DAW Best Practices: How To Choose The Right Audio Interface

The goal of this article is to help you shop for an audio interface. These concepts can get very deep, but for now I will keep to some of the more basic points about the subject. Here are 9 questions you should ask yourself when comparing audio interface options.

1. How many instruments do I need to record at the same time?

The first thing you should consider is the environment that you will be working in and how many instruments you need to record at once. Some people only need the ability to record 2 tracks at a time and others need a minimum of 8. This is the first and most crucial step to understanding your set-up. Continue reading DAW Best Practices: How To Choose The Right Audio Interface

8 Steps for Comping The Perfect Vocal Take

Comping is a term used for editing multiple instances of the same performance together into one flawless track. Cakewalk has adapted this functionality in order to bring this kind of workflow right to the fingertips of every SONAR X3 user. Within this article I am going to show you my own workflow for comping together a vocal track.

1. Create Markers for the different sections of your song. This should have been done during the actual recording. As I’ve stated in other posts, it’s really important to label your sections so that you can move from one place to another without a second thought. Fast paced environments are not very forgiving when the engineer loses their spot. It creates distractions and impedes the artist’s or group’s concentration.

2. Identify the individual sections of the song with split points so that you can understand where each section edit starts and ends. This works in tandem with Markers to help isolate the larger sections of the song. Simply expose your take lanes by using the short-cut Shift+T, expand the track height of the takes, and then click and swipe on the lower half of your audio regions to make split points.

Clicking and swiping can be viewed here Continue reading 8 Steps for Comping The Perfect Vocal Take

21 Reasons to Check Out Addictive Drums ADPaks

Listen to some of these incredibly recorded ADPacks that are now available on the Cakewalk Store.

Vintage Dry

1. Late 70’s

2. Clean Shave

Session Percussion

3. Gentle Crush Continue reading 21 Reasons to Check Out Addictive Drums ADPaks

Feature Spotlight: XLN Audio Addictive Drums in SONAR X3 Producer

Addictive Drums

SONAR X3 Producer now includes XLN Audio’s critically-acclaimed Addictive Drums. Some customers have have asked whether this is a cut down version of Addictive Drums and are shocked to hear that this is in fact the full version (retail price $149). We often hear from customers that one of the most difficult aspects of recording is getting great drums sounds. These problems are now a thing of the past thanks to Addictive Drums – now included in the SONAR X3 Producer upgrade.

Addictive Drums is one of the most powerful and popular drum programs in the world and can be heard on countless hit songs and albums. The unique architecture, fast loading times and flexibility makes it the first choice for many musicians and music producers. Three pristine drum kits, 100+ producer presets and thousands of MIDI rhythms are included. Load a complete drum kit with mixer settings and insert effects – with one click!

Learn more about Addictive Drums in SONAR X3 Producer

Tip: Setting up your Addictive Drums
Addictive Drums is the brand new drum synth available in SONAR X3 Producer. The sounds, fast load times, internal mixing, and abundant groove clips makes this possibly the only drum synth you’ll need to use from now on. There are a couple ways to insert this new synth into SONAR X3 Producer. The first way is to insert Addictive Drums as a simple instrument track.

Learn how to setup Addictive Drums

Tip: Drum replacement with ARA and Addictive Drums
Within SONAR X3 converting Audio to MIDI has never been easier thanks to our deep ARA integration. This opens up many doorways for users to convert their mono audio tracks to MIDI. One great use case for this is replacing drums or adding samples to your drum tracks to enhance their sound.

Learn how to replace drums with ARA integration and Addictive Drums

XLN Audio

Now available on the Cakewalk Store, choose from nine unique Addictive Drums ADpaks from XLN Audio starting at $49. Each ADpak includes a variety of real kit pieces meticulously recorded from real drum sets with iconic sound. Plus dozens of mix ready Producer presets and MIDI patterns to add to Addictive Drums (included with SONAR X3 Producer).

Shop now

SONAR X3 Quicktip: Drum Replacement with ARA Integration and Addictive Drums (Producer)

Within SONAR X3 converting Audio to MIDI has never been easier thanks to our deep ARA integration. This opens up many doorways for users to convert their mono audio tracks to MIDI. One great use case for this is replacing drums or adding samples to your drum tracks to enhance their sound.

Within SONAR open up your Kick and Snare tracks.

Add a MIDI track below each audio track that you wish to replace.

Add our new Logical Gate/Expander to both the Kick and Snare and adjust the effect so that instruments are heavily gated and sound like the following:

After this, Freeze both tracks.  This is going to render the Kick and Snare tracks with the gates embedded in the audio tracks.

Next, latency.  Let’s drop the latency to the lowest settings. Go to Edit > Preferences > Driver Settings and set your latency low. This will help with timing.

  • If you are using MME (32bit) set your latency closer to [Safe].
  • If you are using ASIO then select [ASIO Panel] and set your buffer size very low.

Drag and drop your kick and snare tracks to their associated MIDI track. Conversion will occur.

Next up, open the PRV and move your MIDI Clips to the drum you wish to use. You can highlight the entire row of MIDI clips by selecting their associated piano key and transpose them easily by going to Process > Transpose.

Once this is done insert Addictive Drums. Make sure to have the following ticked after selecting Insert > Soft Synth > Addictive Drums:

  • First Synth Audio Output
  • Synth Property Page
  • Recall Assignable Controls
  • Ask This Everytime

Mute the Room and OH microphones within Addictive Drums.  This reduces any additional ambiance.

Workflow Tip: It’s good practice to do this type of replacement section by section at first so that you can get an idea of how it works.

Mix these drums in behind your current mix.

Learn more about ARA Integration, Addictive Drums, and SONAR X3 Producer here.

SONAR X3 Quicktip: Focus the Low end of your Kick and Snare with a Program EQ

Program Equalizers have been around since the 1950’s and in SONAR X3 Studio and Producer users will receive two of these incredibly emulated modules.

Let’s take a look at what the new Program Equalizer EQP-2B can do for our kick drum. You’ll notice that we have the ability to both boost and cut the same frequencies on this EQ. Choose a low frequency from the variable adjustment and then begin increasing the Boost parameter.  Increase it all the way and your kick drum signal will become quite overpowering. Adjust the Attenuate knob and the signal will begin to smooth out and focus your signal a bit better.

For this country kick drum I picked 80Hz for the low end and boosted the signal to it’s ceiling.  Next, I adjusted the Attenuate knob to it’s lowest setting. This effectively sharpens out the boosted signals and gives the signal a unique focus in the lower spectrum. After that, I adjusted for clarity and the end result is very useable.

Moving to the snare, user’s can get the same effect using the PEQ5B.  This has some of the same algorithms as the EQP-2B but with an added EQ section in the bottom of the plugin. At first listen the Snare sounds a bit boxy and grainy in the low and mid-range.

I applied a sharp reduction around 50HZ with the Low Shelving EQ and then another sharp cut around 800Hz.  This seemed to make all the difference. Afterwards, I moved to the upper half of this EQ and applied the same thinking that I did to the Kick but instead I focused the EQ to around 122HZ.  This will allow the snare to get out of the way of the Kick.  Next, boosting and then attenuating the signal seemed to focus the shape of the Snare right where I needed it.

Learn more about these plugins and SONAR X3 here.

SONAR X3 Quicktip: Setting Up Your Addictive Drums

Addictive Drums is the brand new drum synth available in SONAR X3 Producer. The sounds, fast load times, internal mixing, and abundant groove clips makes this possibly the only drum synth you’ll need to use from now on.
There are a couple ways to insert this new synth into SONAR X3 Producer. The first way is to insert Addictive Drums as a simple instrument track.

  • Within SONAR X3 Producer go to the Media Browser and select the “Synth Tab”
  • Click the + button and go to VST 2 and/or Addictive Drums


EDM Production Tip: Ducking Synth Melodies using Sidechaining

Ducking is a popular technique used in EDM music to apply percussive processing to pads, leads, and bass lines using side-chains on compressors. This technique is also used as a method for getting bass and drum passages to subtly fit together in mixes. In order to successfully apply ducking to your track you must have the following:

  • Compressor inserted on a pad or lead track with side-chain capabilities
  • Percussive source to key the side-chain

First, grab a kick drum sample and align it to the desirable rhythm you need.  Next, insert a compressor onto your synth lead or pad track.  Afterwards insert a send on the sampled kick drum track and set the send to “Pre-fader”. In SONAR, deselecting the [Post] button enables pre-fader sends.  Mute the kick drum sample and turn up the gain on the send.

Once you have the signal flow set, enable the Sidechain on the Compressor.  Now, every time the kick drum sample plays the Side-Chain will trigger the compressor and “Duck” the signal.  You can set the compressor using the Threshold, Attack, and Release settings to shape the kind of effect you want.

Try it yourself with the SONAR X2 Producer free 30-Day trial.

The Distance Effect: How to make audio sound far away using Reverb

Creating distance in a mix or sound design project often results in the use of a distance effect.  This effect can make anything sound as if it’s 50 ft away, and is quite easy to setup.

1) Insert a pre fader send onto an audio track. Within just about every DAW and/or mixing board there is a setting on the Sends sections called “Pre”.  Within SONAR this setting is enabled when the “Post” button on the send is deactivated.

2) In SONAR, I right-click on the Sends area in the console view and select “New Stereo Bus”.

3) Rename the bus “Distance Effect”. Now my audio is routed to this Bus. It’s often good practice to label your buses, or else mixes become confusing to work with.

4) Insert an instance of Reverb onto that bus. In this example I used BREVERB SONAR and called up a Plate preset.

5) Mute the audio track and hit play.

 

To read more about BREVERB SONAR check out Breverb: A 2013 Sound Design Odyssey on our Knowledge Base.

Try the BREVERB ProChannel Module for free – Download the SONAR X3 Producer Trial

How to make your Kick and Snare sound more aggressive using compression

Compression can be used in many different formats but one of the most useful methods is for adding an aggressive sound to your Kick and Snare. A typical compressor’s settings involve Threshold, Attack, Ratio, and Release.

  • Threshold is a setting in decibels. Once it senses that audio surpasses the set decibel level it activates the compressor.

  • Attack is a measurement in milliseconds for how fast the compressor should begin compressing audio that exceeds the set threshold.

  • Ratio is the amount of gain reduction applied to the compressed signal.

  • Release tells the compressor how fast to stop compressing the signal once the threshold is no longer exceeded.

 

By setting the Attack and Release times relatively fast it allows for each drum’s initial hit to sound and then afterwards reduce the audio transient in gain. From our ears’ perspective, each hit sounds more aggressive.

Pictured above: The ProChannel in SONAR X2 Producer.  Try it free!