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In-depth Feature:  Cakewalk SONAR 2.0
Rob G writes: .

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External Devices
Cakewalk have also made numerous changes to provide better support for external MIDI devices. In addition to the Roland U-8 and Peavey StudioMix, dedicated support is provided for CM Labs MotorMix and Tascam US-428 control surfaces. Cakewalk promise additions for more surfaces in future.

Additionally, it is possible to configure support for generic control surfaces, such as the Peavey 1600 and Kenton Control Freak. A wide range of preset generic control surfaces is supported, and further ones may be defined by the user. The integration of these facilities will prove welcome to anyone who has tried these controllers before, and the ability to have the configuration stored within the sequencer simplifies setting up patches for projects.

Finally, Sonar 2.0 adds support for Yamaha’s Open Plugin Technology. OPi allows hardware and software vendors to supply panels for controlling their equipment that integrate fully into the Sonar environment.

Add all this to the existing support for StudioWare user-designed panels and you have a system neatly adaptable to suit your hardware environment.

Cakewalk recently announced support for the new Mackie Control, a great interface giving plenty of real-time control and two way communication with SONAR for good visual feedback.

Conclusion
For existing users, the upgrade is compelling - improved DXi support and support for drum grids and maps add welcome features, although the XL version may be less compelling for users with existing quality EQ and compression. These two plugins alone have a retail value of $350, so add significant value to the product.

Users of other products may be attracted by the loop manipulation facilities. Although present in earlier versions, these really are a compelling feature - especially where projects are oriented towards dance-style production. With the addition of drum maps and grids, such users are generally well catered for. Indeed the pattern brush actually moves Sonar 2.0 a step ahead of its competitors in this area. Cyclone adds more to this already formidable array of tools and together the suite may well attract some converts.

Sonar has, since version 1.1, been a solid, easy-to-use sequencer. One of the major features, that doesn’t really make it to a point-by-point feature comparison is its extreme ease of use. All sequencer operations are integrated in a well-designed (if not flash) user-interface and the program is easy to configure to suit a particular user’s style of working. All the usual features such as templates, layouts and instrument definitions further allow a user to customise the application to their style of working.

Perhaps the best credit I can pay this upgrade is that for the first time I’ve started using Sonar as my sequencer of preference – there’s no way I’m giving this back, it’s my first choice now. Feature for feature, sequencers now seem to have little to differentiate them - especially in consideration of features that will actually be used at some time. This leaves a lot of the decision in choice of software down to style - and many users will find that Sonar’s style is particularly quick to grasp but retains the functionality expected of a flagship sequencer.

Pricing:
SONAR list $479.00
SONAR XL list $599.00
SONAR XL provides all of the capabilities of SONAR, plus additional 64-bit mastering plug-ins, and an advanced DXi drum synth/sampler.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • Cakwalk.com
  • SONAR XL @ audioMIDI

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