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  • Originally posted by Anderton
    You can adjust V-vocal pitch to whatever interval you like; it's not necessary to snap to the even-tempered scale. For example, I find that sometimes making a note a little flat if it's leading up the tonic can sound pretty cool.




    Of course, I was hoping for one that would do the math for you... kind of like that just-intonation software that some of the newest synths and soft-synths can run... and then generate just-intoned vocal harmonies acorss a set of chords you can type in (a la PG Music's Powertracks and probably other vocal harmonizers, I just never paid attention).


    But, really, it'd all be moot if I could just sing worth a... goldarn.
    .

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    • We already mentioned the REX file player, but that’s not the only instrument in the upgrade: You now get rgc:audio’s Pentagon I. Click on the Attachment to see the Pentagon’s front panel..

      This isn’t exactly a new synth; it’s been around for awhile as a pay-for-download instrument, particularly for those who got hooked on the related monophonic freebie, Triangle I. It’s your basic analog emulation digital synth, with a few interesting extras: Four oscillators with 18 possible waveforms, various EQ simulators (including speaker cabinets), dual multimode filters, separate envelope generators and sophisticated LFOs for the pitch, filter, and amp, and also, onboard effects (drive, chorus, delay, and bass/treble EQ). It’s not quite as cool as its successor (the z3ta+, now distributed by Cakewalk) but Pentagon I should satisfy those who feel the DreamStation DXi is showing its age. This is a synth that sounds fine, has a bunch of useful presets, and again, represents added value for the Sonar 5 package.
      N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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      • I get the feeling that just before Sonar 5 was released, someone ran into a marketing meeting and said “Wait! I found a format we don’t support –Sound Fonts!” And thus SFZ, the Sound Font player, was added to the roster.

        Visually, it’s not much: You can choose the mode, MIDI channel, amount of polyphony, effects on or off, quality, etc. Click on the Attachment to see the SFZ Sound Font player front panel. But it does what you want it to do, and supplants the LiveSynth found in previous versions. Useful? Yes. Earth-shattering? No. Added value? Yes. Worth including? Yes.
        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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        • Cakewalk Sonar 5 – The Rest of the Story

          This is a massive upgrade, and so far I’ve written well over 8,000 words about it, with 20 downloadable images – a freedom I’ve never had with magazine reviews! But all good things must come to an end, and I’m leaving for AES in a few hours. We’ve covered the highlights, and I’d rather not postpone the conclusion for a week, so let’s wrap up some of the other enhancements before moving on to the conclusion.

          Video output to FireWire DV devices. Record a video to a DV recorder, or display video on an external monitor or camcorder. Okay, but I’m not giving up Vegas for my video work.

          Per-clip effects bins (MIDI or audio). This takes a page from Samplitude’s playbook, which has always treated “clips” as objects. Sonar’s implementation is not quite as sophisticated as Samplitude’s, but accomplishes the same result. Is this important? Well, it keeps you from having to split part of a clip to a separate track just to do some specific processing, so it’s mostly a matter of convenience and a “workspace anti-clutter” measure.

          Multiple track insertion and cloning. So here’s the deal: You want to insert 8 MIDI tracks that will drive instruments in a multi-timbral device. Before Sonar 5, the quickest way to do this was select a MIDI track, then hit Insert 8 times. Now you can go Insert > Multiple Tracks, fill in a few fields, and insert any number of audio and MIDI tracks. This is a minor feature, but one that can shave a few minutes off projects here and there. Furthermore, an additional option under Clone Tracks lets you clone multiple tracks at a time.

          Snap to scale. This MIDI feature snaps notes drawn in the piano roll (or inline piano roll view) snap to specific scales. I used to insert a MIDI effect in Sonar to accomplish the same sort of thing, but this update provides a far more convenient, user-friendly option. Several dozen scales are included, and you can create your own using the Scale Manager window. However, you can’t do microtunings to create different intonations; you’re still stuck with even-tempered intervals.

          More OMF options. You can choose a new sample rate and bit depth when importing OMF files.

          Track Templates. I would have given this more attention, but the feature was already introduced in Project5 V2. If you’re not familiar with track templates, these can be real time-savers because you can call up the following as one unit: Track type, hardware input, output destination, bus send settings, track icons, effects and related settings, name, etc. So if you have, for example, a favorite vocal setup, you can recall it instead of having to build it from scratch each time. And it’s easy to do, too; you just select a track with the characteristics you want, and go File > Export > Track Template to save it. Loading is equally easy

          Tabbed Views. This is a little difficult to explain, but bear with me. Most windows have a little “Enabled Tabbed” icon in the upper left corner. Click on it, and you can dock the window in the Track view’s lower right. Click on the Attachment to see an example of tabbing among the bus, SFZ sound font player, and MIDI piano roll view for a track. The main value here is if you find yourself alternating among various windows to do particular edits; this lets you access them easily, all in one space.

          Two preset management options. You can now see a list of recently used presets, but the more interesting and useful of the two new features is the ability to see if a preset has been changed compared to the last time it was saved. This can help prevent a situation where you re-save a preset, only to find to your horror that a different project uses the same preset, but now it doesn’t sound the same at all. You can use this either as a hint to save the preset under a different name so that the original saved version remains intact, or if the preset represents an improvement, go ahead and save it and have the improved version show up in the other project.

          Envelope draw tool. This is a feature I always liked in Cubase SX, and now it’s available in Sonar: You can draw envelopes with preset shapes, like sine, triangle, square, saw, and random.

          PSYN II Soft Synth. PSYN first appeared in Project5, but now Sonar owners don’t have to buy P5 to use it. Between this and Pentagon I, I expect people will stop complaining about the DreamStation (which actually does a lot more than most people realize).

          Add automation nodes at selection. You know how you want to change the panning for just one section? So you click real carefully on the pan envelope, then click next to it, then create another pair of nodes, then click on the segment…with this new command, you just make your selection, and two closely-spaced pairs of nodes are added automatically so that you can easily change the level between the node pairs. And nodes are now circular instead of square. No big deal, but they do look better.

          Whew! Let's head to the conclusions.
          N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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          • For “everything else,” let’s define that universe (in alphabetical order) as:

             Sony Acid 5
             Adobe Audition
             Steinberg Cubase SX 3
             Ableton Live 5
             Emagic Logic for Windows
             Digidesign Pro Tools
             Cakewalk Project5 V2


            Here’s how they stack up.

            Sony Acid 5. I still think this is the fastest, easiest, most efficient way to create loop-based music (especially since the program added folder tracks). The virtual instrument and MIDI implementation is less than optimal, but if that’s not an important part of what you do, Acid will handle those needs as required. Acid does support plug-ins, digital audio, surround, and video, making it more DAW-like compared to Live. However, there’s no “mixing console” emulation page, which may be offputting to those used to working with standard hardware environments. And while it does include the Native Instruments Express Instruments, it doesn’t come close to having the kind of extras that come with Sonar Producer Edition.

            Adobe Audition. At present, Audition is a much stronger stereo editor than multitrack recording environment, and there’s no significant MIDI support. If you’re into serious DAW work, there’s no question that Sonar is a better choice. But also consider that Audition occupies a unique niche that may be well-suited to a variety of applications for which Sonar would be overkill.

            Steinberg Cubase SX3. This is the closest competitor to Sonar. However, with Yamaha behind both Steinberg and the Studio Connections initiative, Cubase has the potential to be the sequencer of choice for hybrid software/hardware setups. It has excellent looping and stretching environments, and bundles some useful plug-ins and instruments. I feel the workflow is more convoluted than Sonar’s, although of course, that’s a matter of preference and the type of work you do with the program. I do prefer Sonar’s “industrial design” in terms of graphics; Sonar’s are less sophisticated, but have the plus of being more straightforward. Steinberg’s dongle-based copy protection method is definitely more inconvenient than Sonar’s; some would argue, however, that being able to have all your authorizations in a single place is convenient if you go for an all-Steinberg setup. Bottom line is that I have both, and use both. But I use Sonar more than any other host.

            Ableton Live 5. For remixing applications, I’d give Live 5 the nod because of the brilliant auto-warp feature, multiple stretch algorithms, and Session View, which has no equivalent in Sonar. As a DAW, though, Live 5 falls short of Sonar in several ways: MIDI, surround support, video capabilities, ability to read Acidized and REX files, metering, multiple monitor support, and native support for multiple control surfaces (Live 5 supports only the Mackie Control).

            Emagic Logic for Windows. It’s time to move on…get over it. Buy a Mac, or learn one of these Windows programs. Or hope that someday Logic will support Windows machines again . . . yeah, right.

            Digidesign Pro Tools. Sorry, but I’m not gonna go there. Pro Tools is its own world, and a lot of people use Pro Tools because the people they work with use Pro Tools, and interchanging projects is a snap. It is a Pro Tools world, and if you’re invested in the Digi way of life, you probably won’t chuck it for Sonar (or Cubase, or whatever). That said, though, Sonar does everything I need and at least for me, there would be no significant advantages – and several disadvantages – if I used Pro Tools instead of Sonar. I realize Digi offers very tight hardware/software integration, but for me, so does Creamware’s Scope system and Sonar – and I can run a lot of great Creamware soft synths and plug-ins on the Scope hardware. Finally, Sonar does support OMF, so interchange with Pro Tools, Digital Performer, Cubase SX, etc. is relatively painless.

            Cakewalk Project5 V2. Definitely not a DAW, this is the type of program you should consider alongside Acid and Live rather than Sonar. Although it seems to have much in common with Sonar – digital audio recording, ReWire, acid file support, and the like – it’s really centered around MIDI pattern generation and is more of a composing than recording tool. I can understand why a lot of users rewire Sonar and Project5 together, as they make a very complementary team.
            N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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            • This isn’t just an upgrade, this is a major upgrade. If you’re a Sonar user, version 5 is essential– no two ways about it. If you work with vocals, V-Vocal is amazing. The new instruments make Sonar 5 far more cost-effective than its predecessors. PerfectSpace doesn’t only let you off the hook for buying a good reverb plug-in, it’s a great plug-in no matter how you look at it. And the enhanced 64-bit audio engine does make a difference in audio quality, even on 32-bit systems; with true 64-bit systems, it makes a difference in speed as well.

              Couple this with the workflow enhancements, the vastly improved MIDI implementation, REX and Sound Font file support in addition to Acidized files, waveform previews, track icons, quick grouping, and all those other goodies we’ve covered, and you have an amazing, truly state of the art package. Simply stated, Sonar 5 isn’t just the best Sonar yet, it holds its own against anything out there.

              So does this mean I’m going to stop using, say, Live 5, Project5, and/or Reason 3? Precisely the opposite, actually. Sonar’s comprehensive gestalt makes me appreciate the “self-contained world” aspect of these other programs. But the really big deal here is ReWire, which turns Sonar into not just a superb program in its own right, but a worthy partner for more specialized applications.

              Is the upgrade perfect? There are a couple rough spots, like the problem I had with the VST configuration wizard choosing a window size that caused strange CPU overloads. But I haven’t seen anything that doesn’t look like an easy fix for a 5.0.1 patch, which I hear is in the works. I had no drastic issues, crashing, or other frustrations; Sonar 5 has been well-behaved, and a joy to work with.

              If you're a Sonar user, you’re gonna love this upgrade - I certainly do. And if you're not a Sonar user, this upgrade just might make you wish you were.

              Finally, thank you very much for your participation and feedback. Please feel free to continue to comment, and/or ask questions.
              N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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              • Originally posted by Anderton
                Finally, thank you very much for your participation and feedback. Please feel free to continue to comment, and/or ask questions.


                Thanks Craig! The review was very useful.
                http://www.thepassionofthechrist.com/splash.htm

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                • Well I'm waiting for my Upgrade to arrive and your review has confirmed to me I have made the right decission.
                  Thanks again,
                  Gerry
                  Those who can't dance always blame the band.
                  http://www.gerrycooper.com/

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                  • Thanks so much Craig!!!

                    Questions:
                    1. Would you recommend EmulatorX-studio as a front end for Sonar5? Any setup tips and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

                    2. Did you try using Sonar's reverbs in combination (I think there're three reverb plugs) and did you try to add Emulator's reverbs? Could you suggest some settings for lush/modern vocal reverbs that helps to keep vocals upfront and close ?

                    3. Is it possible to monitor those reverbs with 0 latency withing Sonar5 if so how can I do it?

                    Reading your review inspired me to try Sonar and I will probably make it into my main DAW.

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                    • I'm a big fan of SFZ! I've been using the shareware version for over a year now and it's great. Not quite as good as having an actual Soundblaster dedicated to SF playback (not possible on my notebook) but damn close -- and, unlike some of the hobbled software that Creative has released for their SB SF playback [some versions arbitrarily limited the user to 32 MB of samples], SFZ has no limits as far as I can tell.

                      It's a nice acknowledgement of SFZ's merit.
                      .

                      music and social links | recent listening

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                      • Thanks so much Craig!!!

                        Questions:
                        <<1. Would you recommend EmulatorX-studio as a front end for Sonar5? Any setup tips and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.>>

                        I would not have recommended without reservations prior to the most recent update, which made it work very well with Sonar. Before there had been some rough spots...still useable, but the new update solves those problems. I think the Emulator X really rocks.

                        <<2. Did you try using Sonar's reverbs in combination (I think there're three reverb plugs) and did you try to add Emulator's reverbs? Could you suggest some settings for lush/modern vocal reverbs that helps to keep vocals upfront and close ?>>

                        After you use PerfectSpace, I suspect your other reverbs will sort of fall by the wayside. Try the plates with vocals.

                        <<3. Is it possible to monitor those reverbs with 0 latency withing Sonar5 if so how can I do it?>>

                        PerfectSpace has reverb, all convolution ones do. But you don't really notice it with reverb. The latency will depend on your card and driver. I get about 5 ms with comfortable CPU usage with the Creamware card, although I can get it down to 3 ms.

                        <<Reading your review inspired me to try Sonar and I will probably make it into my main DAW.>>

                        Well you certainly picked the right time to check it out, V5 is really something.
                        N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

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                        • Originally posted by Anderton

                          Track Templates. I would have given this more attention, but the feature was already introduced in Project5 V2. If you’re not familiar with track templates, these can be real time-savers because you can call up the following as one unit: Track type, hardware input, output destination, bus send settings, track icons, effects and related settings, name, etc. So if you have, for example, a favorite vocal setup, you can recall it instead of having to build it from scratch each time. And it’s easy to do, too; you just select a track with the characteristics you want, and go File > Export > Track Template to save it. Loading is equally easy

                          I just want to add that what SONAR added to the concept is that you can store multiple tracks and buses in a single track template. Extremely handy for instantly loading multi-output synths with tracks, buses, routing, effects, presets - everything - already configured and ready to go. Also useful for calling up routing for multi-track recordings, and the like.
                          Alex Westner
                          Director of Product Management
                          http://www.cakewalk.com

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                          • Originally posted by Anderton
                            I get the feeling that just before Sonar 5 was released, someone ran into a marketing meeting and said “Wait! I found a format we don’t support –Sound Fonts!” And thus SFZ, the Sound Font player, was added to the roster.

                            ...it does what you want it to do, and supplants the LiveSynth


                            Craig (and CW) thanks so much for the review and comments! It's really helped me to make up my mind and take the plunge!

                            One question though...will the SFZ the Sound Font player be any different than the freeware version available from RGC Audio's website which only allows one loaded .SF2 to play at a time (i.e. you can't assign 16 different .SF2 instruments simultaneously to midi channels 1-16 for full multitimbral operation)?......er, or I can't figure out how to load more than one .SF2 at a time???

                            Hmm....at least LiveSynth allowed you to be able to load and assign 16 .SF2's to 16 midi channels for multitracking.

                            Thanks again!

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                            • Add automation nodes at selection. You know how you want to change the panning for just one section? So you click real carefully on the pan envelope, then click next to it, then create another pair of nodes, then click on the segment…with this new command, you just make your selection, and two closely-spaced pairs of nodes are added automatically so that you can easily change the level between the node pairs. ...


                              Yes!


                              It is the little things.
                              .

                              music and social links | recent listening

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                              • or I can't figure out how to load more than one .SF2 at a time???


                                I just insert multiple instances, load a different preset into each one, and set each to a different MIDI channel. Is that what you're looking for?
                                N E W S O N G ! To Say 'No' Would Be a Crime (Remix) is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                                Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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