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

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

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

Designer’s Notes: Smart Swipe

by Lance Riley

Background

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 View:
  • Track: Mute, Solo, Record, and Input Echo
  • Track: Read, Write, and Archive
  • Track: Take Lanes
  • Mute, Solo (exclusive), and Record (exclusive)
  • Track: Automation Lanes
  • Read, Write
  • Track: FX Bin Enable
  • Bus: Mute, Solo, and Waveform Preview
  • Bus: Automation Lanes
  • Read, Write
  • Bus: FX Bin Enable

Console View:

  • 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

Summary

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.

SONAR Facility, The Sound Foundation in Dallas gets global recognition with Ford Motors

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.”

Continue reading SONAR Facility, The Sound Foundation in Dallas gets global recognition with Ford Motors

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

How iLan Bluestone used SONAR Platinum on his new track “Bigger Than Love” (#1 on Beatport)

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.

Continue reading How iLan Bluestone used SONAR Platinum on his new track “Bigger Than Love” (#1 on Beatport)