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  #91 (permalink)  
Old 1st October 2009 , 05:27 PM
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Default Arpeggiator

Arpeggiator

Or should I say P5's Arpeggiator? This is one serious Arp. One of the best in any host IMO. Sonar really needed this kind of upgrade to the older Arp it has.

P5 users certainly found this Arp to be a highly useful and flexible tool so to have similar functionality in Sonar is simply great. I have used the P5 Arp many times and think its brilliant. There is a Project 5 demo on Sonicstate.com that showcases P5's arp and how to use it. AFAICT the new Sonar 8.5 arp is pretty much identical to P5's. So the video should at the very least provide a very good introduction to this tool.

I am very pleased to see this highly creative tool in Sonar.
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Last edited by Monarch; 1st October 2009 at 07:01 PM. . <
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  #92 (permalink)  
Old 2nd October 2009 , 09:08 AM
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Default

Good stuff, Kingy

8.5? That's so yesterday - 8.5.1 now
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  #93 (permalink)  
Old 3rd October 2009 , 10:16 PM
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Cheers IABP

8.5.1... yeah I guess I could just edit the 8.5 summary title.
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  #94 (permalink)  
Old 6th October 2009 , 01:37 PM
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Default Session Drummer 3

Session Drummer 3

Ohhh much better.

See it in action here (MIX magazine with Cakewalks Brandon Ryan) The previous version was hardly used here because...

a. It had no x64 version.
b. Did not like the look and feel very much.

Point a:
The new version is much better to look at. The new mixer is a vast improvement on Session Drummer 2. Slick. Much more like it. The main interface with the drum set is great fun to use. Seeing your beats being animated by the drum set is hilarious (in a good way)

I know it sounds silly but are we not supposed to have fun when making music? But is the animation actually useful? Definitely. You see one can easily click on any part of that virtual drum kit to hear what any part of a loaded kit sounds like. The animation that follows is nice too.

IMO it is clearly influenced by other products like EZ drummer but that is not a bad thing.

You can see SD3 in action here (the new PX-64 and the Matrix view also get featured)...



Getting started with Session Drummer 3




Point b:
This new version is also an x64 native plugin. I always wondered why some plugs that ship with Sonar have x64 variants and others (VC -64, Session Drummer 2) do not. Clearly Cakewalk are little by little trying to rectify that lack of consistency. I am guessing the VC-64 will not be an x64 plug until Kjaerhus (I think its their dev work) come up with an x64 version of the plug.

I think Cakewalk have pretty much addressed that problem though already which brings me to...
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  #95 (permalink)  
Old 6th October 2009 , 01:56 PM
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Default VX-64 Vocal Strip

VX-64 Vocal Strip

Well this is a truly superb plugin IMO. I get the feeling an x64 version of the VC-64 was not on the horizon for some time (if at all) and Cakewalk decided to bake their own Vocal Channel Strip..a somewhat brilliant first effort if you ask me.

Very nicely laid out. A well thought out GUI. Certainly easier to use that the VC-64 which shares a few features with this plug hence my comparison with it.

5 plugins for your vocal pleasure...
1. Doubler
2. De -Esser
3. Delay
4. Compander
5. EQ


..."phase-coherent, multi-band saturation" is also on offer as well.

What really sets this plug apart form any others IMO is the area to the right of the interface. You can of course control the plugins listed above from the left of the GUI with the controls there but the additional read outs and parameter info for each plug can also be seen on the right. You can even change the routing of these plugs by simply dragging and dropping the small icons (bottom right of the interface). So easy and so smooth.

It really encourages you to experiment. Impressive. The way the GUI (on the right) for the doubler for instance responds to your changes really helps you get the sound your looking for much faster. Hearing and seeing what your doing in this way is really helpful and creative.

The sound IMO is excellent. The presets are very well put together and really showcase this rather excellent plugin superbly. Cakewalk really need to develop more plugs like this...brilliant.

See it and hear it...

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Last edited by Monarch; 6th October 2009 at 02:18 PM. . <
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  #96 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009 , 01:33 PM
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Default Px-64

PX - 64

One of the best dedicated plugs for drum processing I have seen. Cakewalk describe the plug as being "specifically tuned for percussion processing". The choice of effect modules and presets certainly goes a long way to back that claim up.

We have a Compander, Expander, Delay, EQ and Shaper.

It shares the same design as the VX-64 for the most part. A very good thing indeed. What immediately stood out for me was the "Shaper" section a kind of mini version of Sonars already existing TS -64 Transient shaper plugin. I found that quite interesting because initially one might think well why add that to a drum plugin? Not that transient shaping is no use, of course it is especially with percussive elements but surely combining the TS-64 and another drum plug without a "shaper" would be better...well not necessarily in every case.

I personally prefer to have a little less detailed features if it means I can work with more modules or FX in one plug. I think that is the idea behind the "Shaper" section of this plug. It gives you the key tools you need to shape your drum sounds in one plug. If you want even more control then you can of course fire up the TS-64 for more transient shaping options.

The Shaper IMO lets me get quicker results compared to the TS-64. One can easily choose between a slow or fast "Attack", Dry or Wet "Decay" or Fat or Thin "Weight" for your sounds. Easy, quick and very effective.

Weight "Color" can even increase or decrease the effect of low or high frequencies in transients. Really a bit of tweaking here and there and you can totally change the sound of percussive material quite easily.

This plugin shares the excellent module routing ease of use and saturation options as well. A superb plug. I really hope Cakewalk stick to this design as a foundation for future plugins. Clean, stylish, effective and easy to use. Brilliant.
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  #97 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009 , 01:36 PM
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Default Step Sequencer 2.0

Step Sequencer 2.0 Part 1

No more need for drum maps. Thanks! Sorry cakewalk. But that aspect of Sonar needs a major overhaul. It looks like they are fully aware of that and want users to be able to side step drum map usage with the Step Sequencer should they wish to.

The first really excellent thing that Cakewalk did with SS 2.0 is add a button to every Instrument GUI header (and I mean every one) you use in Sonar that when clicked, brings up the Step Sequencer to use immediately with that Instrument. That is a simple but superb feature that encourages you to really experiment with it using any VSTi or DXi you have. A great idea.

Its so easy to assign an instrument to a Step sequencer output. The new per row controller pane has a simple Output selector, click on that and a drop down list of any inserted synths in your project will appear. click the instrument you want to use and thats it.

Exclusive Per Step Probability might just be my favourite new SS feature.

In a nut shell it will determine if a step will be heard or triggered. It reminds me of the Chaos module in Stylus RMX and they way you can program RMX to add variation to a loop. This is not as wide and deep as that but it does give a very large amount of control over a busy Step Sequence.

If for instance you have different drum parts in the SS using this feature will seriously change the feel of your Step sequnce very quickly it is very efffective at radmoizing your steps because it operatesd per row. So you can gets different results very quickly indeed. YOu can dial in as much or as little variation as you like as well.

Of course you still have per row controls for Velocity, Flam, Duration, Swing and Time Offset.

You will not forget to Save Pattern as when your masterpiece is ready now will you? Of course Sonar will save the state of the SS with any project but these patterns can be saved individually as well.
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  #98 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009 , 01:45 PM
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Default Step Sequencer 2.0

Step Sequencer 2.0 Part 2

You can also fill notes every "2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 steps", great for hi hats for example. Per note flam and time offset are also available. I like how easily a simple double click creates a flam. Style settings, such as Duration, Swing, Time offset, Flam, and Slide/Portamento can be adjusted per row. This gives a user a lot of control over each row now. One can very easily add a very different feel to notes in a row.

The Media browser plays a pretty big part in the new SS. You can drag Step Sequencer patterns from the MB to the SS and even preview SS patterns from the MB. Cakewalk have done very well here to try and get two different aspects of Sonar to work very well together. The new per row controls really open the Step Sequncer up big time IMO.

The probablility feature is definitely my favourite Step Sequencer feature. Its sooooooo easy to produce realistic sounding drum parts in the new Step Sequncer but of course it also has more than enough tools to create drum parts that are very rigid and not so realistic if that is also the approach you like. This is a very nice revision of the Step Sequencer. It will be very interesting to see where they take it from here.

Getting started with the new Step Sequencer 2.0 ...

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  #99 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009 , 04:02 PM
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Default Audio Snap 2.0

Audio Snap 2.0 Part 1

It has always been a very powerful feature in Sonar but IMO not the easiest to access. The 2.0 version does makes things easier. But maybe its the wealth of options here that Cakewalk need to boil down to a few key features..l.have they managed that with this revision?

I think it is better. For instance the way transient markers are represented with different sizes that mirror the size of transients makes a very big difference indeed when you are micro editing audio.

Its a very effective tool for fixing timing errors and I suspect this might be the way most people use it. One can simply re do a recording but there are more than a few scenarios where that is simply not an option.

I think that its perceived as an audio tool but it can also work with Midi as well. Its very deep indeed. Tempo changes and "snapping Audio and MIDI edit to Audio beats" are all possible here.

You could also describe it as a super advanced quantisation tool but even that does not fully cover it. You can even copy Audio as Midi, Groove quantise, tempo detect or tempo map, split beats into clips, lasso to select certain transients and drag to stretch, merge and even lock transients e.t.c like I said its pretty deep.

Its strange how many times I have read "...but Sonar does not have a dedicated Audio Editor" but clearly Cakewalk have decided to keep editing features (including very advanced editing with Audio Snap tools) in the arrangement view. No need to use another view for micro edits.
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  #100 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009 , 04:18 PM
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Default Audio Snap 2.0

Audio Snap 2.0 Part 2

The stand out feature for me here is the new Tab to transient addition, it used to be dependant on Audio Snap but perhaps wisely Cakewalk decoupled it from AS (Audio Snap). It still works like an AS tool (can be used to manage /work with transients) but is probably the easiest way to identify transients if you want to work through a clips transients one by one at an almost molecular level of micro editing.

Tabbing to transients for me is simply great. If you have a drum loop and want to simply and quickly get to the transients and then slice the parts out for creative experimentation and re arrangement just select the drum clip and hit the tab key and watch Sonar tab through all the transients in your drum loop. I can't stress how easy it is to use but yet so effective.

It must be said that Cyclone can work with transients in Sonar already. Any Groove clipped or ACID file can be dragged into Cyclone and it will slice the audio file allowing you to re arrange the slices in Cyclones mini arrange view easily. But...Audio snap works with *any* audio file...and the Matrix view is like a bigger wider and deeper version of Cyclone.

Sonar supports quite a few different types of clips but Tabbing to Transients cover that as well. Even MIDI...

MIDI Groove Clips, (standard) MIDI clips even Step Sequencer clips can be benefit from this feature.

Audio of course is supported as well... Standard audio clips, Stretch to tempo clips, Slip Stretched Audio clips and Audio Groove clips . Phew!

As you can see (and no I have not covered everything) AS Tools in Sonar are very deep indeed. If you really must micro edit your material then this kind of feature is just for you. I certainly do not need all the features but the few I use of it are great time savers, combine that with all the other AS tools and they really do IMO elevate Sonar into very advanced audio editor territory. Sonar really is a VAST app. No question.
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  #101 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009 , 04:23 PM
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Default Lock Scroll

Lock Scroll

I don't know why I did not FR this but clearly and thankfully someone did. It will stop the arrange view from scrolling. Simple huh? You see in my case I used to want to work on a part of my arrangement in Sonar but still have playback continue (without having a loop set). With Lock scroll I can do that.

I can work between bars 10 - 18 for instance and have Sonar continue to playback the song beyond that point while the screen is locked to where I can see the bars /range I am working on. Effectively a screen lock during playback and its a very welcome little feature.
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  #102 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009 , 04:36 PM
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Default Project 5 "Half Rack"

Project 5 "Half Rack".

Huh? I thought this was a Sonar review?

It still is of course but this time its covers Project 5 FX in Sonar. With P5 now a distant memory at least in terms of support (as many still use it...) the FX suite looked like it would get buried with the application. Thankfully Cakewalk thought better of that and decided to include almost all of them into Sonar.

I always loved the P5 effects especially the Modfilter, Phaser Chorus / Flanger, Studio verb 2 (underrated reverb) and Tempo delay. Cakewalk already has all those bases covered with Z3ta+ used as an FX. Yep...all those plugs are there. But these P5 plugs still have a different (very nice I might add) flavour to them and swell Sonar's FX processing choices considerably further.

Some of your may be only too well aware that P5 effects and instruments were fully accessible from within Sonar without even starting up P5 many versions ago. You only needed to have P5 installed to access its FX from within Sonar. P5 instruments were also accessible in Sonar as well. But still with P5 gone the way of the dodo bird its nice to see these plugs as part of Sonar and updated to x64 native plugs I might add. Nice.

I wonder what will happen to the P5 instruments. The Velocity (drum sampler) would sure look nice in Sonar.
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  #103 (permalink)  
Old 20th October 2009 , 04:50 PM
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Default Freeze and Archive buttons on each track

Freeze and Archive buttons on each track

I have enough power in my PC to not freeze anything but its still good to see an easier way to Freeze tracks in Sonar. Archiving is a very different matter to me. While not a new feature in Sonar (just like freeze) better access to it is welcome.

Archiving for me is all about tidying things up and having a dedicated button always visible is definitely a very nice addition. Sometimes I want to keep additional material that did not make the cut for a Song in the same project but also do not want to see it all to avoid clutter. A simple quick way to archive that material makes it much easier to quickly move things visually out of the way. Nice.

Small but useful.
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  #104 (permalink)  
Old 30th October 2009 , 12:32 PM
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Default Solo (From FX or Instrument GUI)

Solo (From FX or Instrument GUI)

Not a feature I thought would be much use but it really is a time saver. Each effect GUI (and Instrument) now has a dedicated solo button. Hit the button to solo the track or if it is an FX (Track or Bus) that it resides on.

Nice addition. Very small but definitely useful.
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Old 30th October 2009 , 12:41 PM
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Thumbs up Final summary

Final summary

Well 8.5 is a rather significant upgrade but I think it is probably closer to a v.9 looking at the amount of features thrown in. The Matrix View is the real headline feature for me. A totally radical step for Cakewalk. I really did not think they would add that kind of feature to Sonar.

The new channel strip plugs are particularly good. They really showcase Cakewalks ability to offer up some seriously high quality plugs that compare very well indeed to 3rd party commercial offerings.

With an application like Sonar you do wonder what is next? Or what is left to add? These days I think most people do not want too many additional features but a better way to work with what they have IMO.

Lets see what v.9 brings
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