With all the powerful features of SONAR X2, it’s almost impossible for someone to know every single angle of the program. Even some of the simpler features have some not-so-obvious aspects that can make the musician’s life easier and more musically inventive. This is why we have created detailed videos for SONAR users to delve into without needing a manual.
This week we have posted four great new videos that are sure to give you some new insight on X2 features and workflow:
The QuadCurve EQ has now proven itself in the industry to be one of the most musical AND surgical instruments around. With four different modes, it’s easy to carve out and sculpt perfect and professional mixes with ease.
When people ask me what I do for a living, it is often difficult for them to grasp the words; I record sounds and musical instruments that musicians use to create music. At Digital Sound Factory we breakdown the instrument to the fundamentals and capture the sounds that make up its character. Each note and playing style is recorded. We are essentially creating a ‘digital archive’ of musical instrument sounds that render playback on modern computers.
Creating sound expansion packs for Cakewalk synthesizers involves many steps in the development process. It’s a long journey from defining the scope of the sound set to hearing a sound when playing a MIDI note. This is an overview of how an expansion pack is born and what goes on behind the scenes.
Defining the Project
First we take a close look at the scope of the project and define the instruments and samples required.
Musicians, engineers, and studio time are not free, so the better prepared we are, the more we capture. Each instrument requires different considerations. Sampling drum’s is different from sampling synthesizers is different from sampling brass or winds. In the case of drums, how the drum should be tuned, number of velocity hits on center to the edge of the head, matching rim shots, various microphone placements, to name a few. Sampling brass or woodwinds will entail multiple volume levels of sustain, more breath, less breath, breath only, mutes, staccato, and more.
The Recording Process
Sampling is similar to recording music in some ways, but in other ways it is very different. The similarities are musicians are recorded in professional sound environments using microphones, mixing console, speakers, etc. The very different part is we are not there to record music. We record the instrument and its characteristics. I can’t begin to tell you how many sessions I have walked into and the musicians are ready to impress with great music. In these sessions we focus on the technique, not the music.
Each note the instrument is capable of playing is meticulously recorded at various amplitude levels and styles (ie: sustained, mute, fast attack, slow attack, soft, loud, etc.) using 4 – 16 microphones, fast computers, and Sonar. It is imperative that any addition sounds that are not part of the instrument, such as squeaky chairs, breathing, or noise from the musician are identified and eliminated during the recording process. Occasionally there are sounds that make their way into the sample and need to later be isolated and removed using software tools. All microphones, takes, tracks, hard drives, etc. are documented for use during the editing process.
Selection and Editing
After days, weeks, or months of recording, the tracks are reviewed and the best takes are sliced and copied to a new project. This may include as many as 4 to 16 tracks of microphones that can be mixed or separated to create the final individual .wav files for each pitch/velocity/etc. Selecting the best ‘takes’ involves a lot of listening and is essential to delivering the highest quality instruments. Any additional DSP (Digital Signal Processing), such as leveling, noise cancelation, equalization, and amplitude fades are completed at this stage. Sustained notes require looping the recordings to create a seamless pitch at the loop points. Loops are adjusted to lengths based on memory size targets. Each .wav file is tagged with the instrument name, style, and pitch identification.
SFZ files are created and used to map the incoming MIDI controller note number to the correct .wav file and location. The SFZ files are text files and use ‘opcodes’ or operation codes that are used to control various synthesizer program parameters. It contains relevant information about the instrument such as velocity, filter types, envelopes, LFO’s, and others. SFZ files are programmed for each playing style and sometimes combined to create layers.
This is where the instruments develop personality and flavor. SFZ files can be combined as elements to create layers. Filters, modulation sources and destinations, and effects are assigned. The program is named and saved to the relevant style folder.
Digital Sound Factory Recording Video
This video includes recording sessions for orchestral strings, winds, brass, and percussion in the concert hall and studio, drum kits and percussion, ethnic instruments, and grand piano.
Download DSF Expansion Packs for as low as $19.95
Stock up this weekend on DSF expansion packs for Dimension Pro/Dimension LE. The DSF collection features thousands of sounds for all types of music and genres. Included are Grand Pianos, Guitars, Basses, Classic Keys, Orchestral, Hollywood Sound FX and much more. Buy one or buy them all and save big during this special offer. Ends February 28th, 2013.
I was recently hired to burn the ole midnight oil and produce, mix, co-write and play just about every instrument on an EP for an artist out of NYC. The record is pretty cool, definitely fun to make, and it falls somewhere between Fiona Apple and Taylor Swift. Considering the genre, I figured it was a great time to try out our new CA-2A T-Type Leveling Amplifier in the field and in a practical situation.
From testing the beta out briefly during development, I knew I was going to like the outcome of using the CA-2A, but what I didn’t expect was the versatility of the plugin. I ended up using it on a lot more than what I expected. From smoothing out vocals to arpeggiated guitars to piano tones, I really loved what I was getting from the CA-2A. I also had the benefit of A/B’ing it with another branded Leveling Amplifier that I use, and I found the Cakewalk CA-2A thicker sounding in general and also more versatile due to the R37 screw [knob.] Here are the reasons I found myself going to the CA-2A instead of my other comparable leveling amplifier.
1.) R37 Adjuster on Vocals – This adjustable screw is interesting. The physical appearance of the screw does not give off the importance of its usefulness. Basically, this parameter allows you to adjust the compression on the high frequencies. Since my other Leveling Amplifier does not have this adjustment, I always started out by keeping the screw all the way to the left (0%) and then dialing it in until I found the sweet spot. The result was amazing especially on vocals. I was able to always get a warm yet transparent sound but without the harshness on most of the “ess” words. Since this project is with a female vocalist, I found it especially helpful. I was also able to work the QuadCurve EQ into the mix and combine it with the CA-2A nicely. By tweaking the hi-end frequencies on the EQ along with the R37 screw, I was able to get a more present vocals without any harshness.
2.) “Limit” Mode on Bass Guitar – I’m not sure if it will be like this for every song, but for this track the CA-2A on the bass guitar in “Limit” mode was a magic bullet. I always run the bass into its separate bus, so I ended up using the limiter on that stage. I played the bass guitar (as you can hear from the track on this post) with a pick for this song. The CA-2A in limiting mode on the bass bus really allowed me to fatten up the sound of the low end, but also kept the attack of the pick in focus. It leveled out the attack of the pick hitting the string but also kept it present. I had the EQ running on the bass track, and then the limiter on the bass hitting the peak reduction at about -3db. I kept the R37 at 0% as you can see from the image.
3.) “Compress” Mode on Piano and Whirlie – fortunately for this track I had the benefit of having David Cook (keyboardist and MD for Taylor Swift) play on the track – the guy is a genius. I’m pretty much a hack at keyboards so my usual piano editing (to make myself sound decent enough) was not going to cut it. As you can hear from the attached track, there is a lot going on in the song, so I had to figure out a creative mixing strategy to make room and carve frequencies. To say that the CA-2A helped me achieve this on the track would be an understatement. Using the plugin in compress mode on the piano enabled me to really place it in the mix correctly. It also helped dial in the frequencies to get it out of the way of all the other things that were in the same frequency range. To get the piano to sit correctly, I hit the compressor pretty hard, used the R37 at 50%, and then notched up the highs of the QuadCurve EQ. I also used the Channel Tools plugin to give it some more width and depth and get it out of the way of the guitars. The more I use this, the more I understand the importance of the R37 screw. It’s almost an oxymoron, but by combining the R37 with the high-end frequencies on the QuadCurve EQ it seems like I am able to get a warm top end sound out of instruments.
On the rest of the track I also ended up using the CA-2A on some acoustic guitar tracks as well as one of the clean electric guitars. I’m psyched about the performance and versatility of this plugin – instantly you can hear the difference wherever you use it. I also think this is a plugin that would be a great benefit to folks who are just getting into mixing. The simplicity of the unit basically makes it fool proof for obtaining professional results without a lot of technical worries – basically just use your ear and turn the knobs;)
Thanks for reading and be sure listen to the mix posted below.
The song on this post uses the CA-2A on exactly the following tracks:
Lead Vocal track (Compress Mode)
Bass bus (Limit mode)
Piano track (Compress Mode)
Whirlie track (Compress Mode)
B3 track (very lightly) (Compress Mode)
Left acoustic guitar track (both mics) (Compress Mode)
Arpeggiated Electric Guitar track (Compress Mode)
1 of the backing vocal tracks (Compress Mode)
Tom drums bus (Limit mode)
Hi Hat (Compress Mode)
Mandolin track (Compress Mode) (doubled – CA-2A only on 1 of the tracks)
When you buy SONAR X2 Producer through February 28th, you will also get free TH2 Building Blocks presets created by Cakewalk’s Jimmy Landry. TH2 Producer is a powerful instrument with many tonal possibilities. Although it comes with some interesting presets, there is definitely room for more. These “building block” presets were designed in an exceptional listening environment and aimed to deliver an array of great “source sounds” from which to build. Much time and effort was taken to carefully match the mics, cabs and amp heads for a comprehensive set of sounds. Using this set as a starting point will give you a great head-start when utilizing the “variation” user preset feature in TH2 Producer.
SONAR X2 is hands-down the most powerful and comprehensive DAW we have ever made. With each new version of SONAR we aim to simplify workflow and make music production more efficient. Each upgrade also comes with brand new tools and enhancements that compliment SONAR’s core technology. SONAR X2 is no exception. See what’s new in SONAR X2.
Download Music Creator 6 for only $19.99
Music Creator 6 turns your computer into your own personal recording studio and includes everything you need to create, edit, and mix professional recordings. Whether it’s a cover of your favorite tune or an original composition, turn a simple idea into a finished song with Music Creator’s powerful suite of tools, loops, instruments, and effects. And when you’re ready to share your music with the world, you can burn a CD or use SoundCloud to post your music on Facebook and Twitter.
Based on Cakewalk’s acclaimed professional studio software, Music Creator’s elegant design and drag and drop interface makes creating and sharing music fast, easy, and fun.
Through February 19th, you can download Music Creator 6 for only $19.99 – save 60% off the price.
Recording and making music on your computer can seem overwhelming when you are just getting started. You have the musical ideas in your head but you need to get them down and into a finished song format. This post will walk you through device setup, recording audio, playing virtual instruments, working with loops, and more.
Cakewalk software is so essential to the recording experience that astronauts don’t leave earth without it! Future commander of the ISS, Chris Hadfield, visited the Larrivée Guitar factory in Vancouver, Canada – builders of the Space Station guitar. He talks about challenges of playing in the weightless environment and recording original music in Space using Cakewalk. Credit: Larrivée Guitars