 to start from input 3, and go to input 13?
i3-

Selecting of 1 or more tracks:

Bring up reaconsole, and type an s followed by a single track, or a range of tracks to be armed such as:
a 1–10
Using 1–10 establishes the selection in this case.
To establish the selection of multiple tracks in various parts of the project, use a comma to ceparate the track names/numbers if they’re not contiguous and a – if they are.
Example:
s5,10,15
selects tracks 5 10 and 15.
s5,10–15
selects track 5 as well as tracks 10 through 15.

You can also use wild card characters at any point to establish your selection or a part of your selection.
Example if you have 2 tracks called “Piano left channel,” and “Piano Right Channel”
You could type:
spiano*
to select those tracks.
If the tracks are named something like “08, Piano left,” and “09 piano right,” the string above wouldn’t work because numbers exist before the word “Piano.”
This, however, would work:
sPiano
If no other tracks contained the letter p, you could even condense the command to something as small as:
sp

These selection commands will not work with upper case letters, so if nothing seems to work when you perform an action on your selection, check your capslock.

Remember that volume and pan commands are effected by the case of v and p.

Here are several ways which could be used to pan our piano tracks, going with the example that the track names start with 08 and 09:
s08*
P100
s09*
P100
This would work but not be the most efficient way of panning because track 8, all one would have to do is simply say
p8 –100
p9 100.

Entering a command such as
sp P–100
Would pan both tracks left, as any track containing the letter P would find itself hard left.

Adding Effects

To add effects to a track or selected tracks, type x, followed by the first part of a plugin which you’d like to add, then press either enter or Control+Enter as required.
Examples:
xreag
Adds the reagate to the selected track, or tracks.
x2–12 reag
Adds the reagate effect on tracks 2–12, which is much faster than manually adding a gate on each track.
unfortunately, this command acts like the “I’m feeling lucky,” button on google; that is, it adds the first result it finds in a search.
It also has the problem of not trying to find your typed string of text anywhere with in the name of your available plugins.
So,
xreav
would give you reaverb added to your selected tracks,
but
xverb
would not.

Creating Custom Actions in Reaper – RT11

Custom actions are incredibly useful, and this Reaper tutorial shows you how to create them. A custom action allows you to string together a number of actions and combine them so that with the press of one keystroke, a number of actions can be performed at once.
I found that when editing podcasts, I was often dropping the end marker of a time selection, then moving back to a point prior to the time selection and pressing the keystroke to play, skipping time selection. This previews the edit. I decided to combine these keystrokes into one action, and in this tutorial I show you the process so you can create similar custom actions, that assist you with your own workflow.
You can create a custom action by entering the action list with F4, and moving to the first “New” button. Press this and it will bring up a dialog to create a new custom action. In this dialog, you will find two tables, an edit field for the action name, an edit field for the filter and a couple of check boxes.
You need to create a list of actions in the second table from those in the first table. Use the filter text box to narrow down the list of available actions in the first table. find the action you want to add and on Mac, use VO+Shift+Spacebar, Spacebar. On Windows With NVDA, use the Insert+Numpad Enter. This will add actions to the second table, and your custom action. Once you have all the desired actions in the second table, and a name for your action, click the Okay button.
All that is left now is to add a keyboard shortcut to invoke your command. Your new custom action should be already selected in the actions dialog, so find the “Add” button, click this, than type the desired command followed by the Enter key.
With this you’re done and ready to be that much more efficient with Reaper.

The Render and Consolidate/Export Tracks Dialogs – RT09

This tutorial goes through the Render, and the Consolidate/Export tracks dialogs. You can bring up the Render dialog through the File menu or by pressing Control+Alt+R (Win), Command+Option+R (Mac), and access the consolidate dialog through the File menu. I also introduce the shortcuts to fade in or out an item.

Rendering Projects and Tracks

There are a number of parameters that can be set within the Render dialog which include:

  • File Name
  • Sample rate
  • Location for the file
  • File Type to be Rendered
  • Parameters that pertain to the selected file type
  • Resample mode. If you have components of your project at various different sample rates, when they are rendered to the new file, this option lets you set the quality of this resampling.
  • The boundaries of what is to be rendered. In the Bounce option, you can choose from the entire Project, which is the default. A time selection, so make a time selection in the project and than choose this option to have only that portion rendered out. There are also options for Project regions and the ability to define a custom time range from within the render dialog.
  • Master, or selected tracks. . The Source pop up lets you set what is rendered. You can choose from a number of options. By default the master track is rendered, so the mix down of all your tracks that are sent through the master, what you actually hear by default when you play your project. It also gives you the option to choose only specific tracks and render them out as separate files, known as stems. To do this, select the tracks within your project you want to have as stems. Then open the render dialog and under Source, pick, Stems -selected tracks. This will create separate files for each track you selected. Note these are stems and as such will include the result of any track effects that have been applied.

Once you’ve set the render options to your liking, you can render out the project, or add the render to a queue for later rendering.

Consolidate/Export tracks

The Consolidate/Export tracks dialog, Within the File menu is another option that gives much of the same functionality however it is designed to consolidate or export out the individual tracks rather than the master mix. As noted above in the render section, you can render stems through the render dialog with track effects included. Many of the options for picking what is to be exported are the same in the Consolidate/Export Tracks dialog. You can pick the whole project, or a part/time selection as well as which tracks to consolidate. However the track effects, and track Volumes, etc, are not included. It will create single files for each track that are copies of the source media for the track, or the active take.
There is also an option to have silent sections on tracks ignored. So if you have a track that has two sections with audio, and a period of silence in between, a separate file will be created for each part of the track with audio, rather than one single file that includes the silence. This is suitable if your using the files within the existing project, however may not be the best solution if you’re sharing the files.

The dialog is very useful for cleaning up a project. It allows you to update the files referenced by your project with the newly created files. If you have a track with various file types and names, you can consolidate this to a single file for each track. This is however a destructive process.

Relevant Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Cmd+Opt+R File: Render project to disk…
  • Opt+R File: Render project, using the most recent render settings, with a new target file name…
  • Cmd+Opt+Shift+A File: Add project to render queue, using the most recent render settings
  • Cmd+Opt+Q File: Open render queue
  • Cmd+Opt+I Item: Fade items in to cursor
  • Cmd+Opt+O Item: Fade items out from cursor

Side Chain Compression, Ducking for Voice Overs in Reaper – RT08

Setting up a side chain in reaper is relatively straight forward. First what is a side chain? There’s many situations in which a side chain could be useful, and I will show one example today. In essence, a side chain is where you use the output of one track to control the effects on another track.
The example I’ll go through is where you want to have your background music on one track automatically lowered in volume, or ducked, when there is speech on another track. So for example your podcast intro music is ducked when you start speaking.
As usual I’ll demo this on the Mac, however you can follow the same process on windows.
Before we start there’s a couple of other concepts to cover, and the first part of the tutorial is some revision of concepts already covered in this series. This includes a little on recording, editing with items, and the impact of your ripple setting.
The tutorial also briefly introduces a couple of the available ways to normalise audio within reaper.
So let’s look at the basic way audio flows through reaper in a simple default setup. Whether the source is your Microphone or a file you’ve inserted on a track, the source will have an inherent volume as it comes in and goes on to the track. You can adjust the volume of the file or add input effects as it comes in and goes on the track. Once it hits the track you can also add effects and adjust the volume/pan of the track. The audio is then routed on to the Master track along with other tracks in the project. Once again you can adjust volume/pan, and add effects at this stage. It is the output of the master track that you then hear through your hardware outputs and what is printed to any file that your render.
You can set up sends or receives which are basically just sending the audio from one track to another track before it reaches the master track. So for example, audio from a number of vocal tracks could be sent to a track that has a reverb instantiated on it. In this way, rather than setting up multiple copies of a reverb on multiple tracks, one copy of the reverb can be set up and the audio of a number of tracks can be affected by it. The audio that is on the original track can be optionally sent to the master track or not, depending on the specific requirements.
In the side chain we will be setting up in this tutorial, we will be sending the audio from our vocal track to the music track. We will still want the vocal track to go straight to the master track so we can hear it. The copy that is sent to the music track will not be heard in the master however it will be used to compress the volume of the music, or in other words, to duck the music.
We have a track with music, and a track with a voice over. To set up the side chain, go to the music track and press “I”. This will bring up the routing for the track. First step is to change the music track from a standard 2 channel stereo track to a 4 channel track. Next setup a receive from the vocal track to the music track. Next, set the destination of the send from the vocal track to the third and fourth tracks of the music tracks. You will then have a copy of the audio from the vocal track being sent to the music track, however instead of being mixed with the first and second channels, it will be received on the third and fourth channels, and won’t be actually heard in the output of the track. In this way it can influence effects that are applied to the music track even though it won’t be heard there.
Now, we can add a compressor to our music track. In this tutorial, we are using the included compressor, Reacomp. Set the detector input of Reacomp to aux 3/4. This means that it will compress the audio on the music track, but instead of being triggered by the music, it will be triggered by the audio on the aux channels, that is the vocal we sent to channels three and four.
Finally, we need to set up the compressor suitably to compress the music enough to hear the voice over. Set the ratio to a suitable value, at least 4/1 or higher, in the demo I set it to 6/1. You can use the precomp and attack parameters to affect how quickly the audio is ducked and the release parameter to affect how quickly the audio returns to it’s original volume once the voice over stops. The lower you set the threshold, the quieter the music will be while it is being compressed.
We have now set up a side chain to duck our music while speaking. This may seem fairly complex at first, however understanding the concepts covered will help with lots of task you might want to undertake in Reaper, or any professional DAW

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Shift+PageUp/PageDown SWS: Nudge active take volume up/Down
  • Shift+N Item properties: Normalize multiple items to common gain
  • Command+Shift+N Item properties: Normalize items
  • I Track: View I/O for current track

Adding Effects in Reaper – RT07

This tutorial looks at adding effects to tracks or items. It briefly covers the very capable EQ and Compressor included with Reaper.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • F Track: View FX chain for current track
  • Shift+F Track: View FX chain for master track
  • Shift+E Item: Show FX chain for item take
  • B Track: Toggle FX bypass for current track
  • Command+Option+M View: Toggle master track visible

Reaper’s Project Settings and Save Dialog – RT06

In this episode I take a look into some of the project settings and the save dialog. I show how to set a project such that when you move by bar, or measure, you will move by a minute, and when you move by beat, you’ll move by a given number of seconds. This is a useful way of navigating projects which are not musical in nature, since there is no native keystrokes for this.

If you set the tempo to 60, and the time signature to 60/4, each measure will be a minute long, and each beat will be a second. If you keep the tempo at the same value as the first number in the time signature, you will move by a minute each measure. Reducing these two numbers will increase the length of a beat. So 30, 30/4 will give 1 min per measure and 2 seconds per beat, and 15, 15/4 will give 4 seconds per beat and keep the bar at a minute. Changing the ratio of the tempo to the first number of the time signature will adjust the length of a measure. 60, 30/4 will give 30 second measures and 1 second beats. Once you understand the maths, you will be able to set this up however you like, or just have a play and find something that works for you.

I also show how to set up your project so that any files recorded into the project are conveniently placed into a sub folder in the project folder. This is done by accessing the media tab and providing a folder name in the path to save media files.

Within the project settings, you can also set the default recording format for files recorded into that project.

Prior to looking at the save dialog, I show how to optionally import a collection of files either consecutively on one track or such that the files all start at the same time on individual tracks.

Also covered briefly is the process of rearranging the order of your tracks within a project.

Looking at the save dialog, along with the standard settings of location and name, I cover the options that specify the creation of a sub folder, and the options available for moving the actual files associated with a project into that folder. On Windows, you will need to use your screen reader’s, screen review mode to make these selections. On the Mac, the check boxes are presented to VoiceOver.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Option+Enter File: Project settings…
  • Command+S File: Save project
  • Command+Option+S File: Save project as…

Picking a Source and Recording in Reaper – RT05

This Reaper Tutorial looks at picking the default recording input from your interface. How to select a different input, and of course how to record.

Keyboard Shortcuts

  • F7 Track: Toggle record arming for current (last touched) track
  • F8 Track: Cycle track record monitor
  • R Transport: Record