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.
Thanks to Melodyne’s advanced tempo detection and SONAR’s powerful ARA drag-and-drop integration, your projects can now follow a live recording’s tempo. Simply drag a standard audio clip (or Melodyne region effect) to SONAR’s timeline, and SONAR creates a tempo map that follows the clip tempo. Watch the new video for more information.
Introducing the new video series from Cakewalk, where you’ll find feature reviews, artist interviews, audio lessons, and lots and lots of musical “nerding out.” The first episode is available on YouTube now.
While there have been hundreds of fixes and enhancements added to SONAR since X3, we’ve compiled this list of the ones we think X-Series users will be particularly fond of.
Fixed clip & metronome placement during loop record
Fixed complex looping scenarios
Fixed MIDI issues during audio loop recording
Mute Previous Takes no longer interferes with Comping mode
Improved transient detection
Speed improvements when editing MIDI in PRV
Improved drag selection
Improved editing with the Smart Tool
Improved Lasso for audio transients at all zoom levels
Edit > Select > From/Thru no longer clears selections
Fixed Delete Hole issue when selecting empty measure in Track View
Fixed issues with Shift+Click on audio clips
Improved clip behaviors when using auto crossfade
Improved clip dragging graphics and offset handling
Improved note selection in PRV
Improved Melodyne behavior after setting region
Sends now feed side-chain on project open
Fixed jumps when rewriting automation
Fixed VST3 behaviors in Clip FX bins
Improved console view EQ display
Fixed Dim Solo issue when using instrument tracks
Fixed plug-in output errors
Fixed plug-in removal issue on Simple Instrument Tracks
Chris Broderick has been focusing on his band Act of Defiance and their new record on Metal Blade Records. “We recorded all vocals, cello, lead, rhythm, classical and acoustic guitars at Ill-Fated Studio’s in Los Angeles, CA on SONAR Platinum. The features we gained upgrading from X3 to Platinum really helped us capture this new record.”
Audio / MIDI Engine
Fixed intermittent crash when switching driver modes
Fixes to Bounce to Clips for MIDI
Fixes to the Arpeggiator Preset workflow
Improved MIDI input port detection
Fixed layout issues when removing icon from header
Fixed muted waveform drawing
Fixed waveform draw with tempo changes
Improved waveform draw on Groove Clips
Fixed waveform redraw on cropped clips when dragging
Improved clip fade waveform
Improved scroll in Console View
Improved Timecode unification in all views
Improved Track Folder grouping
Improved workflow when changing a Screenset
Norman Matthew of the band Murder FM not only used Platinum on his recent record produced by Beau Hill, but his band is also using it live on tour. “Platinum is ridiculously stable. Our show has developed into something more dynamic–and we like triggering some sounds that we used on the record on tour. SONAR Platinum works so well for us on stage as well as in the studio.”
Controller pane no longer resets size when switching tracks
Drum Pane now persists when re-opening PRV
Fixed PRV piano keyboard collapse when PRV maximized
Fixed right-click snap in PRV
Fixed Show/Hide state in PRV Track Pane
Other Views – LCV / Lyric / Marker / Meter etc.
Fixed orphan window in projects opened from Playlist
Fixed Screenset recalls
Fixed Take Lane rearrange on undo
Fixed vertical zoom behaviors when hiding tracks
Improved double-click behaviors on MIDI clips in Track View/PRV
Improved Step Sequencer behavior when using a clip assigned to a drum map
Fixed bounced clip time base reset problem
Fixed Now Time marker movement when pressing Pause
Fixed silent drum map note issues after tempo changes
Fixed a crash when trying to open a moved project from recent file list
Fixes to BitBridge which could cause a project to hang on closing
Improved recall of Remote Control for synths
Javier Colon, winner of NBC’s The Voice continues his lifelong musical journey with a new record deal and album coming out on Concord Music Group this spring. “I’ve been using SONAR for a long time, but going from X3 to Platinum was the best upgrade I’ve had. Platinum was like a writing partner for me with this new record.”
It was a very tight race, but the clear winner was Track 3 (so there is definitely still plenty of room in this world for professional mastering houses).
In 2nd place was Track 5, which was followed extremely narrowly by the LANDR masters, where Track 4 beat Track 2 by almost nothing. Track 6 was next, and Track 1 was last.
Note: These masters were intentionally not level-matched, as we believe that for a song of this style, the resultant level was part of the criteria for the quality of the masters. We will be doing another one of these tests in the future, wherein the levels will all be matched.
What do you think? Do these results surprise you?
We thought it would be fun to have a blind mastering taste-test and include LANDR. Below is a track from a project I Co-wrote/recorded/produced/mixed compliments of a great artist from Finland by the name of Peppina.
Track 1 is the actual pre-master, and then the following tracks are masters rendered by different means.
One of these tracks (the one that is actually on the record) is mastered by a prominent mastering house/engineer in NYC.
A few also may be rendered with different LANDR settings 😉
One is also mastered using all in-house Cakewalk plug-ins…
Below these tracks you will find a survey, please vote for your favorite “master” and leave any general comments.
A few weeks back, we released this video demonstrating the drastic speed improvement when inserting 100 blank audio tracks into the current edition of SONAR.
If you saw that video, you’ll recall that SONAR Platinum, in less than one second, accomplished what SONAR X3 took about 13 seconds to complete — a 2,600% improvement!
As we continue to make improvements to SONAR Platinum (and Artist & Professional as well) through Rolling Updates, we thought it might be fun to race SONAR Platinum against SONAR X3 Producer in their ability to import actual audio files.
The video below, complete with drag race audio, a rock n’ roll soundtrack, and a couple of millisecond-accurate stopwatches, places SONAR Platinum and SONAR X3 Producer side-by-side to see who is the real speed demon.
I’ll spoil it a little and tell you that SONAR Platinum is the winner here, but the illustrated difference in speed may truly shock you!
A few years back, we showed you a bit about Parallel Compression in SONAR. Now that we’ve introduced Patch Points in the Jamaica Plain update, you can do these same things with a much more efficient workflow.
Let’s quickly define parallel processing: In parallel processing, a signal is duplicated into two or more signals. Each copy of the signal is processed differently but plays back simultaneously with the original. The copy/copies are then mixed together.
Parallel Compression, aka “New York Compression,” is most commonly used on drums to add body to the drum mix without flattening the snappy transients.
Check out the video below to see just how easy (and great sounding) this technique can be:
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.