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

SONAR 2017.03: MIDI, Back to the Future

Cakewalk reaches back to its MIDI sequencing roots to optimize SONAR’s core MIDI editing for today’s generation of virtual instruments.

Virtual instrument developers have added more controllers than ever to make them more “playable,” to sound more natural and evocative. As a result, one tends to do more MIDI editing and tweaking to take advantage of these emerging sonic capabilities.

When you’re working with as many as 100 MIDI tracks, workflow becomes critical to your creative process – you need to quickly find the tracks you’re looking for, easily bring those tracks in and out of focus for viewing and editing, and effortlessly toggle between a variety of controller data for precision edits.

Cakewalk has addressed these modern MIDI music production needs in the SONAR 2017.03 update through a redesign of the Piano Roll View (PRV) Track Pane and the Controller Pane. From efficient, simple controller editing to clean and focused MIDI track selection, SONAR has transformed MIDI editing from tedious to transparent.

Continue reading SONAR 2017.03: MIDI, Back to the Future

New Comping Features in SONAR

As you may know by now, the Bakers at Cakewalk are constantly on a mission to improve upon SONAR. Whether that’s a bug fix, a new feature, or a feature enhancement, we’re giving you the tools to be creative and get the job done. In 2016 we brought you workflow improvements for comping such as improved copy and paste functionality, keyboard shortcuts (adjusting stretch and crossfades), as well as visual improvements and customization options for take lanes. With the 2017.02 release we take things to a whole new level, with a host of new features based on your feedback. Don’t forget, if you have features or enhancements you’d like to see, drop us a line at bakery.cakewalk.com and let us make SONAR even better! For now, let’s dig in:

Continue reading New Comping Features in SONAR

Cakewalk Announces Simpler SONAR Prices

Simplified Pricing for SONAR
Simplified Pricing for SONAR

A decade ago, we came up with a system in good faith to give our customers the best price possible based on what Cakewalk products they already owned. But as we developed new products and updates over the years, and the number of upgrade pricing paths multiplied, our system became more confusing to customers and became less helpful.

Now it’s time to simplify! Continue reading Cakewalk Announces Simpler SONAR Prices

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

The Miracle of Mid-Side EQ: Rock Your Mixes and Masters

by Craig Anderton

Sure, the LP EQ is a great linear-phase, stereo EQ. But it was designed for mid-side processing as well as conventional stereo, so let’s explore what mid-side processing is about, and why it’s so important.

LP EQ BASICS 

You can add up to 20 nodes, and each can have one of the following responses:

  • Low shelf
  • High shelf
  • High pass
  • Low pass
  • Peak boost/cut

 

The LP EQ allows up to 20 nodes
The LP EQ allows up to 20 nodes, which can choose from five responses.

However, there’s some intelligence when adding nodes; for example if you double-click to enter a node close to the highest possible frequency, the LP EQ will insert a lowpass filter. At a somewhat lower frequency, there’s a shelving response (although you can of course change these default responses to whatever you like). Drag nodes horizontally to change the frequency or up/down to vary amplitude; a right-click + drag on a node alters the width, as does using the mouse scroll wheel on a selected node.

You can ctrl+click, or draw a marquee around, multiple nodes to select them, but there’s an interesting twist. Suppose a node is set to boost, and another to cut. If you select both, then click on the one that boosts and drag it downward, the amount of boost will decrease. However the one that’s cut will start boosting. This complementary motion allows increasing or decreasing the overall emphasis easily; for example, if you think you went too far with the amount of EQ and want to pull it back, this reduces all aspects equally.

If all the selected nodes either boost or cut, then their amplitudes vary together.

These basics give a flavor of the features, but there’s much more—so click on the UI to give the LP EQ the focus, then press F1 to call up the comprehensive documentation.

MID-SIDE EQ PROCESSING

Mid-side processing encodes a stereo track into two separate components: the center becomes the “mid” component in the left channel, while the stereo track’s right and left elements become the “side” component in the right channel. You can then process these components individually, with automatic decoding back into stereo.

To get started with mid-side processing, click on the LP 64’s Expert button and under Mode, choose Mid/Side. For best results, set the precision to High. This results in the most latency but the highest accuracy, which is important because with mid-side processing, you don’t want any phase shift or sample misalignment—that will interfere with the decoded stereo imaging.

the LP EQ's Expert Mode access Mid-Side processing
The LP EQ’s Expert Mode is the key to doing mid-side processing with EQ. Also note the Mix control for parallel processing.

Processing can be independent for the mid and side components (as it is for the left and right channels in conventional stereo applications). You assign a node to the appropriate component by clicking on the node, and then clicking on M or S (toward the LP EQ’s upper right corner). Here are a few possible applications.

  • With mastering, you can get “inside the file” to do pseudo-remixing on a stereo track. One typical application is giving a slight boost to the higher-frequency side components to provide a bit more “air” and a wider stereo image.
  • If you’ve been seduced by vinyl’s comeback, remember that it’s crucial to center the bass and minimize bass excursions in the sides. With mid-side EQ processing, you can reduce the bass in the sides, and if needed, increase bass a bit in the center. Even if you’re not mastering for vinyl, taking this technique further can give a super-anchored, “center-channel” bass sound.
  • Drums with lots of room ambience can benefit from a bit of upper mids in the sides for extra definition, and a little bit of lower mids in the center to accent the kick.
  • If a synth bass has a wide image that “steps on” other instruments, you can bring down the bass in the sides.
  • For taming reverb, set a node to Mid, select the high pass curve, and slide it all the way to the right to take out essentially everything. Then you can shape the remaining reverb with the side EQ, while chasing the away from the center, where it can muddy the bass and kick.

THE VALUE OF THE MIX CONTROL 

But…how do you know whether you’re really making an improvement to the sound or not? The LP EQ includes a Mix control (accessed in the Expert section) so you can vary the mix from full EQ to no EQ. Yes, parallel processing for EQ…very handy, and even better, the Mix control can be automated (like virtually all other parameters, including display characteristics and bypass).

You can also switch quickly between two different EQ settings with the A/B comparison function.

Granted, there’s no shortage of EQ plug-ins, but the LP EQ truly brings something new to the party. If you’re not familiar what mid-side processing can do with EQ, there’s no better way to find out than with the LP EQ.