“When I walk into sessions with my SONAR machine, I hear ‘what is THAT’ a lot from other producers and artists. And then like clockwork, I hear a lot of ‘whoah’ and ‘wow’ when they see what I can do beyond their limitations. I’ll never forget Jimmy Jam being blown away once in a studio when I started getting my sounds going in SONAR – that was a pretty cool feeling because he could see and hear what made my **** sound different from other producers on the scene at that time.”
Since upgrading to SONAR X3, my favorite new feature is the Nomad plugin suite.
The Nomad Bundle that comes with X3 has been a go-to for me when boosting mid and high frequencies. The mids are awesome and super-musical! I also usually use them for HiHats to boost 8KHz – 16KHz without sounding to square-digital or harsh. It just has a nice sizzling tone that sounds so different than any other plugin in my arsenal of VSTs. When I mix I am very observant of the “stereo image,” and Nomad’s “Imager” is the trick to help make room for things. Also, I use the Tempo Delay often because of its warmth and versatility. I also, love the Tempo Delay’s parameter controllers – having 3 independent delay configurations is great to achieve the perfect delay tone in my mixes. I can really get unique sounds with the delays and shape them to my heart’s content.
On the other hand, I cannot live without the Console Emulator (I believe this was new to X2 but it just never gets old)… It just opens my mixes in such organic ways that have I become addicted to it! I use the trident (A-type) mode for kicks, bass and everything with low end character because it adds great sub harmonics. The SSL (S-Type) I use for snares, kicks and everything in between to achieve that pocket /punchy sound which warms up the top end frequencies without dulling the sound. The Neve (A-Type) for Vocals, synths, guitars and everything that needs to sound frontal or cut through mix. It helps my “center” in the mixes along with some nice mid-frequency response.
I always add a bit of drive (Console Emulator) to my buses to emulate the console circuitry saturation because it works without distorting anything too much – just enough to add more random harmonics and make the whole mix sound even more organic and full. I think the Console Emulator is one of the best features to SONAR in a long time, and I’m very happy Cakewalk implemented it as part of the ProChannel.
Track coloring is also something I was waiting for some time. It helps me keep organized especially when mixing 100 plus tracks sessions which is usually the case for me. It’s so smart that the track colors respond to the bus colors, this way I stay even more organized by visually understanding my large mixes.
I really dig the QuadCurve ProChannel EQ as well. It’s super-transparent and colorless on certain modes which plays an important part when carving very precise frequencies. It’s kind of like the FabFilter but the fact that it’s part of the ProChannel makes it easier and faster to use. It’s also dead-precise while still sounding amazingly clean!
When you are as diverse of an artist as DJ Spooky you need some serious music-creation tools. Take Of Water and Ice for example. This album is the result of DJ Spooky’s art residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Of Water and Ice is a composition for string quartet and video that evolved out of his large-scale multimedia work Sinfonia Antarctica: an exploration of the composition of ice and water, and our relationship to the vanishing environment of the arctic poles. DJ Spooky created The Book of Ice based on his travels to the poles. All of the electronic sounds are generated by interpretations of either algorithms that mirror the geometry in ice crystals or the math of climate change data.
“The biggest asset to me upgrading to SONAR X3 was the speed and agility of the workflow. I am working a ton of projects at the same time – some not even music related. I also have a good team around me for my productions, so it’s imperative that we can get things done fast. Even the little things like the QuadCurve EQ with Zoom make it quicker and easier for me to deliver tracks. Every second counts for me, and by utilizing the ProChannel and NOT having to fumble with anything else for analyzing is a huge time saver.
Another time saver for me is the upgraded Browser. With the ability to quickly audition literally anything on any of my drives in one spot is huge. I can listen to many different samples quickly and then just pull in what I need. The capability of being able to store different locations to get to quickly inside the Browser is another feature I can’t live without. If I have 3 different drives with samples all connected to my system, I can go to any folder on any of those drives and save specific locations to access quickly. So that means that in one spot from the Browser, I can access different folders from different drives instantaneously – from there I can audition anything and simply pull in what I want to use. On top of that, if I drag a sample onto the TrackView it will automatically create a track for me with that sample on it.
I use the Console Emulator a lot as well. I come from a hybrid of the digital and analogue world, so the “analogue-oriented” features in SONAR allow me to get a sound that is fresh while maintaining that punch, warmth and bite of yesteryear.
I have been around the world making music and have seen and heard it all – I stick with SONAR for a reason.”
Working and residing in Santa Monica, CA, Jon Lee lays low under the radar while creating music and sound-scapes for some of today’s most highly-profiled and popular “verite” style TV reality shows. If you have seen the show Cops, than you are probably familiar with one of the most prominent production companies in the biz, “Langley Productions.” For a while now, Jon has been creating music in SONAR for five Langley shows including Street Patrol, Jail, Las Vegas Jailhouse, Vegas Strip and their newest show airing on Spike TV, Undercover Stings.
In September, Jon will start creating music in SONAR X3 for another new show on Spike TV called: “Jail: Las Vegas.” – 22 episodes worth which will begin to air in 2015. He has also been producing some songs for Helena Reznor, and doing some songwriting with Shira Myrow. Shira is a protégé of Daniel Lanois and is well known for writing great music in the commercial world.
“The biggest feature I noticed moving from SONAR X1 to SONAR X3 was the improved workflow in general itself. Now, all video formats including Quicktime and AVI seamlessly import into SONAR – no more having to convert video files. The new smart tool also helps me speed the composing and editing process up immensely. Now more than ever, it’s really simple and easy to instantiate VST instruments and effect plugins in SONAR X3. The new graphic improvements in the Piano Roll are also outstanding. The way I see it in my world of creation, better visual presentation leads to faster editing.
I have also been using Addictive Drums 2 a great deal. It’s an excellent program for creating realistic drum parts. It is easy to audition midi loops, and also routing different drums to various effects processors is done quickly and easily. If you are tired of hearing “canned” drum loops, Addictive drums is a must have, and worth the price of upgrading alone. I will start composing for a new television series next month, and I cannot wait to use SONAR X3 on it. Great job again Cakewalk and thanks for making my professional musical life easier and more creative!”