Remembering the Original Guitar Hero: Les Paul

One of our heroes here at Cakewalk passed away today. Les Paul the original guitar hero, namesake of arguably the most popular guitar of all time, and the innovator of multitrack recording, succumbed to complications from pneumonia at White Plains Hospital. Les was 94.

In 2005, I had the distinct honor of dining with Les Paul at the TEC Awards banquet. Cakewalk had been working with Gibson on the launch of the Digital Les Paul, which included a copy of SONAR Producer, and Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson’s CEO asked me to join him and Les for dinner. I was so psyched to meet Les, being both a guitar player and someone involved in the art of recording, he represented a double inspiration to me. And getting to sit with Les for a few hours and listen to him casually talk about all sorts of topics ranging from guitar, to recording, to women (yes he was quite flirt, even as an nonagenarian…the ladies at the table will agree) I was on cloud nine. I count that evening as one of the highlights of my career, and I feel so lucky to have experienced it before Les passed on.

Les, we owe it all to you. Beyond pioneering multitrack recording, you had the vision to introduce the world to overdubbing, phasing, delay effects, and more. And where would Eddie Van Halen, Slash, or Eric Johnson be without the techniques you introduced on the guitar.

There have been so many great songs, and countless listeners, that have benefitted from the sonic advances that you brought to the table. Thank you for everything…you will be missed.

- Carl Jacobson, Vice President of Marketing

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Learn SONAR Online with BerkleeMusic.com

Berkleemusic.com, the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music, offers SONAR online courses and certificate programs for all skill levels. Master aspects of multi-track recording using MIDI, audio, loops and plug-in effects using SONAR. Enrollment is now open for the Fall term which begins September 28, 2009.

Click here to learn more about the online courses and to try a free SONAR lesson!

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SONAR Pro-User Justin Lassen Featured in Intel’s Visual Adrenaline Magazine

A master at his craft, Justin Lassen dominates a new realm of creativity, composing music to computer-generated graphic art. A one-of-a-kind producer, composer and re-mixer, Justin translates the inspiring yet hauntingly beautiful art he sees into his own musical masterpieces. With the help of his PCAudioLabs digital audio workstation with an Intel Core i7 processor, SONAR 8 and various media editing tools, Justin gives life to the one dimensional art forms.

Recently featured in Intel’s Visual Adrenaline Magazine for his work with computer technology, Justin states:

“Cakewalk’s SONAR 8 was one of the applications that were optimized and ready to take full advantage of the four cores and eight threads available with the Intel Core i7 processor.”

Among the many new features in SONAR 8 that Lassen appreciates are“the new compression, gating, and limiting as well as the tried-and-true Sonitus FX, which always find their way into all of my projects, since they don’t overload my CPU.”

Synaesthesia, a series of his latest works, has gained high acclaim throughout the fine art and technology industries. The series pairs his music with still images created by well-known graphic designers including Alex Ruiz (The Simpsons) and Nykolai Aleksander.

To view scenes from Synaesthesia and other works, visit Intel’s website and scroll through the August edition of Visual Adrenaline Magazine

Follow Justin through life in the digital world on his Live Journal

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Altsounds.com: SONAR 8 is ‘an Audio Mechanics Dream’

Chris Maguire, record producer and owner of Altsounds.com, recently re-wired his studio to run SONAR 8 Producer. After using SONAR to record various session work, Maguire published an extensive review of the new upgrade, giving major props to the DAW’s versatility and sound quality.

“SONAR 8 Producer is intuitive and makes complete sense straight out of the box but is MUCH deeper than meets the eye and holds gems for users as their skills progress.”

“There is so much packed into SONAR 8 in fact that even a seasoned user such as myself never really touches the surface of what it can do…”

“LP-64 Multiband – Excellent Multiband Compressor that will allow even novices to get mastered mixes at levels expected.”

“TL-64 Tube Leveler – Awesome for adding Tube Warmth to your mixes or two individual entities in a mix.”

Macguire also compliments SONAR’s new workflow enhancements including the improved transport controls, the audio engine optimizations (arm/disarm tracks, ability to change audio settings without restart) and the endless array of VSTs and effects  hosted in one package.

“(It’s) a mechanics toolbox worth of useful tools, fx and instruments. It’s an audio mechanics dream.”

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Create & Share Your Music Fast with Music Creator 5

Cakewalk introduces Music Creator 5, the newest version of our leading home music-making software. With its brand new look and feel, Music Creator 5 is everything you need to start making music fast – offering a host of new features and a streamlined user interface.  Simple recording, editing, mixing, great-sounding instruments, and tons of effects – it’s all here in one package… all for less than the price of four CDs!

New Features Include:

•A simplified user interface that puts the controls at your fingertips. All you have to do is focus on making music

•Active Controller Technology (ACT)™ – connect a MIDI keyboard to your PC and automatically control your mix, effects or virtual instruments with its knobs and sliders

•Cakewalk Sound Center™ – an exclusive, easy-to-use tool that combines 150 different instrument sounds from our award-winning professional instruments, Rapture & Dimension Pro

•IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube X-GEAR™ – a built-in virtual guitar amp, plug directly into your computer for great sounding guitar parts

•Add your own soundtrack to your home movies and other digital video files – including .MOV, .WMV, .MPEG – before you upload it to YouTube, MySpace and Facebook

•Burn CDs with Music Creator’s integrated CD Burner and share your music online with Cakewalk Publisher

•And much more…

For More Information:

See the Music Creator 5 press release

ALSO please visit the Music Creator 5 web pages

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Artist Spotlight: Baron

For prolific D&B Producer Baron, It’s all about getting the right sound:

“Dimension Pro and Rapture are just essential tools for me…”

By Oz Owen

Even just a cursory glance at Baron’s discography reveals how he’s quickly established himself as a major player on the Drum & Bass scene. Producing jump-up tracks since 2001, Baron – aka Piers Bailey – has since gone on to work with some of the biggest names in D&B. Pendulum, Roni Size, DJ Fresh, DJ Craze, Stanton Warriors…

But it was 2003 that really saw Baron come into his own as a remixer, stamping his authority on Total Science’s Nosher, and in the process turned it into an instant classic.

But just how does one of the most respected and consistent producers in the genre keep on banging out a steady stream of dancefloor bombs? Having the ideas is one thing, but then you also need the right tools to turn those ideas into reality …

“For me, Dimension Pro and Rapture are essential tools in the studio – without them I would be missing a little something. Dimension is my absolute ‘go to’ synth for any string or percussion sound.”

“To explain how best I use them you just have to listen to some of my biggest releases of the last few years – Endless Summer, Turn Up The Sun, Drive In Drive By… most of the string, percussion and effect sounds on those tracks have come from Dimension Pro or Rapture.”

“Rapture has so many different modulation and effects options, and these set it apart from most of the other synths on the market. There are a lot of people obsessing about making stuff sound like older synths, whereas with Rapture, Cakewalk have made something that sounds pretty original. It has a low impact on the processor and the sound quality alone makes it one of the first synths I reach for when I’m in the studio.”

“Why did I get into Cakewalk’s synths? First off, it was because of their reputation. And then I tried them – ultimately it all came down to the sound quality and the ease of use. I wouldn’t say that the Cakewalk plugs have changed the way I work, but they’ve certainly bolstered my sound.”

“I’ve been pretty busy for the last 18 months, mostly working on a soundtrack for the next Flip Skateboards DVD, Extremely Sorry, which should be out around now [Nov ’08]. Keep you eyes peeled for that one as there are some interesting collaborations on there. And, of course, I’ve been busy making lots of Drum & Bass, and my debut album will be out on Breakbeat Kaos soon – check my myspace for more on that!”

www.myspace.com/baronproductions

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SONAR 8: The Fine Print

Cakewalk’s CTO Noel Borthwick sheds some light on the features “under the hood” in SONAR 8.

*Note that this list is not a substitute for the official feature list & other features already documented in the SONAR 8 manual. Rather it is a list culled from Cakewalk’s Engineering Department*

Enjoy!

Performance optimizations:

Although every version of SONAR we shipped in the past had some degree of optimization work, SONAR 8 is the first version of SONAR to which we applied the same engineering process to performance optimizations as we do with other more user visible features. i.e. we established goals, built a specification for the optimizations, split up the work into milestones and tracked the progress of these tasks just as we do for other features. To make testing more deterministic, we devised various internal profiling tools in order to track and measure changes in performance across a variety of hardware platforms on XP as well as Vista.

Systems tested included brand new cutting edge platforms from Intel and AMD as well as earlier generation machines.

We split up this work into the following classes of performance enhancements for SONAR 8:

1. CPU and kernel level optimizations – use less of your CPU to do the same amount of work

2. User Interface optimizations – faster drawing, scrolling, zooming

3. Driver level optimizations – more efficient access to drivers, minimizing driver state transitions

4. Vista OS specific optimizations – Better use of MMCSS thread priorities, support for custom MMCSS task profiles, new WASAPI support

5. Audio engine optimizations – optimize “hotspots” in our bussing, streaming and mixing code

As a result of all these changes, SONAR 8 has the following benefits:

- greatly minimized kernel usage. This helps provide more “kernel bandwidth” to drivers who need it the most. More kernel bandwidth translates into less potential for audio glitches.

- Lower CPU usage – translates to better performance at low latency

- More efficient use of audio drivers – esp with ASIO drivers

- Better performance on Windows Vista esp X64. Many of the complaints of Vista performance as compared to XP have been solved with SONAR 8. X64 low latency performance should now be on par with X86.

- Faster application launch

- Less flicker in GUI. Track view splitters no longer flicker when resizing.

- More responsive zoom and scroll with large projects. Zooming with wave files now uses 1/2 the RAM with 24-bit or less stereo or mono files used.

- Better meter performance.

- Improved thread scheduling by insuring threads are properly distributed on processors.

This link shows the overall benefits of SONAR 8 as compared to SONAR 7: http://www.cakewalk.com/Products/SONAR/English/benchmark.asp

(more…)

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Studio Spotlight: Sun Studio

SONAR at Sun Studio: The Birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Chief Engineer James Lott and Assistant Engineer Matt Ross-Spang

By Randy Alberts

“Our clients love what we do for them here with SONAR,” says James Lott, chief engineer for over 20 years at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. “It sounds great and we’ve been using it for a long, long time. But most of all they trust us and how we’re using SONAR to record them. When we tell a band ‘OK, you can move on to the next song now,’ they trust us completely.”

Spoken on behalf of Sun Studio—the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll and the country’s only National Historic Landmark with a digital audio workstation in the tour—Lott’s professional trust in Cakewalk’s SONAR shouts volumes.

“Like a good horse,” he adds with a laugh, “when something in a studio runs as fast as SONAR and does everything you tell it to, then you’re gonna ride that horse a long, long way.”

Tracking History Then & Now

The sheer history of music behind Sun Studio, since Sam Phillips first built it in 1950, deserves far more space than this story allows- to give it proper justice.

Those who visit Memphis, especially musicians and engineers, would not want to miss taking one of the studio’s daily tours to learn more about the studio’s historic past.

Elvis recorded his first two songs at Sun Studio in 1953 for $3.25, when it was still called Memphis Recording Service. Before Elvis, there was Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats who recorded the world’s first rock ‘n’ roll single, Rocket 88, at Sun, originally composed by Ike Turner.

James Lott, Cowboy Jack Clement, and Matt Ross Spang. Clement worked at Sun as an engineer. Known for works with Johny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and many other Nashville greats.

With all the history within the studio’s walls—the same cozy 25×20 live room, tight vocal booth, tiny control room, and tiled front office where the original studio manager, Marion Keisker, sat in for the absent Phillips’ to record Elvis’ first songs—Sun is one of the top, most vibrant studios in the world today.

Recently, Lott used SONAR to track, edit, and mix projects for Liz Phair, Matchbox Twenty, Maroon 5 and Bowling for Soup. Tom Petty, a tape devotee, also recorded some new tunes at Sun with the studio’s prized MCI 24-track machine. Another recent SONAR session at Sun involved Amy LaVere, an Americana music composer and vocalist who expertly plays an upright acoustic bass far taller than she. Billy Bob Thornton’s band too, was due in for another Sun session shortly after our interview with Lott.

“The vibe of this place, this sort of ‘welcome homey’ kind of feel, is really what brings people back here all the time,” says Lott.

“Billy Bob is a longtime friend of Sun, in here for the fourth or fifth time now, and it’s his birthday, too. He told us that he wanted to come celebrate and to make some music up in here. It’s very old school here: not much has changed from the old days. There’s the same floor tiles, control room, front office, and even old lamps from the ’50s hanging from the ceiling. Even Marion’s front desk is still here, the same one she was sitting at when Elvis first walked in the door. Besides our staff and the gear we use, it’s the original vintage vibe of this place that keeps ‘em comin’ back.”

(more…)

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Artist Spotlight: Carmen Rizzo

The Virtual Ornaments of An Innovator

Producer, mixer, remixer, writer & artist Carmen Rizzo

By Randy Alberts

Carmen Rizzo

Typically there’s room for doubt when someone claims that a new product has changed their life. Yeah, right. But when that someone is one of today’s best, busiest producer-musician-remixers around who helped forge an entirely new Grammy category, and their product rave is about a musical instrument—their favorite synthesizer—who’s to doubt it?

“Oh yes, Rapture has absolutely changed my life in how I make records,” says Carmen Rizzo, who four years ago led the way in creating NARAS’ new Grammy Award category for Best Electronic Album. “My life is all about making records and, really, I just can’t work without Rapture anymore. Every time I use it to come up with a sound I think, ‘Wow, I would’ve never come up with that sound without Rapture!’ Rapture opens up your mind to new things you just would’ve never thought of without it.”

Carrying the torch for electronic music with the help of BT, Crystal Method’s Ken Jordan and others was but one gem in Rizzo’s prodigious creative vein of music, concert, radio, t.v. and film sound achievements. Himself a two-time Grammy nominee, the short version of Carmen’s credits list reads like a who’s who of diverse talents and idioms: Coldplay, Alanis Morissette, Cirque du Soleil, Seal, Ryuichi Sakamoto, k.d. Lang, Pete Townshend and acclaimed British director Michael Apted (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Gorillas In The Mist). Rizzo scored his first film soundtrack, The Power of the Game, for Apted’s documentary about the German soccer team’s 2006 World Cup win; released two critically-adored solo albums of his own (The Lost Art of the Idle Moment and the new Ornament of An Impostor); co-founded, produces and frequently tours with the world beat/electronic fusion band Niyaz and, currently, is among many pursuits DJ-ing a radio set heard by 14 million listeners each month on the highly influential KEXP.org/Seattle.

“I’d like to think that people come to me for something different, for something unique,” says Carmen. “The Cakewalk synths definitely make that easier for me to accomplish.”

Within Sight of the Hollywood Sign

A husband and father who donates 10% of his new album’s sales to a different charity each month, Rizzo owns and produces, writes, mixes and remixes in his Studio 775. There’s a close-up view of the intersecting street signs of Hollywood & Vine right outside his workspace window.

Carmen Rizzo on the Streets

“Be it audio plug-ins for EQ, compression and effects or virtual instruments, every producer and musician has their favorite go-to tools they use on everything they do,” he says. “Rapture is one of those tools for me. It’s there no matter where I’m creating music. On the road with my portable laptop rig or at the audio workstation here at Studio 775, honestly, Rapture is in pretty much everything I do.”

(more…)

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Artist Spotlight: Danny Byrd

Producer Danny Byrd swears by the sound of Cakewalk:

“Their Instruments have as much unique character as the best vintage synths!”

By Buzz Owen

Danny Byrd has been stamping his mark on the Drum & Bass scene for over a decade now. Regarded as a pioneer of Soulful and Vocal Liquid Funk, Danny’s blending of upfront and retro-inspired sounds has led him to try many of the hundreds of soft synths out there in his search for sounds that can cut through in his busy productions – a search that stopped with the discovery of Cakewalk’s sonic armory…

“I used both Rapture and Dimension Pro a hell of a lot when recording my new album [Supersized]. In fact, the Cakewalk instruments were essential to the writing of my album. These days a lot of digital music sounds the same, so it’s important to add a different sound. And this is what Cakewalk instruments do for me – they add another dimension.”

“Rapture is just amazing for evolving textures and pads, especially all the tempo-locked patches. Just one example would be how I’d often find myself playing a high, sustained note on Rapture, and using this sound to fill up the breakdowns. Rapture has such an amazingly rich and warm sound. Another great touch is the limiter they’ve put on the output for when you’re really twisting up some nasty bass lines.”

“And the effects that you get in Rapture really add to its quality, as do the step-programmable LFOs. For me, this is the key to its constant use in all my productions. Another great feature is the stock presets that come with it – they are so useable right out of the box, so you can just get playing immediately if you don’t want to delve in deep right away.”

(more…)

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