A solid digital audio workstation (DAW) is one of the most critical tools in an artist’s toolbelt in electronic music production. It’s the command center where all musical ideas find their shape and combine to create a polished final product.
There are two names that come up time and time again when producers are looking for the best DAW platform to work with: REAPER and FL Studio. These programs are packed with advanced features perfect for electronic music production, which makes choosing between them a difficult task for novices and pros alike.
We’re putting them head-to-head in this guide to see which one reigns supreme in each of our key categories. So, without further ado, welcome to the REAPER vs. FL Studio showdown of 2022.
What Do REAPER and FL Studio Do?
REAPER and FL Studio (previously known as Fruity Loops) are both DAWs that allow you to record, edit, and mix digital audio. They both allow you to mix recorded media as well as MIDI inputs for a blend of natural and digital sound. Both platforms work on Mac and PC.
The Main Differences Between REAPER and FL Studio
The key differences between REAPER and FL Studio come down to their workflow and price. REAPER allows for nearly unlimited user customizations to the workflow and features. It can handle a wide range of VST plugins and allows users to write their own scripts to expand on its functionality.
On the other hand, FL Studio is a traditional proprietary software program where you play by the rules the software designers defined. That being said, it’s a clean, well-organized interface that still allows for dozens of plugins that allow you to customize the platform to fit your needs and workflow.
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Head to Head Comparison
Ok, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to put these programs up against each other and see which ones excel in each of our key categories:
Ease of Use
- Winner: FL Studio
- Why: This is a category that many users will argue over, but “ease of use” in this case will ultimately come down to how comfortable a user is with manipulating open-source software. REAPER is pretty bare-bones to start, and you’ll need a basic understanding of how DAWs work to get it up and running.
For those reasons, we’re giving overall ease of use to FL Studio thanks to its easy drag-and-drop interface and user tutorials that will help more novice users get to work faster.
Quality of Support
- Winner: REAPER
- Why: Both platforms have excellent support teams, but the REAPER team has gone above and beyond to support their platform and answer any questions or problems that may arise.
This isn’t to say that FL Studio doesn’t have high-quality support, but REAPER’s vast array of resources and robust community that are happy to jump in and solve other user’s problems edge it out in this category, especially for beginners.
Sound Editing Functionality
- Winner: REAPER
- Why: Thanks to REAPER’s robust set of tools and unlimited workspace customizations, it stands out above FL Studio when it comes to general sound editing functionality. It also supports an unlimited number of editing tracks, which is a huge win for anyone who makes complex, multi-layer mixes.
- Winner: REAPER
- Why: Again, REAPER’s limitless customization options and powerful studio tools make it the winner in the recording category. Its MIDI Overlay feature also makes it easy to link keyboard shortcuts to important commands for live editing during recording sessions. It’s also an impressively stable platform, which is critical when working with live recording.
- Winner: FL Studio
- Why: Ok, here’s an area where FL Studio really shines. Thanks to its 60 built-in sounds, massive library of loops, and extensive library of virtual instruments, FL Studio is truly built to be a one-stop-shop for live or studio mixing.
REAPER is also an excellent mixing machine, but for beginners who want to dive into the mix right away without any configuring, FL Studio is the clear winner here.
- Winner: FL Studio
- Why: FL Studio wins a surprising upset over REAPER according to raters on G2, one of the most trusted software comparison platforms on the web. FL Studio earned 4.5/5 stars, while REAPER trailed behind with 4.3/5. However, this small margin of difference is a testament to how well both programs perform overall, making them both an excellent choice for pros and novices alike.
- Winner: REAPER (barely)
- Why: REAPER just narrowly edges out FL Studio in this category. After the 60-day free trial period, you can purchase a lifetime license to REAPER for just $225 for a full commercial license, or $60 for a personal/educational use license. Here’s the one caveat: REAPER does not include any virtual instruments, so if you don’t already have a library of these ready to go, you’ll have to get some to really get full use out of the platform, which could drive up the cost.
FL Studio, on the other hand, clocks in at $299 after the free trial period, and includes built-in virtual instruments, so if you don’t have any in your library already, this may edge out REAPER for you in value.
Who is REAPER Best Suited For?
- Studio Producers: When it comes down to it, REAPER is best designed for studio production. From recording to mixing to mastering, it has all the bases covered. It can also be customized to fit whatever workflow works best for your studio, whether you lean more into recording or mixing.
- Professional Mixers: While we’ve praised FL Studio for its mixing capabilities, REAPER shouldn’t be overlooked by professional mixers who want a fully customized workflow. Once you get the hang of the platform and install the right plugins, it’s a powerful workstation for creating nearly unlimited combinations of sound.
Who is FL Studio Best Suited For?
- DJs and Live Mixers: FL Studio has powerful pass-through features that make it great for live mixing. If you want to feed in MIDI instruments and produce on the fly, it’s a great platform for live digital audio production.
- Amateur Mixers: If you’re more interested in learning how to mix instead of tinkering with unlimited customization options, FL Studio is the better platform to get started on. Its built-in sounds and huge library make it easier to sample what you need to create that perfect harmony.
So, Which One Should You Choose?
The decision of which program works best for you is largely going to come down to workflow structure. . If you’re someone who wants total control over your workflow and doesn’t mind sinking a little bit of time into a platform to get it set up the way you like it, REAPER is a great choice for you.
However, if you’re looking for a slightly easier to use platform that gears itself more towards mixing than recording, FL Studio might be a worthwhile investment.
With any DAW, which platform is right for you really comes down to your own personal workflow and project needs. The best way to figure out which platform is best for your personal style is to sign up for the free trial of FL Studio and REAPER and get hands-on with both of them. After some time, it will probably become obvious to you which one will work best with your workflow.
Hopefully, this head-to-head comparison will make choosing the right software for your next project a breeze, allowing you to unleash your creative energy without being restricted by software.
If you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote audio editing team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. Because we believe collaboration is the magic behind unlocking our best work.