HOW The Duke Western USES SONAR TO CREATE MUSIC FOR DUCK DYNASTY (AND MORE)

Here at Cakewalk we are fortunate to have an external team of rocket scientists who help test out SONAR beta releases.  This team is dedicated, passionate and most of all appreciated by all of us internally here at the Cake shop.  Recently I received a general email from one of my esteemed colleagues mentioning that one of our trustworthy beta soldiers was jumping off the beta-battlefield in lieu of another SONAR related activity.  Huh?  This peaked my curiosity and I felt obliged to dig a bit deeper on the subject.  What could “another SONAR related activity” involve?  SONAR Olympics? SONAR CPU Racing? SONAR Academy?

Featured Music Placements on Discovery Channel, History Channel, CBS, Bravo Network

Continue reading HOW The Duke Western USES SONAR TO CREATE MUSIC FOR DUCK DYNASTY (AND MORE)

How the new “TH3 Cakewalk” Will Elevate Your Recordings in SONAR

Whether you update SONAR every month or not, this month is a great time to hit the C3 button.  Besides the new cutting edge LP mastering plug-ins, we have worked hard and closely with our good friends at Overloud to deliver something that can truly change your sound as a SONAR user. TH3 Cakewalk has arrived and will now replace TH2 moving forward, and I had the opportunity to run the beta for the last month building some basic presets for the plug-in. Right out of the gate I found this VST3 to be a nice upgrade from its predecessor TH2.

Now I am absolutely nothing close to a guitar wizard, but I have been hacking around since I picked up the instrument at age 5, so I’ve been around the block with guitar tones touring, producing, engineering, recording, etc. like a lot of folks probably reading this.  From a production standpoint, I’ve always loved the convenience of amp simulators, but always hated what would happen to the tone when trying to mix them together with drums that had been recorded with 1073’s, API’s or other heavy duty pres and mics… the tone gets small pretty fast.  In my opinion, this is something that Overloud in general has excelled at—DSP and algorithms that truly stay at the front of the mix no matter what the context.  TH3 brings this concept to even another level.  Here are some of my quick thoughts and findings.

Sounds
There are a lot of changes with the new TH3 Cakewalk including the new and upgraded User Interface which I will get into, but I bet a lot of folks like me really base their judgments on how things sound.  The good news is that once you are up and running with the plug-in you will notice a nice improvement on the sound quality from TH2 Producer/Cakewalk.  5 new amp models with more accurate model reproduction are included in TH3 Cakewalk, and all have improved DSP along with enhanced preamp and power amp stages.  To my ear, I notice a more “open and natural” sound in general, but also notice a more responsive relationship between the pick and the strings in terms of “feel”—like when you play a guitar through an amp that just had the tubes replaced.  I also notice more presence overall, but the right type of presence without harshness.  The low-mids and mids are thick and punchy and I especially love the new Slo88 and Tweed Deluxe amps which have a lot of character.  The Bassface is a beast as well; this amp is a secret weapon for many rock producers who use it to double rhythm guitar parts recorded with other amps.  Blending these two sources together produces a tone that is about as thick as it gets.

New amps in TH3 Cakewalk:

 

Bassface 59:  Model of a classic american “bass” combo amp, tuned to be great for rhythm and blues playing on guitar once overdriven

Continue reading How the new “TH3 Cakewalk” Will Elevate Your Recordings in SONAR

SONAR PLATINUM ADDS Ultra Analog SESSION 2 SYNTH IN 2016.03 UPDATE

As a fan of our bakers and all the great features coming out of the Rolling Updates, I absolutely love exploring all the new things SONAR brings every month.  As a big fan of Lounge Lizard, I was really excited to learn that we would be incorporating the Ultra Analog Session 2 (UAS2) instrument into SONAR this month.  So at this year’s Namm convention I made a point of meeting up with my buddy Marc over at Applied Acoustic Systems to learn more about the synth before trying it out.

“A fun synth to play around with,” Marc explained.  And once I got my hands on it I understood what he was talking about.  Being a bit underwater with time these days, I decided to put an hour (or so) cap on diving into the synth and writing a short piece of “whatever” inspired me while first hearing and manipulating the sounds; and making use of the features.  I challenged myself a bit by using ONLY instances of this synth combined with stock SONAR Producer ProChannel modules so I could get a good feel for its capabilities.  I also thought it would be a fun test since there are no stock drum or percussion patches in the synth.  Here is what I found:

  • Useful:  In my book, you can never have enough options when it comes to sounds.  I have synths where I only LOVE a few patches but you know what? – Those patches are worth every penny having the synth in my arsenal.  I found the UAS2 to have some really great sounding vintage patches.  With 7 banks of sounds there are a lot of tones that would come in handy and will work well in certain styles of music.  I found combining these sounds with ProChannel shaping to be a great combination for creating some unique sounds.
  • Diverse:  I like the fact that for a synth with a small footprint, it crosses a through a wide array of tones.  The 5 main tonal character traits are Arpeggio, Bass, Lead, Pad, Polysynth, along with a bonus of two banks from Richard and Sean Devine that come in handy for more options.  I like the fact that there’s not a ton of overwhelming stuff here—and what’s in the box is all great and diverse for different applications.
  • Cool features:  I personally love using arpeggiation effects.  Admittedly, I love them because I am a horrible keyboard player and they make me sound like I know what I am doing… kind of;) I sometimes use arpeggiation in a way that might be different than some users—I follow no rules of arpeggiation (is that even a word?)—I throw on tons of effects… I let my ears rule both my hands and find notes and things that just sound good to me.  I often use this effect on choruses while knocking out all low end to give a song an inconspicuous lift.  The “Arpeggio” on this keyboard is cool.  It’s simple and straight forward and allows the user to combine a bit of old-school arpeggio tactics along with many syncing options.
  • A Strong Simple Synth Engine:  For someone like me who is not a synth expert, this instrument is great.  The 3 sound generators (VCO, Filter and Amp) are simple enough to navigate for those who do not fully understand the complexities of creating synth patches.  In my opinion, 10 minutes of turning knobs with this instrument is enough time for anyone to come up with some great sounds.  For example, after putting a limiter on my master bus I noticed one of my staccato parts was cutting through in a way that sounded too intense compared to the kick.  Very easily was I able to identify the “Amp Attack” as the culprit, and by simply dialing that knob back a bit the sound became what it needed to be.
  • Onboard FX:  Similar to Z3TA+, this synth carries its own FX processing right inside the synth.  Although multiple FX are not possible in one patch, the good news is that AAS didn’t skimp on the quality of the engine.  I tested all FX (Chorus, Delay, Distortion, EQ, Flanger, Phaser, Reverb) with different patches and found the available parameters to be intuitive while rendering high-quality sounds.

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

Meet the Bakers: Jimmy L

The direction I received for this blog article was “anything goes” and “keep it fun,” so my background story will knock off 2 birds with 1 stone: a blog post that hopefully will not bore readers to death, and a therapeutic time-lapse review for me… 😉 Sorry it’s a bit long, but I am 105 years old…

My weird music industry story:

My name is Jimmy Landry and I am a functioning work-aholic, wait, wait… I mean I am Head of Artist and Public Relations for Cakewalk.  I have thankfully been working for Cakewalk for almost 6 years now (hard to believe).  I have had an interesting career up to this point where I have toggled back in forth from being an artist (signing with EMI back in 2000) to actually working for Major Labels in Radio Promotion, Marketing, A&R and Staff Production (Elektra, Virgin and Capitol Records). I have been a musician since the age of 5 when I picked up my sister’s purple-flowered acoustic guitar she left behind while attending college (– thankfully there are no pictures I know of playing THAT thing 😉 Continue reading Meet the Bakers: Jimmy L

Meet the Bakers: Mike L

I began playing Drums when I was 8 years old after my Dad set up his old kit from the 70’s. I played for a few years until I picked up my first guitar at a second hand music shop in New Hampshire. I played for hours everyday until the noise I was making started to sound like a melody. My friends and I started a punk band at the age of 13. We weren’t the best in my neighborhood, but definitely the loudest. At this point I knew I wanted to play music everyday for the rest of my life.

When I got to high school, I tried to find every music class I could. My first class freshman year was an electronic music class. In this class we used a version of Cakewalk Music Creator. I started becoming extremely interested in music production and wanted to learn everything I possibly could. I started to listen to my favorite albums and try to recreate the sounds I was hearing. To gain some experience, I started recording local bands in my basement by hanging mic cables over pipes for overheads. I remember listening to the album ‘Revolver’ over and over trying to copy what I was hearing.  Continue reading Meet the Bakers: Mike L

Meet the Bakers: Lars W

Music is something I’ve always loved since I was very young. I played a few different instruments throughout school. In third grade I picked up the Baritone horn in grade school and played that through my senior year or high school in the concert band. As I got older my passion for music and different styles of music grew. In high school I started going to local rock shows which is what made me want to be in a band.

Being on stage and connecting with an audience was something I really wanted to do. That’s when I decided to start playing guitar. Not long after that I ended up switching to the bass after the bassist in my first band quit and that quickly became my primary instrument. The more I played shows the more I started to take music more seriously. What started as a hobby quickly became my life. In my junior year of high school I went to a 4 week workshop on Recording Studio Technology at the New England institute of Art. After spending a few weeks in the studio’s there I was hooked. Going into my senior year I decided I wanted to pursue a career in music production and engineering. So I made that my focus and took just about every music elective I could and then I applied to the New England institute of Art for Audio & Media Technology and got in.

While I was in school I studied with lots of inspiring teachers and made a bunch of great connection through doing internships and going to the AES Convetions and local AES events. About half way through college I started freelancing as an audio engineer working for various different audio companies in the Boston area doing live sound, studio recording and location recording. I graduated from the New England institute of Art in 2007 and not long after graduating I landed my gig at cakewalk as a customer service representative. Since then I’ve expanded into tech support as well. Continue reading Meet the Bakers: Lars W

Meet the Bakers: Joey A

How did you get started with music?
When I was about 10 years old, my dad bought this acoustic guitar for himself for $20 or so. I thought it was so cool that my dad knew how to play AC/DC and Kiss songs (correctly or not made no real difference to me at the time), so I asked him to show me everything he knew. I picked up the basic chords pretty quickly and started sneaking into his room while he was at work to play the guitar unsupervised. One day he came home earlier than usual and heard me in my room playing the guitar. He was too shocked at how quickly I surpassed his skill level to scold me, and he said I could keep the guitar. Around the same time, two of my cousins were getting into guitar and I HAD to get as good as they were, so I put in as many hours of practice as I could.

Fast-forward about two years, I was starting to get into electric guitar more and more, and for Christmas I got this multi-fx pedal, and I was quickly obsessed with tone and all the neat things you could alter about a guitar’s sound. This naturally evolved into a passion for the field of audio engineering, and I decided that’s what I wanted to study after high school.

I managed to hone my musicianship enough to get accepted to Berklee College of Music right out of high school, and I took on a Music Business major, a Music Production and Engineering major, and an Acoustics & Electronics minor. During summers I interned for various music-related companies, not the least of which was the world-famous Blackbird Studio in Nashville, TN. It was throughout these college years and internships that I learned a lot about myself, particularly that I knew I wanted to work in the music industry to some degree, but I wanted audio engineering to remain entirely fun for me; I wanted to keep it around as a serious hobby but not make it my full-time profession. Continue reading Meet the Bakers: Joey A

Meet the Bakers: Willy J

Sometime in middle school I started listening to bands like Static-X,Slipknot and Fear Factory and decided to start playing drums as well. My neighbors thought it was really cool. So cool they even invited local law enforcement over to listen to how awesome my high school band was. I got into school band and eventually jazz band and decided that I wanted to try the Bari Sax. I played on a busted old school loaner bari sax that was probably more suited as a gravel scoop than a horn but I ended up loving it.

This is about when my time with Cakewalk products started. Some buddies and I decided one summer that we should record ourselves, because you know – there wasn’t a big enough market for angsty teen rock bands. One friend got a set of drum mics and I end up getting a mixer that came bundled with Logic 5. That was way back in the day when Logic supported Windows. It didn’t work out very well and I ended up buying a copy of SONAR 2 XL. Yes – I actually bought it. I know, unheard of for a teenager that was tech savvy in the days of Napster.

I spent that entire summer playing around with mic positions, effects and learning how to mix. The following school year I was dual-enrolled in a local community college and took a few courses on recording. We used these old Tascam 16 and 32 track machines and would mix everything down to 2-track tape. It was a great experience although sometimes I wasn’t sure if the machine was about to take off like a helicopter. I have yet to have the opportunity to apply my capstan cleaning skills in a real studio. Continue reading Meet the Bakers: Willy J

Meet the Bakers: Craig Anderton

If you want to know about me, including multiple probably surprising facts, One Louder magazine did a pretty comprehensive interview just before I joined Gibson. In fact I’m surprised I was asked to participate in “Meet the Bakers,” because I’m really just an honorary baker…but apparently all these software guys need someone with hardware experience to change light bulbs and fix the microwave, and that would be me. So we’ll just cut to the chase, and deal with the bullet points. Oh, and don’t forget to check out my latest music videos at http://www.youtube.com/thecraiganderton. It’s an eclectic collection, to say the least…from cover versions to French Antilles dance music to EDM to hard rock to a live ambient performance written as a sleep aid for my daughter.

Doing a festival gig with Brian Hardgroove from Public Enemy, as the hard rock two-piece EV2. Eddie Kramer called us “The Black and White Stripes.” I’m quite sure he considers me the white one. Continue reading Meet the Bakers: Craig Anderton