SONAR X2 Feature Peek: ProChannel FX Chains

Like many of you, we’re all fired up about SONAR X2. And we’re pretty sure you’d like to know more about what makes it so delicious. So, take a closer look at the newly refined, ever smarter, SONAR X2.

What’s an FX Chain?

FX Chains are an answer to a long standing feature request; to have FX bin presets, or a way to recall an FX bin on an existing track in SONAR. In SONAR X1 Producer we introduced FX Chains, which are essentially an FX bin, or group of FX, saved as a preset.

In SONAR X1 Producer Expanded we upped the ante and upgraded the feature to version 2.0 which added assignable controls and a custom user interface to FX Chains. Later on in the free X1d update we added a Mod Matrix to FX Chains allowing up to four parameters to be mapped to a single control on an FX Chain, which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.

In X2 we’re including FX Chains in SONAR X2 Essential and Studio, as well as Producer. But In SONAR X2 Producer we’ve taken FX Chains one step further having added them to the Producer exclusive feature, the ProChannel.

What’s the ProChannel?

Many of us at Cakewalk had a dream of a configurable, modular, fantasy-style console in SONAR. With the ProChannel, our collective dream came true. And with SONAR X2 Producer it keeps getting better and better.

And better.

The ProChannel is a modular channel strip on every track and bus in SONAR X2. It has the built-in QuadCurve EQ, dual-mode Tube Saturation, PC76 U-Type Compressor, and PC4K S-Type Bus Compressor. It also comes with the Softube Saturation Knob, BREVERB SONAR (new in X2), and the tri-mode Console Emulator (also new in X2).

And there are several add-on modules available like the PC4K S-Type Channel Compressor, PC4K S-Type Expander/ Gate, PC2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier, and ProChannel Concrete Limiter.

In SONAR X2 we’ve added FX Chains to the mix and the fantasy console we dreamed up for SONAR X1 is truly out of control. But in a good way.

ProChannel FX Chains

The most obvious advantage of ProChannel FX Chains is being able to throw an awesome multi-effect into the middle of the ProChannel’s signal path, rather than only either before or after it, as was the case pre-X2.

Now you can have a ProChannel consisting of, for example, a Saturation Knob, an FX Chain, the QuadCurve EQ, and the PC4K Channel Compressor in any order you want.

And ProChannel FX Chains are drag-and-drop rout-able and collapsible just like all other ProChannel modules. Plus, we’ve got scores of new FX Chains shipping with SONAR X2, many of which are mapped with the Mod Matrix to very cool (and useful) effect.

ProChannel FX

Of course, ProChannel FX Chains aren’t necessarily best served as only multi-FX. One of the best things about ProChannel FX Chains is that it essentially brings plugins into the ProChannel which transforms the ProChannel a monstrous, modular, fully functioning FX bin.

All you have to do is drag and drop a plugin from SONAR’s Browser to the ProChannel and SONAR will automatically insert the plugin into an FX Chain for you. Drag, drop, and mix. Its that easy.

Plus, we’re shipping thirty ProChannel FX with SONAR X2 which are FX Chains of all of SONAR’s individual plugins like Channel Tools, Tempo Delay, Tube Leveler, the Transient Shaper from PX-64 Percussion Strip, and more.

And, of course, any third-party plugin can  be made into a ProChannel FX Chain with up to six knobs and six buttons mapped out by simply dragging and dropping it into the ProChannel and saving it as a preset.

Gain Staging

Didn’t think you could have your cake and eat it, too? For years we’ve been asked for input and output gain stage controls for FX bins and as modules in between plugins, and have heard people ask for that very feature in the ProChannel, as well. In SONAR X2 we’ve made that wish come true with ProChannel FX Chains.

Sometimes there’s that plugin that sounds awesome but adds a lot of gain with no way to attenuate it before the signal hits the next processor in its path. The ProChannel’s Saturation Knob is a prime example of this as it has a gain knob that sounds great on a wide variety of material as you crank it up, but lacks a makeup gain control for keeping the signal at a sane level when outputting to a compressor, EQ, etc..

ProChannel FX Chains solve this dilemma.

Because ProChannel FX Chains have Input and Output controls, they can be used as simple gain staging modules in between other ProChannel modules, and of course before and after any group of plugins that are inside them.

Multiple Modules in the ProChannel

Since the ProChannel’s introduction in SONAR X1, many users have wanted to use multiple instances of the same module in a single ProChannel.  In SONAR X2, that’s now a reality.

A positive side effect of having FX Chains in the ProChannel is being able to host multiple instance of the same module in the ProChannel (the exceptions being the built-in QuadCurve EQ, Tube Saturation, and PC76/ PC4K Compressor modules [they are built-in, internal modules; long, boring, technical discussion for another day]).

We knew that X2 users would want to use multiple FX Chains in the ProChannel, so we opened that functionality up to external modules, as well. This means you can have multiple Saturation Knobs, BREVERB SONARs, or Console Emulators in a single ProChannel, alongside multiple FX Chains, if you so desire.

Not that you’d necessarily want to have multiple reverbs in one ProChannel, but you certainly could if you really wanted to.

Mix in the ProChannel. Your way.

No matter how you decide to use ProChannel FX Chains, there’s no doubt it’s a great feature that transforms the ProChannel into a powerful, ergonomic, hands-on, dream-worthy channel strip that’s built into every track and bus in SONAR.

So ahead and Upgrade to SONAR X2 Producer, find SONAR X2 at a dealer near you, or learn more about what’s new in SONAR X2.

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