How I Re-Mastered “Reversal of Time” using Reaper

Reversal of Time was a commercially released progressive rock CD in 1997. It sold out and was never re-pressed. It now sells for silly money if you can find it. Anyway, due to demand, I decided to revisit this old record with a view to placing it into my download shop. I’d like to put it out on cd again, perhaps as a limited run, but for now download is the best option.

So, here’s how I abandoned my previous mastering tools (Cubase and Wavelab) in favour of REAPER – an alpha version (Alpha 56b), no less. Note that I am a fully licensed user of this software (version 3). With that out of the way, here’s how I did it. . . . . .

All the original stereo masters from 1997 (that is, no eq or limiting etc – just the raw mix from the desk) were copied and dropped into a new REAPER project. Each track was added to the timeline, one song per track, in the correct running order. I then added one long mp3 file of the original album as my reference track.

Using this as a guide, I created fades and starts to match the reference mp3. At this point, we now have all the tracks laid out with the correct song lengths and fades etc. Finally, regions and markers were created for all the songs.

As the original album was bass heavy, I wanted to de-emphasise that aspect of it. To that end, I dropped an instance of ReEQ onto each track.

Each track was then played back ad-nauseum until I got the desired sound – not too bassy and with a nice top end to it. Once happy that all the songs sounded as good as possible, it was time to give them that last minute sheen. So, I added ReaComp and LOSER master Limiter to the master track and tweaked away.

After some considerable tweaking, I got the sound I was after. Nice and shiny, controlled, dynamic, no pumping. Exactly how I wanted it. Like the original album in many ways, but without the muddy bass artifacts.

So far, so wonderful. Very easy and very quick. But what about a cd? You know, to play in the car and maybe use for replication at some later date?

Previously, this would be the part Wavelab would have excelled at with its superb montage feature. However, as I already had everything sounding good and marked up properly, REAPER once again came to the rescue. Simply select Render to File, choose Audio CD Image, apply dithering and select Render Master Mix and, finally, be sure to select Track Mode: regions define tracks. After that, hit the Render button and let REAPER do its thing.

After that, it was a simple job to load the file into imgBurn, burn the cd and enjoy.

If the above sounds very easy, it was. Outrageously so. Despite using an Alpha build of the application, it was rock solid. No glitches with stunning performance and stability being the order of the day. It’s no wonder that over the past two years REAPER has now replaced all my recording applications (except for score writing!).

I can’t imagine ever returning to Cubase. And did I mention that all effects were REAPER’s own?

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