How A Small Studio in Wales is Making Big Waves Internationally Using the ProChannel and Console Emulation

Since the release of SONAR X3, there have been more and more commercially viable SONAR studios popping up around the world.  One of the more interesting ones that we have found recently is nestled in a land known more for its castles and Celtic folklore rather than commercial music.  But nevertheless, there’s a little-engine-who-could called Shabbey Road Studios who are finding great success from London to New York City through their network of talented clients and talented staff.  Operated by producers-mixers-musicians-songwriters Al Steele, and Nigel Hart, Shabbey Road Studios is a full service studio just outside of Cardiff Wales.  Al, a native Australian, has been a multi-instrumentalist since the age of 8.  A natural career progression in the music industry brought him around the world at a young age with some very significant names such as the Billboard chart-ers Johnny and the Hurricanes, and Del Shannon who had the #1 Billboard hit song “Runaway” in 1961.  He has also appeared as a featured guitarist on many music placements in the Film and TV world which has added much credibility to his current role at Shabbey Road.  Al’s studio partner Nigel Hart is a Musical Director, Film and TV Composer, Songwriter and Arranger. He plays keyboards and sings, but also has a large back catalogue of instrumental compositions and songs.  Recently, Al and Shabbey Road Studio’ staff have been recording Dan and Laura Curtis who are best known for their album “Love on 42nd Street,” which was released in aid of the BBC Children in Need appeal.   Al was assisted throughout this project by Rob Sherwood, another multi-instrumentalist/engineer and X3 enthusiast.  Daniel and Laura Curtis are considered as one of the foremost ambassadors for the preservation of the music of the Great American Songbook in the United Kingdom.  The Great American Songbook offers a dazzling parade of American popular songs as seen and heard in some of the most beloved films and musicals ever made.

“Whether a project is large or small, our emphasis is always on melody and the big arrangements and massive mixes which are all there to support the song and vocalist.  Because of this we spend a long time on recording and then editing the ‘perfect’ vocal take.

The new Comping feature in Sonar X3 is simply amazing.  The ability to quickly audition and select your preferred take without having to painstakingly move to a master track is a massive time saver.  To just be able to slip the edit point back and forth cuts our editing time by about half! (more…)

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Free Rapture and Rapture LE Expansion Pack: Supervillain

by Dan Gonzalez

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a FREE DOWNLOAD!

Aurally inspired by some of the most infamous bad boys of the comic world – the Rapture Supervillain Pack brings some serious injustice to your array of sounds and effects for SONAR X3 Producer and SONAR X3 Studio. 

We’ve drawn up some sounds and effects for the following comic Supervillain fan favourites:

Ultron, Apocalypse, Loki, Brainiac, Darkseid, Doctor Ocotopus, DoomsdayDr. DoomGalactusGeneral ZodHarley QuinnThe JokerMagnetoMandarinMegamind (Movie Star)MysterioElectroSilver SurferSinestroParallaxSyndrome (The Incredibles)ThanosRed SkullJuggernautDark Phoenix, and Violater

Download it here.

Check out SONAR X3 FREE for 30 Days

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SONAR X3 Producer: Can You Ever Have Enough Virtual Instruments?

If you love virtual instruments then you’ll be happy with your upgrade to SONAR X3 Producer. We’ve got instruments for every use case, skill level, and genre of music. Who needs a band when you’ve got SONAR X3′s array of instruments at your disposal.

1. Addictive Drums

Hailing from the beautiful city of Stockholm – XLN Audio brings Cakewalk users a bountiful set of sounds inside of their flagship program Addictive Drums. The program consists of some of the best drum samples that you could possibly get that are completely optimized for both hardcore and first time users.

2. Dimension

A classic in the Cakewalk world. Dimension is a powerhouse sample based virtual instrument that can play extensive libraries consisting of drums, guitars, strings, etc. (more…)

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A New Way To Learn Synthesis – Syntorial: Z3TA+ 2 Edition

Syntorial Z3TA+ 2

Syntorial: Z3TA+ 2 Edition – A New Way To Learn Synthesis
Syntorial is video game-like training software that will teach you how to program synth patches by ear. With almost 200 lessons, combining video demonstrations with interactive challenges, you’ll get hands on experience programming patches on a built-in soft synth and learn everything you need to know to start making your own sounds with ease.

Now comes with over 3 hours of Z3TA+ 2 video lessons!

Learn more and try it for free
 

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Ben Cantil on Z3TA+ 2 – Teaching Synthesis & Sound Design at Berklee Valencia

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with our friend Ben Cantil (aka. Encanti) – EDM Producer, author of the Mutant series Expansion Packs, and evangelist for Z3TA+ 2.

Who is your Masters Sound Design Course at Berklee Valencia geared towards?
I am working with young professionals from all walks of life who have come to Berklee Valencia to earn their Master’s degree, especially as part of the Music Technology Innovation program. My curriculum emphasizes practical and professional applications of creative music software. Some of these students will become sound designers, but many others will become engineers, stage musicians, film scorers, and installation artists, so I try to find common threads to make the content really relevant and useful no matter where you take your skills outside the classroom.

 

What are your goals for the students in your class?
This course is all about the fundamentals of sound design. The first goal is to equip students with creative and technical skills for generating sounds from scratch, emulating sounds, and composing unique sonic gestures intuitively. Another goal of this course to produce content using a variety of different medians. I think it is an ideal class for anyone that learns best from hands-on experience.

 

What are some of the Cakewalk Products being used in your class?
Z3ta+ 2 is a major part of my masters sound design course. We spend several weeks building patch libraries and sequences to make the synth really sing. I’ve found this is the ideal plugin to use when teaching synthesis, because it’s so unrestrained and versatile without being a processor hog.

 

In what ways are you using Z3TA+ 2 as a teaching tool? (more…)
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Understanding Virtual Instrument Routing in SONAR

by Dan Gonzalez

Are you new to SONAR? Well then this article is for you!

SONAR acts a bit differently than some of it’s competitors – especially when it comes to inserting, routing, and using virtual instruments. Let’s take a look at the way these work inside of SONAR:

1. You can insert a virtual instrument in a few different places within SONAR

The first way is by selecting from the main menu along the top of SONAR: Insert > Soft Synth > (type of plugin) > (plugin)

Another useful way is to use the Synth Rack and click on the “+” button. This will expose a similar list.

Lastly, one of the quickest and easiest ways (more…)

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Virtual Instruments: 5 Tips For The Z3TA+ Junkie

Here are some of our favorite Z3TA+ tips and videos from our archive:

1. EDM Production – Enhance Your Drums with Z3TA+ 2

  • Insert two instances of Z3TA+ 2.
  • Copy your drum sequence to both Z3TA+ 2 tracks.
  • Isolate the Kick on one track and the Snare on the other.
  • Setup the first Z3TA+ 2 to generate a Sine Wave for the Kick.
  • Setup the second Z3TA+ 2 to generate White Noise for the Snare.
  • Adjust the Amplifier Envelope to match the duration of each hit.
  • Within Z3TA+ 2 add Reverb, Compression, and EQ.
  • Mix in under your existing Drum Loop.

2. How to Customize Z3tA+ 2′s Stock Arpeggios

Z3TA+ 2 comes packed with a massive pool of MIDI programs that power it’s internal Arpeggiator, but why stick to the stock programs when you can make your own?

Here’s how:

  • Open Z3TA+2 and activate the Arpeggiator Section
  • Right-Click on the sequence in the arpeggiator and make sure the following are checked
  • Auto Disable Pattern When Dragged to Host
  • Auto Fit Patterns to One Measure When Loaded
  • Load one of the Arpeggios from the Pattern menu
  • Drag and Drop the Arpeggios right into SONAR X2
  • Edit the MIDI Clip to your liking
  • Go to File > Save As
  • Select MIDI 0 in “Save as type”
  • Go to C:\Cakewalk Content\Z3TA+ 2\MIDI Arpeggios and Save it
  • Load it into Z3TA+2′s Arpeggiator by going to Pattern > Load MIDI File…

3. How to create a bass synth with Z3tA+ 2

Who doesn’t like bass? Especially synth bass. Z3TA+ 2 is the answer to all of your sound design needs especially when you are looking to improve your production in the low end. I’ve put together a short tutorial on how to make a simple bass synth inside of Z3TA+2. Once you understand how everything works together you’ll be able to really start to make this plugin work for you.

Picking the right Oscillators

Within Z3TA+2 the first section you need to start working with is the OSC section. First I’ve selected two different square waves for OSC 1 and 2. They were Vintage Square 1 and Vintage Square 2. When creating a bass synth you need to make sure that your patch will not break up in the low end so be sure not to drop the octaves on the individual oscillators too low. I typically set mine to -2 at the most. Once you get to a certain range the instrument will sound weak and lose it’s driving Bass Synth sound

[READ THE REST OF THE TIP HERE]

4. [VIDEO] Digital Sound Factory Z3TA+  Sound Design

5. [VIDEO] Mixing and Mastering a song using only the Z3TA+ effects engine in SONAR

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5 Awesome Virtual Instrument Tips in SONAR

With thousands of features, workflows, and settings,  even the most hardcore user can miss out on something awesome buried in SONAR. It happens to the best of us. So we’ve put together 5 quick and easy features that can improve your workflow as well as your creativity with Virtual Instruments and Synths. Check out the video here:

 

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Recording Virtual Synthesizers: The Art of Imperfection

Synths can make perfect sounds…but is that always a perfect solution?

by Craig Anderton

Recording a virtual instrument is simple…you just insert it, hit a few keys, and mix it in with the other tracks. Right?

Well…no. Synthesizers are musical instruments, and you wouldn’t mic a drum set by taking the first mic you found and pointing it the general direction of the drummer, nor would you record an electric guitar by just plugging it into a mixing console. A little extra effort spent on avoiding an unnatural sound when mixing synths with acoustic instruments, improving expressiveness, tightening timing inconsistencies, and other issues can help you get the most out of your virtual instruments.

But first, remember that “rules” were made to be broken. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to record, only ways that satisfy you to a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes doing the exact opposite of what’s expected gives the best results. So take the following as suggestions, not rules, that may be just what the doctor ordered when you want to spice up an otherwise ordinary synth sound.

THE SYNTHESIZER’S SECRET IDENTITY

The paramount aspect of recording a synth is to define the desired results as completely as possible. Using synths to reinforce guitars on a heavy metal track is a completely different musical task from creating a all-synthesized 30-second spot. Sometimes you want synths to sound warm and organic, but if you’re doing techno, you’ll probably want a robot, machine-like vibe (with trance music, you might want to combine both possibilities).

So, analyze your synth’s “sonic signature”—is it bright, dark, gritty, clean, warm, metallic, or…? Whereas some people attach value judgements to these different characteristics, veteran synthesists understand that different synthesizers have different general sound qualities, and choose the right sound for the right application. For example, although Cakewalk’s Z3TA+ is highly versatile, to my ears its natural “character” is defined, present, and detailed.

Regarding sonic signatures, perhaps one of the reasons for a resurgence in analog synths sounds is digital recording. Analog synths tended to use low-pass filters that lacked the “edgy” sound of digital sound generation. Recording the darker analog sounds on analog tape sometimes resulted in a muddy sound; but when recording on digital, analog sounded comparatively sweet. Digital also captured all the little hisses, grunts, and burps that characterized analog synths. This is a case where the “imperfections” of analog and the “perfection” of digital recording complemented each other.

Another thought: look at guitars, voices, pianos, etc. on a spectrum analyzer, and you’ll note there is little natural high end. If you’re trying to blend a virtual instrument in with physical instruments, remember that a virtual synth has no problems obtaining a solid high end. Using the ProChannel’s LP filter set to 48dB/octave and lowering the frequency just a little bit can introduce the “imperfection” that matches the spectral characteristics of “real” acoustic and electric instruments more closely, so the synth seems to blend in better with the other tracks (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: The ProChannel QuadCurve EQ’s lowpass filter can help digital synths sit better in tracks that use multiple physical or acoustic instruments. (more…)

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Making A Kick Drum in Z3TA+ 2 (Video Tutorial)

Z3TA+ 2′s powerful synth engine is capable of creating all kinds of different sounds. Creating your own EDM Kick Drum is a great way to learn how a synthesizer works – especially when it comes to routing. Check out this free video tutorial on creating your own custom kick drum in Z3tA+ 2.

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