Some Tips On Setting Up Your Home Studio With Reaper

Updated On
21-Jan-2015
By
Ken

I received an email from a reader today asking me several questions about setting up a home studio. The reader wanted to know if these questions were covered in our course, The Newbies Guide To Audio Recording Awesomeness 2: Pro Recording With Reaper.

I decided to answer his questions in an email reply. That way he wouldn't have to pay for the course :-). Plus, some of his questions were not specifically addressed in the course, so it was better just to address his questions one by one. Then I thought lots of other people might benefit from these answer, so I'm putting the entire Q&A in this post.

Here are the questions he asked:

I just purchased Reaper, and I have been messing around with it a bit. I have a couple questions, and I am wondering if your video series covers these:

  1. When I am recording vocals to a guitar track, do your videos explain how to split the headphones between the singer and the person working the program?
  2. Do your videos cover how to best record acoustic guitars?
  3. In addition to the speakers that came with the computer, I have two powered Roland studio speakers. Does your video tell how to add speakers to a system?
  4. I have a Presonus iTwo Studio, but when I plug the headphones into the jack on the iTwo, I get no sound at all. I have to plug into the speaker system via an RCA jack, and that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Here is my response and my answers:

Let me take your questions one by one. They are pretty specific, but to answer the question regarding whether the current Reaper course shows these things, I’d have to say it does not cover them all. However, some of these have been addressed in articles I’ve written - and those are free :). Let’s see if I can at least get you pointed in the right direction:

1. When I am recording vocals to a guitar track, do your videos explain how to split the headphones between the singer and the person working the program?

I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re asking here. The course DOES show you how to record vocals to a guitar track. The assumption is that you would be both the performer AND the person working the program, but if there are two folks involved, the process is very simple: just get a headphone splitter. I got one at Radio Shack for a couple of bucks. First, plug the single 1/4-inch pin on the splitter into your interface’s “headphone” jack. Then, plug one set of headphones into one of the two output jacks in the splitter and the other set into the other jack. Give one set to the person recording the vocal and the other set to the person working Reaper. This is how I ALWAYS do it when I’m recording another person.

2. Do your videos cover how to best record acoustic guitars?

Actually, they do. Here is one article on the site: Tips For Recording Acoustic Guitar. I give a few paragraphs on my tips, and then link to an article about recording acoustic guitars from another author. Personally, I use a small-diaphragm condenser (Shure SM-81, in my case) pointed at about the 12th fret about 8 inches from the neck. Here is an article I wrote about using that mic to record guitar: Acoustic Guitar Mic. There is more detail in the other articles.

3. In addition to the speakers that came with the computer, I have two powered Roland studio speakers. Does your video tell how to add speakers to a system?

I honestly don’t remember, but I don’t think so. In either case, here is what I do. I have a small mixer for listening only - NOT for recording - so my interface “outputs” go into this mixer. I also have the computer’s own speakers hooked up to the mixer as well, though that channel is usually all the way down/off. My speakers, which are powered speakers like yours, are connected directly to the output of my mixer (which is a Mackie 1202VLZ, BTW).

4. I have a Presonus iTwo Studio, but when I plug the headphones into the jack on the iTwo, I get no sound at all. I have to plug into the speaker system via an RCA jack, and that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

This is actually addressed in the course (though not specifically about the iTwo - I can’t cover all interface units out there :-P) - but something is clearly wrong with your setup. Assuming you use a Windows computer, go into Audio Devices (via Control Panel) and make sure Windows shows your iTwo as an available playback device. If it doesn’t, THAT is your problem. You need to install the drivers for it (probably came with a disc?). If you do see it as an available device, set it as the default device. Then go into Reaper preferences and choose Audio, then Devices. Make sure you select “ASIO” and your iTwo as the audio device. Once all that is done, make sure the little knob over the headphone jack on the iTwo is turned up. I know that sounds silly, but stuff like that happens to me all the time. If you do all of that, things should work.

I hope this helps!

Cheers,

Ken

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