Reaper continues to be one of the most powerful DAW’s out there. The best thing about it is digging in and making it your own.
This involves adding scripts, extensions, shortcuts, and of course—changing the look and feel with themes.
If you’re switching over from another DAW, there’s a good chance that a corresponding Reaper theme exists. Having a familiar look and feel can ease the transition process. You’ll also find custom themes that build on Reapers original look and feel.
What are Reaper themes?
Reaper themes are custom layouts and color schemes for Cockos’ popular DAW Reaper. They change the DAW’s aesthetic to suit users’ preference or appear more like other popular DAWs.
Reaper themes are available on Reaper’s forums, but there are a ton of them! They’re usually downloadable for free and come in a .ReaperThemeZip file format. To install, all you have to do is extract the file, or drag it into a Reaper session. You’ll be able to find all your installed themes in the options menu under themes.
In this article, I’m going to round up the absolute best Reaper themes that you should consider trying out. I’ll go from DAW specific themes, to some of the top Reaper themes out there.
Pro Tools 12.5 by revsfmc is a must-have Reaper theme if you’re switching over from Pro Tools. In this theme, you’ll find all the icon images, track layouts, and colors to be almost exact to Pro Tools.
Most of the functioning text and DAW layout are almost identical to Pro Tools. The only drawback is that the transport is only for aesthetics and isn’t functioning.
Created in 2012, this Reaper theme has continued to receive updates as far as 2020. There are more Pro Tools themes that exist, but I found this to be the absolute best one.
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Reaper will never come close to the same workflow of FL Studio. Changing the look of Reaper to match has a novelty to it, though.
If you’re switching over from another DAW, there’s a good chance that a corresponding Reaper theme exists.
FL Studio Theme Beta 4 by Mordi has all the classic FL Studio colors and items that you’re used to seeing. What I enjoy most about this one is the modern feel it brings to Reaper compared to the original Reaper theme.
A bonus to this theme is that the startup logo is actually altered as well. The FL Studio orange pepper along with “Reaper” underneath shows when it’s booted up.
In the creators post, he also shares the colors for the tracks he uses. He also lists all the Reaper preferences you can change to make it look even more like FL Studio.
RLive by Odys is an Ableton Live inspired theme that knocks it out of the park. Installing this theme and DrivenByMoss to get the Ableton Push working with Reaper might get you close to the Ableton workflow!
RLive closely replicates Ableton’s classic plugin chain at the bottom of the screen. ordering the plugins from left to right. This theme also comes with custom actions that’ll adjust the track sizes. They’ll automatically resize like Ableton does when zooming in and out.
The live view workflow is a functionality that’s unique to Ableton, and isn’t replicated here. But, if you’re looking for that Ableton feel RLive will get you there.
If you’re coming over to Reaper from Cubase, CubicPack3 has you covered. Last uploaded in 2019, CubicPack3 is the latest version of the CubicPack series.
This theme gets so close to replicating Cubase, that people have been known to forget which DAW they’re in! The buttons on the tracks and on the transport are almost identical.
This theme gets so close to replicating Cubase, that people have been known to forget which DAW they’re in!
The piano roll is gorgeous. It makes this Reaper theme a must have if you’re thinking about transitioning from Cubase.
This theme comes pretty close to the look and feel of Logic. It almost replicates the sharpness and detail of Apple products. The most notable features are the mixer heads, volume sliders, and colors.
Most of the themes listed here are free to download. For some of these, donation links are available if you want to buy the creators a cup of coffee. But iLogic requires a donation to the creator who will deliver it to you personally. Be warned though, the creator could be away from his computer for long periods of time. You may not receive the theme immediately after donation.
Most of the themes listed here are free to download.
Beatwing is the way to go if you’re looking for a simple, sharp looking theme. It doesn’t replicate another DAW. Rather, it is a minimalist theme with a ton of functionality.
This theme comes with a standard gray and orange color palette, with digitized text in the transport. It has very interesting looking faders and a clean piano roll and timeline.
It’s an excellent alternative to the default Reaper theme. I find that it opens up Reaper’s workspace. And, it still maintains the original functionality of the default theme.
Hydra by BlankFlies has to be one of the most modern looking Reaper themes you’ll find. It’s praised by hundreds of users on the Reaper forums, and has 25,000 downloads and counting.
Looking at Hydra reminds me of the cleanliness of Logic mixed with some of the slickness of FL Studio. From the timeline, to the mixer and piano roll, all the elements match and compliment each other.
Hydra is definitely a must have Reaper theme on a fresh install.
This next theme works great if you’re a hardcore Reaper fan. If you enjoy the default theme Reaper comes with, then you’ll love Concept Six.
This theme is close to the default Reaper theme. It aims to present an organized and clean appearance of the control panels. Its main goal is to give you space and visual freedom while you create.
Concept Six comes in a few different versions: Basic, and the BC series. The BC series includes sub versions BC Extended and BC Pimped Up! All the versions allow you to keep the functionality of the core theme. And, you’ll be able to adjust colors for many different elements.
Not only that, Concept Six also comes with a theme adjuster. It allows you to add and remove specific elements of the themes with a simple slider.
It’s fully designed for high resolution displays. And, it’s one of the most comprehensive Reaper themes in this list. It’s perfect for the power user looking to get the most out of Reaper.
It’s perfect for the power user looking to get the most out of Reaper.
Smooth 6 V3 by b0se is one of the cleanest minimalist themes you can get for Reaper. If you liked the FL Studio theme above, but aren’t a fan of the FL Studio icons, you’ll find that Smooth 6 is quite similar.
One of my favorite features of Smooth is the gain fader on every clip. It’s super easy to grab and adjust if you have small volume issues with specific sections in your session.
The thing I like best about the look of Smooth is the mixer section. The faders have a modern feel, and the layout of all the buttons is very organized and doesn’t feel overcrowded.
I saved the classiest for last. Imperial has to be one of the most fancy looking Reaper themes out there. Designed for large monitors, Imperial has an analog feel in mind. The transport, faders and mixer buttons emulate a Neve 80 series console. And, the text on the master fader looks as if it’s engraved!
Imperial features many alternate layouts. Some focus on the interface during specific workflow stage. Other layouts also configure individual tracks that might have different control requirements.
Imperial is a must have Reaper theme if you’re working on large monitors or running multiple displays.
Imperial is a must have Reaper theme if you’re working on large monitors or running multiple displays. It’s beautiful analog look is a bonus for any nostalgic producer or engineer.
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper
Reaper can be hard to switch to, especially if you’ve been on a flagship DAW for a while. Once you get over the initial hump and begin getting used to it, you’ll find that you can truly make it your own.
With these themes I’m confident that you’ll have Reaper looking and feeling how you want it. You’ll have a true space for creativity and comfort when working on music or audio.