SONAR X3 Quicktip: Slam Your Tracks with the Tape Emulation Module [Producer]

The audio industry has made strides in the past 25 years. In the 90’s we had mostly analog studios with analog gear and digital audio was just making an appearance. By the turn of the century we had plugin developers making all kinds of digital effects unimaginable through circuit design. Those digital plugins were met with some backlash from people who were really attached to their analog sound. Digital was flexible, sounded clear and pristine, but “too perfect” for analog purists.

But plugin design has come a long way. We now have digital effects that are emulated, modeled, or inspired by real analog gear.

In SONAR X3 Producer, the Tape Emulator ProChannel Module is a great new addition to the analog family.  This emulates the sound of a vintage tape machine and allows you to saturate your tracks and even push them until they start to compress just like a real tape machine. If you really want to get that analog feel in your music then the Tape Emulator is your best bet.

THE PARAMETERS

Noise

This adjusts the loudness of the noise-floor and tape hiss for both tape speed settings.

Rec Level

Adjusts how much of the audio signal passes through the processing of the Tape Emulation. An increase in the Rec Level will increase the saturation and compression that the Tape Emulator produces.

PB Level

Adjusts the overall output gain of the Tape Emulator

Link [Lock Button]

Locks both the Rec Level and the PB Level so no additional gain is added to your passing audio signal, only the processing of the Tape Machine.

IPS

IPS, short for “inches per second”, is the speed of the tape machine reels.  Within SONAR X3 Producer’s Tape Emulator ProChannel Module we have modelled the characteristics of 7.5 and 15 IPS speeds.

15 IPS in comparison to 7.5 is much more welcoming to the high end and tends to roll off the low end quite a bit when pinned to it’s highest setting.  This setting will bring a bit more clarity to your instruments that live in the high mid range and overall high end. In this example specifically, the High Hats on the drum set took to this setting well.

7.5 IPS is a much darker and fatter sound than 15 IPS. This setting will roll off the high end of a signal and product a more focused sound.

BIAS

Bias adjusts the harmonic distortion that the Tape Emulation produces on the passing signal.

Normal keeps the distortion at the normal operating level for the effect.

Over attenuates harmonic distortion in the low and mid range of each signal, especially in the sibilant frequencies.

Applied to Addictive Drums

Here we have some drums that were sequenced using Addictive Drums.  The Drums are mixed down in SONAR using a multi-track setup so that I could mix each individual drum.  This kind of setup is outlined in this blog post. I mixed the drums for a Rock track and applied the Tape Emulator on every track.

Each drum takes to the Tape Emulator a bit differently so it’s important to listen intently on the sound that you are getting when applying this effect.

First I added this to the Kick Drum and then locked the Record Head and the Playback head so that no additional gain is added.

The Tape Emulator started to taper off the low-end meat of this drum as I increased it’s processing. Taking it to an extreme caused the drum to sound tiny and frail so I decided to stay frugal with it’s use here. Using the lower IPS setting and gently applying the Tape Emulation made the Kick Drum sit right where it needed to.

The Snare Drum took well to the Tape Emulation sound and gave it a nice focus in the lower mid-range. I flipped the IPS to 7.5 to give the Snare a darker and fatter tone and was more generous with the amount of processing that I used on it in comparison to the Kick.  Applying the 15 IPS setting and too much REC Level caused the Snare to thin out and was not very useful. For Rock purposes we want something that is aggressive so sticking to the 7.5 IPS was needed.

Moving to the Hat – This couldn’t get enough of Tape Sound. I cranked this up and flipped the IPS to 15 and the Hat cut well through the drum mix.

The OH and Rooms mostly focused around the sound of the kit as a whole as well as capturing the clarity of the Cymbals so keeping the IPS at 15 was necessary to roll off some of the low end of this signal. On the Rooms microphones I displaced the BIAS setting on one side to increase the stereo effect.

Here is the entire drum set without the Tape Emulation and just some basic mixing:

 

Here is the same passage with Tape applied to all drums:

I then took both passages, imported both files back into SONAR, and flipped them out of phase. This results in hearing just the processed Tape Emulation while all other frequencies and sounds are cancelled.

Learn about SONAR X3 and the new Tape Emulator

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Did You Know SONAR X3 Comes with a Dual Phaser and Chorus?

SONAR X3 Studio and Producer have included the mind-bending Dual Analog Phaser and Dual Analog Chorus units from Nomad Factory.  As you might know both units are time based effects and are variations of delay units. Both types of effects split the signal into two parts and then combine them again after the signal passes through the unit.

 

  • Phaser – When the audio passes through the unit the signal is flipped out of phase and then a LFO-controlled notch filter sweeps through this signal’s frequency spectrum.

  • Chorus – One part of the signal is unaffected and the other is delayed anywhere from 20ms-50ms and then it’s pitch is modulated by a Low Frequency Oscillator

 

The included LFO on both units has Square, Sine, Triangle, and Sawtooth options for even more sound design options. Within the Chorus users have the ability to control each side of the stereo audio signal independently as well as change the different LFO rates.

Check out the destruction done to a simple jazz drum loop. There really are not limits to the sounds that these plugins can produce.

Learn more about these plugins and SONAR X3.

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SONAR X3 Quicktip: Focus the Low end of your Kick and Snare with a Program EQ

Program Equalizers have been around since the 1950’s and in SONAR X3 Studio and Producer users will receive two of these incredibly emulated modules.

Let’s take a look at what the new Program Equalizer EQP-2B can do for our kick drum. You’ll notice that we have the ability to both boost and cut the same frequencies on this EQ. Choose a low frequency from the variable adjustment and then begin increasing the Boost parameter.  Increase it all the way and your kick drum signal will become quite overpowering. Adjust the Attenuate knob and the signal will begin to smooth out and focus your signal a bit better.

For this country kick drum I picked 80Hz for the low end and boosted the signal to it’s ceiling.  Next, I adjusted the Attenuate knob to it’s lowest setting. This effectively sharpens out the boosted signals and gives the signal a unique focus in the lower spectrum. After that, I adjusted for clarity and the end result is very useable.

Moving to the snare, user’s can get the same effect using the PEQ5B.  This has some of the same algorithms as the EQP-2B but with an added EQ section in the bottom of the plugin. At first listen the Snare sounds a bit boxy and grainy in the low and mid-range.

I applied a sharp reduction around 50HZ with the Low Shelving EQ and then another sharp cut around 800Hz.  This seemed to make all the difference. Afterwards, I moved to the upper half of this EQ and applied the same thinking that I did to the Kick but instead I focused the EQ to around 122HZ.  This will allow the snare to get out of the way of the Kick.  Next, boosting and then attenuating the signal seemed to focus the shape of the Snare right where I needed it.

Learn more about these plugins and SONAR X3 here.

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Hidden Gem: The Blue Tubes Stereo Imager [SONAR X3 Studio & Producer]

Now in SONAR X3 Studio and Producer we’ve included a wonderful hidden gem.  The Blue Tube Stereo Imager is a spatial plugin that allows you to widen and narrow out your mixes with a simple slide from left or right.

This type of effect can be useful in situations where you need to A-B mixes quickly in mono.  Some one would say “I can just use the pan pots or stereo interleaved switch” but the beauty of this plugin is that you could use this plugin in both a musical and technical fashion. (more…)

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SONAR X3: Exploring Your New EQs

SONAR X3 comes with an array of brand new EQ plugins. All of them have their own purpose sound and functionality. A great new feature within SONAR X3 is the ProChannel QuadCurve EQ Zoom & Analyzer as well. Using both of these you can truly get an idea of how each one works and how it affects your audio signal.

I’ve sent some pink noise through the new QuadCurve EQ & Zoom’s Analyzer so that you can see how the settings are affecting the full frequency spectrum.

The first one is the British Tone Equalizer. This is a 3-band EQ with a Low Shelving Band, Midrange Band, and a High Shelving Band. All have variable bandwidths.

You can see in the diagram below that, even though this appears to be a rather simple EQ, it’s middle adjustment is perfect for instruments that sit in the mid-range.

Both the high-shelving and low-shelving frequency adjustment are not as complex, but would be ideal for carving out their respective frequencies in both the high and low spectrum.

The Bandaxall EQ is a quickly and easy two band EQ with fixed frequency cut offs. This is perfect for (more…)

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SONAR X3 Quicktip: Setting Up Your Addictive Drums

Addictive Drums is the brand new drum synth available in SONAR X3 Producer. The sounds, fast load times, internal mixing, and abundant groove clips makes this possibly the only drum synth you’ll need to use from now on.
There are a couple ways to insert this new synth into SONAR X3 Producer. The first way is to insert Addictive Drums as a simple instrument track.

  • Within SONAR X3 Producer go to the Media Browser and select the “Synth Tab”
  • Click the + button and go to VST 2 and/or Addictive Drums


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SONAR X3 Workflow Tip: Organize with Color Customization

Organization during a session is a skill that should come second nature to any engineer or artist. Some aspiring engineers are reluctant to see the value in organization until they receive a session that has a track count higher than their usual intake. One of the best tips that just about anyone can benefit from is organizing your tracks by color.

Color organization is a new feature within SONAR X3 and supports just about any shade you need to organize your tracks.

By hovering under the number of the track (more…)

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Convert Audio to MIDI in SONAR X3

Converting Audio to MIDI has never been easier. Now in SONAR X3 Studio and Producer, Melodyne Essential with deep ARA integration makes it a very simple process.

  • Open up SONAR X3 Studio or Producer
  • Go to the Media Browser and make sure you are on the “Media” tab – Selecting the letter B on your computer keyboard will open and close this view.
  • The drop-down menu below “Media” will give you the different content options for SONAR X3.
  • The “Move up one level” button allows you to move backwards through the file hierarchy of your computer. Selecting this 2 times will bring you to your Cakewalk Projects folder.
  • Use the Media Browser to locate a mono audio file.
  • Once located simply drag and drop it onto a MIDI Track.
  • You can also drag an audio clip from an audio track onto a MIDI track.

Conversion will occur.

All this is made possible with the newly integrated ARA technology from Celemony.

Learn more about ARA and SONAR X3.

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Did You Know That BiFilter2 is a Sound Designer’s Dream?

When installing SONAR X3 Producer your eyes may have sailed across a plugin by Tone2 called “BiFilter2”. This program is more than just a filter, its a sound designer’s dream. It’s simplicity is misleading at first glance, but once you open up the hood of this plugin you’ll be grateful of it’s existence.  This filter has everything from basic EQ cutoffs, Comb Filtering, to even FM filtering.

Most of the time plugins of this nature are limited to the filter type being set as a preset and then the user having the ability to automate and modulate the different parameters within that preset. BiFilter on the other hand allows you to radically switch between filter types without hassle and even automate distortion types all within a single automation lane.  Essentially, one could use a single BiFilter per track and switch distortion filter types without stacking up on multiple plugins or introducing unwanted CPU usage.

BiFilter alone is worth cracking open and listening to.  Once you hear this unbelievable plugin every template you make will have one pre-loaded into your FX Bin.

Learn more about Bifilter 2 and SONAR X3 here.

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SONAR X3 Quicktip: Gating unwanted noise using the NEW logical gate/expander GX622

Using the new Blue Tubes Logical Gate/Expander you now have yet another incredible tool for your day to day projects. A pretty common problem that happens when recording an entire band is noise bleed from other instruments when one stops and another is still playing.  In this particular case there is quite a bit of drums leaking  in the quiet parts between chord stops of this piano part.  Some would argue that throwing a Gate on there can make your signals sound robotic and choke your signal if not set correctly. So, let’s go through a step by step way of setting up your Gate setup correctly.

  • First start with all of your controls turned to (more…)

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