How the new “TH3 Cakewalk” Will Elevate Your Recordings in SONAR

Whether you update SONAR every month or not, this month is a great time to hit the C3 button.  Besides the new cutting edge LP mastering plug-ins, we have worked hard and closely with our good friends at Overloud to deliver something that can truly change your sound as a SONAR user. TH3 Cakewalk has arrived and will now replace TH2 moving forward, and I had the opportunity to run the beta for the last month building some basic presets for the plug-in. Right out of the gate I found this VST3 to be a nice upgrade from its predecessor TH2.

Now I am absolutely nothing close to a guitar wizard, but I have been hacking around since I picked up the instrument at age 5, so I’ve been around the block with guitar tones touring, producing, engineering, recording, etc. like a lot of folks probably reading this.  From a production standpoint, I’ve always loved the convenience of amp simulators, but always hated what would happen to the tone when trying to mix them together with drums that had been recorded with 1073’s, API’s or other heavy duty pres and mics… the tone gets small pretty fast.  In my opinion, this is something that Overloud in general has excelled at—DSP and algorithms that truly stay at the front of the mix no matter what the context.  TH3 brings this concept to even another level.  Here are some of my quick thoughts and findings.

Sounds
There are a lot of changes with the new TH3 Cakewalk including the new and upgraded User Interface which I will get into, but I bet a lot of folks like me really base their judgments on how things sound.  The good news is that once you are up and running with the plug-in you will notice a nice improvement on the sound quality from TH2 Producer/Cakewalk.  5 new amp models with more accurate model reproduction are included in TH3 Cakewalk, and all have improved DSP along with enhanced preamp and power amp stages.  To my ear, I notice a more “open and natural” sound in general, but also notice a more responsive relationship between the pick and the strings in terms of “feel”—like when you play a guitar through an amp that just had the tubes replaced.  I also notice more presence overall, but the right type of presence without harshness.  The low-mids and mids are thick and punchy and I especially love the new Slo88 and Tweed Deluxe amps which have a lot of character.  The Bassface is a beast as well; this amp is a secret weapon for many rock producers who use it to double rhythm guitar parts recorded with other amps.  Blending these two sources together produces a tone that is about as thick as it gets.

New amps in TH3 Cakewalk:

 

Bassface 59:  Model of a classic american “bass” combo amp, tuned to be great for rhythm and blues playing on guitar once overdriven

Continue reading How the new “TH3 Cakewalk” Will Elevate Your Recordings in SONAR

Making The New York Impulse Pack for the SONAR “Braintree” Release

by Dan Gonzalez

Impulse responses (IRs) are small bursts of audio data that represent the frequency response of a real life space. By using convolution reverbs we can use them creatively in our productions to increase depth and ambience.

 

The concept

To accurately represent a real life space, you need to excite it with a frequency sweep or a loud sound rich in complex frequencies like a starter pistol or snare drum hit. For my IR samples in the New York Impulse Pack I used a sine sweep. The sine sweep is the easiest way to make sure you get an accurate representation of a space.

Once you capture that space, you must process it with a utility that shortens the
frequency sweep into a state that convolution reverbs can use. Typically this audio data is no more than a split second long.

I used this workflow to produce the Impulse Responses you’ll receive in our content for users that are a part of the Braintree Release for SONAR Platinum and SONAR Professional.

The equipment you’ll need, and what I used

– Speaker, Studio Monitor, or Full Range Flat Response Speaker. I used a Cerwin Vega P1000.

The P1000X is a two-way, bi-amped, full-range bass-reflex speaker. It employs a 10-inch woofer and a high-frequency compression driver, powered by a custom Class-D amplifier. With a power rating of 1000 watts, the P1000X is one of the most powerful PA product in its class. A proprietary hemi-conical horn provides premium sound clarity over an even and wide coverage area. A built-in mixer with convenient I/O connections allows for simple and fast setup, while Enhanced EQ, VEGA BASS boost and High-Pass Filters enable exact tuning and exceptional performance for any application. The P1000X is a versatile product that can be used as a single speaker for small venues, set in pairs or installed with threaded hang points, and combined with the P1800SX Sub for a larger venue needing more coverage and SPL. Its compact size makes it ideal to operate as a floor monitor as well.”

– Pair of microphones, the flatter response the better. I had the benefit of borrowing a pair of Earthworks QTC40s.

– The ability to create a sine sweep. I used this free utility and then bought the license for $40.

– An audio interface to simultaneously play the sine sweep and capture sound of the excited space. My RME UFX worked out wonderfully because it has very clean preamps and multiple inputs and outputs.

– Of course, SONAR Platinum

The Microphones

The Microphones I used are pretty high-end reference microphones that have a frequency range from 20Hz-40kHz. These are great because they represent the sound of the room without any color. Since we’re in the business of capturing the sound of room – they make a perfect companion for this type of project.

Setting up the spaces

I setup the microphones in a few initial spots to get an idea of how the space sounded. On my first try it was clear that the space was going to sound good no matter where I placed the microphones and the source speaker. Both spaces are not highly reverberant, they just have quality sounding early reflections – which makes them great for getting initial sounds of drums and vocals.

The goal was to capture the room in various positions. I setup the microphones in close stereo pairs, distant stereo pairs, and subsequently moved the source speaker around them to bounce the sine sweep off different walls. During the processing stage, I then split these stereo IRs out into mono signals so that users could have a choice between stereo or mono processing. For example, here’s a rough diagram of how I setup the microphones in the center with various speaker locations for one set of IRs.

 

 

 

 

The IRs themselves

To excite the space I created a sine sweep with Voxengo Deconvolver.

BE CAREFUL WHEN PLAYING THESE, THEY ARE LOUD

Once the signal played through the room it sounds like this:

Large Room IR Example

Not very exciting on first listen, but when you process the tracks and apply some instruments you start to understand their sound. Here is a drum passage without the impulse response:

Now, here’s the same drum passage with the ambience of one of the “Big Room” IRs that I captured. You can hear how it doesn’t necessarily add reverb, but more an ambience.

Lastly, here’s just the ambience:

Small Room IR Example

Here’s a synth passage without any IRs applied:

Here’s the same patch with one of the SmallRoom IRs applied:

Mixing Pop with SONAR Platinum – Synths, Bussing, and Ducking

by Dan Gonzalez

SONAR Platinum is the newest, greatest, and most advanced version yet. It contains all the tools and accessories that anyone would need in order to produce, mix, master, and compose their own music. In this mixing tutorial I’ll be using SONAR Platinum exclusively to show you the various ways I went about mixing this track.

You can download this project here and following along.

Synths

There are a total of 6 synth tracks in this song. All of them are quite trance-y and bring a unique dance flavor to this song. Let’s take a look at a few of the things I did to the more prominent synth tracks. For the most part this song reminds me of bands like The Killers. Maybe it’s the voice of the singer and the style of drumming but it has that kind of feel to it.

The first synth track that you hear running in the background behind the marching tom hits is a pretty dry track to start with. It’s already processed to some degree but in my opinion needs a little bit of low end and an equal amount of space in the mix. Taking this into consideration I add a low shelf on the Quad-Curve EQ at about 191Hz. This thickens it up a bit so that the song has a strong entrance with the pounding toms.

 

Next, I sent this synth to Continue reading Mixing Pop with SONAR Platinum – Synths, Bussing, and Ducking

ProChannel Convolution Reverb with REmatrix Solo

by Dan Gonzalez

Convolution Reverb, now in the ProChannel

New to SONAR Professional and SONAR Platinum is the increasingly popular and imaginative REmatrix Solo. REmatrix Solo uses convolution to mimic real life halls, rooms, plates, and other reverberant spaces. In order to do this, engineers use something called a sine sweep or starter pistols to excite a real space like a church or bathroom. Typically you need to use a space that has a particularly natural short or long decay and does not have artifacts like flutter verbs or cancelling frequencies. You can even capture the sound of other reverb plugins and import that sound into REmatrix Solo.

This version is based off of a the full REmatrix plugin by Overloud. Currently, REmatrix Solo allows users to play a single IR but in the full version, you can play up to 5 IRs at once – allowing you to cross-pollinate your favorite reverbs into one lush space.

What’s the difference between Breverb and REmatrix Solo

Breverb and REmatrix Solo actually use different technology to create reverb. Breverb is based on a famous digital reverb found in almost every major recording studio. Breverb uses a dedicated or similar algorithm to recreate things like Early Reflections, Late Reflections, Pre-Delay, Decay, and other elements of a reverb. Breverb recreates a digital reverb whereas REmatrix uses the aforementioned convolution methods to convolve passing sounds with data from real life spaces. Breverb lets you tweak the elements of reverb and REmatrix creates a space around your sound.

Here’s a in depth look at the REmatrix Solo plugin brand new to SONAR Professional and SONAR Platinum.

 

Studio Makeover Month: The Axeman Studio Setup

 

“The Axeman” is a guitar driven musician that has an appreciation for the heavier side of the music spectrum. He has a solo project they’ve been working on for years and years – slowly perfecting tone, demos, and musical compositions. He is always up for doing freelance work- so it’s important that he has a vast selection of gear and instruments to keep his clients coming back for more.

 

The gear:

The Axeman has a surprisingly mobile setup for the home studio. He lives a nomadic recording lifestyle because a lot of production these days involves traveling to various musician’s homes to work on preproduction and other intricacies of the record process. His expenses have gone into purchasing a Fractal Audio Axe-Fx Mark II to keep from carting around various Continue reading Studio Makeover Month: The Axeman Studio Setup

Mixing Tips: How to Use Reverb to Create Depth

Introduction

Mix engineers that have had their time behind a board can pick out the misuse of Reverb when they hear it. Just like with anything, applying the proper Reverb requires more time than just scrolling through the presets of the basic Hall, Room, and Plate algorithms.

Overview

Music tends to have a significant three-dimensional experience to it. This concept requires the understanding of width, height, and depth. The best way to understand this is to find a pair of large studio headphones and listen to some billboard topping hits that have dense and complex instrumentation. Grab a sheet of paper and draw two lines intersecting as well as one diagonally through the middle. Label them “Width”, “Height”, and “Depth”. Make a few copies of this sheet and as you listen to the music observe where the instruments sit in the mix. Mark the Toms, Snare, Kick, Vocals, Guitars, Keys, Backing Vocals, Bass, Strings etc. in their respective places on this XYZ plane. Once finished compare and contrast the different songs you listened to and you may notice how different each song turns out. Take one of your own mixes and do the same. You may learn something about your own techniques.

What does this little Continue reading Mixing Tips: How to Use Reverb to Create Depth

Mark Studio 2 Bass Sound Examples

If you haven’t heard the Mark Studio 2 Bass Plugin by Overloud then you’re missing out on some incredible sounds to add to your rig. I’ve gone through the Mark Studio 2 plugin and picked 5 stock presets for you to hear. This plugin has everything from ambient driven distant effects to jaw-dropping lead tones. The easy-to-use interface and realistic effects makes it a no-brainer addition to your home studio.

’80’s Funk


Continue reading Mark Studio 2 Bass Sound Examples

Anatomy of an FX Chain: CA Power Chord (Free Download)

Let’s de-construct an FX Chain, and find out how to optimize distortion guitar sounds

by Craig Anderton

I like big, rich, smooth power chords—harshness need not apply. While TH2 Producer’s presets were a point of departure, I wanted to take them further.

The UI for the Power Chord FX chain

So I got to work on an FX Chain, and I’m happy to share it with you. The final FX Chain ended up as Continue reading Anatomy of an FX Chain: CA Power Chord (Free Download)

Free TH2 Bonus Content For All SONAR X2 Users Through Dec 31st

Th2 Bonus Content

Holiday Bonus: Upgrade to SONAR X2 and get FREE TH2 bonus content
Our friends at Overloud have created a special bonus pack for all SONAR X2 customers this holiday season. Just purchase any version or upgrade to SONAR X2 today and then visit the My Account page on the Cakewalk Store.  You can then download this special bonus pack which includes 20 new Smooth Jazz presets and 10 new cabinets IRs taken from Mesa, Engl and Koch cabinet. In addition, they have created a video which shows you how to import new content into TH2 Producer and TH2 SONAR. Offer expires Dec. 31st.

Try SONAR X2 Producer for free

Find a SONAR X2 retailer near you

Upgrade today with special holiday offers

 

What is TH2 SONAR?  Watch the video!

SONAR X2 Feature Peek: Why BREVERB SONAR Will Become Your New Go-to Reverb

I finally had the chance to record and mix a full production in SONAR X2 Producer last week and one of my favorite new features is BREVERB SONAR.  I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know HOW good.  I found that out immediately when I sent the lead vocal track though to a bus with BREVERB SONAR and it was instant gratification.

Check out this video to see BREVERB SONAR in action on a vocal track:

Continue reading SONAR X2 Feature Peek: Why BREVERB SONAR Will Become Your New Go-to Reverb