Cakewalk Adaptive Limiter–Behind the Scenes

Cakewalk’s Adaptive Limiter

The Adaptive Limiter, introduced in the SONAR 2017.05 Update, has been very well received by customers. Jon Downing, Cakewalk Software Engineer, reveals some of the DSP design decisions and efforts to create this fantastic new plug-in. Continue reading Cakewalk Adaptive Limiter–Behind the Scenes

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

Optimizing Vocals with DSP

Optimizing tracks with DSP, then adding some judicious use of the DSP-laden VX-64 Vocal Strip, offers very flexible vocal processing. 

By Craig Anderton 

This is kind of a “twofer” article about DSP—first we’ll look at some DSP menu items, then apply some signal processing courtesy of the VX64—all with the intention of creating some great vocal sounds. 

PREPPING A VOCAL WITH “MENU” DSP 

“Prepping” a vocal with DSP before processing can make the processing more effective. For example, if you want to compress your vocal and there are significant level variations, you may end up adding lots of compression to accommodate quiet parts. But then when loud parts kick in, the compression starts pumping. 

Here’s another example. A lot of people use low-cut filters to banish rogue plosives (e.g., a popping “b” or “p” sound). However, it’s often better to add a fade-in to get rid of the plosive; this retains some of the plosive sound, and avoids affecting frequency response. 

Adding a fade-in to a plosive can get rid of the objectionable section while leaving the vocal timbre untouched. 

Also check if any levels need to be evened out, because there will usually be some places where the peaks are considerably higher than the rest of the vocal, and you don’t want these pumping the compressor either. The easiest fix is to select a track, drag in the timeline above the area you want to edit, then go Process > Apply Effect > Gain and drop the level by a dB or two. 

This peak is considerably louder than the rest of the vocal, but reducing it a few dB will bring it into line. 

Also note that if you have Melodyne Editor, you can use the Percussive algorithm with the volume tool to level out words visually. This is really fast and effective. 

While you’re playing around with DSP, this is also a good time to cut out silences, then add fadeouts into silence, and fadeins up from silence. Do this with the vocal soloed, so you can hear any little issues that might come back to haunt you later. Also, sometimes it’s a good idea to normalize individual vocal clips up to –3dB or so (leave some headroom) so that the compressor sees a more consistent signal. 

The clip on the left has been normalized and faded out. The silence between clips has been cut away. The clip on the right fades in, but has not been normalized. 

With DSP processing, it’s good practice to work on a copy of the vocal, and make the changes permanent as you do them. The simplest way to apply Continue reading Optimizing Vocals with DSP

SONAR X3 Quicktip: Make Your Voice Thicker (Studio & Producer)

Vocal production can lead to many different types of processing. Sometimes subtle enhancements to your vocals can make all the difference in the final mix.

SONAR X3 Studio and Producer introduces Melodyne Essential as a fully integrated and pitch correction editor.  This easy to use software allows users to access their Melodyne right from the Multi-Dock without needing to perform any special tricks within the software.

One great way to process vocals is to add low end to them without using EQ. Thickening up a vocal can be a tricky task but now with the use of Melodyne you can take advantage of it’s pitch correction abilities.

With the deep integration of ARA technology simply do the following to edit pitch:

  • Insert a vocal track that needs some help in the lower register.

  • Highlight the desired audio region

  • Go to Region FX and highlight Melodyne

  • Melodyne will appear in the Multi-Dock

Minimize the Melodyne Editor for now and do the following in the Track View

  • Highlight your audio track and right-click on the Track Pane

  • Select [Clone] and make sure to enter 2 in the selection for “repetitions”

This will load two tracks with the same Melodyne region enabled.

  • Open up the first region within Melodyne

  • Go to Edit > Select All or simply hit CTRL+A

  • Within Melodyne use the magnifying glass tool to zoom in on one specific blob

  • Within Melodyne go to Edit > Pitch Grid and select No Snap

  • Using the “Main Tool” click and drag the entire selected track down every so slightly

  • Do the same with the second cloned track but in the opposite direction

  • Now pan both tracks somewhat out in width and mix them underneath your main vocal track

  • Apply a Low Pass Filter to both and any other processing you want to experiment with, here I added some saturation to both tracks

The goal here is to create a parallel thickness underneath your track so that your vocal becomes more present in the lower and punchier frequencies.

Try it out, and experiment with more parallel DSP effects and you’ll start down a route of unlimited effects.

Learn more about SONAR X3 here.