How the new “TH3 Cakewalk” Will Elevate Your Recordings in SONAR

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.

Sounds
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

 

Overloud Custom Power: An Overloud interpretation of a famous californian boutique ecstatic amp, Hi-Gain voicing

 

SLO 88:  Model of the hi-gain preamp with custom Overloud power stage, once model of choice for guitarists like Steve Lukather as well as many others

 

Tweed Deluxe:  ’50s medium-power amplifier designed for Blues, Western, and Rockabilly, but great for indie-rock as well as rythem guitar

 

Bass Super Tube VR:  Vintage Reissue of a 300W bass amplifier which recreates the signal path, tone, and vibe of the original rock ’n’ roll workhorse

 

I was always a fan of the TH2 cabs and how I could creatively get different sounds by moving mics, changing phase relationships etc., and TH3 delivers a similar but improved experience.  2 new cabs join the club—one being a “1×12 Blueluxe,” and the other being the applauded “4×10 Bass Ashes,” which now gives SONAR users a nice bass-rig option to join Craig Anderton’s brews.  Combining the Super Bass Tube VR with the new 4×10 gives a very rich and even bass sound that’s sure to be a welcomed combo for anyone throwing down low end.  Both cabs are based on longer Impulse Responses resulting in more detail, higher quality sound and a larger number of positions for 3D mic positioning.

Speaking of mic positioning, all cabs still have the rear and 45-degree mic options which is really great for achieving some unique sounds.  The 45-degree mic is a fixed position sm58 and the rear is a condenser mic with inverted phase.  Holding down the control key pulls the two front mics away from the cones, while clicking and dragging a mic simply re-positions the mics.  Double clicking on the cab itself will open up the cabs option modules where you will find many different ways to shape your sound.

User Interface
Before the sounds jump out at you, you will be kindly greeted at the door by a new and improved UI.  The preset layout is by far much more intuitive and user friendly.  As much as I loved the tones in TH2, I wasn’t a big fan of the preset layout which I found to be tough to navigate at times.  Now you will find banks and presets much easier to load, save and utilize overall.

On the right side you now have all the amps broken out in a better presentation while also allowing you to simply drag and drop amps and cabs right into your workspace.  Another added feature here is the ability to hide both the “preset” and “components” columns, again allowing for a cleaner look and feel with more space.  And with that notion comes a new button strip at the bottom allowing you to zoom in and out of all the components in your preset.  To the left of that is also a new button allowing you to toggle your chain between linear (series) and parallel?  I also found the tuner to be a lot more responsive while also sporting a more defined and detailed representation of tuning.

Presets
Something thing you will notice immediately upon launching TH3 Cakewalk are the presets we have designed for users.  Not only are the presets laid out more logically and descriptively, but they are more useful as well in practical applications.  Some of them have FX while others have been designed as basic starting points for users to build their own sounds.  Either way, you will certainly hear and see the differences in the preset department.  Some examples:

TH3 Full Upgrade
While TH3 Cakewalk will give you plenty of tones to work with, I highly recommend walking over to the Overloud site and taking a hard look at the TH3 [full] upgrade available to you as a SONAR user.  The list of features is no short of impressive:

TH3 Upgrade features

  • 203 models, the world’s largest collection into a single software
  • Randall®, DVmark®, Brunetti® and THD® authorized modeling, with other models approved by original manufacturers
  • 69 guitar amplifiers and 3 bass amplifiers
  • 35 guitar cabinets and 2 bass cabinets
  • 75 pedal and rack effects
  • 18 microphone models, with up to four mics on each cabinet
  • More than 1000 presets covering all musical style
  • One entire preset bank dedicated to bass.
  • 4th generation analog emulation technology, with proprietary nonlinear processing algorithm
  • 3D, gap-less positioning of microphones and room simulation
  • Advanced cabinet emulations with ReSPiRe 2 technology
  • Built-in convolver to load external guitar cab IRs
  • Easy to build or modify your own signal path
  • Intelligent MIDI controls
  • BREVERB and SpringAge based reverb effects
  • Full compatibility with TH2 user presets

TH3 incorporates a lot of great new pro sounds  into SONAR.  Whether you are just starting out, or a seasoned pro looking for a quicker and more creative way to create music, take a good hard look at the new SONAR.

As always, thanks for reading, ~jl