5 Major Speed Optimizations in Upcoming SONAR Kingston Update

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As we work to perfect SONAR, we’ve focused not only on useful new features, but also improvements to the core program. This month, we targeted our efforts on streamlining SONAR in major ways that will help hobbyists and power users alike.

For the upcoming SONAR Kingston update, CTO Noel Borthwick ran a few benchmark tests to compare, apples-to-apples, exactly how much better SONAR is performing now versus SONAR X3. In every case, the SONAR Kingston update showed marked improvements over SONAR X3 to perform the most common tasks.

SONAR Kingston Benchmarks
*Tests performed on a Haswell Core i7 5960X with 16 GB RAM running 64-bit Windows 8.1

Want to feel the effects of this progress for yourself? Upgrade or try SONAR free today.

SONAR is officially supported on Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10.

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ANATOMY OF A SONAR PROJECT: REPLACING THE PLACEHOLDER 5 WAYS SONAR’S ROLLING UPDATES ARE WORKING FOR YOU

5 Ways SONAR’s Rolling Updates Are Working For You

With the introduction of the new SONAR last January, we also introduced a new delivery model we call Rolling Updates. Essentially, when you purchase an upgrade to SONAR Artist/Professional/Platinum, you receive 12 months of SONAR updates free. Each month, you receive an update (or sometimes more) which can include anything from fixes to new features and tools, add-ons, additional content, tutorials, and more. Once the initial 12 month period is up, you can renew for an additional 12 months and continue to receive updates, or keep everything you own up to this point. Lots of folks were skeptical at first about these Rolling Updates, but since their introduction, they’ve proven their worth. Here’s how:

5) Faster Learning Curves

When we were releasing a version every year or so, you’d receive a whole boatload of new features all at once – which was pretty cool, except you suddenly had tons of totally new features you had to learn to use. These game-changing new features were often designed to speed up your workflow and make your life a little easier, but investing the time to learn how all the new things worked could be overwhelming.

With Rolling Updates, you can now ease into all these new features. Instead of piling on 10-20 new tools, we’re introducing them in bite-sized pieces so you can take them in one or two at a time. This allows you to get a real feel for how they work before diving into something new, and has less impact on your workflow.

Continue reading 5 Ways SONAR’s Rolling Updates Are Working For You

What Windows 10 Means for Music Creators

Windows 10 is here, and our trusted code-commanders have been working closely with Microsoft to ensure an enhanced experience for our valued Cakewalk community.  Our benchmark testing has shown the new operating system to be very efficient with a lighter footprint.  In general, Windows 10 has outperformed Windows 8 in all of our tests in terms of performance and efficiency.  Subjectively speaking, the “look and feel” of this free upgrade is a much welcomed improvement over the “Metro” landscape of the previous operating system.  But what does this mean for music creators?

1.)    More responsive: Out of the gate people will notice a much snappier operating system.  The tweaks Microsoft made to the kernel and other parts of the OS in general have given it a responsive overhaul.

2.)    Upgrade ease:  Moving into Windows 10 is a very quick and easy upgrade.

3.)    Unified OS:  The best elements of Win 7, Win 8, and Win 8.1 have been combined into a streamlined experience with Win 10.  Store Apps and Desktop Apps seamlessly run side by side for a smooth universal experience.

4.)    New MIDI API available across all devices:  The new API allows multi-client access to single MIDI hardware and new jitter-free operation.  Microsoft worked hard on bringing this all together for better MIDI implementation.

5.)    Enhancements to the kernel: Microsoft has made changes in the multimedia scheduler and kernel components to minimize spikes – this can make a big difference in low-latency streaming apps like SONAR.

6.)    FLAC and ALAC Support:  Windows 10 has native support for these two codecs.  Both “Apple Lossless Audio Codec” and FLAC  could mean great things for Windows audio moving forward.

7.)    Much faster boot-time:  A lower footprint in memory combined with some new optimization techniques will get you up and running and making music faster than ever.

8.)    Runs smoother on older machines:  The lower memory footprint and optimization tweaks will also allow Win 10 to run more efficiently on older machines.  This is great news for Wn 7 users who never upgraded to Win 8.

9.)    Lower Latency:  15ms lower roundtrip latency using WASAPI (shared mode).

10.)  Core isolation: Drivers and applications can now isolate and dedicate low latency audio processing to a single CPU core.  This can minimize the effect of DPC latency spiking from networking, Bluetooth, or other DPC spiking processes by preventing interruptions to audio processing.

At Cakewalk, we are dedicated to staying on the forefront of technology.  Our CTO (featured below) and his team worked closely with Microsoft to make sure our products run smoothly on Windows 10.  We are very excited about this free update, and highly recommend it to our customers. Try SONAR with Windows 10 today for the ultimate music creation experience.

SONAR 2015: “Under the Hood” Enhancements and Fixes

What a Year…!

It’s been quite a year for all of us at Cakewalk. Not only did we build our most stable initial release of SONAR ever and fold in multiple features and workflow updates, but we also built the infrastructure for our new Membership program from the ground up. This framework lets us break out of the monolithic “waterfall” model of annual updates and do smaller but more frequent updates. This is very exciting for developers, because we can be more responsive and update our software without the previous release management overhead. Our users have wanted more frequent updates as well, so this is a major achievement for us.

The SONAR community has already noticed the tangible improvements in the performance and stability of our latest SONAR release. In this article I’ll cover some of the “under the hood” work that went into building the new SONAR. If you’re not familiar with the latest additions, you can get started by reading about all the new features here.

I’d also like to mention that this would not have been possible without your support. All of us at Cakewalk feel very fortunate to have such an active, engaged user base that inspires us to create continued improvements and enhancements. We are very excited about what’s planned for the year ahead, but meanwhile, here’s what we’ve been up to in the past year.

 

Cakewalk Command Center (C3)

Cakewalk Command Center implements and manages a “connected installer” workflow. It communicates with cakewalk.com to access a customers profile so it can identify and install owned products, as well as serve as a convenient launcher and update manager.  Presently, the C3 interface only lists newer “connected products” since those are the only ones it knows how to install and manage.

Although it’s not necessary to use C3 to download, install, and authorize products, it’s by far the simplest way to manage and install newer SONAR versions and updates. Although you can install and authorize products with a manual download and authorization process, we highly recommend installing C3 (it has a very small footprint), even if your computer doesn’t have a permanent internet connection.

The new download/install/authorization mechanism can handle a wide variety of user requirements, even for those who run their DAWs offline.

One-click install

The SONAR installers have been redesigned to be modular and small. One of our design goals was to have a new user go from download to running SONAR in under 5 minutes. As a result, with a moderately fast internet connection you can be up and running with SONAR Platinum literally with the click of the Install button. Gone are the days of waiting for long downloads and attended updates. Another nice touch is you don’t need to enter a serial number and authorization code manually. This is all automated by C3 when you install and run SONAR.

Rollback mechanism

Under the new membership model, features are available to members as soon as they’ve gone through final testing. C3 provides a convenient way to access new features, but also allows rolling back to prior versions Continue reading SONAR 2015: “Under the Hood” Enhancements and Fixes

DEVELOPER NOTES: SONAR X3 VST3 Internals

Introduction

SONAR X3 has numerous enhancements and updates to the VST engine, including rich support for the VST3 specification. This article is intended primarily for VST plugin developers to gain a better understanding of the features supported by SONAR and to write plugins that integrate better with SONAR. While the VST3 documentation covers typical information for plugin developers, it does not explain plugin to host integration in much detail. This article attempts to bridge that gap and explain some of the VST3 specific features are implemented in SONAR. Please also see this article that is more intended for end users.

Automatic VST2 to VST3 migration in SONAR

For plugin vendors who have a large base of VST2 plugins and wish to provide a smooth migration path to VST3, its recommended to implement support for automatic migration of a VST2 plugin saved in a prior project to its VST3 equivalent.

This capability will allow SONAR X3 to detect a compatible VST3 plugin while loading a project and automatically transition the VST 2.4 plugin to its compatible VST3 counterpart Continue reading DEVELOPER NOTES: SONAR X3 VST3 Internals

DEVELOPER NOTES – SONAR X3 QUADCURVE EQ (UI ENHANCEMENT)

Introduction

Since it first appeared in SONAR X1 Producer, the QuadCurve EQ has become my go to EQ. That’s saying something given the abundance of killer plugins in my collection (yes, like many of us, I own far too many plugins).

Maybe I’m just lazy, but I love the fact that it’s always there, ready to go on any track or bus at a moments notice. No need to wade through plugin menus – it’s already waiting patiently in the ProChannel.

And it’s no slouch either. There’s no trade-off for that convenience. The QuadCurve EQ is up there with the best of them.

But, as much as I love it, I admit I have, in the past, occasionally found myself reaching for one of the alternative plugins in my arsenal.

Why? The QuadCurve EQ user interface could be, well, a bit cramped. The small EQ plot is fine for quick adjustments, but not so great for fine-tuning. Metering is also important to me, which the QuadCurve EQ was lacking.

The good news? SONAR X3 Producer addresses these issues, and much more besides.

So what’s new?

See me!

First off, it’s easier on the eyes. The UI is cleaner, clearer, and you no longer need a magnifying glass to read the knob values!

Then there’s the EQ plot, or should that be “plots”? The small ProChannel plot is still there of course, and it’s as useful as ever, but now there’s a new secret weapon at your disposal…

…the QuadCurve EQ Zoom Window:

As you can see, it’s essentially a much larger EQ user interface which, among other benefits, provides a much finer degree of control.

I say ‘secret weapon’ because it may not be immediately obvious how to get to it Continue reading DEVELOPER NOTES – SONAR X3 QUADCURVE EQ (UI ENHANCEMENT)

Developer Notes – SONAR X3 Gobbler Integration

Gobbler is a cloud based service for backup, transfer and organization of media project files. SONAR X3 adds tight, project-oriented integration with Gobbler.  You can initiate automatic Project backup, and Gobbler will locate and upload the project file and all of its assets (audio and video).  Furthermore, as the Gobbler service runs in the background, it will detect any further project saves and automatically upload any changes in the background.  Gobbler also allows you to send projects and media to another user or client, and you can do this all from within SONAR X3.

SONAR X3 adds a new control bar module dedicated for Gobbler communication.

The [G] button causes SONAR to connect to Gobbler and its client applet.  Once connected, it will display the remaining available Gobbler storage quota. The [Auto Backup] switch will initiate (or pause) a backup of the currently loaded project.  Once started, it will continue to backup as long as the Gobbler client is running even if SONAR X3 is not connected to Gobbler.  You can pause an automatic backup by clicking Continue reading Developer Notes – SONAR X3 Gobbler Integration

DEVELOPER NOTES – SONAR X3 TOAST NOTIFICATIONS (UI Enhancement)

Introduction

With headline features such as comping and VST3 plugin support, it might be easy to overlook some of the more modest improvements in SONAR X3, which can nevertheless make a big difference to your workflow.

So, aside from the headline grabbers, what else has X3 got to offer?

Well, the user interface has had its fair share of attention too, and that’s what this article is about – highlighting an interesting new UI feature that might otherwise slip under the radar.

Let’s take a look at this simple, yet significant improvement, that’s designed to minimize unwanted interruptions.

Too much ‘dialog’?

As we all know, good software gets out of the way and lets you get on with what you do best. Sadly, it’s rarely that simple, particularly with large, fully featured applications like SONAR X3. Sooner or later, the software will need to draw your attention to something.

And it usually happens when you least want it to!

When you’re ‘in the zone’, there can be few things more irritating than unwanted popup messages. Messages that don’t simply distract you, but actually interrupt whatever you happen to be doing by demanding an immediate response. Such messages are usually referred to as ‘dialog boxes’ (on Windows at least), and the user must respond to them before being allowed to continue:

Some dialogs are necessary, important even (like the one above); but for all the useful, relevant questions an application might ask you, there are probably just as many you could do without!

The fact is, dialog boxes interrupt workflow, and should therefore be used sparingly.

So what to do? What if SONAR wants to draw your attention to something that might be important, but could just as easily be considered spam (depending on your point of view)? Why not let the user decide how urgent something is, and action it, or ignore it, as they see fit?

That’s where ‘toast notifications’ come in.

Anyone for toast?

When you start SONAR X3, you may notice (depending on your settings) something similar to this at the bottom right of the screen:

On first inspection it would appear that the VST Scanner has changed a lot in X3! Well, that’s not actually the VST Scanner.

It’s a ‘toast notification’. Continue reading DEVELOPER NOTES – SONAR X3 TOAST NOTIFICATIONS (UI Enhancement)

Developer Notes: SONAR X3 Comping

Introduction

SONAR X3 continues building on take lanes and goes into overdrive. We baked several ground breaking workflow enhancements including the new comp record mode, speed comping, integration with dim solo, rapid click audition and so much more.  In addition we integrated comping with the smart tool for improved workflow.

 

It all starts with the recording

The default in the normal template is a new comping record mode.  Simply record multiple takes and previous takes are muted with regions created for the new takes.

 

If you’d like to record with a classic mode instead Continue reading Developer Notes: SONAR X3 Comping

Developer Notes: SONAR X3 VST Enhancements

Introduction

SONAR X3 is packed with enhancements and updates to the VST engine, including a brand new VST scanner with industry leading automatic background scanning, support for the VST3 plugin format and an updated plugin browser that supports plugin categorization. Many of the changes apply equally to VST2 and VST3 plugins.

VST background scanning

Users of prior versions of SONAR and other DAW software will be familiar with the process of scanning for VST plugins when the application starts up. SONAR has always had a fast scanner that only scans what’s needed. X3 kicks this up several notches by introducing Continue reading Developer Notes: SONAR X3 VST Enhancements