Version 4.14 is out. High time to review the newest version of this masterpiece.
First statement: With REAPER you can record, arrange, mix, remix and mangle audio in highest professional quality.
Handling: REAPER has it's own way getting things done. If you are used to anohter DAW that can be a bit strange first. One thing that REAPER-starters often struggle with ist the fact, that there is only one sort of track. These tracks can hold any kind of data (midi, audio). They have to be routed carefully (REAPER helps you doing this, though). Data, controllers, audio etc. can be sent across the programm with ease. Building up a kick-drum-side-chain-compression is a calkewalk....when you have understood what REAPER does. To be honest: It is a bit confusing first. On the other hand, when you found a working setup, you can save it as a template (for tracks, for VSTis, for FX, the whole setup). Templates are a set and forget feature. You just have to think things over once. Conclusion: A bit of work until you got it -> then a lot of power and a lot of unique features.
Features: Reaper ist complete. It offers a lot of tools other DAW-Software lacks of, or just provides in the high-end product range. It works with any soundcard (from onboard to mulit in-out) with ASIO-support (I didn't work with Core-Audio so I can't say anything about that).
Fast: REAPER is fast, very fast. I just could compare it to Cubase Essential 5. It is ready to rock in about 10 seconds. Cubase in comparism often took several minutes to start up. Don't know why. I have lots of plugins in both programs but REAPER starts extremely fast.
FX: There is any Studio FX you can think of. High class Reverb (algorithm), High class Convolution (zero latency), Delay, EQ, Flanger, Chorus and more specific FX like FIR-noise reduction with noise-print and it's working automatic. All kind of dynamic FX (Limiter, Comp, Gate, Multiband Comp). And a lot more beause you can use the Jesusonic-FX along with VST-FX. Those provide hundreds of FX and can be tweaked to your needs. I would say that no other DAW-software is that well armed with Plug-Ins. What it lacks a bit is a good synth or a good sampler. The ones that come along with the DAW are very basic.
Recording: REAPER offers a lot of cool functions. For example: You could define a loop an then record a few passes. After you stopped recording you can easily cut the best parts an comp them together. Thanks to stacked recording/editing. Very handy when recording complicatet parts and much better than punch in / punch out (but you can punch in / out if you like). This is one example for a feature that CUBASE only offers in it's high priced versions.
Editing: Wave editing is a bit basic when it comes to mangle the actual waveform. You can embed an external Audio-Editor if you want. I never needed that. The Non-destructive editing is all that I need. Midi-editing is also very good. Every tool you would need is there (Quantize, draw, Scale correct etc.).
Customizing: That is one of the best features of all. You can customize any menu and any toolbar to your specific needs. You can even chain several commands in the order you like and then aply them via on button in your customized toolbar. You can download lots of Themes with different Layouts or you can create your own ones if you are desperate to do so. Chances are that is not necessery. There are lot of very good ones to download from their page.
Extensions: REAPER is open to other software-developers for extending the programm. You can download new features if you need them (you will need them because they are so cool). Example: The groove-tool. Extract the groove of one recording and transfer that groove to another recording (Audio & Midi).
The Community: If you need help. Go for the REAPER-forum. Questions are usualy answered within minutes. Feel safe and comfortable there. Very friendly people!!!!
Value for Money: Very, very, very good pricing. REAPER offers 2 pricing models. Full commercial and small buisness. That doesn't change anything in the features like in all the other DAW programms (e. g. Cubase). You get a full-featured software. For hobby-users that is phanastic. REAPER gives free acces to 2 generations. That means: Buy version 4.xx and get free updates/upgrades until version 5.99.
Updates: REAPER is updated very often (normally every few weeks) with official releases and also gives access to pre-releases. So chances are, if you have an issue with something, the problem get's solved very soon.
Summing up: You may like or may not like REAPER for its specific design. But there are not so much reasons for any factual citicism. REAPER is a classic DAW. So it may not be the tool for someone who is first of all working with loops (like in Ableton Live). But REAPER is a serious Rival for programms like Cubase, Pro Tools and Logic. It is available on both major platforms (Mac and PC). Coming from Cubase, I switched to REAPER because it ist full of features and reasonably priced.