It’s a cloudy summer morning in Dallas, TX, and Norman Matthew is crawling back into his SONAR Studio seemingly picking up where he left off a year ago, July 2016. During that month in 2016 on TX Interstate 10, his previous band Murder FM found themselves road-challenged and entangled in an accident in their tour vehicle 20 miles outside of a tour stop in El Paso, TX. At this moment, Vocalist/ Guitarist/Producer Norman Matthew knew his life was about to take a turn.”
“I loved and still love Murder FM. It was my identity. I loved those guys more than anyone can imagine. We had a thousand ups and downs together—we traveled the world with our music—we saw more miles than many will see in their lives, and we did it together. We went through marriages, divorces, and even saw a man lose his life in front of us on tour—obstacles were no stranger to us. Mistakes… I made plenty of them but the road was the only place that ever really felt like home. It was the only time I truly recognized myself. But when worlds collided on the road in July 2016, already embroiled in chaos in my own personal life, I knew there was nothing more important than making sure every breath I took was for my son. I had to make a change—and it became evident that my son meant everything to me, and I needed to put that at the forefront of my life.”
The Adaptive Limiter is the latest addition to the included plugin lineup for SONAR Professional & Platinum. It is a professional brickwall peak limiter designed for both mixing and mastering. It features 4 different limiting “Character” types, Configurable Lookahead, Inter-sample Peak Detection, L.U.F.S. Loudness & K-Metering, as well MP3 codec preview, and real-time dithering. It’s only been out for a few months now and we are already getting amazing feedback from customers.
Here’s what they are saying…
“The Adaptive Limiter has quite a few surprises in it, especially for such a simple, straight forward plugin. I like the nicely ordered presets, the “Match Input Loudness” feature for the bypass A/B switch, and the K / LUFS metering. And yes, the Dither / MP3 Encoding Preview is quite useful too! With the Adaptive Limiter, I can have it active on my master bus and still track new instruments, with no latency while playing.” – Lee Shapiro
“The Adaptive Limiter is possibly the best brickwall limiter in the business, big call I know, but after using various limiters over the course of 18 years…I was blown away when I got this.” – Benjamin Phillips
“The Adaptive Limiter is a fantastic tool, Great job Cakewalk! I tried it on several songs and tracks and was surprised by how good the Adapted Limiter works. Big thumb up!” – Holger Bremer
“I like the Adaptive Limiter a lot. It works good on both the master as well as buses and even tracks!” – Ken-Arve Nilsen
“The Adaptive Limiter is really great! I use it as the last limiter in my chain on the master bus… I think it may be one of the best brickwall limiter plugins I’ve heard, The LUFS metering is a really nice addition along with the input volume matching to hear the limiting before and after. It all really helps me create a great master!” – Hubert Torzewski
“I have found that Adaptive is extremely transparent!! It’s almost like it’s not even there…” – Sidney Goodroe
“Easily the best limiter interface I’ve seen yet. It also doesn’t hit the system too hard and as something included with a SONAR, well it is absolutely first rate.” – Jesse Stengel
“The Adaptive Limiter is soooo AWESOMELY INCREDIBLE. I love it! I love Sonar! It’s the best DAW on the planet!!” – Lana Slaughter
“I’m very happy with the Adaptive Limiter. Thank You Cakewalk! It certainly holds it’s own compared to the other 3rd party limiters I have.” – Kenny Wilson
“I am loving the Adaptive Limiter. I used it on a rock instrumental that I just finished recording and it sounds great and I prefer it now over Ozone. Great to have all these awesome stock plug in’s. I just recently moved to Sonar and find my mixes are sounding more pro. I am not having to use my purchased plug ins much as SONAR just delivers!” – Mark Stow
If you don’t already know the Adaptive Limiter, we made this video to help get you aquatinted. It is available by downloading the latest version of the Engineering Suite included with SONAR Professional & Platinum.
Every producer and mixer knows the struggle; the infamous car test. You know the drill. You print a near-perfect mix in your home studio and then bounce it with the label, “FINAL MIX_wav” and send it to your phone. You can feel the excitement, energy and anticipation of releasing your masterpiece into the world…and then you step into your car.
The nervous sweat drips down your back and your ears are clogged from hours of non-stop mixing. You press play and immediately regret not going to law school. OK…maybe it’s not that bad but straight from the bat you know your mix isn’t translating well in your car stereo or even the cheap earbuds that came with your phone. You are not alone.
Sure, the LP EQ is a great linear-phase, stereo EQ. But it was designed for mid-side processing as well as conventional stereo, so let’s explore what mid-side processing is about, and why it’s so important.
LP EQ BASICS
You can add up to 20 nodes, and each can have one of the following responses:
However, there’s some intelligence when adding nodes; for example if you double-click to enter a node close to the highest possible frequency, the LP EQ will insert a lowpass filter. At a somewhat lower frequency, there’s a shelving response (although you can of course change these default responses to whatever you like). Drag nodes horizontally to change the frequency or up/down to vary amplitude; a right-click + drag on a node alters the width, as does using the mouse scroll wheel on a selected node.
You can ctrl+click, or draw a marquee around, multiple nodes to select them, but there’s an interesting twist. Suppose a node is set to boost, and another to cut. If you select both, then click on the one that boosts and drag it downward, the amount of boost will decrease. However the one that’s cut will start boosting. This complementary motion allows increasing or decreasing the overall emphasis easily; for example, if you think you went too far with the amount of EQ and want to pull it back, this reduces all aspects equally.
If all the selected nodes either boost or cut, then their amplitudes vary together.
These basics give a flavor of the features, but there’s much more—so click on the UI to give the LP EQ the focus, then press F1 to call up the comprehensive documentation.
MID-SIDE EQ PROCESSING
Mid-side processing encodes a stereo track into two separate components: the center becomes the “mid” component in the left channel, while the stereo track’s right and left elements become the “side” component in the right channel. You can then process these components individually, with automatic decoding back into stereo.
To get started with mid-side processing, click on the LP 64’s Expert button and under Mode, choose Mid/Side. For best results, set the precision to High. This results in the most latency but the highest accuracy, which is important because with mid-side processing, you don’t want any phase shift or sample misalignment—that will interfere with the decoded stereo imaging.
Processing can be independent for the mid and side components (as it is for the left and right channels in conventional stereo applications). You assign a node to the appropriate component by clicking on the node, and then clicking on M or S (toward the LP EQ’s upper right corner). Here are a few possible applications.
With mastering, you can get “inside the file” to do pseudo-remixing on a stereo track. One typical application is giving a slight boost to the higher-frequency side components to provide a bit more “air” and a wider stereo image.
If you’ve been seduced by vinyl’s comeback, remember that it’s crucial to center the bass and minimize bass excursions in the sides. With mid-side EQ processing, you can reduce the bass in the sides, and if needed, increase bass a bit in the center. Even if you’re not mastering for vinyl, taking this technique further can give a super-anchored, “center-channel” bass sound.
Drums with lots of room ambience can benefit from a bit of upper mids in the sides for extra definition, and a little bit of lower mids in the center to accent the kick.
If a synth bass has a wide image that “steps on” other instruments, you can bring down the bass in the sides.
For taming reverb, set a node to Mid, select the high pass curve, and slide it all the way to the right to take out essentially everything. Then you can shape the remaining reverb with the side EQ, while chasing the away from the center, where it can muddy the bass and kick.
THE VALUE OF THE MIX CONTROL
But…how do you know whether you’re really making an improvement to the sound or not? The LP EQ includes a Mix control (accessed in the Expert section) so you can vary the mix from full EQ to no EQ. Yes, parallel processing for EQ…very handy, and even better, the Mix control can be automated (like virtually all other parameters, including display characteristics and bypass).
You can also switch quickly between two different EQ settings with the A/B comparison function.
Granted, there’s no shortage of EQ plug-ins, but the LP EQ truly brings something new to the party. If you’re not familiar what mid-side processing can do with EQ, there’s no better way to find out than with the LP EQ.
Gates are wonderful processors that can clean up background noise and bleed in your audio tracks. They’re a bit tricky to understand because the key to successfully using one is often a specific feature that’s hidden or buried in the interface. The feature I’m referring to is called the sidechain. It’s a powerful element of my mixing workflow and I’d like to show you why.
In its simplest form, a gate allows a signal to pass through it only when its decibel level is above a set threshold. This means the gate is ‘open’. If the signal falls below the threshold then no signal is allowed to pass. This means the gate is ‘closed’. The sidechain becomes an integral part of this entire process because it’s what the gate uses to detect whether or not the signal is above or below the set threshold.
Something inspiring is happening in the Dallas music scene, and Cakewalk is excited to be a part of it with SONAR Platinum. When Norman Matthew gets off the road from touring with his band Murder FM, or finishes up a major video or full length record, it’s not time to chill out. In fact for him, that’s the time when he buckles down and digs into his “little side-thing” which is a major music operation called The Sound Foundation (TSF) in Dallas, TX. Dallas has always been known to be a great music town, but Norman’s TSF has a great angle to its existence that resonates to the very core of his soul. In fact just recently, TSF caught the eye of the Ford Motor Company who took notice of Norman and his operation and were so impressed, they featured the establishment on their “Good Works” series.
If you’re reading this article, I’m sure you are aware that the Major Label system has pretty much all but collapsed. Look anywhere on the internet and you will find all the articles you can handle about how evil all the labels were, how they had this coming to them and how the lavish lifestyles of the greedy executives fostered this meltdown. But what you may not know is that “back in the day,” a good piece of that excess cash folks paid down on an $18 CD that cost $1.76 to make went right back into a pool of starving artists (not directly of course). It was called “Artist Development” and it helped pay and pave the way for many iconic artists who started out with the ole “Label Demo Deal.”
Here at Cakewalk we are fortunate to have an external team of rocket scientists who help test out SONAR beta releases. This team is dedicated, passionate and most of all appreciated by all of us internally here at the Cake shop. Recently I received a general email from one of my esteemed colleagues mentioning that one of our trustworthy beta soldiers was jumping off the beta-battlefield in lieu of another SONAR related activity. Huh? This peaked my curiosity and I felt obliged to dig a bit deeper on the subject. What could “another SONAR related activity” involve? SONAR Olympics? SONAR CPU Racing? SONAR Academy?
Featured Music Placements on Discovery Channel, History Channel, CBS, Bravo Network
Just a few short years ago, we learned of a new up-and-coming artist who was using SONAR. After introducing ourselves and learning more, the one thing that kept resonating were the infectious melodies and counterparts embedded into his tracks. We were delighted to witness him working in SONAR, but at the same time very intrigued that he was using SONAR 8.5.
Soon after being in touch with iLan, we were able to catch up with him face to face in his studio just north of London for a night where we introduced SONAR X3 to him. It was a fun night and very interesting to watch a pro’s reactions going from 8.5 to X3 considering that undoubtedly the platforms are truly different. There were some moments of, “Whooaaah… that will save me a ton of time,” and there were moments of, “Ummm…that will take a while to get used to.” Leaving iLan to his own devices we were really unsure where he would take it.
Toggling back and forth from 8.5 to X3 for a while, iLan finally found his stride with SONAR Platinum. He told us, “After working on both 8.5 and X3, once I was on Platinum there was no going back. The basic features alone like the smart tool and Mix Recall not only save me a lot of time, but allow me to create things I could not create in 8.5. With the amount of tracks I create and pace of my workflow, the fact that Platinum is rock solid and really fast means everything to me. 8.5 always allowed me to ‘not’ sound like everyone else in my genre, and Platinum just continues that path for me.” iLan’s first full production in SONAR Platinum titled “Bigger Than Love,” a collaboration with singer/songwriter/artist Giuseppe de Luca was recently released on Anjunabeats and quickly found its way up the charts to the #1 spot on Beatport.
Thanks to Melodyne’s advanced tempo detection and SONAR’s powerful ARA drag-and-drop integration, your projects can now follow a live recording’s tempo. Simply drag a standard audio clip (or Melodyne region effect) to SONAR’s timeline, and SONAR creates a tempo map that follows the clip tempo. Watch the new video for more information.