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Software Review: SONAR X1 Producer Expanded And Z3TA+ 2.1 Updates From Cakewalk

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Cakewalk, Inc. recently released two updates to products in its premiere music production lines. The first adds additional utilities to its high end digital audio workstation software SONAR X1 Producer, and the second is to update Z3TA+ 2, its premiere software synthesizer

SONAR Producer is the flagship product of the Cakewalk line of integrated MIDI and digital audio workstation (DAW) for the Windows platform. It has a very complete feature set that allows you to compose and explore musical composition and this update adds additional features.

SONAR X1

So what is new with SONAR X1 Producer Expanded?

• ProChannel Expanded now adds custom ProChannel strips that include modular components that can be customized and give you the ability add and remove modules as you see fit. Since signal flow is from top to bottom, it works just like a hardware mixer. You can also route the modules by dragging them within the strip. The channel will scroll vertically while the console remains in place. Once you have everything set, you can save it as a preset for future use. Additional modules can be added such as the Softube Saturation Knob, and others as they become available like the PC4K-S Type Expander/Gate and Channel Compressor.

• SONAR X1 FX Chains 2.0 expands the concept from simple effects container to a fully customizable plug-in interface. You can create a single multi-effects processor using any plug-in. You can assign knobs to any effects parameter within the chain and name them as you want. The same goes with buttons. You even get 100 pre-configured effects chain presets.

• Sharing Expanded by giving you the ability to upload finished songs to SoundCloud by simply connecting to your SoundCloud account from within SONAR X1 Producer Expanded. This SoundCloud support gives you an efficient way to share music automatically via Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites.

• MusicXML is the universal digital sheet music interchange and distribution format. The Staff View has direct MusicXML export integrated right into the view. You can now create a song in SONAR X1 Producer Expanded and, once the composition is finished, you simply export it using the MusicXML format for use in popular notation programs such as Finale, Notion, Sibelius, and other popular notation programs.

• Browser capabilities have been expanded as well to now quickly add audio or MIDI loops to your library as well create FX Chain presets with full bi-directional drag and drop of data between the Browser and the Track View.

SONAR X1

This update to Expanded really makes for a nice update. I really like the changes to both the ProChannel and the FX Chains 2.0. I like the modularity of the ProChannel Strips as well as the SoftTube saturation Knob as well as the PC4K-S additions. The FX Chains really makes creating chains a lot of fun. All of the options you now have available as well as the presets makes this a must have update.

Z3TA+ 2 is a software synthesizer and can function as a stand-alone or a plug-in that integrates with the DAW or other VST compatible host. It will give you the ability to use preset sounds, or create your own sounds to add to your musical creations. This update is free to those who have registered versions of Z3TA+ 2.

So what is new with Z3TA+ 2.1?

• Preset Search Button makes it easier to find the presets that you need from the thousands that are included by clicking n the magnifying glass to search by name, vendor, or category to find the sound or patch you need.

• Scala Tuning is not only supported, but it also ships with the latest library of Scala tuning files. This also gives you the ability to lock the Scala tuning of your choice, pick a new preset and have that preset automatically inherit that tuning.

• Fully Loadable stereo WAV files, as well as 24-bit & 32-bit WAV files in addition to the mono WAVs and 16-bit WAV files. This takes away many restrictions on loading, creating, and sharing capabilities?

• More memory is now available than even with the reduced memory foot print of Z3TA+ 2.0. This will save you more memory and give you better CPU usage – and the more instances you use, the more efficient it gets.

• Ribbon Controller will now light up when it is clicked on and will remain lit up while active. Right-clicking the Ribbon Controller activates the latch, and you can right click up to 8 notes.

• Drag N’ Drop means that your Arpeggiator patterns do not have to remain locked in Z3TA+ 2 anymore. This updates allow you to drag patches from the graph and drop them into your host where you can even edit the MIDI notes.

I thought that the Z3TA+ 2 was great when it was released earlier this year, but this update makes it even better – especially with the better memory handling, Scalia tuning, and Preset search button. What is best of all is that it is free to owners of Z3TA+ 2!

If you already own SONAR X1 Producer, you can purchase the Expanded update for $49. If you are a registered user of Z3TA+ 2, then you can download the Z3TA+ 2.1 Update from Cakewalk. I highly recommend both updates.

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About T. Michael Testi

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