6 Tips for Songwriters in SONAR

by Dan Gonzalez

SONAR helps songwriters improve their creativity and workflow by offering tons of features that are engineered specifically for them. In this video we’ve outlined some of our favorite tools to that save you time while you’re developing your next musical idea.

Try SONAR X3 free for 30 Days.


Highlights from April: Tips to Help You “Mix it Right”

Cakewalk presents “Mix it Right” month
We have been busy this month creating new resources to help you craft better mixes. Check out all the tips, tricks, and video from experts like Craig Anderton, Dan Gonzalez, and Jimmy Landry who have all worked professionally in studios and bring decades of mixing knowledge to the table (and console)

EQ: Carving Out The Right Sound For Your Mix
One of the most important aspects of mixing is using EQ to “carve out” a specific frequency range for instruments so they don’t conflict with each other. If instruments have their own sonic space, it’s easier to hear each instrument’s unique contribution, which increases the mix’s clarity. Learn more

When To Break The “Rules” Of Digital Mixing
Sometimes you need a mix to have a certain sound and the so-called rules of digital mixing go out the window. Recently Cakewalk’s Jimmy Landry was hired to produce a song with some “grit” and “acoustic-oriented authenticity,” so he grabbed his 5-Year Old’s harp out of a toy chest, his acoustic guitar, and got to work in SONAR X3. Learn more

“Object-Oriented” Clip Mixing in SONAR
When you need to get really detailed, object-oriented mixing is a convenient solution. Craig Anderton explains how to approach this in SONAR. Learn more

How to Use Reverb to Create Depth
Applying the proper Reverb requires more time than just scrolling through the presets of the basic Hall, Room, and Plate algorithms. Cakewalk’s Dan Gonzalez covers the dos-and-don’ts of Reverb for guitars, vocals, drums, and more. Learn more

Video: How to Use Compression
Mixing with Compression is an essential part to shaping and creating a great sounding track. In this video series Dan Gonzalez shows you how to use compression on various types of instruments in SONAR X3 with the CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier. Learn more (more…)


“Object-Oriented” Clip Mixing in SONAR

When you need to get really detailed, object-oriented mixing is a convenient solution

by Craig Anderton

Many times when mixing, you’ll want to apply an effect or volume change to a small, specific section. Clip Automation makes it easy to handle Gain or Pan changes, but you can also work with effects by isolating specific “objects” in a track, then processing them individually. This is different from the usual method of applying effects to an entire track, but can come in really handy for detailed work. Also note that object-oriented effects processing works with any type of clip—audio, MIDI, or groove.

Here’s a step-by-step example of how to apply object-oriented mixing by adding maximization to one drum fill to make it really stand out. Download SONAR X3 to give this a try.

1. To isolate the object from a selected track, alt-click with the Smart tool at the beginning of the section you want to isolate, or place the Now time at this point and type “S.” Do the same at the end of the section.

2. Right-click on the object, and select “Open Clip Effects Bin” from the context menu (keyboard shortcut: Alt+K).

3. An effects bin opens up that’s similar to the standard track effects bin.

4. Right-click on a blank part of the effects bin, choose Audio FX from the context menu, then drill down to find the effect you want.

5. The effect will now appear in the bin. Like a standard effects bin, the small “power symbol” circle (blue for enabled, gray for disabled) appears to the effect’s left. To insert more effects (more…)


TH2: Using Guitar Amp Software Live

Turning this powerful amp, cab, mic & pedal modeler into a MIDI-controlled effect for live use.

Original article posted on The Cakewalk Knowledgebase

TH2 is the guitar amp modeling software included in SONAR X3 and Music Creator 6 Touch, and while it deserves all the high praise it’s received as a guitar processor, one aspect that is often overlooked is its deep MIDI routing capability. More specifically, it’s possible to adjust the settings of TH2’s amps and effects pedals and even switch between separate banks, sounds and variations by using a hardware MIDI controller or a MIDI CC message in a track. With this setup, TH2 can become your full-time pedalboard and let you take the sounds of your studio recording to the stage.

Wait, what’s that sound? Oh, it’s all the groaning from the people who think that mixing “MIDI” with “stage” will only lead to wasted time and headaches. Fear not, TH2 is smarter than usual software and the flexibility you’ll gain—even if you don’t make TH2 your (more…)


DAW Best Practices: Migrating SONAR to a New Computer

So you just brought home your shiny new dream machine computer with the most powerful CPU, loads of drive space and more RAM then you know what to do with. First thing you do is fire up SONAR to work on a project but wait – you can’t find any of your favorite plug-ins. It’s time to migrate all of your favorite settings, and this handy article will show you how.

The first thing you will need is a way to move files from your old computer to your new one. The easiest method is with Gobbler(more…)


TH2 Producer: Not Only Guitars

TH2 Producer amp sim can do more than you might think

By Craig Anderton

Overloud’s TH2 Producer offers amp modeling with multiple amps and cabinets, as well as several effects. So while it’s a perfect subject for guitar month, and hopefully the following will give some inspiration to guitarists, let’s also consider what non-guitarists can do with a processor designed for guitar.

The power of parallel. Parallel processing is one of my favorite techniques. Fortunately TH2 not only accommodates parallel processing (the signal path follows a serial—> parallel—> serial  protocol), it also provides different “flavors” of parallel processing.

The parallel section starts with a crossover, so the parallel split can:

  • Provide “bi-amplification,” and send highs to one path and lows to the other
  • Enable a Bandpass filter mode, where one path has a bandpass-style boost, while the other has a complementary notch. A separate “spread” control determines the notch bandwidth
  • If neither is enabled, both paths are simply a parallel connection with no filtering

For extra flexibility, a “swap” button reverses the outputs (e.g., if one output was highs and the other lows, swap reverses that).

The output mixer sums the parallel paths back together again, with Phase Inverse, Delay, Width, Pan, and Level controls, as well as a Balance slider. The TH2 Producer manual can fill you in on the details.

Bass wah. Let’s start off by not straying too far from guitar, and looking at how to use TH2 Producer with bass. A problem with putting any kind of filtering or distortion on bass it that it thins out the sound. You can solve this problem by using the crossover to separate the low end and keep it clean, while adding wah to the midrange frequencies (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Parallel processing can keep the low end clean, but process the highs (click to see the entire image).

Again, we’ll use the Normal Splitter mode, with 490Hz as the split frequency. The Crying wah pedal handles the higher frequencies. The rest of the controls are straightforward (more…)


TH2: Understanding Memory Locations and Variations

Overloud’s TH2 advanced preset saving introduces a great way to store, call-up, and switch presets on the fly. Instead of relying on the internal saving methods of SONAR X3, TH2 uses a series of Banks, Sounds, and Variations to better suit a guitarists setup in a live situation.



When you first open up the program the top of the window displays some number values. The first 3 digits on the left refers to “Banks”. TH2 can hold up to 999 User Banks and 999 Factory (non-writable) Banks. To switch through the Factory Banks simply use the up and down arrow keys next to the 3 digits as seen here (more…)


Anatomy of an FX Chain: CA Power Chord (Free Download)

Let’s de-construct an FX Chain, and find out how to optimize distortion guitar sounds

by Craig Anderton

I like big, rich, smooth power chords—harshness need not apply. While TH2 Producer’s presets were a point of departure, I wanted to take them further.

The UI for the Power Chord FX chain

So I got to work on an FX Chain, and I’m happy to share it with you. The final FX Chain ended up as (more…)


First Time DAW Users: 5 Things You Need To Know

As seen in the December ’13 issue of Regional Musician

Purchasing your first recording program is an exciting new chapter in your musical career. Now you can record your band practices and start making demos of all your songs in the comfort of your home. However, sometimes during the initial setup of your DAW, you will run into a few issues that could potentially be frustrating. Fear not, by following the right steps and optimizing your studio set-up, you will be well on your way to recording your music.

This article is meant to offer guidance on some terms and subjects that could be a bit foggy when starting out. Following these tips will help make your transition to a DAW much better and help you focus on what’s most important – making music.

1. First Things First

a. Terms you should know

Make sure you are using the correct driver mode for your audio interface or sound card. Some of these words may seem foreign to you if you are just starting out, so:

Driver Mode - When referring to digital audio we use the term “driver mode” to talk about a setting within your DAW that allows recording hardware to communicate with your computer. (more…)


EDM Production Tip: Ducking Synth Melodies using Sidechaining

Ducking is a popular technique used in EDM music to apply percussive processing to pads, leads, and bass lines using side-chains on compressors. This technique is also used as a method for getting bass and drum passages to subtly fit together in mixes. In order to successfully apply ducking to your track you must have the following:

  • Compressor inserted on a pad or lead track with side-chain capabilities
  • Percussive source to key the side-chain

First, grab a kick drum sample and align it to the desirable rhythm you need.  Next, insert a compressor onto your synth lead or pad track.  Afterwards insert a send on the sampled kick drum track and set the send to “Pre-fader”. In SONAR, deselecting the [Post] button enables pre-fader sends.  Mute the kick drum sample and turn up the gain on the send.

Once you have the signal flow set, enable the Sidechain on the Compressor.  Now, every time the kick drum sample plays the Side-Chain will trigger the compressor and “Duck” the signal.  You can set the compressor using the Threshold, Attack, and Release settings to shape the kind of effect you want.

Try it yourself with the SONAR X2 Producer free 30-Day trial.