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How do I: use midi synths in Reaper


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#1 Sweeper

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 05:47 PM

I finally bought an audio interface and have been trying to set up the software correctly.

My Lexicon Alpha came with Cubase LE, but I'm looking at Reaper based on it's tutorial and the fact that I can actually play midis through the default MS Synth at least on my onboard soundcard-had no luck getting play back to work under cubase- but not my audio interface. So the following questions are based on using a Lexicon Alpha, (latest ASIO drivers) with Reaper x64.

Here are my questions:

1) Does Reaper come with it's own Synthesizer software? If so, how to I access it?

2) If not, what are my options as far as software synths go? The only MIDI device I currently own is the drum machine on my Kit, but it only has an output. So, what would be a good choices?

3) How do I set up a synth in Reaper? I see links galore for VST plug-ins and patches, but not much on how to use them with a synth.

4) How do I get Reaper to play the midi files through the synth and out through my interface?

5) Are any of these questions the right questions to ask? :smile:

Thanks in advance.
I wise enough to know that I don't know half as much as I think I know, you know?
OS:W7 Home 64, Athlon II X2 220,4G DDR3, Lexicon Alpha
DAW software: Cubase 5 LE, Reaper 4, Finale Notepad '11

#2 Kanthos

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 07:11 PM

You're asking the wrong question; there's no such thing as a MIDI synth. The only reason things work with your on-board soundcard is that you're sending MIDI data (NOT Audio!) to the soundcard's internal MIDI port and it is producing audio because most onboard soundcards still have General MIDI playback built in. What you're doing is sending several tracks of MIDI data to the soundcard at the same time, and it's turning them into probably-not-so-good-sounding audio. You should be able to do the same in Cubase: send MIDI data on MIDI tracks to your on-board soundcard (so probably you just didn't set something up right).

You're never going to get good-quality results by just trying to play back MIDI files, but if you really want to try, search around for a General MIDI player plugin, or wait for someone who might know if one exists to comment here.

What I suspect you really want is to take a MIDI file and use it as a starting point for remixing, running the MIDI data from each MIDI channel through one or more instrument plugins. If so, take a look at this list of free music software. There are all kinds of plugins to produce sounds of different instruments; you'll have to say more about what sounds you want to create to get more specific suggestions.

#3 Sweeper

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 07:43 PM

Well, that takes care of question #5 :)

But how to I tell my software send the audio output to my Interface and not my on-board sound? W7 doesn't have the option to adjust midi playback like XP did, so I'm having a helluva time, here.
I wise enough to know that I don't know half as much as I think I know, you know?
OS:W7 Home 64, Athlon II X2 220,4G DDR3, Lexicon Alpha
DAW software: Cubase 5 LE, Reaper 4, Finale Notepad '11

#4 Moseph

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:02 PM

Check Options > Preferences > Audio > Device > ASIO Driver to make sure that Reaper is set to use your interface rather than the soundcard.

You don't have to output MIDI data to any of your devices to make Reaper produce sound. Reaper can deal with MIDI data and produce sound internally. Reaper interprets MIDI data as sound by passing the MIDI data to a virtual instrument (a VST in most cases) which produces a sound that is played through the interface. In other words, the VST does the work that you're used to having the MS Synth on the soundcard do.

Reaper doesn't have much in the way of included VST instruments (which is fine since there are a lot available online), but it does have the ReaSynth VST which will at least let you make sure everything is working properly.

To add ReaSynth, select Insert > Virtual instrument on new track. An instrument selection window will come up. Click the Cockos listing, select VSTi: ReaSynth (Cockos), and hit OK.

The FX chain window for your new track will appear. This is where all of the VSTs associated with the track live. You can close this window (if you need to reopen it, hit the FX button on the track).

Now open the Virtual MIDI Keyboard (View > Virtual MIDI Keyboard) to see if it works. Hitting keys on the keyboard generates MIDI data which is fed to ReaSynth, and ReaSynth's audio output is played through the interface. If everything is set up correctly, you should hear a tone when you click on the virtual keyboard.
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#5 Rozovian

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 09:44 PM

Dunno how up to date this thing is, so things might not be exactly like this anymore, but this tutorial should help you get started with Reaper.

#6 Sweeper

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 02:39 PM

OK, I can get sound coming through my interface with the FX chains and the virtual keyboard. What I still haven't been able to figure out is how to get pre-made midi tracks to play through it.

I use Finale Notepad a lot when messing with ideas and I can save the files to midi. I know I can drag and drop the file right onto Reaper and it will load up and play through MS GS Synth.

But how can I direct Reaper to play the file through the Interface using the FX chain and the like? I recently found that there are alternatives to MS GS Synth, but I haven't found out how to use them and direct to the interface; the one I tried, Cool synth, isn't working properly. I don't a hardware synth like a keyboard yet so I'm stuck with a software solution at this time.
I wise enough to know that I don't know half as much as I think I know, you know?
OS:W7 Home 64, Athlon II X2 220,4G DDR3, Lexicon Alpha
DAW software: Cubase 5 LE, Reaper 4, Finale Notepad '11

#7 Argle

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 04:11 PM

OK, I can get sound coming through my interface with the FX chains and the virtual keyboard. What I still haven't been able to figure out is how to get pre-made midi tracks to play through it.

I use Finale Notepad a lot when messing with ideas and I can save the files to midi. I know I can drag and drop the file right onto Reaper and it will load up and play through MS GS Synth.

But how can I direct Reaper to play the file through the Interface using the FX chain and the like? I recently found that there are alternatives to MS GS Synth, but I haven't found out how to use them and direct to the interface; the one I tried, Cool synth, isn't working properly. I don't a hardware synth like a keyboard yet so I'm stuck with a software solution at this time.


Open the Media Explorer and drag a MIDI file to a track that contains a synth plugin.

#8 Sweeper

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 05:41 PM

Open the Media Explorer and drag a MIDI file to a track that contains a synth plugin.


What do you mean?
I wise enough to know that I don't know half as much as I think I know, you know?
OS:W7 Home 64, Athlon II X2 220,4G DDR3, Lexicon Alpha
DAW software: Cubase 5 LE, Reaper 4, Finale Notepad '11

#9 Argle

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Posted 13 July 2012 - 10:40 PM

What do you mean?


Go to Track, Insert Virtual Instrument on New Track. Select the synth you want to insert. Then go to View, Media Explorer. Browse to the MIDI file you want to import. Drag and drop it on the track you just created.

Assuming you have set up your audio device correctly in Reaper, the MIDI sequence should play using the synth plugin you selected.

#10 Sweeper

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:26 PM

Ah! Now I see.

The disconnect (for me) was not knowing the difference between a VSTi, which I take it that means it's an input or file that does the actual translating of the midi file, and the rest of the VST plugins, which alter the output of the tone, (Or close enough to get me working now).

Thanks all, you've all been a big help
I wise enough to know that I don't know half as much as I think I know, you know?
OS:W7 Home 64, Athlon II X2 220,4G DDR3, Lexicon Alpha
DAW software: Cubase 5 LE, Reaper 4, Finale Notepad '11

#11 Argle

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 04:39 PM

Ah! Now I see.

The disconnect (for me) was not knowing the difference between a VSTi, which I take it that means it's an input or file that does the actual translating of the midi file, and the rest of the VST plugins, which alter the output of the tone, (Or close enough to get me working now).


A VSTi is a virtual instrument, like a synth or sampler. The "i" stands for instrument. Reaper puts instruments in the VSTi folder, and effects in the VST folder. Same for DXi (instruments) and DX (effects). Just an FYI.




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