What Windows 10 Means for Music Creators

Windows 10 is here, and our trusted code-commanders have been working closely with Microsoft to ensure an enhanced experience for our valued Cakewalk community.  Our benchmark testing has shown the new operating system to be very efficient with a lighter footprint.  In general, Windows 10 has outperformed Windows 8 in all of our tests in terms of performance and efficiency.  Subjectively speaking, the “look and feel” of this free upgrade is a much welcomed improvement over the “Metro” landscape of the previous operating system.  But what does this mean for music creators?

1.)    More responsive: Out of the gate people will notice a much snappier operating system.  The tweaks Microsoft made to the kernel and other parts of the OS in general have given it a responsive overhaul.

2.)    Upgrade ease:  Moving into Windows 10 is a very quick and easy upgrade.

3.)    Unified OS:  The best elements of Win 7, Win 8, and Win 8.1 have been combined into a streamlined experience with Win 10.  Store Apps and Desktop Apps seamlessly run side by side for a smooth universal experience.

4.)    New MIDI API available across all devices:  The new API allows multi-client access to single MIDI hardware and new jitter-free operation.  Microsoft worked hard on bringing this all together for better MIDI implementation.

5.)    Enhancements to the kernel: Microsoft has made changes in the multimedia scheduler and kernel components to minimize spikes – this can make a big difference in low-latency streaming apps like SONAR.

6.)    FLAC and ALAC Support:  Windows 10 has native support for these two codecs.  Both “Apple Lossless Audio Codec” and FLAC  could mean great things for Windows audio moving forward.

7.)    Much faster boot-time:  A lower footprint in memory combined with some new optimization techniques will get you up and running and making music faster than ever.

8.)    Runs smoother on older machines:  The lower memory footprint and optimization tweaks will also allow Win 10 to run more efficiently on older machines.  This is great news for Wn 7 users who never upgraded to Win 8.

9.)    Lower Latency:  15ms lower roundtrip latency using WASAPI (shared mode).

10.)  Core isolation: Drivers and applications can now isolate and dedicate low latency audio processing to a single CPU core.  This can minimize the effect of DPC latency spiking from networking, Bluetooth, or other DPC spiking processes by preventing interruptions to audio processing.

At Cakewalk, we are dedicated to staying on the forefront of technology.  Our CTO (featured below) and his team worked closely with Microsoft to make sure our products run smoothly on Windows 10.  We are very excited about this free update, and highly recommend it to our customers. Try SONAR with Windows 10 today for the ultimate music creation experience.

DEVELOPER NOTES: SONAR X3 VST3 Internals

Introduction

SONAR X3 has numerous enhancements and updates to the VST engine, including rich support for the VST3 specification. This article is intended primarily for VST plugin developers to gain a better understanding of the features supported by SONAR and to write plugins that integrate better with SONAR. While the VST3 documentation covers typical information for plugin developers, it does not explain plugin to host integration in much detail. This article attempts to bridge that gap and explain some of the VST3 specific features are implemented in SONAR. Please also see this article that is more intended for end users.

Automatic VST2 to VST3 migration in SONAR

For plugin vendors who have a large base of VST2 plugins and wish to provide a smooth migration path to VST3, its recommended to implement support for automatic migration of a VST2 plugin saved in a prior project to its VST3 equivalent.

This capability will allow SONAR X3 to detect a compatible VST3 plugin while loading a project and automatically transition the VST 2.4 plugin to its compatible VST3 counterpart Continue reading DEVELOPER NOTES: SONAR X3 VST3 Internals

Borthwicks’ Acoustic Jazz Album Heats Up the ‘HotBox’

OneOfUsIn December, we announced the release of Ramona Borthwick’s new acoustic jazz album, One of Us, which was entirely edited and mixed in SONAR. Cakewalk CTO Noel Borthwick was at the helm of this project, cataloging the entire process on his blog. Earlier this week, we learned that One of Us was featured in the May issue of DownBeat Magazine, one of the oldest and most prestigious jazz publications available to date.

Featured in a popular column called “HotBox”, One of Us was up against fierce players in the jazz world. Each month, 4 CD’s are picked and reviewed in “Hotbox” by some of the toughest critics in the industry.  Earning, 3.5 out of 5 stars, the Ramona Borthwick quintet is glowing in the success of their new album. Pick up a copy of DownBeat to read the reviews and more today. Catch a glimpse inside the production process of Ramona Borthwick’s One of Us here.

Where Work and Play Meet, SONAR Leads

When we say Cakewalk products are “created by musicians for musicians” we really mean it. Case in point, our CTO Noel Borthwick performs, records and produces music on the side. In November, Noel made an acoustic jazz album featuring Ramona Borthwick (piano, vocals) and a throng of amazing talent – Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), Johannes Weidenmeuller (bass), Adam Cruz (drums) and Noel on Guitar.

    <a href="http://music.ramonaborthwick.com/album/one-of-us">Who&#8217;s Your Mama by Ramona Borthwick</a>

The album, One of Us, was entirely edited and mixed in SONAR. Although, Noel was working on an older under-powered computer throughout the entire production process, that didnt stop SONAR from performing seamlessly.

“I was typically working with 24-32 tracks at one time, all recorded in high definition audio format at 24/96 khz, mixed in SONAR at 64-bit resolution and mastered at 24/96 khz” says Noel, “For the first part of the project I started out running SONAR 8.3.1, where I set up the initial projects, did the bussing setup and initial editing. I soon moved to SONAR 8.5 (which was in beta at the time) for main editing and mixing.”

To learn more about the ‘One of Us’ project and get exclusive tips & tricks on using SONAR as the ‘brains’ of your music production, visit Noel’s Blog.

NOTE: If you’re in the Boston area, see the band play live on February 17, 2010 at 9:00pm at Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square, Cambridge, MA.

How Windows 7 Will Effect Your Music Production?

borthwick2Cakewalk Chief Technical Officer Noel Borthwick, a noted expert on Windows platforms, covers crucial topics around the introduction of Windows 7, such as compatibility with Cakewalk products, issues in upgrading from Windows XP and related points of interest for PC users.

For an in-depth look at Windows 7 and how it might affect your use of Cakewalk products, check out Noel’s Q & A below. Also, see Peter Kirn’s article at Create Digital Music for more  insightful tips on Windows 7.

Continue reading How Windows 7 Will Effect Your Music Production?

Windows 7 Improvements Cited on CNET’s Digital Noise Blog

windows7logo1Like many of you, Cakewalk is patiently awaiting the big launch of Windows 7 on October 22. We’ve been hard at work testing our products for the new platform and sharing our information with you – see Noel Borthwick’s article.

A few days ago, CNET blogger Matt Rosoff, posted his thoughts on how Windows 7 will make the art of audio production on PC easier – citing Noel in his brief review.  Take a moment to read through Matt’s article. There will be more Windows 7 mentions to come.

SONAR 8.5: The Fine Print

borthwick2Cakewalk’s CTO Noel Borthwick has been hard at work creating this microscopic view of SONAR 8.5 for those of you who have expressed an interest in learning more about the internals of the new features. Throughout this post, Noel will uncover the new version from an engineering perspective. However, before we get started on the fine print, let’s  first clarify some facts and myths about SONAR 8.5.

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name? That which we call SONAR 9 by any other name would sound as sweet.” I guess Juliet was misinformed, based on the wild speculation and reaction to our announcement of SONAR 8.5. To ease the anxiety for the next release I will let you in on a secret – the next product release will be called: SONAR 1C21B83D-EDCE-41b7-BBEF-31F912E88B1D. We think that a 128 bit version number will dispel all ambiguity the next time around.

FACT:
• The .5 release name for a major product reflects a change in our internal nomenclature for naming products, a business decision that was made after careful deliberation.
• Going forward this more accurately reflects our strategy of shipping products with high value for customers, while simultaneously planning for certain types of features whose depth may require a longer timeframe to develop and integrate.
• The 8.5 name is also indicative of the fact that 8.5 is available as an downloadable upgrade. i.e. unlike earlier versions it can upgrade an existing SONAR 8 install.
• Don’t be confused by the .5 in the name. 8.5 IS the next version of SONAR – It installs as a brand new version and lives alongside your existing SONAR 8 version just like any prior full release of SONAR.
• You can also simultaneously use 8.5 or an earlier 8.0 version just like any earlier full release of SONAR.
• If you purchased SONAR 8.5 as a downloadable upgrade, you must have SONAR 8 installed prior to installing SONAR 8.5. To reduce download size, the package doesn’t include all the content that you already have in your SONAR 8 install.
• You can also purchase a full set of 8.5 DVD’s even if you bought the download from our web store.
• If you bought the retail version of 8.5 from a store you already have the full 8.5 DVD set with all the content.
• There is no difference between an 8.0 install upgraded to 8.5 and a full retail 8.5 box install
• The depth of the new features and enhancements in 8.5 actually exceed what went into SONAR 8 coming from SONAR 7.

FICTION:
• The main SONAR 9 release was postponed and SONAR 8.5 is a patch or hotfix. Wrong – our maintenance releases are for compatibility and improvements only with the occasional bonus feature thrown in. We never add full blown features.
• A new version of SONAR is around the corner and 8.5 is an interim release. Wrong – We’re good, but not THAT good to be able to deliver a full new product just after shipping this one. Thanks for the compliment though!

So let’s cut to the chase shall we? There are several classes of new features in SONAR 8.5. I will try and focus on the pieces that are not covered in our marketing copy since by now you are already familiar with most of that.
You can read more about SONAR 8.5’s big features here if you are still catching up.

Disclaimer: The information below may be subject to errors and is not intended to be an exhaustive list of 8.5 features. It may be edited from time to time. You have been warned – nauseatingly geeky details follow. Stop reading now if this is objectionable to you 🙂

Continue reading SONAR 8.5: The Fine Print

Live from SIGGRAPH 09: Intel Interviews Carl Jacobson & Noel Borthwick on Processor Optimizations for Music Production

At this year’s SIGGRAPH Conference in New Orleans, Carl Jacobson met with the host of Intel’s Visualize This! TV Show, Arti Gupta, to discuss Cakewalk’s advancements in it’s software performance. Some of Arti’s questions were so technical that we thought it only fair to ask Cakewalk’s CTO Noel Borthwick to add his thoughts. Watch the video and check out Noel’s comments below:

AG: Cakewalk is a member of the Intel Software Partner Program.  What challenges were you trying to solve?

NB: The bandwidth available to the typical modern DAW user using a modern CPU such as the Core I7 is astounding compared to what was available just a couple of years ago. Users expect our software to use every ounce of available CPU cycles and horsepower it can to process their audio and mix. Cakewalk has been on the bleeding edge of technology for the last 15 years, taking advantage of cutting edge capabilities of the operating system as well as available hardware resources. With multiprocessing and 64-bit computing rapidly becoming mainstream, it has become even more critical for our software to make efficient use of hardware resources.

For example, for efficient multiprocessing we try and optimize all the code paths that are used in asynchronously mixing audio. The goal is to present a multi core machine with even and distributed workloads allowing the cores to work as hard as possible. To do this, we streamline the relevant code and minimize all high latency instructions.

Some typical areas that we try and improve our performance in are:

• Multi-processor load scaling: How well does a controlled test project load across multiple CPU cores?

• 64 bit performance: How well does the 64 bit version of the application perform with multiple workloads?

• CPU use: How efficiently does SONAR play back a CPU intensive project?

• High bandwidth tests: How well does the application perform while streaming audio at high sample rates (192K, 384K, etc) and bit depths (64 bit audio, etc)?

• Low latency performance: How well does the application perform streaming audio with very small audio buffer sizes (such as 1 msec buffers)?

Continue reading Live from SIGGRAPH 09: Intel Interviews Carl Jacobson & Noel Borthwick on Processor Optimizations for Music Production