Cakewalk Talk Episode 1: SONAR X3 vs SONAR Platinum – Adding Tracks

Introducing the new video series from Cakewalk, where you’ll find feature reviews, artist interviews, audio lessons, and lots and lots of musical “nerding out.” The first episode is available on YouTube now.

 

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How Jerry Gerber Creates Incredible Compositions Without Ever Using the PRV

The art of “making music” in this digital age… When you really think about it, how incredible is it that as music-creators we can take something from our minds, and sculpt it into something tangible?  No matter how novice or professional you are, no matter what others think or say about the music YOU create, there’s no denying that we are living in an incredible time of opportunity for crafting music.

A while back I was introduced to a gentleman and composer working in SONAR out of Northern California by the name of Jerry Gerber.  I knew he was a great composer from his accomplished list of credentials, but what I wasn’t prepared for was being absolutely fascinated by the sonic depth of “his sound,” the detail and integrity of his tracks, and moreover—how he accomplishes all of the above mentioned.  When you listen to his work, and then hear his theoretic viewpoint of how to correctly compose and produce music, you quickly realize that this guy has tapped into something a bit deeper than most musicians.

What really made an impression on me was that without ever using the Piano Roll View (PRV), Jerry Gerber has composed and produced for some very highly-profiled films, television shows, computer games, concerts, dance and interactive media, and also back in the day wrote all of the original music for the remake of the popular children’s television show, The Adventures of Gumby.  His approach to all this is through an expert level of “MIDI Sequencing” which he explains in the newest edition of the SONAR Newburyport eZine.

I was intrigued and beyond impressed by his words in the eZine, so I decided to [self-indulgently] dig a bit deeper by reaching out to Jerry to get some insight on his methods of madness with his new record.  His words of musical wisdom make a lot of sense for anyone creating music in any genre, and I highly recommend the read; and then applying what you learn by analyzing and enjoying his new full-length composition.

[Cakewalk]:       You talked a lot about the “programming” aspect of the new record, but what was the “writing” process like for you? Continue reading How Jerry Gerber Creates Incredible Compositions Without Ever Using the PRV

Anatomy of a Project: A Nontraditional Approach to a Commercial Recording

By Jimmy Landry

Last summer, Peppina—a young female artist from Finland— plunged herself into the NYC music scene for two months. With the help of renowned NYC entertainment attorney Steven Beer who discovered her, she managed to head back to Finland with a major-label sounding EP. The project was recorded in different ways, in different locations all over the city—and with budgets being slashed, these days it’s pretty much hand-to-hand combat when making a low budget recording where anything goes. But the upshot is yes, you can record a commercial-sounding record on a budget—so here are some of the techniques we employed to accomplish that goal. SONAR Platinum was instrumental in saving time on this EP. Between the Drum Replacer, VocalSync, onboard Melodyne, Speed Comping and general speed enhancements, I got to the finish line a lot faster than previous records. I highly recommend anyone who’s on SONAR XX to take a close look at what the program has brought to the table in the last year.

This all started when Steven Beer called about an artist he’d heard sing at a film festival, and invited me for a meeting at his office. Interestingly, there were two other producer/writers there as well—a bit unorthodox, but pretty much anything goes these days, so nothing really surprises me anymore. We discussed the artist’s interests, influences, and other variables, and then listened to some of my reel as well as music from the other producers. It turned out the lawyer’s master plan was to bring the three of us together to co-write, record, and mix a five-song EP before she went back to Finland in 45 days.

Peppina already had some momentum in Finland from a loop she wrote and uploaded to a site called HITRECORD (owned by actor and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Her upload was so popular that Gordon-Levitt flew her to California to perform the piece at the Orpheum in LA during one of the show’s TV episodes. This all sounded good to me, so I signed on to a production team that would share in the production duties and heavy lifting. As to budgets…well, there was enough there for us to take it on as a challenge.

Continue reading Anatomy of a Project: A Nontraditional Approach to a Commercial Recording

5 New Features That Make SONAR Steam Edition a Great Upgrade

If you’re using Music Creator 6 or 7 on Steam, you already know how easy it is to set up and record with Cakewalk recording software. Now that you’ve gotten some experience, it’s time to take your productions to the next level with SONAR Steam Edition. A more inclusive DAW, SONAR Steam Edition combines the simple, easy-to-use layout of Music Creator with even more powerful tools and features for the ultimate recording and mixing experience.

5: Creativity Without Limits

SONAR Steam Edition follows the same mantra as any SONAR: “Creativity Without Limits.” SONAR will help you take your creations to the next level with unlimited Input/Output, Tracks, and Busses. You’ll also gain the ability to route any track anywhere with Universal Routing Technology, great for recording FX, creating submixes, and tons of other creative uses.

Feature

Music Creator 7

SONAR Steam Edition

Simultaneous I/O

8 x 8

Unlimited

Audio Tracks

32

Unlimited

Instrument Tracks

8

Unlimited

Patch Points & Aux Tracks

N/A

Unlimited

 

4: Audio and MIDI Engine Updates

Thanks to SONAR’s Rolling Updates, we’ve implemented dozens of fixes and enhancements — and that’s just to the Audio and MIDI engines! This means a cleaner, faster, smoother, and more efficient creative experience from start to finish.

SONAR Steam Edition Upgrade SMOOTHER Style Dial

3: More Audio FX

More FX means more creative potential, and when you want even more tools to shape your sound, SONAR has you covered. You’ll receive a whole new suite of VST FX, and a few upgrades on the FX you already have like TH2. And those Style Dials you’ve come to know and love? You get more of those, too.

2: Expanded Clip Libraries and File I/O

SONAR Steam Edition has a little something special that none of the other versions have. We added a whole toolset designed specifically for game developers — but anyone can use them! This means you get a free Sound FX library that can be used for any musical or post-production project. You can export clips directly formatted for RPG Maker. You can even import image files to create your own track icons for a speedier workflow!

1: Great New Instruments

SONAR Steam Edition boasts an incredible upgrade to your synth collection. You get:

  • SONAR Steam Edition Rapture Session Browser

    Session Drummer 3, a more flexible and user-friendly upgrade to SI – Drum Kit.

  • Z3TA+, a world-renowned, legendary synth whose sounds can be heard on electronic productions the world over.

  • Our newest synth addition, Rapture Session, a streamlined synth that plays back all of your programs from Cakewalk Sound Center, plus includes an 11-instrument library of select sounds from our flagship synth, Rapture Pro.

Learn more about SONAR Steam Edition here.

Anatomy of a SONAR Project: Replacing the Placeholder

DELIVERING MUSIC FOR THE FILM “FOR BLOOD” (COFFEERING ENTERTAINMENT LOS ANGELES, CA)

Sometimes I am fortunate enough to have the time to take on a project outside of Cakewalk, and I love that those projects let me put our current SONAR Platinum “Rolling Update” to the test in the field. Recently, the LA-based production company Coffee Ring Entertainment asked me to write, produce and deliver three tracks for their new movie, For Blood. This article describes highlights of the process involved in writing and producing one of those tracks for a specific scene in the film.

My first question to the director was, “Do you already have placeholder music in the rough cut?” When producers and directors have placeholder music they like already set into the cut, it speeds up and simplifies writing and producing the music. Fortunately the answer was “yes,” so all I needed to do was replicate what they liked about their placeholder tracks using the array of instruments and plug-ins in my home project studio rig.

A primary objective in writing music for film is to forget about yourself and your own emotional agenda. And oddly enough, for me at least, this notion really speeds up the workflow because you are writing/producing for someone else’s purpose other than your own thoughts. Adamantly keeping this in mind throughout the writing/producing process helps to stay focused on what the client wants. For this song, it’s exactly what I had to do because the producers had a Tarantino-ish type track set into the scene, and my innate production style tends to lean more towards big, clean commercial pop rock. Luckily, I could go to YouTube and analyze suitable styles of music but even luckier for me, SONAR’s Addictive Drums and TH2 plug-ins were  ideal for dialing in the kind of music that was needed. Continue reading Anatomy of a SONAR Project: Replacing the Placeholder

Five Reasons Why Patch Points Rock

By Craig Anderton

Looking for some advanced, interesting, or downright weird ways to use the new Patch Points feature? Here you go:

Signal Splitter

Suppose you want to split one track to several outputs, for example to do multiband processing. Here’s how:

SONAR Patch Points Splitter

The Dry track output goes to Patch Point 1 instead of the master bus. Five tracks, each of which filters a different band of frequencies, have their inputs set to Patch Point 1. The Dry track now feeds all five channels simultaneously. Placing all these tracks inside a track folder makes it easy to fold them up when you want a tidier setup.
Continue reading Five Reasons Why Patch Points Rock

5 Tools To Get “That Analog Sound” From SONAR

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 Emulator Gif

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.

Continue reading 5 Tools To Get “That Analog Sound” From SONAR

Using Cakewalk Drum Replacer: The “Right” Way and The “Other” Way

The “Right” Way:

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.

Filtered Drum ReplacerWith 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

Speed Up Your Workflow With 5 (Rather Hidden) SONAR Features

SONAR has a LOT of features. So many, in fact, that it’s easy for some of them to fly right under the radar. The list below contains five of my favorite SONAR features that can really speed up your workflow!  Download the latest SONAR Free Demo and follow along.

#5 – Clip Coloring

Let’s say you’ve recorded a couple of guitar tracks, and the guitar player changed tone in certain parts of the song. You may want to identify these parts easily during the mixing process. Markers can work, but I typically use those to indicate sections and turning points in the song, and the tone change doesn’t always line up with arrangement changes. Instead, you can change the clip color in these sections to make the parts easier to find.

Here are the clips in their original state:
Clips Before Editing

Make some splits where the pickup change happens:
Clips Have Been Split

Now, select the parts with Shift+Click where the guitarist changes his tone, and using the Foreground selector in the Clip Inspector, color these red:
Clip Coloring GIF

You can now see all the sections where the guitar player used an alternate tone by the red waveform, which can come in very handy while mixing.

Continue reading Speed Up Your Workflow With 5 (Rather Hidden) SONAR Features

How Eliud “Liu” Ortiz used SONAR X3 for his recent Jennifer Hudson mix (RCA Records)

These days, some professional mixing and recording engineers are doing work for major labels completely missed the analogue age. Others are still mixing on consoles.  We have come to a point where there really is no “right” or “wrong” in terms of mixing.  Some tracks are mixed so perfectly that they are not signed off on by the label because they are lacking something “distinct” or “of a raw nature.”  Other times, indie songs are mixed by a band itself and find their way to the top, where at that point the label just has someone remix the single for mainstream radio. (For example compare the normal and radio mixes of Gotye “Somebody That I Used to Know.)

NYC based mixing and recording engineer Liu Ortiz has seen it from all sides of the music and business spectrum.  Starting out at such a young age of 16 as an engineer, his career has placed him with a perfect balance (at still a young age) with a ton of knowledge in both the digital and analogue worlds.  He has worked on tracks with and for artists such as Mary J. Blige, Pink, Luther Vandross, Christina Aguilera, and even RZA to name a few, and was quite a successful engineer at the Hit Factory in New York City.

Coming from the world of Cubase and Pro Tools, and after hearing all the buzz about the full feature-set of SONAR X3, Liu decided to give SONAR X3 a whirl on a new track by Jennifer Hudson feat. R Kelley for RCA Records.  After mixing the track, he found himself gravitating towards the workflow so he continued the journey onto another project called The Summer Set; a very well established band from Scottsdale Arizona who are quickly making waves internationally.  I recently got a chance to visit with Liu at the new Cakewalk Room which is ironically enough in the old Hit Factory where he often worked.  Liu showed me some of his new mixes, showed me where his picture and plaques were on the wall, and even gave me a few interesting stories about some of the “good ole days” featuring Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah and Sean Puffy Combs [don’t worry Liu – I’ll never tell 😉

Cakewalk Artist Relations:           Since you grew up on analogue consoles, what are there big sonic differences you hear now that you mix “in the box”?

 Liu Ortiz:           Well in the beginning way back when DAWs first started, I noticed that no matter what I did as I progressed with more plugins and inserts of each channel, the mix coming out the box would progressively get thinner; especially with vocals. I couldn’t really do much to fix that problem until not too long ago where technology has progressed with DAWs and computers in general.  Now, I can pretty much faithfully emulate hardware with EQ’s and compressors of pretty much all the consoles I have worked on in the past.

Neve and SSL’s had such distinctive qualities about them similar in comparison to that of Strats and Les Pauls. Since I worked on both extensively, I remember all the little nuances that each series had. So when I am mixing I just try my best to EQ with those particular traits in mind since they were my personal favorites. Pretty much all DAWs now are inherently very neutral, so I can dial in whatever tone I want and don’t have to worry about the vocals or guitars becoming shrill. I really appreciate technology now and just concentrate on crafting the best mix possible.  I must add that it is pretty amazing to me that SONAR X3 has a Console Emulator built into every bus and every track – this blew me away Continue reading How Eliud “Liu” Ortiz used SONAR X3 for his recent Jennifer Hudson mix (RCA Records)