How A Small Studio in Wales is Making Big Waves Internationally Using the ProChannel and Console Emulation

Since the release of SONAR X3, there have been more and more commercially viable SONAR studios popping up around the world.  One of the more interesting ones that we have found recently is nestled in a land known more for its castles and Celtic folklore rather than commercial music.  But nevertheless, there’s a little-engine-who-could called Shabbey Road Studios who are finding great success from London to New York City through their network of talented clients and talented staff.  Operated by producers-mixers-musicians-songwriters Al Steele, and Nigel Hart, Shabbey Road Studios is a full service studio just outside of Cardiff Wales.  Al, a native Australian, has been a multi-instrumentalist since the age of 8.  A natural career progression in the music industry brought him around the world at a young age with some very significant names such as the Billboard chart-ers Johnny and the Hurricanes, and Del Shannon who had the #1 Billboard hit song “Runaway” in 1961.  He has also appeared as a featured guitarist on many music placements in the Film and TV world which has added much credibility to his current role at Shabbey Road.  Al’s studio partner Nigel Hart is a Musical Director, Film and TV Composer, Songwriter and Arranger. He plays keyboards and sings, but also has a large back catalogue of instrumental compositions and songs.  Recently, Al and Shabbey Road Studio’ staff have been recording Dan and Laura Curtis who are best known for their album “Love on 42nd Street,” which was released in aid of the BBC Children in Need appeal.   Al was assisted throughout this project by Rob Sherwood, another multi-instrumentalist/engineer and X3 enthusiast.  Daniel and Laura Curtis are considered as one of the foremost ambassadors for the preservation of the music of the Great American Songbook in the United Kingdom.  The Great American Songbook offers a dazzling parade of American popular songs as seen and heard in some of the most beloved films and musicals ever made.

“Whether a project is large or small, our emphasis is always on melody and the big arrangements and massive mixes which are all there to support the song and vocalist.  Because of this we spend a long time on recording and then editing the ‘perfect’ vocal take.

The new Comping feature in Sonar X3 is simply amazing.  The ability to quickly audition and select your preferred take without having to painstakingly move to a master track is a massive time saver.  To just be able to slip the edit point back and forth cuts our editing time by about half! (more…)

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Ben Cantil on Z3TA+ 2 – Teaching Synthesis & Sound Design at Berklee Valencia

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with our friend Ben Cantil (aka. Encanti) – EDM Producer, author of the Mutant series Expansion Packs, and evangelist for Z3TA+ 2.

Who is your Masters Sound Design Course at Berklee Valencia geared towards?
I am working with young professionals from all walks of life who have come to Berklee Valencia to earn their Master’s degree, especially as part of the Music Technology Innovation program. My curriculum emphasizes practical and professional applications of creative music software. Some of these students will become sound designers, but many others will become engineers, stage musicians, film scorers, and installation artists, so I try to find common threads to make the content really relevant and useful no matter where you take your skills outside the classroom.

 

What are your goals for the students in your class?
This course is all about the fundamentals of sound design. The first goal is to equip students with creative and technical skills for generating sounds from scratch, emulating sounds, and composing unique sonic gestures intuitively. Another goal of this course to produce content using a variety of different medians. I think it is an ideal class for anyone that learns best from hands-on experience.

 

What are some of the Cakewalk Products being used in your class?
Z3ta+ 2 is a major part of my masters sound design course. We spend several weeks building patch libraries and sequences to make the synth really sing. I’ve found this is the ideal plugin to use when teaching synthesis, because it’s so unrestrained and versatile without being a processor hog.

 

In what ways are you using Z3TA+ 2 as a teaching tool? (more…)
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Joerg Kohring: Former Guitarist of Lifehouse Finding Success with SONAR and a Solo Music Career

We recently got a chance to sit down with Joerg Kohring who is an LA-based singer/songwriter/producer working out of Los Angeles.  Originally from Germany, Joerg found his current musical path originally playing guitar in the award winning band Lifehouse.  Since then, he has found success with his own LA-based band Orbit Monkey as well as his production work with other artists.  Orbit Monkey’s debut record “Are We Alive” came out in 2011 and the band gained many fans from the recordings.  Since then, the band recently released a follow-up EP titled “Born to be Kings” and has released another single/video titled “On Fire” which was recorded and produced completely in SONAR X3.

(more…)

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SONAR X3 Making Its Mark in the LA Scene

On the backend of the 2014 NAMM Show, we had an opportunity to take a spin around LA and drop in on a few SONAR users hard at work.  From rock, to EDM and just about every genre in between, here are what some SONAR X3 users in the LA scene are up to:

Adventure Club

While we were making the rounds, we were lucky enough to find out that the Canadian duo Adventure Club was camping out in downtown LA for a while with their mobile SONAR rig.  Adventure Club is defining a new wave of modern musicians and SONAR is at the forefront of their sonic assault.  Originally hailing from Montreal, the duo has recently been all over the globe playing to more and more dedicated fans after seeing the success of over 1.3 million views with their single “Gold” feat. Luna.  Their SONAR tracks have been streamed over a million times on Spotify, and they were noted in the 2013 Top 10 artists most consumed on SoundCloud.

AC has been touring across North America, as well as parts of Europe and Australia and has also played at various music festivals including the American Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, Nevada. They also made their first appearance at the Ultra Music Festival-2013 in Miami and additionally found themselves playing at the Ultra Music Festival in Seoul, South Korea in June 2013.

The duo’s remix of “Crave You” by the Flight Facilities was featured in the episode “Restraint” of the MTV television series Teen Wolf.  We got a chance to sit down with Christian and listen to some of his productions in SONAR and found it interesting to see how he gets some of his unique sounds (more…)

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SONAR User and Composer Jerry Gerber to Give A Power-workshop on MIDI at NAMM 2014

When programming complex orchestrations, getting that authentic “feel” can be a big challenge for any producer or composer regardless of the DAW at hand.  It takes many years of use-case scenarios along with a full bag of MIDI tricks of the trade.  Longtime SONAR user and MIDI-manipulator Jerry Gerber possesses both of these elements, and will be sharing his secrets at the 2014 NAMM show.   Interestingly, the workshop is not targeted for just SONAR users, but rather for anyone who wants to create the most artistic MIDI recordings possible with the technology they have available. (more…)

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A Holiday Miracle: 24 Hours To Write, Record, Produce, Mix A Commercial Track in SONAR X3

“Audio Production Jobs” come in all shapes and sizes these days;-)  Yes, the music industry in general has shrunken to an all-time low in terms of major label budget projects, but the flip side is that there are many nooks and crannies out there to stay creative while making money.  I think the key these days is getting into as many industry circles as possible, and then over-delivering.  If you’re handed a job for writing, mixing, producing or even recording, and you knock it out of the park the first time with low-no hassles to the client, you will certainly come to mind on the next round.  I would also be willing to bet that your name will be referred to other folks outside of that job’s “circle.”  You just never know to where things are going to lead.

Stemming from this theory, I have been fortunate enough to work on some pretty diverse projects ranging from title tracks for Pokémon DVD’s to Major Label artists and just about everything in between in one form or another.  For the work I do now, the one thing that gives me an edge using SONAR X3 Producer over other DAWs is the quickness of the workflow; which contributes to music creation diversity.  Sounds deep right? …well it kind of is.  Here’s a real-world example with italicized words in red representing why SONAR X3 features are crucial to me when facing tough audio jobs.

Just a few weeks ago I was contacted by NYC singer-songwriter Jodi Good’s music attorney Steven Beer on a Friday night to discuss an opportunity for a “Holiday Song” to be placed with a major publication [for Monday].  Now usually, “Holiday Songs” are recorded around August or September and we were already at the end of November, so I knew this was going to be a tough one to accomplish especially since the song had to be written, recorded and mixed fast.  The other strike against me was that this one was a bit out of my rock, and pop-rock comfort zones, but I knew the challenge would be a good experience on many different levels, so I decided to fire up the eggnog and go for it.  Plus I had the comfort of knowing that Jodi is a great songwriter especially in the lyric department, so it was “weekend on.”

Literally that night Jodi was sending me vocal-only words and melodies as text messages on my Samsung S4.  She doesn’t play an instrument and we didn’t have the benefit of time, so we had to start writing via virtual and digital means.  I instantly forwarded them via email to my HP Z400 main rig where I drag-and-dropped them into a session for reference where they automatically created audio tracks.  The next move was simply pulling them down to a midi track where Melodyne’s ARA technology kicked in instantly giving me the notes in Midi.  This helped me to figure out the best chord structures for the verses and pre-chorus and also allowed me to see where I could go writing the chorus melody.  After about a half hour on my trusty acoustic, I had the bones to send back to Jodi via text.

[I'm going out on a limb here for your laughing pleasure ;) Here's the actual writing file on my phone which is what I texted back to Jodi when we were writing the melody - so you can hear how the song started, and where it ended.] (more…)

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Professional SONAR users weigh in on SONAR X3 – Stability, Performance, & Workflow

X3 is being hailed as the most rock solid edition since SONAR’S inception.  Beyond the new tools and features, a lot of work was put into the core functionality of the program to make sure that even top-notch music-making professionals would find performance improvements.  From the Skylight User Interface enhancements, to audio engine improvements – and everything in between, professional users who depend on SONAR day-in and day-out for their livelihood are weighing in:

 

Timothy Wynn (Sonic Fuel Studios / SonicFuel.net) – Los Angeles, CA

Congratulations to SONAR X3 user Timothy Wynn on winning Best Score at the CineRockom Film Festival for “The Liberator” this year.  With several globally successful franchises already to his credit ranging from blockbuster video games such as Command & Conquer, Dungeon Siege, GUN, The Punisher, Red Faction, 2K’s The Darkness II, The Simpsons and Warhawk to music in the hit television series Supernatural, Tim Wynn has gained international recognition as a leader in a new generation of highly talented and versatile composers.

Most recently, Timothy used SONAR to work on the feature films “The Starving Games” and “MK Reloaded (2014),” while also scoring EA Sports Madden 25 with Chris Lennertz.

“Cakewalk software has always been great for me in general, but this round of SONAR has really been stepped up.  SONAR X3 is the most stable DAW I have ever used.   I’m running huge projects (more…)

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SONAR X2 makes the grade at USC Thornton School of Music

Professor Chris Sampson, founding director of the Popular Music program at the USC Thornton School of Music, recently wrote an article for the Roland Music Education blog explaining why he prefers to teach with SONAR X2.

“As a professor of songwriting, I teach in both a classroom setting and privately, and a little over a year ago, I incorporated SONAR X2 into my instruction with great results.”

This is a screenshot from an actual private lesson

Professor Sampson cites SONAR X2′s Skylight User Interface, Smart Tool, ProChannel, included virtual instruments, overall workflow, and the sound quality of SONAR’s 64-bit audio engine as powerful enhancements to his teaching process.

“With these assignments, it is very important to me that the tracks sound great and authentic to the style I’m presenting, because the students’ enthusiasm can be seriously eroded if the track does not sound good. This is where the sound quality of SONAR X2’s 64-bit audio engine really shines.”

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The professor also gave us ‘extra credit’ for our own commitment to teaching aspiring musicians.

“In addition to the educational benefits of SONAR itself, there’s an abundance of training resources available at SONAR University. The videos there make it easy to understand the concepts behind every phase of the recording process, and the various tips I’ve picked up from The Cakewalk Blog have been invaluable as well. Both are great resources for students to build their own skills independently.”

Read the full article on the Roland Music Education blog.

Or download the SONAR X2 Producer Free Trial and see why SONAR X2 is getting high marks in the classroom and the studio.

 

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Film Composer James Bernhard Gets it Done Right with SONAR

Film composer and longtime Cakewalk user James Bernhard is a busy man. With films to score and a new music production company to run, it’s understandable. Fortunately SONAR is with him to help get things done right, right away.

James BernhardAfter getting his start as a songwriter in Long Island, NY, he made the move to LA to write music for television & film. It was in LA where the musical partnership with four-time Grammy award winning mixing engineer Brian Vibberts and golden-eared mastering engineer Patricia Sullivan (employed by Bernie Grundman Mastering) began. From this, the new company G4H Music Productions Inc. was born.

James was gracious enough to take time away from composing to have a conversation about his career, how he uses SONAR to score to picture and, despite pressure from colleagues, why he won’t ever switch to another DAW. (more…)

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Javier Colon, Winner of NBC The Voice Using SONAR X2 for New Record

It’s been quite a ride in the last 2 years for Javier Colon after being crowned the winner of NBC’s hit TV show The Voice.  Some highlights include releasing the record “Come Through for You” on the Universal/Republic label, gaining millions of new fans, and touring around the world sharing the stage with artists including Maroon 5, Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw to name a few.  It’s rare for an artist like Javier to experience so many facets of the music industry.  He is been signed to two major labels, put out his own successful independent music, and claimed the top spot on one of the biggest television shows of our time.  But what sets him apart from other artists (besides the obvious) in today’s never ending plethora of supposable talent?  I recently got a chance to catch up with Javier in his new SONAR X2 home studio in Connecticut and find out what he’s been up to, and where he’s going. (more…)

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