After reviewing Pro Tools and Logic Pro themes for REAPER, I was curious to see what other DAW appearances REAPER could take. After checking out a few different ones over the last two weeks, I choose to bring to you this multiple theme review.
There aren’t as many themes available for Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Steinberg Cubase. Even when there are multiple ones for each, there’s just a clear winner between the few that exist. This is why I decided to stick to one theme per DAW.
Remember that for most themes, or even for functionality’s sake on default REAPER, you may want to activate the clickable icon for folder tracks to show/hide children for the Mixer panel, this is done by right clicking the MASTER track and selecting the option.
These Themes are in beta and in constant development, so you probably won’t find them in the REAPER stash, however, they do have a forum thread where the creator keeps updating the post and download links so this is what I’ll share with you. Knowing this, we can start the review!
Rlive Theme by Odys (Ableton)
Download here: https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=230905
This is a theme based on Ableton Live with a slightly darker tone. Odys suggests some configuration tweaking under the Appearance tab, these are very minor tweaks, so feel free to use the theme just as it comes. What you may want to make sure and change are the Track Control Panel settings (TCP) to the right side of the screen. This can be done by right clicking over an empty space at the TCP and selecting show TCP on right side of arrange.
The transport bar uses about the same layout as Ableton Live, however, it is missing the custom key assign buttons and the performance meter since REAPER places these functionalities in other windows.
The TCP is a very good translation for functionality’s sake, and the placement of the track volume control can be set differently thanks to the integration of this theme with the Theme Adjuster. Also, the track layouts will allow you to create separator tracks, which is almost a necessary feature for many people. It also helps with Project visual organization.
Track folder state and collapse icons work flawlessly in this theme. I find the layout of the buttons to be very intuitive.
As for the Mixer Panel, you should go ahead and extend it and give it more space. The default Mixer Panel always displays pan and width controls in the same way that Live shows sends. The FX can be found at the top of the Mixer panel with the sends just below the empty slots. If you look right, you can easily differentiate the FX and Sends sections, since the latter has a very Live-like design.
Although the rLive3 layout is a more accurate representation of the Live Channelstrips, the fader and meters are too short and can’t be extended as far as I know, so I’ll advise you to stay away from that one. I personally prefer the Cramped and Slim Mixer layouts.
The MIDI editor colors and highlights are just what you’d expect from Live. The difference is that REAPER doesn’t have the MIDI track inspector. Unfortunately, this theme doesn’t seem to let me use the mixer and MIDI editor side by side on the main window as default REAPER allows.
FL Studio Theme Beta 4 by Mordi
Download here: https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=229919
This theme’s installation process will take a little longer than what you expect from other themes, and that is because the theme’s resources don’t come packed with colors. You have to download the .ReaperTheme file and the resources folder separately. Once you have them, select the two and combine them in a compressed zip format.
Once you do this, change the file extension of the .zip file to .ReaperThemeZIP. This is so that reaper loads the colors and all the resources that are needed for the theme to work properly.
Based on FL Studio, the theme welcomes you with a custom REAPER Splash screen, a very nice touch. Mordi suggests a few configuration settings that you may want to modify so the theme behaves a little bit more like FL, you can look those up in the forum thread linked above.
The Transport bar is much simpler than FL Studio because of the lack of buttons on the main toolbar. However, it is right on point in terms of looks.
The Track Panel presents more information than the original FL Studio, and rightfully so. The theme shows a very clean panel. The polarity flip button has the double arrows, and the mute and solo buttons have a very neat design. The green light alongside the meter works as an active/unactive track indicator and the next light to the left is a yellow indicator that functions as your solo button.
The folder state and collapse buttons are to the right of the meter and work perfectly with a folder button and an arrow respectively.
The Mixer Panel shows the classic narrow channel strips inspired on FL, but because of the small width, they don’t properly show some FX embedded in the MCP, and the send list may not be able to show the name of the tracks you’re making sends to. You can hide the FX and send list from the right click menu of the MASTER track.
This Mixer Panel is very minimalistic, with the numbers and folder collapse state on top. These are followed (just below) by the track name and meters, they are right on point and look absolutely gorgeous, the meter is even highlighted when you select the track.
On the fader section of the Mixer Panel, you can see that there are a bit more controls than what you’ll find in FL Studio. The controls include an FX button, a dedicated Solo button, automation mode, and the double arrows function as a polarity flip. Each track can show a Pan control with a smaller Width control below the polarity switch, or a double plan configuration on the Pan position. The routing options can be found at the bottom of the track with indicators for Parent send (the existence of sends and receives).
The MIDI editor shows a piano roll with a very low contrast. Also, the MIDI notes are colored purple! With selected notes colored green. this differs a bit from FL Studio but works smoothly with the overall layout for a pleasing experience.
CubicPack3_Dark theme by cubic13 (Cubase)
Download here: https://forum.cockos.com/showthread.php?t=219523
This is a theme by the creator of the Logic Pro theme (Flogic) that I reviewed previously, so you know that it is going to be a cool theme.
For this review I’ll be using the CubeXRD out of all the options that come with the download. Just like Flogic it includes some toolbars that you should import via the Customize toolbar menu. Also, you want to open Toolbar 1, and place it on top of the main window. You can basically ignore the ToolbarIconSet folders since they come included with the .ReaperThemeZIP file
The Transport Bar looks absurdly awesome. The buttons are a work of art in and of themselves and including the toolbar, this is a whole another level compared to other themes.
Moving to the Track panel, the tracks that become folders hide some of their controls, this is true both in the TCP and MCP. I haven’t seen this feature in any other theme or even in default REAPER.
Both TCP and MCP also have various layouts that represent different track types including track type icons, a very nice feature that shows the attention to detail that comes with this theme.
There are layouts in TCP for normal panels that include a Pan knob, or reduced panel that don’t have one. And the MCP has layouts for large panels and narrow panels, also separators of various sizes.
For the Mixer Panel alone, it’s a little weird that the FX list is not shown as slots when it’s empty, but I think it fits better with how REAPER works, this is true for the sends list as well. Some automation modes display a bit weird on the sends list, but it shouldn’t be that much of a turn off.
The MIDI editor colors have so much contrast that it’s distracting from the MIDI notes information, almost visually painful. this is definitely a big misstep in my opinion. But, on the other hand, the toolbar again is a work of art, very carefully planned and designed.