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electronic MUSICIAN

Review: Cakewalk SONAR 7 Producer Edition (Bonus)

By Brian Smithers | April 7, 2008

This online bonus material supplements the Cakewalk Sonar 7 Producer Edition review in the May 2008 issue of EM.

Although Sonar 7 includes plenty of new and improved features, in a perfect world there would be several things that worked better than they do now. In the interest of giving Cakewalk some food for thought and Sonar users some constructive work-arounds, here''s my wish list.

  1. Some windows, especially V-Vocal, steal the focus, so when you hit Ctrl-Z to undo or Spacebar to play, you donâ??t get the desired reaction. Solution: use Ctrl-Tab to toggle between the floating window and the main application. If you have a lot of windows open, you can go directly to the Track view by pressing Alt-0 (zero on the QWERTY keyboard) and back to the V-Vocal window by pressing Ctrl-Shift-V.
  2. To make multiple or sequential I/O assignments, you must first select the desired tracks. Unfortunately, you canâ??t select tracks from the Console view. Solution: you have to switch to the Track view long enough to select tracks, so do it efficiently. Again, press Alt-0; Alt-3 returns to the Console.
  3. When using sends to address sidechains, prefader behavior does not ignore track mute as it should. (Since when is prefader postmute?) Solution: edit your aud.ini file to set LinkPFSendMute=0 to rid yourself of this holdover from preâ??Sonar 4 days.
  4. The new step sequencer doesnâ??t directly expose soft-synth parameters for assignment. Solution: hopefully, this capability will be added in a future release, as right now the solution is old school. You must manually assign a continuous controller to a parameter in the synth and then assign the same controller within the step sequencer. Take advantage of Pentagonâ??s ability to save MIDI configurations to speed the process a bit, or save a Sonar template (or three) with your favorite synth(s) and step sequencer set the way you like it.
  5. The Lexicon Pantheon Surround reverb is no longer included with Sonar. Sadly, it was dropped as of Sonar 6. Solution: if you have Sonar 5, you can install Pantheon Surround from that disc, and it will still work in Sonar 7.
  6. When Shift-dragging across a row in the step sequencer to draw Velocities, the only visual feedback is the numeric Velocity display on each note. Solution: if you want to see your Velocities, open the PRV.
  7. Some settings that you would expect to be global, such as meter options and default fades, end up being project specific. Solution: set up a blank session with your typical minimal track configuration, tweak all your favorite preferences the way you like them, and save that as a template (CWT) project. Save it as normal.cwt, and it will be the default when you press Ctrl-N, bypassing the New Project dialog box.
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