Take Effects in Reaper

Every DAW allows you to apply effect processing per track... but Reaper has another option: Take Effects. These apply effect chains to different items and Gary Hiebner shows how it is done.  

In Reaper you can apply effect processing to your tracks in two ways. You can either apply it in the traditional form to each track, or you can take it one step further and apply different effect chains to each item in your project. We'll be taking a look at the second approach, which is called Take Effects. This is a nice way to add interest and differentiation to your tracks and arrangement. Maybe you want to try to add a specific vocal effect in the intro, or maybe a different processing to each item on the drum track during a breakdown. The possibilities are endless. Let me show you how this is done.

Step 1 – FX Chain

With Take Effects you will apply a different FX chain to different items. So pick a track in your project that has a selection of items. Select your first item in the track, right-click the item. This brings up the contextual menu, scroll down and choose 'Show FX Chain for active Take'. 

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This will bring up the Take FX window. But this is not the same as the Track FX window. The effects placed on this chain will relate only to this item. Add in a few different effects here. I have added an EQ. On the EQ I have used a low shelf to cut the low frequencies out up to 400 Hz, and have a slight boost at 3.5 kHz. Next is a JS Guitar Phaser to add some modulation to the audio.

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You will see an FX icon appears above the item when you have added a Take Effects chain. This way you can identify which items have Take Effects on them. To bring up the take FX window again simply double-click this FX icon.

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Step 2 – Other Take Effects

Go through to your next item on the track and this time use the shortcut to bring up the Take Effects window. The shortcut is Shift-E. On this chain I have inserted a JS Guitar amp modeler with the Dumble Overdrive Special - Tweed Deluxe amp model. Change the channel mode to stereo, and increase the preamp to drive the sound. Next I have added a ReaVerbate to give the sound its own room space, an EQ with a big dip around 950 Hz and with a high bandwidth. Next in the chain is a JS Delay to bounce the sound around the stereo field. You'll see that after the FX icon it gives you a list of the FX names. So this gives you an idea of what plugins are on each take effect.

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Step 3 – Crossfades with Take Effects

Now for these two items to blend in together you need to use crossfades. Here is the best way to do this. Drag the right audio handle of the first item back 1 bar. Now drag the left audio handle of the next item 1 bar to the left. Then grab the right audio handle of the first item and drag it 2 bars over the second item. As you drag the first item over the second, a crossfade will be created between the two items. When you playback the audio the first item will blend over to the second item. What's quite nice is in the middle you will hear the effect of both items blending into their applied take effects. You can edit these crossfade for different results. Draw out the crossfade wider for a more drastic effect, or shorten the crossfade for a less noticeable effect between the take effect switches. You can also edit the type of crossfade. Hover your mouse cursor over the middle of the crossfade. The cursor icon will change to the crossfade icon. You can drag the mouse around to change the shape of the crossfade. Or you can right-click in the middle of the crossfade and go to 'Open Crossfade Editor' to fine-tune the type of crossfade used.

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Step 4 – Try It Out On a Loop

Let's try this out on a drum loop. First slice this loop up into smaller sections. Place the cursor where you want to split the loop, and then press S to split the item up. I have split up my drum loop into 4 new items.

Go into each item and add a range of different take effects. I have added the following onto each item instance:

Drum Item 01:

  • JS Guitar amp modeler
  • Liteon Moog 24dB Filter
  • Liteon Ring Modulator

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Drum Item 02:

  • JS Guitar Tremolo effect

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Drum Item 03:

  • JS Guitar distortion fuzzbox
  • JS Guitar Phaser

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Drum Item 04:

  • LOSER transhape filter
  • LOSER Waveshaping distortion unit
  • Liteon Butterworth 24 dB Filter

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Don't forget to add crossfades between each item so that the transition between each take effect is nice and smooth.

If you're not happy with a specific Take Effect it can easily be removed. You can either double-click on the FX icon. This will bring up the Take FX window. Click on each effect and then click remove. Or an easy way is to select the item in the arrange view, then go to Item -> Take -> Remove FX for active take. And this will remove all the effects in one go.


Take Effects are a great way to add variations in your song. It can add interest between changes in your arrangement, or if you want to apply a combination of modulation effect over the course of a loop. You can really go wild with this technique. And make sure to use the crossfades between these items for smooth transitions between the different take effects.

Take a look at the following tutorials to get further techniques with Reaper:

Reaper 101: Introduction to Reaper

Reaper 102: Working With Audio

Reaper 103: MIDI, Instruments and Plugins

Reaper 104: Mixing and Automation

Gary Hiebner is an enthusiastic South African Sound Designer and Apple Tech Head! Gary has been involved in the South African music industry for the decade, and in this time has also been involved in the sound design and music production for many advertising agencies and media houses. Gary is a devoted Logic and Ableton user, but he al... Read More


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