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.
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
Compiling or “Comping” takes is relatively new to sound recording. With the increased ability of technology has come the increased desire to comp with excruciating attention to detail, sometimes all the way down to a syllable or note, to create “The Perfect Take.”
The Acoustic and Electrical Eras (1877-1945)
When audio recording was first introduced, it was an entirely mechanical process. Comping did not exist. In fact, neither did mixing as we know it. Everything was recorded in one take, and level adjustments were made by moving musicians closer to or farther from the horn–essentially the microphone of its time.
In the primitive stages of this recording format, it was not uncommon to have copies of the same record that sounded entirely different. This was because if a band wanted to release 1,000 copies of a song, they would have to record it 1,000 different times, each take resulting in its own uniquely-performed copy. Continue reading The Evolution of Comping
With the advent of digital audio, some feel a certain quality associated with the analog signal path has been lost. While that may have been true at one point, analog emulations have come a long way since first introduced. Let’s find out how to add that “analog sound” using some of SONAR’s plugins. (Note: Many of the following examples use features are exclusive to SONAR Platinum, so if you don’t already have this version, you can try a free demo by clicking here.)
#5 – ProChannel Tape Emulation
Tape does some pretty magical things to audio, so SONAR Platinum includes tape emulation as a ProChannel module. Best of all, you can use it as much as you like without having to clean the heads!
Here’s how tape emulation enhances the sound:
Emulates the “head bump” of analog tape to enrich the low end, adding subtle warmth
Smooths response by slightly rolling off lowest lows and highest highs
Increases sustain by smoothing peaks
Saturates the signal in a non-linear, analog manner
Optionally introduces high-frequency hiss
For a basic application, insert the Tape Emulator in the Master Bus ProChannel. You’ll immediately hear a more cohesive mix. Increasing the REC LEVEL increases the overall saturation. The REC LEVEL knob, TAPE SPD switch, and BIAS switch all interact in unique ways, so try out different combinations to hear how they affect each other.
After hearing how the Tape Emulator affects your sound, try applying it to individual tracks (your drums will sound particularly fabulous). This will be a more subtle effect, adding a sense of depth to the overall mix.
There’s more than one way to use Drum Replacer to trigger your drum sounds. Which of these you choose will depend on the material, as well as your preferred outcome and workflow. First, let’s take a look at some of the intended, more traditional uses of Drum Replacer.
A mixed drum track or loop
A fairly standard Drum Replacer use is to augment or altogether change the drum sounds on an already-mixed drum track. The examples below play an unprocessed SONAR drum loop, followed by the same loop reinforced by Drum Replacer.
With the built-in filter mechanism, it’s easy to isolate each piece of the drum kit and replace it individually. For this particular loop, focusing the filters to 67 Hz for the kick and 673 Hz for the snare ensured replacing the right sound. I wanted to soften this already-punchy loop by replacing the kick and snare sounds with something a little more “airy,” then blending these with the original. I chose the included WholeLotta Kick and WholeLotta Snare samples for their lighter, more pillowy qualities and blended them roughly 70/30 with the original drum track. Combined, they create a pleasantly complex, tight-yet-sustained sound. Continue reading Using Cakewalk Drum Replacer: The “Right” Way and The “Other” Way
A question I am often asked is, “Just what exactly is the signal path in SONAR X1?”. You plug in your mic or instrument and the sound flows through your monitors. But what is the journey your audio signal takes in between? Let’s take a trip through the Channel strip and find out!
As a lifelong guitarist and tone hound, I’ve had the pleasure of recording and playing on some of the world’s most cherished amplifiers. My sonic heaven is a set of glowing tubes spilling into a vintage Marshall 4×12 cabinet and projected out at mind numbing volume. But at 3am when I have an idea that just can’t wait and I don’t want to be arrested for disturbing the peace, I find my salvation in Native Instruments Guitar Rig 4 LE which is included in SONAR X1 Producer.
One of the great aspects about SONAR X1 is that it’s a very diverse D.A.W. There are so many different ways to create music and it’s great for people who like to experiment with sounds and develop unique sonic pallets. One of the main reasons why many pro users choose SONAR is because there are a lot of veiled jewels and tools that help musicians to sculpt a unique and individualized sound.
Similar to the Beatscape Content articles that were posted, I decided to dive into another one of my favorite hidden treasures of SONAR of which some people may not be aware; the pristine and fat FX engine of Z3TA+ that can be used as a standard VST effects unit.
When I first started using SONAR I loved the fact that it came with so many great VST plugins. It wasn’t until 6 months into using the program when someone pointed out to me that you could use the Z3TA+ synth as an actual VST effect anywhere you use regular plugins – on clips, in bins, on busses… etc. After dragging Z3TA+ onto a track I was instantly surprised at what I heard. Continue reading Mixing and Mastering a Song Using only the Z3TA+ Effects Engine in SONAR
Modern music production combines many different elements. Loops and samples, sequenced drums and synths, live instruments and more. In this video, you can sit in on a session where all of these elements are used to create a piece of music from start to finish with SONAR X1 Producer.
Pull up a chair, crank up the volume and see just how easy and fun it is to create music when the inspiration strikes using SONAR! After watching the video, download the content pack which includes the Track Templates and presets used in this project.