Any longtime Cubase users tried Reaper? Thoughts?

I hope this post is not looked down upon as I’ve been a loyal Cubase user since 2003. I have recently started mixing for other artists and am realizing more and more how much time can be saved by customizing commands and using the logical editor to speed up certain actions. This has, however, led me to realize that there are some barriers with regards to how intricately I can customize and create commands in Cubase to speed things up and make mixing and editing even simpler.

Can anyone here speak to their experience with Reaper and what they liked about it most in comparison to Cubase? Scripts, customization, workflow? Currently running Cubase 9 but plan to upgrade to 12 by the end of the year but am currently thinking about my options.

Thanks for all your thoughts.

I think Reaper is offered as an unrestricted demo, in case that matters.

Hey - yes, am aware, thanks. Just wanted to see if I could get a consensus on what people who have used both say with regards to workflow.

I started on Cubase Artist 6 and switched to Reaper after some month because Artist had a lot of limitation at that time (e.g. no sidechaining). I have been using Reaper for about over 10 years and it is a great piece of Software and a great community (including the founder of Cockos and the small development team).

However: over the years I got a bit tired of its GUI and the fact that a lot of things that can be done in Reaper (and I think you can do an awful lot with Reaper) don’t come ready out of the box. If you want to customize it to your workflow you will always find a way to do it and someone on the forum who will help you out.

Regarding the GUI there is a philosophy in the developer team and the majority of the community who will make fun of you if you want a smoother and more fancy look and feel. It’s a matter of taste mainly.

In my case I checked out Cubase 11 in 2021 and liked the look and feel and the workflow of Cubase which comes out of the box a lot. Things like midi editing, the mixer GUI of Cubase, the quality of the stock plugins just to name a few made me change to Cubase.

I still prefer some aspects of Reaper (like the routing possibilities and the great performance regarding CPU efficiency) but bottom line I prefer Cubase.

To summarize the difference from my point of view: I don’t know of anything that can’t be done in Reaper but in many cases you have to put in time and effort to understand the potential possibilities and make it run the way you like it whereas in Cubase I just use it as it is, enjoy the fact that I need less and less third party plugins - and I like the look and feel.
Hope that helps a bit


Wow - thanks for your detailed reply - a lot of useful info to think about. I have been working with Audio for 20 plus years and imagine I will be working in this field for at least another 20 so, which has led me to start wondering if I can improve my workflow - get more done - be more efficient. I really like Cubase - but don’t find myself using many of its stock plugins or vsts…but, yeah, learning to script and program is of course a new language to learn…will have to try Reaper out and see how it feels. Thanks again.

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I have moved over to Cubase from Reaper but Reaper is awesome and I found it easy to use after having learned the bread and butter of audio work in Pro Tools at audi school. The most amazing thing about reaper is that it will run on very old computers extremely effeciently. I mainly came over to Cubase because I purcahsed a Steinberg interface and I wanted to explore some of the MIDI possiblities that Cubase seemed to excel at.

I stumbled upon your comment, because I just found out the founder of Reaper is Winamp creator…! So, that made me to try Reaper out so much more…! As long as CPU usage goes, how did it perform with multiple VSTs…? far superior usage wise or similar? because perhaps I could use Reaper solely for mixing and creating, I can use Cubase… was it ‘that’ light…? cheers.

I have experienced Reaper to have a light footprint CPU wise and to be very performant overall and in processing plugins…

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Thank you. I am soon to test myself when I upgrade my mac. I think it would be awesome to have 2 daws cubase and reaper :slight_smile:

I tried to move to Reaper every a few years since Reaper is more and more popular in game audio. I even bought AATransltor converted some of my main Nuendo projects. But the problem to me is that the Reaper gives users too many choices and freedom, sometimes I can’t 100% focus on the job itself. Reaper has some very powerful weapon such as take envelope, project rate control, parameter modulation, ripple editing, region matrix, routing system. On the contrary some very basic editings heavily rely on scripts, it doesn’t have multiple marker tracks, so I have to convert between markers/regions and items all the time. Also, it can’t pin any track on the top which is very annoying for track/video reference. Cubase/Nuendo is more of a balanced program, not perfect but get jobs done on time while Reaper is a genius with severe subject bias to me.


yes … many times but it just doesn’t ‘mesh’ with my brain, or expectations of how I think it should work!

My issue I know, but Nuendo continues to get me where I want to be quicker… despite many (largely ignored by SB ) opportunities to improve! :wink:

I have more than tried it : it’s been my main DAW for few years, after all the pitfalls I experienced with Cubase 7.0.x. Returned to Cubase at its 10.0.20 version for several reasons, all more or less linked to workflow :

  • The need to arm BOTH record and monitor just to hear what you are playing, if you are not using direct monitoring (and I never use it…).
  • The navigator (aka ‘Overview’ in Cubase) is a joke, compared to Cubase one.
  • No track inspector
  • No “pre-gain” setting
  • Only one mixer view
  • tracks aren’t separated accordingly to the data they receive (MIDI, instruments, audio, etc.). Actually, I never got used to the ‘all purpose’ track paradigm in Reaper.
  • No control room equivalent.
  • An overall unfriendly interface, compared to Cubase one : markers lacking in the transport panel, no timebase settings and program selector in the track headers…
  • The Reaper mixer is not even comparable to the MixConsole one : not even a toolbar for usual functions such as transport, markers, channels linking and sizing, visibility, general bypass toggles…
  • The Reaper persisting MIDI bugs and pitfalls : among others, we need a script to properly split (which means, without splitting the notes…) a MIDI part equivalent in Reaper.
  • No input transformer : again, scripting is mandatory to get an equivalent.
  • Several Cubase functions that are available if needed, even if I don’t use them much : arrange and chord tracks, among others.

OTOH, there are things in Reaper that I would like to see in Cubase :

  • Ripple editing.
  • A much more powerful macro implementation including, at least, variables, test and conditional branches. A LUA scripting implementation would be perfect.
  • A portable version (yes, I know, how to deal with libraries, etc. ? Still think it could be done with a minimal 32 Gb USB key…).

At the end, and even if I tried in a more or less stubborn way to convince myself the contrary, I never truely felt that Reaper could be a better DAW for me than Cubase. So, I’ll stick with the latter, in a foreseeable future, unless Steinberg meanwhile decides to drop the VST 2.x support…

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And so the dream continues… but perhaps with Cubase 13 they’ll announce it…

Ripple editing in Reaper is pretty much perfect, so I’m hoping that feature shows up in Cubase sooner rather than later. There have been various threads about it, and Steinberg has acknowledged it. So they have clearly been thinking about it and perhaps they’ve also been working on it. Cross fingers. Just who knows WHEN they will release it. Even Studio One has a limited ripple editing mode now. And some people may not be aware of this, but Wavelab has great ripple editing in the montage mode too. So Steinberg already knows what good ripple editing is in-house. I think it’s a matter of time before they add it to Cubase/Nuendo.

Anyway, as for Reaper vs Cubase, I use Reaper along side other DAWs, primarily because I have clients that use lots of different DAWs. But even besides that, there are two features I love about Reaper: Ripple editing (of course!) and subprojects, which is one of Reaper’s killer secret weapons that doesn’t get much press for some reason. The subprojects feature is deceptively simple, but insanely powerful. Those two features are fantastically implemented in Reaper, and I’d love to see them in Cubase.

BTW, I’m not a scripting junkie (don’t have the time or desire), but that would be the third reason I would use Reaper, since it is insanely deep for people who want to script. And lastly, Reaper runs on Linux too, which is fantastic, but that’s a different discussion for different reasons.

However, in every other way, for serious composing and the core tools I need for my projects, I get much more out of Cubase (and other DAWs too, including Studio One, which really hit a home run with Studio One 6.5, but that’s also a different discussion!). Reaper is brilliant in its own ways though. But for me, it’s a secondary/tertiary DAW at this point. Between the two, if I had to just choose between Cubase or Reaper, then it would be Cubase.

There’s no need to stick with ONE DAW though… you can live in a multi-DAW world, and take the best from each product.

Good luck.

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My sentiments exactly, and just to add, the discounted Reaper license costs less than most plugins. It’s not an either/or question, I use both.

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