How Adventure Club is using SONAR X3 to stay on the EDM charts and ahead of the pack

There is an interesting movement happening in the music industry.  We have all seen it, and most are very opinionated about it…  The EDM Revolution.  Love it, like it, hate it – regardless, it’s here and thriving.  I recently had the good fortune to spend a few very interesting days with SONAR X3 users Adventure Club; one in LA, and one in NYC, and I can honestly say that I think these guys have figured out [some sort of] a new model of the “music industry.”

Truthfully speaking, I really was unsure about what our interaction would be.  I understand the EDM scene from afar and surely respect it, but I wasn’t sure what actually goes into the work behind the scenes of an EDM artist.  SONAR is used by Composers, Songwriters, and Producers of all genres, but when Cakewalk found out that Adventure Club, a heavyweight EDM act was using SONAR 8.5, we were pretty intrigued.  I had heard of the duo strictly from their online presence and charting activity, but I had never focused in on any of their productions.  Their popularity alone on social media told me there was something different and unique about this artist, and my assumptions were correct.

If you are not familiar with Adventure Club [“AC”] they are a Canadian Elecronic Dance Music duo, composed of Christian Srigley and Leighton James, and based out of Montreal, Quebec.  The duo formed while attending high school in Montreal as a hardcore pop-punk band, but later decided to move onto the more electronic sound of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) after simply getting bored with the pop-punk sound.  The first song to put the duo on the map was their remix of the song “Daisy” by the American alternative-rock band Brand New, which was put on The Hype Machine, an MP3 blog aggregator website.  After this track resonated deeply with EDM fans around the world, the duo was off to a solid start with a solid online fan base and foundation.  What separates this group from other EDM acts is that they both are accomplished musicians with a great knack for music production in general.  This translates into very solid tracks which they produce on their own in SONAR X3 (more…)

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TOP 5 REASONS IT’S TIME TO UPGRADE YOUR MUSIC STUDIO COMPUTER

By Brian, PCAudioLabs

It’s your one day off, you sit down to make some music, and boom, your computer crashes. Then you start to think; how long have I had this thing? When you get that feeling, it’s time to look at a new music computer. We’re going to outline the top five reasons you should consider a new Windows computer for your music studio.

1.      You’re still running Windows XP

Windows XP was a great operating system, really, it was! But, Microsoft recently ended support for the well-known OS, and that means no more updates.  This also means your computer could be at risk to crash at any moment.  Additionally, many new Digital Audio Workstations, such as SONAR X3, don’t run on Windows XP.  It’s ok, it’s time to let go.  Windows 7 or Windows 8 offers a slew of new features that will make your music making experience easier.

2.      You’re not able to get work done as fast

It stands to reason that if you have a computer that is over five years old and wasn’t built by a music computer manufacturer, it’s probably going to run a little slower than you’d like.  Are your tracks taking longer to bounce down? Can’t run as many plugins as you used to? There’s only so much power you’re going to get out of an older computer that wasn’t built for audio, and that’s when it’s time to look at a new rig.

3.      Your workflow is suffering

When you spend more time troubleshooting than you do making music, that’s a bad thing.  We all know that time is limited, especially for being creative, and you have to make the most of your time. When you have to spend your time making your computer do what you want, instead of making music, your frustration goes up, and your creativity goes down.

The ROKBOX MC 64/64s can support up to 3 monitors! Think about what that could do for your workflow…

4.      You’ve outgrown your machine

Let’s face it, it happens. You get a computer, you put it to good use, but with time and growth, your needs outweigh what your computer is capable of.  Maybe you need to be able to record more tracks at once, or maybe you simply can’t do what you need with your current hardware.  It’s ok, that just means you’re growing as a creative, and it’s time to look for a new computer.

5.      Your current machine is loud, filled with bloatware, and doesn’t fit your studio.

Most off the shelf computers – meaning those from big box stores and websites – might seem like great deals on paper, but when you get them home, you find that your computer’s hard drive is filled with bloatware (did you really want all those demo antivirus applications? Yeah, we didn’t think so).  That is why your computer was cheap – lots of companies rented out space on your hard drive, and your Windows installation image isn’t really a true Windows image, which means you can’t even re-install Windows cleanly. Additionally, your computer is a lot slower due to all that bloatware, which means you won’t get anything done.

Off the shelf computers aren’t made with silence in mind, nor with the needs of a creative in mind.  They use sub-par components that mean your computer will be loud – which is hard when you need to record that perfect vocal cut.  You can’t replace many of those components, because they’re proprietary, which means you can’t purchase replacement parts.

You can have a PC designed for music that will fit nicely in any studio space with a PCAudioLabs ROKBOX Mobile MC laptop!

 

What about Support? If you have an issue with your music software, you can’t call a big box computer manufacturer and ask them for help – they simply won’t help you.  That can be pretty frustrating when you need answers.

Finally, off the shelf computers rarely fit the needs of the creative – literally. They’re not rackmountable, they don’t have the motherboard slots you need (like legacy PCI slots, for instance), and their case sizes can be limiting at the very least.  All of this leads to a less-than-stellar experience with a computer you paid good money for, expecting it to be great for audio production.

 

These are just a few reasons you should look at obtaining a new computer which has been certified for music production. If you answered yes to even one of these points, you might want to consider getting a new music computer so you can truly get back to being creative with your computer.

 

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Craig’s Five Fave Studio Hardware Accessories

By Craig Anderton

Granted, it was hard to narrow it down to five. But these goodies have stood out over the past year as being essentials for my own studio, and they can contribute much to any studio makeover.

Uninterruptible Power Supply

 

I first became aware of the power of the UPS with ADATs. My ADATs used to do weird things, but stopped doing weird things after I bought a UPS. My friends with ADATs who didn’t have a UPS experienced weird things. Anecdotal evidence? Sure. But the first time a UPS keeps your project alive when some idiot drunk driver slams into a power pole and you lose your electricity, or you live where lightning is a frequent visitor, you’ll be glad you paid attention to this article and got a UPS. Just make sure you find one with sufficient power for your super-duper multi-core wonder box (and your monitor)—a lot of UPS devices in office supply stores are for little old ladies who use Pentium 4 computers only on Sundays to cruise the internet for recipes.

Pauly Superscreen Pop Filter

(Photo courtesy Las Vegas Pro Audio)

Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s worth it. I do a lot of narration and close-mic my vocals (more…)

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Setting Up Your Studio for Surround Sound (Producer/Studio)

Interested in Surround Sound Mixing? Well both SONAR Studio and Producer both have the ability to route to many different speakers using our Surround Bus and Surround Panner. Check out this short 3 minute video that shows you how easy it is to get this going in your studio.

Check out SONAR X3 Free for 30 days! 

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7 Steps to Cleaning Up Your “ACT” with Hardware

by Craig Anderton

ACT (Active Controller Technology; in SONAR) is a powerful protocol, and its complexity can be sufficiently daunting that some people never take advantage of it. However, one of the rarely-considered advantages of a powerful protocol is that it’s often powerful enough to be used in a more basic way. So if you’ve wanted to take advantage of ACT without having to reach for the aspirin, you’re in the right place.

The conventional approach to ACT is using templates that let you apply hands-on control to various instruments and effects. This usually implies having a dedicated controller, spending some time setting up assignments and creating templates, and so on. However, you can also treat ACT more like a “controller scratch pad” that’s easy, efficient, and works with just about any MIDI controller. It’s the ideal solution for when you simply want some hands-on control without having to venture very far into left-brain territory.

Step 1: Choose Your Controller

One of my favorite ACT controllers is Native Instruments’ discontinued Kore 2 controller. The industrial design is first-class, it’s built solidly, and there’s enough functionality for what we need. Another advantage is that when NI stopped supporting Kore, the eBay prices took a major tumble. Although the examples in this article are based on Kore, please note that the same principles apply to virtually any MIDI controller.

Step 2: Grab Your Software

Many controllers have dedicated drivers, so if needed, make sure you have the latest. NI still offers the 32/64-bit Kore 2 Controller Driver 3.0.0 and the latest NI Controller Editor, which you can download for free from their site. Follow the instructions when installing, or you’ll wonder why the controller doesn’t work.

(Note: With the Kore 2 controller, you may first be greeted with an unusable bright red display. No worries: Hit Kore 2’s F2 button, navigate to Set, hit Enter, and use the navigation buttons and data wheel to control the Contrast and Backlight parameter values.)

The Controller Editor for NI’s Kore lets you specify various characteristics of the Kore 2 controller. In this picture, a button is being assigned to output a trigger when pushed down.

Various controllers may have options—such as assigning buttons to a latch, toggle, or trigger mode. Many of them have editors; Kore 2’s is somewhat more sophisticated than many others, but again, the principles are the same. In the case of Kore you open the Editor, select Kore Controller 2 from the drop-down menu, and use the Edit button in the Templates tab to choose New. This creates a general purpose MIDI control template. (While you’re at it, I recommend assigning the eight main buttons associated with the pots to Trigger, and action on Down. For a shift button, assign the monitor [speaker icon] button to Gate, again with action on down. Go to the file menu, and save the configuration as “Sonar ACT.ncc.”)

Step 3: Set Up SONAR

Your controller communicates with SONAR via MIDI, so go to the (more…)

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How to set-up an Audio Interface for Windows Recording

Studio Makeover Month
Tips to help you build your dream studio all through August 
Your studio is where the magic happens! If your music is important to you, then so is your gear, your space, and of course your software. We are focusing this month on tips to help you build the perfect setup to capture the moment when inspiration strikes.

Video Part 1: How to set-up an Audio Interface for recording

TASCAM UH-7000Setting up a new audio interface can be tricky so we’ve put together a solid 3 part video series that shows you all the ins and outs of the process. We’ve used the brand new TASCAM UH-7000 with SONAR X3 Producer to show you the  basic workflow for getting you ready to record. This knowledge can be applied to any interface when working with SONAR.

Video Part 2: How to set-up an Audio Interface for recording
In part 2 we become more focused on the software-end of things (more…)

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How Cakewalk Pros use SONAR X3 for Songwriting

Songwriting is such an intricate art-form. Some approach it seriously, while others find their best work casually writing with others in a lighter atmosphere. There are a lot of moving parts, and in my opinion a lot of magic and unexplainable voodoo that go into a song that simply resonates with the general public for unexplainable reasons. Do you think Afroman thought his song “Because I Got High” would have over 45 million views on YouTube when he wrote it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeYsTmIzjkw

There are so many different and interesting ways to write songs, and SONAR is a DAW that literally becomes your writing partner. From inspiring drum grooves with Addictive Drums, to the ease of workflow with loops, to quickly shaping sounds to inspire a more creative path, SONAR is way more than your industry-standard “recording” software. It’s a place you go to when you want to creatively craft a masterpiece. We thought it would be interesting to hear from some day-in-day-out professionals who depend on SONAR for their livelihood.

Javier Colon
Singer-songwriter
Major Label Recording Artist
International Touring Artist
Winner of Season 1 “NBC’s The Voice”

Cakewalk Artist Relations:     What is your main approach to songwriting?

I’m usually an acoustic guitar guy when it comes to songwriting but sometimes I’ll sit at the piano and get inspired and start writing. I’ve worked with a lot of producers and songwriters that build a track and then write to it – we’ve come up some great songs that way too.

Cakewalk Artist Relations:     How does SONAR help with the songwriting process?

Javier:     SONAR helps me tremendously when writing because it’s so flexible; you can change things in a session as quickly as you can change your mind – this really helps the songwriting process. When I write a song there is a constant process of elimination. I’ll think of a line, and I might like it for a minute, and then toss it out. There are also ideas that I absolutely know will make it into the song. I constantly record as I go so I don’t forget ideas that I really love – SONAR’s arranging workflow really keeps this process creative and easy for me in terms of songwriting.

Also, X3’s looping and comping functions really help with songwriting.  I record chord progression loops so I can come up with melody ideas in real time. Then I’ll go back and audition all the ideas easily to get a good idea of what melodies are better than others.  SONAR X3 has really been a great tool for songwriting for me.

Cakewalk Artist Relations:     What is one of the recent songwriting successes or projects you have had or really enjoyed? What was the workflow or songwriting process like for that?

Javier:     I recently wrote with a good friend of mine, Josh Kelley (more…)

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SONAR for Songwriters – By Craig Anderton

by Craig Anderton

Ask songwriters about writing on a computer, and many of them will tell you it’s a creativity killer—as they reach for an acoustic guitar or piano to get their ideas down. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Although DAWs are thought of traditionally as being all about recording, editing, and mixing, for reasons we’ll cover here I’d rather boot up Sonar for songwriting as well.

Approaches to songwriting vary considerably, from those who strum some chords on a guitar for ideas, to those who start with beats, to those who seem to draw inspiration out of nowhere, and want to record what they hear quickly—before the inspiration fades. As a result, this article isn’t about what you should do to write songs, but rather, describes some particular Sonar tools in depth—some (or all) of which might be very helpful if you’re into songwriting.

Although songwriting styles are very personal, I think we can nonetheless agree on a few general points: While songwriting, you want your tools to stay out of the way and be transparent. You want a smooth-flowing, efficient, simple process; songwriting isn’t about endlessly tweaking a synth bass patch, but about coming up with a great bass part—thanks to the fluid nature of digital recording, just about anything can be replaced or refined at a later date. You want an environment that can simplify turning your abstract ideas into something tangible, while losing as little as possible in the translation. So, let’s look at some Sonar techniques that can help you accomplish that goal.

THE MIDI QUICK START

Normally you need to arm a MIDI track before you can record on it, but it’s possible to defeat this so that recording starts on any selected MIDI track as soon as you click on the transport’s Record button. I realize the default setting is there to prevent accidental overwriting of MIDI tracks, but personally, I find not having to arm a track liberating—it saves time and makes the recording process flow faster. To do this:

  1. Go Edit > Preferences > MIDI > Playback and Recording.
  2. Check the box for “Allow MIDI Recording without an Armed Track” (the 1st box under Record).
  3. Click Apply then OK to close preferences.

It’s possible to record MIDI tracks without having to arm them first, which can be a real time-saver over the course of a song.

 

TEMPLATE FILES (more…)

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4 Tips for Songwriters Before Entering the Recording Studio

1. Eliminate uncertainties with a pre-production demo.

If there is a single doubt in your mind about a song on your record then it’s time to sit down and work out those uncertainties before you get into the studio. Idolizing a recording studio as a creative space is only productive when you’ve booked studio time for being creative. Get that demo sounding as close to the final product as possible so that every part and idea is thought out.

SONAR X3 is ideal for experimenting with those finishing touches. For example, TH2 is a great way to easily grab an amp tone for your bass or guitar. The advanced sound behind Overloud’s flagship product allows you to change amps, input your own impulse responses, and get as close to your final product as you can. The best part about it is that it’s a virtual amp, so you don’t have to commit to your final guitar sound until you’re in your mixing stage.

 

2. Learn the songs cold.

Studio preparation should involve regular and productive practice schedules. Try to learn the songs so that you can play them all the way through without stopping. Playing full takes will get you the best possible performances of your song and allow you to think more about the other players rather than yourself. (more…)

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Songwriting: 5 Ways to Break Musician’s Writer’s Block

Introduction

Composing has an arch nemesis, and that evil is known as writer’s block. It’s a challenge to get through especially if you’re just starting to write your own music. Here are some steps you can take when you feel that you have hit a creative roadblock in your workflow.

1. Break down big tasks into smaller ones.

If something seems like a large undertaking then try to sit down and break it up into smaller parts. This type of workflow can offer you insight on time management. You’ll start to get a  better idea of the different tasks you’re good at and maybe some others that you’re not very good at. Let’s say that you’re really great at writing a catchy choruses, but you always get hung (more…)

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