DEVELOPER NOTES – SONAR X3 QUADCURVE EQ (UI ENHANCEMENT)

Introduction

Since it first appeared in SONAR X1 Producer, the QuadCurve EQ has become my go to EQ. That’s saying something given the abundance of killer plugins in my collection (yes, like many of us, I own far too many plugins).

Maybe I’m just lazy, but I love the fact that it’s always there, ready to go on any track or bus at a moments notice. No need to wade through plugin menus – it’s already waiting patiently in the ProChannel.

And it’s no slouch either. There’s no trade-off for that convenience. The QuadCurve EQ is up there with the best of them.

But, as much as I love it, I admit I have, in the past, occasionally found myself reaching for one of the alternative plugins in my arsenal.

Why? The QuadCurve EQ user interface could be, well, a bit cramped. The small EQ plot is fine for quick adjustments, but not so great for fine-tuning. Metering is also important to me, which the QuadCurve EQ was lacking.

The good news? SONAR X3 Producer addresses these issues, and much more besides.

So what’s new?

See me!

First off, it’s easier on the eyes. The UI is cleaner, clearer, and you no longer need a magnifying glass to read the knob values!

Then there’s the EQ plot, or should that be “plots”? The small ProChannel plot is still there of course, and it’s as useful as ever, but now there’s a new secret weapon at your disposal…

…the QuadCurve EQ Zoom Window:

As you can see, it’s essentially a much larger EQ user interface which, among other benefits, provides a much finer degree of control.

I say ‘secret weapon’ because it may not be immediately obvious how to get to it. See that little double arrow button on the right of the EQ header in the ProChannel?

Click the button and the zoom window will slide open to the left or right, depending on where the ProChannel is at the time (there are other ways to open it, but we’ll cover that later).

The first thing you’ll notice is the plot. It’s big!

Hover the mouse over it, and the frequency/gain nodes reveal themselves. There’s plenty of room for fine-tuning now.

Talking of fine-tuning, did you notice the crosshairs when you moved the mouse over the plot? Accurate frequency and gain readings for the current mouse position are displayed at the bottom right, making surgical edits even easier. There’s also a mock keyboard at the top, to give you a rough idea of where to look when editing melodic parts.

If, like me, you prefer to see and hear what’s going on, then you’ll appreciate the new metering features too.

Stereo input and output VU meters show you what’s going in and out of the EQ during playback; and the spectrum analyzer, visible in the plot background, gives you realtime visual feedback too.

Finally, all the knobs and switches from the smaller ProChannel UI are duplicated in the zoom window for your convenience.

It’s worth noting that EQ zoom windows are transient. That is, because they’re instantly available, they only stick around for as long as you’re using them. They disappear when you’re done, freeing up valuable screen space, but the smaller ProChannel EQ interface will always be visible of course. The zoom window is only ever a click away when you need it.

You can close the zoom window by doing any of the following:

  • Click anywhere outside the zoom window. There are a few exceptions, such as clicking  the parent ProChannel EQ module, or adjusting volume, pan etc in the parent track.

  • Click the ‘x’ button at the top right of the zoom window.

  • Click the double arrow button in the parent ProChannel EQ module header.

It’s possible to get a zoom window to stick around for a bit longer if necessary. This is done by clicking the “Pin Zoom Window” button at the top right, and can be particularly useful in Console View. While pinned, the zoom window will remain open even when you’re working on other tracks.

Feel me!

Interacting with the EQ is as quick and easy as ever, and the zoom window works in much the same way as the smaller ProChannel interface. You’ll already be familiar with the basics, such as dragging nodes around to simultaneously adjust frequency and gain, but there are a few shortcuts you might not be aware of:

  • Left click a node to enable or disable the corresponding band.

  • Press and hold the Alt key, then left click and drag a node to adjust Q. Or, if you prefer, right click and drag a node to adjust Q.

  • Press and hold the Shift Key, then left click and drag a knob or node, to make smaller, more accurate adjustments*.

  • Double click the value shown beneath any knob to manually enter a new value. Alternatively, highlight the value by clicking it (or otherwise moving the focus to it), and press the Enter or F2 key*.

* Only supported in the smaller EQ UI at the moment, but we plan to add this to the zoom window in a future update.

You can get all ‘touchy-feely’ with it too, but more on that below…

Touch me!

So you’ve bought a shiny new touch enabled Windows 8 PC? Time to get hands on with the QuadCurve EQ then!

The EQ zoom window is now multi-touch capable. Touching and dragging a node with your finger works as expected, but if you’re into ‘finger Twister’, you can move all of the plot nodes around at the same time! Try it, it’s fun!

You can also pinch a node to adjust Q (you know, using the two-fingered zoom gesture that we’re familiar with on phones and tablets).

To open or close the zoom window via touch, swipe the ProChannel EQ module header from left to right (or right to left).

And, as with elsewhere in SONAR, the knobs and buttons are touch friendly too.

Heal me!

With all the exciting new features introduced in SONAR X3, the QuadCurve EQ is now even more compelling. It’s built-in to every track and bus, and is instantly available when needed. It’s a convenient, powerful, and genuine alternative to the plethora of third party EQ plugins out there.

So, give your tracks the QuadCurve EQ treatment – you won’t be disappointed!

Learn more about ProChannel in SONAR X3.

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