Let me start off by saying that I am ANYTHING but a professional musician. I'm an okay musician, maybe even a good musician if you've dropped some LSD before putting on one of my songs, but I'm definitely not a professional by any stretch of the imagination. I am also not your typical musician. I don't know my basic chords, I know nothing about music theory, and I compose everything I write by envisioning a DAW with the song already arranged. I also record in an untreated 2nd story apartment bedroom with a 2 channel interface and FL Studio as my DAW/recording program, so if that doesn't scream "ameteur" I don't know what will. Now, most people who make rock/metal/punk music use Reaper, or Cubase, or Pro Tools, or another "typical" DAW. I've used all of these programs and more, and I can tell you that FL Studio makes much more sense to me. Perhaps it's because I'm a visual learner, or maybe I'm just picky. Today I'm picking apart things that FL Studio does better than Reaper specifically. This thread will likely be updated from time to time as I discover new things about Reaper that make no sense and/or are utterly infuritating to me.
FL Studio's Piano Roll is unparallelled. It's responsive and intuitive right out of the box. To place a note, left click once. To remove one, right click once. To adjust a note's properties, double click that note. If you want to adjust the length, simply left click and drag until it's where you want it. It makes sense. It's simple. Compare that to Reaper's out of the box installation and you find that the Piano Roll in Reaper is attrocious by default. It's deceptively scaled, you have to double click to add a note and triple click to remove one, it doesn't automatically remember the details of the last note placed, it loops the patterns when extended by default, and the way it handles separate midi patterns is attrocious. Another issue I have with Reaper (and most other DAWs) is that instruments are often tied to whatever track they're on as they're often handled like effects. The mixer "instances" are also tied to these specific tracks. This means that if I want to make an isolated violin pattern one octave higher and I move the existing one down one track, it suddenly plays through the bass VST, or a melodic synth. This is an issue I had for weeks when I first started out, and FL Studio was a lifesaver and a gamechanger.
You see, FL Studio avoids this issue by having a disconnect between mixer tracks, playlist/arrangement tracks, and instruments. If I move that original violin pattern down one track in FL Studio, it doesn't play through the bass VST, nor the piano. I feel like this is one thing a lot of DAW companies could really improve on, but they're afraid to because people are so used to the current system that a change like this would either go largely unnoticed or would cause absolute chaos.
Now, onto the mixer. In Reaper, effects are handled by a big green button labled "FX". Clicking this button opens a list that is at first empty. As you place effects (or instruments) on the track, they show up as parts of a list with checkboxes next to each one to indicate whether it's active or not. In FL Studio, effects are controlled from an area on the mixer and are separate from instruments. The checkbox function is also found here in the form of a green light. Routing in Reaper is a pain in the ass. It's a ton of menus and submenus that seemingly never end. I still can't figure out how to route individual kit pieces from EZDrummer to their own mixer instances in Reaper. With FL Studio, there is a cable-esque system where you "plug in" the cable for whatever inserts you want to route to. It's difficult to explain but it's much more intuitive than Reaper's system. FL Studio comes with a ton of effects, instruments, and samples. It's honestly pretty incredible to see all the different presets, effects, and versions of plugins that come with the program, whereas reaper is extremely barebones and stripped down.
These are my main gripes against Reaper as a DAW. Honestly it mostly comes down to personal preference, and none of these points are really based in /fact/ per se. My main hope with this post is to possibly start a friendly civil discussion of different DAWs and workflows.
Reaper does have one main advantage in that it's dirt-cheap. They only charge $60 for a personal license and I've seen people do amazing things with it, from pop albums to death metal records. Also, you don't /have/ to buy it, nor crack it. If you can deal with the nag message when you start it up, you can continue using it indefinitely without restriction. It's pretty cool.