I’m a big fan of ASUS for their routers and have two of them at home, an RC-AC3100 which is an amazing gigabit router and a RT-AC66 (their first AC router). Last night I got a firmware update for the 3100 and saw the new AIMesh feature. AIMesh is similar to what Google is doing with their Mesh routers however the big thing is you don’t have to buy a while new setup since AIMesh works with some older ASUS routers as well. Here is a nice article from Gizmodo that talks about AI Mesh as well. Continue reading “ASUS AI Mesh”
I’ve been a longtime fan of Logitech Harmony remotes having owned several of them in the past. If you aren’t familiar with them, Harmony remotes are programmable universal remotes sold by Logitech, that allow you to automate multiple operations like turning on TV’s DVD’s and other components in home entertainment systems among other things. I had a bit of time over the holidays and decided to upgrade my old Harmony 650 remote to the new Harmony Smart Control system. I even integrated the system with voice control using a Google Home Mini which is a nifty little WIFI enabled speaker that includes Google Assistant. More about that later. Continue reading “Integrating the Logitech Harmony Smart Control and Google Home”
A cool graph showing a 6 month snapshot of the development process for the Cakewalk Momentum project that I was the lead on. The little green guy in the video is me 🙂
Momentum is the last product I designed and worked on at Cakewalk. We designed this from the ground up to be a fluid platform to capture ideas and inspiration on the go. All you need is a smartphone, tablet or PC and you can capture up to four tracks of audio wherever you might be. Recorded audio is automatically synced to the momentum cloud allowing you to seamlessly sync all your devices. You can record something on your phone, pick up the same idea on an iPad or laptop, or even transfer all the tracks into the DAW of your choice via the momentum plugin. The transfer process is bi-directional so you can quickly transfer stems or backing tracks from a DAW or any other audio program to momentum via simple drag and drop at any time.
Momentum is a fantastic practice tool. Here is a video showing how I use it, playing Coltrane’s 26-2. I recorded this on an iPad with Momentum. The backing tracks were transferred from SONAR via simple drag and drop.
So I got a new Surface Dial and did some experiments this evening. Combined with the pen its really cool!
Check out this video to see how usable it is with SONAR. I have a Surface Pro 4 which doesn’t support the surface on screen placement, but besides that it works fine. In the test I’m just binding keyboard shortcuts to the Dial. SONAR doesn’t yet natively support the Dial but based on this I’m definitely considering implementing this.
Build 2017 was a blast – so much technology to absorb!
It was an honor to be the only DAW vendor to present some of the great strides we have made in SONAR to take advantage of the best in Windows technology.
Below is the session Cakewalk SONAR: Win32 lighting up on Windows 10
There were two presentations of this session. A bit nerve wracking doing a live demo with Bluetooth on a floor with thousands of people with BT devices 🙂 Fortunately everything went really smooth – BT MIDI performed flawlessly and I was able to connect from onstage and run at a buffer latency of less than 10 msec. It was very responsive. Pete let some people in the audience try playing the keyboard (a Korg Nanostudio) and everyone was impressed with how responsive playback was, even 20 feet away from the stage.
I even did a live walk through of the Bluetooth UWP MIDI stack from the SONAR code. The audience enjoyed seeing breakpoints being hit in response to playing notes on the keyboard. Nerd alert!
I also had a spot at the Solutions Spotlight at the event – kind of like NAMM for nerds! We had a small booth where we were showing SONAR and the technology and were available to answer questions. In the solutions spotlight session I paired a Jamstik controller in addition to the NanoStudio and it showed up as a second MIDI device. Both the keyboard and Jamstik were able to trigger different tracks without a problem.
It was great running into so many people from Microsoft and other tech companies like Adobe and Google who had used Cakewalk software.
Tech Talk – Cakewalk SONAR: Win32 lighting up on Windows 10
A heads up for anyone attending the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle this year. Cakewalk and Microsoft are doing a tech talk demonstrating how Win32 applications can take advantage of some of the advancements on the Windows 10 platform. This is the only presentation at Build that focuses on media, audio and MIDI. There are two tech talks scheduled, on Thursday 5/11 2:30PM (Tech Talk C room) and Friday 5/12 10:30AM (Tech Talk C room).
In the tech talks we’ll cover topics such as:
- UWP MIDI API with a hands on demo of how to integrate the UWP Win32 wrapper with a Win32 application
- Bluetooth LE MIDI
- Windows 10 WASAPI low latency audio support
- Multi-Touch and Pen support
- UWP desktop bridge
- At the talks we’ll be doing a live debug session of SONAR showing code integrating UWP MIDI.
I may convince Pete Brown from Microsoft to jam on a Bluetooth MIDI controller with SONAR in that session, and we’ll trace the life cycle of a MIDI note which should be fun 🙂 Continue reading “Build 2017 Tech Talk – Cakewalk SONAR: Win32 lighting up on Windows 10”
With the proliferation of Bluetooth enabled devices, IoT (internet of things), wireless technology is one of the hottest trends today with wide-reaching applications to audio, automotive, medical and other industries. Gibson R&D is actively involved with wireless technology both in the hardware and software space and a member of the Bluetooth SIG, responsible for the development and evolution of the Bluetooth specification. As a Gibson Brand, Cakewalk is committed to embracing the advantages of wireless technology. This year, we’re excited to integrate wireless MIDI technology into all versions of SONAR – our flagship recording, editing, and mixing software.
In the 2017.03 release of SONAR we worked closely with Microsoft to add support for Bluetooth LE MIDI devices via the new UWP MIDI API. In November of 2016, we added support for Microsoft’s new low-latency WASAPI shared mode API’s, which including support for Bluetooth audio devices via WASAPI. With these enhancements, SONAR now has built-in support for wireless audio and MIDI via Bluetooth.
In this blog post we’ll delve into some of the technical details behind some of the these features. Continue reading “Wireless Audio and MIDI in SONAR”
This week Microsoft debuts its “Creators Update,” the second major update to Windows 10. You can read more about what’s in this update on the Microsoft blog.
While most of the features in this update don’t directly relate to DAW’s or music production, we were particularly intrigued with “Game Mode.” Microsoft indicates that Game Mode dedicates more GPU cycles and a set number of CPU threads to the game and prevents background processes from interfering with it. It sounds good on paper so we wondered how it might benefit a DAW like SONAR…
To check it out, Jon Sasor, Quality Assurance Engineer at Cakewalk, took on the task of doing some benchmarks to test performance in Game Mode with the latest version of SONAR. Jon performed the test on a brand new Dell PC (Intel® Core™ i7-6920HQ @ 2.90 GHz with 16GB RAM) and he compared audio playback performance with Game Mode on and off.
I was on an executive round-table at NAMM 2017 talking about The Future of Music Software
Craig Anderton (Gibson) moderated the panel which included Tony Cariddi (Avid), Noel Borthwick (Cakewalk), Jack Joseph Puig (Waves), Stephen Fortner (Fortner Media)
Some stimulating discussion on this panel about the state of Music Software today and tomorrow. Looks like the video was time stretched without pitch correction since all of our voices sound higher 🙂
Why we introduced Lifetime Updates
With the introduction of Lifetime Updates for SONAR Platinum, there have been many theories as to why Cakewalk would take such a bold move. For us it’s simple—it’s better for customers, it’s better for us, and we believe this way of doing business is the future, so we’re embracing it today.
Some history: In the past (pre 2015), we followed a more traditional annual upgrade cycle where we released a single version of SONAR each year. This model was flawed on many levels, both for developers and end users. As developers, we’re under extreme pressure to finish a product by a certain date to meet a revenue goal – often regardless of whether it’s ready or not.
Adding a lot of features to a product in a short cycle can create problems even skilled QA teams and beta testers won’t find. Furthermore, end users have to try and learn a huge amount of information at once—which is much less efficient than learning features at one’s own pace over time.
Music Production for Windows 10: Overview
On July 29, at 12 AM EST, Microsoft started rolling out Windows 10 upgrades. If you signed up for the upgrade earlier, you may have already received a notification. If not and you absolutely can’t wait, Tech savvy users can use the Media Creation Tool to install immediately on one or multiple devices.
Fortunately this time around, we have much more mature release compared to Windows 8—there’s no missing start menu, and the confusing divide between “Metro” and desktop apps is history. According to Microsoft, Windows 10 will be the last “version” of Windows. Subsequent updates will be delivered periodically to users, so we won’t need to wait two or three years to see improvements. This isn’t all that different from what we at Cakewalk have adopted with our “rolling updates” model; we’ve seen how this has led to a proliferation of new features and enhancements along with ever-improving stability, and we hope Windows users will see similar benefits. Continue reading “Windows 10 Enhancements For Music Production”
What a Year…!
It’s been quite a year for all of us at Cakewalk. Not only did we build our most stable initial release of SONAR ever and fold in multiple features and workflow updates, but we also built the infrastructure for our new Membership program from the ground up. This framework lets us break out of the monolithic “waterfall” model of annual updates and do smaller but more frequent updates. This is very exciting for developers, because we can be more responsive and update our software without the previous release management overhead. Our users have wanted more frequent updates as well, so this is a major achievement for us.
The SONAR community has already noticed the tangible improvements in the performance and stability of our latest SONAR release. In this article I’ll cover some of the “under the hood” work that went into building the new SONAR. If you’re not familiar with the latest additions, you can get started by reading about all the new features here.
I’d also like to mention that this would not have been possible without your support. All of us at Cakewalk feel very fortunate to have such an active, engaged user base that inspires us to create continued improvements and enhancements. We are very excited about what’s planned for the year ahead, but meanwhile, here’s what we’ve been up to in the past year.
SONAR X3 has numerous enhancements and updates to the VST engine, including rich support for the VST3 specification. This article is intended primarily for VST plugin developers to gain a better understanding of the features supported by SONAR and to write plugins that integrate better with SONAR. While the VST3 documentation covers typical information for plugin developers, it does not explain plugin to host integration in much detail. This article attempts to bridge that gap and explain some of the VST3 specific features are implemented in SONAR. Please also see this article that is more intended for end users.
Automatic VST2 to VST3 migration in SONAR
For plugin vendors who have a large base of VST2 plugins and wish to provide a smooth migration path to VST3, its recommended to implement support for automatic migration of a VST2 plugin saved in a prior project to its VST3 equivalent.
This capability will allow SONAR X3 to detect a compatible VST3 plugin while loading a project and automatically transition the VST 2.4 plugin to its compatible VST3 counterpart Continue reading “DEVELOPER NOTES: SONAR X3 VST3 Internals”
SONAR X3 is packed with enhancements and updates to the VST engine, including a brand new VST scanner with industry leading automatic background scanning, support for the VST3 plugin format and an updated plugin browser that supports plugin categorization. Many of the changes apply equally to VST2 and VST3 plugins.
VST background scanning
Users of prior versions of SONAR and other DAW software will be familiar with the process of scanning for VST plugins when the application starts up. SONAR has always had a fast scanner that only scans what’s needed. X3 kicks this up several notches by introducing Continue reading “Developer Notes: SONAR X3 VST Enhancements”
It was back in 2005 that Cakewalk first added Roland V-Vocal to SONAR 5 for integrated audio stretching and pitch correction. While VVocal was an exceptional tool in its time and is still used by many for its ability to do fine editing of a vocal performance, the industry has advanced since then and companies like Celemony with their dedicated focus in this area have made great strides. A couple of years ago Celemony released their ARA SDK to integrate Melodyne integration into a DAW host application. Since VVocal’s integration in SONAR is similar in principle to what ARA does, it was natural for us to consider integrating ARA technology into SONAR.
What is ARA?
ARA (Audio Random Access) is a general protocol that allows host integration with any audio edit capable plugin such as Melodyne. Technically speaking ARA itself is not a plugin protocol. It is a protocol that allows the host and ARA capable plugin to transfer parameters and audio region data back and forth either offline or in realtime Continue reading “Developer Notes: SONAR X3 ARA Integration”
A few months ago I wrote an article about Windows 8 and how it applied to music applications like SONAR. In this article I will mainly cover what’s changed or new in our Windows 8 support as of SONAR X2a.
~ We shipped SONAR X2a, our brand new Windows 8 native version of SONAR. This was exhaustively tested with Windows 8 and specifically takes advantage of new Windows 8 specific features like multi-touch. More about this below.
~ Windows 8 is widely available in the mainstream and appears to be selling well – even better than Windows 7, based on media reports from ZDNet. As of end November Microsoft had sold 40 million Windows 8 licences in a month (more than its predecessor Win7)
~ There is a large proliferation of Windows 8 PC’s available in the consumer channel, including several Intel Ultrabooks, hybrid’s and convertibles, laptops that can switch to tablets etc. Microsoft’s surface RT is also now available, although the much awaited Surface Pro (the version that can actually run classic Windows desktop applications) is yet to be released. There are also several interesting mobile solutions scheduled for early 2013. Its definitely an exciting time for users interested in mobile music platforms, since many of these have powerful Intel CPU’s and specs that are easily capable of running DAW software. It can also be confusing – there are so many products out there that you will have to do your research and look for something that fits your needs best.
~ Metro, the new application model from Microsoft which runs on both Intel and ARM CPU’s, is no longer called Metro. Perhaps not the most logical name, but the new official name for Metro Style Apps is “Windows Store Apps”. Windows Store Apps are not the same as Desktop Apps – they have somewhat limited capabilities, at least from a DAW user standpoint.
~ Many hardware vendor’s have tested and released Windows 8 compatible drivers for their supported hardware. (Although Windows 8 did not mandate any changes to driver’s, many vendors have to update installers and do compatibility testing before releasing their products)
~ Microsoft released its its latest Visual Studio development platform for building Windows applications. Applications like SONAR X2a built for Windows 8 typically use this platform for application development.
SONAR X2a is Cakewalk’s latest update for SONAR X2. While SONAR X2 and X1 are compatible with Windows 8, SONAR X2a is the first DAW release specifically designed to take advantage of new Windows 8 specific features such as multi-touch support. X2a was also built with the latest development tools and Windows SDK’s, bringing over various fixes from Microsoft. X2a is still fully compatible with Windows 7 and will continue to install on Vista (though not officially supported anymore).
X2a includes the following: Continue reading “A Deeper Look at SONAR X2a – Native Windows 8 and Touch Support”
I recorded my first album with a jazz quartet in 1991. OMG, 21 years ago last century – has it been that long? The original recording was released on cassette tape (!) and is now long out of print. Over the years I got requests for a reissue of this recording from friends and people curious about the music on that project. I had a DAT tape of the final mixes which I had fortunately transferred to WAV files before the tape died (those things have a limited life as I found out the hard way). Unfortunately whenever I’d listen to the mixes, they sounded dated and suffered from some fundamental issues that made them unpleasant to listen to:
- Hard panning of the instruments. (makes mixes uncomfortable to listen to especially on headphones)
- Relative levels of instruments were unbalanced
- Center of mix lacked definition
- Lack of dimension and air
- Missing mastering attention
On a couple of occasions I tried using various mastering tools to rectify some of these problems. However the deal breaker was always the faulty imaging – anything I did would ultimately end up negatively affecting the rest of the mix without adequately addressing the fundamental problems. While working on SONAR X2 earlier this year, I saw R-Mix’s abilities to isolate a voice in a stereo field and remembered this project – would R-Mix be the tool that to use to fix that mix? I’ve always been a fan of Roland’s V-series technology, so the idea of virtual remixing piqued my interest. Continue reading “SONAR X2 R-Mix: Remix / Remaster Case Study”
Windows 8 Background
There has been a large amount of interest and speculation about Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest OS scheduled for release in late 2012. Windows 8 is one of the most ambitious OS releases from Microsoft since Windows 95, and is the first OS that attempts to unify the desktop and mobile user experience with multitouch support baked in across the board. A lot of attention in the media has been devoted to the new user interface and the brand new application model called Metro aka WinRT. Understandable, since changes to UI tend to attract the most attention in any software product.
After attending one of the Windows 8 developer camps and talking with some folk at Microsoft, we learned about some of the work done in Win8 to make the operating system scale better to devices with a smaller disk/memory/CPU footprint. This was done primarily to make Win8 perform more efficiently and with lower power requirements on mobile devices like tablets. I was curious if the effects of these changes would percolate through to the general OS and kernel level and benefit desktop applications as well. Continue reading “Windows 8 – A benchmark for music production applications”
Cakewalk support rep Dean ‘The New Guy’ Capper recently spent some time with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and SONAR X1 Producer Expanded.