Making Your First Recording

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Making Your First Recording

You may be saying to yourself, “I just want to record a song already. How do I do it?” The following article should get you started. It is assumed that you have Reaper and Osara installed. It is also assumed that you have installed your audio interface. OK! Let’s reap!

Creating tracks

When you first open reaper, after escaping out of the splash screen, you are in the track view of a new Reaper session. Arrow up and down and you should hear Osara report “no tracks.” So, you must first create tracks.

Press CTRL/t to create a track. You will be placed in an edit box where you can type a name for your track, then press enter. You are now back in the track view. You don't need to type in a track name if you don't want to. You can simply press Control+T and then press enter. This will create an unnamed track. You can name the track later simply by pressing F2 on that track, typing a name and pressing enter.

Assigning an Input for Recording

By Default, your track will record from Input 1 of your Audio Interface. The default recording path for new tracks can be changed in preferences, under Track/Send Defaults. You can assign a different input for your track at any point as well.

Assigning Record Input on Windows

For now we'll assume that your source is mono. Select your track by pressing up or down arrow. Press your applications key, and arrow up to where you hear “input mono.” Hit enter, or right arrow, and using your arrows, select the appropriate input from your interface which coincides with the source you are recording.

Assigning Record Input on Mac

Use Voice Over to Navigate to the track number of the track you are recording on. Note, at this point you are navigating the native UI of Reaper with Voice Over, not using the Up or Down arrow with Osara to select the track. VO+Left Arrow once from the track number and you will find a button that states Record input: Input 1, where input 1 is telling you the current input source. VO+Space on this button and you will have a popup menu from which you can choose a different input channel.

Arming and Monitoring A Track

When you are ready to record, you will first need to arm your track. Arming basically means that you are telling reaper which tracks you would like to record on when you start recording.

Pressing f7 arms and unarms the track. You will hear your screen reader announce whether the track is armed or unarmed. You can check which tracks are armed by pressing control+shift+F7. You can unarm all tracks with control+F7.

Pressing f8 lets you choose your monitoring settings. The three monitoring settings are, “normal” (which means you will hear the audio coming into any armed track), “record monitor off” (where you won't hear the sound coming into your armed tracks) and “not when playing” (which is where you hear the audio coming into any arm track, unless the project is playing, in which case you will just hear the playback). Take care to have your monitor speakers, or your headphones at a low level so as not to create feedback if you will be using a live mic to record.

Monitoring Levels

Press ctrl/shift/w to open the peak watcher. This dialogue allows you to specify two tracks to “watch” for levels. By tabbing through the dialogue, You can tell Osara which two tracks to watch. I suggest that your first track be set to “current track” and your second track be set to “master.” The rest of the dialogue contains other advanced settings which will be covered in another article. You don't have to set two tracks. You can just select current track, and monitor the levels of the currently focused track.

Now, tab or shift/tab back to the ok button, press enter and you’ll be back in the track view.

With your track armed, play your instrument or sing or speak in to your microphone. Be sure to play at the same level and with the same intensity that you’ll be playing or singing during your recording. You want to make sure that you're not going over 0DB, which will distort your audio and spoil your recording.

Stop playing, and press alt/f9 to hear Osara report the highest peak, in DB, which the meter reached. Pressing alt/f10 will give you the level of the second channel of that same track. If you are recording a mono source such as a mono microphone, then these levels should be the same. You can reset the peak watcher by pressing alt/f8 so that you can recheck the level. A peak of around -9 DB is a safe place to be. You can adjust your input level with your audio interface or your instrument.

setting the Metronome

If you are recording music, you may wish to set your metronome before recording the first note. This will allow you to move through the song accurately by measures and beats, also it will allow you to manipulate your recording later with more precision.

Turn the metronome on by pressing ctrl+shift+m. You will hear Osara say “metronome on”. You can also turn the metronome off with the same keyboard shortcut: control+shift+M. Take a moment to rehearse your song and fix the tempo in your mind. Now, place your finger on the “h” key and tap out the tempo. Then press space to start playing. You will now hear the metronome. Play along with the click to make sure it’s at the right tempo. Press space to stop. Press w or Control+Home to make sure you’re at the beginning of the timeline. We’re ready to record.


Make sure your track is armed by pressing f7 and that you can hear your source through your monitor by pressing f8.

When you’re ready, press “r” You will hear the click start, and Reaper is immediately recording. Count in an appropriate amount of measures and start playing. When you’re finished, press space to stop the recording. Reaper will ask you to confirm the saving of files. Press enter and then you’ll be back in the track view.

You’ll notice now that your track will say, one item.” This means you’ve recorded one audio item.

Press w to make sure you’re at the beginning of your track and press space to listen.

Final thoughts

Reaper is rich with features. There are often several paths to the same ends in Reaper. Each of the processes described in this article have options which are further explored in other articles. In addition, many of the procedures and features used in this article have configurable settings which can customize Reaper to your preferred work flow. But, as promised, this article outlines a fast way to record your first track. Happy Reaping!