Create Cool Sound Effects with Reaper

Cool Effects Programming with Reaper

We have previously shown you how you can produce music on the cheap with the cross platform DAW software Reaper. There are a lot of effects that come with Reaper as well. The presets are few and far between, but how can you create your own cool effects with reverb, echo, pitch etc.?

In this article we show you how to create your own sounds and provide you with a few fun presets to get your started.

How to Create Effects

Coming up with new effects is actually quite easy. It’s a process of trial and error and that most important thing in all music production: Listening. It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many people forget the importance of listening – really listening closely to the output and hearing how subtle adjustments effect the sound. It’s a skill you have to practise.

The best way to listen carefully enough to the output of any music program is through good quality headphones. Closed cup headphones are best but any you have should be fine as long as they are good quality. Sony and Philips are makers of headphones that are both good and cheap.

Zero out the controls of the effect by selecting “Reset to default” from the drop-down menu, then carefully adjust a control and hear the effect. Do A/B listening to make sure that you know what is actually different; you do this by clicking bypass or turning off the effect by unticking the checkbox next to it and comparing the two sounds.

Obviously knowing how an effect works a little bit before you start tinkering helps. For example, Chorus effects work by playing the original signal off against a slightly out-of-phase copy of the same sound, so listening to Dry and Wet on their own may sound exactly the same. Also, with echo or delay, the Dry and Wet channels sound the same, so the effect is all about mixing them.

But the wet channel of a reverb effect on its own is a good effect and different even though it’s meant to be mixed with the dry. That might be something you can bear in mind and use creatively. Play around and see what you can come up with. Here’s a few to get you started.

Ugly Machine

This effect is based on the VST:ReaVerb by Cockos. It sounds good on drum machines. Click the FX button on the track you wish to effect, and Add VTS:ReaVerb.


First set the Wet slider to “+0.1” and the Dry slider all the way down to “-Inf.”

Click the Add button and add an “Echo Generator” and a “Reverb Generator.”

Click on the Echo Generator and adjust the settings like so:

Start pos: 0ms
Length: 206ms
Spacing: 22.5ms
Error: 4.8ms
ErrDst: 0.50
Start Vol: -6.0dB
End Vol: -12.0 dB

Now click on the Reverb Generator and adjust these settings:

Start pos: 0ms
Length: 973ms
Volume: 0dB
Room Size: 32
Dampening: 11
Stereo Width: 1.00

Drumbox Plodder

This effect is based on the VST:ReaPitch by Cockos. This sounds especially good on drum machines. (Add a little VST:ReaDelay and choose the “stock – large room” preset for a little extra retro punch.) Click the FX button on the track you wish to effect and Add VST:ReaPitch.

Leave the wet and dry sliders where they are, +0.0 wet and -inf dry.

Shift (Full range): 0 semitones
Shift (cents): 0 cents
Shift (semitones): -15 semitones
Shift (octaves): 0 octaves
Formant Shift (full): 23.38 semitones
Formant shift: 2 cents
Formant shift: 12 semitones

Basic Demon

This effect is based on the VST:ReaPitch by Cockos. This is the basic demonic sound effect, a combination high voice and low voice which of course works best on voice samples but also helps to fatten percussive sounds. It sounds awful on sung or melodic instruments due to the clashes of pitches. Click the FX button on the track you wish to effect and Add VST:ReaPitch.


Leave wet and dry as they are: wet fader up at +0.0 and dry down to -inf.

Adjust the following sliders:

Shift (full range): -8.83 semitones
Formant Shift (full): 12.58 semitones

Leave everything else the way it is. Now click the Add Shifter button to add another pitch.

On the 2 tab adjust the following sliders:

Shift (full range): 6.14 semitones
Formant shift (full): -9.89 semitones

If you have any nice Reaper presets you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below.

Phil South
Phil South

Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He's designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.

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