Using Avid Artist Series Controllers with SONAR

by Craig Anderton

The Avid Artist Series Mix controller is compatible with SONAR. However, remember that this is a Pro Tools-centric controller, so not everything is implemented in SONAR (or in any other program for that matter). Regardless, the basics (and more) are there, but there are also some unique aspects you need to know.

There are horror stories all over the web of not getting the Artist Series Mix to work, even with Pro Tools, and many refer to it as a “doorstop.” Others have found ways to get it to work, which often involve strange rituals of turning things on in an esoteric and specified order—but it doesn’t have to be that weird. It seems the only real issue occurs when the Artists Series Mix initializes before other elements are ready to work with it, so all you need to do is take control over when it initializes—here’s how.

PREP WORK (IN THIS ORDER)

  1. Install the latest EuCon software from Avid’s Artist Series web site. This is essential, because the Artist Series Mix talks to your computer over Ethernet (or to your router/switcher if you already have a wired internet connection appropriating your computer’s Ethernet port).
  2. You may be instructed to do a firmware update.
  3. If needed, install the SONAR Eucon plug-in from https://www.cakewalk.com/Support/Knowledge-Base/20080104/EUCON-Control-Surface-Plug-in. The SONAR EuCon plug-in is needed to have it show up as a control surface in SONAR.
  4. Next time you boot up SONAR, select EuCon as a new control surface in SONAR (in Edit > Preferences > MIDI > Control Surfaces). Do notselect MIDI in or out for the Control Surface, that’s not what EuCon uses.

CONSUMMATING THE SONAR/AVID MARRIAGE

Using the following method, it doesn’t seem to make any difference when you turn on the Artist Series Mix. I usually wait until SONAR has booted, but I’ve also turned it on before anything else, after everything else, etc. The key is to keep the EuCon application from running before you want it to start.

  1. In Task Manager, Startup Tab, right-click on anything that says EuCon and disable startup. I left anything that says MC Client enabled because it didn’t cause problems. After doing so, reboot. You only need to do this once, not every time you want to use the Artist Series Mix.

  1. Boot SONAR and open a project.
  2. Turn on power to the Artist Series Mix.
  3. Wait until the Avid logos turn off in the display, then open the EuControl application that shows up with your apps.

  1. After it’s loaded, locate the EuControl button in the System Tray (or in the Hidden Icons if needed). It may take a while for this button to show up.
  2. Right-click on it and choose Restart EUCON Applications.

  1. When a dialog box says Restart all EUCON applications?, click Yes.

It will take a little while (although well under a minute), but eventually everything will recognize everything else, the faders will mirror what’s in SONAR’s console view if you’d previously selected EuCon as the control surface, and you’ll be ready to go. Note that you’ll also want to use the EuCon system tray icon to access the various settings, but that’s all pretty straightforward if you read the documentation for Avid’s EUCON software.

IS IT WORTH IT?

The Artist Series Mix is a pretty slick controller, even with somewhat of a “Made in China” (which it is) vibe. It has bright yellow OLEDs, and a small form factor that fits in crowded workspaces.

So…here’s what works.

  • Faders
  • Panpots
  • Solo
  • Mute
  • Record enable/disable
  • Sends (up to 8)
  • Gain Trim
  • Phase
  • Automation read/write
  • Bank Select
  • Strip nudge (i.e., move strips in a bank over one at a time)
  • Transport controls
  • It recognizes Aux Tracks, and buses are treated like tracks—no special switching is needed
  • Bank select by selecting a channel in SONAR. This is pretty cool if you’re focused more on SONAR than the controller. If you select a track that’s outside where the existing tracks fall, the faders will “scroll” so that the left-most fader is the selected track, and the other faders increment as you move right. For example, if the faders are on 1-8 and you select track 11, the faders will now go from 11-18.
  • Fader touch select. You don’t need to click anything to start controlling a fader…just touch and go
  • Footswitch jack for punch-in and punch-out
  • You can have up to four controls if you want 32 channels of faders.

Here’s what sorta works.

  • Selecting a track in SONAR selects it in the control surface, but unfortunately, not the other way around.
  • Bank select by selecting a channel in SONAR doesn’t work with buses. You need to use standard bank switching and strip nudging to get to buses.
  • Input Echo works except on Track Folders; however the corresponding control surface light (i.e., in the button you push) doesn’t illuminate when Input Echo is on.
  • Effects kind of work, sometimes. Maybe. I haven’t cracked the code on what makes them happen. I was able to get a Waves C1 compressor working, and for a fleeting moment it seemed like I had ACT figured out, but I wouldn’t go into the Artist Series Mix with the expectation of controlling plug-ins. Then if you can figure it out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Here’s what doesn’t work.

  • The timed dimming function. Given that the manual states dimming is to prolong the life of the OLEDs, it’s concerning they don’t dim as advertised.
  • I don’t really think the effects editing qualifies as working, although as noted above, sometimes it does.
  • As of the most recent Artist Series software update, the meters no longer work in the display.

These units aren’t exactly inexpensive, but they work as advertised (or at least they do if you’ve read this), and perform the standard functions you’d want in a control surface. However, not everyone is enamored of them—check out some of the user reviews on various sites, like Sweetwater.com. In any event, I have the Artist Series controllers working fine with SONAR now—so I know they definitely can do the job.

Note: This article is excerpted from “The Big Book of SONAR Tips,” which is available from the Cakewalk store.

6 Tips and Tricks with the Jamstik+ & SONAR

With the recent announcement of SONAR & Windows compatibility, the opportunity for connecting Bluetooth MIDI Controllers is now available with ease using Bluetooth 4.0. The jamstik is a five-fret guitar controller, designed small enough to fit in your backpack or carry-on. Here are five tips about the jamstik’s hardware and how it works within Sonar: Continue reading 6 Tips and Tricks with the Jamstik+ & SONAR

Wireless Audio and MIDI in SONAR

With the proliferation of Bluetooth enabled devices, IoT (internet of things), wireless technology is one of the hottest trends today with wide-reaching applications to audio, automotive, medical and other industries. Gibson R&D is actively involved with wireless technology both in the hardware and software space and a member of the Bluetooth SIG, responsible for the development and evolution of the Bluetooth specification. As a Gibson Brand, Cakewalk is committed to embracing the advantages of wireless technology. This year, we’re excited to integrate wireless MIDI technology into all versions of SONAR – our flagship recording, editing, and mixing software.

In the 2017.03 release of SONAR we worked closely with Microsoft to add support for Bluetooth LE MIDI devices via the new UWP MIDI API. In November of 2016, we added support for Microsoft’s new low-latency WASAPI shared mode API’s, which including support for Bluetooth audio devices via WASAPI. With these enhancements, SONAR now has built-in support for wireless audio and MIDI via Bluetooth.

In this blog post we’ll delve into some of the technical details behind some of the these features. Continue reading Wireless Audio and MIDI in SONAR

The SONAR Mac Prototype, a collaboration between Cakewalk and CodeWeavers

Several months ago, we promised to deliver a SONAR Mac Alpha. To build it, we collaborated with a company called CodeWeavers. CodeWeavers has a technology called CrossOver that is basically a Windows-to-Mac translator, allowing native Windows applications to run on a Mac.

Together, Cakewalk and CodeWeavers used CrossOver to enable a native Windows version of SONAR Home Studio to run on a Mac. We’ve packaged this product for release as a SONAR Mac Prototype, available now as a free download to all who are interested.

Since our first announcement of this product, we’ve learned three important lessons… Continue reading The SONAR Mac Prototype, a collaboration between Cakewalk and CodeWeavers

Windows 10 Creators Update: Your DAW is not a Game

This week Microsoft debuts its “Creators Update,” the second major update to Windows 10. You can read more about what’s in this update on the Microsoft blog.

While most of the features in this update don’t directly relate to DAW’s or music production, we were particularly intrigued with “Game Mode.” Microsoft indicates that Game Mode dedicates more GPU cycles and a set number of CPU threads to the game and prevents background processes from interfering with it. It sounds good on paper so we wondered how it might benefit a DAW like SONAR…

To check it out, Jon Sasor, Quality Assurance Engineer at Cakewalk, took on the task of doing some benchmarks to test performance in Game Mode with the latest version of SONAR. Jon performed the test on a brand new Dell PC (Intel® Core™ i7-6920HQ @ 2.90 GHz with 16GB RAM) and he compared audio playback performance with Game Mode on and off.

Continue reading Windows 10 Creators Update: Your DAW is not a Game

Bluetooth MIDI Is Here And Why It’s Important For You

A new way to enter MIDI

Greetings! My name is Mike Green, Music Product Specialist at Zivix, we make the jamstik+ portable SmartGuitar & PUC+ wireless MIDI link. I’m primarily a guitar player, and in my 15+ years of musical composition, MIDI has enabled me to write and record quickly. In full disclosure; I’m a lousy keyboardist. The jamstik+ and Bluetooth MIDI’s availability for Windows 10 has revolutionized what used to be a point-and-click endeavor. Now I can use virtual instruments in Cakewalk’s SONAR software controlled by the jamstik+ digital guitar so I can enter in data wirelessly via Bluetooth MIDI – using the guitar skills that come most naturally to me.

Tracking MIDI with the jamstik+ in SONAR Platinum

Jamstik+ & SONAR Platinum is a killer combo for the studio.

A hit with pro and amateur musicians, the jamstik feels like a traditional guitar neck and works with your favorite MIDI apps and DAWs.  Music notation, composition or accompaniment is easy with the Jamstik+ and Sonar Platinum Edition.

The jamstik+ is a great MIDI controller, and my favorite bundled virtual instruments in SONAR are:

  • Strum Session 2: This was an added bonus I did not expect, a built-in guitar modeller! Overall, I’m very impressed with the simple UI. There’s a plethora of modifiers to make your own presets with, and even a chord-finder as an added benefit. Make sure to take a listen to the short track I made featuring the “acoustic” preset (video is at the top of the blog post).
Using Strum Session’s Chord Finder with the jamstik+
  • Cakewalk Sound Center: This Soft-Synth includes a nice variety of tones.  There is a limit to what parameters you can tweak for each sound, but most of these sounds are good right off the bat.  

Make Sure Your PC is Bluetooth 4.0 Compatible.

With recent updates in the Windows 10 OS, SONAR’s DAW takes advantage of using Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy (BLE) to connect Bluetooth enabled MIDI devices. Now, almost all operating systems have this capability, so the performance is only going to get better from here, and more controllers will start “Roli” ‘ing in (haha). Check the specs on your PC (look for Bluetooth in Device Manager) to see if your PC is Bluetooth 4.0 compatible. If not, you can always try various BLE Dongles like this one by Asus.

Connecting is easy

  1. Pair to Windows 10
  2. Open SONAR
  3. Enable your MIDI Device In/Out Check-boxes in Preferences
  4. Select your Soft-Synth
  5. Play!

Use the PUC+ To Connect Other MIDI Controllers via Bluetooth

I should also mention if you’re looking to connect an existing MIDI keyboard, check out the PUC+ Wireless MIDI interface. It’s an easy way to cut the cables from your rig (for your electronic drum-kits, keytar, or even syncing/switching effects on our DAW). After seeing more and more innovative controllers at Winter NAMM 2017, one thing is clear — BLE MIDI isn’t going away anytime soon.

Keep An Eye Out For More Bluetooth Instruments

With the rise of mobile music apps, we are seeing the need for cool controllers that fit the lifestyle of musicians. In Jordan Rudess’s tech talk at NAMM, he put a strong emphasis on tablets being expressive instruments—with one drawback: no tactile feedback on the glass.  This is where controllers like the Jamstik+ come into play. A portable, configurable controller in a guitaristic form-factor. Stay tuned for more from Zivix this year!

Learn more at jamstik.com

Zivix is currently running a promo deal with Cakewalk users for 10% off your order on jamstik.com – Make sure to enter discount code: SONAR10 at checkout!

Pro SONAR User Murray Daigle Holds Mixing Clinics at LONG & MCQUADE – ONTARIO

Producer/Songwriter/Mixer Murray Daigle out of Toronto concludes a successful short run of Mixing clinics this evening at Long & McQuade stores in Canada. Murray Daigle is a Toronto based Music Producer, Songwriter and Mixer with a long illustrious career in the Canadian and international music industry. His songs and productions have earned him Certified Gold and multiple Socan #1 Awards. He has extensive experience in developing and launching many successful music careers, including his consulting work with the Vic Park Group, developing Canada’s pop sensation Neverest.

His most recent success includes Producing, Mixing and Co-writing “Together We Are One”, The official theme song of the 2015 Pan Am Games (Performed by Serena Ryder). His list of hit records spans two decades, beginning with hit making bands like Not By Choice and US Billboard charting acts like Cauterize, selling numbers well into six figures. Murray has worked for all the major labels and numerous indie labels around the world, producing, engineering, mixing and mastering hundreds of tracks, all from his home base MDS Recording.

"The new SONAR is like a music partner for me.  I rely on it daily for so many different things relating to what I do to deliver radio-ready tracks. There are so many different ways to approach music with SONAR, and the inspiration it generates is creative and effortless." 

Continue reading Pro SONAR User Murray Daigle Holds Mixing Clinics at LONG & MCQUADE – ONTARIO

Review: BigTone EDM Expansion Pack for Z3TA+ 2

by Craig Anderton

Sound Designer Nico Herz has done sound design for a variety of companies, of course including Cakewalk. BigTone EDM, for Z3TA+ 2, is (as you can probably guess from the name) designed for EDM. So if you’re into traditional bluegrass, you probably should not continue reading this.

Anyway, the presets are designed for the EDM “sweet spot” of 125bpm. There are 127 presets total, arranged as eight banks: 7 Bass, 19 Keys, 11 Leads, 20 Pads, 11 Sequences, 6 Sound FX, 19 Textures, and 34 Arps. I’m going to assign each bank a letter grade average for two reasons—it might be helpful, and because sounds are so subjective, if you end up disagreeing with me you’ll know not to bother reading any sound reviews I do. Conversely, if you think my evaluations are correct, we can have an ongoing relationship with future sound reviews. Continue reading Review: BigTone EDM Expansion Pack for Z3TA+ 2

Free Impulse Responses For Your Convolution Reverb

by Daniel Gonz
We’d like to release an impulse pack that we created last year in New York City. This free impulse response pack captures the simple ambience of two fantastic live rooms for drums, vocals, and pretty much any acoustic instrument you can imagine. Drop them into your choice of any convolution reverb to add depth to the elements of your mix.

Download the FREE Impulse Response pack here

Free Impulse Responses for Convolution Reverbs

The Dynamic Gate | A Cleaner Way To Mix Drums

by Daniel Gonz

Gates are wonderful processors that can clean up background noise and bleed in your audio tracks. They’re a bit tricky to understand because the key to successfully using one is often a specific feature that’s hidden or buried in the interface. The feature I’m referring to is called the sidechain. It’s a powerful element of my mixing workflow and I’d like to show you why.

To follow along with this post, you can download the audio examples here.

In its simplest form, a gate allows a signal to pass through it only when its decibel level is above a set threshold. This means the gate is ‘open’. If the signal falls below the threshold then no signal is allowed to pass. This means the gate is ‘closed’. The sidechain becomes an integral part of this entire process because it’s what the gate uses to detect whether or not the signal is above or below the set threshold.

Sonitus Gates On Kick and Snare in SONAR
Top Left to Bottom Right: Kick In Gate, Kick Out Gate, Snare Top Gate, Snare Bottom Gate

Continue reading The Dynamic Gate | A Cleaner Way To Mix Drums