Reader’s Choice: Most Popular Vocal Production Articles in 2014

by Dan Gonzalez

Optimizing vocals with DSP

Craig Anderton brings you on a DSP-inspired journey through all the different ways in which you can get your vocals processed and finalized. Various topics involving the VX-64, EQ, Compression, Expansion, and much more. Check out the article here.

How to use a vocal double to enhance lead vocals

One of the toughest things about working with a lead vocal track is getting it to pop out, while allowing it to still sit in the track nicely in context with its surroundings [other tracks].  Every mixing engineer has her/his bag of tricks, but here are a few ideas to utilize a “vocal-double” which may help support and embellish the lead vocal track. Cakewalk guru Jimmy Landry shows you how he worked on the vocals for his Javier Colon demo track. Check out the article here.

Make your voice sound thicker (studio & producer)

Vocal production can lead to many different types of processing. Sometimes subtle enhancements to your vocals can make all the difference in the final mix. SONAR X3 Studio and Producer introduces Melodyne Essential as a fully integrated and pitch correction editor. This easy to use software allows users to access their Melodyne right from the Multi-Dock without needing to perform any special tricks within the software – including fattening up your vocals. Check out this highly-read article here.

Make your voice sound like Daft Punk with Melodyne Editor and SONAR X3 Producer

Certain effects have defined generations of music. The decade of the 80’s for example was a major era for reverb. In today’s pop music, the use of pitch correction software seems to be an effect that many artists and producers are utilizing creatively. Daft Punk has been using this effect for a number of years now, making them one of the first to bring this vocal style to the level of popularity it is today. Check out the article here.

Hum a melody and convert it to MIDI using ARA

As a musician, inspiration can hit you on the train, during dinner, or even while you’re driving somewhere. Many musicians carry some sort of recorder around with them. I know sound designers who always have a device ready for taking samples, and guitarists that hum melodies to themselves when they feel they’ve come up with something original that they want to remember. Now you can import your melodies right into SONAR and convert them to MIDI using the innovative ARA integration. Check out the articles here.

Reader’s Choice: Most Popular Drum Production articles in 2014

by Dan Gonzalez

Free Quick Kit Project Templates for SONAR X3 Users

 

Yes, we’re bringing back the freebie post from last December. Our Free Quick Kit Project Templates made a big splash with the community as one of our top posts over the last 12 months. These pre-mixed project templates load right from quick start menu in all three versions of SONAR X3 without any assembly required. Open a quick kit, drop in your sequence, and you’re ready to rock with great sounding drums. Now we’re opening it up to anyone who has Session Drummer 3 in their arsenal.  Download the free pack here.

9 Microphone Techniques for Recording a Snare Drum

Ever wanted to know how to mic up a snare drum? Well we wrote a comprehensive article about 9 different ways to do it. This article is brought to you by the community of Cakewalk readers that follow the blog and read it regularly. Check out the article here.

What’s New in Addictive Drums 2?

2014 brought us more than just content, it brought us Addictive Drums 2. Ever since we’ve posted our extensive video about XLN Audio’s new instrument we’ve heard nothing but great reviews. Here’s our most popular video chosen by the readers of The Cakewalk Blog. Check it out here.

Subtractive EQ Part 1: Snare Drum

Here’s one of our most popular posts this past year in case you missed it the first time around. There are a ton parts to this series, but the first part has seemed to win over the rest. Here’s a nice thick article about how to apply subtractive EQ to a snare drum. Check it out here.

Setting up your Addictive Drums

Check out how you can easily setup Addictive Drums (1 & 2) to accommodate multiple different working environments within SONAR X3 Studio and Producer. This one of kind drum synth is the best of the best. Check out the article here.

How to use Compression on Snare Drum in SONAR X3

Using compression is one of those tools that is tricky to understand if you’re not familiar with how the different audio signals in your mix. Check out our most viewed video from the extensive video series about using the CA-2A Leveling Amp on snare drum. Check out the video here.

How to Compress Drum Reverb in SONAR X3

Another popular drum related video from the Compression video series is #6 where I give some tips on using compression on drum reverb. You can see the video here.

Producing Drum Samples in SONAR X3

Last but not least we’ve seen that our community has really enjoyed our Producing Drum Samples video series. This video series is available to watch here and guides you through some awesome ways to mix and EQ drum samples to your liking.

If you’re looking for more Drum Production tips check out the tag for this on our blog here.

Multi-Track Drum Editing – Cropping and Aligning Clips

In this part of the blog series we’ll cover cropping and aligning the clips that we sliced and diced in the previous post.

STEP 09: Cropping Multiple Clips

SONAR rocks when it comes to cropping multiple clips at once. Now that we’ve sliced up the first measure, select all the split clips from measure 22 to 23 including the blank waveforms leading up to measure 22. You can select multiple clips by clicking the header of each Clip Group and holding SHIFT.

While holding SHIFT, crop the right side of any of the selected clips.

This will crop all of these clips at once. The end Continue reading Multi-Track Drum Editing – Cropping and Aligning Clips

Call of Duty Composer: Sean Murray on SONAR X3 and Gobbler

Sean Murray

Composer

Being projected as one of the biggest selling pieces of media in history is a pretty big deal. On November 9th 2010, Call of Duty®: Black Ops was released and is being labeled as just that; and SONAR was the engine behind the scenes for the score. Even more exciting for one man, Sean Murray (Composer/Producer), is the fact that Activision has simultaneously released his soundtrack on a worldwide basis through an arm of Universal Music Distribution to coincide with the release of the game. Continue reading Call of Duty Composer: Sean Murray on SONAR X3 and Gobbler

6 Mindblowing reasons to get SONAR X3 Producer

1. SONAR has redefined mixing in the box.

The ProChannel redefines the way you work with the Console View. Each audio track, instrument track, and bus comes with a complete modular strip of analog effects. Even the inspector allows the users to preview a selected track’s ProChannel strip right from the Track View. With the click of a button users can expand this analog mixing console and fully customize it by dragging around the modules, or loading up a ProChannel presets. Load up the Compressors, Tube Saturation, Reverb, Console Emulators, Tap Emulators, and the new QuadCurve EQ Zoom with Analyzer by simply right-clicking. SONAR’s ProChannel lends itself to an immensely visual experienceand to enhance this feature a step further Cakewalk introduced the fly-out panel for the Quad Curve EQ (SONAR X3 Producer Exclusive). Adding this allows users to see and modify their audio signals in real-time across a spectrum analyzer.

2. The best pitch correction software that exists is fully integrated.

ARA technology is Celemony’s way of allowing DAW’s to host the functions of any audio edit capable plugin. ARA Integration means that Melodyne can now run as a fully integrated feature within SONAR X3. Yes, you read that correctly, SONAR X3 can now run the world’s best pitch correction as a native component and SONAR X3 Studio & Producer now include Melodyne Essential.

Melodyne interacts with the new Region FX clips in SONAR – allowing users to highlight any mono audio clip and apply Melodyne pitch correction. ARA’s high quality time stretching replaces the older time stretching capabilities run by AudioSnap and SONAR X3 has the ability to convert Audio to MIDI by simply dragging and dropping audio to a MIDI track. This deeply integrated technology makes SONAR perfect solution for complex pitch correction!

3. Floating windows get in the way, so SONAR solved that problem.

If you’re looking to purge your workflow of a cryptic DAW with an unsettling interface that is not conducive to a creative environment then you should really check out what SONAR’s been doing since the X-series overhaul. We’ve pretty much ended the floating window interface to bring users a more efficient musical experience. Our Smart Tools HUD can be accessed anywhere in the interface. Our main track view houses several different workflows that are a single click or shortcut away. Screen-sets lets you save window configurations and swap between them using your numerical keys. The list goes on and on and we’re continuing to make it better with more intuitive features.

4. It takes minutes to create something awesome.

There are programs that exist only to record and edit, and then there is SONAR – which is the major contender for the entire creative experience. Every part of SONAR’s MIDI and virtual instrument implementation allows users drag in, route, and start composing within seconds.

You can save your favorite instrument and track routing as track templates and load them into other projects without any hesitation. Complex routing tasks like a multi-track setup for Addictive Drums requires no thinking – just doing. Our synth rack stays separate from the Track View and Console view so that your processing plugins stay separate from your synthesis plugins. Organization, clarity, and not a second wasted, that’s why SONAR stays on top.

5. We don’t bundle useless plugins with SONAR.

In fact, we bundle some of the best software in the industry with SONAR. We’ve already covered the fact that Melodyne Essential comes with the product – but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. 

The Nomad Factory Blue Tubes bundle ships with SONAR X3 and contains as many dynamic, time-based, and eq-based plugins that you could ever need. We have astounding instruments from AAS: Strum Acoustic SONAR, and Lounge Lizard SONAR. Lastly, Addictive Drums – which will make you want to fire your drummer and spark your MIDI programming addiction. It doesn’t stop there, check out the full list of effects and get yourself on board with the future of the DAWs.

6. You’re not limited to a Track Count or Plugin Count.

There’s always that moment when you realize that your DAW has hit a brick wall with the amount of plugins or tracks that it can handle at once. SONAR doesn’t have that problem, in fact it goes above and beyond to give you the best 64-bit architecture, unlimited tracks, buses, and effects that money can buy. We even have surround sound support! No need to constantly submix your tracks or work in parts because you don’t have thousands of dollars to drop on a “pro-system”. Even at our $99 value we’ve taken out track and effects limitations and still retain flagship features like ARA and VST3.

Upgrade to SONAR X3 Producer today!

Still not convinced? Check out SONAR free for 30-days.

Meet The Bakers: Dan K

I became obsessed with music when I was around 11 years old and my brothers left behind their collection of cassette tapes when they went on to college. They were mostly classic rock albums – Led Zeppelin I, II, and III, Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and everything in between.

I had a musical background already taking piano lessons, but it wasn’t long before I picked up my mom’s nylon string guitar and started learning how to play – first the chords, then on to as many solos as I could learn, one note at a time.

Eventually I studied more formally, taking up blues, jazz, and classical guitar, but once I realized I wouldn’t *quite* be the next Jimi Hendrix, I got my feet wet writing songs of my own. Since then, I’ve recorded a handful of EPs (not to be confused with the other Dan Kaplan, who writes and records solo harmonica albums), a full length album, and I just finished mixing my first full length album, Chasing Daylight, with my band, Magnolia. You can listen to the first single here.

 

Fun Facts:

  • I was an all state flute player in NY when I was a kid. I don’t remember why I started playing the flute, but I probably thought it’d be cool to be the only boy. Now it just comes in handy for the occasional jazz flute solo (i.e. never).
  • I had a song, “Around the Bend” featured on The Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch a few years ago. Still probably one of the highlights of my life.
  • I *might* be related to Johnny Appleseed.

Position:
Graphic Designer

Years @ Cakewalk:
5+ years (gulp)

Instruments:
Mostly guitar and piano, but I’ll hit or try to play anything I can get my hands on

SONAR Tips: How to Easily Sync Your DAW to Audio

Introduction

Have you ever recorded a song that isn’t set to any type of tempo? Or maybe you have just have to make a click track for your songs? Well SONAR can certainly help that in that department. One of the great things about SONAR is it’s flexibility across different types of workflows. In this particular situation there is a nifty tool hidden in one of the menus that helps get your tempos mapped out in your DAW. Think of it like syncing your DAW and your audio files.

Out of time? Put it in time.

Let’s a take a perfectly good song like the following sound example:

This is a great song, but it was tracked to an independent Continue reading SONAR Tips: How to Easily Sync Your DAW to Audio

Studio Makeover Month: The Controller Freak Setup

The Controller Freak is an on-the-road/off-the-road producer, sound designer, and analog enthusiast. His hands-on approach to digital music requires quite a few tactile surfaces for immediate and innovative musical ideas. He limits himself to this world because he finds that infinite possibilities can sometimes hinder his creative process. Keeping a solid sextet of different synthesizers spreads his ideas around equally. Moving, standing, sitting, and walking to different synthesizers is a part of the entire feel of his studio and how he stays in touch with his inner muse.

The Gear

The Controller Freak creates with a DAW and hardware that needs to be bridged by a dependable system. These days his work is mostly his own productions. To keep things mobile he opted to lay down some money on an HP Z-book 17” laptop. This high performance laptop can support multiple display formats (even Thunderbolt) Continue reading Studio Makeover Month: The Controller Freak Setup

HOW UPGRADING TO SONAR X3 GAVE THESE PRO ARTISTS AN EDGE

Luigie Gonzalez
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Grammy nominated Producer, Songwriter, Mixer, Multi-Instrumentalist

“When I walk into sessions with my SONAR machine, I hear ‘what is THAT’ a lot from other producers and artists.  And then like clockwork, I hear a lot of ‘whoah’ and ‘wow’ when they see what I can do beyond their limitations.  I’ll never forget Jimmy Jam being blown away once in a studio when I started getting my sounds going in SONAR – that was a pretty cool feeling because he could see and hear what made my **** sound different from other producers on the scene at that time.”  

Since upgrading to SONAR X3, my favorite new feature is the Nomad plugin suite.

The Nomad Bundle that comes with X3  has been a go-to for me when boosting mid and high frequencies.   The mids are awesome and super-musical!  I also usually use them for HiHats to boost 8KHz – 16KHz without sounding to square-digital or harsh.   It just has a nice sizzling tone that sounds so different than any other plugin in my arsenal of VSTs.  When I mix I am very observant of the “stereo image,” and Nomad’s “Imager” is the trick to help make room for things.  Also, I use the Tempo Delay often because of its warmth and versatility.   I also, love the Tempo Delay’s parameter controllers – having 3 independent delay configurations is great to achieve the perfect delay tone in my mixes.  I can really get unique sounds with the delays and shape them to my heart’s content.

On the other hand, I cannot live without the Console Emulator (I believe this was new to X2 but it just never gets old)…  It just opens my mixes in such organic ways that have I become addicted to it!  I use the trident (A-type) mode for kicks, bass and everything with low end character because it adds great sub harmonics.  The SSL (S-Type) I use for snares, kicks and everything in between to achieve that pocket /punchy sound which warms up the top end frequencies without dulling the sound.  The Neve (A-Type) for Vocals, synths, guitars and everything that needs to sound frontal or cut through mix.  It helps my “center” in the mixes along with some nice mid-frequency response.

I always add a bit of drive (Console Emulator) to my buses to emulate the console circuitry saturation because it works without distorting anything too much – just enough to add more random harmonics and make the whole mix sound even more organic and full.  I think the Console Emulator is one of the best features to SONAR in a long time, and I’m very happy Cakewalk implemented it as part of the ProChannel.

Track coloring is also something I was waiting for some time.   It helps me keep organized especially when mixing 100 plus tracks sessions which is usually the case for me.  It’s so smart that the track colors respond to the bus colors, this way I stay even more organized by visually understanding my large mixes.

I really dig the QuadCurve ProChannel EQ as well.   It’s super-transparent and colorless on certain modes which plays an important part when carving very precise frequencies.   It’s kind of like the FabFilter but the fact that it’s part of the ProChannel makes it easier and faster to use.  It’s also dead-precise while still sounding amazingly clean!

~Luigie Gonzalez

DJ Spooky
Location: New York City and The Poles
Producer, Music/Song/Sound Creator, Author, Visionary

When you are as diverse of an artist as DJ Spooky you need some serious music-creation tools.  Take Of Water and Ice for example.  This album is the result of DJ Spooky’s art residency at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Of Water and Ice is a composition for string quartet and video that evolved out of his large-scale multimedia work Sinfonia Antarctica: an exploration of the composition of ice and water, and our relationship to the vanishing environment of the arctic poles. DJ Spooky created The Book of Ice based on his travels to the poles. All of the electronic sounds are generated by interpretations of either algorithms that mirror the geometry in ice crystals or the math of climate change data.

“The biggest asset to me upgrading to SONAR X3 was the speed Continue reading HOW UPGRADING TO SONAR X3 GAVE THESE PRO ARTISTS AN EDGE

Studio Makeover Month: The Ghostwriter Studio Setup

Meet the Ghostwriter – a professional songwriting machine working under contract to create music for mainstream acts and artists. He lives to create music in a simple and inspiring environment without any hiccups or interruptions. He needs a mobile setup that comes with him to collaborate with Artists, but powerful enough to craft song ideas into finished demos on tight deadlines. This Ghostwriter has to be able to do it all, and he gets results with SONAR X3 Producer.

 

The Gear:

The Ghostwriter has delicately carved out his set-up according to his Songwriting process. Everyone’s process is different but over the years he’s learned that songwriting is a skill that needs to be worked over and over again in different ways. He’s picked a powerful Dell M6800 Precision workstation as his main workhorse computer because of the expansive hard drive space, optical drive, large visual workspace, 8GB of memory, and long battery life. With 4 USB 3.0 ports, transferring and backing up his music takes a fraction of the time it does on his MacBook.

Songwriting can sometimes start with an idea that hits faster than he can reach for a recorder. Instead he flips on his Gibson inspiration cable, and works the idea out while his computer is booting up. This clever cable catches the direct signal of his guitar’s pickup and transfers it to an SD card. After that, he just pops out the card and copies it to his SONAR X3 Producer Continue reading Studio Makeover Month: The Ghostwriter Studio Setup