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  • #76
    Okay, back to customization.

    Customizing menus is always a bit of a dangerous thing, as you may move a little-used function out of the way and later on, when you actually need it, forget that it’s even there. Fortunately, you can create and save entirely different menu layouts. So, you can experiment with one layout, try another, or if you’re defecting from another sequencer, set up the menu layouts like your previous host. (This complements the ability introduced in a previous version of Sonar to load different sets of key commands that match different hosts.)

    Another useful aspect is that you can transfer your menu layouts (for example, if you use Sonar on a laptop, or if you work in another studio that uses Sonar, you’ll probably want the same environment). There’s no export function per se; you need to look in the Menuxml folder (Drive C: > Program Files > Cakewalk > Sonar 6 Producer Edition > Menuxml) for the desired menu layout file, copy it, then transfer it over to the same folder in the target version of Sonar.

    It’s not hard to modify layouts. You go Options > Menu Editor, choose the menu you want to modify (you can even modify context-sensitive menus – cool), then show and hide the various menu items. Click on the attachment to see the dialog box.You can also re-order individual menu entries by dragging and dropping…it’s really quite painless. You can even re-order the left-to-right roster of menus.

    So where to start? I began by creating a custom version of the default menu. First up: I never use Record, Stop, and Play from the Transport menu because it’s much easier to use a shortcut or click on a toolbar button. Poof! They were gone, and I ended up with a much trimmer Transport menu. I also grouped Views into MIDI and Audio views. Granted I usually use key commands, but this made the Views menu much more compact.

    By the way, if you customize to the point of confusion, you can always get back the original menu set, named sonardefaultmenus.xml. And if you’re as resistant to change as major label record companies, you can even load up a menu set that’s just like Sonar 5.
    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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    • #77
      I'll be posting more, of course, but here's a gentle reminder that it's totally cool to ask questions...and people from Cakewalk are monitoring the thread, so if I can't answer a question, they probably can.
      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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      • #78
        This may be a little off topic - but here goes...with Sonar (and other similar programs) now offering so many good quality effects, how do you feel about hardware DSP solutions (such as the Creamware Scope system) - are they becoming obsolete at this point?

        Also, I am interested in hearing about the Session Drummer 2 instrument that is included in Sonar 6 - is it a useful tool and how is the quality of the sounds and patterns?

        Finally, I am a big fan of Ableton Live and am really just taking a look at Sonar as a possible alternative that may offer me something more (especially now that Sonar offers additional time stretching capabilities). What is your take on how these two compare?

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        • #79
          Originally posted by simple
          This may be a little off topic - but here goes...with Sonar (and other similar programs) now offering so many good quality effects, how do you feel about hardware DSP solutions (such as the Creamware Scope system) - are they becoming obsolete at this point?

          Also, I am interested in hearing about the Session Drummer 2 instrument that is included in Sonar 6 - is it a useful tool and how is the quality of the sounds and patterns?

          Finally, I am a big fan of Ableton Live and am really just taking a look at Sonar as a possible alternative that may offer me something more (especially now that Sonar offers additional time stretching capabilities). What is your take on how these two compare?


          I still find systems like SCOPE, E-Mu, TC Konnekt, and other "DSP assisted" products helpful with complex projects, because they take a load off the CPU. IMHO computers aren't quite to the point where you can do big projects entirely natively, without using track freeze or doing the occasional premix.

          Session Drummer 2 will be covered soon.

          As to Live, it's a brilliant program. But I consider it more of an "instrument," whereas Sonar is pure DAW (although I don't have Live 6 installed yet). I use Live for live performance, and Sonar for studio recording. You can download trials of both, making it easy for you to decide if you prefer the "gestalt" of one over the other.
          Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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          • #80
            Originally posted by Anderton
            I'll be posting more, of course, but here's a gentle reminder that it's totally cool to ask questions...and people from Cakewalk are monitoring the thread, so if I can't answer a question, they probably can.


            I was wondering about the side channel capabilities in the VC64. I read that you mentioned it had the capability, but I was wondering how to set that up exactly (to, for example, trigger the bass with the kick and such).

            I was also wondering how you felt about Sonar's midi editing in general. There has been a bit of debate in the Sonar forums and (I think unfairly) Sonar has been getting a bad rap. So, in your definitely expert opinion, how do you feel about it?

            BTW, I love these reviews and have been hanging on every word. It's so much more than just a review. It really turns out to be an in depth tutorial.

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            • #81
              I was wondering about the side channel capabilities in the VC64. I read that you mentioned it had the capability, but I was wondering how to set that up exactly (to, for example, trigger the bass with the kick and such).

              Side-chaining is internal to the VC-64 and the track; you can't side-chain from a different track. So for example, you can have frequency-selective compression of the drum track based on audio from within that drum track itself, but not based on audio from another track.

              I was also wondering how you felt about Sonar's midi editing in general. There has been a bit of debate in the Sonar forums and (I think unfairly) Sonar has been getting a bad rap. So, in your definitely expert opinion, how do you feel about it?

              Sonar's MIDI editing has not been improved at the same rate as its other elements. However, I don't find it lacking -- just a bit inelegant. That said, as Cubase 4 seems to be the main competition for MIDI and I just installed C4, let me get a little more familiar with what C4 offers before I comment on the extent to which Sonar has kept up with, or fallen behind, the "MIDI mainstay."
              Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

              Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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              • #82
                Sonar has had a synth rack for a while, but the one in S6 is a major improvement. Its goal seems to be to present a condensed version of what’s happening in synth-land, sort of a “soft synth’s greatest hits” so you can do a lot in terms of instrument manipulation without opening up a bunch of GUIs. It does this by centralization crucial controllers, setting automation options, freezing and unfreezing, selecting programs, and more.

                The Synth Rack is resizeable within reason, so you can stretch it wider if you want all your controls to be in a single row, or narrow it so that the controls “overflow” to another row if the first row gets filled. Click on the attachment to see the synth rack, with four synths loaded, and resized so there are several rows of controls.

                However, this screen shot also shows that not all synths are created equal in terms of the synth rack. The Cakewalk TTS-1, for example, won’t let you see its programs; also note that all the synths have controls assigned, except for the Cakewalk TTS-1 – because it doesn’t allow the new style of Cubase-like read/write automation that's new in S6. (You’ll see R and W buttons for automation in the track view for the TTS-1, but as far as I can tell, they don’t do anything. However, you can control several parameters via standard MIDI controllers.) Furthermore, because the TTS-1 doesn’t support RW automation, you can’t treats any of its parameters as assignable controls, as you can with the other synths.

                You also can’t count on choosing programs from within the Synth Rack, either. From what I can tell, programs will appear for synths with MIDI-oriented, defined sets of preset programs (like the Korg M1 soft synth, as shown), but if your synth has a more dynamic, freeform way of choosing programs that’s not MIDI standard-friendly, they won’t. So, in some cases, you will indeed need to go to the synth GUI.

                However, it’s helpful that the synth rack won’t show anything you can’t work with. For example, look at the TTS-1: It doesn’t have the Read/Write automation buttons, and under presets, it shows No Preset.
                Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                • #83
                  This is my favorite aspect of the synth rack, so let’s dive into it before getting to the more utilitarian features.

                  Click on the attachment. Note the Assign Controls button toward the right side of the rack (the screen shot shows the one for Pentagon I being selected). Some Cakewalk synths appear with controls already assigned, but in most cases you’ll need to assign them yourself. But what’s really slick is there are two ways you can assign controls.

                  The touchy-feely method. For this you click on the Assign Controls button, and the instrument GUI shows up. Just move the parameters you want to assign as controls, and when you’re done, click on the Assign Controls button again. A dialog box shows up that says “X parameters were touched during learn. Are you sure you want to assign these controls?” where X is the number of parameters you moved. Say yes, and the parameters show up as controls along the bottom of the rack. Very cool! There’s one caution, though: Although the dialog box talks about parameters being “touched,” you can’t just click on a parameter; you actually need to adjust it.

                  The left-brain method. Right click on the Assign Controls button, and a pop-up menu appears with all the parameters that are available for assigning as controls. This is a little slower going, as you select each parameter individually.

                  Okay, we have a bunch of controls…now what?
                  Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                  • #84
                    Right-clicking on a knob brings up a bunch of options; click on the attachment to see them. Most of these will be familiar if you’ve worked with automation in previous versions of Sonar.

                    Controls can be made part of a group, so you can move edit multiple parameters with one controller motion. Furthermore, you can set a start and end value for each control, and these can be independent for each control in a group. For example, you could group two filter cutoff controls but have them move oppositely when controlled, or have one cover its full range but have the other cover a narrower range. You can of course remove a control from its group, or clear an entire group, as well as set a “Snap-to” setting for the control – the value the control will assume if you double-click on it. Why would you want this? Simple: You’re doing automation by moving controls in real time, and you want to be able to jump instantly to a particular value. Moving a knob will likely overshoot or undershoot the value, so by using Set Snap-to, you can hit that value right on the money.

                    If you haven’t delved into groups before, this is powerful stuff, especially if you get into the Group Manager. This lets you choose a particular group and decide whether the controls will move in an absolute or relative fashion with respect to each other, but you can also swap start and end values, change the group color (although why you’d want to escapes me). All this grouping stuff isn’t new in S6, but it’s always worth mentioning.

                    Before moving on to remote control, you can also delete a control, or reassign it to any other available parameter. Note that this can bring up a pretty huge list of parameters with some instruments.
                    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                    • #85
                      This is pretty easy: Just right-click on a control, select Remote Control, and a Remote Control dialog box shows up – click on the attachment to see it. You can specify a controller, but it’s a lot easier just to wiggle the controller of your choice, and click on Learn.

                      If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu, that’s because this is all very much like the way Console View lets you break out plug-in processor parameters as sliders, which you can also group, assign to remote control, etc.

                      BTW we're not done with the synth rack yet, but it's getting late around here. Catch you later with more goodies, because there are more implications to what we've covered so far than you might think...
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                      • #86
                        Here is some great information from Mike (http://www.i5pmusic.com, user name Infinite5ths) over at the Sonar forum. One of their forumites was having problems with the z3ta+ presets showing up in the Synth Rack, and as Mike has "cracked the code" for how to make presets appear properly in the synth rack preset fields, he answered specifics on the z3tz+ but covered other synths as well. I think y'all will find this as useful as I did. Take it away, Mike...

                        In Sonar there are basically three ways to save plugin presets, depending on the type of plugin and its programming features.

                        1) What I call the DX/DXi style -- stored in in a combination of Registry keys and files on the HDD
                        2) What I call the VST/VSTi style -- stored in Program files (*.fxp) [individual presets] or Bank files (*.fxb) [banks of multiple programs -- usually 128 of them]
                        3) Proprietary systems -- which can use the Registry or files in the HDD or a combination of both. The Sonitus plugins have a proprietary preset manager. You access it using the gray "Preset" button in the Sonitus GUI (usually between the "Reset" & "?" buttons)

                        The Synth Rack preset dropdown list only shows only what I call the "DX/DXi style" plugin presets. [I think it has to do with the fact that the Synth Rack GUI needs the Registry entries in order to be able to show a list of presets. VST/VSTi style presets don't have the Registry entries, and proprietary systems each use their own method of storing preset info. So the Synth Rack GUI is currently unable to "find" them.]

                        Unfortunately, the 'presets' that you find in banks A-F in Z3TA+ are actually VSTi style programs and banks. If you click on the Programs and/or Bank button in Z3TA+ you'll see that it saves & loads *.fxp and *.fxb files. This is true for both the DXi and VSTi versions of Z3TA+.

                        [Incidentally, I only use the VSTi version of Z3TA+ because it has advertised parameters which allow ACT control, automation envelope assignments, etc. in Sonar. The DXi version doesn't appear to advertise any parameters -- at least not in my installation. So you can't use the Assignable controls feature in the Synth Rack, you can't use ACT with it, and so forth.]

                        The situation in Rapture is similar, except that the the internal "presets" are actually SFZ format "Program" files. The internal Rapture Program browser is custom designed to browse these SFZ files, which are stored in a specific place on your HDD. [Unless I'm badly mistaken, there are no Registry entries for these SFZ programs.]

                        OK...so here is the confusing part. For ALL plugins (DX/DXi and VST/VSTi) in Sonar, the toolbar at the top of the plugin GUI has three items used to store DX/DXi style presets within Sonar:

                        1) The black drop-down list at the far left
                        2) The disk icon button (Save preset using the name currently showing in the drop-down box)
                        3) The X icon button (Delete the preset currently selected in the drop-down list)

                        IN ADDITION TO THESE THREE ITEMS, all VST/ VSTi plugins also have a "VST" button that brings up a menu which allows you to save VST/VSTi style presets (*.fxp & *.fxb).

                        So if you want your presets to show in the Synth Rack, you need to call up each preset or program within the plugin (using whatever system the plugin interface is designed to browse), then type a name in the black drop-down list at the top left of the GUI window and click the disk (save) button. Do this for each individual preset you want to show in the Synth Rack Preset menu. You may need to then shut down Sonar and restart...but the next time you insert a synth, all of it's DXi style presets should show up in that Preset menu on the Synth Rack GUI.

                        P.S. I'm not sure if my terms "DX/DXi style" and "VST/VSTi style" are 'correct' or not; but they at least help me to keep the preset/program/bank types sorted out in my head.

                        One other note: The Sonitus plugins can be a bit confusing, in that their internal proprietary presets have already been duplicated in the DX/DXi style presets drop-down list. Somebody at Cakewalk evidently went to the trouble of doing (for the Sonitus plugins) what I just described a couple paragraphs ago, and integrated the resulting DXi presets into the Sonar/Sonitus install.


                        I tried Mike's suggestion about saving presets and lo and behold, they show up in the synth rack. It's a lot of work, though; I hope Cakewalk comes up with a way to make this preset conversion process easier!
                        Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                        Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                        • #87
                          Hey Craig! Thanks for posting this info.

                          I did some more testing early this morning and found some more info. It turns out that the Sonar 6 Synth Rack (and the Sonar 6 plugin GUI preset list) is aware of some *.fxb presets, as well as some presets that are programmed into a plugin DLL file itself. I've continued to update the thread, including the post that you quoted here.

                          I wanted to post the link so that folks can follow along in this saga. It's a bit more tricky that I originally thought -- in part due to some of the updates in Sonar 6. Several of these updates I failed to notice until just this morning.

                          So here is the link to the Sonar forum thread:
                          http://forum.cakewalk.com/tm.asp?m=915277

                          [Note: The procedure I originally gave for creating presets that show up in the Synth Rack DOES still work in all cases. However, it appears that there are some other options for populating the preset dropdown lists. The options vary based on the plugin. See the thread link above for details.]
                          Mike
                          www.i5pmusic.com
                          Sonar 7PE; Rapture; Dimension Pro; Z3TA+; GPO; Wusikstation v4; Kontakt 2; Vegas 6; Sound Forge 8; Sibelius 5

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                          • #88
                            Thanks Mike! BTW check out the 12/06 editorial in my Sound, Studio, and Stage forum, which is about the concept of "open source manuals." You're mentioned in there
                            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                            • #89
                              Oh...WOW!! You're gonna make me famous.
                              Mike
                              www.i5pmusic.com
                              Sonar 7PE; Rapture; Dimension Pro; Z3TA+; GPO; Wusikstation v4; Kontakt 2; Vegas 6; Sound Forge 8; Sibelius 5

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                              • #90
                                Great review,
                                can we still look forward to some coverage of the ACT features?
                                cheers,

                                Poi

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