guide: making the Virus TI Snow work with Reaper

If you use Reaper, the (nearly) free DAW and own an Access Virus TI Snow (or the like), and you just can’t figure out how to get them to cooperate, read this short guide.

If you’re like me, you just want to turn on your machines and go! Most of the time, this works without a hassle, but in the case of the Virus TI (Total Integration) series of synths, it’s almost a necessity to use the software integration.  It’s a blessing and a curse; along with the deep editing capability comes the usual issues of mixing hardware with soft.  Although I have used my Virus TI Snow quite a bit in the past, I know I’d be using it a lot more if things just worked.

Don’t get me wrong–everything functions as the makers intended–but it takes a couple extra steps to get everything going in Reaper.
I’m writing this guide because it’s not as inuitive as it is in, say, Ableton live.   If you’re interested, continue reading after the jump.

So, here we go.  Make sure your Virus is powered on and connected via USB, then start Reaper.

1.  Add a new instance of the Virus TI VSTi plugin by right clicking on the track area and selecting, “Insert virtual instrument on new track…
2.  A dialog box will ask you if you want to automatically route audio from the plugin to separate outputs.  Yes, do this.
3.  Now for the MIDI portion:  Go to the plugin window on Track 1 (“Virus TI Snow”) and go to Options–>Build 16 Channels of MIDI routing to this track…
4.  Delete the any MIDI tracks that you don’t use. For this example, we’ll delete all but three tracks, correlating to three internal TI Snow channels.
5.  If you wish, arrange the MIDI tracks so that they’re mated with their audio counterparts.
6.  Important: Disarm the “master” Virus TI track (track 1–the one that’s hosting the VSTi).

Ok, that does it for Reaper setup.  In order for each synthesizer channel to be heard on a separate audio track (say, the Virus’ Part 2 on “Virus TI 2″), you must route the audio properly within the VSTi interface.  No problem: set Part 1 to “USB 1 L+R”, Part 2 to “USB 2 L+R”, and Part 3 to “USB 3 L+R”.  (The TI Snow has four internal “Parts,” but only has three separate USB outputs and one physical output. We’re just focusing on the USB channels, here.)

virus ti in reaper

3 channels of virus ti in reaper

Now for the test:  enable record monitoring and arm the first Virus channel (in my system, it’s “Virus TI Snow MIDI 1″) and play some notes.  You should hear output from USB1 on the “Virus TI 1″ track.  Do the same with the other channels (remembering to disarm recording on inactive tracks) and you’ll be happy to hear their output on the appropriate tracks.  You won’t even have to change the channel on your MIDI controller keyboard/device.
“But what about rendering each channel’s output?” you may ask.  How intelligent you are!  You must’ve experienced one of the Virus TI’s biggest shortcomings:  no offline rendering.  That is, you can’t just “freeze” or “render” the Virus TI’s MIDI parts, as you can with any other soft synth; you actually have to record the output.

Exporting a single Virus TI Part is easy; the trick is to choose the right rendering method, “Online Render.”  It’s also vitally important to remember to have both the MIDI and audio components of the Part unmuted, or you’ll get silent files.  Oh and “online render” simply means that you’re recording the tracks in realtime.  In other words, if you have an hour-long opus, you better have something to while it’s being digitally reconstructed.

What about rendering multiple Virus Parts, at one time?  Well, you could use the method above and choose “Master mix,” but that will only give you one file, combining all the Virus Parts.  What you need to do is this:

1. Select the audio components of the Virus TI Parts (not the MIDI) by holding control while clicking. (Including the MIDI tracks won’t hurt, but they’ll just render blank files.)
2. Go to Reaper’s rendering function and set the following:  a) render type to “Stems (Selected tracks)“, b) render method to “Online Render“, and c) a path to save your rendered files.

reaper: render settings

reaper: render settings

You should now have a few separate audio tracks, correlating to the Virus TI MIDI channels you selected, in the folder you specified.

Yes, it seems like a lot to go through, but you really only need to do this once.  If you right click and select, “Save tracks as template…“, you can insert a full complement of Virus Parts into your arrangement, at the drop of a hat. Just right click and insert the template at any time.

Although Reaper is great, I do hope that future versions allow for greater integration of hardware and software.

category: guides, snow