Only a decade ago, it would have been impossible to imagine the amount of audio software that would soon leave their mark on the growing music industry. Today, it’s happened, and we find ourselves facing a major dilemma – which one do we pick? We’re all spoilt for choice, but surely, there must be an easier way to decide. Well, that’s where we come in. In this Reaper vs Cubase article, we put these two head-to-head to see which one deserves lightening your wallet over. Although they offer slightly contrasting elements, neither lacks the features, speed and power to outmatch the other. You should also check out my article that talks about my top 7 DAW’s!

Reaper vs Cubase

Cubase

Features

Reaper was built to stand up to its name, ‘Rapid Environment for Audio Prototyping and Efficient Recording.’ In a short time, Cockos have taken the world of audio recording by storm and given even the behemoths of the industry a tough fight. Reaper 4 offers nothing short of an impressive performance and bucket load of well, thought out features. You’ll be able to:

  • Mix audio, MIDI, video and still images on a single track
  • Route channel with surprising ease through the mixer
  • Easily split, glue, resize, move, trim, loop, pitch shift, time stretch, fade, cross-fade, without even switching tools
  • Side-chain any plug-in, even though that plugin might not support side-chaining
  • ReWire audio or MIDI from an external application
  • Use 64-bit plugins along with a suite of bundled devices
  • Customize anything and everything in the interface

Cubase has been around since the very early days of digital audio workstations. It was first developed in 1989, originally as a basic MIDI controller. Over the years it has evolved into one of the finest DAWs available today for audio recording, arranging and mixing. It offers a very clean interface which packs a powerful punch. Some of the best features in the latest version include:

  • TrackVersions which gives you the ability to create parallel versions of the same tracks
  • Track visibility management that lets you hide tracks you don’t need to see
  • The new Re-record which makes recording retakes even faster
  • An enhanced Score editor which now features MIDI-related functions mapped straight from the keyboard
  • Control Room which offers flexibility for routing, some great metering options, and various mastering-level viewing options
  • There are new instruments: HALion Sonic SE 2, Groove Agent SE 4, and Instrument Track 2.0
  • New effects – LoopMash FX, REVelation Reverb and Magneto 2

Check out the current price of Cubase on Amazon.com!

4 out of 5 stars – Reaper

5 out of 5 stars – Cubase

Reaper

Reaper

Recording & Mixing

Reaper gives you some good functionality with its simple interface. Although a little messy, it offers non-destructible audio editing, as well as a powerful mixer. The mixer offers some innovative routing features. The only drawback here would be a full featured audio editing tool, leaving you no choice but to go for a third party editor.

Cubase offers features such as the Re-record button which provides a very simple way to record many takes over and over again without having to press Record each time. Instrument Track 2.0 gives you control over multiple outputs and inputs and merges Instrument tracks with the Instrument Rack. The Arm/Disarm All Tracks button eases up the recording process even further. Cubase offers a superb 32-bit mixer engine with surround sound capability, full scalability and a full-screen mode. It even comes with drag and drop functionality.

3.5 out of 5 stars – Reaper

5 out of 5 stars – Cubase

Compatibility

Reaper provides support for VST, DX, AU, and JS format plugins, as well as their 64-bit versions. It runs on Windows, Mac and even Linux operating systems.

Cubase runs on both Windows and Mac OS. It offers full support for 32 and 64-bit plugins. It offers support for a large number of external hardware controllers such as hardware mixers and MIDI controllers.

4.5 out of 5 stars – Reaper

5 out of 5 stars – Cubase

Learning Curve

Reaper comes with an official guide providing you an arsenal of information only a click away. You can find it here. There are also the Reaper forums which are a meeting place for thousands of users. Users may post queries and have them answered by others, even the Reaper development team.

Cubase has been built for efficiency. This means users might take a while to figure out what goes where, but Steinberg eases up that process by providing you with an endless amount of resources through their website. There are also various training centers located all across the world but there is also the option of online training, including some great online video tutorials.

4.5 out of 5 stars – Reaper

4.5 out of 5 stars – Cubase

Price

Reaper comes at a ridiculously cheap $60 for a personal license. If you intend on doing commercial work like running a studio, however, it will cost you $200. You can even try out a demo version for 30 days with absolutely no feature limitations.

Cubase 7.5 is a $50 upgrade from Cubase 7, but if you’re a new user it will cost you $500. This includes everything – all the quality virtual instruments, effects and devices along offered by Steinberg.

5 out of 5 stars – Reaper

4 out of 5 stars – Cubase

Reaper vs Cubase Conclusion

For its powerful performance, utilities and compatibility, Cubase still takes the marginal lead over its competitor. Although if you have a tiny budget and a tinier computer, we’d suggest Reaper with its 9MB installation file. However, if you have a studio to run, then Cubase seems like the best option. You should Check out some other awesome interviews such as Ableton live, Pro tools and FL studio! If you want to check out some more battles I would suggest my Cubase vs abletoncubase vs logic and Nuendo vs cubase articles!

4 out of 5 stars – Reaper

5 out of 5 stars – Cubase

Where to Buy

If you decide Cubase is the DAW for you, I would recommend picking it up at Amazon.com. They have the lowest price out of all of the other sites I’ve seen. If you know of a better place, please let me know in the comment box below. If you decide to choose either one of these digital audio workstations I highly suggest picking up an extensive guide. My favorite guide for Cubase is Here. And the Reaper power guide is fantastic for the free software. I really hope you all enjoyed my Reaper vs Cubase article. Happy producing!

You can download Reaper here.