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:
by Lance Riley
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
- 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.
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
Check out the latest episode of Cakewalk Talk, where Dan Gonzalez interviews audio engineer Daniel Rowland (Adrian Belew, StudioBelew, Accept) about LANDR and his role at the company.
We’ve posted a shorter cut below as well.
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.
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.
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.”
Celemony has graciously introduced a brand new Melodyne update to the world, and we’re including it in the SONAR Manchester Update free of charge for all Professional & Platinum customers with an active Rolling Updates Membership. What makes this Melodyne upgrade so great?
Edit Entire Mixes
Melodyne 4 introduces a new Universal algorithm, ideally suited to time-stretch and pitch-shift entire mixes. It also provides a more CPU-friendly way to edit polyphonic material without sacrificing any of the superior quality you expect from Melodyne.
Modern New Interface
Much like SONAR, Melodyne’s new UI has been designed to fit your workflow, adding customizable configurations and better information overviews. It’s also been optimized for compatibility and stability with all the latest 32-bit and 64-bit Operating Systems and DAWs.
Improved Tempo Detection
Melodyne 4’s new tempo algorithms detect tempos, time signatures and changes more accurately than ever before, allowing you to to match the tempo of any audio clip or loop to any other audio clip or loop more precisely.
Multi-Track Viewing (Melodyne Studio only)
SONAR users can enjoy the ability to view the data from multiple audio tracks all in one single Melodyne window, making it much faster and easier to synchronize notes on different tracks. This unprecedented new feature is useable exclusively in the current edition of SONAR.
For more information about Melodyne 4, please visit http://www.celemony.com/en/help/helpcenter
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