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  • #76
    <<I must have been hiding under a rock for some time. The only REX that I ever heard about was on the Amiga 20 years ago.>>

    The REX file was originated by Propellerheads and allows stretching digital audio by slicing the digital audio into pieces, and triggering each piece with a MIDI note. A longer time between triggers slows down the tempo; a shorter time increases the tempo.

    <<Another question... I'm also using UNITY by BITHEADZ . Will all of my sounds from that software work w S5?>>

    I don't know, I don't use any of the Bitheadz instruments on Windows.

    <<Am I correct in stating that your review is for the MORE EXPENSIVE of 2 versions of S5 ??>>

    Yes, although several elements are present in the lower cost version. This is all explained on the Cakewalk web site.
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    • #77
      The big feature here is you now have a choice of putting controllers in a separate pane (as was done previously), or superimposed on top of the notes. Click on the Attachment to see how the piano roll view combines controllers and velocity with notes. The selected controller is thicker and darker.

      What’s interesting here is that the controllers can now take up a lot more vertical height, because they have much room to play around with as the notes. And see the purple controller data in the picture? That’s a controller being drawn. Note how a readout shows the precise value of the controller being drawn at any given moment, along with the controller data’s timing, control number, and name.

      Like the in-track PRV, there’s a drop-down menu that shows/hides different elements, and another menu that specifies the type of data you’ll be drawing. Note values are not selected from a menu here, as there is already a graphic interface for choosing note values.

      All these MIDI changes are very welcome. Working with controllers is much easier; you can still use envelopes on the tracks (and of course, the “Convert MIDI To Shapes” option is still available), but being able to draw controllers in greater detail, and see the direct relationship to the notes, is great.
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      • #78
        Step recording doesn’t get much respect – isn’t it just for people to enter arpeggios? Well, sorta. But if you’re going to do step recording, might as well make it as easy as possible.

        The biggest improvement (at least in my opinion) is that keyboard shortcut bindings are set up so it’s easy to play notes with your left hand, and edit step recording characteristics (note lengths, add step sizes together, step forward, step backward – which you can now do repeatedly – beat forward, etc.) with your right hand. But it’s also nice that you can immediately see the results of step recording, and can use other commands while step recording (including change tracks).

        Click on the Attachment to see the listing of keyboard shortcuts. I know a list like this sounds boring, but it’s also an easy way to see the kind of step control you have at your fingertips. And of course, it’s Sonar…you can change the key bindings if you like. If you’re into step recording, I’d strongly suggest printing out the shortcuts sheet until you learn them.

        The step recording dialog box has two settings, Basic and Advanced. Advanced has some cute features (randomize note duration) but also has some pretty useful commands, like linking the step recording insertion point to the now time. This is a much faster way to jump to particular sections of a tune compared to using the advance and back options.

        If you want to use other commands while step recording, you have two options. Anything mouse-driven “adds” to what you’re doing. If you want to use keyboard shortcuts, you can temporarily disable and enable step recording. While disabled, you can use the mouse and keyboard shortcuts.

        Now I must admit I never really found step recording all that useful. So, I’m not particularly thrilled I can do something I don’t care about anyway more efficiently. And if this section is somewhat superficial as a result, I apologize! But I know that a lot of people do like step recording, especially those entering notes from sheet music. For them, I’m sure the improved implementation is a big deal. And y’know, maybe Cakewalk’s trying to give me a hint, and it’s time for me to check out doing some techno-type bass arpeggiation with step recording instead of relying on playing notes and adding echoes…
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        • #79
          They’re not really all that different from the MIDI effects in previous versions of Sonar – except for the look. Yes, you no longer need to be embarrassed if a client is looking over your shoulder as you pull up one of these babies. Click on the Attachment to see the new look, as shown in the Quantize and Echo effects.

          One disappointment: The Session Drummer plug-in, which is really quite cool, looks as uncool and user-hostile as ever. And on a related subject…the CAL programs provide a lot of useful MIDI functions. Shouldn’t you be able to download the Cakewalk Application Language if you’re enough of a geek to want to write your own CAL routines? And maybe some of the CAL routines could be packaged into new, spiffy-looking MIDI effects.

          I’m sure these things aren’t a big priority at Cakewalk; I wouldn’t suggest the engineers’ time would have been better spent on CAL programs than the other updates. But it’s something to think about for, oh, Sonar Version 8 or so. (And if you haven’t checked out the CAL files, do so: There are some real gems in there, like the Strum-It file.)
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          • #80
            Yes, it really is improved. It seems that gapping gets less and less with each version, and V5 is no exception.

            Let’s handle the easy part first. A Sonar project can contain different bit depths. This is very helpful when you’re importing, say, a mix of 16-bit and 24-bit loops. But here’s something I don’t understand: The online help says “Sonar 4 does not play back projects that contain files with different bit depths,” but I recorded a test file with both 24 and 16 bit depth files, and it played back just fine – huh? In any event, you can rewrite all the files to the same bit depth; your choices are 32, 24, and 16 bits (With 16 bits selected, you can enable dithering. But I wouldn’t recommend doing this until your final mixdown, when you export a high-resolution file to 16 bits.)

            There’s also an option under Global Options where you can select file bit depths for Record Bit Depth, Render Bit Depth, and Import Bit Depth. Click on the Attachment to see the revamped Global Options menu.

            Now let’s tackle the big question: What’s the deal with this 64-bit audio engine?

            First, you do not need a 64-bit computer, or the x64 operating system, to use a 64-bit audio path. A full 64-bit system will give somewhat faster operation, but the concept of running under a 64-bit OS, and the concept of using a 64-bit audio engine, are not related. You can run the 64-bit audio engine, with the benefits it provides, on 32-bit computers.

            Second, can you hear the difference? As in so many cases when you’re talking about audio, it depends on the program material. A lot of users report superior sound quality on computationally intensive sounds, like reverb tails. With most of the material I used, the source material wasn’t really at a level where 64 bits would make a big difference. However, as I used more plug-ins and processing, it did seem the sound stayed more consistent – there were certainly no traces of “fuzziness.” I feel Sonar’s 32-bit quality did the job, but certainly, 64 bits can’t hurt and yes, you can hear a difference with the right program material.
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            • #81
              Okay, that's it for tonight. Let me give a real quick summary of how I feel about the update so far.

              I'm very impressed by the new MIDI features. With all the goodies happening in Sonar, it might seem strange to focus on that. Yet a certain MIDI "clunkiness" remained from the Pro Audio days, and seemed increasingly out of place in Sonar. Now it feels like the MIDI and audio elements belong under the same roof.

              The other thing I like is that a lot of the "little things" are big things. Being able to see the audio for a soft synth, bus, or master output is extremely helpful, especially because you can find peaks. And the track icons - which we'll touch on tomorrow - seem like pure eye candy until you use them in the console view; with the icons, it's much easier to parse tracks rapidly.

              And you might not think REX file support is that important, but it's done very well. The extra instruments are thoughtful, and cleaning up some old annoyances - like limited gain options, and the inability to record DC offset - helps bring Sonar even further into the "pro" arena.

              If you didn't update to S4, I highly recommend the jump to S5. It's a great upgrade and the features have real benefits. The upgrade reminds me very much of Live 5's relationship to Live 4: Lots of changes the affect the entire program, not one big killer feature, like surround.

              However, Sonar 5 does have two killer features, too: V-Vocal and convolution reverb. We're going to deal with some of the remaining enhancements over the weekend, and save these "killer features" to close out the review. It's not just to be dramatic , I need the time to learn them better before I feel confident talking about them.

              Thanks for your interest, and be sure to ask any remaining questions soon - we'll be wrapping up the "official review" part fairly shortly.
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              • #82
                Thanks for the reviews Craig !!
                Awesome, as always!

                Well allright!

                From the sounds of it, those are indeed
                the enhanced features of step recording
                that I (and some others) have been
                looking for ...

                keyboard bindings to select duration
                onscreen view of notes as created
                forward backward

                Cool beans! I should be ready to upgrade
                in a month or so - currently in midst of a
                collaborative project with a buddy
                in S4 - we'll both upgrade after it's
                "done" ;-)

                - ft
                --
                Freddie Tane
                www.tanetunes.com

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                • #83
                  Originally posted by Anderton
                  A Sonar project can contain different bit depths. This is very helpful when you’re importing, say, a mix of 16-bit and 24-bit loops. But here’s something I don’t understand: The online help says “Sonar 4 does not play back projects that contain files with different bit depths,” but I recorded a test file with both 24 and 16 bit depth files, and it played back just fine – huh?


                  Well, Sonar 5 does play back projects containing files of varied bit depths, correct? I assume if you are sharing a project with a Sonar 4 user, the statement in the help file would be an important point.

                  On the Sonar forum, Noel Borthwick of Cakewalk says,


                  If you open File | Project audio files you will see a new column listing the individual bit depths of all files in your project. (The clip properties also list the bit depth)

                  This is useful to know if you want to share S5 files with S4 users since you must first convert to a single bit depth (using the change audio format command) before S4 will open S5 peojects.


                  Deef
                  For I am a rain dog, too

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                  • #84
                    Well, THAT will teach me to read the fine print!! I'm so used to reading "Sonar 4" I just glossed past it and saw "Sonar 5" instead.

                    But I think I'll leave that post up, even though it makes me look dumb, because your reply brings up an important point about S4/S5 compatibility. Thanks!
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                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Anderton
                      But I think I'll leave that post up, even though it makes me look dumb, because your reply brings up an important point about S4/S5 compatibility. Thanks!


                      That sir, is class.

                      -lee-

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                      • #86
                        <<That sir, is class.>>

                        I'd like to agree, but really, I'm just doing my job, which is to try and be as accurate and fair as possible. I can't be accurate 100% of the time, it's simply not doable. That's one reason I started this review format: If I overlooked something or was mistaken about a feature, I could be pretty sure someone would catch it.

                        The idea of a Pro Review is not just for me to spout off (although that IS kinda fun!) but to really try to present a variety of opinions and outlooks converge in one place. Hopefully this will allow people to make better purchasing decisions when they base such decisions on reviews.

                        It's very flattering, but also a bit scary, when someone buys something because of a review I wrote. Flattering, because it's great that people recognize how hard I work at being objective but scary because sounds, functionality, and workflow are soooo subjective...
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                        • #87
                          I must admit I thought this was kind of silly. I mean, after all, I can read the name of a track, right?

                          But I’ve written before about the right brain’s power to parse colors and images much faster than the left brain can parse text – and track icons are just the thing to make it easier to pick out the tracks you want from a big project.

                          The idea is simple: A track can have an associated icon (with two sizes, large and small). Click on the Attachment to see six console view tracks with icons. But in typical Sonar fashion, there are a lot of ways to customize this.

                          First, although Sonar comes with a bunch of very nice icons, you can make your own. I’ve found that grabbing a piece of a virtual instrument front panel (Cakewalk recommends 128 x 128 pixel images) really helps identify which specific piece of software is playing back on a track. (And of course, being able to hide MIDI tracks driving virtual instruments doesn’t hurt either, with respect to making an overview easier to grasp.)

                          Second, you can customize how (and whether) icons are shown in the track view, inspector, and console view. In the track view, you can show icons in the header, in the strip, or both. In the others, you can specify the icon size and whether icons will be shown or not.

                          All of this is available from the Options menu, although you can also right-click on icons to load icons and choose small or large icons (this affects all icons, not just the one on which you clicked).

                          It still seems a little weird to consider this one of Sonar 5’s standout features, but I gotta say, when you see that mic or guitar or synth or whatever sitting in the console view, you just know exactly which fader you need to use. If nothing else, it really drives home just how helpful an intelligent use of visuals and color can be when you’re trying to wade through the creative process with minimum distractions.
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                          • #88
                            Here’s another one of those simple things that has a major impact on workflow. I must say it took me quite a while to figure out what those little blue triangles did in the upper corner of the track numbers, but here’s the deal: Ctrl-click on several of them to tie parameters like volume, pan, etc. together. This even applies to the Sonitus channel EQs, which is great when you’re riding two tracks together and want response changes to affect multiple tracks identically. Click on the Attachment to see two virtual instruments tracks tied together so their effects sends would track; the Quick Group “tabs” are circled in yellow.

                            By the way, you can still select/deselect/put focus on tracks in the usual way, as well as use the regular style of grouping when you want groups to “stick.” But for quick links among parameters, Quick Groups is another one of those “Why wasn’t I bugging them for this years ago?” kind of features.
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                            • #89
                              I may be way off base here, but I think Sonar 5 has benefited greatly from Cakewalk’s forays into more “consumer” fields (e.g., their Kinetic software) and the work they’ve done with Roland. The result, I believe, is more of an insight in how to aid the music-making process by simplifying certain aspects of that process, such as better use of color and images.

                              But perhaps there was also a realization that some functions didn’t need to be as elaborate as they have been, such as grouping. The Quick Groups thing is really no different than linking faders on a digital board to have a particular movement “track.”

                              While I appreciate the “big items” that have gone into Sonar 5, it’s the little things that make the program just that much slicker to use on a day-to-day basis.
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                              • #90

                                While I appreciate the “big items” that have gone into Sonar 5, it’s the little things that make the program just that much slicker to use on a day-to-day basis.


                                Full marks for detail and effort I must say. Many will return to this thread no doubt to go over the views shared in this thread. Great idea but a question for you sir...

                                I think the Sonar 3 review was a great write up. Sound on Sound?
                                http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb04/articles/cakewalksonar3.htm

                                ...however you added a rather useful angle to the review by including the Sonar Vs Everything else Box.

                                I found that to be a real eye opener. Of course with only so many pages left to review Sonar 3, you were never going to go into too much detail but as you no doubt already know, once an interested party has read a detailed review they sometimes ask themselves "OK but how does Sonar X compare to product Y or Z"... are you with me?

                                If you could *update* the Sonar Vs Everything else mini article by giving us a Sonar 5 Vs everything else summary I think that would be very helpful as it was for Sonar 3.

                                Cubase Sx3, Samplitude 8 and Acid 5, have since replaced the now previous versions mentioned in that summary. How do you think it looks today?

                                Clearly decisions about which Sequencer is best is down to the user and they all acheive the same thing in different ways, but for me I think Sonar has caught up and passed the competition in many ways but of course it is all subjective at the end of the day...So Craig any chance of that "..Vs Everything else" summary?

                                I remember wondering what exactly Project 5 was years ago and heading down to Soundonsound to read your Project 5 review http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/Jun03/articles/cakewalkproject5.asp very useful and very helpful. You discussed Pysn in that review, what I would also like to see is some information on Pentagon and how you think it compares to Psyn II. I would particularly like to hear your views on the "2x oversampling option" mentioned on the RGC website http://www.rgcaudio.com/pentagon_I.htm.

                                Finally...if you have the time please include the following in your review..I guess I just want to hear your views on them...

                                Envelope automation drawing enhanced with tempo-sync patterns, freehand, e.t.c

                                Track Templates

                                Object based Clip FX

                                and...

                                V Vocal.

                                Apologies if I have missed the above topics if they have already been covered and thanks for taking the time!
                                http://www.thepassionofthechrist.com/splash.htm

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