SONAR X2 Feature Peek: Smart Grid

What’s a snap grid?

One of the most useful features of a DAW is the snap grid. When enabled, a snap grid locks all movement to a defined value. The value can be absolute (e.g. seconds) or musical (e.g. quarter notes) and some programs optionally show grid lines that reflect at least some portion of the grid.

The whole thing makes moving a clip by a beat or a MIDI event by a 64th note much much easier than trying to “eyeball it”. Snap grids are vitally important to almost every DAW user. In most cases, a user relies on the snap grid regularly throughout every session. 

But not all snap grids are created equal. Some only offer the most basic snap options and functionality. Some don’t display their state or give the user easy access to the settings. And many are pretty dumb when it comes to anticipating what the user needs from moment to moment.

Considering the importance and near constant use of a snap grid in music production, we thought this was an area where SONAR could increase its level of intelligence and truly shine. Let SONAR think about snap so you don’t have to.

Smart Grid

Changing snap settings is one of those repetitive tasks that, while necessary, suck some of the joy out of creating music.  It would be great if the software were smart enough to know what settings are best and could change settings all by itself. And that’s exactly what Smart Grid does.

You can use SONAR for hours and not worry about changing snap settings. Smart Grid intelligently sets the snap resolution dynamically, based on zoom level. And it can do it independently for the Track View and the Piano Roll View.

A 128th note grid is not all that helpful when zoomed out and trying to copy a guitar riff from one verse to another. And how many times have you tried to move a 32nd note in a Piano Roll View and realized it won’t move because the snap grid is set to “Measure”?

The cumulative loss is significant, both in time and creative energy.

SONAR X2 automatically sets your snap resolution to a useful setting for the task at hand, and it shows grid lines that dynamically adjust to the intelligent snap settings. You can always see and feel the next beat, the next measure, and so on.

And speaking of feel, SONAR X2 lets you customize just how strong the “Snap intensity” is. Think of it like gravity, or magnetism, or falling in a hole. You can even test how the setting feels before committing to it, saving a lot of trial and error and ensuring that it’s dialed in just right.

Set it and go. But keep your options open.

SONAR X2’s new Smart Grid lets you set your snap so it’s comfortable for you. Then you can pretty much forget about snap resolution a lot of the time. Of course on those occasions where Smart Grid just doesn’t “get you”, you can quickly set the grid manually right from the Control Bar’s Snap Module. You can even set an alternative snap configuration with completely different settings, or override snap entirely, with a simple keyboard shortcut. It’s clever and flexible.

Visual feedback and accessibility of the Snap Module has also improved. Move To/By is now a switch directly on the module so it’s quick to toggle and easy to see the current state. Snapping to landmarks is also directly accessible, as are options for triplet and dotted musical values.

Smart Grid is just one of the ways in which SONAR continues to get smarter. See what else is new in SONAR X2.

Upgrades to SONAR X2 start at just $59.

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Brandon Ryan [Cakewalk]

Prefers his beer dark and his wine red. Specializes in reckless aural insurgency. Never has enough time.

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