Cakewalk reaches back to its MIDI sequencing roots to optimize SONAR’s core MIDI editing for today’s generation of virtual instruments.
Virtual instrument developers have added more controllers than ever to make them more “playable,” to sound more natural and evocative. As a result, one tends to do more MIDI editing and tweaking to take advantage of these emerging sonic capabilities.
When you’re working with as many as 100 MIDI tracks, workflow becomes critical to your creative process – you need to quickly find the tracks you’re looking for, easily bring those tracks in and out of focus for viewing and editing, and effortlessly toggle between a variety of controller data for precision edits.
Cakewalk has addressed these modern MIDI music production needs in the SONAR 2017.03 update through a redesign of the Piano Roll View (PRV) Track Pane and the Controller Pane. From efficient, simple controller editing to clean and focused MIDI track selection, SONAR has transformed MIDI editing from tedious to transparent.
As a fan of our bakers and all the great features coming out of the Rolling Updates, I absolutely love exploring all the new things SONAR brings every month. As a big fan of Lounge Lizard, I was really excited to learn that we would be incorporating the Ultra Analog Session 2 (UAS2) instrument into SONAR this month. So at this year’s Namm convention I made a point of meeting up with my buddy Marc over at Applied Acoustic Systems to learn more about the synth before trying it out.
“A fun synth to play around with,” Marc explained. And once I got my hands on it I understood what he was talking about. Being a bit underwater with time these days, I decided to put an hour (or so) cap on diving into the synth and writing a short piece of “whatever” inspired me while first hearing and manipulating the sounds; and making use of the features. I challenged myself a bit by using ONLY instances of this synth combined with stock SONAR Producer ProChannel modules so I could get a good feel for its capabilities. I also thought it would be a fun test since there are no stock drum or percussion patches in the synth. Here is what I found:
Useful: In my book, you can never have enough options when it comes to sounds. I have synths where I only LOVE a few patches but you know what? – Those patches are worth every penny having the synth in my arsenal. I found the UAS2 to have some really great sounding vintage patches. With 7 banks of sounds there are a lot of tones that would come in handy and will work well in certain styles of music. I found combining these sounds with ProChannel shaping to be a great combination for creating some unique sounds.
Diverse: I like the fact that for a synth with a small footprint, it crosses a through a wide array of tones. The 5 main tonal character traits are Arpeggio, Bass, Lead, Pad, Polysynth, along with a bonus of two banks from Richard and Sean Devine that come in handy for more options. I like the fact that there’s not a ton of overwhelming stuff here—and what’s in the box is all great and diverse for different applications.
Cool features: I personally love using arpeggiation effects. Admittedly, I love them because I am a horrible keyboard player and they make me sound like I know what I am doing… kind of;) I sometimes use arpeggiation in a way that might be different than some users—I follow no rules of arpeggiation (is that even a word?)—I throw on tons of effects… I let my ears rule both my hands and find notes and things that just sound good to me. I often use this effect on choruses while knocking out all low end to give a song an inconspicuous lift. The “Arpeggio” on this keyboard is cool. It’s simple and straight forward and allows the user to combine a bit of old-school arpeggio tactics along with many syncing options.
A Strong Simple Synth Engine: For someone like me who is not a synth expert, this instrument is great. The 3 sound generators (VCO, Filter and Amp) are simple enough to navigate for those who do not fully understand the complexities of creating synth patches. In my opinion, 10 minutes of turning knobs with this instrument is enough time for anyone to come up with some great sounds. For example, after putting a limiter on my master bus I noticed one of my staccato parts was cutting through in a way that sounded too intense compared to the kick. Very easily was I able to identify the “Amp Attack” as the culprit, and by simply dialing that knob back a bit the sound became what it needed to be.
Onboard FX: Similar to Z3TA+, this synth carries its own FX processing right inside the synth. Although multiple FX are not possible in one patch, the good news is that AAS didn’t skimp on the quality of the engine. I tested all FX (Chorus, Delay, Distortion, EQ, Flanger, Phaser, Reverb) with different patches and found the available parameters to be intuitive while rendering high-quality sounds.
Mix Recall takes your mixing to another level by offering SONAR Artist, Professional, and Platinum users the ability to save different mix scenes of the same mix within a single project. Mix Recall saves track parameters, bus parameters, and even instrument presets. A great way to use this feature is to audition different drumkits using the included Addictive Drums 2.
Instruments these days are full of all kinds of choices, especially ones that are as expansive as Addictive Drums 2. When working on a track I like to take the same pattern and switch between the custom kits that I’ve made. Addictive Drums 2 and Addictive Drums 1 both let the user take pieces of all the different kits that it comes with to make your own. Mix Recall let’s you take this workflow a step further.
Original drum passage
Here we have a simple Indie Kit from Addictive Drums:
There is an interesting movement happening in the music industry. We have all seen it, and most are very opinionated about it… The EDM Revolution. Love it, like it, hate it – regardless, it’s here and thriving. I recently had the good fortune to spend a few very interesting days with SONAR X3 users Adventure Club; one in LA, and one in NYC, and I can honestly say that I think these guys have figured out [some sort of] a new model of the “music industry.”
Truthfully speaking, I really was unsure about what our interaction would be. I understand the EDM scene from afar and surely respect it, but I wasn’t sure what actually goes into the work behind the scenes of an EDM artist. SONAR is used by Composers, Songwriters, and Producers of all genres, but when Cakewalk found out that Adventure Club, a heavyweight EDM act was using SONAR 8.5, we were pretty intrigued. I had heard of the duo strictly from their online presence and charting activity, but I had never focused in on any of their productions. Their popularity alone on social media told me there was something different and unique about this artist, and my assumptions were correct.
If you are not familiar with Adventure Club [“AC”] they are a Canadian Elecronic Dance Music duo, composed of Christian Srigley and Leighton James, and based out of Montreal, Quebec. The duo formed while attending high school in Montreal as a hardcore pop-punk band, but later decided to move onto the more electronic sound of Electronic Dance Music (EDM) after simply getting bored with the pop-punk sound. The first song to put the duo on the map was their remix of the song “Daisy” by the American alternative-rock band Brand New, which was put on The Hype Machine, an MP3 blog aggregator website. After this track resonated deeply with EDM fans around the world, the duo was off to a solid start with a solid online fan base and foundation. What separates this group from other EDM acts is that they both are accomplished musicians with a great knack for music production in general. This translates into very solid tracks which they produce on their own in SONAR X3 Continue reading How Adventure Club is using SONAR X3 to stay on the EDM charts and ahead of the pack
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!
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.
In part two of the series let’s take a look at another crucial element for recording guitars, the microphone.
Just as a speaker plays a large role in the sound of an amp, the microphones used to record it are just as important to getting that tone into a recording. And just like speakers, all microphones have a different sound. Huge differences in sound can be heard even in mics that sell for the same price so experimentation is key when looking for a mic (or mics) to capture your golden tone. Continue reading Recording guitars- A survival guide pt2: Microphones, your DAW’s ears