Reaper vs Audacity: Main Differences

Two of the most popular digital audio workstations are Reaper and Audacity. Audio directors and recording artists alike have used these programs in several applications to create sound files. So, which one is better?

If you’re looking for a good quality workstation for business or personal needs, these options may be suitable for you. With our guide, you can weigh the pros and cons of each system, including compatibility, functionality, and even price.

Each system works differently, and understanding these differences provides you with needed information before your purchase. After all, choosing the right workstation is just as important as choosing a quality studio monitor.

Let’s start by taking a close at the main differences between Reaper Vs. Audacity, to get a picture of just how these systems differ.

Main Differences Between Reaper and Audacity

The Main Differences Between Reaper and Audacity are:

  • Reaper can customize both audio and video, whereas Audacity can only manipulate sound.
  • Audacity is completely free, whereas Reaper has a cost for personal use and a separate cost for commercial use.
  • Audacity works well for beginners, whereas Reaper is great for both personal and commercial use.
  • Audacity is more straightforward in configuration, whereas Reaper takes a bit of practice to learn.
  • Reaper has more advanced features, whereas Audacity falls short in this area.
  • Reaper also has better-optimized features, whereas Audacity only has the basics.

Exploring Reaper Vs. Audacity

When it comes to Reaper Vs. Audacity, there are a few differences. Even though personal preference matters to users, technical consideration has high value when weighing the facts of each workstation. Free systems are always a great option, but if it comes to professional work, sometimes investing in a workstation is just smart. Either way, the choice always relies heavily on the purpose.

Top Features

There are many benefits of having recording, editing, and production software at your fingertips. A system with the most features, or better yet, best quality features, gives you a more comprehensive range of audio editing options.


With the Reaper workstation, you get the options of audio and video manipulation, which gives it an edge upfront. This system also has plug-in integration, which allows Reaper to adapt to new features or modify existing ones.

This workstation also has a mastering process where finishing touches can be added to improve sound and add consistency. Audio mixing is also a feature of this system. Reaper comes with 32 and 65-bit versions and deals with every kind of file format.


The Audacity system does not have video manipulation only serving as audio editing software, nor does it have mastering to add additional tweaks to the sound. However, it does have instrument management which helps organize and presort instruments. This keeps the chosen instrument set up in the same way when working.

Audacity also has its own media library, which is convenient. There are no separate 32 and 65-bit versions with Audacity, but it does have an option for making donations, which is a plus point. This system also has four different themes to choose from.


Along with features, there’s also an emphasis on optimization of features as well. Each workstation has different optimization options that improve or add to its sound. Whether these options are important or not depends on how the workstation is used – and also if it’s used for commercial reasons or personal projects.


The Reaper workstation has a fully customizable interface which adds to the aesthetics of the system. In addition, it has an advanced mixer, various effects, and a built-in compressor. Reaper also has multi-channel editing. Updates for Reaper are free.


Audacity has no problems recording most any sounds and works at ease with noise removal at the same time. This system has quality audio pitch settings to enhance sound further. In addition, Audacity has multi-track editing and MIDI playback. Updates for Audacity are free.


Being compatible with operating systems is essential when you’re using a workstation. In addition, with all the various devices and systems being used today, recording and replaying sound and even video, when applicable, is important.


This workstation is quite compatible with a few systems, including Windows and Mac OS. It is new to Linux and still experimenting with the system. Reaper, developed by a company called Cuckoos, was launched in 2005.


Audacity is also compatible with Windows and Mac OS, and it’s also compatible with Linux as well. It was developed before Reaper in the year 2000.


Having ample support is extremely important when owning an audio/video workstation. If anything happens to the system, you have a way to contact the company for help.

Reaper and Audacity Support

In this case, both Reaper and Audacity have the same capabilities for providing help. If something occurs, you can access the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) forum, or you can email the company for help. Or search the knowledge base for assistance.

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Reaper Vs. Audacity: Price

Costs are always important, even when inquiring about a serious system such as a digital audio workstation. You will always want to get the most out of your system at the lowest costs. However, you must not forget quality when it comes to price either. You get what you pay for, and keeping this in mind will prevent you from making rash decisions.


When it comes to Reaper systems, there are no tiers of pricing or subscriptions involved. The prices are pretty much cut and dried. For personal use, Reaper is priced at $60, and for commercial use, it’s $225, both a one-time charge.

You will never have to pay for updates in the future, as the system updates itself when needed. However, you will need an activation code sent in an email when you first purchase the license for the workstation tools and features.


The Audacity system is free, along with whatever is added to the workstation over time. As mentioned before, there is also a donation button. There are no limitations on project size or length. You do not have any plugins behind paywalls. Everything about Audacity is free, making it a great tool for podcast editing if you are just starting out.

Reaper Vs. Audacity: Ease of Use

Of course, this is one of the most important aspects of using a digital audio workstation, as no one wants to struggle with a difficult system. In this area, there is a marked difference between the two. However, they are both quality systems when it comes to ease of use. One just happens to take longer to perfect than the other.


Since Reaper has so many capabilities, it can be more difficult to figure out. It takes some time to learn how to use this workstation, as you must navigate imports, exports, and recordings. You have to find the usage and identity of many things on the interface, and this takes patience.

Most people who own Reaper use two monitors – one is used for sequencing, while the other is utilized for mixing. There is a manual for Reaper that can be used to help you figure things out quicker.


With fewer features, Audacity is much easier to use. It’s much less involved than other DAWs and works well for beginners. From the looks of it, this system doesn’t seem to support any mixers, which can be a downer for do-it-yourself producers. Because of its simplicity, Audacity is popular with podcasters or others who just want to get simple tasks performed.

Pros and Cons



  • The biggest pro for the Reaper workstation is its advanced capabilities
  • Works well for professional recordings or commercial use
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux
  • The license is a one-time purchase


  • It can be complicated for beginners
  • It is not a free workstation



  • It works well for beginners, especially in podcasting
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac OS, and Linux
  • Completely free workstation


  • It may be a bit too simple
  • Only has 4 themes to choose from
  • It doesn’t have video manipulation capabilities

What Are the Alternatives?

FL Studio

This workstation is also a popular system used by some of the world’s top producers and DJs. FL Studios has a 4-tier pay platform ranging from $99 to $500, allowing even beginners to learn the basics of recording and editing music. These are one-time costs, so there’s no subscription to any of the editions: Fruity, Producer, signature, All-Plugins, and the additions of the Mobile and Groove versions.

FL Studio has several features which are continually updated at no additional cost. The system also has several instruments and features for fast automation. While the instruments aren’t extremely powerful, they can be tweaked for improvement.

FL Studios supports a large array of formats, but it falls short on video and audio recording. However, this system has a clean layout. FL Studio uses Channel Rack to group all the sound generators. Bottom line: FL Studios is easy to learn, making it a good system for everyone.

Logic Pro

During the last 30 years, there have been many versions of this system. All of them were equipped with quality editing and audio recording options. Unlike most other DAW, Logic Pro is exclusively compatible with macOS and has been for almost a decade.

This workstation was never made for beginners and can be quite complex to navigate. Logic Pro takes sound to a professional level, with 24 instrument plug-ins, MIDI controls, and a quality music library. Features are organized precisely with keyboard shortcuts providing quick access to tools.

With Logic Pro, it’s important to have plenty of space, as it requires 75 GB of hard drive space. This is due to a large number of plug-ins, the extensive library, and many other professional recording features.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is the purpose of DAW?

Answer: Basically, DAW is a digital audio workstation that’s used for personal or professional projects. This software is used to record, edit, and produce audio and sometimes video files. The various types of DAW have different features, options, and prices making each one unique.
With DAW, if you make any mistakes, you can easily correct them just as if you’re using cut and paste options. Sounds can be clear by adjusting levels and balancing.

Question: What is the easiest free DAW?

Answer: As discussed here in our guide, Audacity is a free digital audio workstation that’s easy for beginners. If you are interested in learning how to use recording software to make podcasts or other uncomplicated projects, this would be one of the easiest systems to use. There are other easy and free DAW available as well.

Question: Is Reaper really used by professionals?

Answer: Many professionals use Reaper for mixing live audio and recording. Some even use it to mix films or television as well. In addition, professionals use Reaper for editing, tracking, mastering, and mixing.
Reaper is a great studio system for independent artists needing a quality workstation to optimize their sounds.

Question: Is DAW something that’s hard to learn?

Answer: No, learning to master the digital audio workstation is not hard. However, it does take patience and quite a bit of time. Of course, the time it takes to learn depends on which DAW you purchase or attain.
Some systems are geared more toward beginners, while others work better for professionals. So, it’s easy for both personal and commercial use. When learning, be prepared to spend days, weeks, or even longer perfecting your skills.

Verdict: Choose Reaper for an Overall Better Experience

When looking for the best DAW available, it’s important to note a large number of features and how optimized these features can be. Compared with simpler digital audio workstations, the advanced systems can pay off in the long run, especially for professionals. As with DAW like FL Studio, a great quality workstation can also be a one-time purchase, avoiding frustrating upgrade prices.

Our pick between Reaper and Audacity must be the Reaper workstation. Our guide shows that while advanced, this system offers many more options for recording, editing, and producing audio and video. Even though it comes with a price, updates are always free, and features can be beautifully optimized.

Reaper has more aesthetically pleasing themes and detailed options to make the most out of its many features. Reaper is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux, making it easy to integrate into your studio. Paired with a quality microphone, you can be recording your songs in no time. In the end, it’s your choice, but we recommend Reaper.

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