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.
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.
Top Left to Bottom Right: Kick In Gate, Kick Out Gate, Snare Top Gate, Snare Bottom Gate
In a world where consoles are less likely to be seen or even touched by musicians today and a control surface is referred to as a mixer occasionally, I always find myself missing the tactility of working in an analog studio. Don’t get me wrong though, I truly love all the affordances that our modern digital production environments allow for, but yet here I am… I wanted to make the mouse act more like a finger touching controls when working in SONAR, so we started working with that idea and came up with many ways that mouse gestures could be improved upon to do more than currently possible.
Introducing Smart Swipe
Workflow is extremely important to us, and we wanted users to see this as an improvement to their existing workflows without disturbing the way they use the app. We started looking at track state management and how we could make the app feel more responsive. There was already a lot of affordance to controlling groups of tracks through Quick Groups, but some gestures at times seemed like Quick Groups just weren’t quick enough. For example, I work a lot with 2 guitar mics, and sometimes I just want to solo or mute both tracks without using a bus. It seemed very natural to want to click and drag from a control on one track and have it affect the same control on neighboring tracks.
The benefits of using Smart Swipe
With Smart Swipe, you can:
Quickly Mute or Solo multiple tracks that are in series like Guitars with 2 mics, recording Bass with a DI and a mic, etc
Alleviate some situations where you would need to put tracks into a folder.
Add additional control to tracks already in a folder.
Quickly check the phase relationship across drum mics while playing back.
Quickly A/B the processing of tracks by Smart Swiping the FX Bin Enables
Isolate and listen to takes by looping a section and Smart Swiping the Solo Exclusive buttons on the take lanes.
Quickly enable or disable multiple sends on the same track in the Console View
Track View vs. Console View
The Track View & Console View have some similar controls, but also several unique ones. Here are the areas in which you can currently use Smart Swipe.
Track: Mute, Solo, Record, and Input Echo
Track: Read, Write, and Archive
Track: Take Lanes
Mute, Solo (exclusive), and Record (exclusive)
Track: Automation Lanes
Track: FX Bin Enable
Bus: Mute, Solo, and Waveform Preview
Bus: Automation Lanes
Bus: FX Bin Enable
Track: Mute, Solo, Record, and Input Echo
Track: Read, Write, Interleave, and Phase
Track: FX Bin Enable
Track: Send Enable and Post (Vertically)
Track: ProChannel Enable and Post
Bus: Mute, Solo, Read, Write, and Interleave
Bus: FX Bin Enable
Bus: Send Enable and Post (Vertically)
Bus: ProChannel Enable and Post
We are very excited to have added Smart Swipe to SONAR and we hope our users find it useful and meaningful to their workflow. Now that I have been using Smart Swipe for a while I can’t imagine using a DAW that doesn’t have this available. We already have further enhancements planned and are thinking of even more ways that we can continue to improve Smart Swipe and the SONAR workflow.
Something inspiring is happening in the Dallas music scene, and Cakewalk is excited to be a part of it with SONAR Platinum. When Norman Matthew gets off the road from touring with his band Murder FM, or finishes up a major video or full length record, it’s not time to chill out. In fact for him, that’s the time when he buckles down and digs into his “little side-thing” which is a major music operation called The Sound Foundation (TSF) in Dallas, TX. Dallas has always been known to be a great music town, but Norman’s TSF has a great angle to its existence that resonates to the very core of his soul. In fact just recently, TSF caught the eye of the Ford Motor Company who took notice of Norman and his operation and were so impressed, they featured the establishment on their “Good Works” series.
If you’re reading this article, I’m sure you are aware that the Major Label system has pretty much all but collapsed. Look anywhere on the internet and you will find all the articles you can handle about how evil all the labels were, how they had this coming to them and how the lavish lifestyles of the greedy executives fostered this meltdown. But what you may not know is that “back in the day,” a good piece of that excess cash folks paid down on an $18 CD that cost $1.76 to make went right back into a pool of starving artists (not directly of course). It was called “Artist Development” and it helped pay and pave the way for many iconic artists who started out with the ole “Label Demo Deal.”
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
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.
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
Just a few short years ago, we learned of a new up-and-coming artist who was using SONAR. After introducing ourselves and learning more, the one thing that kept resonating were the infectious melodies and counterparts embedded into his tracks. We were delighted to witness him working in SONAR, but at the same time very intrigued that he was using SONAR 8.5.
Soon after being in touch with iLan, we were able to catch up with him face to face in his studio just north of London for a night where we introduced SONAR X3 to him. It was a fun night and very interesting to watch a pro’s reactions going from 8.5 to X3 considering that undoubtedly the platforms are truly different. There were some moments of, “Whooaaah… that will save me a ton of time,” and there were moments of, “Ummm…that will take a while to get used to.” Leaving iLan to his own devices we were really unsure where he would take it.
Toggling back and forth from 8.5 to X3 for a while, iLan finally found his stride with SONAR Platinum. He told us, “After working on both 8.5 and X3, once I was on Platinum there was no going back. The basic features alone like the smart tool and Mix Recall not only save me a lot of time, but allow me to create things I could not create in 8.5. With the amount of tracks I create and pace of my workflow, the fact that Platinum is rock solid and really fast means everything to me. 8.5 always allowed me to ‘not’ sound like everyone else in my genre, and Platinum just continues that path for me.” iLan’s first full production in SONAR Platinum titled “Bigger Than Love,” a collaboration with singer/songwriter/artist Giuseppe de Luca was recently released on Anjunabeats and quickly found its way up the charts to the #1 spot on Beatport.
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.
With South by Southwest over and the Northeast starting to thaw out, we checked in with a few of our professional artists to see what they have been up to.
Norman Matthew and Murder FM Announce New Tour and Wrestlemania
Just when we thought it could not get any more murderous, Norman Matthew of Murder FM is jumping into the wrestling ring??? Fresh off of a national tour with Drowning Pool, in support of their latest record Happily Neverafter which was produced in SONAR X3 & Platinum and doing very well, Murder FM have announced April tour dates. The shows kick off with the wrestling debut of vocalist Norman “The Gnar” Matthew, during “Wrestlemania” Weekend at the 1010 Collins Ctr in Arlington, TX! (Yes, you heard us right – Wrestlemania.)
April 1 – 3, the Trifecta of wrestling brands, Knokx Pro/ Territory League, Samoan Dynasty Wrestler “TMD” Teams up with Murder FM in Arlington, TX. Murder FM Vocalist Norman “The Gnar” Matthew takes the corner of “TMD” during WRESTLEMANIA weekend, featuring WWE Hall Of Famer “Rikishi”.
Recently we also found out Norman is using SONAR Platinum live on stage. Next month we will be focusing an article around that setup and how he uses SONAR in a live application… [this is if he makes it out of Wrestlemania this weekend ]
Other New Tour Dates:
04/14 – Dubuque, IA – The Venue
04/15 – Crest Hill, IL – Bada Brew
04/16 – Springfield, IL – Capitol City
04/17 – Pekin, IL – Twisted Spoke
04/20 – Kent, OH – The Outpost
04/21 – Toledo, OH – Realm
04/22 – Chesterfield, MI – Diesel
04/23 – Battle Creek, MI – The Music Factory
04/24 – Harrison, OH – The Blue Note
What do Zagreb Croatia and SONAR have in common? The answer to that question is one talented musician/producer by the name of Yogi Lonich. LA based Lonich who has worked with iconic artists such as Shakira, Buckcherry, Wallflowers, Fuel and most recently Chris Cornell is on hiatus from LA and producing a few great rock artists in Croatia in SONAR Platinum.
“UP,“ is an alternative rock band formed in Zagreb Croatia by singer/guitarist Leo Angelcovich. In 2015 Leo started recording demos by himself and caught the ear of Yogi who has now joined him in person as a producer and collaborator. The efforts so far are focused on turning out a few singles, following an album in 2017 before world domination. The bands influences: AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Free, Nirvana, AiC and Rage Against the Machine to name a few.
Yogi has also been working with Blues(ish) guitarist/songwriter Dario Brnad who is also located in Zagreb Croatia. “I’m so used to my SONAR rig in LA that it took a bit to get used to my mobile setup here in Croatia. Platinum has been an inspiring creative tool here on these projects and I have been using a lot of Rapture and Dimension Pro as well.”
Chillwalker Announces New Recording Project Inspired by Mobile Recording
German artist Chillwalker has just announced the plans for what we think is a very unique project: “Holy Grounds.” Starting in August he will be touring to 12 sacred locations to which will eventually end up in a full-length 12-track release all inspired and taking direction from each location’s character. “With SONAR being so stable now, and the ability to create music virtually anywhere on devices that have longer battery life with core i7 processing, doing a project like this makes perfect sense to me. I will also be preforming live during the trip to help offset some of the costs.”
After releasing close to 70 tracks and remixes, Chillwalker took a bit of a break in 2015 to rebuild his musical spirit. He also took the time to physically build a new SONAR studio setup where he is currently working. “Platinum has really brought my music to another level since the last record on an older version of SONAR. I actually upgraded my Melodyne the DNA version just because of the fact that it works so incredibly well with SONAR. The Browser is a feature I cannot live without either—it’s always open and I am constantly auditioning and manipulating sounds. The ProChannel is another item I use all the time. I do a lot with sidechaining for compression with it. Finally, huge time-savers for me are both project and track templates.”
We will be checking in on Chillwalker’s interesting upcoming trip/project and will be doing a full length story on the project as he gets going. He will be updating his information in real-time here https://www.facebook.com/Chillwalker/ . In the meantime you can Chill[walker] here:
Javier Colon Anounces New Tour to Support April 15th Concord Music Group Release
NBC The Voice winner Javier Colon has been setting up for his new record to be released next week on Concord Music Group, and a few new songs are being leaked including “Giant” which was uploaded to Youtube not too long ago. Javier wrote much of the record in SONAR Platinum in his home project studio before recording in different locations. Along with the new full length 15 track record (yes… that’s right… 15), he has just announced an national tour for April/May/June that spans cross-country starting in Atlanta on 4/23. The tour so far from east to west and tourdates/tickets can be viewed here on his site http://javiercolon.com/tour-dates/ .
In a recent interview, Jav told us, “A lot of the songs on this new record started right in my home studio on SONAR Platinum. The thing I like about SONAR for writing is that it’s really quick for getting ideas down. It’s like a creative partner. Of course it’s great for mixing and creating masters too, but for me since I was fortunate enough on this record to be working with top-notch mixing engineers, the single most important thing was getting the songs right. The features in Platinum are great for songwriting. Even just the loops in Addictive Drums 2 are a great starting place to generate ideas—there’s just no shortage of inspiration in the program.”
SONAR Artist, Professional and Platinum are used by countless artists worldwide who are are taking their music into their own hands. If you are a musician who owns a PC, why not turn it into a recording studio? Please visit the SONAR pages for more information on getting started. No matter what stage you are in your career, there is a version of SONAR right for you.
You could call Javier Colon timeless. After winning the inaugural season of NBC’s The Voice, he has battled even harder than he did during the show’s “Battle Round.” Last year his perseverance and life-long dedication to creating music on his own terms brought him to yet another chapter in his career with a new recording contract with Concord Music Group. Concord Music Group is home to many enduring artists such as Ray Charles, James Taylor and The Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band to name a few, but it’s also one of the most respected and ageless labels of our time.
When the ink was dry, Javier who is a longtime SONAR user dug deeper than he ever had before, and started writing songs for the new record. “A lot of the songs on this new record started right in my home studio on SONAR Platinum,” Javier recently told us in conversation. “The thing I like about SONAR for writing is that it’s really quick for getting ideas down. It’s like a creative partner. Of course it’s great for mixing and creating masters too, but for me since I was fortunate enough on this record to be working with top-notch mixing engineers, the single most important thing was getting the songs right. The features in Platinum are great for songwriting. Even just the loops in Addictive Drums 2 are a great starting place to generate ideas—there’s just no shortage of inspiration in the program.”
Javier’s new record titled “Gravity” comes out April 15, and he recently shot a new video in LA (also including scenes from Europe) directed by Gregory Poppen. The record itself is actually 15 songs, a bit of a different approach from pop music’s recent pattern of releasing fewer tracks per album. On this record Javier really wanted to get more music out there for his fans who have stayed with him all this time throughout every phase of his career.
“Is it World Music?” “Is it Spanish Music?” “Is this Jazz?” “Is this in the Acoustic Genre?” Fortunately for guitar virtuoso and now-Pro D.I.Y’er Eric Hansen, the simple answer to these questions he faces regularly about his music is, “YES.” Eric is another longtime SONAR user who depends on SONAR daily for his livelihood. He is based out of Southern Florida which might just be where his Spanish and Latin influences come from, where at a young age he had a unique fondness for Flamenco infused Pop music.
Eric began studying the guitar at age 14 and was performing professionally with local rock groups by the age 16. He then attended Florida Atlantic University where he studied Classical and Jazz guitar and was the first actual guitarist to complete the Honors Performance Program at F.A.U. He went on to graduate with academic honors while simultaneously studying Flamenco and Latin American music with musicians from Spain and Peru.
In his professional career, Eric is no stranger to the Billboard Charts with 6 records under his belt all crafted in different versions of SONAR spanning over 15 years. Eric is in the final stages of another record, but this one is being tracked, mixed and recorded all in SONAR Platinum. After Eric getting Cakewalk an exclusive preview to 3 of the new songs on the record, we were interested in finding out more about how all these great tracks are coming together in Platinum [DEMO PREVIEW]: