A digital audio workstation, commonly known as a DAW is an essential software that is required by producers, audio engineers or anyone that makes music. Fl studio and Reaper are both well known and full fledged DAWs which are capable of making great and remarkable songs. As a beginner, it can be very frustrating and confusing to choose the right DAW.
Since there is no best or worst DAW and every DAW has the potential to create hits, we would suggest you to go with the DAW that you find more easy to understand and matches your goal because the journey of making music should always be enjoyable and fun. That’s how ‘bangers’ are created
To help you choose the perfect DAW, let us compare the two industry favorite DAWs i.e. Reaper vs. FL Studio
Price of a DAW is an extremely important aspect when starting out. Though we do not recommend making a decision totally based on the price of the DAW. It is a long term investment and thus should not be made based on only the financial aspect of it.
Fl Studio is available in 4 different packs which are ‘fruity edition’ , ‘producer edition’ , ‘signature bundle’ and ‘all plugin edition’. All the packs come with lifetime free updates.
FL Studio Fruity Edition – $99
The fruity edition is the entry level pack of fl studio. It allows limited playlist features but no audio recording or audio clips
FL Studio Producer Edition – $199
The producer edition allows full song creation, all playlist features and mic recording. It also includes 6 fl studio plugins.
FL Studio Signature Bundle- $299
The signature bundle refers to the Fl studio producer edition with 5 more fl studio plugins included.
FL Studio All Plugins Edition – $499
The all plugins edition of fl studio gets you all the plugins of fl studio along with the producer edition.
You can upgrade your Fl studio to a higher edition anytime. Thus it isn’t a bad idea to start with cheaper versions and then upgrade later on.
Source : Image line official website
Reaper comes in two paid variants. Though the free version of reaper works fine even after the 60 days of stated free use (read more about it) The two versions are called ‘Discounted license’ and ‘Commercial license’. All licenses come with lifetime free upgrades and updates.
Reaper Discounted License – $60
The discounted license as stated on their official website, is for personal use or for profits up to USD 20,000 per year (it is pretty cheap to be honest).
Reaper Commercial License – $225
The commercial license is for producers and musicians whose gross revenue crosses USD 20,000 per year.
CPU usage is one of the main concerns for new producers. Most of the musicians when starting out, don’t have a huge and strong desktop. Thus, CPU usage becomes an extremely important aspect while choosing your DAW.
FL Studio being a power packed DAW, takes up a ton of RAM. It gets heavy for a normal laptop or computer to run FL Studio along with third party vst plugins smoothly. One would need a strong pc with heavy processing power to run Fl studio. We’d suggest at least 16GB of RAM for Fl Studio to run without any issues. This is one of the negative side of the leading, industry favorite DAW.
A great aspect of Reaper is that it is very light on the CPU. An 8GB RAM laptop can run Reaper along with third party vst plugins pretty easily. Even heavy projects can be run on reaper easily with great sound quality. It is surprising to know that reaper offers unlimited number of audio tracks with such light CPU load. This is the reason a lot of beginners start their journey on Reaper as it doesn’t require a heavy device to run on.
Producers when starting out, don’t have a huge pocket to spend on external third party vsts. Therefore it is a great advantage if the DAW comes with good quality stock plugins
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Fl Studio has some of the best stock plugins ever made. The built in synths like Harmor and Morphine are capable of producing great sounds. One can easily produce and mix a full song using just Fl studio’s stock virtual instruments.
Source : Fl Studio official website
Mixing in Fl studio is also awesome. It’s mixer section is well managed and designed to improve the workflow. It is the perfect digital audio workstation when it comes to mix heavy and large projects.
Reaper being a cheap DAW, doesn’t come with many vst plugins. It has decent built in plugins for mixing, mastering and audio editing but one would have a tough time producing a full song from Reaper’s built in vsts without any third party plugins. It’s built in vsts have a simple and plain user interface.
More about reaper’s stock plugin – The 10 Best Stock Reaper Plugins You Must Check Out!
Ease to use
Though ‘Ease to use’ varies extensively based on your aim and goal for using the DAW. Here’s what we think about learning curve of both fl studio and reaper:
Fl Studio’s interface is very famous for it’s ease in production and arrangement. Transforming an 8 bar loop to a full song is super fast and easy in Fl studio. This is the reason Fl Studio is loved by all producers of any genre like hiphop, pop, electronic etc.
The Fl studio’s piano roll is one of the finest piano rolls in all the DAWs ever made. It’s easy to use and understand. The one who gets familiar with the shortcuts of the piano roll, can get his/her work done way too fast as compared to others. Producers with no knowledge of music theory can also make chords and melodies easily with it without any issue.
Being super efficient in production and arrangement, it sets our hopes high for recording as well but doesn’t reach up to our expectations. Recording in Fl Studio is a bit complex and uneasy as compared to other DAWs.
Reaper has a decent user interface. Though it is extremely easy to understand, it is often stated as ‘boring’ or ‘too simple’. The original theme looks dull and unattractive.
The piano roll and midi editing in reaper is not appreciated much in the industry. It’s piano roll is rigid and uneasy to use. There are only a few shortcuts and that too not that useful. A better piano roll and midi editing features is what we expect from reaper in future.
The interface is a boon for people who record audio a lot. The interface is perfect for audio recordings. Comping of vocals and layering audios is extremely easy in Reaper. Though it fails to impress producers due to its complex midi compatibility.
Live performances is a great way to connect with fans and to monetize your fanbase. A good gig can easily help you get a ton of new fans. Every gig as an emerging artist is super valuable and hence you’ll need a DAW that can support you throughout your performance.
Meanwhile Fl studio is great for producing and arranging, it has some great features for live performances as well. It’s advanced features for live performances makes it really easy for an artist to perform without worrying about clicks or pop sounds. However lack of a powerful pc can lead to cpu overload which could cause a gig to loose its charm.
Reaper has some amazing features when it comes to playing live. It is optimized for playing a ton of audio tracks at the same time. Due to its low CPU usage, it becomes a perfect choice for artists who don’t have a super strong pc to work with. It’s realtime monitoring is fast and reliable. One would never regret playing live using reaper.
Support and Resources
Learning and using a DAW feels like a hectic and tiring job at starting. Many people loose motivation and quit within the first month. Thus, great support and online resources adds ease to this process.
Fl studio being a super famous DAW has a massive online community. The official FL Studio forum is a one stop solution for all the issues that you might face in Fl studio. It also has a great support group on reddit with over 289k members which is a lot more than that of other DAWs.
Fl Studio also has its own video lectures for beginners to learn about Fl studio which is super helpful and important when starting out.
Reaper is a less famous DAW as compared to Fl studio, but still it has a dedicated and helpful community online. The Reaper community of reddit consists of over 47k+ people. The official reaper forum is an amazing place to look for solutions for your problems regarding reaper.
Similar to Fl studio, Reaper also has video lectures on their official websites which are extremely helpful for new producers and musicians. You can check them out here.
Though reaper and fl studio are both widely known DAWs but here are some facts you need to know :
Anyone who has even a tiny bit of interest in music making would have heard the name of Fl Studio. This is a go-to DAW for anyone interested in electronic music production. Formerly known as ‘Fruity loops’ , Fl studio is used by some world famous producers like Dj Snake, Nicky Romero, Afrojack etc. This marks the quality and popularity of this DAW.
According to tubebuddy, there are over 8.64M searches regarding Fl Studio on youtube per month. Youtube has over 50k+ videos regarding Fl studio ranging from ‘tips and tricks’ to all the bugs and issues that might occur which allows a complete beginner to learn and grow with much more options.
Reaper as compared to Fl studio is not very famous. But as a musician grows, it is pretty common for him/her to hear about reaper. Used by artists like Timothy Henson and Tycho, reaper has a dedicated and loyal user base. Reaper is quite famous in the film scoring industry due to its low cpu usage (as stated above).
Reaper is equally famous on youtube as compared to other daws. It has over 7k+ videos regarding the ‘how to’ of reaper and other stuff.
Who Uses FL Studio? Who Uses Reaper?
Both the DAWs are highly versatile and can do any job easily. However we see some trends in using DAWs when it comes to certain jobs
|Music Producers||FL Studio|
|Film Scorer||Reaper/FL Studio|
|Voiceover Artists||Reaper or other daws|
FINAL THOUGHT : Which One Is Better For You?
So Fl studio VS. Reaper, which one to buy?
In a nutshell, if you’re fully focused and ready to invest a major amount in your music journey, along with your main focus being production, then Fl Studio should be your go to DAW. You can start off with a cheaper edition and then eventually upgrade to the more costly ones.
But if you’re just starting out and not sure if you will be doing music in the future or if your main focus would be recording instruments and vocals, then Reaper is the perfect DAW for you. It is cheap and light on the device.
Each DAW comes with its own set of pros and cons. It’s up to you to define your aim with your DAW and choose accordingly. Every DAW is capable of making hits. It’s just that one should be consistent and have the patience.
We hope that this article answers your questions regarding both reaper and fl studio. We wish you good luck for your musical journey.