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Software Review: Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USB from Cakewalk

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Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USB is the latest release of Cakewalk's Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) that is designed for guitarists and singer-songwriters. It is a multi-track recording system that provides precise editing tools to allow you to put together musical compositions using prerecorded tracks and loops, as well as giving you the ability to record your own guitar or vocal tracks.

The core component of Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USB is the engine that is based on Cakewalk's SONAR premier DAW product. Guitar Tracks Pro 4 targets an arsenal of tools with which you can record, edit, and mix your guitar and vocal work and then burn to CD or upload to the Web.

What do you need to run Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USB?

  • Windows XP (32-bit), Vista (32-bit)
  • Intel Pentium 4, 2.8 GHz or higher; AMD Athlon XP 2800+ or higher
  • 1 GB RAM (2 GB Recommended)
  • 1024 x 768 with 16-bit color (1280 x 960, 24-bit color or higher)
  • 500+ MB for core program (6 GB for full program and content)
  • Windows Compatible MIDI Interface
  • Windows Compatible Audio Interface
  • DVD-ROM, DVD+/-R, or DVD+/-RW Drive for installation CD-R or CD-RW capability for CD audio disk burning
  • USB Port for the USB version which includes the UA-1G Audio Interface

Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USBGuitar Tracks Pro 4 is part of the Cakewalk product line of integrated MIDI and digital audio sequencers for the Windows platform. It has a very rich feature set that allows you to compose and explore musical composition from your computer. It has an intuitive interface that makes it easy to create your own musical pieces. More importantly, you don't have to be a professional recording engineer to create high quality tracks.

The main component is the multi-track recording software interface. On one side you have the bus pane where the track controls exist. These expand and contract to show or hide additional functionality for controlling your composition. On the other side is the track pane that you can either drop loops on to or, using an audio interface, you can record the track.

There is also a virtual mixer that lets you take control of your mix with controls like mute, solo, pan, EQ, FX, and more. In this view you can combine the sounds on all of the different tracks to create the final mix of your project. Here you have the ability to adjust the levels of sound levels, add effects, and more.

There is a staff view in which you also have the ability to create, edit, and print your own notation and tablature from any MIDI file or MIDI track. You can download MIDI files and learn to play along. There is a fretboard view that makes it easy to match notes to the guitar neck. The Loop construction view lets you create and edit groove clips—loops that "know" the tempo and key in which they were recorded.

While Guitar Tracks Pro 4 comes with the UA-1G interface, it also supports other audio interfaces. In fact there are two versions of Guitar Tracks Pro 4, one with just the software and the one I am working with that comes with the UA-1G audio interface. There is an extensive list of audio cards on the Cakewalk site.

Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USBAlso included is a set of 12 studio-quality effects. These include Classic Phaser, Modfilter, Chorus/Flanger, Tempo Delay, Bit Decimator, Studioverb, HF Exciter, Compressor/Gate and more. You can use them while you record or wait till later in the mixing phase. You also get the Boost 11 limiter/maximize to give you more volume and punch with your final mix.

Finally, in the USB version, you get the Cakewalk UA-1G USB audio interface. This provides you with a complete recording solution for working with a guitar or microphone. It is very compact as well as portable. It comes with a ¼ " guitar input and is optimized for recording your guitar work. It has high quality converters and super-low latency to make sure you are getting the best sound possible.

It also has stereo input and output at up to 24-bit/96kHz audio quality, large input level knob for easy control while recording. You can record electric guitar or bass. It also comes with an Electret condenser mic input for vocals and other instruments and a headphone output with direct monitoring ability.

So what is new with Guitar Tracks Pro 4?
• Guitar Rig 3 LE is a Virtual Guitar Amp. This is like having a guitar amp right in your PC. You just plug in your guitar to your audio interface and you are ready to go. It gives you a variety of sounds from country to arena rock. It has a Twang Reverb mode that gives you the ability to recreate the screaming blues leads or crunchy rhythm guitar sounds.

Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USBThere is also a Lead 800 mode that produces smooth, intense, razor-sharp leads. There is a Bass Pro mode to make a bass guitar stand out. And there is even a graphics equalizer for better control of your bass sound. In addition, this comes with couple of tape decks, a guitar tuner, and a metronome.

• Cakewalk Studio Instruments provides you with your own session band. Here you have available to you an electric bass, drums, piano, and strings. You can also add virtual instruments with support for VST and ReWire. With Cakewalk Studio Instruments you can load presets for multiple sounds, it includes various styles, and use your MIDI controller, computer keyboard, or click interactive keys to play the sounds.

• 2 GB of content from Digital Sound Factory, Groove Monkee, Smart Loops, and Sonic Reality give you a lot to work with. These are loops that you can use to create your own original compositions, or in conjunction with your own vocals or guitar work.

• Cakewalk Publisher and Burner allows you to share your music with friends, family, and friends online.

Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USB was really easy to set up and use. It took me just a little bit to get the audio interface to be recognized by the software, but I found it was a conflict in a driver I had on my computer. As sometimes happens when working with lots of stuff hanging off your system as I do, you might have to tweak things.

Guitar Tracks Pro 4 USBThe applications were a breeze to use. I have worked with several Digital Audio Workstations in the past and so was able to start off right away, but I have always found the Cakewalk interfaces to be pretty intuitive and easy to understand.

What I really liked about Guitar Tracks Pro 4 was having everything right here. I like being able to jump in throw something together quickly and have it working. Later, late at night when everyone was a sleep, I put together some bass loops and drum loops, put on some headphones and just started jamming. For that use alone, it is way worth the price of admission.

If you are looking for the ability to record your guitar, bass, or vocal, if you want to mix your own music, or if you want to throw tracks together so that you can practice your freestyle licks, or any combination of the above, then I very highly recommend Guitar Tracks Pro 4.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • Gazelt

    I recently purchased this product so I and a couple of friends could record our practice sessions and remix. For all the positive features of this software, there is one major flaw: it can only record from one “in” source at a time. In the case of my fancy E-mu sound card with individual left and right jacks for each of four channels, that means one half of one channel . Not even a guitar and mic at the same time! With a stero jack and splitter you could get two channels max. Still a big drawback if you want to see how your live vocal blend sounds. To cakewalk’s credit, they upgraded me to Sonar X1 when I complained and wanted to return the product. X1 is a great product, but I miss the simple interface of GT. If they’d just fix that one thing with GT…

  • michael3158030

    It’s absolutely imposible to connect input in GT pro, it’s not sharing drivers with another software and you need to be computer gick to be able to use this worsless software! Do not waste your money!!!

  • michael3158030

    O, most interesting that you will have NO SUPPORT AT ALL FROM VENDOR, YOU ON YOUR OWN!!!