Switching from one daw to another can be a big change. You'll no longer have your favourite stock plugins and you'll have to learn a different software. If you're planning on making the jump to Reaper, then you'll probably want to know whether Reaper comes with virtual instruments.
In this article, we'll cover whether Reaper comes with virtual instruments or not, and more!
Reaper Virtual Instruments: Does Reaper Come With Them? (Quick Answer)
Reaper comes with two stripped-back virtual instruments but does not come with any other VSTi's. It does, however, come with a range of VST audio effects that you can use for mixing and mastering purposes. If you want more virtual instruments, then you can use Reaper to run third-party VST & VSTi plugins, which are readily available online – free or paid.
One alternative if your switching to Reaper, is to use ReWire to patch your old daw through Reaper and play your favourite VSTi's that way. If you're unfamiliar with ReWire, it's simply a protocol that allows you to put one daw into “ReWire” mode and run it seamlessly with another daw. The daw being ‘ReWired' acts as your slave application and the other acts as your master application.
For example, you could use Ableton Live as the slave application and send an audio signal from a track with one of Ableton's stock instruments on to the input of a track in the master application, in this case, Reaper, allowing to use an Ableton instrument within Reaper.
Although a valid solution, you may not want to go through the hassle of running two daws and rewiring. Instead, there are huge selections of free vst plug-ins available online, including lots of software instruments that you can install.
Or, if you're willing to invest, there are numerous high-quality VST plugins you can pay for.
What Plugins Are Included With Reaper?
Does Reaper Come With Virtual Instruments?
Although limited in choice, Reaper does come with two virtual instruments. One is a synthesizer called ReaSynth, and the other, a sampler called ReaSamplOmatic5000. They are very basic since Reaper isn't built for composing.
What's more, if you compare them to the stock instruments you get in other daws, like Groove Agent in Cubase or Air Xpand!2 in Pro Tools, they aren't up to par.
However, Reaper does come with a lower price tag compared to other DAWs, and one of the reasons Cockos (the developer of Reaper) can do this is because they aren't investing high amounts in developing their own virtual instruments, or sample libraries.
One decision made by Cockos, when developing Reaper, was to substitute working on virtual instruments in favour of focussing on the fundamentals of the software, such as a sleek design, a fast performance, and no hassle, rather than overflowing the daw with unnecessary extra features that users may never even use.
Reaper offers a 60-day free trial that allows you to use the software without limits. This means you can check out whether Reaper is really for you and get a look at what's included in the package before purchasing.
Due to its license model, and no strings attached trial, you can still use Reaper for free after those 60 days without any changes to use, or charges. However, we would advise against this, as the developers of Reaper have put a lot of work into the software and deserve to be treated fairly.
Does Reaper Come With Audio Effects?
Reaper does come with built-in audio effects. These include things you'd expect, such as EQ, Compression, and Reverb. You'll find these in most DAWs used for mixing and mastering purposes.
As we said before, Reaper isn't built for composing, but instead is more focused on the mixing and mastering side of things.
Its stock audio effects have a good reputation of giving a high performance whilst not being too heavy on CPU usage. And, you can find all of Reaper's audio effects by pressing the fx button on a track, then clicking the add button.
Some of the most useful audio effects included in Reaper are:
- ReaComp (Compressor)
- ReaEQ (Equalization)
- ReaVerb (Reverb)
- ReaDelay (Delay)
- ReaGate (Noise Gate)
- ReaXcomp (Multiband Compressor)
- ReaTune (Pitch Correction)
Can I Use Reaper Plugins in Other DAWs?
You can use Reapers audio effects in other DAWs and fortunately they are available to download for free in VST format from their website. It's called the ReaPlugs VST FX Suite, however, this doesn't include all the fx plug-ins that come with Reaper, and isn't available for Mac users.
Plugins included with the ReaPlugs Suite are:
If you're someone who likes to record your daw in OBS, share the content to social media, or live stream to platforms like Twitch, then the ReaStream plugin (included in ReaPlugs) will be very useful for you.
ReStream sends audio and MIDI data over a local network in real-time, meaning you can use it to send audio from your daw to OBS without difficult setup or latency problems.
Where Can I Download Plugins For Reaper?
There are many places you can grab 3rd party plugins for Reaper online, we'll run you through a couple of sites where you can get some free VSTs, and some paid ones too (if the budget will allow it). Let's go!
Where Can I Get Free VST Instruments For Reaper?
Although Reaper has a limited selection of VST plugins, many sites produce them for free. Sites like KVR Audio and plugins4free are a great place to start, but if you need more guidance then check out our huge free vst plug-in article!
Which Free VST Instruments Are Best For Reaper?
When you see the word ‘free' before a product you might think that this means the quality might be reduced somehow. This can be the case with some free VSTi's, but many are incredible and can work great in Reaper.
Here is a list of the best free plugins for Reaper:
- Vital Synth – a spectral warping wavetable synth
- Dexed Synth – a frequency modulation synth modelled on the Yamaha DX7
- Ample Guitar M Lite II – based on the Martin D-41 acoustic guitar
- Soundmagic Piano One – piano based on the iconic Yamaha C7
- Spitfire Audio Labs – an array of software instruments, such as strings, brass, guitars, synths, and much more, with more instruments added frequently
Which Paid VST Instruments Are Best For Reaper?
Of course, if you're serious about music production then you should invest in some paid vst instruments. Here are some fantastic ones that we'd recommend:
- Omnisphere – arguably the best synth plugin available with endless possibilities
- Serum – a popular wavetable synthesizer and a more affordable alternative to Omnisphere
- Diva – a great vst plug in that captures the essence of analogue synthesizers
- Keyscape – a collection of piano/keyboards
- Spitfire Chamber Strings – high quality and realistic strings library
- Damage 2 – Powerful cinematic percussion
- Kontakt 6 – industry-standard sampling platform, many vsti's use Kontakt to run so it's a must-have (there's also a free version – Kontakt Player – but it only works with plugins the developer has paid a license fee for)
Where Can I Get Free Audio Effects for Reaper?
Like with virtual instruments, there are lots of places where you can find free audio effects to use in Reaper. Again, KVR and plugins4free are good places to start.
Big brands like Valhalla, Slate Digital, and Softube also offer free plugins that are great quality.
What Are The Best Free Audio Effects for Reaper?
Here are a few free audio effects that we'd recommend for you to use in Reaper:
- Valhalla Supermassive – probably the best free reverb around and a plug in we highly recommend
- Saturation Knob – adds distortion/harmonics to your tracks
- Fresh Air – audio exciter that adds more high end to your mix
- Cocoa Delay– an awesome delay plugin
- TDR Nova EQ – a user-friendly parallel dynamic EQ
- Fracture – buffer effect that adds glitchy articulations and abstract textures to your music
How Do You Get Virtual Instruments in Reaper? (Step by Step Guide)
Here's how you can get more instruments and audio effects in Reaper:
1. Find and download a plugin.
We chose to download the free VST synth Dexed. You can head over to their website and do the same.
If you want to find a plugin to download, check out the recommendations we left above for Reaper.
2. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the plugin
Whatever plugin you're downloading, you will be guided through a process to install in the right places.
If you have a custom folder where your plugins are, you'll have to edit the destination settings.
3. Open Reaper and press CMD + T to insert a track
You can either use the shortcut listed above, or you can go to Track in the menu bar and select insert virtual instrument on new track. Then, press the FX button, find your plugin and select the add button.
4. The plugin will now be ready for you to use in Reaper
Now you'll be able to use your downloaded plugin in Reaper!
If you can't find the plugin, close and re-open Reaper to re-scan your plugin database.
How Do I Find Reaper's VST Folder?
To find Reaper's VST folder go to options > preferences > plug-ins > VST. At the top of the dialogue box, you will see the VST plugin paths. Whenever you get a new virtual instrument or effect, go here and press the re-scan button so Reaper can scan through your program files, find your VST plugins and make them ready to use.
Does Reaper Come With Built-in Samples?
Reaper doesn't include built-in samples, but it does have a sampler instrument (ReaSamplOmatic5000) which you can drag and drop samples, from third-party developers, into and manipulate with. However, the sampler is very basic.
Does Reaper Come With A Synth?
Reaper comes with one synth, which is the ReaSynth. It's a good starting point if you're new to synths and daws, but, like Reaper's sampler, it is very basic.
To quickly recap:
Reaper doesn't come with virtual instruments (except for ReaSynth and ReaSamplOmatic5000). However, it does include essential audio effects you can use for mixing and mastering purposes. If you want more instruments, you will have to download and install third-party VSTi's.
Reaper is a fantastic DAW for mixing and mastering purposes, however, it lacks a little bit on the composition side. This is because Reaper doesn't include many virtual instruments or instrument libraries to use.
It's a stripped-back DAW, with all the functionality you need for recording, mixing and mastering. This is what makes it cheaper than most DAWs on the market.
You can still purchase and used 3rd party plugins in Reaper, as well as used free VST plugins.
By the time you've reached this summary, you'll know how to download, install and use 3rd party plugins in Reaper, and will be able to use it for more composition based purposes!
Adam is a TV & Film composer who is an avid music theorist. He plays the Guitar and Piano to an expert level, with over 10 years of experience and classical lessons under his belt. He heads most of the Orchestral Library Review Content and Music Theory Tutorial content on our site. Give Adam any task related to chords, scales, progressions, and composition, and he'll return an absolutely stellar result. Adam is also a Songwriting graduate from BIMM Institute.